We live in a time of strange transitions, one of those sweeping and hazy times that history never really records properly. When we look back at history, eras are always defined by thick black lines, as if the Dark Ages ended and the Renaissance began on New Year’s Day. But living in one of those times, we know it doesn’t work that way. Old thoughts and prejudices don’t die suddenly, and more traditional ways don’t go away. We see that in the struggle for gay marriage- every time it seems like there is a final breakthrough there is another another snarling rearguard action by a scared minority. At some point it will be universal, and history will say “before and after”, but living through it, we know that isn’t the case. The same can be said for the notion of marriage or long-term relationships being “one man/one woman and that’s it!” That idea is beginning to fade, but even as it does, there are still obstacles about fidelity that even the most open couple has to address.
There are many different ways to enjoy non-monogamy in a marriage or a long-term relationship. Some couples are “open”, which means that they can have sexual flings and even date other people while still in a committed relationship. Polyamory is like this, although it can also include a committed relationship involving three or more people. This isn’t like going on dates with a few different girls because it is ok that you are “seeing other people”. This still involves commitment, and, as much as any relationship, it involves trust.
Global Glue couple Reid & Allison have been in a committed, open relationship for seven years. As they say, the most important aspect of their relationship is fidelity. This might strike some ears as strange, but Reid explains, fidelity doesn’t just mean “sexual exclusivity”- it means a commitment to their relationship on the terms they have set. Those terms allow, and even encourage, flings, but they also bind them by love, respect, and honesty.
That’s the most important part of any relationship. You need to respect your partner enough to be honest with them about what is happening with you, whether you are having a bad day at work, think your new coworker is hot but haven’t and won’t do anything with them, or whether you have actually slept with them, according to the parameters of your relationship.
The key is that your relationship is yours. If someone on the outside says you aren’t really committed because you are sleeping with other people you can ignore them. You can ignore people who say you are cheating if you and your partner are exclusive physically but encourage fantasies as an outlet. By the same token, you can ignore someone who calls you old-fashioned because you practice total sexual exclusivity. The term “faithful” is one that is abused too much. You only have to be faithful to what you and your partner have chosen to believe in.