AskTrish: Man Ponders Women's Perspective of an Open, Polyamorous Relationship

Dear Trish,

I’m a 50 year-old straight (but bi-curious) male.  I have been with my female partner for 5 years now and have been living with her for 4 years.  I am in school 300 miles away.  The past few months, while I have been here, I have talked to her about exploring her own sexuality — not an open relationship as I am not wanting that, just giving her the freedom to explore whatever desires she finds.  I believe there is great healing in sexual freedom which is truly empowering.  So, tomorrow night she has a ‘movie night’ with a friend of ours who has made it very clear he wants to fuck her.  He is a good friend and the safe factor is one that cannot be ignored.  I actually encouraged him to move ahead with pursuing her at my birthday party on Friday night!  Can a person be able to feel true happiness at the thought of his partner not only having sex with a friend, but encouraging it and enjoying her pleasure by offering her the liberty to do so as she desires?  I know the idea is so very exciting to me, but I don’t hear talk about this stuff in many places.  I know I will be so very happy when she tells me all about it tomorrow night, I guess I am just looking to hear a woman’s thought on having that level of freedom while in a committed relationship, albeit a long distance one.  Do you have any thoughts on this?  I guess the bottom line is how deep does ‘control’ run in the male psyche?!  I feel so un-male by being so seemingly un-normal!  Would you, as a woman, feel ‘liberated’ or some other something else?  Would this kind of freedom (for lack of a better term) be received as a negative by women?

James
Ontario, Canada

Dear James,

A million thoughts are running through my head, many of which you may not like.  So please accept my response with a grain of salt as it comes with a healthy dose of tough love.  Since you’re in Canada, I’m too far away to give you the ass-kicking my Irish fire really wants to administer.  Clearly, the misogyny of patriarchal culture is entrenched in the northern climes — which is sad since I’ve always heard Canadians were so nice.

I’ll address your male psyche first.  You are not  “un-manly” or  “un-normal.”  You are following your desires as a consenting adult.  Neither a sexually repressed society nor antiquated, misogynist religion should be your barometer in pursuing adult relationships.  However, these negative influences have  shaped you as evidenced in your verbiage, which I purposely left whole so you could see your subconscious language patterns: “giving her the freedom,” “offering her the liberty,” “a woman’s thought on having that level of freedom,” “would you, as a woman, feel ‘liberated'”… What century  are you living in?!  And are you sure  you don’t live in Arizona?

Whether this relationship you have with your woman is committed, casual, or even legally bound with a prison sentence marriage license, she is a free, autonomous human being and can “fuck” or “make love” with whomever she chooses, and she doesn’t need your permission or your “giving” her the liberty and freedom from psychological slavery to pursue the physical and emotional needs of her own body, heart, and mind.  Capiche?

I’ll get off my soap box because I know your intention  is not to sound like a misogynist jerk.  Your language is indicative of living in an oppressive patriarchal culture while your heart and spirit desperately want validation and freedom from  that very oppression.

Clearly, you and your woman have great communication, for which I applaud you!  While you say you don’t want an open relationship, you, in fact, have one.  It could even be polyamory if the other partner(s) have emotional feelings as well.  These types of relationships are not talked about in society for the same reason homosexual and bisexual relationships are still taboo — they threaten the hetero-patriarchal dynamic that limits relationships to male/female and institutionalizes the hierarchy of a superior male with an inferior female’s body and mind being owned by the male.

For me, I have sworn I would never do another long distance relationship because they’re expensive, annoying, and sexually frustrating.  However, I have always thought that sex “in the meantime” is okay because we all have needs.  The body wants sex.  The heart wants love.  You make accommodations when you can’t be with the one you love via abstinence, cheating, or an open relationship where both people understand there is a physical need that is separate from the emotional need — if that is an understanding that is right for the both of you.

For instance, if I were in a relationship with a soldier, knowing he or she will be gone for months or even longer than a year, I would tell them to have sex when they can with someone “safe,” i.e., don’t bring home any diseases.  The body has needs and wants.  So I’m perfectly fine with them having sex with a fellow soldier or “safe” partner while on deployment.  Do what you need to do to make it through the day to stay alive and come home.

Some species mate for life while most of the earth’s inhabitants only have flings or “open” relationships for each mating season.  Humans may choose monogamy or polyamory as dictated by their personal needs or spiritual/religious beliefs.

