Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Don't Have an Open Relationship

I guess it's time for me to get all worked up again.

This shit pisses me off.

Yes, on the one hand, it's good to start discourse about ethical nonmonogamy. I like that the author mentions several well-known folks who have hinted at or outright declared being nonmonogamous. We have to keep talking about it if anyone is to know it exists.


The whole article talks about being in an open relationship or an open marriage. As if you still only get one relationship, and everything else is just some sort of bonus door prize.

It's still all about the idea of the couple and what they do. It's not "Will Smith has open relationships" or "Jada Pinkett-Smith has open relationships." (To be fair, they did say this of Dolly Parton, but I assume that's only because none of her partners are famous.) It seems as though none of Will's or Jada's other partners matter.

I take personal offense at this. It takes kind of a lot to offend me, so kudos are probably in order. Good job. You, Tricia Romano, managed to actually infuriate me. Enough to write a whole blog post about it, even.

I'm offended because I will never be part of the "couple" who has "an open relationship." This simply isn't possible for me. The way I began having ethically nonmonogamous relationships was by meeting (and subsequently falling in love with) two truly amazing people at the same time, both of whom were already nonmonogamous and in other relationships.

Ryder is married and lives with his wife. He has another long-distance partner, and had a second long-distance partner when I met him. Rusty lives with his girlfriend and was dating another person (maybe two, depending on how you count it) when we met.

I never "opened" my relationship with someone. I didn't start a monogamous relationship and decide to see other people too. I met two amazing men and we entwined our lives together.

This, I think, is the fundamental misunderstanding many monogamous people have about the rest of us. We don't do this as couples. We're people making our own independent choices about who we share our lives with. We ensure the people we do this with are comfortable with us sharing our lives and love and beds with people other than them. We don't act as couples, we act as individuals. We make our choices based on treating each other with dignity and respect.

From a perspective like that author's, I am a hobby, a side-quest, a supporting cast member in the lives of two people in an open relationship. I am what they do on the side. I am the extra lover. I am the "whatever he wants."

No. Fuck that. I am a whole person, and I matter just as much as anyone else. As much as I would never wish my metamours (my boyfriends' other partners) would be viewed as "the other women my boyfriend dates," I don't want to be that either. None of us are "others." We are a family, intricately, complexly linked via multiple bonds of love and trust.

And it's not like we don't participate in each other's lives. While I'm sure there are people who don't involve themselves in their partners' other relationships at all, I can't imagine living that way. I feel deeply connected not just to the people I love, but to the people they love, and the people those people love, etc. Our network stretches broadly, and all those folks are my family.

Actually, family is a good analogy, now that I think of it. I've mentioned before the idea of loving more than one child at a time as an illustration of how you can love more than one person simultaneously. Saying someone is in an open relationship is like saying someone has an open parent. It's like calling your brother "my mother's other son." Or saying that Jo and Beth had "other sisters."

So I say, to the journalists who think it would be cool to write about some celebrity couple's "open relationship": consider that the other people involved with those folks are people too. Consider that we have our own feelings and needs and wants and we all deserve to be treated with decency and respect. Consider how you would feel if you were relegated to the role of someone's "other" relationship. Yeah, we don't like it either.

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