An open relationship is not for the faint of heart


An open relationship can be an enrichment, but also a pain. It can break down sexual boundaries that exist between partners, but at the same time highlight their emotional limitations. Our author discusses how sex with strangers helped save her own relationship, but also brought her to the edge of jealous despair.

“I’d like to try an open relationship,” my husband said. I was hurt, horrified and scared. We had been together for what felt like an eternity. We were one heart and one soul, but we weren’t really lovers anymore. “I love you and I desire you,” he said. “But I need more sex.” I cried all night and the next one too.

I had been a mother for two years, and sex had become about as interesting to me as filing the tax return. Sure, you do it, but not because you want to. My need for physical contact was already more than fulfilled. The baby still clung to me, even after weaning. And when I collapsed into bed after 12 hours of taking care of the baby and the household I just wanted one thing: not to be touched.

Open relationship with open cards?

I could sympathize with my husband all too well. He felt unsatisfied, rejected and deprived of his lover. I was aware that he wouldn’t really be talking about it unless it was a state of emergency. For him, having sex with someone else was about saving his relationship with me. And I was grateful for that. Instead of cheating on me, he chose to play with open cards. Respect. I agreed on two conditions: First, I didn’t want to hear about the others; and second, he shouldn’t do anything that endangered our relationship.

There were a few other rules that had to be clarified in advance:

  • Would you want to meet his date?
  • Where is sex allowed?
  • Is he allowed to stay overnight with others? On weekends?
  • Is sex restricted to one-night stands only?
  • Is he forbidden from falling in love?
  • And, of course, safe sex is essential. He must wear a condom to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

An appetite for sex

Our open relationship was working well. I didn’t notice anything. Or perhaps I just didn’t want to notice. My husband seemed relaxed, balanced, happy. He no longer pestered me with dirty looks and gestures. He didn’t buy me sexy gifts. At last, I could relax. The pressure had lifted and my own appetite for sex had reappeared.

“I’m allowed to do it too,” it suddenly flashed through my head one day. Until then, I hadn’t thought about the fact that the sexual freedoms of the open relationship also applied to myself. I had been so caught up with playing the role of a mother. Now, after four years, I had finally become a woman again. Waxing, hair dying and fucking were suddenly back on the agenda.

The new freedom

At the same time, I was terrified. What if my fantasies ruined our relationship? After all, I thought a lot about having sex with women… It took quite some time for me to allow my dreams to become reality. I took up tantric sex and joined women’s parties. I kissed women and loved my new-found freedom. Trying new things with new people after ten years of having been in a relationship was refueling. But then he said something that shocked me.

My husband told me about his sexual experiences. He told me all about his dates in an effort to pull me closer towards him again. I was shocked by his confessions and also my reactions. As long as I hadn’t known the truth, I had convinced myself that I was cool and relaxed about the agreement. But now the truth was tearing me apart. I was more jealous than I had ever been. Inferiority and self-doubt crowded my mind. Were these women prettier than myself? Hotter? Younger? I didn’t want to be tormented by these thoughts, but I couldn’t stop thinking them.

An open relationship is not for the faint of heart

My husband didn’t share my problem. He was delighted when I told him I’d had great sex with someone else. People can be profoundly different. And here we arrive at an important point: an open relationship requires a lot of honesty, particularly to oneself. You have to be able to share your fears and feelings with your partner, even if they’re not particularly pleasant. An open relationship is not for the faint of heart.

Another fundamental requirement is communication. Open relationships are laborious, time-consuming and talk-intensive. What do you want? Where are your boundaries? How does it feel? You have to try things out, perhaps fail sometimes and then try again differently. It takes courage. Partners have to be prepared to find their own way through an open relationship and encounter lots of ‘aaaahs’ and ‘ouches’ along the way.

Did we ever close up our open relationship? Even if it sounds absurd: no. The open relationship ultimately benefits and inspires me. We tried a lot, researched a lot and broke out of our comfort zone. We matured, and that has enriched our shared sex life.

I love tantric sex and slow sex. He likes to dominate his partners. It’s an exciting way to learn from each other. We’ve also found ways to deal with my jealousy. “You are my queen,” he says before he goes on a date. Another way was when he recently proposed marriage.

Photo: © Jenna Jacobs /


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