Talk

Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Open relationship

(171 Posts)
Purpleprints Mon 26-Nov-18 21:18:21

Name changed as I know a few people on here.
Married 10+ years, DH and I haven’t had sex in about 3 years. His choice; I initiate and he’s not interested. We’ve talked about it a few times and in the beginning (ie when it first started to dwindle), he would make a renewed effort but it became sporadic duty sex and there is nothing worse than having sex with someone who doesn’t want it so I stopped asking.

We had a chat about a year ago and at the end, I suggested opening the relationship and he looked surprised but didn’t assent nor decline. A couple of weeks ago, I re-visited the subject of our sexless marriage and mentioned an open relationship again. To my surprise, DH agreed to me having sex with other men because, amongst other things, he admitted he is just not a sexual person and feels like he had neglected me when it comes to my needs. His demeanour has changed for the positive since this, he appears more relaxed if we hug or touch, it’s like the pressure is off.

I actually don’t know where to start with this new freedom. I have made it clear to DH that my priority is our family and as I see love and sex as two completely separate entities, I’m not going to fall in love with anyone because they are a great shag. Is anyone in an open relationship (one sided or both) who can shed some light on how it works for them?

MissConductUS Mon 26-Nov-18 21:50:23

Off topic, but have you considered that he's had low testosterone levels for the last few years? It's very common for men starting in their 40's. If it's the case, it should be treated as it has lots of health consequences beyond low libido.

male hypogonadism symptoms and causes

My DH experienced this around age 45 but we got it diagnosed and treated early on. As soon as he started testosterone replacement he was back to wanting sex (more than me most of the time).

Good luck, and if he hasn't spoken to his doctor about this, see if you can get him to.

Purpleprints Mon 26-Nov-18 22:03:52

Thanks for your reply. He said he has always felt like this, never understood why men have to behave as if they are testosterone-fuelled and sex mad. He said he has felt under pressure to chase women when he was single when he really wasn’t bothered. If the roles were reversed and I was talking about my DW, I think it would be more ‘acceptable’, we accept that some women are not interested in or go off sex but if it’s a man, we think he has a problem. Hell, I thought he had a problem until I realised he is just different.

PersonaNonGarter Mon 26-Nov-18 22:05:58

Do not do it. Yet. Get a bit of counselling first to see if this is really going to work for you or just further alienate you from each other.

maximumcarnage Mon 26-Nov-18 22:11:31

Pretty dangerous territory here. I’ve heard many people embrace such an arrangement and claim they can separate sex and love. Some can. But not many. I’ve seen many such casual arrangements quickly become an emotional as well as physical relationship. If you enter into such a thing you must accept the possibility, no matter how unlikely you feel it, that it could become much more than just sex.

Jsku Mon 26-Nov-18 23:22:47

OP - if you want to try to do it - you’ll need to go online.
Set up profiles.
Easiest is, obviously Tinder....

Or you can go to the swingers websites where people in open relationships meet.
Or - try Killing Kittens - it’s not only a place for parties - the website also facilitated meeting of people looking for FWBs....

Point is - you aren’t dating in a conventional sense. You need a FWB who will respect your arrangement....

Of course - the other place that exists is the websites for married people who are looking for extra sex. Most of them won’t be in open relationships. Up to you if you want to go that way. Illicit Encounters, Ashley Maddison - etc...

I agree with you - your H has a right not to want sex. And you have a right to still want it.
It’s admirable that you got to the point where you can be honest and open with each other!!!!

SuperSuperSuper Mon 26-Nov-18 23:35:22

There was a story on a rival parenting website many years ago from a fortysomething woman in an open marriage who'd been seeing other men casually for a while, with her husband's consent (he no longer had sex with her, I can't recall why). It had been going well. However, at the time of writing she'd hooked up with a guy she'd dated for a year at age 15/16, her first love, and didn't understand why her husband was nervous about it. Everyone on her thread told her she was playing with fire but she wasn't listening, she was after affirmation and then she vanished from the thread when it was not forthcoming.

I'm not saying you'd meet up with an ex, but there's a danger of emotional involvement and complications.

TimeWoundsAllHeals Mon 26-Nov-18 23:43:41

My parents have an open relationship (though not much opportunity for extra curricular activities these days). I don’t think it’s an ideal setup but they have lasted.

I think you need to be really clear in advance how you’ll deal with jealousy which will happen. Also don’t assume because he has a low libido that nothing will ever happen with him and another woman, anything can happen, you need to be prepared for the fact if you do this it goes both ways.

ReanimatedSGB Mon 26-Nov-18 23:56:24

There's a lot of information online about open relationships, but if you ask on a mainstream site you will get the usual whining from monogamy fetishists and conformists insisting that it' s a terrible, terrible thing and it will all go horribly wrong and everyone will die and stuff.

