via Advocate, by Daniel Vaillancourt
The legally married couple has had an open relationship for the last two years. “Who wouldn’t want to be allowed to hook up with other guys and have their husband be OK with it?” he asks.
“Isn’t that what most men dream of, and isn’t the limitation of sex with one partner in a marriage the reason why so many people cheat?” Adds Morrow, “As two men, sex isn’t particularly emotional for either of us. That enables us to separate our love for one another from the occasional physical attraction we may have for another guy.”
Matthew and Pablo, married 40-something realtors in Palm Springs, Calif., were monogamous for the first eight of their 15 years together.
“We sort of just fell into our open relationship,” says Matthew. “It’s been a slow evolution. In the beginning, we only played together, which made it feel less threatening.”
They still enjoy the occasional threesome, but for the last few years have increasingly sought sex outside the relationship.
Jelle and Guido, both 44-year-old ground personnel for an international airline in Amsterdam, have been together since 1997.
For 10 years monogamy reigned. But when physical attraction waned, sex fell by the wayside and the relationship soured, eventually hitting rock bottom.
The two figured they had nothing to lose, opened up their relationship, and saved it. “I’m really happy,” says Guido. “It made our relationship stronger. I’m glad he’s my partner, I love him, and I believe it was a wise decision to give each other the freedom we needed.”
Adds Jelle: “There are so many things keeping us together: love, trust, friendship, security, common hobbies and interests, humor, a shoulder to cry on. Much too much to give up for that tiny but oh so important aspect in life that is sex.”
Although no one knows for sure how many gay couples are in open relationships, or whether they are on the decline, it’s certain these men are not alone. “I would feel comfortable saying that at least four out of five long-term gay male couples are not monogamous,” says Beverly Hills sexologist Winston Wilde.
“Monogamy rarely does work for more than two years — for most straight and bi men as well.”
Which isn’t to say that lifelong fidelity is unattainable. Experts agree that couples who are creative and on the same page can absolutely sustain a vigorously exclusive sex life.
“We are not and have never been in an open relationship,” says Doug Hairgrove. He and partner Warren Wood, married septuagenarians also from Palm Springs, have been together 50 years.
They’re still intimate at least twice a week and see sex and love as inseparable. “We do not understand having one and not the other,” says Wood.
John Sovec, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Pasadena, Calif., encourages his clients to form the most powerful and satisfying bond possible. “I believe gay couples have an incredible opportunity to create whatever type of relationship works best for them without the constraints of a societal norm,” he says.
When one partner wants an open relationship and the other does not, “one person has to yield,” says Loren A. Olson, a Des Moines psychiatrist and the author of Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, a Psychiatrist’s Own Story.
“Two cannot live with rules that are mutually exclusive.” In such scenarios, Timothy Huber, a clinical psychologist in the New York metro area, prescribes the three T’s.
“Talk, talk, talk about it,” he urges. “Do not avoid or minimize the issue. For some, that’s a setup for infidelity. If conflicts persist, seek professional assistance.”
Even when both partners desire nonmonogamy, there are cases when it’s not advisable. “Odd as it may sound, an open relationship requires a strong degree of trust and respect in order to be successful,” says Didi Zahariades, a psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Ore.
“In my experience, it requires a healthy, loving couple who are able to talk honestly about their individual needs. Open relationships are not a possibility for a couple with a high degree of distrust or jealousy. If a couple is already volatile, then adding another person — or persons — is simply not an option.”
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