How do I make my open relationship a reality?
December 19, 2012 6:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for practical suggestions on finding casual sex in the context of an open relationship.

I'm a late-20s male. I'm in a stable, long-term relationship with a woman and we have an agreement that we're both allowed to have casual relationships on the side. Despite wanting to pursue this, it's been over a year and I haven't made anything happen.

Advantages: I'm extremely good-looking. Also witty, charming, modest, etc. I live in a hip part of a major US city with lots of culture and young people.

Difficulties: I have (what a lot of people would probably consider) very high standards of attractiveness. I'm not interested in just anyone who's willing. But I find my girlfriend attractive, as well as women I see in public, and I live up to my own standards, so I'm not unreasonable.

I have a small social circle and I don't have any friends who know about my open relationship.

I tend to be somewhat introverted and a homebody. I'm not shy or awkward and am capable of being very outgoing, but left to my own devices I only rarely go to bars, shows, events, etc. And if I do go out it's generally with my girlfriend.

I also have no experience with casual sex; all of my experience has been in the context of relationships. (I know to use protection, get tested, etc.)

I don't see any of the above as insurmountable, but I've identified them as obstacles. So far the efforts I've put in have been entirely online. I have a maybe-higher-than-average aversion to putting forth effort when it has a seemingly low chance of payoff, so meeting people online seemed like it'd be easy and effective. It hasn't been, though. I've had an OKCupid profile for a long time which has good photos and clearly states my situation and intent (among other more light-hearted stuff). I look at the site frequently but rarely see anyone who interests me. I get some messages and I send a few, but usually I don't respond or they don't respond, and all I've had in over a year has been one date with someone with whom I didn't end up feeling chemistry.

I've read The Ethical Slut and I'm feeling comfortable at this point with the emotional/philosophical issues and such. I'm looking instead for practical advice about how to more effectively pursue this avenue. Where to go/what to do to meet potentially interested women, how to broach the subject, how to present my situation and intent, etc.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

If you don't want to go out (with friends) and you don't want to do the online thing, then I honestly don't know how you could tackle this. I think you need to do more of both if you're going to have any success. Being as attractive as you say you are, you're probably used to easily meeting women to date. Since meeting women to have casual sex with is generally a little harder, you're going to have to work a little harder at it.

Alternatively, you and your GF could try out a few sex/swingers clubs.
posted by greta simone at 6:16 PM on December 19, 2012

I'd start with lowering your standards a bit, just for a bit of fun. Then as you get better, you can pick up women who fit your normally high standards.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:30 PM on December 19, 2012

A minority of women are interested in casual totally NSA sex. It's a decent sized minority, but still a minority. These women are in HIGH demand. Extremely attractive women are also a minority and also in extremely high demand. Extremely attractive women who also want to have NSA sex are a very small minority who are in ridiculously high demand.

So you may be extremely attractive but you have A LOT of competition and you aren't even expending much effort to compete for what are essentially the most in demand women on earth. And there are a lot more extremely hot men who want NSA sex than extremely hot women who want the same.

So yeah lower thy standards to some mere mortals. Also since such women are in such high demand I'm guessing most of them don't need to bother with the internet to get what they want so I would hit the bars and start buying some drinks.
posted by whoaali at 6:53 PM on December 19, 2012 [27 favorites]

Whoaali said what I was trying to say, but better.
posted by greta simone at 7:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have my marriage and baby on my OK Cupid profile, no pic, and guys in your situation message me at least weekly. I don't believe any of them. It's background noise.

Going out will get you more sex. Going out and not mentioning your SO will get you lots of unethical sex.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:27 PM on December 19, 2012

The woman you are looking for is called a unicorn (okay that term is more often the hot bi babe that is a non-demanding third, but the attractive single woman looking for NSA is also called a unicorn too). Seriously, they are that rare and that desired. It is reality that attractive, socially functional, single women in their twenties looking for no-strings attached sex have no shortage of partners to choose from. You are also placing a high importance on your attractiveness as something you offer; I believe there have been many studies that show that GENERALLY men rate physical attractiveness in a partner as more important then women do AS A GROUP (obviously there is a huge spectrum for both genders). Keep in mind too that although many women may want NSA sex, they have to balance that against the risk of STDs and pregnancy - both of which disportionately affect women in heterosexual sexual encounters, as well as the still existing social stigma of enjoying sex for sex's sake. (And I hope you and your girlfriend have fully explored the possibility one of you may become parents outside of your relationship and how that life-long commitment would affect your primary relationship - I am sure you are aware "protection" does not ever mean 100%)

You may find as well, that when telling women that you have a primary partner you will always prioritise, and she "approves" you playing around, that the women who have nothing else to judge you on except a first impression, your words, and their experiences with many other "single"/just waiting for the divorce to be filed/oops I forgot I have a girlfriend/ players out there, that they disbelieve you. I know quite a few women that enjoy casual sex but won't get involved with couples because too often there is drama from either the guy confusing limerance for love or the primary partner finding boundaries-crossed/poor communication/unplanned-for jealousy leading to stress and often public castigation of the "other woman" (again with that double standard).

