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Tonight is one of those nights, and soon Leah will head to Jim’s penthouse apartment, where the rest of the evening, she says, will probably entail “hanging out, watching something, having sex.” “She’ll usually spend the night,” Ryan adds nonchalantly, which gives him a chance to enjoy some time alone or even invite another woman over.

He doesn’t have a long-standing secondary relationship like Leah (“I’ve actually veered away from doing that”), but he certainly enjoys the company of other women, even sometimes when Leah is home.

From the standpoint of anthropology and sociology, dating is linked with other institutions such as marriage and the family which have also been changing rapidly and which have been subject to many forces, including advances in technology and medicine.And while this change is embraced most energetically by younger generations, it is also visible in other parts of society — viz liberated women in their sixties who are done with picking up socks.‘In the past people would sleepwalk into marriage,’ says Helen Croydon, author of new book , which explores the flowering of alternative relationship models. The internet makes finding like-minded groups easier."But the other side of me was concerned about what this means in terms of intimacy and how the dynamics would work." When Leah and Ryan met at a wedding four years ago, they didn’t expect to develop this type of arrangement.Neither of them had had an open relationship before, though it was something that Leah had contemplated.