Closing an Open Relationship


by The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way,

My boyfriend and I have had an open relationship for a little over two years. We are free to have safe, physically intimate relationships with other people, but have always said that our emotional relationship would be exclusive. This worked for both of us for a while because we love the fun of the first kiss, the first touch, etc, which you can’t get when you only have one partner.

But my feelings about our relationship have changed. I feel jealous now when he’s with other women. I know that I need to talk to him about it, but I’m afraid—this arrangement is what he wants (and what I used to want) and it’s why our relationship has lasted as long as it has. I don’t want to lose him. Lately I’ve been thinking that since I’ve sucked it up for this long, I can keep doing it if it means keeping him. What do you guys think?—SN

Jody    The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Your situation fascinates me. It always has. I’ve had friends confess to having an open relationship, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why they feel the need to be in a relationship at all if they’re not getting what they want from their main squeeze.

But I think what you need to really consider here is not the current situation as much as the whole relationship. Are you getting what you want out of this relationship still? Is he? Are you just going through the motions out of habit? Are you killing time with each other until someone else comes along that fits your needs more? Whatever the answer, don’t be afraid to talk about it! If you fail with your communication, this issue will probably never escalate. Not talking about it won’t make it go away.

Remember, you have to be willing to give up other people if you ask him to do the same. I don’t know if that will be easy for either of you since you’ll have to break habits.

The bottom line is you get one life to be happy. Just because something has worked for you in the past doesn’t mean it will work for you for life. That’s why people move on.

Check in tomorrow to read the straight woman's perspective by Rebecca Brown.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.

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