Tag Archives: Monogamy

December 20, 2013

“Daddy Kenneth, I’ve seen a lot of discussions recently on Facebook regarding open relationships and poly relationships. In many of those discussions it ends up coming down to two sides, one saying it can’t work and one saying it can, though usually there’s some cross over and more details.

“My question, what would you call a relationship that ‘works’? I’ve been in 3 relationships, my first was only a month long when I was 16 and ended badly, my second was almost two years and ended very badly, my third and current is poly and semi-open and has lasted 7 years. None of these relationships do I consider to have ‘Failed’ even though two of them ended and not on good terms. I feel like the fact that I learned and grew from them, and the joy I had from them even in a short time, makes them a success. I guess what I’m asking, do you really have to be with someone forever for it to have been a ‘working’ relationship? Because that seems to be the definition I see used in these discussions.”

Most of the time when people are talking about open and poly relationships, their standard of what “works” is whether or not the relationship lasts. If there is any break up or end to any of the relationships involved, the detractors state that the relationship “failed” and use the break up as evidence that these types of relationships don’t work. If the same standard was applied to monogamous relationships, no one would ever enter into one. The failure rate of monogamous relationships is astronomical. A conservative guess is that 80% of monogamous pairings “fail” to produce life-long committed relationships. Personally, I do not know anyone who is still with their first boyfriend or girlfriend. I’ve had several girlfriends and boyfriends, and in spite of trying to be be in monogamous relationships with them, the relationships didn’t last.

I am coming up on my eighth anniversary with my husband. It is the longest relationship I’ve ever had in my life, the most stable relationship I’ve ever had, a relationship that my friends tell me they envy, and we are about as open as we can be. Of course, if we break up people will say it’s because we were open and those relationships never work out. They fail to realize that it has worked for us for eight years and counting. Is there a chance that we will encounter irreconcilable differences at year 12, yes. Is it likely? No, because we like to reconcile issues as they occur. (Or at least once a year we have a blow up screaming match that brings everything out into the open; afterwards, since we can’t put the genies back in the bottle, we talk about the issues we’re having and work through them.)

In today’s culture of immediate gratification, and in society’s “Cinderella Syndrome” take on relationships, people want to meet, fall madly in love, and live happily ever after. Anything less than that is “failure.” They don’t want to waste time with all the things that make a relationship fun: dating, getting to know each other, learning the things that are unique and different about your partner, exploring your similarities and differences, things like that. They also don’t want to deal with the work that comes with making a relationship work. They think if you want it and I want it, then the rest is easy. It’s not easy. Something as simple as what you want for dinner can turn into an argument about you never listening to me. It really isn’t about dinner, or necessarily you. It’s about the fact that I’m not feeling heard. If you’re my partner, you need to acknowledge that I’m having those feelings. I need to discover what it is that is making me feel that way and, if I need something from you, ask for it.

When a relationship ends badly, people often remember the “ending” and the “badly;” they don’t remember the things that were wonderful. People often don’t remember the things that “worked” so when they reflect on the relationship, they only see their “failures.” I guess what I am saying is no, you do not have to be with someone forever to consider a relationship a successful one. I’ve had many romantic relationships in my life, and don’t consider a single one of them to be a failure. The fact that I am friends with most of my ex’s is proof that our relationships, while they didn’t last forever in a romantic capacity, did not fail.

Do you have a question for “Ask Daddy”? Send me a message and I will add it to my queue.

December 11, 2013

“I’ve a question what is an open relationship. is that dating two guys at once?

“At 33 I have no idea of what the hell it’s.”

I define an open relationship as any relationship where complete monogamy is not expected, therefore dating multiple people at once would technically be considered an open relationship. That said, in my personal relationship ladder, dating someone is a relatively low rung, and comes before monogamy is even a factor. For me, dating is testing the waters to see if you even like someone and have similar interests, life goals, sexual compatibility, get along outside the bedroom, things like that. You could, in theory, be in this relationship stage with multiple people at the same time, and not be cheating on any of them.

