Ultra-Self-Responsibility – The Only Way Open Relationships Can Work.

by Ravi
Here’s the premise: Your partner, with whom you are direct, loving and  honest, is “with” someone else tonight. You discussed it, you both agreed to go with it. So, she/he left at 7pm – it’s 10:30 now. You are watching (trying to watch) a movie. Your 3 year old is tucked in sleeping soundly. With the movie on mute, the house is quiet – so quiet you can hear your mind clicking over and over, trying to “decide” what to do with this. It’s the first time for you – but she/he has been there before – when YOU were out on a date.  She/he didn’t freak – was really cool – happy you had a good time, could talk about her/his fears.

But now in the same boat, you are on the verge of panic. What do you do?

This is an experience that one only wants to have once, once it is over. Without the support of a community, you are on your own, faced with practicing total self-responsibility. In our culture, this scenario is a challenge that few people either want to face or have the personal self-esteem and maturity to pull off with grace and dignity. That’s why open relationships are tough to navigate before you get a grip on exactly who you are and who is responsible for you. They require one’s total immersion in the depths of self – the complete acceptance that you are responsible for you – your emotions, your reactions, your thoughts and your perception of reality.

Having faced this moment with several partners over the course of my practice of open relating, I can tell you it is one of the most self-revealing processes that one can experience.  Our western culture has not even dreamed of preparing us to respond to such a “crisis of self” that arises when you experience  – against all intellectual reasoning – the feeling of total abandonment by the one you love.

The seriously hard work of “re-framing” that feeling starts with the work of re-framing who you are to yourself and by yourself, independent of any other being on the earth. It is advisable to meditate on that very conundrum before agreeing to open your relationship and face the music. Most relationships – and I do not mean to imply that there is not love in these relationships, but most contain a very large component of neediness and fear, and there’s nothing like your lover sleeping with someone else to bring those feelings of inadequacy and loss volcanically right to the surface.

So what does one do? In my experience, it is very difficult to cross this bridge without the help of a sex-positive and open-positive community.  If I were to advise on this – I would encourage willing partners to get in touch with the open-relating community – and to assiduously avoid the ones who preach their own “rules and regs” for having an open relationship.  These groups are simply trying, with all their artificial boundaries, to avoid facing the single most significant element of taking the open path – self-responsibility for your feelings in every moment.

What do I really mean by this?  No amount of rules and regs will ultimately be successful in negotiating open relationships because someone, somewhere along the way will end up breaking some rule and blame will be laid and the fights begin.  However, if you sincerely and fully accept that NO MATTER what your partner, their lover or anyone else does or says, it is YOUR responsibility to accept compassionately the reality of what has happened and react to both yourself and the others with love and calm.  You can be hurt – but admit that this response is YOURS, you can be disappointed, but admit that this response is YOURS, you can be sad, but again, this is YOUR response to  the situation.

The very second you lay the guilt trip on the other – the game is over. You can fully explain your feelings – of being betrayed (if somehow there was lying), of being scared (because your lover went to someone else), of being mad (because you believe some agreement you had was broken) but I repeat – again and again – this is all yours.

If you do not think you can take yourself to that level of emotional, psychological and spiritual independence from your partner and in fact, from the world as it is, then THAT is the work that needs to be done before one embarks on an open relationship.

Early on in my ventures into this realm, I read a comment by Tina Tessina in her writing about open relating – if I remember correctly, her partner was bi and she was faced with the absolute that she was a woman and could not fulfill that part of her husbands interests that went to other men.  Her comment was (paraphrased): “you can only choose your own love-style – your partner can even be non-monogamous and you monogamous.  You are not defined by someone else’s choices for their life, you choose your own self-definition”.

Ultra-self-responsibility.  It will not only serve you in open-relationship adventures, but in fact, in all aspects of your life in this reality. In the final analysis, we are each alone and any companionship we find along the path is a gift. Let that gift – and yourself – be free.

Recommended Reading on Open Relationships, PolyAmory and Sexuality click here!

Do you have any experiences in open-relating that challenged/revealed your self-responsibility? Please share them with us here:

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