Open relationship: woman wants to have sex with other men before marriage

A woman wants to marry her boyfriend, but a problem stands in the way of going down the aisle.

Welcome to Relationship Rehab,’s weekly column that solves all your romantic problems, without limits.

This week, our live-in sexologist Isiah McKimmie hears from a reader who wants advice on how to ask her boyfriend to be in an open relationship for six months before agreeing to marry him.

QUESTION: I’m with the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. He is kind, funny and loves me to death. The only problem is that we met when he was 21 and I just 17. We’ve been together for six years and he wants to get married, but I have reservations. My biggest problem is that he’s my only serious relationship and one of only two men I’ve ever had sex with. I would like to have six months of seeing other people and sleeping together before we get married. Do you think it’s fair to ask of him? And how should I approach the conversation?

ANSWER: It sounds like you’re essentially asking to open up your relationship for a while, before settling down and getting married. There’s a lot to think about here and it’s not going to be an easy discussion.

I understand your dilemma and your curiosity to experience being with other people. I’ve seen a number of clients who had similar concerns to yours, but went ahead with their marriage anyway. Years into their marriage, they kept wondering what it would be like to be with someone else. Some even felt that their relationship would have improved by exploring and having different experiences first.

While there is no research that I am aware of that shows that it improves a marriage with other people first, the decision to open a relationship is a valid one.

What should you pay attention to before opening your relationship?

Couples choose to open their relationship for a variety of reasons and for many couples, this is the right decision. However, open relationships aren’t the right choice for everyone, and “opening” a relationship that was previously monogamous is risky.

It is impossible to guarantee that there will be no negative consequences of opening your relationship. Feelings of hurt, jealousy, and betrayal can (and do) arise, but there are steps you can take before opening your relationships to reduce the chance of negative consequences.

Be clear about your reasons

Get real clear on why this is important to you and what you hope the result will be. This will help with your own peace of mind and will also help you communicate with your partner.

Communicate – a lot

The biggest mistake I see couples make when they choose to “open up their relationship” is that they don’t communicate enough about their needs and expectations.

There are many things to consider when opening a relationship. To give your relationship the best chance of survival, keep the conversation open during your “open period” as well. Be prepared that this is a lot of conversations, not just one.

You need to understand each other’s needs and make clear agreements about what your “rules” will be.

For example:

Do you tell each other who you see? Can you date or be intimate with anyone? Are certain people off limits? What if you don’t like who chose the other? What will you do after 6 months? What methods of safe sex do you expect each other to use?

You should also be clear about what you want to happen to your current relationship during this time. Do you keep seeing each other while seeing other people?

Discuss how and whether you will support each other

Seeing other people is in many ways the easy part. It’s dealing with the feelings that come after that that couples struggle with. What are you going to do if one of you doesn’t feel well afterwards?

This is a big decision

If this starts to feel like a lot, it is. It is not a decision to be taken lightly, or an issue to be raised lightly. Keep in mind that even expressing your wish for this may affect your relationship. Take the time to make sure this is really what you want before discussing it.

Has your partner given any indication as to whether he would be willing to try something like this? Bring up the issue lightly first to see how he responds. Your next step, if you choose to continue, is to sit down and share what you want and why it’s important to you. From there you have a lot to discuss.

As a therapist, my role is not to tell people what I think they should do, but to share tools and support so that they can find the right answers on their own. However, if I were your therapist, I would advise you to be very careful with this decision.

It sounds like you have something incredible with this man. The grass isn’t always greener elsewhere.

Isiah McKimmie is a relationship therapist, sex therapist, sex therapist and teacher. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.

Originally published as a woman’s sex request before marriage

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