These are, in my humble opinion, the 10 Commandments of Playing within an open relationship. These commandments apply to anyone involved in the open relationship: spouses, playmates, playmates playing between playmates, everyone. I know when I talk about being open, I typically focus on the primary relationship – the spouses – but I think these are important to everyone involved in them especially if the playmates are recurring characters, if you will.
Communication – effective communication – is critical. Yes, I am a broken record. I admit it. But, in thinking about communication, I decided communication has to be good among everyone. Spouses need to have a good communication between themselves for obvious reasons. I mean, NOT having it will implode their relationship or create waves that are best avoided. (Unless you enjoy fighting with your spouse in which case, I will not judge you for your kink.) I also think it is critical to have good communication with your playmates as well. Everyone has to be talking. Everyone has to be open. Everyone has to be on the same page. Communication needs to be clear, direct, and specific. There can be no assumptions between playmates and spouses. If in doubt, ask – that is my philosophy and what I always hope for in other relationships. And yes, I do lead by demonstrating. Which leads nicely into commandment #2….
Commandment #2: Thou Shall Listen AND Hear.
Talking is great, but you also have to be a good listener to be a good communicator. Active listening is a great approach. It may sound like some sort of management babble, but listening for what the person talking is really needing from you is important. Sometimes the person talking just needs an ear – no action required other than listening and inserting the right responses at times. Sometimes is validation. Sometimes it IS action. You have to listen and hear what they are saying. But be careful…..it is easy to try to fill in the blanks early as you are listening – where you may only hear part of a statement and make the assumption about the rest of it and respond before HEARING the rest of it. Being the listener isn’t easy. In fact, it may be hard to hear what the person is saying. But, it is important – so listen, hear and don’t be defensive. Everyone is working for the same goal – better communication. Just remember that. No matter how much you might like hearing what you are hearing. Shut up and listen.
….with your other partners. And that goes both ways, by the way. G’s current playmate is taller than I am. I know that. I’m sure there are things that work better for him and her because of the height thing. Again, I know that. And, I don’t need to hear him say it in terms of “wow, honey, that works better than with you because she’s tall”. If I hear how much time one playmate gets with another person they are playing, I could be tempted to wonder why I don’t get it. Or why he doesn’t try that with me. So, it is best NOT TO GO THERE. Feelings will get hurt. There are few ways around it. Most importantly, you must respect the fact that people inherently have different things with different partners. There is no way around it. It’s chemistry people – and people are the variables. G and I cannot do things together that SG and I can. Does that make one better than the other. Nope. Just different. Comparing is really pointless at the end of the day. So avoid it – accept there are difference – and just don’t go there.
Commandment #4: Thou Shall Respect The Wishes of Others
And if you can’t respect the wishes of others, then you need to move along. Or close the relationship. If someone is honest and upfront about their feelings and their wishes, you have to respect them. You may not like them or agree with them, but, especially in your primary relationship, you have to respect them. And, in playmate relationships, if a playmate isn’t comfortable with something, respect it. Respect is truly important, no matter how kinky it gets.
Commandment #5: Thou Shall Honor, Above All Else, the Primary Relationship
I’m sorry but playmates have to understand that the primary relationship – my husband in my case, wins above all else. I love him. I respect him. And I will honor that relationship. Period. End of story. A playmate who disrespects that or him will not be a playmate long. I will not chose between a playmate and my spouse. That is absurd. I’m married to one. I have kids with one. He wins. I’m sorry, but that is the way it is. And should be. Just like I understand that my playmates have girlfriends or spouses who have relationships they need to be nurtured and that will always win above me. It’s a two way street.
Commandment #6: Thou Shall Respect the Boundaries
This commandment hits many levels. Personal boundaries. Relationship boundaries. Kinky boundaries. If someone has put up one, you don’t have to agree with it – but you should respect it. Clearly it is meant there not to be mean or deny fun – but to protect his/herself from something. You can talk about the boundaries, but respect the person setting them enough to respect what they have said and why – even if the why is unclear. Things change, so maybe, with time, the boundaries will too. Just don’t bank on it.
