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Open Relationships

Ask Erika, 
Erika I have read several of your replies and I like your attitude. I have a question about open relationships. My wife has met a female friend over the Internet that has told my wife about her sexual experiences. This other person is very open and free with her sexuality. She is married and has had multiple partners. She has said that her husband is ok with this arrangement and he participates and experiences other women. She has said that this has helped their marriage become stronger. Now my wife is interested in finding another person to join us or another couple. My fear is that my wife will enjoy the other person more than she enjoys me. Honestly I am turned on by the thought of another couple joining us, but I fear that I may loose my wife in the end. Can you please give me some advice soon. She has invited a couple over to our home this weekend to met us. It's another woman she works with in her office and the woman's husband. I know that she has probably! I already discussed this with her co-worker and that this is a chance for all of us to meet. I need your advice.

Dear Todd,
Thank you for your question. When considering an open relationship, it is important to know that the primary relationship is your number one priority. Therefore, it is crucial that the partners in the primary relationship be up front, clear, and honest with each other about the boundaries of the relationship. This involves having open and on-going conversations about your feelings and working through various possibilities until you both agree upon the parameters of the relationship. Often it is difficult to figure out what your reaction will be to going outside of the relationship (or bringing someone in) until it happens, but the more you and your wife can talk about it beforehand the better. Setting rules before you take action can help protect you both and sets parameters within you can function.

I say all this because it sounds as if you are concerned that things may be moving too quickly (with your wife's initiation). If this is the case, I would suggest putting on the brakes until you and she have had a chance to talk about it further. If, after more discussion, you decide that you both feel comfortable involving someone else in your sexual relationship, then perhaps you could proceed slowly, just meeting the couple for dinner, for example. You may also want to discuss the possible dynamics of having dual work/sexual relationships in the mix.

Again, Todd, the most important thing to remember is that your relationship with your wife is the primary and most important relationship. This certainly does not mean that you have to fulfill each other's EACH and EVERY need, sexually or emotionally. However, it does mean that you will devote the most energy to this relationship, including communicating openly about how involving others--either as friends or as lovers--will affect your primary relationship with and commitment to each other. Good luck and thanks for your question,

This tip was written by Dr. Pluhar



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The Founder: "Alex" Caroline Robboy, LCSW, QSW, CAS

Ms. Robboy is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Center for Growth Inc and How To Have Good Sex Inc.  Alex practices marriage and family therapy and sex therapy, and also conducts periodic seminars about human sexuality throughout the northeastern United States.

Ms. Robboy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a Masters degree in Social Work, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Human Sexuality Education and a Post-Masters Certificate in Marriage Counseling & Sex Therapy. Through the American Board of Sexology, she is a board certified sexologist and through the American Association of Sex Educators Counselors and Therapists a certified sex therapist.  Additionally, she is a licensed clinical social worker and a member of the American Board of Marriage and Family Therapy.


  Our Philosophy sex is like dancing, it changes every time. It depends on culture, atmosphere and mood. Sometimes it is done alone, with a partner or in a group. It can be fast and hard or slow and soft. Sex is a combination of non-verbal negotiation and verbal cues: a scream, a twitch of the toes, or a flush of the face. There is no one 'right' way to move, only what feels good to all those involved. 
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