You’ve heard this one, right?
Many people, before and during, relationships say that cheating is a deal-breaker that there’s no coming back from. If their partner goes behind their back and has sex or an emotional connection with another person, they’ve drawn a line in the sand that cannot be erased. And yet, it happens, rumors might be spread and before you know it, the couple reconciles due to their love for each other. The partner who cheated admits that they love their partner enough that they didn’t actually want to leave and the one who was cheated on will see that the indiscretion wasn’t a clear path to the end of their relationship. The truth came out, it was handled, and the couple remains intact.
So since I know you’ve heard of, or experienced this before, you understand that having sex with another person doesn’t automatically mean that a relationship has to end and that to do so does not mean that the love between partners cannot still exist as a result. It happens so often, especially in matters of paternity, that it becomes the basis for TV series, movies, and a major topic of conversation in therapist offices. And if you know forgiveness is possible and the bond is closer than another body coming in between a couple, then you should be able to understand ethical non-monogamy without a problem, right?
Polyamory, swinging, open-marriages, and all other dynamics are all under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy. The concept of your partner(s) and yourself allowing more than just two people to encompass a relationship. There are different variations under this umbrella and everyone brings their own rules to the table like any relationship. Just like in some current monogamous partnerships one person may not like their partner to watch porn while in an ethically non-monogamous partnership an agreement may be reached where all contact with their ‘others’ stops at their bedroom and all activities take place outside of it.
The standard monogamous relationship model is already different from couple to couple and those in relationships marked ‘other’ are no different. For example, restaurants and the menus inside them exist for a reason. Not everyone wants to eat at the same place. Some want burgers, some want Asian food, while others want vegan options. And even when a place can be agreed on, the menu is there because the food that someone else orders isn’t exactly what you want, down to the preparation, sauces, and even drinks. Relationships are infinitely more complex than eating dinner and we as people change over time, especially dealing with one person. Just like with food, eventually, you’ll say that you want to eat a different meal because you’ve had the same thing so many times. You still like it, but it’s nice to have variety. Well…
I’ve never understood people (mostly straight men) who get mad at the fact that their woman partner still gets attention after they get together. The same reason that woman attracted you is still evident and attractive to other people. Attraction doesn’t go away just because someone is taken just like laws don’t automatically mean that people stop committing crimes when they’re committed to paper. People don’t just get uglier when they’re in relationships and they also don't stop feeling the need to be wanted. Conversely, they don’t stop wanting to want other people. The song “Next Lifetime” by Erykah Badu (amongst millions of others) is based on still feeling attracted to another person while in a relationship but not crossing that boundary due to a rigid set of traditions that were created before any person alive was born. We’re told that we can only have one love, we find that one love and never leave them. But that isn’t the case, is it? People divorce, people die and remarry, people have kids with more than one person, people cheat, and people make up. Marriage is a flawed concept in and of itself but to expect to eat the same food over and over and never want to try another restaurant for the rest of your life seems ludicrous. An ethically non-monogamous relationship changes that dynamic and is tailor-made for those in it. Here’s a link to some different varieties of the concept. Happiness comes in different forms so who are we to say that the thing that made us happy 5 years ago is the same that will make us happy the same way in 20 years? Do you know anyone who’s still the same 20 years later? Are you still the same person you were 20 years ago? Do you want the same things?
And with that, I want to bring up the other aspect within the dynamic: trust and privacy.
For as long as there have been marriages, there have been extramarital affairs. How prominent these affairs are is a different story but it all comes down to who these people are and what they agree on in their private lives and what they like to do to keep themselves happy isn’t really of the concern of anyone not inside the dynamic (so long as everyone is a consenting adult.) In a very prominent version of this floating in the news, one person decided to out the dynamics of a relationship that they were a part of without the consent of the other parties involved. The others involved then decided to unite in their truth about what had transpired and now...they’re remaining together as is their dynamic. And while people can form opinions about what they observed, really, NONE of it should have been known to the public.
Unless people are coming out to explicitly express their proclivities out in the world, no one is owed the privacy of another person's sex life. Period. Gay marriage was such a big deal because laws were put into place dictating that people were not allowed to be intimate with another consenting adult of the same gender in the privacy of their own bedroom. Eventually, it was stated that this was wrong on all counts and those laws were rescinded. LGBTQIA+ people have always existed but we were not always privy to their actions in their lives...as we SHOULDN’T be. Our day to day lives aren’t affected by two people sleeping together that we don’t know who aren’t harming each other and aren’t being harmed. Same-sex couples exist in ways that are of no concern to others who aren’t them.
So why on earth don’t we extend that same courtesy to ethically non-monogamous couples?
The word ‘ethical’ is in place to declare that the primary parties involved are aware of the actions taking place. Some are open in that they sleep with other people separately. Some are polyamorous in that they have many partners in different ways. Some swing and do it together. Then there are triads, quads, and all of them are none of the business of anyone that those people don’t want to know.
I’m sure people have heard of the word ‘cuck’ used pejoratively. It’s the abbreviated version of ‘cuckold’ which is generally the husband of a woman who sleeps around. And while a porn genre was created around this, people use this term, and others to speak negatively about men who are possibly in an ethically non-monogamous relationship and are okay with the terms of it. Most people don’t talk out loud about what they like in the bedroom because it doesn’t concern those not involved, especially in ways that might bring on ridicule and speculation. Our private lives are allowed to be private. One person is allowed to say cheating is a line while others don’t call it cheating at all and have different lines regarding trust and honesty with sex, only needing to be consensual and, yes, ethical.
In other words; stop looking at someone else’s table to dictate how they eat and focus on your own. And unless you’re interested in eating something similar, let them enjoy their meal. What they eat doesn’t make you shit.