As soon as it’s feasible, we all learn the tenet of “one man, one woman.” Monogamy is the watchword of our society and everyone’s goal is to find that one person who we can spend the rest of our lives together and, hopefully, forsaking all others while doing our level best to ward off any sundering of our bonds.
These days, it doesn’t matter if it’s woman/woman or man/man, monogamy is still enforced as the desired behavior. And while this behavior is mostly leveled at married couples, even when people are together and not married, the same rules applies because, historically, we’ve seen when having more than one partner and, indeed, more than one mate can cause… problems and, ideally, problems that should be avoided at all costs.
For some of us, this arrangement works fine and we find ways to work through all the issues and problems that come along in any relationship; we stay the course and stay true to the expected behavior. For others, well, um, that might not really work as well as anticipated.
Some people just cannot be monogamous and others, having done all the “usual” things a couple can do, seek something else that can best be described as having one’s cake and eating it, too: The open relationship.
It’s negotiated infidelity in that, ideally, both people in the relationship agree to do this under an equally agreed-upon set of rules – but maintaining their current relationship at the same time. I can tell you from experience that if you think this is extremely difficult to do, I’m here this afternoon to tell you that it’s even more difficult than you might imagine and to the point that when a lot of couples start talking about this, it appears to be so ludicrous and unrealistic that talks usually tend to break down… and a few arguments have ensued.
We’re a versatile animal… but some of us don’t share or play nicely with others when it comes to this because first and foremost, it’s supposed to be just us; three’s a crowd and all that. I’ve known this topic to come up in relationships and effectively end them mere minutes after it comes up; I should be all that you’ll ever need and no outside assistance is required and, if you think it is, well, there’s the door – don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out.
While monogamy is supposed to be the way to have a relationship, at some point, some folks might start to notice something that begs an important question: Is this all there is? Most of the time, when relationships hit the wall, either a break-up is on the horizon or, sadly, some cheating is going to ensue because we find out that, oops, we might not be everything to each other and to even presume something like that is pretty ballsy – yet, this is how we behave; this is the promise that we make, essentially setting ourselves up to fail.
I’ve been there, done that, kinda surprise I survived it so I feel that while I’m no “expert” on this, eh, I know a little something about it and enough to say to any couple thinking about doing this, “I wouldn’t, if I were you…” It’s not something everybody can do, not for the insecure, faint of heart, and definitely not for anyone the little green monster spends time fucking with; it sounds good on paper and, more often than not, totally fails in execution.
I mean, I can understand why a couple would want and even need to do this and, really, you have to be able to think out of the box in order to see why this could be a good thing to do. At the same time, I don’t know which is actually worse: Being open or cheating on each other. The whole conversation of an open relationship has been known to cause feelings of inferiority (“What, I’m not enough for you? What do you mean I’m not?”) as well as feeling betrayed, dishonored, disrespected, and played for the biggest fool that’s ever been born.
This can stir up the muck that lies at the bottom of each of us and in ways that’ll make you wish you hadn’t; the first worse thing that comes up from the murky depths is finding out all of your faults – and I do mean all of them – and in terms that I’ll say are unpleasant at the best, totally demoralizing at the worst. Then comes the confusion: Whoever brought this up does, in fact, love and need you in their lives – it’s just that they need more.
Yep, have your partner tell you that they love you, need you, don’t want to live without you… but you’re not enough and see how that feels; in a word, it hurts like nothing you’ve ever felt before in your life. Oh, and now that they’ve told you this, you are now expected and required to look at this intelligently, logically, and with common sense. Sometimes, this is what happens when you tell your partner, “I love you and I’d do anything for you!”
Would you really? You realize at this point that way back on, oh, Day Ten or so, you put your foot firmly in your mouth and made a promise that, now, you know you can’t keep – it’s unspeakable; how could you say this to me? What did I do to make you hate me so much that you’d suggest such a thing? Calling this moment a shit storm really is putting it mildly because, um, they’re asking questions you can probably bet they really don’t want to hear the answers to.
Some couples get their noses bent out of shape and the conversation on this ends, never to be brought up again and, hopefully, life together goes on without this foolishness; however, some couples will not only either get past or avoid this shit storm altogether, they’ll actually start talking about how it could possibly work – and that’s despite the likelihood of hearing some shit that was previously unknown.
What I wonder is whether or not the person who brings this up is really aware that, as they say, the door swings both ways; if it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. A lot of people do, in fact, think of this as a one-way street; it’s something they want to do for themselves and since this is what they want to do, that’s all that really matters and, often, they get really upset when the partner who got the bad (or good) news says, “Well, if this works for you, then it has to work for me, too!”
Now, sometimes, that statement is enough to make the move toward being open grind to a screeching halt and, yes, I have heard of men and women insisting that they be allowed to be open – but their partner better not even think of it because, you selfish motherfucker, this ain’t about you – this is about my needs and what I want! You ain’t got nothing to do with this!
I’m guessing you can smell the shit storm about to roll over everything, huh?
I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be done; I’m not even saying that it can’t be done. What I am saying that unless you and your partner are really kinda special, don’t even go there; it’ll probably be easier for you to break up with them and go your separate ways than to try something that scares the shit out of most people to think that, hey, someone else is going to be fucking my man/woman!
Sounds inconceivable, doesn’t it? Totally outlandish, huh? I’ve heard people call this being selfish, being greedy, lacking maturity and other things. Oh, my friends, this topic comes up, you will quickly find out what “I love you” doesn’t mean and that there are, in fact, some unvoiced – but somehow implied – limits; that whole “I do” thing can be such a killer, for instance.
So, here’s the way you’re supposed to behave if things get to the “Is this all there is?” stage: Break up. Get a divorce and try to start all over again if you can; those are, officially, your only choices. Still, there are people who don’t buy into this; there must be another way, something else we can do to keep things going and improve our happiness.
And there are things that can be done, all of it out-of-the-box so it’ll require you to change a whole lot of shit, beginning with how you think (and maybe even feel) about relationships or, as I’ve said, you have to unlearn what you’ve learned. That, all by itself, isn’t as easy as it sounds because we just can’t conceive a condition that’s not just “me and you.”
Given the way men and women are, you’d think this conversation would never come up… which doesn’t change the fact that it does.