Common language is a funny thing however, and some people use dating, boyfriends, boyfriend/girlfriend, girlfriends, partners, and seeing someone interchangeably. That’s why the “dating scene” has gotten so convoluted and confusing to a lot of people. many people do not know exactly where the boundaries are between one type of relationship and the other are, so these people don’t actually know what the exact rules of the relationship they are in are. That’s not even factoring in the people who jump from meeting someone to married without taking the time to climb the whole ladder. Everyone just assumes that they are on the same page with whomever they are in a relationship with, but you know what our dads say about assumptions, right? (If you’ve never received the assumption lecture from a family member, please message me privately and I’ll fill you in.)

Many people interpret “Open Relationship” to mean “allowed to fuck other people.” This is vastly oversimplified, and successful open relationships have rules and guidelines that are constantly negotiated, discussed, and revisited. Some open relationships don’t allow kissing. Some open relationships don’t allow sleepovers. Some open relationships don’t allow 1 on 1, and require that both parties in the relationship be present when an additional party is introduced. Open relationships can include every degree between allowing outside sexual relationships only, to allowing full fledged romantic, emotional and sexual relationships. The latter are usually referred to as polyamorous relationships. Although, just to add additional confusion, there are such things as closed polyamorous relationships. This is when a small group of people share love, sex, commitment and intimacy with everyone in the group, but only with those in the group.Open relationships operate on the theory that no one person can be everything to any other one person. In theory it’s okay for someone else to meet the needs of the person I am in a relationship with, when I am unable (or unwilling) to meet those needs. The way the theory works is that honesty and trust are placed above complete monogamy. It states that if you are honest about what your needs are and whether or not you can meet the needs of the person you’re in a relationship with, then you should both be free to get your needs met by people who are willing and able, as long as you are honest about who’s meeting your needs and when.

December 9, 2013

“I recently started dating someone. It’s my first open relationship and I’m still sort of learning the ropes. Other than ensuring clear communication continues between us, what is some other advice you can give to foster & maintain a healthy open relationship? I often look at your previous post about open relationships for inspiration and to boost my confidence as I navigate this uncharted territory.”

Check in with each other. This is part of the clear communication bit, but it deserves to be highlighted. Make sure that you are taking time every day to reinforce your relationship with each other, even if it’s only a few minutes. Be present with each other, create and maintain eye contact, and just be with each other.

Meet your partner’s needs. Don’t assume because your partner has other opportunities for sexual or emotional gratification that you are not required to meet your partner’s needs. You are supposed to be there for them, and vice versa. Otherwise you’re just fuck buddies. (Note: If it is impossible for you to meet a specific need, don’t try. Tell your partner that you are unable to provide for that specific need, and why, and then meet all their other needs.)

Just because you are allowed to sleep with other people, does not mean that you should sleep with every other person who shows an interest. You’re not single, you’re in a relationship, make sure you remember that, and put your partner high on your priority list.

Make rules, and follow the rules you make. Many people operate under the assumption that an open relationship has no rules, and that’s just not the case. I would argue that following the rules of your open relationship is more important to the relationship than following the rules of your closed relationship, but only slightly so. I think that it’s important to follow the rules of any relationship you’re in, but if it’s your only relationship, or your partner’s only relationship, there’s more incentive (albeit misguided) to stay with a person who’s a liar. It’s more work to start over than it is to forgive, or move past the transgression. In an open relationship, the partners see a world of possibilities and are constantly starting new relationships (be they sexual, romantic, emotional, mental, or a combination of all of the above) so there’s less pressure on any one to be the one, and liars and cheats are easier dismissed from the mix.

