Have you ever considered being in an open relationship? Better yet, have you ever wanted to connect with someone else on a sexual level, even though you were already partnered?
If you’re sweating bullets or you feel the anger and jealousy rising within you, it’s perfectly normal. There are so many strong feelings that spew forth when we talk about monogamy and its complications. But as Arick helps us realize, perhaps instead of slut-shaming or getting pissed–or reliving every memory of when we were done wrong through being cheated or whatnot–we should stop ourselves in our tracks.
We should then ask an even more important question: why was this thing we call monogamy created, and why are we pressured to believe it is the only way?
I would define intimacy as sharing a personal space with somebody. It can be an experience or a thought, but it shows how you connect with people and doesn’t always have to be a deliberate act. There are plenty of moments where intimate moments happen on accident, such as seeing someone at the bus stop and locking eyes for just a little longer than usual. Those moments allow you to experience closeness–physical, intellectual, or ineffable–and as humans, I think that we all crave some sort of intimacy.
For me, being a queer person, intimacy is always something that is really challenging and complicated because the structures of power are really different. There’s a lot of societal pressure to marry, start a family, and raise children, and arguably, for a lot of couples, the point of starting a relationship with someone is to have an endpoint–marriage. However, when you don’t want to marry or start a family, social and sexual roles become less well-defined, and it’s difficult to navigate those spaces.
With monogamy, there are certain rules and expectations you must abide by; you have sex with one partner and you can only rely on this one person to have sexual gratification. And if you have sex with someone else, that’s really dangerous, and it is automatically assumed that you don’t love your partner or are breaking some sort of commitment.
I think we really have to ask ourselves about where the root of these structures came from and why the were created in the first place.
Now, if you agree to be monogamous, I agree that it’s shitty to cheat on them. But I also think we really have to ask ourselves about where the root of these structures came from and why the were created in the first place. Why are we only allowed to have sex within this monogamous structure? Why can’t we be intimate with other people Why is it considered wrong to think outside this structure or consider other alternatives to monogamy?
Monogamy places an overwhelming emphasis on getting sexual gratification from only one person. That alone put a lot of pressure on you as a partner, which sometimes makes me anxious. For me, being the only one to provide sex to one person for the rest of your life is scary.
I believe it’s important to explore other modes of intimacy that work for different people, instead of forcing everyone to experience and abide by one predetermined role when and perspective when it comes to intimacy, relationships, and fulfillment.
Open relationships aren’t for everybody. It requires a lot of trust and open communication, and with a lot of my previous partners we’ve attempted open relationships and they just didn’t work due to lack of trust and communicating effectively.
Masculinity forces you to try to take ownership of someone’s body and declare it as your own….When that happens, you’re telling someone who they are and aren’t allowed to be–and that’s dangerous.
Recently, I was talking to one of my straight friends and he was asking me about the fact that I’m in an open relationship. I explained that I don’t always have a high sex drive but my partner does. So, matching that up with intimacy is really challenging. My friend agreed that he liked the idea of an open relationship as an abstract concept, but that in practice he didn’t think he could do it because he said that he would get really jealous and angry.
To me, the jealousy and anger is something you have to address within yourself, and it reminds me of just how toxic masculinity can be, that masculinity can force someone to try to take ownership of someone’s body and declare it as their own. When that happens, you’re telling someone who they can and can’t have sex with, who they are and aren’t allowed to be.
That is how relationships are portrayed and represented in the media. That’s what we’re brought up to feel and believe. In the eyes of society, abiding by these structures of monogamy and masculinity are considered “necessary” to create a family–and by extension, to living a happy, fulfilled, and successful life. But I think it’s time we re-think and re-imagine this for ourselves, and on our own terms.