This Is Not What It’s Like To Be In An Open Relationship


Have you seen the articles? The ones claiming this is what it’s like to be part of a polyamory union.

They’re everywhere.

A quick Google search pulls articles from Cosmo to Pop Sugar to The Independent to MSN. And those were just the first four. I could pile on if I felt like a glutton for punishment.

Each claims to detail how an open or polyamorous relationship works.

And they have no fucking clue.

If you ask me, I have no fucking clue. I know what it’s like for me. Laura and I share that in our Polytix series of podcasts. I know some of what I need and what needs to be avoided for it to work for me.

But I can’t pretend to know what you need.

And that is the entire point of polyamory and ethical non-monogamy; we all have different needs.

Me attempting to tell you what you need would be like my going to France and trying to teach cuisine. A foreigner trying to teach the French to cook is bad enough. Worse yet that my tweets about cooking feature macaroni and cheese with hotdogs, napalm, and fire fighters arriving just in time to save Castle Stranded from becoming ashes. .

Trust me. France doesn’t want me teaching them to cook.

We can discuss the vanilla generalizations about polyamory, sure. A lot of which, if applied to a monogamous relationship, might solve a lot of common problems.

Ethical honesty is the big one. Being honest in an ethical way is one of the greatest fears many have as they have this stereotypical idea that showing what and who they truly are will lead to rejection. They miss that such honesty leads to a path that is more likely to get them where they need to be.

And maybe this is something that needs to be defined here. Ethical honesty.

Take gossip, for example. It can be honest, sure. But how ethical is it when you use shock and awe story telling that could potentially hurt someone if the wrong ears hear the yarn that was spun?

Another example and more to the point would be dating sites. In a personal situation, we had a date with a couple that we met from one of the swinger sites. The male of this couple contacted us and ignored that our bio says we only can be with nonsmokers. I have nothing against smokers other than I have an allergy that means it won’t work. When we met them for a drink, the first hug gave me a whiff and told me that it was now a waste of our time.

He wasn’t candid about what they were. I mean, it was still a fun time talking with them, but it wasn’t honest to assume I’d miss that.

Ethical honesty means being honest with yourself about yourself without intentionally hurting others to do it. It is knowing what you are and what you might need.

The key term is “might” there, as it is also knowing that sometimes we don’t know what we need. That state, one of willing exploration, is a very acceptable state to be in. How else can we discover the answer to our questions?

When I began writing this I was sitting through my introduction to the TV series Ray Donovan. Just watching how the character of Ray and his wife dance around being honest for fear of their masks falling off fits this subject so well. The couple is great together and, if they got to actual ethical honesty within their relationship, there would be very little drama and no reason to make a TV show about a near-perfect couple. The show may change later, but I made this observation after the first four episodes.

It seems I’ve gotten off my original premise here. Or have I?

I’m just honest here in that I can show you a path…my path. I would never suggest it’s your path.

Be honest with yourself and find your own. Finding that path is something I’d be happy to help with in any way I reasonably can. After that, you’re on your own.

And sometimes being on your own is a good thing.


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  1. I cannot agree with you more… you can tell us about your relationship, but that doesn’t mean that the next relationship is the same. This go for all kinds of relationships, whether vanilla, bdsm, poly or an other label people use to define their relationships. There just isn’t a template for any kind of relationship.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rebel xox

  2. I completely agree that what works for one person (couple) is not necessarily right for anyone else. I also agree that being honest is the key but it is incredibly hard and I wish I had just some idea how to help a partner who struggles with jealousy


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