You can see a slightly shorter version of this blog on SameSame here.
I’ve discussed this topic with a number of guys over the last few months and this seems to be the topic that most really want to follow. I could tell in their voices that it’s a somewhat touchy subject matter and no-one seemed to have any of the answers to any of the questions I raised. I was surprised.
Excuse my ignorance but let me start by saying that monogamy within the gay world seems (to me at the very least) to be a thing of the past. Let me also say from the very beginning that an “open relationship” would never work for me. I know that for a fact. While my last relationship seemed to be heading in that direction, due to his eagerness to get fucked by more than one guy, I ended the relationship based on the direction that I knew it was headed. The thought of someone else having sex with the guy I was in love with and him being intimate with a random just didn’t sit right with me…
..call me old fashioned but I know it wouldn’t work. Not now. And I highly doubt in the future.
I promised myself when I started writing this blog that I wouldn’t hold back with my honesty and always have truth in my writing and hopefully it would connect with you all. I said I’d always write from my own experiences as well as others should they confide in me and provide me with their truth. And on this occasion I’ve used both and I’m thankful for the insights I got.
In the lead up to the last straw in my previous relationship, I was talked into having threesomes – and yes lets all agree that I made the decision and went along with it, I’m fully aware of that. However, it never sat right with me and it would never turn me on, but it certainly did him, he got off on it. In a round about way I was simply given the choice to have a threesome or if I voiced my concern, which I usually did, he simply became too tired and no longer interested in sex. Yes, I can hear some of you thinking and most probably about to comment “maybe you just weren’t that interesting in the bedroom anymore” but what I can say is that I’ve never had any problems, issues or complaints in that department.
I mention my previous relationship simply because I got the feeling that we were headed into the dreaded “open relationship” discussion that I never wanted to have. Before me he came from an “open relationship” and from the very beginning I made it abundantly clear that I was never interested in that option. But as the years went on I could feel the discussion approaching and things beginning to change between us and our sex life. It made me nervous and eventually I ran before the conversation was had. You open one door in a gay relationship and it’s likely several other doors will open with it. Especially when it cums to sex.
I may sound bitter but I’m really not, it’s been a few years since my last relationship ended and we’ve both moved on. I don’t hold any resentment and I wish him the very best in his current relationship…Last I heard it was “open”…[enough said].
I’ve also detailed my last relationship for a specific question. A question I’ll get to soon.
But first, I ask everyone this – when did we stop being content with just one partner? Or is just one sexual partner at a time that’s just not enough for gays these days? Why does it seem like every gay is in an open relationship – has it always been this common and I’ve just been oblivious to it? And why is it soo popular in the gay community? My initial guess is that it lies with guys, in general, and their obsession with sex. Make that gay guys and the need is amplified because sex is soo accessible in the gay world. But is that the only answer?
I’m now 33 and I first became quite familiar with the idea of open relationships when I was living in Sydney. It seemed open relationships were far more common than not. I’d meet couples in open relationships socially and always wonder how they work and if they work long-term.
You can go on Grindr and most other apps and have the option to state you’re in an open relationship. Some guys selecting ‘committed’ and then saying they are happily partnered and only play together. I guess just another form of an open relationship. As I lay on my couch with Daniel Johns’ Talk album playing, I flick through all the Grindr profiles in my local area and there’s a mix of guys saying they are in open relationships, guys stating they are “partnered” as well as guys writing on their profiles that they are strictly not interested in any partnered guys. One guy even stating on his profile “If you’re partnered, get off Grindr and go fuck your boyfriend”…I’m going to assume he’s not into open relationships either! And that’s ok.
I know it will probably differ for each relationship but if you are in an open relationship does that generally mean you cease having sex with your partner and you each fuck other guys independently? Or is it usually a combination of one-on-one sex with your partner, sex with a random without your partner as well as group sex with your partner? Or….all of the above?
I have even more questions; Do you share your experiences with one another? If you’re dick wont go down and it’s been twenty-four hours since your last explosion do you just find a guy on an app and tell your partner you’re going down to Woolies to buy some “milk” but actually go next door and just bend over for Michael? Do you consider how it looks and how your partner feels? Or you simply don’t mind because you assume he’s doing the same? How it all works baffles me and I wonder where trust lies in all of this.
I can only imagine that if you go with the “tell each other nothing” option then wouldn’t he begin to obsess about what might be happening when you’re down at “Woolies” – I certainly would – it would drive me insane! However, I’m also guessing that the “tell each other everything” option can also bring out insecurities a guy may have and cause extreme jealousy or obsessing about what their partner is doing. I’m guessing, as I can only guess, it comes down to the agreement, terms and definition from the very beginning and you being in the right place in your relationship to explore this option.
Soo where does “trust” sit in all of this? Or is that just thrown out the window with monogamy? What about STI prevention? Isn’t one of the advantages of being in a relationship the ability to have raw sex? I can’t imagine you being able to do this in an open relationship. Ohhh wait, now there’s PrEP….but that’s another post in the not-to-distant future.
