Open or close relationship?
By Jorge Diaz, MSW – Clinical Social Worker
Open or close relationship? That seems to be the question many gay single or “taken” men are having. It seems that we are at least having dialogue regarding open relationships. What are the barriers in having these types of conversations? Is it that we are afraid of being judge or are we caught up in meeting social or culture norms and expectations of what defines a relationship or are we afraid of losing our partner in the process? Many struggle with the thought of having their partner be sexually or emotionally involved with other partner(s). Then you hear, “well it’s just sex, with no intimacy or romance.” Hmmmm, sex with no intimacy, well that’s a whole another conversation.
How do we separate love from sex? As a mental health therapist, I’ve heard many stories of struggle and heartbreak in the love and romance department. First, there’s the narrative that we must find or have what our parents or grandparents had? Often times I hear guys say, “It’s just not the same anymore.” But what really is? Think about it, can you image what it would be like to still walk around with a flip phone and try to have Grindr and all the other apps! Crazy right!? Yet, we want to have what our parents had 50 years ago? Second, the role culture, tradition and social norms play in brainstorming the idea of having or getting involved in an open relationship.
Some men struggle with the idea of loving one man but being open to having sex with other men? And the shame begins. We begin to allow culture and tradition as a pathway or justification for shaming our brothers involved in open relationships. It’s almost as if the shame inflicted on us for not meeting the social norms or expectations of what defines a strong masculine Latino man and now we place shame and stigma on those who have found love yet reject the traditional definition of what and how fidelity is defined. And finally, many of us are unable to have these conversations or enter these relationships because we are either struggling with our own insecurities or simply unresolved issues from our past or previous relationship(s). However you view your path to love and romance, make sure you are doing things to fit your needs and your lifestyle.
Remember that an open relationship is not for everyone, however, neither is monogamy. If you’re thinking about it but have barriers-explore and process! Remember that love, respect and commitment is defined differently by all of us and you decide how you define your relationship. At the end of the day, love and romance is between you and your partner; what you do in your bedroom or in the privacy of your relationship is your business.