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.