This article is more or less my response to a great piece by Spencer Macnaughton I recently read on gay open-relationships on The Guardian's website.
Several books could (and have) been written on the subject of open-relationships – I'm not even going to attempt to get too deeply into this. From my own personal prospective, open-relationships don't work – for me. Been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. I don't like sharing my partner with strangers for sexual reasons. Personally, I feel that it lessens the bonds between the couple and eventually cracks begin to appear.
I do know an older gay couple that are open. They've been together since the 80's, they own several homes together and being open works for them. I guess in a manner of speaking, they know the other person isn't "going anywhere" so they feel secure in sharing their partner with others for sexual reasons.
Some couples strike a deal to only play with others when one or both are out of town.
Some couples agree to an open-relationship but will only play together (3-ways).
Some couples agree to only play at the prospective trick's place - no bringing anyone home to the shared home or having sex in the "marriage" bed.
Some couples agree that only oral sex can be performed with others, anal sex being sacred to the couple's union.
Some couple have no rules except: Be safe and always use a condom.
For an open-relationship to work, both parties have to be completely on the same page and equally want the open-relationship. When my ex-partner approached me about opening-up our relationship, I went along with it reluctantly. I felt betrayed that he wanted to have sex with other people (that I wasn't enough) and that he got turned on by thinking about me with other guys. Surely he couldn't love me ? I also felt like if I didn't agree to it, my partner would go ahead and do it anyhow. Better to know about it than not, I thought at the time.
Frankly, no discussion about open-relationship for gays would be complete without touching on the fact that there are those that say, we're not straight, why should we be expected to live up to society’s ideal version of a monogamous heterosexual union ? When you have two men in a relationship, monogamy is impossible. After-all, men have that caveman need to spread their seed around, right ? One partner could never, never be enough... Sex and love doesn't have to be the same thing. Sex is merely a bodily function – a bodily comfort, if you will. Having sex with others is only a scratching of a physical itch and a mental need for variety in the sex partners.
One thing is true, people certainly seem to have very strong opinions about this subject, either for or against. Whether you're a free-thinking modernist or an old-school romantic this subject does call for some deep introspection. Open-relationships might work or they might not. Just be aware that if you decide on this, you might lose everything (be ready to take that risk) or it just might work out for the good and draw you two closer together. Whatever you decide, discuss it with your partner/prospective partner and get their completely and honest take on the matter – don't assume anything.