sex diaries

The Woman Pushing to Keep Her Relationship Open

Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher

This week, a sex educator plays with her new toys while wondering about the official status of her two-year relationship: 27, in a relationship, Brooklyn.


7:15 a.m. I slept like shit. Last night, I ate an entire bag of potato chips before bed and had a stomachache all night. Why did I do that?

9:30 a.m. I am awake, dressed, and feeling a bit better. My job is pretty unique in that I work in the sexual-wellness space. Without giving away too many specifics, I have an abundance of lube, vibrators, butt plugs — to name the very least — in my apartment at all times.

12:30 p.m. After a long morning Zoom about an ad campaign around a new product, I log off and text my boyfriend, Z. He lives about ten minutes away by bike. We met online and have been together for two years. We’ve always been open, but it’s just in theory, not in practice. I haven’t been with anyone but Z since we met, and I think the same goes for him. It helps that our sex is great and that we’re very happy together. There’s also the fact that COVID kept us attached to each other and unable to explore others. It’s weird knowing we’re totally free to do that now that we’ve practically become a married couple. I ask Z if he can come over for a lunch break, but he can’t — he works in film, and he’s mid-production on something.

1 p.m. I try a new vibrator that penetrates both my front and my back. It’s not terrible … not terrible at all.

5 p.m. I go grocery shopping so that I can make dinner for me and Z tonight; I pick up some wine.

7 p.m. We’re eating and laughing. I ask him if he wants me to use this new vibe on his ass. He politely declines. I’m definitely the more adventurous one sex-wise, but his vanilla-ness is adorable and his cock is phenomenal.

9 p.m. We have a quick deep-fuck and fall asleep in my bed.


8 a.m. The one issue with Z is that he snores. I never sleep well during our sleepovers. I’ve told him about the snoring, but I also don’t want to embarrass him about it too much. Anyway, I’m very tired today.

11 a.m. I’m on a Zoom about a serum that is supposed to make one’s clitoris tingle. Call me a purist, but can’t a tongue do that just the same?

2 p.m. I leave my apartment to take an hour-long walk and listen to podcasts. They’re all so boring. How is it that everyone has a podcast and yet there are no good ones?

6 p.m. I meet Z for sushi. He’s in a bad mood because his feelings got hurt at work (or something like that). Sometimes I feel very selfish because in moments like these, I’m kind of like, I don’t really care. I just don’t like listening to other people whine. I’m also very tired and cranky still.

7 p.m. After dinner, I tell Z I need to get a good night’s sleep and that I think we should go our own way for the night. We have a hot make-out good-bye. Suddenly I’m wet and want to fuck — I know he’s horny for me too — but I don’t want to be a wishy-washy person, so I wave him good-bye. We have our whole lives to fuck each other.


9 a.m. Getting my booster shot, yay!

10 a.m. Reward myself for said booster by eating a plate of $25 pancakes at a nearby chic café. They are fucking amazing. I love eating alone. It’s one of my greatest pleasures.

3 p.m. I’ve been thinking about going online to find a female lover. The queer thing, for me, is sort of like the open thing: It’s only in words, not practice. I identify as queer even though I generally sleep with only men. I dated a woman on and off before meeting Z. That sort of just fizzled, but the sex was mind-blowing. I’d like to meet a woman I can experiment with. It takes a lot of effort, though …

5 p.m. I’m ultimately too lazy to find a hot woman to fuck online. Instead, I order in Thai food. Z has a work thing tonight, so I’m on my own.

8 p.m. I’ve masturbated so many times my vagina feels like it’s vibrating even though it’s not. It’s like when you get off a boat and your body is still rocking.

10 p.m. I download a dating app and make my profile very discreet and so that I’m only looking for women. I don’t want Z seeing me on there, even if we’re open. I’ll tell him I’m online dating at some point, but the timing feels off right now … we never changed the terms of our relationship, but we’re so monogamous and committed in practice. It’s complicated!

I wanted an open relationship because I know myself and that I’m very sexual. As for Z, he agreed to it without really thinking about it, I think.


10 a.m. Today’s Zoom is about anal beads and butt plugs. No judgment, but not my thing. One nice thing about my vanilla boyfriend is that he isn’t trying to eat my ass. The whole world under age 30 is eating ass on the reg.

3 p.m. I catch up with my parents, who live in the Midwest. I hate telling them about my work, so we talk about COVID breakthrough cases instead. They’re a little right-leaning, so the whole thing is brutal!

