Should You Have An Open Relationship?



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Q: He popped the question. Just not the one you think. One night my boyfriend says we need to talk. He’s nervous and jittery, so I’m thinking he’s about to pop the question. I wish. He wants to know where I stand on open relationships. Him: "This wouldn’t be cheating." I’m so turned off by this idea, but what are the rules about open relationships?

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A: If you’re turned off, why are asking about rules? Eff the rules. (Actually, I’ll get back to those rules in a hot minute.) Sounds like your gut is screaming, “Tell this a-hole to toss his cards because he has no spades in this relationship game.”  You may want to watch HBO’s Insecure because Molly questions if anybody has traditional committed relationships anymore, after Dro admits that he has an open marriage. Does your BF watch Insecure? Is old boy having “wild thoughts” about the Crunch trainer down the hall in 2b? Does he crave physical release with other women, but wants to keep you around because your culinary skills are bomb? Girl, I have questions.

But back to being open, you’re thinking about commitment and he’s thinking about…sex with other women. 

Look, every couple is different. But don’t do this just because you’re scared of losing him because you’ll end up resenting him and being angry with yourself.  Don't settle for LESS than what you deserve just because this is his definition of #relationshipgoals. However, if you are curious with a side order of "I kissed a girl and I liked it," let's get into these rules. 


Everybody gets tested before you slap bellies. Condoms break. Lesions hide under flaps. People lie. That last thing you want is a “party favor” that requires medicine.


1. Safe sex and more safe sex. Think: STIs, unplanned pregnancies and ish that isn’t cured with penicillin. He’s not allowed to slide in anyone raw and no one is allowed splash rights in your waterpark either. 2. Take certain positions/acts off the table. If the reverse cowgirl makes him divulge his ATM passcode, then that’s off limits, along with whatever (and whoever) else the both of you mutually decide. 3. Certain people are taboo. His boys. Your girls. Your cousin who’s a dead ringer for Rihanna and the other one who looks like Demi Lovato. 4. Everybody gets tested before you slap bellies. Sounds romantic, right? I know. See the first rule. Condoms break. Lesions hide under flaps. People lie. That last thing you want is a “party favor” that requires medicine. 5. Check-in. If you decide after—three months, three weeks or three minutes—that an open situation isn’t your strawberry jam and he’s STILL eager to hump around, it’s time to end this relationship and move on to the next one.  



Q: Love, engagement…confession. I have the Best BF Ever. When we met, I told him I was celibate and he respected my decision not to have sex, and two years later we’re still together. Then he proposed, which everyone told me he wouldn’t buy the car without taking it for a test drive. I said, “yes” to his proposal, but I was thinking, “noooooo.” Not because I don’t want to marry him, but because I decided to be celibate after an ex from college gave me herpes. I’m scared to tell my fiancé. Should I tell him?

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A: Should you tell him isn’t the question. Because: Yes, you should tell him. And not on your wedding night, more like TONIGHT.  But wait a minute before you run this “car” that he didn’t test drive off the bridge. You’ve kept this secret for two years (that’s 730 days) from someone who respected your decision to abstain. But you didn’t respect the Best BF Ever to be honest about your diagnosis—and the reason why you’re celibate. You violated his trust and you put his health at risk, too. Did you hear about the women who are suing R&B singer Usher because he didn’t disclose his alleged herpes status?

Just so you know, you can still spread herpes even if you aren’t showing any symptoms. What if there was a sore on the back of your tongue? Or the roof of your mouth? I get it. The stigma around this STI (even though 1 in six people have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control) makes the conversation even more difficult. It’s still seen as the dirty girl’s (or dirty guy’s) disease.

First, it’s time to get your herpes IQ all the way up, so you can calmly and factually answer his questions about the disease. The and your gynecologist are a good place to start. Second, decide where you’ll have the Big Talk and practice it a few times in the mirror—so you don’t nervously blurt it out in the grocery store while buying Netflix snacks or clumsily start a romantic dinner with, “So I have this incurable….”

Try to ease into it while you guys are walking the dog or a few hours before bedtime. He’s going to be pissed and he has every right to be. But give him time to process this news and how it affects your relationship. I hope the opportunity to be the Best Wife Ever will exist after you stand in your truth.  

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