Thursday, April 29, 2010

The skinny on long-term non-monogamous male couples

via San Francisco Bay Times, by Tom Moon

Blake Spears and Lanz Lowen have been together for over 34 years. They told me that they still have great sex, contradicting the common belief that sexual interest inevitably wanes in a long-term relationship. How do they do it? “One reason,” Lanz said, “is that we’ve been in an open relationship from the very beginning. If we hadn’t been open, we wouldn’t have been able to grow individually or as a couple.” But, they write, this was a journey they took “without a roadmap…Information about how couples navigate this terrain is surprisingly lacking. We were curious about the experience of others and assumed many long-term couples might offer valuable perspectives and hard-earned lessons.” So, a few years back, they decided to use their combined training and experience in research and psychology to do an independent, in-depth study of other long-term open gay male relationships.

They hoped to provide the community with an accurate picture of what non-monogamy actually looks like in the lives of gay men. Their study has now been completed. It’s an intimate look into the lives of 86 couples who have each been together for a minimum of 8 years, and it can be accessed at

This study is a fascinating read because the authors largely avoid speculation and let the participants speak for themselves. One finding that fascinated me was the many varieties of “openness” that the couples practiced. Some only played together, some only separately, and some did both. Some only allowed anonymous outside encounters, while others allowed “friends with benefits” and still others built polyamorous families with multiple partners. Some (about ten percent) had no rules at all governing outside sex, while at the other end of the spectrum others created detailed ground rules and contracts. Every imaginable kind of “openness” seemed to work for someone.

Read the rest.

Join LifeLube for the "Love in the Age Grindr" forum on May 19 that explores some of these issues.

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