Honesty: it’s a key factor in building and maintaining relationships, particularly the “ideal” romantic relationship many fantasize and mope over. It’s difficult to maintain honesty throughout a lifetime. It’s understandable. We are all imperfect. We all have desires. We all have fears. We all want love.
For many people, monogamy is the preferred method of love. Whether it is by nature or nurture (which are both arguable), some of us do not like sharing our partners. There is nothing wrong with this. I’m not here to advocate for cheaters or liars. I am here to advocate for those who feel trapped in the confines of the culture they were raised in.
In a 2015 study conducted by internet-based market research and analytics firm YouGov, data revealed 19 percent of American women and 21 percent of American men cheat on their partners. 1 in 5, to me, seems like a lot. Remaining monogamous seems like a challenge when we look at the numbers. Some of us clearly feel trapped.
I grew up in a stable household with a mother and father who weren’t in love but trapped within marriage to avoid the hassles of divorce. I admired them, but it wasn’t what I ever wanted for myself or for the people I love. I’ve watched a total of two Disney classics, and the magical love story within them never resonated with me. Seeing so many of my parents’ friends fall out of love was never a moment of empathy either, but rather curiosity. What is love?
My definition of love is to be able to have honesty at the center of a relationship. Discussing those things that are difficult, but necessary to keep my partner happy; to keep me happy. Maybe the singular “partner” doesn’t do my view justice. I don’t want you to assume I’m monogamous. I don’t want you to assume I’m heterosexual. I don’t want you to assume I’m polyamorous. I don’t want you to assume I’m a deviant. Keep your assumptions and societal norms the hell away from me. I want you to step away from this article and unlearn assumptions about every person and relationship you see from now on.
My ideal truth in love is my partner being able to tell me they find someone attractive and me being 110 percent okay with it-bring them over for dinner. My ideal truth in love is being able to tell my partner I’m going to be seeing someone else this evening and them giving me a kiss and reminding me to buckle my seatbelt. My ideal truth in love is accepting that a partner I find may not feel the same way I do and letting them go to find the monogamous love of their life.
Unlearning jealousy and forgetting traditional conventions of love has been one of the most difficult but rewarding ventures of my life. I no longer fear being cheated on. I don’t need to have the password to your phone. I’m not going to ask you where you’re at with suspicion. I just want love without fear. I don’t think my version of love is for everyone though. Whether religion, the “ick” factor or simple jealousy is what holds you back from sharing and being shared–that’s okay, you are valid.
The case against polyamory and open relationships is riddled with many arguments– “it’s unnatural,” “where do we draw the line?” and (my favorite) “what about the children?!” It’s very easy to be disgusted or appalled by the choice of other people loving as they see fit, but therein lies the point. It is the choice of others. You don’t have to love a polyamorous person if you don’t agree with it. The line is drawn by consenting adults who are being open and honest about with whom and how their emotions and body are being shared. Multiple partners in an honest polyamorous relationship not only teach children that there is no such thing as a norm set up by Disney movies and Barbie commercials, but that you craft reality and relationships with honesty and love. In addition, children often end up being cared for more when there are more adults available to rear the babes. It takes a village to raise a child.
There is no right or wrong way to love unless it’s hurting someone emotionally or physically while doing so. People should be able to love as many people as they want, regardless of gender, race or any other class. Open relationships should be praised as examples of honesty and humility. Polyamorous couples, regardless of their structure and rules, are set up by those within them and do not need the legitimization of society or the state to be considered authentic. Your preferences and ways of expressing love are valid.
The point I’m trying to make is that some of you reading this weren’t made for just one person. That’s okay. Some of you prefer to love just one person. That’s okay. Some of you were born asexual or aromantic. That’s okay. What I’m advocating for is a society where you don’t have to be afraid to tell someone you love them, even if it’s multiple someones. I’m advocating for a society where you’re not burdened by gender but accepted and loved regardless of gender. I’m advocating for some of you to keep your mouth shut if you have nothing nice to say; let people love as they see fit. I’m also advocating for honesty. If you love someone and love someone else, make everyone in the group aware. Be transparent. Polyamory gets a bad rap because so many people who preach it are just monogamous cheaters–serial daters. Be single if you can’t love your partners equally and transparently. Play the field. That’s okay too. If you do find yourself in an emotionally stable place to love multiple people and be loved by a lover of many just keep honesty at the center of your relationship(s). You can make it work. Find those who can love like you; they’re out there. For those with questions or looking for support regarding polyamory and open relationships meetup.com has a page specifically for San Antonians who are curious or feeling trapped. You only have one life to live. Live it honestly and fill it with as much love as you can give and take.