Finding out your husband is dating another woman while carrying his baby might be considered a nightmare for many. But it wasn’t a problem for Danielle, 38, as she and her husband opened their relationship over a decade ago.
This means they have agreed to go out, date and have sex with people outside of their marriage. Danielle told Newsweek about their non-traditional relationship that often shocks people.
The mom-of-two shares videos about the rules that come with her marriage and tales from the past. One video in particular grabbed hundreds of thousands of users’ attention as she explains her husband Rich, 42, “casually” dated while she was pregnant.
Danielle, from North Carolina, spoke to Newsweek about her second pregnancy and it turns out it wasn’t long until she was back on the dating scene after giving birth. In fact, she appreciates another man for helping her feel “desirable” again after an emergency C-section left her with a scarred stomach.
She said: “After the birth of our firstborn, who is now eight years old, we were monogamous. We didn’t plan on it, it just happened as we were so excited to be parents.”
When Danielle fell pregnant for a second time five years ago, Rich expressed his interest to date again.
“At the time, I had just taken on a new job in a leadership position so I was super busy and focused on work. Rich had a flexible corporate job so he was able to take our son to daycare daily, cook dinner every night and maintain our house,” she said.
“So without him, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to focus as much on my new job so I was extremely grateful. One day, he mentioned he is keen to casually date and I said that’s fine but on two conditions.”
Danielle asked her husband to avoid dating anyone they know such as friends of friends and going out of town. So during her pregnancy, he went on casual dates outside of their immediate area.
She told Newsweek that dating other people gives them both the opportunity to have a “mental vacation.”
“Our lives are so intertwined that whenever my husband and I are on dates, it is hard to daydream. It isn’t a bad thing but when we see other people, we are able to take a break from the logistics of our everyday life,” she added.
The couple tied the knot in August 2013 and Danielle gave birth to her second child in 2018. She told Newsweek that she struggled to accept her new body, despite Rich complimenting her daily.
“He told me every day how special and beautiful I was but I hated my body. I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t hear him. I didn’t feel sexy at all.
“I had three emergency surgery scars and a big C-section scar underneath my belly button. I looked like a lawn mower had run over my stomach and my perception of my body completely changed,” she said.
After four months, Danielle unexpectedly met someone who became her boyfriend for nine months. During that time, she learned to love her body again.
The content creator, who uses the handle @openlycommitted, previously told TikTok about her experience with postpartum depression. During the clip, she explains how another man seeing her new body made her feel “attractive again.” The clip, shared in April 2022, racked up over 3,000 likes and 103,900 views.
She told Newsweek: “Another man making me feel desirable and sexy helped me get over postpartum depression.
“My husband loves me so much he can give me freedom and space to live my full life which sometimes includes dating someone else.”
Boundaries Must Be Respected
Angelika Koch, a relationship expert, spoke to Newsweek about the pros and cons of an open relationship.
“An open relationship can allow the existing relationship to become more passionate sexually and emotionally because needs that perhaps were not previously met, are now being met by another person. Because the individuals no longer have unmet needs, they might feel more romantic towards their partner because, in their life overall, their needs are being met,” she said.
But having a great time with another person could lead to negative feelings towards the partner, explained Koch, who works at Taimi, a fully inclusive LGBTQ+ dating app.
She said: “Having your needs met by someone else can cause resentment towards your partner because you might begin to compare one person to the other and wonder why your partner could not meet these needs.
“An open relationship can bring excitement to the bedroom and can allow your partner to learn new things through other partners, but there can also be the other side of jealousy beginning to build, as well as guilt.
“So long as there is healthy and open communication and boundaries being respected, an open relationship can be a positive and explorative experience allowing the couple to feel closer together than they were. But if healthy communication does not happen and boundaries are not respected, it can lead to the relationship having even more troubles.”
Jealousy Is Based on Insecurity and Fear
Another con of an open relationship is feelings of jealousy but this is normal, especially at the start, Danielle said.
In 2010, after four months of dating, the couple began to see other people. She admits to feeling jealous more than in comparison now.
“I will confess, I did feel hurt when Rich initially asked if I wanted to be in a non-monogamous relationship. I had never even heard of it. But he wanted to ensure we would be together for a long time as we had an instant connection,” she said.
“In past relationships, neither of us had ever cheated, but we had both been tempted in previous relationships. We have also seen affairs destroy families and ruin relationships.
“Non-monogamy started as our way of making our relationship affair-proof. But it’s also how we add more excitement, experiences, and love into our lives.
“With the positive emotions come negative ones, too, including jealousy. I experienced jealousy early on. It is based on insecurity and fear. Now I am less jealous because I am more confident in myself and our relationship. But I still occasionally get jealous.
“Jealousy isn’t something to be proud of. When I feel jealous now, it’s often an indication that I need to work on myself or my husband and I need to work on something in our marriage.”
It seems a relationship like Danielle’s isn’t one Americans would turn down. In April 2021, a YouGov poll of more than 23,000 Americans found that about a quarter (25 percent) of those surveyed say they would be interested in having an open relationship.
More recently, the data company found that one in eight Americans (12 percent) say they have engaged in sexual activity with someone other than their primary partner—with their primary partner’s permission.
But an open relationship doesn’t mean hooking up with anyone, for this couple, some people are strictly off-limits. Danielle explained the rules that have somewhat loosened as the years have passed.
“The rules were stricter at the beginning so we could establish our boundaries but now they are much more relaxed. Now I know what my husband wants to know and what he doesn’t,” she told Newsweek.
“It’s much more flexible now but there will always be obvious rules around regular testing, using protection and safety measures like having the Find My Friend app turned on.”
The couple will always discuss who they are meeting prior to a date but some people like colleagues, friends or family friends are never considered.
She said: “Our number one rule that will never change is that we are each other’s, primary person. We opened up early knowing what we wanted and made our relationship specific to us. We determined our own rules for our relationship and our own definition of commitment. We are in this together.”
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