You would most likely have better success if your partner was around so the play partner could confirm for herself that both of you are on-board. If you are using an online site then one idea is to be transparent and link to your gf's profile and specify that you are in a relationship and not offering any commitment at all. I guess it depends where you live but around here we have sex clubs that couples go to where the primary relationship is generally respected.
posted by saucysault at 7:38 PM on December 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

I agree with most of what the previous answers have said, and would also say that in my experience, the people who are most comfortable with alternative sexual lifestyles are geeks and nerds of one sort or another. If this instantly makes them unattractive to you and not up to your standards, well, I got nothing. If this in and of itself is not an obstacle, then believe me there are some very attractive geeks and nerds.

Some of the specific geek and nerd-heavy communities that I've found are open to casual sex are: rennies (renaissance faire regulars/performers/staff), pagans, burners (Burning Man attendees), and gamers. So if any of those communities interest you at all, you might try to get involved and meet people. If you approach them solely as a basis for finding casual sex, you'll probably be disappointed, but if you approach them as a way to meet people and do interesting things along the way, you may find the opportunities for casual sex just kinda happen.
posted by noonewilleverloveyou at 7:40 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

The young rope rider makes a really good point. Extremely attractive guy in an open relationship. I'd seriously doubt if the photo was real and if the open relationship was legit. Open relationships are always rather suspect anyway.

Also if any of your photos are professional use something more casual that plays down your looks just a touch (I'm assuming you really are as attractive as you say, like model hot, if you're just a good looking guy who works out ignore this) so you're less intimidating and it'll look less like a fake profile.
posted by whoaali at 7:40 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

"left to my own devices I only rarely go to bars, shows, events, etc."

There's your fucking problem. (And your non-fucking problem.) I'm not particularly good-looking, nor really that charming, and I'm probably one of the girls you think is, like, an unfuckable Morlock. But gping by your goals (casual stuff), I've had a better year on this front than you. Get out of the house.

Oh, and here's your other fucking problem:

"I don't have any friends who know about my open relationship. "

Why? Not even in the context of "hey, maybe someone else is in this situation" (and I get not wanting to hook up within your friend circles, I've made that mistake), but it seems to me it's rather difficult to find people willing to enter an open relationship if nobody knows it's open.

Two more things: You didn't mention whether your girlfriend's made it happen or not. What's worked for her, if so? And another thing, which you will not want to hear (but it might not be the one you think), about your standards: OKC shows you people who are roughly as attractive as you. If you don't think any of them measure up to you... well, maybe you need a little wake-up call.
posted by dekathelon at 7:56 PM on December 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

Oh, and on preview: "Open relationships are always rather suspect anyway" -- THIS. "I'm in an open relationship!" is a go-to line for men not in open relationships who are trying to cheat, and many women, probably most of the ones who get your Badge of Okay You're Not Terrible, will automatically upon hearing be all [citation needed]. So be prepared for that.
posted by dekathelon at 7:59 PM on December 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

I think you should change your Ok Cupid strategy...don't use it to try to meet the women you want to sleep with, use it to meet other people who are in poly relationships. Spend a bit of time building a network of friends with whom you can be open about the status of your relationship, and these friends will introduce you to their friends, some of whom will inevitably be hot women interested in casual sex who are not on OK Cupid because they don't need to be.

Definitely involve your girlfriend in this process as much as she finds comfortable. If I know a man has an awesome, attractive partner who is clearly into him, I'm much more likely to think he could be something special.

Also, having been on the other side of this equation, some men can come off as very transactional, which is offputting. If I'm approached by a man who seems to be trying to figure out if I'm potentially available for casual sex, I'll generally shut that conversation down quickly. Even though I am potentially available, the likelihood is that after we talk a bit further, my high standards will mean that I will not be available for casual sex with him leading to disappointment and awkwardness. So why take that chance, when potential partners are not scarce?

As much as you can approach this exercise as one of meeting cool and interesting people because that's a fun thing to do, I think that attitude will get you farther than trying to meet sex partners.
posted by psycheslamp at 8:06 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

A minority of women are interested in casual totally NSA sex. It's a decent sized minority, but still a minority. These women are in HIGH demand. Extremely attractive women are also a minority and also in extremely high demand. Extremely attractive women who also want to have NSA sex are a very small minority who are in ridiculously high demand.

