…”It means you’re my husband… but … I can have a boyfriend”…
WHAT THE F%*K?
As sophisticated a presentation of open marriage as Enchant TV has provided so far, I still found myself squirming when Keena made that statement in the first episode of Compersion.
It was perfect– an elegant packaging of a very complicated idea. Yet it felt sooooo uncomfortable. Why? Because, for all the thoughtfulness and maturity which typically saturates any serious discussion of open relating, that statement seemed dangerously oversimplified too. It seemed to play directly to the very fears and negative ideas that non-poly people tend to have about the idea. It made Keena seem like a simple, selfish, ungrateful, greedy bitch having a midlife crisis who wanted to “have her cake and eat it too”–at least, that’s what I was afraid others would think.
I was hoping that people (even those still on the fence about poly… or those balking from twenty yards behind the other side of said fence) would delay their criticisms just long enough to recognize the depth of conflict that Keena was experiencing. I don’t think such a conflict would exist if Keena and Joshua did not share a truly genuine love already. Yet she still needed more.
This is how I try to explain the concept to people who don’t get it: As a human being, you need food and you need water. Someone could feed you the highest quality, most delectable steak as often as you wanted or needed protein, iron, or vitamin B12, but you would still die without water. Your body needs a variety of substances to survive.
For people who benefit from open relationships, non-exclusivity meets a genuine need for variety and community–not just a desire to “have their cake and eat it too”.
But then again, what the hell is the point of having a cake if you can’t eat it too?!
You may have heard some rumors about which celebrity couples are/were supposedly in open relationships- Will and Jada, Brad and Angelina, Mo’nique and Sidney, Ossie and Ruby. Well, Mo’nique and Sidney have set the story on them straight.
If you’re late (like I was) and you still haven’t heard, to answer your question, yes they are. Huuuuuney, they talked all kinds of real shit in that January 11th episode of their podcast on Play.it. This was the first show in what is becoming a collection of (in my opinion) very intriguing topics.
Here are a just of the few points addressed in their explanation of how their open marriage works:
- The public’s rumors and concerns about Mo’nique’s “self-esteem”: Mo’nique says that it was easy for some to accept that certain celebrity couples might have open marriages because, the public thinks they’re “beautiful people”. But when it came to her and Sidney, they were thinking there’s no way this “fat, black woman” could be with a man like that without something else going on. The public assumed that she was willing to do any old thing to keep her man. Little did they know that the open marriage was her idea…
- E.G.O. = Expectations Gone Overboard: Mo’nique candidly admits that, in the beginning, she was selfish. Her attitude was, “I’m the one making the money. I can do whatever I want.” If she entertained other men, they would politely say “Hello” to Sidney in passing his room on the way to the hers. She could do her thing, but wasn’t so interested in letting him do his thing. Then Sidney was like, “Hol’ up now. An open relationship means we can BOTH see other people”. Mo’nique became more fully aware of the principle of *reciprocity* and realized that she needed to allow her partner the same freedom that she desired and enjoyed.
- “When you love a person, the last thing you wanna do is control them” says Sidney Hicks. He says he believes in allowing a woman to be who she is.
- Addressing the Relationship Police: “What happens when someone catches feelings?” a listener asks. Sidney says that the dynamics of the relationship are such that another party would be well aware of the fact that their home base is the first priority. And I’ll add my no-so-humble opinion here: I would imagine that in some cases, catching feelings would be exactly the point. If you believe that love is infinite, you seek to enjoy the fullness that life has to offer, you’re letting go of the expectation of *ownership* in love, and you are truly committed to the community that you have constructed, your partners would overcome any fear of being left behind. The extra love would enhance the overall dynamic–as in that strip club example that Mo’nique so humorously speaks of…
- “But Gaaaawd Said!”: Sidney politely agrees to disagree with those who have a particular view of marriage based on religious ideals. He asserts that, yes, they consider marriage to be sacred. They consider it so sacred that they believe marriage should compel people to be open and fully honest with one another about their desires and natural inclinations.
Okay, okay. I won’t give away everything. I hope you’ll make your way over to their podcast, scroll on down to the January 11th episode entitled “Our Open Relationship” and see all that they have to say…even if you’re doing it in secret like I KNOW some of you will. As you open yourself to the possibility of expanding your honesty and perspective, maybe you won’t have to hide anymore…
As their tagline says, “A mind is like a parachute. It’s no good unless it’s open.”
Do you agree? Well, you don’t have to, but I’m happy you took a look anyway!
What is compersion? My understanding is that it is the opposite of jealousy. It is gaining a sense of happiness through witnessing another person’s happiness, particularly a lover’s…even if that happiness doesn’t directly involve you.
Advocates of open relating often cite compersion as one of the fundamental elements necessary to make such relationships work. In open relationships, sure there is jealousy. Yes, there are fears. But those who choose to enhance their relationships in this manner don’t see jealousy and fear as the end of the road. They seek to grow beyond them.
Those who have been truly successful at open relating understand something that many of us still have not fully grasped: that love is not limited, and that true love intends to set the beloved free to live a full, limitless life.
Have you heard about compersion? According to one HuffPost article, it is a principle that can be aptly applied in monogamous as well as polyamorous relationships. So even if open relating is not your thing, opening up to an idea that will allow you to more effectively align your thinking with your partner’s needs could be a big help. Ya think?
I hope I haven’t completely scared you off with talk of open relating and the idea that you may want to at least consider releasing your death grip on that fear of being alone. Why not check out the first couple of episodes of “Compersion”, a new web series from Enchant TV on YouTube. I’ve been glued to the first two episodes so far, and I think they’re doing a great job of exploring this topic with a great deal of maturity and taste. I love how it juxtaposes the ordinariness of a typical couple’s life with the events surrounding their very extraordinary decision to open their marriage.