6 Beginner Tips for Opening Your Relationship
By Couple of Secrets for ASN Lifestyle Magazine
Opening up the sexual relationship with your long-term loving partner is a big decision. You might be considering a visit to a tantra studio or perhaps something more daring, like a swinger’s club or a sex party. Either way, pushing your sexual boundaries requires some preparation.
But first things first: sexual experimentation should not scare you. On the contrary, see it as a healthy way to invest in your physical and emotional bond. If done correctly, it will make your relationship more vibrant and exciting!
We have learned through experience that it's best to keep a few things in mind before taking the plunge. It's not rocket science, and you are probably going to discover these things on your own. However, a heads-up might save you some time and trouble. In the end, the subject is sensitive: it's your partner's intimate attention (and genitals) we are talking about!
1. Plan Together
Sexual experimentation is all about exploring your sexuality and fantasies. It is an opportunity to tap into your true sexual identity, away from judgment and prejudice. That said, it's indispensable to keep your partner close during the process. If you plan too much around your fantasies, without understanding your partner's wishes and worries, you risk making the topic divisive. That’s not what you want!
Our advice? Pour your partner a glass of wine, get ensconced in the couch, and take your time to talk about your common fantasies and wishes. For us, it's worked wonders. We both exchange our deepest desires and concerns openly. We also do our research together. This has the advantage of ensuring we are both on the same page at all times and that no one feels left out or pushed.
And then, from the couch, why not take your fantasies to bed? Projecting yourselves into the experience while having sex in the safety of your bedroom is like running a dry test (no pun intended). It is an exciting way to come closer to reality and play with ideas. Whisper in each other's ear what you would like to see your lover doing in a club, or picture together how sexy it would be to have sex in a room full of steaming couples. Your imagination is the limit!
2. Timing Matters
It's not a secret; sexual appetite has its highs and lows. But more than that, it has a context. A fantasy that sets you on fire while sipping margaritas on the beach might irritate you if your partner brings it up while you are washing dishes and coaxing the kids to go to bed.
Be wise and pick the timing to propose something new and daring to your partner. Everybody is different, and you know best when your partner is more receptive. We tend to broach this subject either in bed (before or after sex) or in the car during a long drive. These are the moments we are relaxed and most inventive about sexual experimentation. But to each his own!
And then, of course, there is the mobile phone. You're at work, surreptitiously filing your fingernails while the world's most boring PowerPoint presentation drudges on when your mobile vibrates. It's your partner with a racy proposal for your next adventure. Ain't that sexy?
3. Set Your Own Ground Rules
Some people claim that the moment you open up your relationship, you’ll end up talking more about extramarital sex than actually having it. It might be an exaggeration, but the fact is you will need to talk things through with your partner before delving into the Lifestyle.
And when I say talk, I mean discuss details: is it ok if I kiss another man? Another woman? Do we prefer to stick together when socializing, or can we split up? How would you feel to see me going down on somebody? Is full penetration off-limits? Or is it rather the expressions of affection, like holding another person, that might freak you out? What signal shall we give each other if one of us starts feeling uncomfortable?
Don't presume you know what your partner wants — or what your limits are for that matter! After all, you are breaking new ground here, and you need to take time to think things through.
This may turn out to be as easy as deciding between Nutella or Marmite with your bread. Or it may lead to painstaking, open-ended discussions. Don't be discouraged. It is a cliché, but in this case, it is accurate: it's not about the destination, enjoy the journey! Take things one step at a time and keep in mind that, in the end, you are taking time to evolve in your sexuality. It's one of the best investments you can make in your relationship.
4. Think of it as Exclusive, Adult Time with Your Partner
I know, it's ironic to speak of exclusiveness when, in fact, you are opening up your most intimate relationship to include other people. When you think of the amount of time and energy you spend on family and professional obligations, though, you might realize that adult time with your partner is scarce.
The Lifestyle is meant to be pure fun for both of you. You are in full control, and the only restrictions are the ones you decide to set for yourselves. There are no other people to please, no obligatory social events for one night. For once, you don't need to think in terms of commitments and responsibilities. It's just you and your partner having a sexy fun night out and meeting new exciting people in a totally different setting!
Like any other situation, the Lifestyle has its own etiquette. Don't let this dissuade you though. You will get acquainted with everything as you go along: take your time, talk with other couples and check out informative blogs and websites, like Couple of Secrets. For what it's worth, during our sexual adventures, we have met some of the most fascinating and relaxed people we know.
5. Take it Step by Step and See Where it Takes You
Sexual exploration is particular to every person and every couple. There is no one-size-fits-all, and you should not try to emulate others. What works for us may not work for you or anyone else.
It's a clear but most essential rule. For some people, the path of sexual exploration leads them to swinging. And down that path, every couple finds its own comfort zone: this could be exhibitionism, voyeurism, soft swinging, full-swap, separate dating, and comparison... the list is long. For others, opening up their relationship may mean other things: perhaps just a Tantra massage for couples or a lap dance.
We started with a tentative visit to a tantra studio. We enjoyed it, went back, and found out we yearned for more diverse experiences. Next in line was an exploratory visit to a swinger’s club in Amsterdam with only limited interaction with others. But we loved it and went back for more, each time further opening up. Now, several years and adventures later, we still follow the pattern of try-out, talk, and evaluate. Sometimes we take a step back, but mostly we move forward. And so far, we have not regretted any of our decisions.
6. You Can Always Take a Step Back
Opening up your relationship — anything ranging from same-room sex to full-swap swinging — does not mean you are giving up on your relationship. Seriously, unless you have decided to go down this road because your relationship does not work anymore, you will be fine. Quite the contrary, it will make you stronger and oblige you to share things about yourselves that you wouldn't have otherwise.
In the end, you should always allow yourselves the safety valve of taking a step back. You may realize, in retrospect, that something does not reflect who you are or what you want. As long as the channel of communication is open — what we call our sexual space — you can always discuss things with your partner and redraw the lines.
Ultimately, sexual exploration is not an end in itself, but a means towards growing together in ways that you never thought possible before!
About Couple of Secrets
We are Aliki and Xander, a sex-positive couple in a committed relationship. We are parents, busy professionals, and writers by training. But above all, we are two lovers on a quest: to disprove the old adage that sex in long-term relationships degenerates over time. So far, it’s working! From very early on in our relationship, we focused on our sexual well-being and on erotic experimentation. In 2017, we launched Couple of Secrets, a blog where we chronicle our sexual exploration. We share not only practical information and fun experiences, but also our doubts, fears, and disputes as they happen. Couple of Secrets inspires many other couples who wish to open the door to sexual exploration, but aren’t sure what to do. It has also brought us in touch with many extraordinary people and taught us plenty!
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.