When do you tell your date that you're in an open relationship? Before you start dating? Then you might scare people away. But if you tell them afterwards they may feel that you've mislead them. This week's New York Times Modern Love essayist wasn't too pleased when, before her second date with a man she calls The Engineer, her new date told her that he had another girlfriend.
My girlfriend was browsing Facebook and found herself "face to face" with friends from her childhood and from college, all with wives or husbands, and babies and houses. And when we went to bed later, she cried. "Sometimes, I just want to be normal too," she said to me with sad, green eyes. "I want to put up pictures like that. I don't want to have to explain myself. I don't want to worry about what other people think." It made me sad. Really sad. Here was this incredibly strong, intelligent woman who was feeling pressured by these images of supposed normalcy and correctness. She felt bombarded by messages that seemed to be about the "right" way to do things and made her feel as if all of the love and happiness we have was, in that very instant, wrong. It's hard not to feel that way when the conventions that everyone accepts are staring you in the face, taunting you. "You don't have a husband. You don't have a baby. Your girlfriend's married. You should be ashamed. You're doing it wrong," their happy pictures and messages seem to say.
YourTango's open marriage blogger, Jenny Block, thanks her readers for giving her a forum to write about open marriage. Jenny writes that, "We are a part of change. Changing the way we think about love. Changing the way we think about marriage. Changing the way we look at one another. It has been a difficult year—or several years even—for most of us. Change is needed in so many realms. The world of love and relationships deserves no less attention."
Love Buzz loves a good open marriage story. This one comes from Page Six Magazine, which features the story of Neal and Claire Boulton. According to the mag, "Over the past year and a half, Neal has been portrayed in NYC gossip columns as: 1) The happily married editor in chief of Men's Fitness magazine. 2) A secretly gay guy who had an affair with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner and was hospitalized after mysteriously leaving his job. 3) A bisexual, unemployed adulterer. 4) Most recently, the secretly straight but still slutty editor in chief of the gay publication Genre whose poor wife took his cheating ass back." So what's the real story? Read on to find out...
"Monogamy Is Good, And It's Here To Stay." I was leery about this piece the minute I saw the title. But as soon as I read it and saw the word "fad" used to describe the kind of relationship that I have been deliriously happy in for years (and the kind hundreds of other people I have met have been in for decades) I knew I was dealing with a classic case of fear and misunderstanding—a dangerous mix. I thought I might simply reply in the comments section, but I quickly realized that I had way too much ground to cover. So, below I have gone section by section in responding to Ms. Cline's piece.
What about jealousy? It's the question everyone asks. I thought I would focus on two emails I received on the subject, one from someone who is not married and one from someone who is; both people are dealing with the issue that always seems to come up whenever polyamory is discussed: jealousy.
On October 4, 2008 Jenny Block spoke at the Poly Pride Rally in New York City. The rally was part of Poly Pride Weekend, a gathering for polyamorous people, those who maintain multiple loving relationships at the same time. Jenny is the author of Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, which all started on Tango, in her essay, Portrait of an Open Marriage.
People in open relationships often feel joy or pleasure when their partner has romantic adventures with other people. This feeling is sometimes called compersion. The Keristan Commune, a now defunct San Francisco-based polyamourous community, gets credit for coining the term, which is often defined as the opposite of jealousy. The word compersion is widely used in poly circles, but anyone in a non-monogamous relationship can experience joy from a partner's other love interests. When Shara Smith started dating Brian Downes, he was already in a relationship with someone else and he wanted to be careful about respecting Stephanie, his first partner. "He wanted to take all the right steps, and that made me more attracted to him," said Shara, who describes compersion as a "positive emotional reaction to a lover's other relationship."
Do you know what polyamory is? It's the idea of loving more than 1 person at a time. We meet a couple of polyamorists and learn about their relationship and the nature of open relationship. YourTango goes to the street and finds out what the deal is with polyamory.
YourTango readers: When it comes to the subjects of polyamory and swinging and open relationships, what are you honestly, truly most curious about? Do you want to know more about the rules and boundaries Carrie and I have developed for our own sex lives? Do you want to learn about how and why we decided to open up our relationship in the first place? Do you want to know what our friends and families have to say about our situation? Do you want to read more about our plans for the future, like our upcoming "UnWedding," or the possibility that we may one day add a permanent third person to our relationship?
Monogamy isn't for everyone, but for most of us, being with one person at a time is enough. You may know someone in an open relationship or non-monogamous marriage, you may have even flirted with the idea yourself, but chances are you decided it wasn't for you. That's what Nerve writer Naomi H. Lane thought, too, until she fell for two friends at the same time, and they were both already dating each other. This is a threesome like you've never seen before.