Would you let your partner sleep with someone else?
New TV drama Wanderlust sees a couple deciding to have an open relationship. Closer speaks to one mum who says it’s the best thing she ever did…
❛ALL OUR NEEDS ARE MET BOTH INTELLECTUALLY AND SEXUALLY❜
Branded BBC B One’s “filthiest ever” drama, Wanderlust hit our screens last week. The six-part series sees middle-aged couple Joy and Alan desperately trying to revive their sex lives by embarking on an open relationship.
With its drug-fuelled romps and the first female orgasm on BBC One, channel bosses say the show asks an important question – whether monogamy is possible or even desirable.
A recent survey by dating website Seeking.com suggests the amount of married people joining the site has doubled in the past two years, with one in five of those members in an open relationship.
Pauline Schueler, 51, a business consultant who is in an open relationship, tells Closer, “I’m pleased that TV viewers are being shown that monogamy isn’t the only option. My partner Richard and I have been together for 35 years, and I love him deeply. But I have other lovers, as does he.
“Being in an open relationship means we communicate more, and all our needs are met, both intellectually and sexually. Society tells us that it’s impossible to love more than one person, but that’s not the case.”
Pauline and Richard, 55 – who have three sons – were monogamous until 2002, when she had an affair. She says, “We still enjoyed a healthy sex life, although it wasn’t that adventurous. Then I met a man at work. He was older than me, and when he paid me attention, I was flattered. We started an affair, he was so different to Richard and was dominant in the bedroom. I hadn’t realised that would be a turn on – the sex was amazing.”
A year later, a suspicious Richard confronted Pauline. “I confessed,” she says. “I assumed he’d tell me we were over and, when he suggested an open relationship, I was stunned.”
They set some ground rules and agreed never to bring lovers into their own home, and to be honest about when and where they were meeting partners.
“It forced us to communicate in a way we never had before,” says Pauline. “It brought us closer. It didn’t affect our sex life. With Richard, it was lovely and comfortable, and I could be more explorative elsewhere. But there are challenges. I can get jealous of Richard’s lovers, especially if they’re younger than me.”
Pauline continued to see her lover until he died in 2014. “I was devastated,” she says. “I was crying all the time, so I had to tell the children why. Thankfully, they understood. They’d rather this than have their parents separate.”
Pauline still has other relationships outside the marriage, but only sees one man at a time if she’s in love with them. “It brings variation into our lives and gives me the freedom to explore my desires,” she says. “We talk about our feelings much more, and we really value the time we spend together. I want couples to realise that monogamy isn’t the only option. Having a relationship with space changed my life.”
Pauline and Richard have been in an open relationship for 16 years