Commandment #7: Thou Shall Not Get Jealous
Sometimes this commandment is easier said than done as we are humans who like our own toys and don’t inherently like to share. Think about this one. If you have had children or even been around little ones, you must teach the child to share – not horde their toys. You must teach them if someone has something they don’t, it isn’t a reason to get jealous or be angry. You should be happy for the friend (and maybe hope they will share). I think people are the same way – except we are programmed to not share people we love or care about or consider “ours”. That last point is kind of interesting though “consider ours” is the key to the problem, I think. People don’t belong to people because that, my friends, is considered slavery if they do (or a Master-sub relationship). But everything about the world teaches us that people should “be ours”. As I commented to a friend recently, I don’t care how submissive I’m feeling – I still choose who I’m going to give myself to. I still retain that choice and control. You can envy the situation, but you can’t be jealous of the circumstances that led two playmates to play. Or you may wish you had that sort of dynamic with that partner, but there is no point in dwelling on the fact you do not. The dynamic is a shared one – and you are not part of that particular sharing circle. Jealousy is hard. But you have to take pleasure in the experience your partner is having – by not looking at what it does to you, but what it does to them is the right shift in thinking. Because really, no matter how jealous you may become, it isn’t about you. And it doesn’t always need to be about you. So accept it, move on, and revel in how happy they are. This goes with your primary spouse. Your playmates and their other playmates. Your friends. It’s okay to secretly wish you could have experienced it, just don’t let it consume you. Let your happiness at their happiness win.
Commandment #8: Thou Shall Play Safe
Come on, you didn’t think I was going to leave this one off given everything we’ve been through over the past few months, did you? This commandment has multiple dimensions. Play safe means safe sex. It means testing. It means asking about it. It means understanding if there are any medical things that could put a partner at risk if they DO catch something. Sex is good and and all – but be safe. Communicate it. And respect it. 100% of the time.
Another meaning is for the kinkier crowd. Play safe. Getting tied up? Make sure there are safety scissors nearby. Play with safe words. Know where the boundaries are. Respect the boundaries. Going into a scene – set it up with what it is or is not. Talk. Communicate. Play safe.
Commandment #9: Thou Shall Love Your Playmate, but not “LOVE” Your Playmate
Love between playmates is always considered a polyamorous thing. But here is the thing I have learned in the past year. Love has many levels. You can love you dog. You can love your child. You can love your job. While you love your spouse, you are, more importantly, IN LOVE with your spouse. G and I love our friends. And with some of them, we are fairly open about it. Be okay with the fact a situation may arise where you realize how much you love something about the playmate – the way they handle a situation – the way they know how to hit the right buttons the right way. And be okay that you love that and love that person for those reasons. Love is not always a romantic thing. It does not mean you are out of love for your spouse. It does not mean your spouse should be threatened. It just means there are parts of this person you love and appreciate. And in my opinion, that’s okay.
For me, I love TL and the way he cares about me. The friendship we have means a lot to me, and he never ceases to amaze me. I love SG and the way he can simultaneously do very kinky things to me and coddle me in a way few are allowed to do. I love them both – but I am not in love with either of them. That’s saved for G.
Commandment #10: Thou Shall Respect Yourself
You deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated. You hold the keys. Be kind to yourself. And if things don’t feel right, trust that feeling. Make yourself be heard if the person that needs to listen is not. This should all be fun. Not stressful. Not worrisome. So, to borrow a phrase i used to hear while playing sports, “if you are’t having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” Because here is the thing. Squirmy is fun. Flirty is fun. Upsetting is not fun. Lots of disappointment is not fun. Respect yourself and your feelings enough to know when enough is enough. Know when to bow out. Know when to say to your primary spouse that you can’t do it anymore.
These, in my opinion, are the commandments carved into stone. The rest of the rules you and your partners choose to add are simply written down – open to change as needed – or to be added to the stone tablets. But these are the commandments anyone involved in an open marriage or open relationship should follow.