I hear from so many women who wish their husbands would agree to an open marriage, and I hear from so many women who are lucky enough to be in an open marriage and who cite that as a main reason that they are such attentive wives.
One thing that makes life "interesting" for us humans is that many societies (particularly Western) contain a fundamental tension when it comes to sex:
We desire to be polyamorous, having access to multiple attractive sexual partners.
We desire that our sexual partners, especially our long-term partners, be monogamous and not have any sexual partners other than ourselves.
This applies to both sexes. Both men and women fall in love, are tempted to cheat on their partners, and feel jealousy when they suspect their partners are cheating on them. If you know that someone has had sex with many different people, this makes them attractive for a one-night-stand, because it suggests that it will be easy to get them into bed and that they will probably be good in it, but it makes them poor prospects for a long-term relationship; they didn't "settle down" with anyone else, so they probably won't settle down with you. Conversely, someone who has carefully guarded their "innocence" is more likely to remain faithful once in a relationship, but they aren't going to settle for anything less than True Love, either. Again, this, too, applies to both sexes. Both men and women tend to categorize potential mates along these lines, according to what is often referred to as the "virgin/whore dichotomy". In other words, in spite of its other benefits, sleeping around will tend to make it harder to find a steady, long-term relationship.
Except in fiction. Some writers generally want to have characters that have sex, and a lot of it, with many different people. Sexual jealousy, and the desire not to provoke it in others, provides a reason for characters not to have sex, so it tends to be one of those things that get swept under the rug. In these stories, it's often the case that a man falls in love with a woman as a long-term partner specifically because she is promiscuous, and even encourages her to sleep with other men after they are married. These stories take the My Girl Is Not a Slut trope, turn it upside down, throw it out the window, stomp on it, set it on fire, and then bury it at the bottom of the ocean. Their girl IS a slut, and they prefer it that way.
Oddly enough, even this can sometimes be Truth in Television. Swingers are people in committed relationships that have sex with other people that are also in the swinging lifestyle. In an open relationship, the partners are permitted to have sex outside of the relationship with whomever they wish, though it is usually understood to be "just sex." Polyamory takes this a step farther, with multiple romantic relationships allowed, as long as consideration is given to the feelings of all involved. And there are various other reasons why a partner's infidelity, or the potential for infidelity, might make a man more interested in having sex with her. The Other Wikihas an article on the subject.
Please limit examples to mainstream fiction. There's no point in mentioning any of the millions of "hot wife" stories that can be found on erotic fiction sites.
Important Note: This trope applies if the girl is lauded by her man when she flirts with other men. A girl flirting with other women all the time, even going all the way, only applies if said girl also enjoys sleeping with men others than her boyfriend and he doesn't see anything wrong with that. If the girl only sleeps with other women but no man other than her boyfriend, it's not this trope.
Contrast, obviously enough, My Girl Is Not a Slut, and, not so obviously, All Women Are Lustful. Compare Polyamory, Be a Whore to Get Your Man, Good Bad Girl.
open/close all folders
The film Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice is about two couples who, inspired by the "free love" atmosphere of a 1960s subculture, decide to try out the swinging lifestyle.
Though what it shows is certainly the most chaste foursome of all time.
In a scene in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle, a disfigured man nicknamed Freakshow suggests, in an offhand manner, to Harold and Kumar that they "fuck his wife". When they meet his wife, they are surprised to find that she is very pretty. She asks to have sex with them, but only on the condition that both of them penetrate her at the same time. Harold and Kumar hesitate because they are uneasy about the implications that they would also be having sex with each other. Before anything happens, Freakshow walks in and appears to be angry; he calms down when reminded that he gave them permission, but then insists on participating. Harold and Kumar immediately leave, and resolve never to speak of it again.
As discussed in My Girl Is Not a Slut, this is a semi-autobiographical movie about Director/Silent Bob's real-life relationship with star Joey Lauren Adams and his insecurity about her past. He and she admit as much in interviews. However, it wasn't actually about sex, just that she had traveled and seen more of the world, while he'd barely been out of New Jersey.
People in Sin City don't seem to mind getting into relationships with prostitutes.
Played with in the film Dangerous Beauty: the title character, Veronica Franco, is a courtesan, and has many lovers over the course of her career. One of those lovers, Marco Venier, really is in love with her and wants her to be his alone. She eventually agrees to be his mistress and not to sleep with any other men any more, but gets called out of retirement to sleep with King Henri III of France to win his support for Venice's war against the Ottomans. Marco, as he says, "cannot bear it."
In Almost Famous, right before William kisses Penny Lane and then sleeps with her, he tells her "I love you. And I'm about to boldly go where...many men have gone before."
In Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein, the protagonist's love interest is bi and poly. He jokes that he doesn't have a problem with her having sex with other women, but wants to be her only man. At the end, he gives in, saying she can sleep with anyone she wants, as long as she comes home to him.
And damn if she's open-minded. She gives the protagonist a lecture about healthy bestiality relationships at one point, when he dares to be offended.
Although this surprisingly never reaches the heart of the trope. It's presented as vital to Anita's political, physical and metaphysical safety that she have an ever-expanding pool of men, and (partly due to her powers modifying them) the reactions of the men in her life to this fact vary from blissed-out indifference to very grudging acceptance (with occasional tantrums)... but Anita still won't do more than an emergency hookup with a man who's actually attracted by this.
In the Riley Jensen, Guardian series by Keri Arthur, which one might say was "inspired" by the Anita Blake books, the main character is a werewolf, and werewolf society is very blase about sex, due to werewolves basically going "on heat" every full moon. Riley's romantic interests tend to take this poorly, though Riley's attitude is like it or lump it.
In general, many of Heinlein's books had characters that were pretty big on "free love". In Job A Comedy Of Justice, it's implied that parental incest is itself a cool and groovy thing by the wife of the protagonist's best friend, in regard to their teenage daughter. Of course, nothing is what it seems in that scene. He is Satan in an assumed form, she is an Ascended Human, and the "daughter" is not related to either of them - she's an afreet. They're all playing with the protagonist's head to try to shake his rigid assumptions about Right and Wrong. Since this is done in an expository and sympathetic manner rather than an evil one, it may not matter.
Miriam "Starhawk" Simos, in her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing, wrote a poem blessing a lover's other and/or previous partners for having "made you who you are."
Vonda McIntyre seems to like putting polyamorous (or simply uninhibited) characters in her novels. It's the monogamous ones (like Arevin in Dreamsnake) who tend to stand out.
All characters in Brave New World, having their first sexual experiences long before puberty.
And society considers monogamous relationships to be an unusual perversion.
15th century French poet Francois Villon wrote a poem (The Ballad of Fat Margot) about his lover, who was a prostitute, and even advertised her in it. He was parodying the love poetry of the era, which described women as virginal and unattainable.
Applies to Caesar and Servilia's relationship in the Emperor series. When they meet, Servilia is a prostitute, and there's never any evidence that Caesar has a problem with her keeping up that profession while they're together. Similarly, Servilia doesn't mind his sleeping with other women - in fact she encourages him to marry a young, fertile woman so he can have a son. A relationship doesn't really get more open than that...
When a woman's lover has very significantly higher social status than herself, possession often takes the back seat to affiliation, which she wouldn't dare endanger. The benefits outweigh the costs, especially for individuals as sexually practical as prostitutes. Furthermore, the Romans, especially patricians, had an extremely fun-rather-than-procreation perception of sex.
What makes it a bit ironic is that while Caesar's first wife is still alive he remains completely faithful to her, even when she is unable to have sex with him, and when they are apart.
In Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists Of Avalon, King Lot of Orkney and his wife, Morgause, both sleep around, and are both fully aware of it. But they're still each other's best friend and confidante, and she is heartbroken when he dies.
In a male example, Seth from Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr was a promiscuous sleeper until he falls in love with and starts going out with the main character.
In The Great Gatsby, when he first met her, Gatsby believed that Daisy's past history with many men made her "valuable."
Many of John Donne's poems and essays are about how wonderful women are who sleep around. Seeing as how this is John Donne, (see Unreliable Narrator) it's difficult to tell whether he was being serious or sarcastic. Throughout history, people have argued both ways.
Johnny in The Truth of Rock and Roll loves Jenny for her experience and Good Bad Girl free-spiritedness. There is a moment when she doubts this - "So basically...Both your parents think I’m a whore. Are you worried that they’re right?...Do you not want to be with me now that I’m a whore?...I like to wear these clothes, Johnny. I like to wear this makeup, I like to dance sexy and I like to fuck. Until tonight, I thought you liked those things about me." - but he quickly reassures her that he does; he just fears that he's giving her a bad reputation. She finds this hilarious.
Live Action TV
Grace Hanadarko, oh my. At one point an attorney digs up every guy Grace slept with over the summer and drags them into the police station. Grace remarks that they'd have to get a new building if he dug up the fall and winter guys too.
At one point in Scrubs, Dr. Cox has the dozens of people who've slept with Jordan (his ex-wife) to raise their hands, then thanks whoever it was who taught her the Reverse Cowgirl Position.
Stumpy on Carnivŕle is not only Rita Sue's husband, he's her on-stage promoter and pimp, so he financially benefits from this trope. Their daughters are strippers as well. According to Word Of God, such family-run "cooch shows" were Truth in Television in the 1930s. A few potholes aside, Stumpy and Rita Sue actually have one of the healthiest relationships on the show (which isn't saying much, considering how screwed up everybody is).
