Can open relationships work?

(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Sexy Typewriter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

My favourite ice cream flavour is mint chocolate chip.

I'm crazy about it. Sometimes, I have dreams about it.

But there are days when I'm more in the mood for strawberry. Or feel deeply compelled towards rocky road.

When I was a teenager, I worked at an ice cream parlour. I quickly came to know the orders of the regulars. It amazed and amused me how few people strayed from their favourite flavours.

Some people ordered nothing but vanilla. It's what they liked. It's all they wanted. No matter what amazing new flavours were on display, vanilla was all they would ever order. And they were quite happy with that.

Had I met Samantha Fraser during my stint as an ice cream scooper, I am fairly certain she wouldn't have ordered vanilla every time.

Fraser, 31, has been with her husband for 11 years. For the better part of six years, the couple has maintained an open relationship.

While they are deeply in love and emotionally invested in one another, they are both completely free to date and sleep with other people.

"We had been talking about it when the new laws were passed around sex clubs in the city (of Toronto)," says Fraser. "We kind of talked about swinging but we never really acted on it except for games of Spin the Bottle at parties. The following year, I was working at a cafe and a customer gave me a flirtatious note. I took it home and showed (my husband) and that's sort of how it started."

You might say that author and sex educator Tristan Taormino wrote the book on open relationships. "Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships" has become something of a bible among the non-monogamous.

"(Non-monogamy) is really about rejecting this stereotype or this myth that there's one true love out there for everyone and that that person is going to be able to meet all of our needs: emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, sexual, psychological," says Taormino. "Instead, they want to focus on having multiple relationships that fulfill different needs in different ways and have different dynamics."

For Fraser, who blogs about her experiences in an open marriage at Not Your Mother's Playground, having an open relationship was partially about exploring her sexuality.

"Before we opened up, the sex that we were having was sort of like best friends having sex," Fraser says. "It wasn't like we were sexually connected. There was a lot about both of our sexualities, and in particular mine, that hadn't been discovered yet. By being with other people, we were able to explore those things. I was 20 when we got together, and your 20s are such a time for discovery."

Fraser says that it's not an especially easy path that she and her husband have chosen, but their sex life has improved dramatically as they bring what they learn about themselves from others into the bedroom together.

She also says that having an open relationship with her husband has made them closer emotionally; in order for things to work and work well, there has to be near-constant communication.

It can't and won't work for everyone. But neither does monogamy.

"People want to have multiple relationships and experiences in their lives, but they don't want to sacrifice a committed relationship in order to do that," says Taormino. "(The non-monogamous) like the relationship they're in, they love the partner that they have, but they want other partners, too. They want to have their cake and eat it too, and we should all be able to eat cake - don't you think?"

Absolutely. And if you wanted to toss a scoop of ice cream on top of that cake, who could blame you?

Sexy Typewriter blogs about her dating experiences - online and otherwise - at Sexytypewriter.com.


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