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Q: My boyfriend and I are considering an open relationship. We are happy and in love and I am content with him as my only sexual partner, but he misses the freedom of being able to flirt and be a pick-up artist at the bars. I think I could get used to him having sex with other women, but I don't feel the urge to explore sexually with other men. Could it work to be in a one-sided open relationship?…or is that doomed to lead to trouble?
A. I'll be the first to tell you that much of the standard “conventional wisdom” about open relationships and the lifestyle only applies some of the time. So the idea of your relationship being “doomed to lead to trouble” isn't something I'll jump on board with.
As with most every question I get here in the “Swinging Advice” section, this has a bit of a “well, depends on you” answer to it. The fact that you're content and he's missing the ability to sew his wild oats as it were certainly doesn't indicate an inherent problem in your relationship, or your ability to explore alternatives to traditional monogamy. It does however make me wonder what the boundaries and guidelines would be. This is something you should take into account carefully and set up as your rules if you do move forward.
Is he allowed to be romantic with these girls? Is he allowed to have regulars? Do you want to meet them? Do you want to hear about the dates? Is it sex only one night stands? What are his safer sex guidelines? These are all very important questions and things that would need to be explored and discussed well before that first date. Going into this with a set of unspoken rules will often only lead to the very trouble that you're concerned about.
Also, you need to consider the fact that once he begins exploring extramaritally, you may want to as well, and this should be discussed in the event that you want to have the same freedoms you're giving him.
But in the end it all comes down to the very real question for you of whether you could handle being at home knowing he's off somewhere else fucking some girl he just met. If you are honest with yourself and feel you can do this, then more power to you, but if you have concerns or reservations, I'd advise really figuring out the root cause of those concerns, before you get yourself in over your head.
Also, in some cases I think simply having a conversation about such behavior being ‘allowed’ can be enough to scratch that itch, for some people…easing the restrictions created by the arbitrary link between commitment and sexual fidelity can do wonders, even if no action is actually taken.