Monogamy, rather than polygamy, has been the standard formula for long-term relationships throughout much of modern history. While the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians had no problem with multiple sexual partners, things changed as Christianity became prolific. Nowadays, ‘love one person till death do you part’ is the staple rule of marriage. Admittedly, this hasn’t done much to prevent the sometimes rampant adultery that often annihilates the rules of wedlock. With the advent of social media, it’s becoming even easier to cheat; you’ve got access to thousands of people with a quick click or swipe to the right.
However, there is an emerging subculture that embraces poly-amorous relationships. The idea of ‘swinging’ has been around for quite some time, but this was only facilitated by undercover swingers’ parties followed by a quick tumble on the couch. In 2015, our good old friend the Internet has revolutionised this. Websites such as Openminded.com provide a social marketplace for that-way-inclined couples to engage in extra-marital affairs with their partner’s full knowledge and agreement.
Welcome to the world of open relationships. They’ve been around for years, but it’s only recently they’ve been condoned to this extent. If it’s on the Internet, it’s practically State-sanctioned, right? I find it puzzling how a relationship can reach a point where it needs an extra person (or five) to keep the juices flowing. However, the formula has been known to work. A sprinkling of polygamy (as opposed to adultery) has saved many a stagnant relationship. It’s also probably ended a few, but you don’t hear about that.
I should probably distinguish between polygamy and adultery. Polygamy is defined as: “The practice of having more than one wife/husband/sexual partner at the same time, with the full knowledge of all partners involved.” Adultery, on the other hand, is: “Voluntary and secret sexual intercourse between a married/attached person and someone other than their spouse.” In other words; if you knew about it in the first place, it’s okay. If you didn’t know, then it’s not.
Here’s where it gets trippy. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that polygamous relationships are usually initiated by men. After all; men outnumbered women on cheating website Ashley Madison by God-knows-how-many to one. However, according to a survey by Openminded.com of 64,000 couples (the website has about 150,000 users in total), it was the women who wanted the open relationship first.
Okay. So a whole lot of gender stereotypes have just been blown out of the water here…too many for one article. However, one thing we can assume is that both men and women have an inclination towards polygamy.
While women are okay with multiple sexual partners, they’re not usually up for adultery. On the flip side, men seem hell bent on hiding extramarital affairs, rather than airing their dirty laundry out in the open (pun fully intended).
Why is it that both genders have such a different way of expressing their polygamous instincts? Are we socialised that way, or is it biological? Do men get off on the idea of a kinky clandestine bond? Are women titillated by their husband/boyfriend watching? Do men not have the gumption to propose opening up a troubled relationship, or are women too presumptuous about their partner’s willingness to do so?
Look, multiple sexual partners are great. However, I’d imagine it’s easier to sift through them all if you’re not in a seemingly committed relationship on the side. I’ve never been in an open relationship, but I have enough trouble keeping my territorial instincts under wraps if my friend is flirting with a guy I want to bang; let alone other women sleeping with my mythical boyfriend. But hey, that’s just me. If you’re happy to take a dip in the ocean of open relationships, go for it. But examine why you’re doing it before you take the plunge.
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Daisy is a writer, actress, and outspoken feminist. She has a peculiar fixation with tennis and often shouts, "Vamos Rafa!" at inappropriate moments. Harry Potter is her spirit animal. Follow Daisy on Twitter and Facebook.