It’s a statement I have heard a lot recently. Then again, I’ve also heard:
“People in open relationships do so because they cannot make their committed and/or monogamous relationship work.”
So, let me muddy the waters a bit with my own recent realization – I am monogamous – but in an open relationship.
Confused? Me too when I first had this realization.
In thinking about that first statement, I started examining my reaction to it. Why do I, a woman in an open relationship with my husband, still feel monogamous? Is it because I have been with the same man for almost 19 years – so it’s a habit?
Nope – because I am monogamous.
Monogamy by it’s definition can mean a couple different of things. Often it is associated with “the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner.” But, according to the New Oxford Dictionary, monogamy also is “the practice or state of being married to one person at a time.” That is the less commonly used definition – yet, in this dictionary, it was the first definition.
Despite what others may believe, I am in a committed relationship with my husband despite the fact we have sex with others. He and I have a degree of emotional intimacy that I do not have with my playmates nor he has with his. We are partners in life.
Sex, for me, is exactly what I call it – a time to play. While we may play naked, we don’t have the same emotional connection or emotional intimacy that my husband and I do.
But that is the thing, I am not looking for that outside of my marriage as I have that inside my marriage.
I have found friendship in some of my playmates. I have mentioned several times how TL is one of my best friends. A nice, unexpected consequence of our meeting during swinging. SG and I also have a friendship, but the focus is mainly on playing which is fine with me. The rest of my/our playmates are great people, fun to hang out with, but are playmates. And I’m good with that because I’m not looking for anything more. I want to like the people I play with; I am not looking to get something emotionally from them that I do not have from my husband.
For me and others, sex is a separate thing from intimacy. Don’t get me wrong, when coupled with the emotional connection, it is a great thing but often a different beast in a similar vein to how making love is different from fucking.
But separated, sex is exploration. It’s trying something new and different. It’s about exploring a fantasy that maybe isn’t explorable with your current partner. It’s about adding people to mix that bring with them their own ideas. It’s about fun.
For some people I know like TL, it is their creative outlet – their medium if you will. It’s a way to blow of steam after a long week – a time to have fun. It is simply play. Pushing boundaries – giving someone a safe way to explore their fantasies.
For SG, it is an outlet for his bondage play – for his control play. An outlet his wife fully supports because it’s not the way she likes to play, yet she doesn’t want to deny him that same exploration and outlet.
And that’s how sex is different from the emotional monogamy. It is why when someone makes a comment about monogamy or a comment about people in an open relationship not being committed, I struggle with it. I am committed to my husband. I just know that, for us, intimacy and sex are not mutually reliant meaning one does not have to occur with the other.
But what about cheating, how is being open different from cheating?
Cheating occurs when the relationship has issues – usually communication issues or intimacy issues or both are the root cause. If someone goes out and sleep with someone else, the sex isn’t the the driver of that act – something else is. That something else is the problem – is the reason they are not committed to their current relationship. Sex is merely the symptom. I know people who have cheated because they aren’t communicating in their relationship, so they go outside to try to find what their relationship lacks. It’s easy to say sex is what is lacking when, in reality, it’s something a little less simple than sex. Something the cheater may have responsibility for not providing in the relationship as well. Do not confuse sex as the problem. The relationship has the problems. The people in it have the problems. Take out the sex, and those problems will still exist in the relationship.
And I think it is easy for those in a cheating relationships to confuse sex with intimacy. I mean, you are laying in a bed together, naked, genitals pressing against each other – and it seems like intimacy – but, it is not. It is merely sex confused with intimacy.
And that is where I am not like a cheater. Our communication is solid – it has to be to keep this going. And at the end of the night, nothing is better than coming home, laying in bed with my husband, and sharing with each other the details of our fun night together – followed by some intimacy.
So am I sexually monogamous. No. That’s pretty clearly.
But am I monogamous. Yes. Yes, I am. As I cannot imagine sharing my life with anyone else but him.
And that very important distinction trumps sex every time.