Love & Sex Q&A: Open Relationship Stress

Gay couple

QDear Q & A,

I have been with my partner for nearly 8 years. For the last five we’ve had an open relationship, which I instigated because I felt things had got a little stale.  My partner accepted this, and apart from a few discreet affairs I’ve pretty much remained monogamous, and throughout the whole time my partner hasn’t gone elsewhere.

Over the last two years my partner has become more conscious about his looks and health, has altered his diet, exercised more, and is now very attractive, stunning in fact.  He is now getting a lot of attention from outside the relationship, and up until a couple of months ago did nothing about it.  However last month he had sex outside of our relationship with three different guys.  One of them declared his love for him, and although my partner has said no, which was a lovely feeling, I now feel that having an open relationship for me is not going to work.  I felt abandoned when he went for sex last month, and although he declined the declaration of love I have been left with feeling very insecure.

Over the last few years my partner has taken on most of the running costs for the home as I have just sat back in a small subsistence job (I didn’t want a career) while he’s developed his career and increased his income. So now that I’m getting older I feel that if he left me I would be left with nothing, and my comfortable life feels very threatened.

I don’t think I want the relationship to be open anymore. I don’t get many takers any more and feel the relationship could get into crisis if it continues.

How should I broach this subject with my partner?

Trevor T



You need to talk to your partner about how you feel. I wouldn’t focus on the monetary side of things, though. While I can appreciate that it may be a component in the mix, it could be taken wrongly.  Your partner has only just taken up the baton to open up his side of the relationship.  Perhaps he was just testing the waters and it may not be a sign of things to happen or that he is going to leave you. This seems proved by when he declined the declaration of love from the other guy.

Unfortunately, with open relationships there is a danger that when couples go out and have sex and build an intimate connection with another person, feelings can be transferred, and the main relationship may be given a lower priority.  And it could fail.  Your partner probably accepted and took on the risks when you instigated the open relationship all those years ago.

Ultimately, if you are not happy with the relationship being open, let your partner know. You have gone through a stressful time with this other guy trying to break you up, so this may have made him rethink the situation — as it has with you.  However, be prepared for him to want to continue having the relationship open.  Once you opened the door to that kind of outside involvement, it is sometimes hard to close again.  It can really put the strength of your love and commitment to each other to the test, and that love and commitment will be the key factor in settling this issue.



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Jonathan WelfordJONATHAN WELFORD heads up, a relationship and dating coaching practice. He was awarded the accolade of being one of the top 10 Gay Relationship Bloggers for 2013. He writes gay agony uncle columns for numerous publications in both the UK and USA, and is also a regular columnist for He lives with his Scottish husband in Manchester, UK.