Polyamorous relationships are not fully understood or accepted by most monogamous people.  The non-poly people don’t understand how two people in a committed relationship can be with others outside the relationship and not get jealous.  Getting jealous is just not something in the make-up of polyamorous folks.  This hippie/free-love notion of open acceptance and loving everyone is a threat to our competition-driven imperialistic society that thrives on conflict and profits from war.  Polyamory will never be accepted as a mainstream lifestyle in the West until the oppressive overlords figure out how to make money off of it.

Back in my early 20’s, the theatre orgies I participated in were a revelation in how committed couples can explore their sexuality with friends — with their partner participating, watching, or exploring with someone else — and no one ever got jealous.  Ever.  There was no reason to get jealous because the desires and explorations were out in the open, as opposed to “cheating” behind a partner’s back.  Exploring our bodies sexually had nothing to do with the love for a committed partner….  But that’s bohemian artists for you!

I have friends who have been in polyamorous relationships — a man and his female partner with another woman whose male partner was a prude.  His jealousy of her need for the poly relationship put a damper on all four of them.  So, James, embrace your open relationship, and revel in the level of communication you and your partner have because what you have is rare and wonderful!

You also have a voyeuristic side to you, and I’m sure you not only want to hear  about the sex your partner is having with her friend/fling, but you probably wouldn’t mind sitting in the corner and watching, yes?  If you’re turned on by watching your partner flirt, there’s no harm in that as long as both of you have that clear understanding.  Problems arise when one partner wants things for the relationship that the other partner does not.

I would be interested to hear why, at the age of 50, you’re bi-curious  and have never taken the plunge!  Following your desires instead of living vicariously through your woman’s experiences with men might open a whole new world of sexual possibilities for your relationship.  Being with two guys is as much a fantasy for a lot of women as being with two women is a dream for a lot of men.

You are normal.  You are masculine.  You and your partner are doing just fine, in my opinion.  Keep up the wonderful communication between the two of you.  Do let me know how ‘movie night’ went!  Also, leave a comment if you have any more questions — and to tell me you forgive my tough love. 🙂

trish

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0 Replies to “AskTrish: Man Ponders Women's Perspective of an Open, Polyamorous Relationship”

  1. “I’ll get off my soap box because I know your intention is not to sound like a misogynist jerk. Your language is indicative of living in an oppressive patriarchal culture while your heart and spirit desperately want validation and freedom from that very oppression.”

    Trish, thank you for responding to my questions! i appreciate your candor and understand from what i wrote how you could arrive at your ideas. i do want to be free from that oppression and lack words to really describe what is felt.

    we have discussed the reality that both of us are able at anytime to find a sexual partner and that i in particular had no illusions that a situation like that may arise while i am away, so i figured be open about it and let her know that i am not threatened by any path she may choose and discuss things openly. it gave her a great deal of peace knowing that even if nothing happens, she does not have to be afraid of how i may react as i am well aware that her ‘cheating’ could have happened anyhow so any opportunity i can find to release guilt and shame in others, i take!

    communication is vital to any relationship, and we do that very well! i am glad to know that how i think about these things is not abnormal!

    thanks again!

  2. Your write above: “The non-poly people don’t understand how two people in a committed relationship can be with others outside the relationship and not get jealous. Getting jealous is just not something in the make-up of polyamorous folks. ”

    I don’t disagree with you, but I want to run an argument by you that I once read against polyamorous relationships. It goes like this: What drives the interest in polyamorous relationships is sexual desire. What militates against such relationships is jealousy. So it’s the difference between a desire and an emotion. But desires are episodic and easily sated. Emotions are not as much. Emotions can be more enduring than desires and it can take considerable time to assuage wounded emotions. Therefore, it’s better for the sake of love to deny polyamorous sexual desire because the emotion of jealousy is more enduring and fragile.

    Now it seems to me (I’m guessing here, I admit) that your answer is that some people just are not inclined to feel jealousy. If so, then I think that’s a fine response to the argument above. But it raises a question in my mind. Why are some people beset by jealousy and others not at all? Is it really because they have thoroughly questioned and got beyond our culture’s patriarchal assumptions? Or is it something else? Perhaps a level of personal security and self worth that jealous people lack?