I was very unsure of all that.” Leah, however, forged ahead. Her one concession to upstate New York’s brutal winter is a Syracuse sweatshirt that she can quickly jettison as soon as she enters any party.
“I want to be meaningfully connected and involved with a lot of people, whether or not that means in a sexual way,” she says before taking her leave. And she plans to enter plenty, beginning with a dorm gathering – where she pre-games with a water bottle full of vodka tonic – before moving on to the rugby house, where the sporty all-American type of guy that Kristina favors should be in abundance.
"But the other side of me was concerned about what this means in terms of intimacy and how the dynamics would work." When Leah and Ryan met at a wedding four years ago, they didn’t expect to develop this type of arrangement.
Neither of them had had an open relationship before, though it was something that Leah had contemplated.
Or, more specifically, that going outside the partnership for sex does not necessitate a forfeiture of it.
“I was at a practice where we would meet every week, six to eight therapists in a room for teaching purposes and to bring up new things coming into therapy that weren’t there before,” says Lair Torrent, a New York-based marriage and family therapist.
“I remember the first night, I was telling him about my difficulty with monogamy,” she says.
“I don’t know why I felt the need, but it must have been on my mind a lot.” In almost every relationship she’d had, she’d found herself cheating, though she didn’t know if this was a character flaw or a problem with the conventional system. “I was just trying to get into your panties,” he says to her, laughing.
He doesn’t have a long-standing secondary relationship like Leah (“I’ve actually veered away from doing that”), but he certainly enjoys the company of other women, even sometimes when Leah is home.He was therefore surprised when the first thing Leah gave him after the move was a book called Certainly, open heterosexual relationships are nothing new.Even the term “open relationship” seems like a throwback, uncomfortably reminiscent of free-love hippies, greasy swingers and a general loucheness so overt as to seem almost kitsch.But Leah and Ryan, 32 and 38, respectively, don’t fit these preconceived ideas. She wears pretty skirts; he wears jeans and trendy glasses.They have a large, downtown apartment with a sweeping view and are possessed of the type of hip hyperawareness that lets them head off any assumptions as to what their arrangement might entail.
I have couples that have closed relationships or open relationships depending on how they feel about the relative health of their relationship.