By Adam D. Blum, MFT, Gay Therapy Center Founder and Director
I’ve posted a question submitted to my monthly “Ask Adam” advice column at Gay.net. I get this question frequently. My response, which will appear soon on the Gay.net site, is below. Please feel free to post any of your comments to this much-debated topic.
I have a great relationship with my boyfriend and we love each other very much. I want to have an open relationship but he is afraid I’ll leave him for another guy. How can I convince him that occasional hook ups are not a threat to our relationship?
Open in Ottawa
Dear Open in Ottawa,
If you are strongly attached to the idea of an open relationship and your partner isn’t interested, then this could be a deal breaker for you guys.
Some people want kids, some don’t. It’s like that for open relationships. It comes down to core values and interests. Core values rarely change.
However, if you are not deeply attached to the concept of an open relationship, perhaps there may be a path to the sexual experiences you desire. A key issue here is your mindset: can you enter into a process with your partner and be okay if his ultimate answer is still “no”?
If you think you can approach the subject without pressure, and without resentment if he doesn’t change his perspective, then keep reading.
Will You Dump Me?
The biggest fear any human being has in a relationship is the fear that he'll be dropped. You are playing with this powerful force when you open the relationship. Can you respect the power of this force?
A successful open relationship is based on building a uniquely trusting, honest, and emotionally intimate connection to your partner. To avoid disaster, it must be a relationship where both of you can comfortably share your insecurities and fears. Even the irrational ones.
Here are a few ways you might build that kind of relationship:
- Whenever you feel a pang of love or appreciation for your boyfriend, don't keep it to yourself. Share it with him.
- Give the relationship lots of attention, and check in with each other about your connection every week.
- Continually create exciting and ever-changing one-on-one sex with him.
- Build your skills at listening deeply and non-defensively.
The First Three-Way
For many guys, a three-way is the most comfortable way to begin exploring sexual experiences that involve other men. If, over time, your partner starts to show curiosity in a three-way, you’ll be given an important opportunity. You can increase the chances that he’ll continue to be interested in future sexual experimentation if you take good care of him during that experience.
That means keeping your focus on your partner’s comfort level and arousal state. Make sure he reaches orgasm first. Put his needs before the needs of the third partner. And then keep listening to all his feelings about it afterwards.
Wait a minute. What if I do all of the above, over months and years, and he still doesn't want an open relationship?
Aha! That comes back to where we started. Could you explore this process without attachment to the end result?
If you can detach from your goal, your "failed” experiment could create a relationship where your boyfriend deeply feels your love. And that would bring a kind of intimacy you've only dreamed about.
Want to read more? Here are our articles on open relationships.
For more information about how we help LGBT individuals and couples please visit our website at www.gaytherapycenter.com. We offer services in our San Francisco, New York, or Los Angeles offices or by Skype or phone worldwide.