This generation is radically rethinking straight sex and marriage, but at what cost?In Part One of a two-part series, Rolling Stone goes under the covers in search of new approaches to intimacy, commitment and hooking up.Once Ryan learned that a permanently open relationship was what Leah wanted, he says, “There was a side of me that was ecstatic – the teenage boy in me that wants to fuck everything I see.
“I like everyone to meet each other and be friends and stuff,” he explains."There was a side of me that was ecstatic – the teenage boy in me that wants to fuck everything I see," reveals Ryan, a millennial in an open relationship.“I remember the first night, I was telling him about my difficulty with monogamy,” she says.“I don’t know why I felt the need, but it must have been on my mind a lot.” In almost every relationship she’d had, she’d found herself cheating, though she didn’t know if this was a character flaw or a problem with the conventional system. “I was just trying to get into your panties,” he says to her, laughing.I was very unsure of all that.” Leah, however, forged ahead. Her one concession to upstate New York’s brutal winter is a Syracuse sweatshirt that she can quickly jettison as soon as she enters any party.
“I want to be meaningfully connected and involved with a lot of people, whether or not that means in a sexual way,” she says before taking her leave. And she plans to enter plenty, beginning with a dorm gathering – where she pre-games with a water bottle full of vodka tonic – before moving on to the rugby house, where the sporty all-American type of guy that Kristina favors should be in abundance.By the end of their dinner at a small Italian restaurant in New York’s West Village, Leah is getting antsy to part ways with her boyfriend Ryan, so that she can go meet up with her boyfriend Jim.It’s not that she means to be rude, it’s just that Jim has been traveling for work, so it’s been a while since she’s seen him. As her “primary partner” and the man with whom she lives, he is the recipient of most of Leah’s attention, sexual and otherwise, but he understands her need to seek companionship from other quarters roughly one night a week.Or, more specifically, that going outside the partnership for sex does not necessitate a forfeiture of it.“I was at a practice where we would meet every week, six to eight therapists in a room for teaching purposes and to bring up new things coming into therapy that weren’t there before,” says Lair Torrent, a New York-based marriage and family therapist.Because they started off dating long-distance (Ryan was living in Colorado at the time), it was understood that they would not be exclusive: They initiated a policy Leah describes as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But when Ryan moved to New York and began living with Leah a year and a half later, he assumed they would transition immediately into monogamy.