There are two words that are becoming more and more widely used in the gay culture today and they are “open relationships.” Unfortunately, those same two words are also undermining a road the gay community is already trying to take in gaining the full right to marriage.
I first came across the term “open relationship” a long time ago when I was active within a subsection of the gay community known as the “bear culture”. There, I began meeting couples in those circles who had “agreements” with their partner on what type of intimacy they could share with others outside of their relationship. Boundaries were made by each of those couples as to whether kissing, fondling, cuddling, or various depths of sexual acts with others was ok. Unfortunately, like this bear community which is all male, much of the rest of gay males also seem to be accepting these types of relationships as a normal and healthy option.
What’s sad about this is that I don’t see this happening so much in any other community that is not gay male based. Over the years, I have had met many couples in those other types of communities who have spent several decades or more monogamously with each other. There was never any “outside playing” going on, and if there was, it was usually considered adultery. So while a large amount of people are taking their fight all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States to gain equal rights with gay marriage, it’s not putting forth a very convincing message when a growing number of relationships with two gay men are only staying together by opening up their relationship for intimacy with an outsider.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure in the Lesbian community as well as in the general Heterosexual community that some of this does go on as well, but those percentages are far smaller as compared to what is happening with gay males these days. And I really haven’t come to understand yet why two gay males have such a hard time settling down in a long term relationship monogamously. When I have asked couples who went to this “open status’ why they did so, I always get that they had grown bored over the years with their sex life and wanted to spice it up. If that is the case, then how come I rarely hear that happening with the heterosexual and lesbian couples I have met. They don’t talk about “playing around”. They don’t go to parties to fondle other people. They don’t go to bars to flirt with others. And yes, like I said before, I’m sure there are a select few who engage in an open relationship, but those numbers are so small as compared to the growing number of gay men today who are making this a common practice.
This is one of the main reasons why I don’t like going out to a gay bar anymore. It’s also why I don’t want to go to most other places either that will have a predominant amount of gay males at it. I have seen this same thing happen at gay social clubs, gay based churches, and even at things like gay parties during the holiday season. A few years ago, I went to a predominately gay male based Christmas party. There, I watched as many of those individuals in those relationships would grope, kiss, or flirt with others that weren’t their partner and no one thought anything of it.
If this is what works for most gay males, then I must not be a typical gay male. I have a partner today who I love dearly and the last thing I want to do is jeopardize that relationship by putting it front and center amongst those who wish to have relationships and connections like this. It’s my hope that I’ll be one of those couples that one day has twenty or more years of being monogamous.
I believe the best part of a monogamous relationship is the love that God can grow within it. And I have seen that when God is at the center of a relationship like the one I have now, I find more and more ways each and every day to love my partner. Will the sex and intimacy eventually not be as alluring…I don’t think the answer to that question really matters. I feel the real question is for all those couples having those open relationships to ask themselves why it is they feel they can’t be happy with one person and only one person on all levels including intimacy.
My conclusion is that for people who entertain the notion of open relationships and eventually succumb to them, that it’s not that they really have grown bored with the sex and intimacy in their existing relationship, it’s that they have fallen out of love with their partner and haven’t realized it yet or that they never were really in love in the first place and just didn’t want to be alone.
Sadly, all these “Open relationships” are doing now is nothing more than tearing down any efforts that are being made to show that gay people can have healthy, long term monogamous relationships. If we are ever going to get gay marriage to become legal in the entire United States, then we are going to have to show that we are a lot more than just sex and horny crazed people who go from one partner to the next.
All I can do is my part which I am now doing with my partner. The two of us have no desire to frequent most places anymore that gay males congregate at because of this decline in moral values that are happening in our culture such as these “open relationships”. And the sad reality in all of this is that I have yet to see any one of those types of relationships ever last for any long periods of time. Instead, what most often happens is that one of those people eventually leaves the relationship for someone they were “playing around” with. In that case in knowing this, is an “open relationship” really worth it then when it’s just a pre-cursor to the demise of the relationship in itself? I think that’s a question that all gay men need to seriously ponder, when they begin to feel the need to consider it as an option for the relationship they’re in.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson