New Series: Benefits of an open relationship

During a group discussion that happened Sunday, one of the people present brought up the following question: "What image do you want to present regarding polyamory/non-monogamy?"  The idea that she gave was to narrate that image in a manner akin to a television commercial.  Several ideas came up from in that discussion. I liked the idea because it allowed the group to come up with ideas on how to describe a poly/open lifestyle without having to tap into the sensationalized subjects (sex and jealousy). This series will explore several of the ideas mentioned in greater detail.  As you read through this series, try to find the recurring theme in the images that are presented. Before I go further, I would like to take a moment to define what it means to have an open relationship, versus a closed relationship.  The definition encompasses a lot more than simply romantic and sexual openness outside of the relationship.   I am going to paraphrase the definitions given in Nena and George O'Neill's book, Open Marriage. In a closed relationship, the focus is on the identity of the couple. The people involved not only forsake potential romance outside of the two of them, but they also give up any emotionally intimate friendships with those of the opposite gender. In addition, each person in the couple is emotionally, socially, and/or financially dependent on the other. If there is a social event, they must appear and act as a couple, and therefore if one of the two does not want to go, the other will sacrifice and not attend as well. An open relationship focuses on the individual, so that the needs and development of those involved are not put on the back-burner for the sake of the upholding the relationship. This type of dynamic allows those involved to continue to grow and find happiness, without forcing the other partner to do something they don't want to do, or become something they don't want to be. The partnership between the people involved is built upon love and support, rather than dependence and dominance/submission. It is possible to have an open relationship without being polyamorous (since openness doesn't necessarily mean sexually open) but it is difficult to have a poly relationship without it also being open (in the broader sense). Update (5/6/09):  This series will consist of 2 levels: "Level 1" (Benefits 1-3) are perks from basic open-relating  (no romance or overly complex dynamics required). As my boyfriend occasionally points out, if you take any romantic possibilities out, these can be seen as elements of a healthy relationship. "Level 2" (Benefits 4-6, and beyond) will start to delve into the more complicated dynamics that are associated with the more known concepts of open relationships and/or polyamory.

Dale (not verified) wrote:

Wed, 04/29/2009 - 12:28 Comment #: 1

I disagree with the definitions of closed and open relationships provided. The paraphrased definition of a "closed" relationship is my definition of an "unhealthy" relationship in that when a person's individual needs aren't met, they get unhappy and resentful in the relationship. There are people who give up all free will in relationships, and that's just the type of person they are, and they're happy like that, but I'm considering the average person.

Likewise, the paraphrased definition of an "open" relationship is what I consider a "normal" relationship - you can have close friends of either gender and go out and do things (non-sexual) with them. You can't help who you find attractive or interesting, but love of, and commitment to, your partner prevents you from crossing the line.

My personal definition of an "open" relationship is a normal relationship that allows for sexual activity outside of the couple. This can include snuggling, kissing, intercourse, and everything in between.

My definition of a "poly" relationship is a relationship (possibly open, possibly quasi-open (i.e. only involving chosen partners, not just anyone)) that allows for the participants to pursue long term committed relationships with multiple people whose lives all intermingle on some level.

metropoly (not verified) wrote:

Sat, 05/02/2009 - 21:09 Comment #: 2

Feel free to disagree ;) These were the definitions provided in the book "Open Marriage" that was published back in 1972 - a time period where feminism clashed with the unspoken assumptions of a traditional, monogamous marriage.

The purpose of this series isn't to pimp the benefits of polyamory, but to instead show a different way of seeing and treating relationships and couple'hood.

Open Relationship Series: Prelude to advanced materials | Yo (not verified) wrote:

Sun, 05/10/2009 - 18:01 Comment #: 3

[...] wanted to take some time to explain why I used a particular definition for “open relationship”.   I’m guessing that it may be different than what most [...]

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