Is It Ever Possible to Successfully Go From a Closed to an Open Relationship?

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Betty Dodson

My boyfriend and I are both in our mid/late 20's, and have been together for nearly six years. We have a very close and loving relationship, and sex is still great, since we both know how to please each other.

However, ever since I stopped taking birth control pills (about 18 months ago), my sex drive has been dramatically higher... and since then, I can't stop thinking about what it would be like to go to bed with another man. I hate myself for feeling this way, because it seems to imply that I'm no longer attracted to or pleased by my boyfriend, but this isn't the case at all - I simply want to explore my sexuality in new situations while I'm still young, attractive, and interested in such things. Further, the thought of going the rest of my life with no new sexual partners (I plan to marry this one some day) really makes me feel trapped.

I love my boyfriend dearly and neither of us wants to lose the other, so he has (very) reluctantly agreed to open the relationship, but he's still nearly heartbroken with worry that I'll be so enamored by one of these new sexual partners that I'll want to leave him. Any excitement he feels about getting the license to play around with other girls doesn't seem to blunt the feelings of inadequacy that this whole situation has left him with.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I might reassure my boyfriend while still getting the sexual outlet I crave? Is it ever possible to successfully go from a closed to an open relationship? And am I insane for somehow wanting/needing something different than my amazing, attractive and attentive boyfriend? Thanks,


Dear K,

Variety is the spice of life. While many folks would think you're crazy, I think you're very wise. I answered a similar question recently. If I could, I would pass a law that requires couples to experience sex with between 5 to 10 other people before getting married. Til death do us part is a very long time!

I believe that's a big part of why we have so many divorces. Monogamy can rarely withstand healthy sexual curiosity that is inevitable so we end up with serial monogamy. In between marriages both can have multiple partners until they repeat the pattern. Marriage followed by divorce for cheating while married is common today. Keep discussing this with your boyfriend. Reason with him that if either of you find someone you like better, it makes sense to get apart now before you own property or have children.

On a side note: it's usually the woman who wants monogamy for fear of losing her lover. My belief is that love has the ability to let go. If one partner is unhappy, it's better to find that out now. Otherwise, love is like taking a hostage that you must guard night and day. That kind of jealousy and possessiveness doesn't make for happiness but rather demonstrates fear and insecurity. Let me know what happens.

Dr. Betty

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