Soo while I’m thinking out loud, does it mean that if you’re in a committed relationship but open then isn’t it all really just about sex, sex, sex and that’s the only reason you’re open? I don’t and I can’t really comprehend any other reason for a couple to be in an open relationship if it’s not just all about sex and the exploration of it with other guys and not your partner. Or am I failing to see something that everyone else seems to be seeing?
Is it the only option if you both have the same roles in the bedroom? I must admit that I do usually get a laugh at the idea of two bottoms being in a monogamous relationship and wondering how there sex works. I strangely imagine them both thrusting their bums into each others with nothing being penetrated.
I’m not writing this to say open relationships are wrong or don’t work. Because, quite frankly, I’m sure they do work for some couples. I’m simply asking the questions that have plagued me for the last few years. I imagine they work for long distance relationships for guys, as well as girls, who are in certain professions that require a lot of travel or time away from their partner. To generalize: Attention Flight Attendants – we all know you have boyfriends in every port, you’re partner may not know, but everyone else does! Poor flight attendants, if only their reputations weren’t true (LOL).
In order for me to get a better perspective I’ve asked a few guys to assist me and provide me with their stories. One I knew intimately (casually), and the others I do not know. You can read their stories below but what I can say is that Bill & Ted’s story has made me question my view on open relationships. The way Bill allows us into his thinking behind their decision gives another perspective to the idea that I haven’t considered before. It’s like they have both based the decision on love rather than just sex. His story is almost poetic.
Right, back to my question that related to my previous relationship – should we be having the open relationship discussion early on in our relationships? If you know that it’s ultimately what interests you down the track should you discuss it and be up front from the very beginning? Or if you know it’s definitely not something you would consider should you tell your partner early on so he’s aware that it’s not an option?
What happens if you’ve been in a relationship for a considerable amount of time and you’re approached by your partner about the possibility of an open relationship and you know it’s not what you want? Is your relationship already doomed like mine most probably was? Because it’s soo common these days, are some guys pressured into the idea because their partner wants it and they don’t want to loose their partner and what they have together? I also wonder what will become of the next generation of gays.
Questions. Questions. Questions. I know I’ve asked countless questions; it’s definitely a topic that interests me and has me guessing and I really don’t seem to have any of the answers..
…Educate me but PLEASE tell me that monogamy still exists.
BILL & TED
Bill works in Finance. Ted works in HR. Both 35 years of age and live together in Melbourne. Both Australian born Chinese with Ted growing up in Sydney and Bill in Melbourne. Together now for 9 years.
This is Bill’s perspective:
I met Ted on an online website called Fridae and we chatted and got to know each other through our love of art-house movies. We met at the Greyhound accidentally on one weekend night out with friends. Then we saw more of each other; amazingly we didn’t have sex on the first meet. We initially just caught up as friends. We watched movies, cooked and had lunches together but didn’t really see that as dating. Months later I started to have feelings for Ted so I asked Ted out on a formal date, with a romantic flash dance. We found that we had a lot of commonalities such as similar upbringing, age and interests. We dated for 5 years in a monogamous relationship. On the 6th year, Ted brought up the suggestion of trying to open the relationship. I wasn’t shocked, as I understood where Ted was coming from.
To me, becoming open was quite reasonable (I am generally someone who is unemotional) and I always try to think of things very logically. I saw it as the following; 1 – Biology – we are both men [men tend to want to procreate with as many people as possible]. 2 – Mentality – and as men we somehow are able to divide sex and love, where sex can just mean sex (no ties no attachment) and love is love. 3 – Roles – we are both bottoms (although I topped occasionally I didn’t really feel it was my thing). 4 – Age/Libido – We were still relatively young and very sexual. 5 – Inexperience – I was Ted’s first and only boyfriend (I had some previous boyfriends, and one long term 4 years+ prior. 6 – Past encounter – also the previous year we went to Singapore and randomly wanted to check out a sauna, where we had a threesome with another buff Asian guy (first outside encounter). 7 – Accessibility – given that sex is so easily available (more than ever) the temptation would always be there. 8 – Laws of attraction -Also in long-term relationships, attraction no matter how much you try, it wanes. Although the love is definitively there, sexual attraction just isn’t the same. 9 – Finally, if someone cheated from monogamy it would break the ‘camels back’ of the relationship, but if we were honest with each other and became open then there wouldn’t be a betrayal. Without betrayal the trust is stronger, trust is having belief in the person you love, because we are honest about being open to each other, we trust each other more, we are not suspicious when someone comes home late because of work (because it would be true, as we would be honest if it was indeed a hook up). Also note that the reasons above are what I felt and not what everyone should feel. It’s not a justification to open a relationship its just the reasoning we have for our own relationship.
The first year open was a bit crazy, it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster and we didn’t have Grindr or the other apps when we first started dating so it was incredible to see how instant and easy sex was now, so there was a lot of ‘action’.
