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Nonmonogamous relationships can work 

Readers share their experiences

Why do most people assume that all nonmonogamous relationships are destined to fail? Because we only hear about the ones that do.

If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it. But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren't monogamous, because they don't want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce.

This state of affairs — couples who experimented with nonmonogamy and wound up divorced won't shut up; couples who experimented with nonmonogamy and are still together won't speak up — allows smug and insecure monogamists to run around insisting that there's no such thing as happy, stable monogamish couples.

"You know lots of couples who have had three-ways and flings who aren't divorced," I told the skeptics a few weeks ago, "you just don't know you know them." In an effort to introduce the skeptics to some happily monogamish couples, I invited coupled people who'd had successful flings, affairs, three-ways, and swinging experiences to write in and share their stories.

The response was overwhelming — I may do a book — and I'm turning over the rest of this week's column to their stories.

* My husband and I have issues like any couple, but I still smile when I see him walk into a room, and he still takes my hand when we're walking down the street. For the past seven years, we have been "monogamish." It started off with a discussion of "If you ever cheat on me and it's a one-time thing, I wouldn't want to know." Then, when he turned 40, we had a threesome with a female friend. When I actually saw him "in the moment," I didn't have the jealous feelings I had always feared.

There is no question that our relationship is our first priority, but just the possibility of a little strange now and then makes him feel like a stud. (And I reap the benefits!) I don't much care for sex without emotion and affection, so my flings have been rather limited. We haven't told our families or more than a couple of friends. I don't want to deal with the judgment of others.

* From the outside, my husband and I look like a boring vanilla married couple. In fact, people have included me in judgmental conversations about open relationships. But the truth is, for nearly as long as we've been together (three-plus years), we've had a semi-open relationship. My husband is bi. When he told me after a few months of dating, years of Savage Love reading helped me to keep an open mind. Long story short: We worked out rules that were mutually agreeable. Now he can hook up safely with guys and come home to a loving wife with whom he can be completely honest.

* I agree with you that we rarely hear about successful marriages that are open. How do I know? I just discovered that my parents are swingers — and they have been married for 26 years!

* I'm a happily married woman ... and so is my girlfriend. Maybe it's cowardly of us, but no matter how simple our relationship seems to us, the people we care about would not understand. Yes, we do this with our husbands' blessing. (We even double-date from time to time!) No, there's nothing lacking in our marriages. Our parents, relatives, children, friends, and coworkers know we're close. But I don't see the need to tell anyone the entire truth.

I was on the fence about sending this e-mail — that's how little fuss we make about it. Then I thought, if I do send it, and if enough people send their stories, maybe one day we can go public and it won't be a big fucking deal. That'd be awesome.

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