It's actually a pretty good solution for a situation like yours - the only other workable option would be to end the marriage (because your H should not feel pressured into sex when he doesn't want it, but you shouldn't have to go without sex for the rest of your life, either.)
Your H might also want to look for information about asexuality.

SandyY2K Tue 27-Nov-18 12:00:28

Yours would be a one sided open relationship.

It works with discretion and not getting emotionally involved.

It's best you find a single man or one who is also in an open relationship too.

As much as you say you won't leave H...feelings can develop and some men with a cuckold fetish have lost their wives to the lover.

In those cases....a loss of respect for the husband tends to develop and feelings increase for the OM.

Purpleprints Tue 27-Nov-18 16:30:15

Thanks for all your replies.

I am truly someone who doesn’t equate sex with love, I just never have, maybe I’m just “wired” like that. When I was single I had lots of sex with men with whom I felt a sexual attraction, not any deep (or even shallow) emotion. Someone will probably come along shortly and psychoanalyse me saying that I have low self-esteem or I was searching for love in sex (seen it on here before) but no, I just like sex on its own.

To the PP who mentioned asexuality, this crossed my mind when DH and I last spoke. This is a possibility but I wonder if he needs a label or can just go about his (now relaxed) business knowing that I understand his disinterest in sex and that I will no longer bother him. You are also right that the other option was to end the marriage which would be a shame because we do love each other and get on brilliantly, we are just at extreme ends of the sexual spectrum.

To the PP who gave me the online options, thank you. Are you speaking from experience as you seem to have a lot of knowledge? The IE and AM sites aren’t my bag, I’d prefer someone who is being as honest as I am, not shagging around behind their wives’ backs. I’ll definitely check out some of the other sites you mentioned.

Yes, even with his lack of interest in sex DH could go off and meet another woman. He could do that even if we were not in an open relationship, anyone can. It’s a chance we take in relationships generally.

ReanimatedSGB Tue 27-Nov-18 16:30:51

Don't forget that a relationship where one partner has no libido can go wrong with or without an agreed open arrangement. Because sooner or later the resentment between the two original partners will grow too big to be ignored. Opening the relationship might work, or might speed up the end of the original marriage but that's OK. There are no guarantees with relationships anyway, and sometimes ending one is the best thing to do, even if one partner doesn't like it.

NotTheFordType Tue 27-Nov-18 17:07:50

Two stories of personal experience

My BFF has been with her H for over 20 years. He has always had a low libido and when they were younger she thought she did as well. However as she got older she realised she was actually into BDSM and this was where her sexual response resided. Her H was unable and unwilling to do any remotely kinky stuff but gave her his blessing to explore the local kink scene - but he didn't want to hear any details.

They have now had this arrangement for around 10 years. BFF has a primary boyfriend and she lives with him and H 50/50 (they only live a street away from each other so it's logistically easy.) Her boyfriend has another girlfriend who stays with him a couple of nights per week. Both BFF and the primary boyfriend also have casual flings with up to 3 other people on the regular. H doesn't see anyone else - he is very involved in his hobby which takes up a couple of weekends a month and involves a lot of travel.

H has found the pressure is off since the relationship is open and he doesn't feel obliged to try to fulfill BFF's needs, or feel guilty that he isn't. He is much less stressed and more confident.

BFF, her H, her boyfriend and the other girlfriend all regularly socialise together, have xmas together, birthdays etc. I've been out to dinner with them and hung out with them in a group and there is no awkwardness at all, just a huge amount of love.

For me personally:
I have a FWB, and he's the only person I fuck on a non-transactional basis (I'm a sex worker.) He has a mild cuckold fetish and if I've had a particularly satisfying client, I'll take an intimate snap and message it to FWB with a suitable caption.

He enjoys group sex (I don't) and frequently goes to swingers clubs and parties and he'll tell me all about it. We both enjoy hearing about each others' exploits.

Last year I moved a significant distance so we have naturally not been able to meet up as often (used to meet once a week, now it's once every 6 weeks if that.) He recently met someone at a swinging club who he has really hit it off with and feelings are getting involved. He was very thoughtful in how he told me about it but I'll admit I did have a momentary twinge of "Huh, what am I, chopped liver?!" This passed fairly quickly though and I am genuinely now pleased to see him so happy. His new partner will continue to see her FWBs and FWB will continue to see me and attend parties etc.

So in the first instance I'd say this was a polyamorous reationship since there is a love relationship between most of the participants.

In my case I am fond of FWB and I would be sad if we parted ways completely, but I don't love him and would never consider a committed relationship with him (or anyone else for that matter.)

Hope this helps, and I'd recommend having a read of The Ethical Slut too.

