Difficulties in Open Relationships
by Somerset

Somerset is a man in his seventies who has only recently begun to search for compatible women for open relationships. He prefers sexual variety and treasures his independence. This is the third in a series of articles exploring open relationships. The entire series is archived for reference.

Major difficulties that present themselves in my wish for open relationships are related to fears about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), to jealousy, and to psychological immaturity.

In reflecting upon these difficulties, Iím reminded of two videos, both starring Meryl Streep. In each of these Meryl takes the part of a married woman who falls deeply in love with the hero figure. The male lead is taken by Robert Redford in Out of Africa, and by Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County. In both plots the woman eventually loses the man because of her desire to be his one and only lover even though it would be inappropriate for her to try to hang on to him, or him to her. Neither woman can remain satisfied with the exquisite, though temporary nature of the affair although, in both cases, the man appears to be very satisfied as long as the woman doesnít place extraordinary demands upon him.

In the first video, the man and woman appear unconcerned about receiving or transmitting some sexually transmittable disease even though she had previously been infected with syphilis by her promiscuous husband, although later cured. In the second video, the partners appear equally unconcerned about the possibility of sharing STDs.

Now I make a point of not attempting to seduce married or otherwise committed women since I do not wish to interfere with the vows they have made with each other. The procedures recommended by health authorities for the avoidance of STDs seem to me so cumbersome that I prefer not to use them and so rely on a careful determination of the sexual history of a partner before becoming intimate with her. I do my best to avoid sexual involvement with women who are generally fearful, who have a jealous nature, or who are otherwise emotionally immature.

What I find particularly ironic is the fact that, even if my potential lover and I are able to overcome these difficulties, and engage in sexual activities, we can determine whether we are sexual compatible only after that event, perhaps only after repeated sexual experiences together. If the experiment doesnít work out, one or other of the partners may feel badly hurt.

With these thoughts in mind I wonder whether attempts to overcome the inherent difficulties in open relationships are really worth the time and effort. Perhaps the only way that they may be successful is when both partners, fully recognizing the difficulties and risks, nevertheless decide that they are eager to enter into a sexual relationship, even if only on a temporary, experimental basis.

My basic response to this is that Iím generally willing to face the difficulties of open relationships with any woman I find physically, emotionally, and mentally attractive if she is also eager to experiment with me.