Evolution of a threesome relationship to an open relaitonship: Relationship structure, Multi-partner relationships, and Communication


Most of my writing regarding threesomes have focused on having a full-swap threesome, which is most peoples’ idea of a threesome. Nonetheless there is another aspect of having a threesome, the “open relationship.” Many people will wrongly confuse having a full-swap threesome with open relationship. Generally speaking, this perception is wrong; nonetheless, a threesome can involve into an open relationship. This article will explore how this can happen while looking at the potential risks and potential benefits.

To help put things into context let us assume there is a couple George and Martha who have been married for 25 years and after their youngest leaves for university decide to push the boundaries of their relationship. As a part of their exploration they decide to have a threesome with Mark, who is similar and age to them. They “hit it off” and the threesome they have is quite good. George enjoyed seeing Martha being please by another man and found it as validation of his wife’s desirability. After all of them having a good time then decide to meet again. It now raises the question is this an open relationship?

The answer to this, it depends. If for example George and Martha invite Mark back as a couple for another threesome then it is not an open relationship. Reason being both George & Martha are doing this as a couple and they are keeping their relationship emotionally monogamous. However, if they continue having threesomes with Mark whereby either George or Martha begins developing feelings for Mark then the question becomes how do they approach it? If the threesome relationship continues to develop into a polyamourous relationship, in this case sometimes referred to as a ménage de trios then it has developed into open relationship. Likewise if George and Martha decides to allow Martha to have sex along with Mark, such as cuckolding, then it would also be considered an open relationship.

Taking this a bit further what does it mean for George and Martha? If they are polyamorous route whereby Mark becomes an equal part of their relationship then it will mean, at a minimum, discussions about boundaries (e.g. how Martha will divide her time), how George and Mark will interact (e.g. will there male on male contact?) dealing with issues of jealousy, and devoting a lot of time to communication. Communication at this level is goes beyond basic social conversation that involves discussions regarding feelings, issues, and solving problems as they arise. This means for all three they must be able to communicate with each other, be assertive, and to be able to meet their needs while being able to meet the needs of the other two. Essentially this means each of them will have to invest a lot of their time into maintaining the relationship.

In contrast, if George and Martha opt for an open relationship where Martha is allowed to see Mark on her own then the question for them are they opting for a cuckolding relationship or a true open relationship. If the former is the case then it most likely means George will remain emotionally monogamous to Martha while she forms an emotional attachment to Mark. It also means that George and Martha will have to agree on boundaries and limits to this activity. Whereas, if the latter is their decision then Mark essentially becomes a secondary relationship for Martha. This will then mean for them they will have to agree if George is also able to pursue someone else outside of the relationship, agree on the ability to spend the night with their lovers, and communicate in order to address issues as they come up.

From a relationship risk stand point, a threesome relationship that continues can provide additional demands on the relationship in particular a greater need to communicate to address issues as they arise along with the risk of forming emotional attachment to the invited third person. Without communication including discussing issues as they are arise it is likely the couple will miss something that will adversely impact their relationship. Therefore it is important after every threesome that the couple work the any issues that arise, discuss their feelings including their feelings towards the invited third person, and discuss their next step. Without taking these basic steps the couple may put their relationship at risk.

10 thoughts on “Evolution of a threesome relationship to an open relaitonship: Relationship structure, Multi-partner relationships, and Communication

  1. You know, I had to come back and read this again because I found myself saying, “Huh? How’d he come to these conclusions?” I usually don’t find much issue with your pieces… but it assumes a few things that, at the least, I’ve never seen in my experiences. I can agree with George and Martha doing the threesome thing, then maybe progressing to a fully open relationship – but how cuckolding becomes a part of this just escapes me, even though I’d have to say that George and Martha would have to agree to this subset and, again in my experience (and study) this has little to do with having an open relationship – it’s just another way to have a threesome with a twist.

    I agree that being open can lead to polyamory; to me, it’s part of that logical progression as the couple grows together in this, is more comfortable about it and, yep, they’re asking themselves just how they could make this even better for them. I also agree – and purely based on my own ‘vast’ experience making this leap, yeah, you’d better really have your heads screwed on right and understand that being poly puts great demands on the table and across many segments, most of which have nothing to do with sex since an outside person or even persons will be tightly integrated with everyday life. Being poly doesn’t as much ‘threaten’ emotional monogamy than it does rewrite it because it’s now expanded.

    Or, as I’m prone to saying, you have to unlearn everything you ever learned about sex and relationships in favor of a new dynamic…

    The potential for disaster exists all along the progression, beginning with putting boundaries in place to prevent something from happening that few, if any, people really have the ability to control. From the very beginning, a couple would have to talk about the likelihood of emotional bonds forming as a result of the sex they’re having and, if they don’t, they’re making a mistake that’s only compounded by trying to not let nature, in that sense, run its course. You can prohibit such things which, of course, threatens emotional monogamy… but this part is an occupational hazard and more so if one understands how sex can make one emotionally labile; sex has that ability to shred our defenses as if they weren’t even there – and this is something a couple has to be very much aware of and, yes, do their planning with the thought in mind that, yeah, it could happen.

    Finally, I do agree that communication all along the way is vital and the further a couple takes this, the more they need to talk about the consequences of their actions.

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