Apr 18, 2016

What's Wrong with Open Relationships?

In gay communities, people who have open relationships are often criticized as shallow, sex-obsessed, afraid of true intimacy.

Or sometimes they're pitied.  If only they could experience the unmitigated joy of monogamy, being with only one person for life!

I've spent five years in monogamous relationships, and twenty in open relationships.  I'll take the open.

Here's why:

The cultures of the world have many ways of determining who is responsible for raising children.  The most common are:
1. Polygamy: several women have children with one man.
2. Polyandry: one woman has children with several men
3. Mixed: anyone in the clan can have children with anyone else.

17% of the world's cultures practice monogamy: one woman has children with one man only.




Monogamy ensures that men know that they are the biological father of the children they are raising.  But it has some drawbacks:

1. The wife becomes property, her vagina a commodity that can be bought and sold.  Through the 18th century, if a married woman was raped, the husband was assumed the victim.  If she was unmarried, the victim was the father.






2. The penalty for a wife who "cheats" is severe, but for the husband, the penalty is mild.  It is even expected that he have a "mistress" on the side.  90% of the people prosecuted under the adultery laws are female.

3. The husband and wife are expected to live alone, with their children, in"single family homes" which puts a severe strain on the world's economic resources.  Multiple-family dwellings are much more efficient.

Same-sex couples don't need to worry about pregnancy from an extramarital encounter, so why do they practice monogamy?  I have heard the following objections to sexual activity with people outside the relationship:

1.It increases the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Unprotected sex increases the risk of STDs regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not.  Should single gay people avoid sexual activity, also? Wrap it up!

2. The partners may find someone they likes better, and end the relationship.

Will spending an hour in the bedroom with this guy tell you if he likes The X-Files and Buddhist philosophy, if he will be supportive of your career, if he will fit in with your friends?  Of course not -- all you will find out about is his bedroom performance.  If your relationship is so fragile that it will end because you found someone better at oral sex, is it really worth preserving?

3. Heterosexuals don't do it.

Of course they do, just not as often as we do, for an obvious reason: women lose prestige by having sex, but men gain it. Think of the terms used for men and women with multiple partners: stud vs. slut.  So it takes work to persuade a woman to have sex with you, but to get a man to have sex with you, all you need to do is ask.

4. It must be disgraceful.  You wouldn't want people to find out, would you?

I would prefer that my mother, minister, and boss not be apprised of my latest three-way.  Also I wouldn't want them to know what I did with my partner last night.  And I don't want to know what they did with their partners, either.

5. It detracts from the joy, fulfillment, and fun of the relationship.

I don't see how.  It's a joy to cruise together, to evaluate prospects.  It's fulfilling to watch your partner in action with someone they finds especially attractive. And it's fun to discuss afterwards.


6. I prefer monogamy, and everybody on Earth has to do things my way.

If you and your partner are both into it, feel free to only have sex with each other.  Or to not have sex at all.  It's really none of my business.  But at the same time, you don't have the right to judge me over something that my partner and I enjoy.



Semi-Open Relationships

I don't have strictly open relationships, where either partner can do anything with anybody at anytime.  What's the fun in that? I want to be there.

My relationships have usually been semi-open.

1. Either partner can engage in social activities with anyone he wants, including events that are typically considered dates: dinners, movies, and so on.

2. BUT no bedroom activity can occur without both partners being present.  All three will participate, or if one of the parties isn't into it, he can just watch.

3. At bath houses, sex clubs, and bear parties, the partners will cruise together whenever possible, but separate sexual activity is permitted.

4. If the partners are in separate cities, they can engage in bedroom activities with close friends, including "sharing" dates and romantic partners.

It's worked so far.  Twenty years of semi-open relationships with no STDs, no jealousy, no crying and recrimination, no breakups because he found someone better, and a lot of fun.

An uncensored version of this post is on Tales of West Hollywood.