Treat all of your partners like they are unique and wonderful human beings. No person on this earth exists to be your dildo or your sperm receptacle. Even if that’s the role they play in your relationship; playing that role for you is a wonderful, unique gift that a human being has given you. Cherish that gift the way you expect your gifts to be cherished. I don’t care if he’s a trick you picked up at the bar, she’s a lady you met at the bus stop, or they’re a couple who has been good friends with your partner since college. All of us are human, and deserve to be treated with all the respect and love that comes with that title. If you wouldn’t want someone to treat your mom that way, don’t treat them that way.Have fun! I don’t care if you are in a monogamous relationship, or a boundary-free, free-love, fluid-bonded commune. If you are not having fun in your relationship, if the bad times outweigh the good, if you are unhappy more than you’re happy then you are doing yourself, you partner(s), your future partners, and your partner’s future partners all a disservice. Make the choice to be happy in your life, even if it means ending an unhappy relationship. Please note, I am not suggesting you bail at the first sign of trouble, I am merely saying that if your relationship is two months old and you’ve spent a month and a half fighting, perhaps this relationship is wrong for you. Move on and put everyone in the relationship out of their misery.

November 11, 2013

“I was asked to be in a poly relationship. What’s the good and bad about it?”

You did not define the type of poly relationship you were asked to be in, so it’s hard to tell if I am answering the question you’re asking, but I will try my best.

Assuming that your partner is engaging in poly behavior and you are not (i.e. they are dating more than one person and you are only dating them) the benefits include: knowing that you are wanted as a partner and not merely filling some void that another person needs filled by having a significant other. You also know that every time they come to spend time with you is time they want to spend with you, not time that they feel they are required to spend with you. You know that if they are being open and honest with you about their existing partners and relationships, and open and honest about you with their existing partners, that they will likely be open and honest if they ever meet someone new that they are interested in. Poly people are less likely to cheat, because there is less need for cheating. That’s not to say they are immune to cheating, but it is less likely.

The drawbacks include: sharing. We have been conditioned to believe that one person should be the end-all-be-all of our romantic worlds, so we look for partners that fulfill that role. Initially people who are new to poly relationships struggle to break away from this way of thinking. However, if you are in a poly relationship, there will be times when your partner is unavailable to you because they are with a different partner. This creates tension, jealousy and hurt feelings. You need to be able to constructively communicate those feelings to your partner so that the two of you can work through those feelings. Do not expect your partner to change their behavior due to your feelings, because they won’t. However, your partner’s awareness of your feelings, and your ability to work through them (with or without your partner’s help) will strengthen your relationship.

If you feel that your relationship with your partner is not fulfilling because of their other relationship(s) I recommend you take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. In column A write down everything you WANT out of a relationship. In column B write down everything you are GETTING out of this relationship. Look at the things in column A that are missing from column B and decide if those are “deal breakers”. If they are, end the relationship. If they are not, accept that you may never get them, and enjoy your relationship. (This works for monogamous relationships as well.)

If you have been asked to join an established couple in a relationship, the good is that you get two partners for the price of one. What you need to know, is that you are joining an ESTABLISHED relationship. They have ways of doing things and dealing with things that come up in their relationship. If their relationship is stable, the ways they deal with things that come up must work for them. Many times you will find yourself adjusting to them, rather than them adjusting to you. You may feel like you are losing yourself in the relationship. Communication is key at this point, and listening to them. Remember that in two person relationships the individuals involved tend to morph into a single unit. In a triad the same thing happens, everyone comes together to form a cohesive whole. Learn about the adjustments they are making to be in a relationship with you, and do not discount their adjustments as trivial. Sometimes this couple may need a “time out” from the new relationship to reconnect as a couple. This happens, just like you may need to spend one on one time with one or the other of the partners to reconnect with them. As your relationship grows with each of the partners and with them as couple, their established relationship strength will seep into their relationship with you, until there is no difference in any of the relationships.

Learn what they want out of a relationship with you, and make sure you express what you want out of a relationship with them, then make sure they are giving you what you want, and you are giving them what they want. You must communicate your wants, needs, and desires constructively in order to maintain the relationships. Remember: In a triad relationship, there are four relationships happening simultaneously, and you are actively involved in three of them. Those relationships are: The whole group, the established couple, you and one partner, you and the other partner. All four of these relationships need to be strong, or the entire relationship is going to fall apart. Remember, that in the beginning, you are the weakest link in this relationship, so make sure you are doing your part to keep all four of the relationships strong.