This has been making the rounds lately and while it is worth a read in its entirety, I will sum it up below:
- Man grows tired of relationship with woman.
- Man wants open relationship.
- Woman does not.
- Man insists.
- Woman relents.
- Man gets no action.
- Woman gets tons of action.
- Man is butthurt.
Much to my surprise (and gratitude), the comments on the original reddit post unanimously excoriate the man for being a giant selfish asshole. The best of them range from censure for treating his girlfriend like a commodity to someone asking “what you just thought you were entitled to pussy because you signed up?”
Gawker columnist Drew Magary had a piece blasting open relationships in general, which is what I’m here to talk about. Magary, who is almost always a joy to read, seems to fall into the trap of writing something he things his readers want to hear rather than something he wants to write. It’s wrought with hyperbole, and he makes several blunders that would normally be beneath him, among them, that open relationships are all about sex and that fornicating with someone else is inherently unfair to your incumbent partner.
Most of you are aware that I’ve been in an open relationship with my current partner for almost the entirety of our three plus years together. It was something that was on the table from the beginning, but something we never attempted to put into practice until we were on solid ground with one another. There are numerous ways to exist polyamorously, but if you are going to be the type that has a primary partner, then that relationship has to absolutely be ironclad before you start pursuing others.
It should always be remembered that each additional partner is a being unto themselves with needs and wants. You cannot use them to fix a relationship, and they cannot exist purely for your satisfaction. If you attempt either, it is more than likely that your destination is disaster. That was the problem with the poster on reddit, he treated his partner and his potential liaisons as supporting characters in His story when in reality, everyone is their own protagonist. Life is like Firefly, basically.
Successfully navigating a series of polyamorous relationships requires a lot of honesty, especially to ensure everyone feels valued and jealousy doesn’t seep in. What’s often understated is that it also takes a tremendous amount of self-honesty. You have to realize that you aren’t always the most compelling person in another individual’s life. There are people that are smarter, more attractive, and more interesting than you, and many that are all three. You have to be at peace with that, or at least be able to have the confidence that in spite of these so-called deficiencies, that you still bring something unique to someone’s life.
You also have to recognize that sometimes, people move on. They either don’t want to remain polyamorous, or they don’t want to remain polyamorous with you. You have to realize that as many people come into your life in a romantic sense, almost that many are going to end up leaving it. It is a when, not an if.
And now for a handful of questions:
Do you feel that your home life growing up contributed to your ability to handle situations most others would find complicated or do you think it has more to do with your inherent personality in general?
I guess a lot of that depends on whether my personality itself is inherent or due to nurture. I am a lot unlike my parents and how they raised me, that is, I am very calm, very sexual, and very open about that sexuality. That probably has more to do with combating the nervous shyness that plagued me through my youth than anything though.
In terms of what makes me suited to polyamory, I think it is a combination of extreme directness and honesty, being laid back, and a little bit of self depreciation. I am what I am, and I am not what I am not. If someone wants mostly what I am, but also a little bit of what I’m not, that’s not a knock on me at all, and thus isn’t something that bothers me.
What would you say is the advantage of being in an polyamorous relationship over just being single? Emotionally, I mean.
Shit, these are hard. I think one of the major draws to a relationship for anyone is the stability, knowing there’s someone to see, to do stuff with, to come home to, a sure thing in bed, someone you can count on to agree with you, to back you up, to give you advice. Being polyamorous can enhance that (as no one partner is going to be 100% compatible). I think a major contrast in fucking around being single and fucking around being polyamourous, is that in the latter you’re forging relationships that you value and want to keep (or at least I am).
Do you ever want to get married? To one person? To more than one person?
Yes, I want to get married, to my current partner who, for lack of a better term, is my primary partner (though I generally avoid labels). Romantically I have no interest in marriage. There is nothing that the spectacle can tell me, or do for me that I don’t already know and that being with Adam for three plus years hasn’t already done. I don’t need any grand statement forcing me to commit (and I think that’s what marriage is a lot of the time), my partner, and who they are makes me want to commit. That’s way more valuable than marriage and I’m already there.
I would like to marry for tax purposes and to have people buy us appliances, which we sorely lack, and also to have an excuse to vacation somewhere fun.
Polygamy is not going to be legal anytime soon, and I think finding one person you’re really, really compatible with and want to spend your life with is difficult enough. Adding a third, one that has to be compatible with both people (because that’s what I’d want if I were to be polygamous) seems astronomically difficult to me (and to us, unique as we are).
Are your pansexuality and your polyamory related?
Yes, there’s no doubt that one of the great things about being polyamorous is being able to have romantic and sexual experiences with any gender I could want. But, it’s important to understand that they are two separate things. Polyamorous inclinations does not make someone bi- or pansexual, nor does being bi- or pansexual make someone inclined to polyamory (or even promiscuous).