I made a comment on a post written by DDJennifer (https://ddjennifer.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/260-more-mike-jen-kayla-equity-vs-equality/) and she suggested that I copy and paste it into a blog of my own… so here it is:
Methinks some people see the phrase “open marriage” and immediately fear the worst right along with not understanding what this really means. In my first marriage, I went through the “process” from being monogamous to being open to being poly and it was one hell of a trip and experience and while no relationship is immune to the problems inherent in having a relationship, it is about equity more than equality and, as I like to say, being able to adopt a mindset where the relationship is about “us” and not about “me” so much.
And while you can never discount individualism in any relationship, being open is about everyone involved working toward the same goal and with the same shared vision. It’s certainly about the core relationship and the mindset of, “What can we do to make our lives together the best it can be?” and then doing whatever that entails and, importantly, remaining vigilant and determined to make it work.
By the time I got to poly, my god, I learned so much about love, sex, and relationships that it wasn’t funny just as I learned that living and loving like this is actually harder than being monogamous – in this, you only have one person to deal with as opposed to dealing with two or more other people in the mix. I learned that you cannot treat your partners under the auspices of equality – that’s a nightmare waiting to happen that, um, sure, I’d wish that on my worst enemy and it would serve them right for being dumb enough to think that equality, as we understand it, can be easily established. Being open/poly is an investment that requires equity and creating an environment where one and all can flourish and as comfortably as humanly possible.
It’s still not easy to do… but it can be done and once you’ve learned how to live like this, you never want to go back to being monogamous if you can avoid it.
When people would question how and why we were living the way we were, the answer was always, “Because we want to and it just works for us and it makes the most sense.”
Now for the other side of this thing, namely, how people who attempt this get it wrong more often than not. In previous writing about this topic, I’ve repeatedly said that in order to be in an open relationship, you first have to unlearn everything you’ve ever learned about love, sex, and relationships so you can learn another way to do these things. Monogamy is mandated and to the point where people who aren’t married carry on relationships as if they were married; the same rules, the same restrictions, and the same problems married folks experience except folks in an unmarried relationship can usually walk away from it without getting any lawyers involved.
One of the other things I learned and, again, said a lot in previous posts on this, is that being in an open and/or poly relationship isn’t for the weak at heart or those folks subject to experiencing and displaying certain negative emotions – jealousy and possessiveness among them; I’ve also said that when considering being open/poly, the rules of monogamy are, in essence, null and void because, duh, you can’t “keep only unto yourself” if you’re considering expanding what will hopefully become what’s known as the core relationship.
And I’ve said that if you don’t think you can do any of the things necessary, don’t even try it. You see, we barely understand what it takes to be in a relationship with just one person and the tenets of monogamy are hammered into us almost as soon as we are able to understand them and said tenets are assumed to be inviolate and, importantly, the right thing to be done at all times… except, don’t we find out that this doesn’t work as advertised? I’ve said and asked not to be taken wrong but for many, being monogamous works and works well but for others? Eh, not so much.
Relationships erode, decay, become stagnant and wind up ending because, seemingly, there’s no recourse or other alternative to breaking up when, in fact, there’s always been another course of action a couple can take: Open the relationship and more so when it becomes apparent that there are needs that should be taken care of but monogamy (and a few other things) doesn’t allow for any, ah, outside assistance. People fret over cheating and I’ve read other blogs about this and their authors asking what, if anything can be done to prevent cheating and other than being single and by yourself, the answer is found in yet another thing I’ve said a lot: It’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission… but what if you could get permission? How does a couple combat the ever-present threat of infidelity? Remove the mindset that suggests that infidelity is always a bad thing. The bad part is that getting permission is deemed to be impossible given what we – as a whole – tend to believe. But getting permission brings a new set of issues, namely, ya just don’t know how to have a relationship that involves more than one person.
But it can be done, as DDJennifer’s blog indicates. It’s not without some issues but as I said in my comment, it’s about having a shared goal and vision – everyone should be on the same page while doing their best to avoid the negative emotions. For instance, I read someone’s blog a few weeks ago and the author said that her and her hubby were now in an open relationship (and she asked for it) but there were times when she felt the need to stake out her territory and even admitted that she felt… neglected at times when her hubby and their new female partner would interact. It’s actually a normal kind of reaction, given what we’ve been taught about relationships… but harboring these kinds of feelings can, eventually, slam the door on an open relationship. You quickly learn some shit that’s hard to process: The open/poly relationship is about you… but not really and I’ll keep right on saying that in these things, if you are unable to think “us” more than “me,” you’re usually gonna fail in your attempts to find happiness in this arrangement – and an arrangement that’s a lot more involved than just sex, you know, just in case you were of a mind that these things is purely and solely about sex. Again, it is… but not as a main focus of being open and poly; the purpose of the open relationship is to improve the core relationship or being able to answer this question:
“What can we do to make our lives together the best it can be?” Sadly, this question is often difficult to answer because we – on the whole – tend to think in terms of what we’re not going to do, even for the sake of love… and as long as your mind is stuck in this place, being open/poly just ain’t gonna work. I’ve said that being open/poly is even harder than being monogamous and I’m being nice about it when I say it… but it can be done. As DDJennifer wrote in her blog, being open/poly isn’t about equality – it’s about equity and it’s an investment of the highest order. I read and know of single folks who are poly and while I’d not say that, for the most part, they’re not successful at having multiple partners, many of them manage their relationships while employing the rules of monogamy and finding that doing this is kinda hard when you don’t have that one person at your side who not only shares this vision but is willing to stick by your side as part of the core relationship.
Which is why it’s my belief that openness and polyamory works best for couples who are already in an established relationship; the core is already present and, importantly, the core partners are secure in their relationship and their love for each other… and even more important, they are dedicated to doing whatever’s necessary to make sure that core relationship lasts as long as humanly possible… and even if that means adding as many other people as they can and implementing a plan that makes sure that everyone involved shares the investment, goals, and vision of the expanded relationship.
Equity… not never equality and I say this because it’s virtually impossible to establish equality when you’re dealing with different personalities as well as different wants and needs and that, my friends, is the really hard part. You can’t show favoritism and you do your level best to not to try to treat everyone the same way – equally – but according to who they are; if you think communication is important in a “normal” relationship, you can’t begin to believe how very important this becomes when two becomes three or four; if you suck at time management, problem and conflict resolution, um, you’re already behind the eight-ball.
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking that, fuck, this open/poly thing is a pain in the ass, you’d be right – it is and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. At the same time, it can be the most liberating thing a couple could do but as I say, you gotta really and seriously be grown up enough to do this. Like in any other relationship, you’ll have regrets, problems, and other things that make the day-to-day management of the relationship a bitch to deal with and even I’ll admit there were times in my experiences when I asked myself – and a lot – “Why did I agree to do this crazy shit?” But I’d remember why I did – because it made sense to.
Is there a sure-fire way to do this and have it work? Uh, no; the bad part is that while there’s a lot of information available as to how to accomplish this, you’re gonna have to find your way in this. Hell, if I knew the definitive answer to getting it done and correctly so, I’d be rich beyond the dreams of avarice. What I do know is how not to do this, what the pitfalls are and, if nothing else, what the basics are.
After that, you’re on your own.
So, Jennifer – how did I do?