We all have deal breakers in the relationships we form with other people. The Telegraph recently revealed traits that turn men and women off, with responses ranging from laziness in men, to an untidy appearance in women. While the poll focused solely on traits people avoid to in potential mates, other factors do come into play that’s an absolute no-no once you’re actually in a relationship.
Of course, infidelity is something that many people–single, in a relationship, or married–feel is unforgivable. I, for one, am understanding on many things except going outside of the relationship to have sex with someone else. Cheating, on top of, lying, mediocre sex, and immaturity are some of my own. But it’s been a weekend of having this deal breaker/compromise conversation with some close friends after clips of last night’s Bravo series Untying the Knot featuring Toya Wright and Mickey “Memphitz” Wright hit the web this past Friday.
In a minute-long clip, the still married yet separated pair meet with Vikki Ziegler–a celebrity divorce attorney and expert mediator. The opening clip introduces us to Toya Wright, who expresses, “I’m not going to be living my life as a married woman and you over there living like a single man” after Memphitz opens up about their separation. When questioned if he cheats on his wife, Memphitz denies that he does, except when using a “hall pass.”
A hall pass allows Memphitz eight days out of the year to “do whatever,” originating from Toya’s belief that her husband “doesn’t like rules.”
So I dug a little further to see how others were perceiving the clip and I came across plenty of "cheating" headlines. I thought about it and didn’t see how Toya allowing her husband to sleep around could be seen as cheating. I don’t agree with their lifestyle for my own personal relationship, but I also didn’t agree with the notion that homeboy was cheating on his wife.
Open relationships–let’s talk about it.
“What’s forbidden is always desirable.” Those were the words of real-life basketball wife, Masha Lopatova, who has been married to former Brooklyn Nets player Andrei Kirilenko for 14 years. Lopatova grants her husband "allowances," much like Toya’s hall passes, where Kirilenko was allowed to fulfill his sexual desires in another woman outside of the marriage. “They get chased by women. It’s hard to resist. It’s the way men are by nature,” she said. “When I’m aware and I let him do it, it’s not cheating.” It's been said that wives of athletes are far more understanding because they are aware of women that come trailing along with that lifestyle. Remember Evelyn Lozada's thoughts on Chad Ochocinco?
I cringe at the notion that men are these hypersexual beings that cannot practice self-control and must follow their carnal desires. In both Lopatova and Toya’s decisions to let their man be free from all rules in holy matrimony, the need to issue permission to sleep around is driven by what many feel like is insecurity. Or is it just some adult ‘ish from two honest and mature adults who can handle what society shuns? (Cues Jay-Z’s “Have an affair, act like an adult for once.”)
Comedian Mo’Nique also talked about her attempt at an open marriage on New York radio station, Hot 97 in 2013. The comedienne dropped relationship gems throughout her interview, but cleared the air on why her journey into open territory failed.
“The open relationship [thing] had nothing to do with my husband. Listen baby, I was an entertainer. The road is what it is. It goes for men and women. So I felt like this is what it is and this is who I am...My ego got in the way. I thought I was saying to women, ‘You can have your cake and eat it too girl cause I can do this.’ And it backfired. It backfired in a way that they thought well, ‘Oh since he’s so good looking and Mo’Nique’s fat, she’s just going to let this man do anything and run all over on top of her…I didn’t realize the king I had. I was just being old Mo’Nique and having my old ways.”
Mo’Nique and husband, Sidney Hicks, are still together; A testament that it works for some and it doesn’t for others.
An article this past summer on lifestyle blog, MindBodyAdvice, also delved into topic of open relationships. The author shared her experience on what she expected when she proposed an open relationship to three of her boyfriends. Here are her thoughts on what she thought walking into an open relationship:
When bringing up the offer of my partner to be able to be in a relationship with me but still give them the option to sleep with other women I thought they would think I was the coolest girlfriend in the world. I believed they would love how I was offering them an experience most girlfriends would not and in turn appreciate me so much they would put extra effort in our relationship and affection towards me. I expected that maybe once every couple of months they may have casual sex with a woman when they felt the need to have some freedom then it would leave their system and they would return to me grateful and loving. I expected the sex they had to be completely casual and the other women to mean nothing to them other than a good time.
As freely as many believe couples in open relationships are, the need to lay down some ground rules with do's and don'ts in the beginning is a must. It's usually broken up like this from what I've gathered:
- Keep it real at all times
- Casual sex only. Drop the notion that you were getting a two (girlfriends)-for-one deal and know that seeing and sexing that woman more than once is a no-no.
The writer notes that all three men agreed to the two rules. But did they keep their word?
While I thought it would strengthen our relationship and make them want to appreciate me more, it basically was the kiss of death. On the hope this would bring me and my partners together, it was an absolute fail, it only drove us apart and made me feel incredibly alone. I felt like I was the only person putting effort into the relationships while they were purely preying on other women.
I learned it didn’t bring my relationship with the man closer, it didn’t make them appreciate me it just drove a wedge in the relationship and eventually caused it to end. I learned I didn’t like who I became when I gave my approval for this freedom, I became jealous, resentful and felt alone in the relationship. Would I ever try it again? No, I wouldn’t. I tried this three times and it honestly never worked. I feel I am at the stage in my life where I want a serious relationship, a lasting relationship and this isn’t an ingredient for a lasting relationship. I often wonder if maybe I gave these boyfriends this freedom because deep down I knew they actually weren’t the right man for me anyway. I learned that while I offered this to them I really secretly wanted them to say no I just want you and I felt disappointed every time a boyfriend said yes to the opportunity. While I am sure there are many couples who can make an open relationship work I am not someone who can and I would never relive the experience again.
Inviting new options into a relationship/bedroom to “spice things up” leads to either disrespect or a tighter bond. The dynamics of how it can go either way is interesting. While this is only one woman's experience, it is telling that allowing your partner to dip and dabble on the side while he's on the road, when your marriage is doing well or on the rocks or because you're trying to be perceived as "down for anything," possibly opens the door for disrespect and heartbreak for you in the end. Is it risk you're willing to take?
[Tweet "Don't minimize your worth in hopes of making something broken work"]
Toya went from divorcing Lil' Wayne because of his lifestyle to permitting part of that same lifestyle into a new marriage. We subject ourselves to things we wouldn't before in order to rectify problems that are irreparable. You can't fix something that isn't broke, and you shouldn't minimize your worth in hopes of making something broken work. While I'm not knocking anyone who chooses to live their lives as ‘openly’ as Toya Wright and Memphitz, Mo'Nique and Sidney, or the woman and her three boyfriends, I am questioning those who believe that non-monogamous relationships lead to stronger unions. Can someone be fully committed to you if your relationship is one for convenience?
Let's talk in the comment section below! Can long-term, happy relationships stem from allowing your partner to have sex with other people?