Wise Guys: Can a Man Be Talked into an Open Relationship?

Advice from three of EMandLO.com’s guy friends. This week they answer the following: I want to have an open relationship, but my boyfriend doesn’t want to open up the relationship. I don’t want to break up, what should I do?” To ask the guys your own question, click here.

wiseguy_benStraight Married Guy (Ben)Easy answer — if you don’t want to break up, then you can’t have an open relationship. But really it sounds like it’s time for you and your boyfriend to do a yes / no / maybe list — a kind of sexual proclivities inventory where you see what each of you definitely are up for, what you might want to do if conditions are right and what things are total out of bounds. You each fill out the list on your own and then compare your answers. Whatever you both answer Yes to, go for it. Maybes mean it’s up for negotiation. And No from either of you means No for both of you. There’s a pretty great Yes / No / Maybe list on my Adult Parlour Games site.

Gay Single Guy (Justin Huang): First off, you’re my type of lady friend. We should hang. Second, to be perfectly blunt, you should break up with this guy because the two of you don’t belong together. And there are two different explanations as to why:

1) You and he have fundamentally different views on romance. It takes a certain type of person who wishes for an open relationship. You’re polyamorous (which is a fancy academic word for “slutty”). We polyamorous people should really only date each other, not because we’re better than the monogamous, but because we just view love differently, as something fluid and evolving. Even if you don’t want to hurt him, you should realize that eventually, you will. You should let him find someone for whom he is enough. Or, there’s an entirely different scenario…

2) This whole “open relationship” is just really the beginning of a slippery slope that ends with you leaving him, because you’re lying to yourself when you say that you want to stay with him. He’s not fulfilling you in some way, whether it’s sexually, romantically, intellectually, spiritually, whatever. Don’t string him along.

Both possibilities have the same solution. You need to be honest with him, but more importantly, with yourself.

anonymous_suitStraight Single Guy (Max): If you find yourself constantly looking elsewhere, why don’t you just break up? Comfort breeds laziness, which I think can be dangerous to a relationship — you may not want to do the work it takes to keep things going. Look, if you want to sleep with other people, do it. It’s up to you to figure out if you want to be dishonest and cheat, or honest and break up with your partner. If you truly love your boyfriend, you’ll stay with him and be honest about things. But — and I hate to say it — I know for a fact that sometimes a little infidelity can make you realize how much you value your significant other. It just causes a lot of pain and has the potential to destroy everything. Regardless, tread carefully!

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is Ben, a writer and artist living in Los Angeles who runs AdultParlorGames.com; our Gay Guy is Justin Huang, an LA-based freelance film editor, producer, certified personal trainer and the voice of IAmYellowPeril.com; and our Single Straight Guy, Max, is a recent college grad in New York City. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. I would say that you can talk a man into an open relationship depending on how far along and how attached he is. I think if it’s early on it definitely can happen and that guys can be happy in an open relationship. Interesting topic

    1. If they’re happy in an open relationship, you didn’t need to talk them into it. They were into the idea already.

  2. A real open relationship is not simply hooking up with others. (which is fine too, just don’t call it an open relationship) An open relationship is being committed to the idea of each of you expanding your horizons as much as possible, and if that includes a relationship that evolves into a sexual relationship with another, than it is okay. It is an expansion from the first relationship, an add on, if you will. A lot of people have made open relationships work wonderfully. They are built on a whole boatload of trust, and often involve bringing outside experiences back into the primary relationship in a way that brings growth and more passion to the primary relationship.

    This is quite different then a poly relationship, which is when more than two people are being committed and faithful to each other, and it is also different than cuckolding, which expressly does not involve the dude getting busy outside the relationship, only the lady.

    Bottom line, If you have to be talked into it, you’re probably not ready for it. Do some reading on the subject and you will find it almost never works unless both people are into it, trust each other implicitly, are not cavalier with each other’s feelings, and maybe most importantly are very good at communicating with each other.

  3. Cuckolding is a big trend. Start telling the BF that it would only be an open relationship for you and he would have to be faithful. Then start telling him sexy cuckold-themed stories and calling him from work saying you are about to do it with another guy in a hotel room (If he gets too upset, just have him call you back at work to prove you were just kidding). Maybe he’ll get turned on by the idea. OR, maybe he’ll compromise by agreeing to have it be an open relationship for both of you. But try to make it erotic somehow.

  4. After thinking about it a bit, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a younger female (likely a freshman/soph in college) and is in one of her first “real” relationships. She is then stuck between wanting to maintain her current boyfriend and wanting to hook up like the rest of the people her age.

    If that’s the case, it might also be that she just wants an open relationship for a little while and not long term. In that case, a compromise of this being only a temporary deviation in their relationship might help put the guy at ease.

  5. It depends on what you are wanting out of the open relationship, what his concerns/reservations are, and how much the two overlap.

    If you are wanting a full on second boyfriend, then I don’t think there’s any way to talk someone into it.

    Are you wanting something consistent on the side (friends with benefits with 1 or 2 or how ever many guys)? Do you want to be able to have a short fling with the guy that gets flirty at the gym? Or are you wanting the occasional or frequent one night stand with that guy at the bar? How frequently do you want this side action? Few times a week? month? year?

    Obviously, the fewer guys and the lower the frequency you want, the easier it might be.

    He could just be worried about losing time with you. Time spent hooking up with other guys might mean less time for him and potentially less sex for him. Is there a frequency that you both could agree on?

    He could be worried about losing you to another guy, then maybe make the concession of only shorter flings and not much hanging out before/after the hookup.

    He could just be worried about the number of guys. He could be ok with the idea of you hooking up with one guy a few times a month, but would have a problem if you were having multiple one night stands a month.

    He might even be entirely ok with you sleeping with whoever/whenever you want and would enjoy the same for himself, but is worried about becoming jealous if you’re getting significantly more side action than him. Then wait until he hooks up first before you do, and then try to maintain a similar pace as him in number and frequency.

    Whatever permutation of scenarios fits you and your boyfriend, openly discuss what you want and what he’s concerned with and see if you can create a workable compromise.

  6. No, I don’t think you can talk someone into that. Maybe you can get him to grudgingly agree to an open relationship, but that’ll blow up in your face big-time.

    People who aren’t wired for open relationships have tremendously strong emotional resistance to the idea. So much so that you’ve probably poisoned the well just by bringing it up. Now that he knows you crave other men, I’m sure it’s awakened a possessive, jealous, insecure streak in him. I say break up before this turns ugly.

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