“Why would you want to be in an open relationship?!” Is along the lines of what I hear when bringing up open relationships as a serious topic. While both sexes joke and fantasize about having another partner; once the topic is seriously considered they tend to clamp up in fear. To me this was a mystery because once I entertained the thought it had always intrigued me. I found that the reason the large majority become fear-stricken is simply jealousy. I have established a strong understanding and developed a thorough philosophy since I first entertained these thoughts and I can now say that I will never be in a relationship that is not “open”.
Jealousy is a petty emotion. A childish fear of losing something that is yours (or just something you want) or of being deprived of it momentarily while someone else uses it. We teach our children not to be so selfish and not to react with such a negative emotion that is often seen with anger and hate. We tell our children to share, that they can play with it again later and that their joy, then and now, does not need to be diminished at all because someone else used or is using it. And yet adults loathe the thought of sharing their partner with someone else in a way they deem “too intimate”. Yes, the qualifier “too intimate” is needed and very important. For the most part we share our partner’s time and affection freely with only a minority of people being jealous about their partner’s circles of friends and acquaintances. And the minority that are jealous are labelled as controlling and are warned about being potentially abusive. But a partner’s sex or love given to another will trigger those same jealous, controlling responses in the majority. There is absolutely no good reason for this negative response. Neither sex nor love can be used up or diminished and another enjoying your partner’s sex or love does not need to diminish your pleasure at all.
The jealous response stems from a number of incorrect views taught by our societies. One popular and horrid viewpoint is acting as though certain acts that individuals choose to do hold some virtuous value and this allows people to be judged by this created value. The most common form of this, and the most obvious of the misogynistic ruses, is the labelling of virginity. This invents the concept of a person that is ‘used’ and degrades the person to some lesser state. Instantly turning a person into a commodity that can be valuated, consumed, and then overlooked as worthless. It is a twisted form of control with obvious caveats put in place by its creators. Always applying to women so much more than men, and the losing of which is such an immoral act unless under the specific conditions prescribed, and even then the person has lost their value. It’s language seeps into society shaping the minds of the youth before they have even matured enough to seriously consider questions of sexuality. Phrases such as “sloppy seconds” (again applying disproportionately to women) that describe someone as ‘used’ and ‘worthless’ encourage judgement. People are not commodities and no person is of lesser or greater value than another. There is no reason to be jealous if someone had sex with your partner before you met them, it is your partner’s personal choice, and they have lost nothing. They are a person, as precious as all life and as all people, and they are now choosing to share their life with you; it is not that you are receiving ‘used’ goods.
Another falsehood is that people can only love one person. We are all encouraged to have many friends, which is an important part of our life as social creatures, and friendship is a form of intimate relationship. We are also expected to love and care for all of our children as the precious individuals they are. It is only with those who we are sexually intimate with that suddenly we are expected to only have that relationship with one person. It is even a widespread belief that you cannot have a sexually intimate relationship with more than one person, as though somehow your love for someone will disappear simply by loving someone else as well. Not everyone will take on and maintain intimate, sexual relationships with six different people. I personally keep a much smaller group of friends than most people but overall I am close to the friends I have. And so naturally I would not maintain a very personal, intimate relationship with a large number of people. But the number of people I share my life with is my personal concern and affects no one but me. I could enjoy a sexual relationship with more partners that I was not as close to, but sex can be so much more satisfying when shared with someone who is intimately close to you. This is an area where even swingers tend to stay with the mainstream point of view. And I feel they do so because they have disregarded certain social norms without taking an in depth look at what it means to shed those beliefs and establishing new guidelines for themselves based on what they do believe. There is no reason to tell someone not to love someone else. And it seems foolish to me to try and enjoy someone other than your partner physically while attempting to shun any natural attraction and love that may arise. What harm comes from caring for someone? What freedom is being exercised when you deny such a positive human emotion?
Finally, and most dear to me as an anarchist, is that people are free. You cannot own someone and you have no right to tell someone how to live their life or what to do. The words “my husband/wife” merely describe that they are in relation to you not that they are your property. We listen to our partners because we are in intimate relationships with them and care about what they have to say. This should not be taken advantage of to try and control someone. If someone is your property then the relationship you have is meaningless. What makes my relationship special is that my wife is completely free to make all of her own choices, she could go anywhere and do anything, and every day she always chooses to come home to me. And more than just ‘come home’ which can sound like a student habitually returning to school without joy, she chooses to share her life, feelings and thoughts with me. Everywhere, everything, everyone in the world and she chooses me, not once, but every time. That is what makes a relationship special. That is what is meaningless if someone is merely property and like a disloyal pet that may not return if given the chance. And when she chooses to spend time with others it does not diminish our love or intimacy whether she is bonding with close friends, fucking someone like a toy, or sharing intimate personal moments with someone else.
After finding new beliefs such as my atheism I took the time to see what all would be affected and rejected social customs and norms that were now irrelevant to me (such as christianity’s virtuous virginity). By finding what core beliefs I do hold and ensuring the things I do and believe are not contradictory to my core beliefs I have established a solid personal philosophy which I live by and which I truly believe in. That is why, despite if my partner desires to have intimate relationships with others, I will always be in an open relationship and my partner will be free to do as they please.