How does a sexually open relationship work? – Part 2/4: Monogamy is no solution!
I advocate for the disposal of the terms monogamy and being monogamous. Instead, I replace them with newly engineered, functioning definitions in order to describe whether individuals within a romantic relationship pursue sexual and/or romantic wishes towards other people.
In Sex and Love: The big difference, I have already explained how to separate sexual desires and activities from romantic (also: amorous) wishes and activities.
As a consequence, I suggest the following new nomenclature for any romantic relationship:
At the sexual level: sexually closed or sexually open
At the romantic level: romantically closed or romantically open
Since a (stable) romantic relationship is always about the romantic level as well as the sexual level, four possible combinations result out of these four terms:
- Romantically closed and sexually closed
- Romantically closed and sexually open
- Romantically open and sexually open
- Romantically open and sexually closed
- Romantically closed and sexually closed (to replace monogamous in its most frequent meaning):
Individuals within a romantic relationship carry out sensual and romantic activities only among themselves. Also, they are the only sexual partners to each other at the same time.
If the patriarchal construct of monogamy is not active (!), and both/all individuals really don’t desire sexual activities with other individuals, temporarily or in principle, this condition will be stable.
If, however, the patriarchal construct of monogamy is active, the condition will be unstable.
- Romantically closed and sexually open:
Individuals within a romantic relationship carry out sensual and romantic activities only among themselves. However, they also pursue sexual activities pertained to the sexual level with other suitable individuals (= swinging). As it stands, this condition will be stable.
The next two conditions occur in romantically open romantic relationships. Here are a few facts about them:
Romantically open means that people in a once romantically closed romantic relationship are interested in adding one/several further romantic relationships to their mutual life in order to establish a polyamorous lifestyle. To achieve this goal, they carry out romantic activities with one or several suitable individual(s).
This condition is unstable from the beginning: Since further people are welcome at the romantic level in principle, there is a constant risk that the mutual intimacy (which needs resources such as time and personal energy) within the pre-existing couple or pre-existing polycule will be diminished.
If the individuals are successful in establishing polyamory, the condition must be changed to romantically closed again, in order to keep the newly founded polycule stable. If the pre-existing couple doesn’t meet a suitable individual and decides to return to a romantically closed form, a stable condition can rise up once again, too.
- Romantically open and sexually open:
Individuals within a romantic relationship carry out sensual and romantic activities among themselves and also with one or several other individual(s) (= dating). In addition, sexual activities without romantic activities are also pursued with other suitable individuals (= swinging). Due to the condition romantically open, this condition will be unstable.
- Romantically open and sexually closed:
Individuals within a romantic relationship carry out sensual and romantic activities among themselves and also with one or several other individual(s) (= dating). Sexual activities without romantic activities (= swinging) don’t take place. Due to the condition romantically open, this condition will be unstable
The combination of romantically open and sexually closed is perfect soil for the patriarchal construct of polyamory: The valve at the sexual level is turned off, the valve at the romantic level however is wide open. Thus the suppressed forces of the sexual level can flow through a secondarily motivated romantic level far more easily than in the patriarchal mainstream. The consequence is the dynamics of serial monogamy, which now appears as serial-parallel crushes. This behaviour makes no sense at all since it fuels unhealthy dynamics which lead to chronically unstable romantic relationships on a short-term, separations on a medium-term, and mental health problems on a long-term basis.
If a romantic relationship is planned to be romantically open, I recommend out of my personal experience to establish it along with sexually open. By doing so, secondarily motivated crushes in order to have sex with specific individuals can be avoided which enables the individuals to manoeuver through the complex processes and conflicts of a romantically open condition with as little interference as possible.