Five Facts About Open Relationships
So, open relationships is your sticking point. That's fine. Makes sense, even. Most of us come from a similar background to my own, in which having sex with someone outside your relationship is unequivicably cheating. It's not easy opening your mind, and being okay with ways of thinking that contradict your upbringing. That's life.
For the record, I never suggested anyone else just drop everything and open up the doors to their fidelity right this very second, without some conversation and consideration. That would be bad. Especially if you find out it just doesn't work for you. But there are some things you should know about the people I know and love who are in polyamorous relationships. Including M and me.
1 – Being in an open relationship does not mean your partner isn't good enough. On the contrary. Generally speaking, a person identifying as polyamorous has nothing whatever to do with the people they're in relationships with. Most of the polyamorous people I know are looking to fill a void within themselves that is impossible for them to fill with just one person. That's not a failing on either side, that's just how they're made.
And it's not uncommon in the animal kingdom. In fact, many primates – to which we are most closely related – are non-monogamous as a general rule. For example, Bonobos have sex for just about any reason under the sun with pretty much every monkey in their troop of the opposite gender – and sometimes, the same gender!
Arguing over a banana? Let's have sex! Really pretty sunset tonight? Let's have sex! Someone just had a healthy baby? Let's have sex! Bored? SEX!!!
Lucky bonobos, eh?
2 – Being in an open relationship doesn't mean a person has lower standards than the average bear. Matter of fact, most of the polyamorous people I know have very high standards, indeed. I mean, think about it. If you're in a relationship with multiple people, that means you have the ability to attract multiple people. Why would you settle for less than exactly what you want if you don't have to?
For that matter, there are many factors that weigh into choosing a second (or third, or tenth) partner. A jealous person isn't going to work out so well. Someone who hides their emotions will set all the connected relationships up for failure. A person who is overly insecure will, by their very nature and often unintentionally, cause conflict at every turn.
And it goes without saying that in a relationship that involves many people, sexual safety is an extremely high concern. Use of condoms, dental dams and sharable sex toy materials is a must.
3 - “Polyamorous” is not synonymous with “diseased.” In fact, the vast majority of polyamorous people I know are extremely conscious about their sexual health. Most ask for test results before engaging in intercourse with a new partner, and most have them readily available. They use protection outside of “fluid bonded” relationships, and are very careful never to expose their partners to potential illness, even going so far as to refrain from having intercourse with anyone if they engage in risky behavior or – God forbid! – the condom breaks.
It's just common courtesy! Not to mention being in an open relationship doesn't mean you're out to get sick. That'd just be silly.
4 - “Loyalty” does not mean signing yourself away to one person completely at all costs. Loyalty simply means standing behind the person you're loyal to, no matter what. And M is extremely loyal to me. Matter of fact, in all of my 32 years, he is the one person who has stood beside me through every panic attack, depressive episode, and trip along the path of life since the day we met, without question, no matter what we're going through in our relationship. THAT is loyalty.
5 – Okay, so this isn't really about open relationships in general, but it is about MY relationship. Some of you were concerned. Probably worried I'd end up hurt, because that's what tends to happen when a guy steps out on his girl. Sometimes even if she gives him permission.
That's sweet. Really. I'm all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that total strangers care about my emotions.
But here's the thing...
M and me will have been in a relationship and living together for ten years as of the end of this month. In the ten years we've been together, we've had sex and relationships with other women together, he's slept with other women on his own, and I've slept with other men on my own. I've had sex with more people, since we've been together, than M has.
For that matter, the last time M had sex with another woman was about seven years ago, and it was a threesome with me. The last time I had sex with another man was about five years ago, and it was just me and the fellow I was fooling around with. All of these sexual encounters were discussed, negotiated and agreed upon with all parties involved. NOTHING HAPPENED until we were all comfortable with the situation. And when it was over, we were all completely satisfied.
What it comes down to is knowing yourself, knowing your partner and knowing what your relationship can handle.
We didn't come by this decision lightly. We talked, and experimented, and talked some more, and experimented more. We've flip-flopped between polyamorous and monogamous so many times I've lost count. We are where we are in our relationship because we did the work to get there. With that kind of responsibility, I think it's safe to say that M and me? We're gonna be okay.