How Friends May Respond To Your Open Marriage

July 16, 2019  |  
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open marriage advice

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I’ll admit that even I was a little shaken when my friend told me that she and her husband were in an open marriage. She could tell that I was, which is why she said, “Please don’t get weird about this the way everybody else has.” I’ve known this friend for over a decade, and always seen eye to eye with her on most things. We share many common values, and love each other a lot. So, I took her plea to not act weird seriously. If I’ve always understood and accepted her choices until now, I shouldn’t let this one thing change the way I see her. In fact, after listening to how others had reacted to her open marriage, I especially wanted to be a support to her. My friend explained how being the only couple in the friend group who is in an open marriage can actually be quite ostracizing, and that people can react in some odd ways.

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Everyone thinks they want to swing

Many of my friend’s couples friends immediately believed she and her husband wanted to swing with them. They’d get weird about invitations for dinner, trying to rope in other couples who weren’t invited, much the way a single woman invites a friend on a date so it isn’t a date.

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But they wouldn’t muddy the friend waters

My friend and her husband have had to explain to many friends that they don’t want to ruin those friendships, and wouldn’t look to preexisting couples friends for romantic and/or sexual encounters. Which, hilariously enough, wound up offending those friends who would ask, “So you’re not attracted to us??” Funny things can happen when people want to swing with friends, or when there is even just the perception that that’s happening.

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People think they want to convert them

Many people, when they hear my friend is in an open marriage, assume that she and her husband want to convert everyone to the open marriage lifestyle. They’ll start hearing a lot of, “That’s really not for me but if you’re into it that’s cool!” Friends act like they need to turn down a sales pitch that isn’t even being made.

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They don’t care what others do

My friend and her husband do not care how others conduct their marriages. Why would it matter to them if others partake in an open marriage? As stated before, they don’t want to get sexually involved with their platonic friends. And how their friends live their lives at home doesn’t affect them.

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There can be jealousy issues

The moment my friends came out as being in an open marriage, some jealousy issues came up amongst their friends. Women would accuse my friend of flirting with their husbands. She wasn’t flirting with them or behaving differently around them in any way, but just the fact that she’s in an open marriage made other women suspicious.

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But, why would they suddenly change their feelings?

My friend stated that she and her husband really feel platonically about all of the friends they’ve had since before making their marriage open. Those feelings haven’t changed. They’ll always keep those friends in the friend zone. Any flirtation others think they see is all in their heads.

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Old friends assume all new friends are swingers

Meanwhile, when this couple introduces some of their old friends to new friends, the former always assumes the latter are swingers. More specifically, the old friends will pull the couple in the open marriage aside and ask, “So are you um, sleeping with these new friends?”

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Some are, but who cares?

Look, some of the new couples friends they make are people they’re sexually interested in, or even involved with. But they don’t see why their old friends have to inquire into that every time they bring new friends around. What difference does it make to that social interaction?

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Their commitment is questioned

Sadly, my friend says many of her friends have hinted if not just stated that she must not really love her husband, or that this is a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage before divorce.

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They don’t question their friends

Meanwhile, these friends don’t question the commitment of their couple friends who only have sex three times a year, sleep in separate bedrooms, or barely spend time together.

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Some want an open marriage guru

In a surprising turn of events, a couple of friends came to my friend to confess that they and their spouses had discussed having open marriages. They really weren’t sure how to go about it, and they feared that people would judge them. But now that these friends are openly in an open marriage, their friends who are interested in open marriages see them as gurus in the area.

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They can’t be those gurus

They don’t really want to be gurus or mentors on open marriages. They couldn’t possibly tell another couple how to have an open marriage. Each couple is so different and guidelines that work for some may destroy others.

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Others try to do setups

Then there are friends who now try to set up this friend and her husband with other couples they know in open marriages. They’ll bring maybe the only other couple they know in an open marriage to a dinner party to meet this woman and her spouse.

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But they prefer to handle that themselves

These setups are a bit like when you’re single, and a friend introduces you to her other single friend thinking, “You’re both single so you must hit it off, right?” But being open, to, well, an open marriage is not the only criteria for compatibility.

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Sometimes, they regret telling people

Sometimes my friend and her spouse regret telling people. Ultimately, the status of their marriage doesn’t really affect their friendships, but telling people about it seems to have affected things.

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