This. Being with an attractive woman, the "classic" open relationship model becomes inherently unfair and almost always results in the woman getting much more sex than the man. This is why I usually don't agree to them (except in rare exceptions where the other person explicitly tells me that they don't follow the classic "equal opportunity"-based model that you and your GF do) - it's because despite providing the illusion of equality, this situation usually creates a "one vagina, many penises" dynamic where you are effectively just part of your girlfriend's "stable" but don't get anywhere near as much sex as she does. Furthermore, as a man, saying you're in an open relationship to a prospective hookup tends to turn off most non-poly women, whereas for a women, saying you're in an open relationship to a prospective hookup generally doesn't deter them.

If you want to get a fair deal in your open relationship, you need to renegotiate it such that instead of having equal opportunity for hookups, you have an equal quantity of hookups. In other words, she doesn't have sex outside of the relationship unless you do too. This motivates your S/O to align your interests with her own by helping you find sexual partners, whether that is helping with your OKcupid profile, finding a swinging couple for the two of you to play with together, or letting you remove your "in a relationship" status from Facebook so that you can flirt with people more effectively and build their interest before disclosing your relationship status.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would like to respectfully disagree with everything wolfdreams just said.

And specifically to the op: forget your "standards" and try treating the women you're interested in fucking as humans, to connect with first. The sex will be better if you get into each other's heads first, anyways.
posted by ead at 9:55 PM on December 19, 2012 [12 favorites]

A few links:
Nonmonogamy for men: the big picture

How to find girls for polyamory

Five things men can do to not be creepy

And some advice: look for dates in your local poly/sex positive crowd. Be more specific in your OKC profile about what you're looking for. And keep trying.

Good luck!
posted by gingerbeer at 10:04 PM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

if you have a college or university in your area, you might have better luck finding a casual sex partner among female students. Some of them may be too busy with studies to desire having a formal relationship, and some of them don't have a lot of extra money to go out a lot, so having a discreet sex partner from outside the campus whom nobody on campus knows could potentially be appealing to them, and your presumed "maturity" could be appealing to them as well.

BTW, I got a chuckle out of "I'm extremely good-looking. Also...modest...." I think most people are taking that as factual information but it does make one wonder whether you might not be as modest as you state and whether that could be a factor in your success rate. But of course that's just a speculative thought.
posted by Dansaman at 11:15 PM on December 19, 2012

If you're just looking for an attractive place to put your dick for an hour or so and then you walk away, that's a solved problem; it requires several hundred to a thousand dollars depending on your locale.

The non bar-hopping alternative to sex workers is to join (or build) a network of friends who enjoy sharing casual sex. This could be either a swinger's club or a poly/kink munch. Note that clubs and groups are not particularly interested in adding more unaccompanied men; if you're not bringing your girlfriend to the party then you might find yourself shut out. In any case it's not going to be walk-in-and-fuck; you must build a reputation over months.

If you don't mind bars too terribly, you could try haunting cocktail hour at hotels near airports and convention centres and strike up conversations with women who meet your standards. Get prepared for a lot of "no".
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:09 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Developing your skills in bars and nightclubs will be worthwhile. It's work, but good work, and it's very gratifying when the pieces start fitting together. Besides which, you can have some fun experiences. Last night while out with a friend I chatted to a lovely Finnish girl who taught me how to say rude things in her mother tongue; the introverted me of a couple of years ago would never have been able to do that.

There's also much to be said for street approaches ('daygame'), scary as they are.

PM me, or put up a throwaway email address, if you want some info.
posted by henryaj at 6:07 AM on December 20, 2012

I will nth that the ratios are skewed by stating that when I had a female friend (lovely, not stunning) seeking NSA sex on places like OK Cupid and Craig's List she had her choice of guys, the successful ones of whom appeared to be stunning underwear models. The other thing that a lot of guys seemed to use successfully was offering up something to smoke together.

So keep working the online angle, but you'll need to put in a lot of time and effort, possibly lower your standards a little, and consider offering more than just your awesome bod.

On a totally different tack, I've known guys who've done well at this by discreetly talking with friends and asking if they knew anyone suitable. Only you know if you want to be more open with your friends about your open relationship.
posted by ldthomps at 7:44 AM on December 20, 2012

Agreeing with others' advice to basically get outside the house.

One thing I'm not sure has been mentioned: your question almost reads like you're pressuring yourself. Remember, just because you're allowed to pursue casual sex doesn't mean you should force yourself into it. You mentioned that you have never had casual sex before. This can make the prospect of casual sex while in a relationship pretty exciting, and that excitement can double the pressure you put on yourself.

Try a fresh perspective. You're dating someone who cares for you and trusts you, and is totally cool with it if you have some no-strings-attached sex with other people. Great! You're on top of the world! So if you feel like having some fun, go and hit the bars. And if you don't want to go out tonight and put the moves on someone, you don't have to.
posted by nicodine at 3:09 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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