I am very well loved. (Check out Part One for the background, it’s worth it). But in an open relationship, being “very well loved” isn’t always enough. One also needs to be very well honest and very well communicative.
These are common stumbling blocks. Monogamy is so enshrined in our culture that when starting out an open relationship, it is very easy to default to secrecy and lies. Making polyandrous love work relies on a commitment to honesty from all involved.
Loving someone is easy. The feelings just come on their own. But growing love and maintaining love takes more work, especially when there’s more than two people in the relationship. It’s tempting (and easy) to ignore issues in the hope that they’ll either fix themselves or just go away. This is where committed honesty comes into play.
Local Boyfriend doesn’t want to hear about every detail about what I get up to with Interstate Boyfriend. It’s enough for him that I tell him where I am going, when, and with whom, and then he goes about his life. I have committed to being honest with him about these things, and this honesty is the foundation upon which we have built our relationship.
He has committed to being honest with me about his feelings. If he’s feeling jealous, or sad, or angry, we have a commitment to each other to discuss these feelings and to working through them, so we can grow together.
We have made a commitment to building a life together. Our love is built upon trust, honesty and respect. Each one feeds the others. Without one element, the whole house of cards falls down.
Interstate Boyfriend and I have a different type of honesty. I have never heard details about other girls he dates, and I have no interest in hearing about what he gets up to when I am not there. I know his “type” (hint: fat radical feminists aren’t it), and I know that he sees other girls (because why wouldn’t he?) but despite that I don’t feel threatened or jealous because of how fiercely he loves me when we are together.
I genuinely don’t have any feelings of jealousy when I think of him with other women, because I know that he’s not truly mine. We have made no commitment to building a life together, so the idea of him seeing someone else doesn’t threaten anything apart from the likelihood of my getting orgasms from him – and even that isn’t truly at risk because he’s not the sort of person to get into a long-term monogamous relationship. He’s far too solitary for such a thing.
The love I share with Interstate Boyfriend is built on a different kind of honesty – honesty about what feels good and what doesn’t. Honesty about our fondness for each other. Honesty about who’s turn it is to visit. There’s less at stake with Interstate Boyfriend than there is with Local Boyfriend, but the need to be committed to honesty is just as important with both men.
Honesty and open communication is not just for non-monogamy. It’s critical to any kind of relationship, especially one where you’re hoping to build a life with your partner. In some ways, I would argue that my open relationship with Local Boyfriend has forced us to talk about things we may not have talked about had we defaulted to monogamy and never explored non-monogamy. We’ve been forced to talk about jealousy rather than just assuming that monogamy means jealousy doesn’t happen. We’ve been forced to talk about our expectations rather than just using the standard definition of monogamy as our relationship structure. I wonder how many monogamous relationships may not have ended if the people in them talked honestly about what they expected out of their relationship?
Committed honesty is hard work and requires the laying bare of your feelings, and the throwing away of expectations. I know that this sort of radical truth-telling is critical to how I love both my boyfriends, and I couldn’t imagine doing it any differently.
Coming soon: Part Three, in which I gush about my delicious Local Boyfriend.