I’ve been asked about open relationships often as of late. It got me thinking about it. I’m currently in a monogamous relationship. I have been in open relationships in the past. An open relationship can work with the right people. Honesty, security & heaps of communication must be involved. I’m certainly far from an expert or experienced in this. Officially, I’ve only been in one relationship that was labelled as an open relationship. Those of you who are please comment & add to the discussion. Certainly, there have been times when single that I chose to date more than one person non exclusively. I was honest about the fact that there was more than one person I was dating at the time. Some people were fine with it, others were not. The one’s who were not chose not to date me. All is fair in love & dating.
Some people cannot see the point of an open relationship, especially when the relationship is a marriage. It certainly is not the best case relationship scenario for everyone. However, there is a type of openness that open relationships have in their DNA that I think monogamous relationships could benefit from. For example, I often hear people say how “disrespectful” they think it is for their committed partner to even look at someone as if they find them attractive in their presence. I’m always baffled by the thought that being in a committed relationship renders the rest of the world unattractive. I cannot for the life of me figure out how my partner acknowledging the beauty or sexiness of another human being disrespects me in any way. Insecurity is the only explanation I can come up with. I in no way feel less than if my partner notices someone else. As a matter of fact, I may be first in pointing someone out: “Did you see THAT?”
Being secure is a necessary ingredient to being part of a healthy open relationship. This type of relationship is not for anyone jealous or possessive in nature. There will be times where jealousy is going to arise. However, these times present moments for growth. Instead of it popping off into an argument, one can examine what these feelings are really about individually. Is there enough love, trust & understanding between you & your primary partner to over ride these feelings? Is there enough love for yourself to know that anyone that would choose NOT to be with you really would be losing out? There is much lip service given to the saying “their loss”. How many really, truly believe it of themselves?
Marriage has a 50/50 chance of success these days. There are numerous factors that play into this. Honesty is one ingredient, it seems, that gets watered down before marriage. People present a less than truthful picture of themselves to their potential life partners. I hear story after story of how partners are before marriage & what they transition into afterwards. The thing about open relationships is that in best case scenarios, there is no pretense. The need to “perform” in order to keep a partner is removed. One can say, do act in an honest way without fear of being punished or deserted. How much success is going to be had in relationships where partners think, “OH, I could never talk to my partner about xyz!” ?
Which leads me into communication. How successful is any relationship going to be if the two involved cannot have uncensored, open, honest communication devoid of the fear of being instantly flamed? The thing I really enjoyed about being in an open relationship was knowing that my partner didn’t have anything to hide from me & vice-versa. We talked about how the parameters of our “open relationship” were defined. Each situation is going to differ based on the individuals involved. We both agreed on what was acceptable and what was not. Neither of us felt like there was anything to tip toe around. We could talk to each other about anything & hope to at least be heard first even when there was disagreement.
I’m not saying that this type of relationship equals instant bliss. Security, honesty & communication are important for any relationship. Nothing is perfect. Human happens. Some people agree to open relationships not because they want to. There are other people who agree to an open relationship because they don’t believe they can find a committed relationship. That makes me feel sad for them. Anything done with a power filled choice, I cheer lead for. But agreeing to settle out of defeat makes my pom-poms wilt. It is possible to attract what works for you individually in a relationship. It may take some time but it is possible. I decided that I was just supposed to be single & dating for the rest of my life. I was open to whatever would present itself. A committed relationship was not high on my list. So, of course, that’s when I met my current boyfriend.
In relationships, as in life, sometimes, the power is in the release. There can be power in the release of what we think it should be like. There is power in the release of what we think it should look like. There is power in releasing rigidity & being open to uncharted possibility. There is power in the release of taught & auto accepted behavior. There is power in the release as long as there is a conscious CHOICE made to release it. I was raised to think of monogamy as the only option for a relationship. However, as an adult, I was able to explore other relationship options. No matter what, relationships take work, so they may as well be in a structure that works for both/all of you.
ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.