"The Case For Open Relationships"
Rachel Kramer Bussel, a widely published erotica author, wrestles with questions of nonmonogamy in her Huffington Post column. She does a nice job discussing various forms of poly and semi-poly, their possibilities and perils.
[Being faithful is] something I've thought a good deal about, so I decided to look not at monogamy as a goal, but as a social construct. First let me say that if you are in a monogamous relationship, I encourage you to stay within the rules of your relationship, or speak to your partner, rather than simply cheat. But I do believe that monogamy has become fetishized as the only answer to a large degree, with the result being that many people are either locked into relationships they aren't happy with, or are conducting affairs on the side and feeling guilty about it (or not).
This was all brought home to me last week, when I had one of the strangest dinner conversations I've ever had....
...Another friend, Tess, is in an open marriage; she doesn't have sex with her husband anymore, but takes outside lovers. He's free to as well, but as far as she knows, he doesn't.... I know a married couple where they're allowed to make out with other people, and take advantage of this rule. I know a triad (one man and two women) who live together quite happily, and are raising children together. One friend described her multiple committed relationships as being "like Big Love, without the patriarchy."
Many who've struggled with monogamy's constraints have concluded that, for various reasons, it's just not for them.... What really seems important to me in relationships these days, is not choosing monogamy, but choosing openness, authenticity, trust and communication.
...Please note that open relationships aren't for everyone. It's not as simple and easy as it may look from the outside. The polyamorous people I know put a lot of time and effort into all of their relationships to make sure everyone's on the same page. Lastly, this is not an either/or choice you must make now and stick with forever. Some couples drift in and out of monogamy depending on what works best for them at any given time. And polyamory is not a panacea; if you think you'll cure any and all sexual longings or be free of jealousy simply by taking on new partners, you're probably in for a rude awakening. I can't say whether monogamy's right for you or not, only that monogamy clearly isn't right for everyone, or we wouldn't have the levels of cheating and divorce that we do.
Read the whole article (Dec. 10, 2007). And join in the comments.
The article was picked up by AlterNet (Dec. 15, 2007), where a new set of comments is collecting.
"Rachel Kramer Bussel is probably the best contemporary writer of erotica," says a commenter. "Her acute psychological insights make her the Henry James of the genre."
Labels: open marriage