Today’s post is a guest blog post from my dear friend John. Because I’m kind of an A-hole friend, I shared with him an agony-inducing article from the folks at LovePanky called “15 Open Relationship Rules for a Better Love Life.”
Once John stopped raging at its content, he produced the following writeup.
John previously contributed “A Single Yankee in King Arthur’s Relationship Web: Single and Surrounded by Poly People” to Poly Land.
Here is John’s regular blog. And check out what he wrote this time for Poly Land:
Page pointed me at an article describing some “rules” for open relationships. It’s a stupid, stupid article and I’m going to snark at it a bit. Are you all ready? Okay, let’s begin.
No Rules, Have Some Hard Rules!
Blah, blah, blah an open relationship isn’t for everyone, blah, blah, and then there’s this:
“It can seem like a lot of fun, but as with anything that seems too good to be true at first, it’s better to be prepared than sorry.”
What about an open relationship seems too good to be true? You’ve literally established nothing about them or how they might work or what you would get out of them. We read on.
“There are no rules written in stone for anything we experience.”
So… there are no hard rules for anything but here’s some hard rules for you? More and more this feels like it’s written for the Cosmopolitan crowd (I’m a big fan of Cliff Pervocracy’s old “Cosmocking” articles).
Rule One: Think It Over, Brett
Rule one is to make sure you and your partner have thought about it and are emotionally ready. This is actually good advice. It’s just presented badly. You always want to think over the consequences of major life choices, Brett.
Rule Two: Swing Low, Sweet Chariots
The second “rule” they give is to just try to do it once by having essentially a swinger’s party with your friends, hooking up with one and see how it feels… that’s… well I think that’s pretty irresponsible.
What about being sure everyone has had STI testing done for safety? Even better, what about making a framework for your relationship with your current partner first?
There are all sorts of things you have to consider when opening up your relationship: Does your partner want/need to know before you sleep with someone new? Do they want to meet that person? What are the initial limits of the relationship? Would your partner prefer you to keep some things to your relationship for now (like, vaginal sex is okay, but anal is not. What about kink if that’s something you currently do)?
You get the point here. There’s lots to go over.
Rule Three: Litmus Test Versus Juice and Cuddling
Rule three is to make sure you aren’t just aroused and think someone else would be fun to sleep with. And their suggested litmus test for this is to bang your partner and see if you still want to have sex with other people after you orgasm. I don’t know about you, but directly after I finish having sex, I’m not in for considering major life choices. I’m more thinking about juice and cuddling.
Rule Four: Avoid Friends, Have Affairs? What?
Four makes my head melt into incandescent rage. Don’t sleep with people you both know. Don’t even sleep with your own friends (contradicting rule two). Instead find someone and convince them to have an affair with you. That’s… not an open relationship, and that’s not honest communication.
Rule Five: Hide Everything Because Jealousy Is a Fatal Disease
The next rule is to tell your partner that you are active, but nothing else because they might get jealous. Jealousy is going to happen; it is a natural reaction. The trick with having an open relationship is managing that feeling and knowing what the root cause is and having conversations with your partner(s).
Rule Six: FFS, Just Masturbate
“Always remember that it’s sex and nothing but sex.” Is the last line of, and concise statement of our next rule…. which, okay, depending on your relationship style, might be what you are doing. But for a lot of people, an open relationship is about dating other people, which means you do and should have feelings for others. And really, doesn’t meeting someone to have sex and nothing else (no hanging out, no cuddling after, no nothing is what this article recommends) get boring? Why even bother with another person? Just masturbate.
Rule Seven: Article Is Officially Heteronormative And Sexist
Seven badly attempts to address jealousy by saying that the woman/women in the relationship (wow, and it just hit me it assumes a heterosexual relationship the whole time) will always get more attention than the men and the men have to not let jealousy get in the way of having more sex… There is so much wrong with that statement. Men in relationships get hit on, women get jealous, and open relationships aren’t always about sex.
Rule Eight: …And Apparently It’s Closet Time
Eight tells you not to tell people about your relationship status. It implies you should/would have fear or guilt to assuage by telling others, but not the cause of the bad feelings. The logical assumption is that your new (hopefully happy, if you’re continuing it) relationship is the cause. Why would I not want to tell my friends and family if I’m happy? If they can’t handle it, that’s their problem and not mine.
Rule Nine: Don’t Let Changing Your Relationship Change It
Our next one says don’t let opening your relationship change it. By definition, opening it is changing it. I get what they are attempting to say, which is that you need to not let any new partners make you neglect your current ones. That is true, it can be painful to be ignored (on purpose or not) by your partner while they experience NRE with someone new.
Rule Ten: The First Good Rule – Communicate!
The best thing said in the entire article is in the bottom third of the list and it’s that you need to communicate with your partner about what you are doing and who with (contradicting earlier rules about not communicating to not foster jealousy), and to discuss any misgivings you may have with your partners and work them out.
Rule Eleven: Safety? Good! Avoid the “Amorous?” Uhhh…
I’m going to quote the whole paragraph for rule eleven and then talk about it:
Get checked for any sexual diseases now and then to reassure your partner. Always use protection and avoid lovers who may have a very amorous and sexual past. If you go wrong somewhere, your mistakes could affect your partner’s life. Would you ever want that?
Another good idea relegated to the end of the article. You should get checked for STI’s when you are engaging with multiple partners (or really any time you get a new partner if you’re monogamous), but not “now and then” that’s vague and unhelpful, most advice I’ve seen say that you should get checked once a year at least and is very doable. The followup advice to use protection always is also valid for safety and pregnancy prevention (having a child is a very involved conversation even in a monogamous relationship).
The second clause is blatantly stupid. Hey, I’m going to open my relationship and (if I’m following this article’s advice) sleep around, but I definitely shouldn’t do so with other people that do!
Rule Twelve: Boundaries
Rule twelve is to set boundaries, which….. I already covered talking about rule two. Discuss your comfort with your partner(s), and I’ll add that you should regularly check in with them to make sure nothing has changed.
Rule Thirteen: Never Bring Another Partner Home
Once again, the article makes assumptions about what you’re already doing in your relationship, namely that you and your partner live together. It also assumes that your partner can’t handle seeing you with someone else or being around them. It’s just crap and why are you opening up if one of you can’t handle it?
Rule Fourteen: C’mon, That’s What Google Calendar Is For!
Our penultimate rule said to give your current partner preferential treatment, to never schedule something with another partner that might interfere with their desires. Um… no. I have Google Calendar and I can share it with any and all partners so we can schedule our dates around busy lives.
Rule Fifteen: Aaaaaand the Author Stretches the Listicle to Fifteen
The final rule is about scheduling…. which could have been handled in the last section so maybe the author had a word count they had to hit? It tells you that you should discuss how often you get to see others and when. Once again, that’s what my calendar is for. It then says that you should plan a date to re-close your relationship, as if you can just plan out your desire to become monogamous again or end relationships where feelings might have developed between any number of parties.
Conclusion: Maybe Google It Next Time?
This is just…. it’s bad guys, really bad. I can tell and I don’t do a whole lot of dating. Especially non-monogamous dating. But I know these things from just a slight amount of time and the power of Google.