Open Relationships: Are They Right for You?
Is it OK to Not be Exclusive with My Partner?
In recent years I have come to know several couples who enjoy what they call an “open” relationship. I used to be skeptical of such unions, thinking that, at best, they couldn’t possibly work, and at worst, that they were just plan “wrong” or “immoral.”
I have a religious background, and no doubt my concepts of “right” versus “wrong,” “moral” versus “immoral,” and “ethical” versus “unethical” has been strongly influenced by that. But are those influences correct in their assumptions? I had to start questioning my beliefs about these sorts of things when I started meeting couples who seemed happy, yet were not exclusive to each other sexually, and in some cases also intimately.
I met people who were “polyamorous.” I met people who were “poly-minded.” I met people who were in simple “open” relationships. I met swingers, some who swung exclusively as a couple, some who went to a club or party together yet played separately, some who limited what type of sexual contact they and their partner had with other couples, and many other permutations and combinations.
I was confronted with a dilemma. These options didn’t line up with my understanding of how a relationship ought to be, yet it was working for the couples I was meeting. And so, who was I to say how they ought to carry on their relationship? Really…I mean, “Live and Let Live” is a slogan that I try to live by daily.
Who am I?
My name is Marc Spinoza, and I am a masseur in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. I serve the Greater Toronto area, and receive clients on both an incall and outcall basis. I have a fully professional massage room in my home, which is in a quiet neighbourhood, or I can travel to you with my portable table and massage kit.
The “Open” Relationship:
An open relationship is one characterized by and agreement between the partners that either one, or both, can be sexual with other people. They negotiate what that looks like, what the boundaries around it are, and then they find partners other than their “Primary” with whom to be sexually active.
Generally speaking, an open relationship has the following characteristics:
1.There are two primary partners who are each other’s priority. That may look different for different couples, but the primary union is distinguished from each partners’ other relationships.
2.There are boundaries in place, which may include where each partner can “play” with others, how often they are allowed to play, how many other partners they can have, how safe sex is practiced, etc. Different couples will be comfortable with different boundaries.
3.In general, the primary partnership is the one where the “feelings” lie: the partners care for each other in a way that they don’t for their other play partners.
4.In an open relationship, the secondary unions are just about sex.
The Polyamorous Relationship:
A polyamorous relationship (or “poly” for short) is one characterized usually by a primary partnership with each partner having one or more other partners with whom they form a genuine relationship. Whereas in an open relationship the secondary unions are mostly sexual in nature, this is not so in the poly relationship.
Poly comes from the Greek word meaning “many,” and amorous meaning “love.” This means that people in a poly relationship can be “in love” with more than one person. They can have more than one boyfriend, or girlfriend.
As with open relationships, there still need to be boundaries in a poly union. The “Ethical Polyamory” movement is all about making sure that the primary partners in a poly relationship treat each other with the respect and care they deserve.
The “Poly-Minded” Individual:
This is the person who may have more than one partner with whom they enjoy doing couple-like things. Dating, going out for dinners, movies, hanging out at home watching Netflix, doing day-trips and weekends away with more than one partner are important to poly-minded people.
They prefer this type of relationship with their partners rather than reducing it to something that is just sexual. But they don’t necessarily want a primary partner.
What About You?
Have you been considering trying a “different” kind of relationship, but don’t know where to begin? Perhaps you’ve tried the conventional “exclusive” relationship over and over, and yet find it doesn’t work for you.
An article I recently read from a psychologist suggested that polyamory is an orientation, much like being gay, straight or bisexual is. That would mean that, if you were poly-oriented, it simply would not be in your makeup to have an exclusive bond with one person.
Isn’t that a liberating idea? Think about it and see if it doesn’t fit for you.
In the meantime, if you need someone with whom to talk it over, why not come see me for a massage. I’d love to give you the space and time to talk through your thoughts about it.
I’d love to lend an ear and a hand .