The Truth About Open Marriage
Couples who practice ''polyamory'' say it's good for their relationships. Some therapists disagree.
The Drawbacks of Open Marriage continued...
Things can also get dicey when a partner considered "secondary"
wants to become a primary, Veaux says.
Sometimes Veaux invites most of his partners -- and their partners -- to go
out socially. Recently, he and such a group went to a science fiction
Ground rules are essential before starting a poly relationship, Veaux and
others say. Some Internet poly sites offer sample contracts for multiple
"You have to figure out what the rules are," Weston says.
"Otherwise so much could be hurtful."
But Steve and Cathy Brody think it's next to impossible to lay ground rules.
"It's like laying ground rules for an earthquake," says Steve Brody,
who with Cathy Brody wrote Renew Your Marriage at Midlife. They question
how people can predict their feelings with so many people involved. "You
can set up guidelines in a rational and intellectual way, but you can't
anticipate the depth of the emotional reaction you are going to have,"
Steve Brody says.
Even so, Cathy Brody says one rule is crucial: "If one [partner] wants
to stop [the arrangement], they both do."
The increased risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease is another
obvious drawback. Veaux says he is careful about monitoring his
sexual health. "I get a general physical once a year, and I'm screened
for STDs. Whenever my partnership status changes I am screened again." He
asks his partners to do the same. He asks for written proof that his partners
are infection-free and provides it to them as well.
Polyamorists say the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. "The best part is
that I feel like I am being true to myself," says Chris. "I always felt
I was living a lie when I was trying to fit into a monogamous mold."