This week, Chiamaka gives her two cents on open relationships.
There is a general misunderstanding about what open relationships constitute. This might be because many people cannot comprehend a relationship of this nature devoid of lying, cheating and emotional abuse. For whatever reason, discussing the core agendas of open relationships will not seem to sway the general public in its favor. It does the opposite in fact. Freely engaging open relationships as a smart choice rather than an unfavourable one make you almost persona non-grata for the current romantic culture or toxic ‘monogamy’. I refer to this monogamy as toxic because at its very own core, it is most times built on lies and founded by baseless claims like pretense and refusing to see the obvious. People will openly step out on their partners, but then point and laugh at a couple which has chosen to be transparent about their needs as the irresponsible ones.
Take for example the majority of the discourse around Will Smith and Jada. This is a couple that was once heralded now constantly shamed as a result of the fact that they have been open about Jada Smith sleeping with other men. While I frown upon Jada objectively preying on a much younger and medically vulnerable August Alsina, I do not understand how the couple practicing an open relationship has become a hot topic. Most of the time, people say that Jada has ruined Will’s life by having partners outside their marriage. They believe that he was somehow bullied into accepting the terms of an open relationship. They pray for him to have the courage to leave the one-sided marriage and his forever unsatisfied wife. As a result, Jada and Will are not allowed to have problems in their marriage.
Apparently, a man who lets you sleep with other men automatically becomes incapable of any wrongs. By virtue, he has sacrificed his ultimate piece of manhood on her behalf. Asides the fact that they do not seem to care that Will also had partners, they also erase the fact that he is a consenting partner in all of this. Painting him as a victim is simply infantilizing and an insult to his intelligence.
The reasons why society as a whole frowns upon open relationships and as an extension, the reason why men believe Jada has brutalized Will by sleeping with other men are theories that go hand-in-hand. People cannot simply fathom relationships where they do not take ownership of their partners’ existence. Asides that, unabashed honesty, an understanding love and vulnerable openness is too much work for a lot of us. In objective, we would all be comfortable having to hide from our partners or steal their passwords and watch them while they text rather than investing in meaningful, bonding dialogue. Since men are also insistent on laying claim to their partner’s vagina, another man sleeping with your woman is the ultimate disrespect. It is even more disrespectful if their partner wants it to be in your full knowledge rather than doing the ‘proper’ thing by hiding it from them.
In a world where pretense is the modus operandi, it is not surprising that so many romantic relationships are nothing but a charade. They simply fail at a very important level, that is honest communication. People would rather repeat their toxic habits and the events that made their past relationships fail rather than try something new. While open relationships will surely have their own issues (I mean, look at Will and Jada!) it is unfounded that the widespread belief be that these relationships simply do not work. Not everybody feels the same way about sex, something that more people would know if they were simply willing to exclude toxic monogamy, slut shaming and close-mindedness while evaluating potential partners.