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The (im)possibility of Open Relationships

Peace. In light of the Tiger Woods scandal and the very public unraveling of his family’s personal affairs, I’ve decided to talk about this common thread that says we should treat marriage, monogamy and love differently. I’ll get into it below.Peace,

The unfortunate revelation that Tiger Woods was not faithful to his wife highlighted one of this country’s biggest truths: even those who seemingly have it all will step outside of that. Now, this isn’t an attack on Woods nor a defense of his wife’s assault on him although I do recognize her anger well. I’ve seen the same thing happen with my philandering father and my mother. But more on that in a moment. I have many peers and friends who claim that because of Tiger’s wealth and the risks involved of losing much of that, he should have approached his wife about his need to be with other women; i.e. ask for an “open relationship”. Just writing that made me chuckle slightly because you and I both know he couldn’t just do that.

Even the most sexually liberated of us can be conditioned (and come to prefer) to mate and pair off eventually. The idea of polygamy/polyandry/polyamory is great on paper and yes, many other cultures beyond the Western ones seem to understand its necessity. However, it’s not the most realistic ideal and I’ll maintain that stance to the end. I write this knowing I’ve both willingly entered into open deals before (and it didn’t end stellar on my end in one case in particular) and with the idea that I’d do it again because now I’m a little more aware of my limits and failings. My issue with relationships of all sorts (besides marriage) is the theme of “ownership” or possession.  To that point, I find that my female peers view a man’s need for openness is to have frivolous sex and available options.  I find that when women speak of their desire for open relationships, it’s about the same but with the added piece that their connections will have more emotional base.

I don’t know if I agree with that, but I find that distinction slightly irritating because everyone likes company, everyone likes sex and, if we’re honest, everyone likes variety (if you’re in that mode). There’s nothing wrong with committed relationships or marriage — both fine constructs of our humanity. But we should look to the idea that people have a need to love on a broader scale than the 2-unit usual we’ve come to expect. I don’t think any of us who aren’t in open relationships can directly speak to the possibility of said relationships without injecting a ton of our own personal politics into them. It is a world that those who are uninitated will never fully grasp.

My parents’ relationship would have been saved by the open relationship ideal, if my mother is actually speaking her truth. Like most Scorpios I know, my mother is brutally honest, loyal and fierce.  She told my father, straight up she says, that if he tells her what he needs as far as other women that she would have allowed it — with rules of course. She didn’t want to not be married and she did love my father. She also knew his need for variety well from the onset. She knew what she signed up for and was willing to adjust and/or explore the options. But of course, he wasn’t honest and they split up so this is all lofty speculation at this point.

I think open relationships are safer bets with people who are married or fully into the idea of being romantically committed to each other. If you’re in a relationship quandary or it’s close to being rocky, the last thing anyone needs to be doing is adding more to the mix. It’s an interesting mix. I’d like to hear from readers or random visitors about their experiences on this or maybe a story you’ve heard regarding the topic. I find the idea fascinating but I’m also pretty realistic. We all have boundaries and limits and it’s not necessary to test them all the time. I do believe talking about this so-called taboo things does a lot to inform the senses.

Thanks for reading.



7 Responses

  1. We’re just not instinctively monogamous. We’ve been taught by society and religion and whatever else that it’s “right” for 2 people to be together, but in practice that rarely works. Like you said, many long term marriages could be saved by opening the relationship. If you’re truly committed to your partner, then either of you spending one night apart to have fun with someone else shouldn’t really be an issue. Of course there will be jealousy, but in the long term it can really help preserve the long term commitment.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Johnny,

      Thanks for coming on the blog and responding. I think it’s something we need to take stock and inventory in. I’m not fully endorsing the lifestyle but I do admit some curiosity about it all. I just find all of it a fascinating mix of ideas and supposed notions all fighting against one another.

      Thanks for replying.


  2. I can safely say that knowing my personality, needs, and what I deem important in relationships an open one would not work with me. I am usually very up front in the beginning in what I want and what I need and I ask that person to discuss their wants and needs as well, if I know|feel as if we will clash somewhere down the line b/c of what our options and necessities are respectively, I try not to even let it get too far b/c the ending result is usually far worse after too much time has been implemented. I think if two people are mature in their advances, honest, and know exactly what it is they want and need and this is discussed earlier on, it can probably work. But, other than that, I’m not sure how it will not end up in total disaster.

    • Peace,

      I think the human ego is mostly too frail to deal with the sharing aspect of these types of dealings but I could be wrong. I do know a few people who have made this work for themselves.

  3. I prefer open relationships because I’m a bit of a commitment phobe. I’m no cheater and I’ve only suggested “open” when I see who I’m dealing w/might be capable of being a cheater. While I can do the monogamy thing, it sometimes feels forced to me, hence not being bothered by an open relationship.

    Open relationships fail when jealousy enters the picture. EVERY man I’ve attempted to do this with has become jealous and wanted to become monogamous, only for me to find out that it was ME they wanted monogamous; they still wanted their end “open” LOL

    It isn’t impossible but someone always seems to catch stronger feelings, thus making it unbearable in the end and just as much as a headache as a monogamous relationship you don’t want to be in.

  4. I once told a man that my capacity for love was too large to think that I could only love one person at a time romantically. It was an intellectual, philosophical conversation. I didn’t think he would take me literally. He proceeded to treat our relationship as open. I should have also told him that my love for him would never allow me to hurt him by acting upon my love for another person without telling him and leaving him. Although I have a bit of commitment phobia (based upon my dislike of a sense of ownership) I know my emotional limitations. I don’t think I could be in an open relationship without feeling insecure or jealous. Just my thoughts.

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