What happens if you are in a monogamous relationship and you find yourself wanting to have sex with other people? Intimacy educator and coach Stella Harris answers your questions on why you might want to have sex with other people, how to open up a relationship, and more.
If you are in a consensual monogamous relationship the desire to have sex and be intimate with another person might feel confusing.
Maybe you have fantasized about having sex with a friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger, and you feel guilty about it. After all, you love your partner and the feeling of wanting to have sex with other people feels like cheating.
Is it normal to want someone else while in a relationship?
Turns out, wanting to be intimate with someone new is completely normal.
“Having an interest in multiple partners, relationships, and sexual experiences is not a reflection on your current partner or partners,” says Stella. “Statistically, the desire to be intimate with someone else besides your current partner is actually very common. We humans are stimulated by novelty and variety, and having experiences with multiple people is one way to satisfy that need.”
To put it simply, the idea of being with someone new can feel exciting and unknown. Fantasizing about having sex with others is a normal part of healthy sexual fantasizing and is nothing to worry about.
You can love your partner but still want to have sex with others, says Stella. Being interested in some variation of an open relationship is not a reflection of the amount of love someone feels for a current partner.
While fantasizing about sleeping with someone else is often nothing to worry about, there are some situations where you might want to stop and think about why you are having these desires.
For example, if your fantasies are accompanied by unfulfilled sexual desires, missed emotional needs, or a distant partner, then they could be pointing to some unresolved issues in your relationship.
How to tell your partner you want to sleep with someone else
According to Stella, it is better to express your desire to sleep with other people than keep it a secret from your partner.
“I think it is always better to be open and transparent about your sexual desires. Keeping your sexual desires a secret can build into a resentment and harm the relationship,” says Stella.
How you start the conversation depends on the context of your relationship, and whether you have expressed your desire to sleep with others before.
It can sometimes be helpful to use outside media to start the conversation. For example, books, movies, podcasts, or TV shows that show the kind of things you find sexually interesting can be a great jumping off point for the conversation, while making it just external enough to feel less vulnerable.
Checking in with your partner after having a sexual encounter with someone else
So you and your partner have had the conversation to open up your relationship, and you have now had sex with someone else. Should you tell your partner, or keep it as don’t-ask-don’t-tell?
Stella shares that this will depend on what you have negotiated with your partner in advance. Prior to opening up your relationship, it is important to establish how many details your partner wants to know – if anything at all.
Set some ground rules that you can both agree on, like whether you are both going to explore sex with other people individually or as a couple. You both might also want to set ground rules around who you can sleep with (for example not sleeping with any mutual friends), any other types of intimacy that might be off-limits (for example not going on dates and only having sex), or how often to get tested for STIs.
If your partner wants to know about each sexual encounter you have with someone else, it can be helpful to start with just the basics unless your partner asks questions or wants more details. On the other hand, it is also important to respect the privacy of the other person you slept with.
What to do if my partner does not want to open the relationship?
After expressing your desire to open your relationship, there is a chance your partner might be against the idea. If your partner is unwilling to open up the relationship, then it is time for you to evaluate the importance of meeting this desire and ask yourself if you need to re-evaluate your current relationship.
In other words, if being in an open relationship is something you feel strongly about, then you might have to think about ending your relationship. It may be painful but doing so will allow you and your current partner to find other people who can better meet your needs.