By Kendra Holliday | December 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm
My wife and I recently decided to open our marriage. Unfortunately, I’ve run into a problem: women don’t seem to want to get involved with a man who is in an open marriage.
So far the three women who I’ve approached, although they admit being attracted to me and interested in the idea, have all given me some variation on the same objection: they’re worried about hurting my wife or causing harm to our relationship. These women know both my wife and me, and they aren’t willing to even acknowledge the possibility that talking to my wife could resolve their concerns.
I can’t help but find this fairly insulting. These women seem to be substituting their own judgment for mine and my wife’s, and telling us that, as much as we might think we’re ready for an open relationship, we will inevitably fall victim to jealousy and bitterness.
Now, I can understand that some women may not want to take any risk of being responsible for that, no matter what the people in the relationship might say, and maybe there’s nothing I can do to change those women’s minds.
But how can I best explain that they don’t have to worry about causing harm to our relationship—and that even if that happened, it wouldn’t be their fault—and how can I maximize the chances that they’ll overcome their feelings of unease and be willing to get involved?
I asked a couple successful poly guy friends of mine for their 2 cents, and their combined answers added up to at least 2 bucks! Here is J’s take:
“Why not approach women who already identify as poly themselves and have other already established relationships? You can join a poly group in your town and mingle with like-minded people.
Of course I realize that’s a tough pill to swallow when you’ve already got what seems like three perfectly willing takers–if only it weren’t for their warped view of his wife, the mutual understandings they may have in their relationship …or what, on principle the sanctity of his marriage to her? Yeah, honestly I’d feel somewhat insulted by these assumptions of overreaching responsibility and risk too.
They clearly don’t fully understand the situation or what their limits of liability would be. On the other hand, no one want’s to feel like they might end up reviled as a homewrecker.
Now I realize maybe it’s not purely the realm of sexual jealousy these kindhearted female souls are worried about. After all we’re talking about forming deep emotional connections if all goes well. It’s a polyamorous relationship not necessarily a casual booty call this stud is aiming for right? In this case, yes I’d say it’s absolutely imperative he sit down with his wife and a potential girlfriend to hash out some feelings and individual needs. Maybe this is obvious, but I’d recommend in this case he schedule one discussion at a time.
This would be your chance to sell the concept to girlfriend X in front of your wife (who, let’s emphasize this clearly, damn well better be fully on board with this preordained discussion beforehand unless you’re looking for a world of hurt) and show that you have some rules and regulations in place protecting that longer-term relationship.
Consider bringing in terms like ‘primary’ vs. ‘secondary’ roles if you think that might help put her fears to rest while fully realizing all the connotations that come along with those loaded terms. I’m not personally a fan of them, but depending upon the situation it might help get the conversation moving. I’ve known some couples to write up a ‘contract’ or ‘rules of engagement’ before opening up their relationship. Do you have something like that? I know, it feels dorky, but consider showing that to the prospective mates. Maybe they’ll find the honesty and transparency refreshing.
You say these women already know your wife, but can’t imagine talking to her about any of this? Well, would your wife be willing to gently initiate the conversation with them herself?
Here is feedback from Reverend Matt:
“This may be a complicated situation, depending on those involved. Certainly the first concern of many women may be ‘are you really in an open marriage, or are you cheating’ or ‘is your wife allowing this against her will’ or something along those lines. Which as the writer notes would be easily resolved by talking directly to her.
The next level of discussion is around the idea of hurting you, your wife, or your relationships with your wife. Even knowing that your wife is totally on board isn’t going to complete alleviate this fear. Even if one of these women is good friends with you and your wife and there is open and honest communication about the relationship she will still harbor concerns about causing harm. If she isn’t worried about that I would consider that to be a warning sign.
But having concerns isn’t the same as being unwilling to pursue a relationship, it’s being willing to do so but cautiously. Perhaps approaching it from a take things slow, that you’ll spend time together, build your connections to one another and see if her comfort level improves and she realizes that it’s not going to cause your marriage to implode on contact.
We live in a society where non-monogamous relationships are rare and poorly understood often even by those in them. For most people that fear of the unknown, of the alien, is a significant deterrent and it will take time, thought, discussion, and clear communication to gradually assuage those fears. It is not an insult to you or your wife that they don’t understand how you feel that it would not have a negative impact on your marriage, it’s an emergent property of their cultural indoctrination. It is unfortunately the normative response at this point.
It is also entirely possible that this is being used as a convenient excuse to say no to something they really don’t want to do. While they may be interested in you and in theory intrigued by the idea, they are unwilling at this stage in their life to take that abstract and make it concrete. Once you take it out of the realm of discussion and they are facing the idea of actually dating a married man they may simply balk at that.
Other than take things very slowly, hang out with them with your wife, allow time for them to organically grow comfortable with it, there is little else I can offer as advice on how to convince them to give it a shot.”
Do any of you readers have any best practices to share?