Do Open Relationships Work?

English: A symbol for radical relationships. T...

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.

The Purple Mobius symbol for Polyamory, non-mo...

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?

English: A new and emerging symbol for Polyamo...

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!” ?

English: A schematic showing the monogamy rela... 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 English: A schematic showing the polygamy rela...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.

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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, 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.

What REALLY Attracts You To Someone?

When I was barely out of my teens an elder asked, “What does attraction mean to you?”

What does it take for a love connection?  I started thinking in my head the usual things:  I like someone with a good personality, tall, dark, nice smile, etc.  And she let me ramble on & then asked again “What really makes someone attractive to you?”  I thought that I had given a really thorough answer.  It made me think for the next few days.  What is important to me in a partner.  What attracts me, really attracts me, to another person?  I started to pay attention to the kinds of people who drew my attention.

I find that physical things were actually not high up on my list.  Don’t get me wrong, chemistry is very high up on the list.  Without chemistry we are only buddies.

What causes that chemistry for me, though, are all things that emanate from the inside:

*The way a person with confidence can take up space in a room

*The way in which a self assured person moves thru space

*Someone who is kind with a VERY open mind

*Someone with a burning PASSION about Something in this life

*Someone who loves their mother & treats women with respect

*Someone who can take care of themselves financially (I’ve been taking care of me)

*Someone powerful & with drive

I could go on but you get the idea.  These are the things that get my juices flowing (literally & figuratively).  If I lined up everyone I’ve dated, there is no “type”.  There is no physical pattern.  Many times I think we deny ourselves the possibilities of a love connection by being wrapped up in what wrapping the person is coming in.  I see people compromise on how they should be treated instead.  I vote for having uncompromising  standards on how your partner treats you.  Love is an action word.  Love is about how your partner treats you & vice-verse.  Love is not the chemical reaction physical attraction causes you to feel alone.

If I really think about it, I got this lesson about not over valuing the physical my last year of junior high school.  Somewhere between high school & being asked this question by the elder, I’d forgotten it.  That last year of junior high I had a boyfriend who no one thought was attractive.  However, when he was always surprising me with balloons, stuffed animals & leaving me love notes all the time, their rude remarks about his looks were replaced by their awwws.

I hear so many people say that they cannot find a good life partner.  Yet, I also see many good people overlooked because they do not have the outside trappings that are on a list of must haves.  Maybe they don’t meet the ideal height requirement.  Maybe, they have a good stable job but isn’t driving a Mercedes.  Maybe they’re  outside of your nationality or religion.  Maybe they’re not a PhD.  Maybe they are not “there” yet, but clearly focused & determined.  Who knows.

So, what really attracts you to someone?

Love Lessons I Learned From My Parents

My parents have been married nearly forty years.  They left Barbados and lived in Boston.  Love lessons like this they showed me: One of the last worst snow days in their winter experience a fifteen minute drive is taking hours.  My mother is driving home from work.  She is running out of gas.  My father drives through the snow and gets a container full of gas.  He starts heading for where my mother is stuck in traffic.  He gets stopped by a police officer at a cut off point road block.  He explains to the officer that he has to get thru because his wife is running out of gas.  The officer tells him that he cannot drive past.  My father parks his car and walks the rest of the way in the snow to my mother.  Puts gas in her car.  He then walks back to his car.  He drives home and shovels out two car park spaces.  When my mother finally makes it home all she has to do is move the chair holding the space, park and go inside.  I learned these types of lessons about love growing up.

My parents argued sometimes.  Arguing never meant that they stopped loving each other though.  They could be angry and still take care of each other.  My mother still would cook dinner.  My father still would clean up the kitchen and take out the trash afterwards.

I asked my mother once how they lasted so long.  She said it is because even though they are two very different people, they agree on the basics of how life is to be lived:  money, family, goals, work ethic, and spirituality.  I learned to be very clear on these things before getting into a committed relationship.

My mother told me that when they first started going out my Dad would wait for her at the bus stop.  He’d be standing there shirt untucked.  She told him that she would not be seen with anyone looking untidy.  The next day he was at the bus stop as usual, shirt untucked.  So, she stayed on the bus, got off at a later stop and left him standing there.  Growing up, I learned to have my standards and be clear about them early on in the relationship.

Imagine if a potential partner said to you:  “Listen, I’ll build you the house of your dreams.  Well, one that is within my means but you gotta work with me for about 30 years.  I have nothing right now.  Some of those years I may not be the main bread-winner.  I promise to work my hardest to make sure you are always taken care of.  Are you with me?”

When I hear some women today list what they want in a mate, it is typically someone who has accomplished WAY MORE than they themselves have.  The little thought bubble over my head always reads:  What are you bringing to the partnership?  I learned the meaning of true partnership growing up watching my parents.

I grew up knowing how I deserved to be treated.  No one can ever try to treat me less than how my father treats my mother.  I grew up knowing that true love and partnership ARE POSSIBLE.  I never worry about if it will happen for me.  So, even if you did not grow up seeing and learning these lessons your heart knows them.  Your gut instinct knows them.  Your imagination knows who he/she is, how he/she treats you, how you feel in his/her presence.  Love is an action word not a feeling.  Spend time each and everyday fully experiencing that energy knowing, KNOWING without a doubt, they are on the way.  Do it as you’re falling asleep or right when you wake up.  The rest of the time, do you.  Work on being the best, most confident you, you can be.

This energy that is in us, all around us and makes up everything we can and cannot see is Love.  Love is what we come from.  So Loved is what we all deserve to be.