5 p.m. I’ve matched with some women online. It’s so easy to hook up these days. I feel wrong having someone come over until I tell my boyfriend that this is happening. Again, so weird to feel weird about talking about sex when we’re technically in an open relationship! Nothing is ever simple, not when it comes to love.

9 p.m. Z and I are lying in bed after sex. I say to him, “Are we still open?” He says, “Do you want to be open?” For some reason, in that moment, I blatantly lie to him. I say, “No. I just want you.” In that moment, I only want to be with him. It’s true. But only hours ago, I was flirting with other people with the intention to sleep with them. His reaction is very sweet. “I just want you too.” Are we both lying to each other? I don’t know …


9 a.m. We’re both blowing off work this morning. I take out some new toys to play with in bed. I tell him to insert one small vibe inside my pussy. He seems surprised by this since I’ve trained him that we want vibrators on and around our clits. I tell him I’d rather he go down on me with the vibrator inside me. He follows directions brilliantly.

10 a.m. Over coffee, I start the open-relationship conversation again. I decide to go for honesty. I tell him that I’m curious about our boundaries and that I downloaded a dating app and might want to start fooling around with other people, specifically women.

10:30 a.m. Z says it feels regressive to start sleeping with other people when our relationship has grown so strong and we are so in love. I wouldn’t say he’s strongly opposed, but he seems upset by the idea. He’s not the guy who is going to tell me what I can or cannot do … but his truth is that he’d prefer to close our relationship officially. I’m still not sure how I really feel.

4 p.m. I text Z that I want a night off. I want to hang out by myself and try to think all this through.

9 p.m. Five hours later, I’m flirting hard-core with three different women, all of whom want to come over and have fun tonight. I hold off. But I come thinking about one of them specifically: F. She is pretty and tough and extremely sexual. My fantasies are too dirty to even recount.


8 a.m. It’s the weekend, and I like to cook, read, and work out on the weekend, so I’m excited for a great day ahead.

10 a.m. Z texts that he wants to meet up for lunch. We pick a place.

1 p.m. Over lunch, Z says he is totally fucked up about our conversation. I didn’t know he was this fragile. I tell him that I sort of resent that he’s “hurt” when technically we were still open and I never had to clear any of this with him in the first place. Frankly, I’m turned off that he’s seemingly being so insecure. We end up fighting. It is our first big fight.

3 p.m. I’m walking around the neighborhood alone and, again, trying to figure out what the fuck I want and don’t want. Are a few nights with F worth hurting Z? Shouldn’t I be allowed to do what I want? Is it time to grow up and understand what it means to be responsible for someone else’s wants and needs?

4 p.m. I grab a drink by myself. Alas, I end up flirting with people online as I sip my cocktail.

9 p.m. I get a little reading in and go to bed alone and worried. I haven’t heard from Z since our lunch, which ended badly.

10 p.m. I text him “I love you.” And then I turn off my phone. I don’t want to stay awake all night wondering if he wrote anything back.


7 a.m. He did write back. “I love you more.” I wonder if that is true. It’s not a bad thing if it is. My father loves my mother more, and she’s had a very good life because of that. He adores her and treats her well. Z also adores me and treats me well. Is that enough?

11 a.m. I don’t know. I’m only 27. Why should I stop myself from exploring my sexuality with as many people as I want. It feels wrong to shut down my options and possibilities now. Maybe one day I will, but for now, I still want to be a horny 20-something who is doing crazy things and discovering pleasure and explaining myself to, well, nobody. I text Z that I think we should meet up tonight.

3 p.m. I’m anxious all day. I feel like this dinner could turn into a breakup dinner. I don’t want to lose him, but I feel strongly that I don’t want to be monogamous right now.

4 p.m. I test out my decision by asking F if she wants to have drinks tomorrow night. When she says yes and we solidify a plan, I am both terrified and insanely turned on.

7 p.m. Z looks gorgeous at this cute new restaurant we meet up at. Suddenly I rethink everything. He smells so good, and he’s got such a nice voice when he orders, and he’s such a great communicator, and … it’s like I can see our whole relationship flashing before my eyes. I want to hold on to him, and I also want to hold on to my sexual curiosities. The only way for both things to exist is to tell him we have to keep our relationship open. He shouldn’t feel threatened by that. Most likely, nothing will change. I’m doing it to keep us alive.

9 p.m. By the end of the night, he’s in agreement. Total agreement. He realized “we” would still be us — that this shift won’t change our closeness, the time we spend together, or how much I love him. I also think the wine had kicked in. I blink and imagine him sleeping around with the most beautiful women in Brooklyn … and in a moment of panic, I wonder, What have I done?

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The Woman Pushing to Keep Her Relationship Open