It seems to be everywhere-Burning Man camps dedicated to Polyamory- references on Match.com to “open” and panels at the Good Vibrations around the corner from me. Like any other Midwestern monagamist, I thought I could ignore this trend, save it for those with experience. But, everywhere I turn, it’s coming at me. I kept confusing Polyamory (the practice, desire to have more than one intimate relationship with the consent of everyone involved) with Polygamy (having multiple spouses a’ la Big Love).
So, I decided to read more and headed to GV to read “The Ethical Slut”- a great book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, educated feminists who explain lifestyle and pitfalls that come with it. Published in 1997, with a second edition in 2009, it offers timeless advice for couples, singles, primaries, secondaries, and those that love them. For me, the book breaks down age-old ideas that marriage equals monogamy “A ring around the finger does not equal a nerve block to the genitals” and speaks to the high ethics of being a slut “A slut shares her sexuality the way a philanthropist shares his money-because they have alot to share, because it makes them happy to share it, because sharing makes the world a better place”
Armed with this elevated opinion, I’ve put myself into situations where I’ve dated, befriended and played with people in “Open Relationships” with mixed results
One solid, hot, young couple has taken me to parties, acted as protectors for me (and a certain naive Texan I’d brought to the Armory), and have been a sounding board for my questions, concerns, and bitching. The lovely girl in this relationship explained being a Secondary as such: “You are the bright and shiny toy in the relationship as the single woman!”. They made me view their arrangement as healthy, grounded and truly “open”.
Then, I had the unfortunate experience of getting to know a middle-aged, married for decades couple who bragged of their experience and knowledge. While they appeared to be experts in this field, I found it was little but an outlet for the insecurities and failings of their marriage. It seemed as if they used their secondary partners as a dumping ground to put all their bad feelings. Jealousy, manipulation and lies defined their dealings with the partners they added into the mix, often to the detriment of the people they brought in.
So, all of this leaves a single girl confused?
Are “Open Relationships” the amazing, solid groundwork that allows couples and singles the chance to experience sustainable connections?
Or are they too progressive for the average person?
I guess the ‘gift’ of the Open Relationship is it offers (in Dossie’s words) “the challenge which becomes learning to establish within yourself a strong foundation of internal security….this is part of the larger question of how to grasp your personal power and learn to understand and love yourself”