Purpleprints Wed 28-Nov-18 16:06:54

Interesting post Notthefordtype. DH has lots of little hobbies that he likes to busy himself with, he’s not outgoing like I am.
I had a FB (not a FWB as we were not friends prior to sex) when I was single for many years. We got on well as we were both in it for the same thing and if either of us started dating anyone, we’d let the other know and cease seeing each other. It worked really well.

Hoosh Wed 28-Nov-18 16:23:45

It can work (does for me) but you have to be properly honest with each other and really communicate. Especially about the awkward stuff. If there's something you feel unsure or uncomfortable about discussing, then that's the conversation you need to be having grin

I also recommend reading The Ethical Slut.

Be prepared to be surprised by your own feelings/reactions sometimes. I tend to see myself as pretty immune to jealousy/insecurity but I've been emotionally sideswiped a couple of times when I least expected it.

DP and I got together knowing we were both looking for an open relationship so in some ways that was more straightforward than opening up a monogamous relationship.

There are lots of poly groups on Facebook where you can chat and attend meet-ups if you want to. There are also separate poly dating groups.

Good luck and enjoy smile

Hoosh Wed 28-Nov-18 16:27:20

I've met several people via OK Cupid. It's one of the only mainstream dating sites where you can have non-monogamous as a search filter. You can quickly filter out the married cheating chancers and find the genuine profiles.

Jsku Wed 28-Nov-18 16:34:28

@Purpleprints

I have friends on a few of the febsites I mention.
The challenge for people in open marriages that are starting up is finding people who’ll be ok with the arrangement and you not offering them more, or a ‘real relationship’....

Single people tend to want more from the person they are ‘dating’...
Hence - swingers, or Sex focused websites are best.
Or another person in a similar arrangement....
Some people on ‘married dating’ sites are.
Most not.

fanfan18 Wed 28-Nov-18 16:38:19

OP did you watch the recent TV programme with Toni Collette called Wanderlust?

It was quite good and I've always thought I could do an open relationship but it kind of changed my mind even though it looked mostly enjoyable on the show! I'd recommend it just to get an idea of the dynamics and situations it brings.

ReanimatedSGB Wed 28-Nov-18 16:39:35

Good luck, OP. It is doable. There will be hiccups now and again, but the same is true of monogamous relationships.

Italiangreyhound Wed 28-Nov-18 16:52:15

"monogamy fetishists" hilarious!

Italiangreyhound Wed 28-Nov-18 16:58:22

OP I'm not a monogamy fetishist, but in am monogamus. So I'm not the target audience for your post.

However, I just want to say do be careful.

Be careful of hooking up with random people on the internet, just use all the usual precautions and sensible things. Could a female friend know where you are going and who you are meeting etc. Just for safety?

And be careful of your heart. With respect "I’m not going to fall in love with anyone because they are a great shag...." You just do not know that. You might. And if you do it might be the right thing to end your marriage if it happens.

And lastly, I do wonder if your dh should get checked out medically for his own benefit.

You sound very brave and I wish you well. flowers

Tuesdaynightagain Wed 28-Nov-18 17:01:31

I'm at a similar point in my marriage. DH and I are absolutely made for each other on every level, other than sex. For years, I assumed i had a low sex drive, but it gradually dawned on me that we just weren't into the same stuff, and it wasn't working for either of us.

We had a very open chat about it and theoretically have opened up the marriage.

What's actually happened is that the pressure immediately eased off, we started to talk about what we really like without getting into an argument. We're having some physical stuff (where we meet in the middle) and are physically closer we've been in years.

I'm definitely flirting more outside the marriage, feeling better about myself, feel like I've got my spark back. Had a brief encounter with someone else, which actually felt fantastic.

I'm no expert, but I think being honest is so liberating.

Italiangreyhound Wed 28-Nov-18 17:03:29

"Opening the relationship might work, or might speed up the end of the original marriage but that's OK" I do agree with this.

Bimwit Wed 28-Nov-18 17:08:30

You will of course be told its not possible for womento separate sex and love and that the world will end...but its simply not true for all - follow your gut. Success or failure really depends on the people involved. Its worked for me but not in a way which would work for others and some just cant contemplate it iyswim. Good luck, its a lot more common than you think ;)

Purpleprints Wed 28-Nov-18 17:27:25

Such a lot of support and positivity.

Hoosh are those groups on Facebook private? We don’t need my Facebook friends knowing the ins and outs of our relationship. Glad to hear that this works for you, how long have you been in an open relationship? The Ethical Slut is on the reading list.

Jsku I think it will be a challenge to find men who are not only ok with no emotion but also who are not cheating so I agree that specialised websites are the way to go. I like the look of Killing Kittens that you mentioned in your other post. I need to get some photos sorted.

Fan I did watch Wanderlust, found it thought-provoking and it probably stoked my interest even more. Don’t think the DC need to know though!

SGB we seem to think alike, I want to say that what you say makes sense and is so true but it almost sounds conceited because I’d be talking about myself as well!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: