By Adam Nathan Schultz |@larsvontrier

Imagine your sex life as a map. You begin your journey with developing your first sexual feelings; the landscape is shaped by the peaks of self discovery, valleys of masturbation, and the springs of wet dreams and unfulfilled fantasies.

You journey onwards to the rocky territories of your first sexual experiences and beyond. Very early on you encounter a solitary peak with the word ‘Relationship’ carved in to its side, like the ‘Hollywood’ sign in LA. You get closer to it, and then you seem to walk away, only to get closer again at some point in the future. You try to climb it from many different slopes, but because the mountain is so majestic, and its scenery so fascinatingly labyrinthine, you forbid yourself from claiming its peak too early. You want to journey on at a steady pace to make sure you choose the right shelf to cling on to.

There are a number of reasons why I find the ‘sexlife-map’ analogy so appealing. The topography of a mountain, representing relationships is terribly complicated and crafted with such incredible attention to detail, it is impossible, from a lone traveller’s point of view, to ever see the whole picture. Just like in real life – we can never really grasp our affairs whilst they’re happening because we are too attached to our own experience. And so you march on, and the landscape continuously changes, and with it so does its relation to you. Somewhere along the way you change as well because you can’t see the mountain the same way you did the day before; because it doesn’t impact you the same way.

In my own sex odyssey, somewhere past the point of hopeless monogamy and unadulterated promiscuity I stumbled upon a path of open relationships and realised that there was no way around it. The experience of it was not so much unavoidable as it was central to appreciating everything that I have learnt up to this point.

My first encounter with the relationship mountain ended up in a civil partnership. The entire establishment was based on a premise that love lasts forever. My partner and I were holding on to that perverted ethos so desperately, it eventually became the reason why we split up. Towards the end of my civil partnership I cheated on my partner rather heavily. I was in my mid-twenties and horny beyond human imagination. I was ashamed of these desires and decided to fulfil them in secrecy. I had no clue back then that neither sex nor love can be truly satisfying if it’s based on lies and deception.

In my next relationship, my boyfriend and I agreed on casual sexual indulgence with other partners as long as we played together. Sadly, this also didn’t work out. Me and my other half got so hung up on fulfilling these preconceived notions of what our relationship should be about, we ended up perverting the reality in order to fit the roles we imagined ourselves to play. The ability to dissociate love and sex was not enough to keep this thing going.

I had been circling the relationship mountain for eight years at this point and it was obvious to me that I needed a new approach. So I’ve decided to date couples for a while in order to find out what I was doing wrong in my own relationships. Here are a few lessons that I’ve learnt.

Number one: know your boundaries. How can you successfully manage through the complexities of loving one person yet having sex with many if you don’t negotiate the rules of what is or isn’t allowed beforehand?

Number two: when you play with a couple, make sure you find both of them equally appealing sexually. The entire thing is supposed to benefit all three of you. All parties expect to have a care-free time, so if you aren’t planning on fulfilling that expectation, don’t bother at all.

Number three: couples are like wine – the longer they have been together, the better time you can expect to have with them because they know exactly what they are looking for. There will be none of that passive-aggressive bullshit that you may get from freshly coupled men who may end up taking all of their insecurities out on their casual sex partner.

Year ten of my foreplay with the relationship mountain and I now want to see what it is like to form an open relationship of my own. I mentioned before that there was no way around this path. Because why should there be? Our possibilities stretch beyond the horizon of the sex-landscape that our eyes (and genitalia!) are able to grasp at this very moment. The path is as long and wild as you want it to be. Never limit yourself. You can’t possibly know what sorts of beautiful experiences may be waiting for you just around the corner.

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