So I've been thinking recently. My SO and I read and discussed the article on relationship anarchy that Marcus has on his profile. It got me to thinking – why is it that I am so sure that I don't want to be in an open relationship?
I should say at the start of this that I am very very happy with how my life is at the moment and don't wish to change anything. These are musings that have been going through my mind NOT a statement of intent.
I reckon that there are things around not wanting to have to deal with jealousy and the fear of loss. Of course – that stuff must be part of it.
But more than that, I worry about the ethics of having an open relationship. Not the ethics between us as such but more the ethics around having other relationships while being committed to remaining in a relationship with each other.
It seems totally reasonable to me that people who are in couples and wish to stay that way take steps to take care of each other. I hear a variety of ways on here that that happens – less or no overnights with outside people, dates cancelled because of family emergencies that the outside people cannot be part of, stopping outside sexual relationships for a period of time. These all seem utterly reasonable, sensible, caring and ethical – until I think about the outside people.
The people who's relationships are limited by factors that remain – and should be – outside their control.
I know that friends fall under the same category – but I tend not to have sex with my friends. I think that's significant. Sex or the anticipation of it has a way of filling us up with happy hormones. It promotes love and intimacy in a way that is harder to find in friendships that don't include it.
And so I worry about the outside people (and to an extent the coupled people too) who might be building up love and connection in a relationship that may be limited or even stop abruptly for reasons that have nothing to do with them.
I know that people agree readily and happily to be in restricted relationships and that often it is what they want – at least for a time. I remain unsure if somebody agreeing to something then makes it ethical for me to do it. Women remain freely in relationships with men who beat them all the time. Even if they are financially able to leave, they often stay. For complex reasons. Their agreement to stay doesn't make it ethical for their husbands to beat them.
I have a similar feeling about a relationship between me and somebody else or my SO and somebody else. An agreement about a limited relationship made in the heat and rush of new relationship and sex hormones may well not be the most ethical – even if it is understandable.
I'm kind of wondering if for me the only way I would consider non-monogamy is if I also considered myself single and so ethically free to allow my relationships to develop as they will.
My SO said to me when we started seeing each other that open relationships should only be started if both members of the couple are very secure in the relationship. More and more I'm starting to think that security in a relationship shouldn't be there. Instead I'd look for security in myself – in the networks of connections and friends around me – and treat the romantic relationships as likely to change if I or any partners I had met somebody new, decided to get married etc.
As we live in a society where the expectation is to get married and have children and share finances etc it seems reasonable that most people will want that at some point and so anybody living life differently I think must expect to lose people as they decide to do what is expected of them.
Hmmm – more thought needed on this I think.