Leaving the Bedroom Door Open

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader responds to Olga’s post on OkCupid’s new feature that allows users to advertise they’re “in an open relationship” and link to their partner’s profile:

I have a life partner of three years and counting. We are in the most functional, devoted, and fulfilling romantic relationship that either one of us has ever had. We have positions of employment, we have careers, and we do not want to have children (life and three cats are more than enough for us). We share a life, a home, and a bed. And, we are in an open relationship.

It’s one we mutually agreed upon when we became serious about being together in a more serious way, to keep open for as long as it worked for us. Just because we are in an open relationship, it does not mean that we are looking to have sex with whomever we find attractive in the moment. We have had ONE threesome in the three-years-plus we have been together. Only one.

We are both sexual, but our professional lives can be quite demanding. I honestly do not know why people think we are having more sex simply because we are in an open relationship. Then again, a lot of people think a lot of things that simply are not true.

Another reader also describes his open relationship:

Five years for us, no threesomes—just the occasional acts of flirtation and rare time one-on-one with others. We simply enjoy when the other gets to have fun with another person sometimes. It’s rarely brought up problems, save for his ROCD [relationship obsessive compulsive disorder]—which is clinical and has to do with many other things than this topic. Marriage is slow coming (especially since he came out to parents just last year), but it’s increasingly in the cards.

The misconceptions about how our relationship works, and its legitimacy, are humorous at best and utterly bigoted at worst. But we love each other and this works fantastic for us. In terms of what I’d consider polyamorous (as opposed to just “open”), I dunno if it’d work for us. As in all things, we’ll try to communicate in a helpful and loving manner.

Have you been in an open relationship? Are you also polyamorous? Did your open relationship go well, or did it end in disaster? (I’ve been in some myself, so I might be able to relate.) Drop me an email if you want to share your story or discuss the topic more generally. Here’s a skeptic:

I don’t get polyamory. Why would anyone want multiple romantic relationships? Having one is enough of a headache.