Arts & Culture

Open up

Open up
written by Mina Atia
March 31, 2012 8:00 am

CORRECTION: This article was previously misattributed to a different writer. The Gazette regrets the error. 

I like to think I’m a very open-minded individual when it comes to sex and sexuality. So I was disappointed in myself recently when I noticed my reaction to a friend’s admittance of having an open relationship with his boyfriend.

The news hit me like the water rushing out of a busted fire hydrant. “What do you mean you two have an open relationship?” I asked. “Like, you both have sex with other people?”

I’ll admit, I knew what an open relationship entailed. But the fact that a friend of mine was involved in one was a shock.

Their open relationship was mostly based on giving consent. They consult each other when one of them expresses their interest in some random individual for a sexual encounter. Then they ask for consent: “Baby, can I?” They can deny or give, depending on what they feel like.

The decision is reached based on feelings of whether this encounter can be risky or not.

Risky in terms of what, you ask?

Well, concerns tend to come up about previous partnerships. Who did the random bang recently? How awkward will it be if we ran into the random at Starbucks? (“Do you take cream with that coffee?”) And of course, there’s the undeniable fear of it turning into something serious. This represents a threat to the current relationship.

The foundation of any successful open relationship is trust. If you trust your partner, you should have no problem engaging in “extra-relationship” activities.

If consent has not been granted, however, the partner should not, by any means, pursue someone new. This is an unbreakable rule: without consent you should not be humping that random person you have your eye on.

Every couple has its rules about extra-relationship flings, especially when it comes to what goes and what doesn’t in the bedroom (or wherever you kinksters like to have it). Some of the rules include not having sex with the same random more than once, and no Frenching or even kissing at all. Certain sexual activities are prohibited, such as anal sex and blowjobs, or even the casual cuddling post-act, which to some partners tends to be very intimate.

There is also a distinction that must be drawn between intimacy (making love) and having just purely animalistic sex. When having an open relationship with a random third-wheel, the nature of this kind of wheeling has to be clearly discussed. Are we being intimate up the butt and developing a prolonged relationship because just the two of us isn’t cutting it anymore? Or are we just having a fun, one-to-a-few-times romp in the sack?

On another note, attention must be directed to the fact that open relationships present a huge faux pas threat to the concept of monogamy. The foundation for any “stereotypical” relationship is being solely committed to only one person, specifically in hetero-normative terms. But we all know how widespread affairs have gotten; occasional threesomes are being considered very hip nowadays. So why would open relationships be frowned upon?

Come on, people. Get with the program. There’s no need to go sneaking around, sexing other people and becoming a shady cheater. Instead, you can be a mature adult, openly discuss having an open relationship with your partner, and understand its advantages and disadvantages.

Certain obstacles make people avoid open relationships. Jealousy is a curse: an individual may sense their partner being more involved with the random.

Fear is another reason: partners are not certain of the consequences they may have to face when adding a third or more to the ride.

Still, at the same time, there are so many reasons to enter into open relationships. Partners may have varying sex drives. Some partners cannot fully please each other’s needs. There’s also this ever so endearing feeling of having the sense of freedom in exploring new and random encounters, i.e. it’s a bonus.

If you want it, take it. If you don’t, then leave it to those who can really appreciate it and get the most out of it.

One comment on “Open up

  1. Anonymous on

    This is cut and dry, discusses none of the nuances of non-monogamy and is clearly written by someone who has no experience with open relationships. Please interview a few people that aren’t your friends instead of making huge assumptions. “If you trust your partner, you should have no problem engaging in “extra-relationship” activities.” You are painting everyone who chooses not to engage in non-monogamy as jealous and untrusting. Your assuming that folks in non-monogamous relationships would be cheating on their partners if it wasn’t for non-monogamy. And you are treating anyone engaging sexually with someone in the couple as “random”. You are proclaiming that it is wrong and dangerous to have feelings for more than one person, and that you must throw this “random” away as soon as you are done with them. Your article assumes that people only have sex outside of a two person relationship because they have this animalistic drive. The same drive that perpetuates the rape myth that “they couldn’t stop themselves”. There is no physiological or psychological proof that any of us are so driven to procreate that we are unable to make the decision for ourselves. I’m sure this was not done maliciously, I would recommend reading The Ethical Slut or Jaclyn Friedman’s What You Really Really Want, they might give you a more complex perspective.

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