Why is it simply assumed and accepted that monogamy (the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner) is the only viable alternative to a long lasting, fulfilling relationship? Certain factors have certainly embedded this notion into our collective cultural brain; however, I’m one to call out convention when it is followed merely for the sake of convention. To me, the real issue is what works and what doesn’t work.
If openness, polyamory or swinging were relationship destroyers, I wouldn’t entertain them. My relationship is too important to me. However, if these relationship styles will enhance my relationship, as well as my life in general, I’m willing to… keep an open mind!
Below are the Monogamy Myths that persist throughout our popular culture, as well as my reasons for reevaluating them.
Monogamy Myth #1:
If my partner really loved me, he would not desire a sexual relationship with another woman.
Does your partner’s monogamy prove his/her love, even when nothing else does? I only ask because if his love isn’t proven to you in other aspects of your relationship, this fact is what should worry you the most. Not his sexual fidelity. On the other hand, if your partner has proven his love to you in ways that extend beyond the sexual, why would his sexual experience with another woman then invalidate his love for you?
My point is that it wouldn’t, but there are two possible scenarios and issues here:
You and your husband’s relationship is on shaky ground and your husband wants to play with others. If this is the case, I wouldn’t advise that you both rush into any kind of open or swinging relationship. Take care of your relationship’s core issues first. Only strong couples make great open couples. I’m not sure that having an open relationship will make it a good relationship, but I am sure that a good relationship can be a good open relationship. See the difference? The emphasis is upon the relationship you already have. If it’s not good, don’t expect good things to come from opening it up, unless the only problem you are both suffering from is boredom.
Your relationship is great and your husband wants to play with others. If this is the case, then the best way to proceed is for you to explore your husband more. Get to know him sexually. This isn’t to say “get to know him physically,” but get to know his sexual mind. What makes him tick? Ask him questions about his turn ons. Ask him about jealousies and insecurities. Once you get to know the heart of your husband, you hopefully won’t feel threatened by its affections.
Having threesomes, swinging, openness, etc. are all best explored if you and your partner engage in these activities together. This doesn’t mean that you are necessarily physically together while they occur, but that you do use these experiences to connect with one another emotionally and intellectually. Don’t play the “don’t ask, don’t tell” card. If you decide to do it, do it openly or don’t do it at all.
Lastly, because your partner desires to have sex with another person, it doesn’t mean that he desires you less. Desire and love are not finite. If you love two people, it doesn’t mean your heart is divided. You are capable of loving two people with all your heart, but the loves will each have their unique differences. That said, sex and love are not the same thing. Just because your partner has sex with someone, it doesn’t mean that he’s making love.
Monogamy Myth #2:
If I were a good boyfriend, my girlfriend would be so satisfied that she wouldn’t want to hookup with anybody else.
First of all, that’s a lot of pressure you’re putting on yourself. Don’t expect to be the only source of fulfillment that another person will ever need. You can’t be all things to your partner. You are who you are and that means you can’t be everything.
It’s an overly romantic, almost fairytale, view to suggest that you and your soul mate will meet and magically fulfill every need and desire for one another. Maybe there are exceptions, but by-and-large there are niches and voids within each of us that our partner cannot fulfill.
One viable strategy is simply to learn contentment and to do without, but for the more open minded among us, it is a bonding adventure to allow another person to help out.
Openness can greatly enhance the love between you and your partner, as you both rely upon your love and trust, rather than convention and tradition.
Monogamy Myth #3:
It can’t be possible to love more than one person at a time!
Oh no? It’s happened to me on more than one occasion. See if this sounds familiar: You’re in a relationship and very much love the person you are with. However, for whatever reason, the two of you break up. Shortly thereafter, you start dating and fall for another person; yet you still have love for the previous partner. This love may only persist for days or weeks… or maybe months or years. But the fact of the matter is that you have love for two different people, simultaneously.
I wouldn’t recommend trying the whole “open minded” thing with your ex and your new love. In fact, Rachel and I have made all of our ex’s strictly off limits. For us, it would simply be too much emotional confusion. Though we do openly acknowledge that we still have a certain amount of love for some of our ex’s.
The often used illustration that polyamorous believers use is that of parents and children. When you have a baby, you love that baby with 100% of your heart. Then, when you have a second baby, your love is not split 50/50 between the two. It is still whole for each.
Again, love is not scarce. It has no mass. It’s not a liquid. You don’t run out. However, it can certainly be exhausted by a bad relationship, but notice that in a bad relationship, it is the relationship itself that tests and finally depletes the love between two people. It’s not an outsider. It’s the result of a series of bad choices between the couple. More people breakup as a result of mundane marital issues than because of a swinging, openness, etc.
In closing, the more diligent you are about dispelling myths and untruths about yourself and about your partner, the less of a grip jealousy will hold over you. Jealousy is usually the result of poor connections and bad equations (such as, “if he does ___, then this must mean ____ about me or about our relationship.”). Jealousy clings to lies. Replace the lies with truth and you can tame jealousy.