We Are in an Open Relationship. How Do I Convince Her I Won’t Leave?

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Written by: Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Known as America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh is an award-winning television journalist, radio host & podcaster, and the author of three books on relationships and thousands of print and digital articles. More than 1.5 million people follow her sage advice on social media. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches in the Psychology Department at California State University Channel Islands and has been the host of "The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show" on iHeart Radio's KFI AM 640 since 2015. Walsh is also a former Emmy-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," as well as former host of the nationally syndicated show "EXTRA." She was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2017 after speaking out about harassment at a major news network.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

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Reader Question:

I am a transgender. I have a lesbian partner named Jenny, and I have four kids. Jenny knows I am transgender. We are starting to talk marriage, as we have known each other all our lives and lived together for 15 years and waited until the laws changed to get married. But now Jenny is afraid I will fall for someone else and leave her. We have been in an open relationship and agreed to an open marriage if and when we get married.

How do I convince Jenny I won’t leave after she agreed to an open marriage?

-Elizabeth (California)

Dr. Wendy Walsh’s Answer:

Dear Elizabeth: That’s the funny thing about relationships. We can’t convince anyone to change their feelings.

Of course, we often attempt to. We provide logical evidence, earnest promises and pervasive arguments. But feelings are living things, all their own.

My suggestion would be to get to know Jenny’s feelings a little better. You have been roommates with them for a long time, but have you really gotten to know the little buggers?

Let’s start with her feelings about an open relationship. Jenny agreed to the arrangement 15 years ago, but did her feelings really sign on?

And, if so, have her feelings been replaced by new roommate feelings today?

As I like to say about open relationships, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”

Maybe Jenny’s feelings have a new take on the “agreement” after enjoying it (or enduring it) for so long. Getting introduced to these new feelings might help you know Jenny better.

And how about Jenny’s old, decrepit feeling, the one who has been hiding in the closet for so long — the bridal feeling?

What feelings do thoughts of marriage conjure for Jenny? Feelings of security? Fear of divorce?

Believe it or not, plenty of people fear commitment because it means shaking hands with the possibility of divorce. Loose, undefined relationships trick us into thinking a breakup wouldn’t be so bad.

My advice is to really get to know Jenny’s tender feelings, and hey, while you’re at it, I’d knock on the door of the feelings who also room with you two. Four children must have a jamming word party of feelings about this big step.

Call the security guards. This feeling party could run late into the night.

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