One thing I do know, both from personal experience and from my professional experience is that open, non-monogamous, polyamorous, or otherwise, relationships, if they are to be ethical, loving and genuine, take a little concerted work. These types of relationships take a little extra communication, energy and effort to be open, honest, conscious and conscientious all of the time, not just with your partner, but with yourself as well. And this is not always an easy task. And, with all this work at being real, keeping it open, and keeping it honest, sometimes it just becomes to easy to slip. I’ve had clients say to me, “It’s just easier to cheat.” They don’t have to worry about their partner becoming emotional, jealous, insecure, angry, vengeful, all real feelings which may come up and need to be dealt with.
It’s hard writing this article, as the open minded proponent and hard core left wing liberal of my camp, always having acknowledged that these open relationships are ideal, if we can just get over ourselves, our jealousy, our insecurity, and want nothing but the best for our partners, ourselves and our relationship, and start talking to each other, respecting our agreements. But the truth of the matter is, if we are indeed serial monogamists even as opposed to non-monogamists by nature, then as luck would have it, we do run the risk of losing our partner with every dalliance, every wink, every batted eye lash, that is to say if we are always looking for the one, even if there is open communication. Is it safe to say that this lifestyle works best with people who feel they have already found “the one” -a concept prescribed heavily in our culture? If things in the relationship are still hanging in the ambivalence zone, in our world where everyone is looking for a soul mate, a Mr. Right, or their happily ever after, then an open relationship may be hard pressed. Not to mention, I do think that people can use the polyamorous label to perpetuate unhealthy sexual practices, such as acts without implied consent and cheating, under the guise of an open relationship. The good news is, cheating is no longer a death sentence for the relationship, (although maybe sex addiction, the new "cheating" is) and we can overcome breakdowns in relationships with a little effort as well.
So, the bottom line, just like I would like to have an answer to say that the egg or chicken came first, as much as I would like to say that these occurrences happen because they do more organically mimic our natural state of being, but the truth of the matter is I cannot. In the end, what do we really know? One thing I can say, as a practicing sex therapist, and sex educator for the last 5 and ½ years and a healthy sex advocate for past 20 years, I do know that there is no right answer to love and happiness. And, it is just best to do your best and go with your gut as to what is best for you, while still of course, being as open and honest as you possibly can.
*Ethical Slut is a book by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt written in 1997 about healthy open relationships.
For more help with your sex and relationship concerns please connect with Mou at www.LASexTherapist.com
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