When Mac and Charlie find out that Dee has been having more sex with more partners than anyone else on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia they become profoundly jealous.
There's a weird mix when it comes to Marshall and Lily in How I Met Your Mother. On one hand, he considers it a point of pride that neither one of them has slept with anyone else. On the other, he's also pretty proud of some of the wild turns their sex lives have taken since then:
Barney: "Girls whose names end in -ly are always dirty. Holly, Kelly, Lily..."
Marshall: "Hey! That's... no, that's true."
Season 7 also has Barney constantly brag about dating a stripper. Although it's actually Deconstructed as he struggles to deal with this.
The song "Tu Reputacion" by Ricardo Arjona is about a man who doesn't mind that his actual girlfriend had slept with half town (before she had finished high school), and even bless all the men she had sex with before.
Chorus goes (loose translation): "If your past is what taught you to love me this way, God bless those that came before me"
Ben Kweller's song "Wasted and Ready" describes how one character likes the fact that his girlfriend is a "slut" and finds it sexy. The characters referred to are actually from the movie "The Doom Generation".
Theory of a Dead Man's "Bad Girlfriend".
"One Love At A Time" by Tanya Tucker.
"Promiscuous Girl" by Nelly Futado and featuring Timbaland.
"Outlaw Women" by Hank Williams Jr.
"Patricia the Stripper" by The Wombats
She works downtown in an unmarked bar,
Flyin' round poles she always gave me the fright of my life
I didn't mean to get involved it was the alcohol
Mixed with an empty feelin' inside.
Its such a bad idea to fall in love with a 'lady of the night'
And then later in the song
Months go by and I'm alone in bed
While she's greasing up for when the businessmen and lawyers arrive
I've got to wear a beard a suit and tie
To get past the door if I want to see my girl tonight
I go to all this effort just to see my fair Patricia going home with some other guy
Parodied by the Irish comedy band Dead Cat Bounce; at some point during their performances, the band members trade instruments except for the bassist, who then claims that he'd never cheat on his bass, but doesn't mind if other guys play her.
She sings a song where she says ''I can make you feel special".
Lola from Bully, practically seen with any guy that will give her what she wants despite the fact she is technically Johnny's girlfriend.
Swinging is an accepted fact of life in Insecticomics dating, but most obvious with Elita. Red Alert was very concerned to find Bombshell had installed several new programs in her...only to find out they were all antivirus programs.
The two main characters of Blur The Lines, Rick and Drew, openly discuss their sexual escapades with other men with each other, even though they have been partners for ten years.
Murugu of Twisted Kaiju Theater, and Shin-Goji knows it. In fact, when he finds his illegal Mexican bootleg kaiju figure poolboys gangbanging her, his main concern is that the pool doesn't exist in his backyard yet. Shin-Goji's only problem with his girlfriend is that Murugu is a registered Republican.
Brazilian website wwwchargesdotcomdotbr has "Só Levando", featuring the Bezerra couple. Their marriage is open. As Mr. Bezerra once put it, his wife can have relationships with other men and the only reason he can't have anything with other women is the fact they don't want it.
The Venture Brothers episode 'The Buddy System' uses this as a basis for a joke, explicitly stating that The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend have actually experimented with this at some point in the past. It should be noted that it was the Monarch's idea (and felt awkward afterwards). He did seem to be turned on when she was seducing Doctor Venture.
This aspect of the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend's relationship was also brought up previously in "Are You There God? It's Me, Dean." The Monarch keeps Brock and Hank as collateral, but Dr. Girlfriend assumes that they're in the cocoon for very different reasons:
"I guess the muscular one is alright, but the boy is going too far. Can't we just use the puppets again?"
Word Of God states that the Monarch insisted on theirs being an open marriage, and is much less successful in exploiting it than his wife.
In an episode of Family Guy, Peter is very proud when he heard that his wife Lois once slept with Gene Simmons (from KISS). He proceeds to spend the rest of the episode making sure everyone else knows it, too. When interviewed on TV, Lois pretty much advises girls to sleep with everyone because they don't know who might become famous
It should be noted though, that he only feels that way about relationships prior to their marriage. He is extremely defensive about any man so much as flirting with Lois. Peter also threw Gene out when he did suggestive things with his tongue to Lois.
He was understandably upset when Lois slept with Bill Clinton. He goes to confront Clinton. A Gilligan Cut later, Peter and Bill are in bed, and Peter wonders how that could have happened.
Lois also starred in the porno film Quest for Fur.
Kenny from South Park is quite overjoyed to learn his girlfriend is a "slut" in the episode The Ring.
This is more or less the reason he started dating her in the first place, which didn't make him happy when she became "born again".