Dating a woman in an open marriage

Now, the term polyamory or "poly" is viewed as the hipper term, with numerous web sites offering chat rooms, bulletin boards, and personal ads.

One even posts a glossary of poly terms, explaining that relationships can be triads (three people), vees (in which one person has two lovers who aren't involved with each other), quads (four), extended networks, and other arrangements.

On one point all agree: a "poly" relationship isn't going to work unless all partners are in favor of the arrangement. adults have some sort of open arrangement, estimates Franklin Veaux, 41, an Atlanta-based computer programmer and web site developer who also runs a polyamory web site.

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It all sounds very Middle America, until you know the rest of the story. So Block, who says she is bisexual, broached the topic of open marriage with her husband. He isn't pursuing another relationship himself at this time, although he knows he is free to.

Although Block and her husband, Christopher (not his real name), have been married for nearly 11 years, Jemma (not her real name) is Block's other love. "All that's going on here is feeling open to loving other people," says Block, 37, whose book, Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, is due out in June 2008.

Another term to describe one type of open relationship is polyamory -- literally, "multiple loves." Those who practice open relationships or polyamory often say they are "hardwired" this way and that laying the ground rules for multiple relationships spares everyone hurt and disappointment.

Not everyone agrees, with some therapists calling the polyamorous model a recipe for hurt, disappointment, jealousy, and breakups.

They regularly go out on "dates," although Block's daughter knows only that Jemma is a family friend. Limiting love, she says, doesn't seem normal to her.

The term "open marriage," coined by the late George and Nena O'Neill in their 1972 book of the same name, has been expanded as more couples choose to follow the concept without getting married.

Those classic love triangle movies, he tells Web MD, were always frustrating to him. " While variety in sex is a big part of multiple romances, polyamorists say it's not the whole story.

"Why should the hero or heroine have to choose between two partners? And polyamory is definitely different from swinging, says Block.

"In the '70s, there was the playing loose around the edges idea," she says.

"Poly is trying to come across as thoughtful and considerate." An obvious benefit, Weston says, is that sexual monotony seldom sets in.

"Everybody adds value to my life." Those who pursue an "open" or polyamorous relationship are obviously not conventional types, says William Doherty, Ph D, director of the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, St. "There are always some people who want to push the limits of their experiences -- their joy, their ecstasy in life," he says. Those who pursue multiple relationships simultaneously, Doherty says, say they are capable of many loves and passion and that "artificial cultural constraints" tell them they should restrict their love and passion to just one person.

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