Of course it was really exciting, in the beginning we had some threesome’s, there was a very handsome straight Aussie guy we met a few times, but threesomes became harder to do, as we had different taste in men and I felt that someone would usually be left out or I would be worried if the other guy liked one of us more than the other. For that reason also, we tried not to have the same fuck buddies, as not to hurt each other feelings.
Other than having separate fuck buddies, we made other rules to help separate the sex with love. Such as, not becoming friends with our hook ups, not spending the night with a hook up, not telling each other all the details of the hook up (although we mention basic info), only hook up once a week and to try to be discrete and not flaunt the hook ups with each other or our friends. Although they are rules they are not absolute, sometimes when on holidays we do hook up more than once a week.
Although Ted was the one who wanted the open relationship in the beginning, it appeared that I adjusted to it much quicker. I was able to curb my jealousy and actually felt completely fine when Ted hooked up. The first year fights would generally occur when Ted would get upset when I hooked up with someone. He seemed ok with it though if he had hooked up also – it felt almost like a competition, which became destructive. The turnaround was when I threatened to end the relationship; I wanted him to see the hypocrisy (him getting upset with my hook ups whilst happy to hookup himself). Although I understood that sometimes you can’t control your emotions, sometimes Ted felt that I wasn’t jealous because I didn’t love him or didn’t care about him. I did feel jealousy, but framed it in my mind like it was a ‘good thing’ because it meant I still felt something for Ted, but I wouldn’t lash out or get upset. But I explained that because I loved him, I wanted him to be happy and experience what he needed (like setting someone free).
In a broader scope, I felt if Ted found someone better for him than myself, why would I deny him this happiness? I want to know that Ted is with me because I was always the best option, because he loves me and because he chooses to be with me. If he found someone better, I would be totally heartbroken, but I would accept it (not with pity) because I love him so much that I would rather he be happy with someone he loves than stay with me because of some sort of obligation. (It’s a question of love; Is love holding onto someone so tight that you never want to let go? Or loving someone so much that you will let them go for their own happiness?).
We’ve both made many mistakes and learnt a lot about each other. I know being open is not for everyone but it does work for us. After 3 years open, the hook ups do become less but sometimes it’s just the belief that the option is there. I know we have become much closer. Although it may sound strange, I am still romantic and still believe Ted is the guy I want to be with until I’m old and grey.
The most powerful thing I realized was that although I can have sex with anyone, I still choose to be with Ted, not for comfort or obligation, I still want to be with this man. And we do still have sex with each other and I still find Ted incredibly attractive, probably more than ever.
CRAIG & JOHN
Craig is 35 and he’s based in Melbourne and has been in his current relationship for over 5 years – his partner John is 39 and travels a lot for work.
Craig was approached by John within the first two years of their relationship and they agreed that they would be open. “Open” to them means that they can sleep with whoever they want but only when the other isn’t around. This might be when the other is out of town for work or maybe the other is at the gym. They do not discuss their “rendezvous” with one another and they certainly don’t entertain the idea while they both are at home – they still have sex with each other and don’t entertain the threesome idea either.
However, Craig realises that he’s not entirely sure how long they will continue to have sex with one another – he’s unsure if it’ll just stop at some stage in their relationship because they are now open, or if it’ll keep it’s momentum. He admitted that opening up those doors can sometimes make or break a relationship. He admits that while he doesn’t think they’ll have an open relationship forever he doesn’t look forward to that discussion of it ceasing – the door is now open, it’ll be a hard one to shut and throw away that key.
Craig finishes by saying that at least they are both aware of what the other is doing, always using protection, whereas now days you never know who you’re gay partner is sleeping with behind your back, because cheating is soo common. Their relationship is honest, but open.
James is 29. He’s single, lives in western Sydney and is dead against open relationships. When I asked him why he’s dead against the idea he asks me the question “Whats the point of being in a relationship and being open – isn’t it easier to just be single and just have them as a best mate?” I didn’t know how to respond simply because I agreed with him. He goes on to state that he wouldn’t be in one simply because he’s the jealous type and wouldn’t want to share his partner – the guy he’s fallen in love with. “What’s to say you’re in a open relationship and your partner starts seeing another guy that he’s met through sex? Aren’t you more vulnerable to this happening?” he asks. Again, I had to agree with him on that also. I then asked him what if he was in a monogamous relationship and his partner came to him with the idea of an open relationship. He simply says; “It’d be over for me, I think the trust would disappear as I would know he wanted to sleep with others. But then again look at Sydney – it seems more guys are in open relationships than not. It’s sad.”
Sean is a 42 year old man living in Melbourne who was previously in an open relationship.
While he is unsure about his stance on the idea now he says it didn’t work for him and his then younger partner and it ultimately broke down their relationship. It didn’t work simply because after it began he felt the trust slowly disappear and his partner eventually meeting someone else, who he guesses he met during one of his encounters.
His advice for anyone who is thinking of entertaining the idea is to have an in-depth discussion about the idea and be very clear on the terms of the agreement and be one-hundred-percent sure it’s right for you both and you both can handle it. Plus, be aware that the excitement of an open relationship can also lead to the failure of your relationship; open one door, be prepared that one may close.