April 18, 2015

Why Robin Rinaldi was NOT in an “Open Marriage”

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:06 am by Kathleen

The headline makes me wince: “I Slept with 12 Strangers with my Husband’s Permission”, it screams, and I instantly feel that sick twinge in my gut because I just know that this is going to be another story of disastrous monogamy-gone-astray that gets touted as polyamory and, thus, depicts poly as dysfunctional and inherently ruinous to the inexperienced reader.

Sure enough, the article, promoting Rinaldi’s book The Wild Oats Project: One Woman’s Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost, goes on to describe a year in which she and her spouse lived separately (while spending weekends together) in order to explore other relationships and, at least in Rinaldi’s case, find her sexual awakening independent of her spouse.

That, my friends, is not poly (or an open marriage), that is an amicable trial separation.

Where they Went Astray
There are very few “thou shalt nots” when it comes to poly; every relationship is different, every couple (or group) handles relationships and rules differently, and every person can (or wants to) handle a different level of information about their partners’ partners.

But some rules, you just don’t break:

Communicate!

  • How to handle it: If you’re unsatisfied, talk to your partner about how the two of you can best meet your needs. Define clear boundaries and expectations, and keep the lines of communication open throughout the process to ensure that the existing relationship doesn’t grow apart.
  • How they handled it: Don’t ask, don’t tell. They established rules, but didn’t communicate when those rules were broken, experienced intimacy with other people without sharing any of that with their spouse, and based on how surprised they were to find themselves two very changed people at the end of the year, probably weren’t communicating/working on their own relationship during their weekends together, either.
  • Mind the Rules

  • How to handle it: Negotiate clear rules with your partner(s) and be mindful of those limitations at all times. Rules are how you protect yourself and your partner(s), and your established relationships. They’re a matter of respect and yes you are cheating if you break them, even if it’s a rule that seems silly to you or that no other poly people you know follow. If you and your partner(s) have agreed that you can only have sex with people in clown suits and that’s no longer working for you, go back to #1 and communicate your changed circumstances.
  • How they handled it: The article mentions two rules: no sex without protection and no emotional intimacy (God, I hate it when people think they can legislate their partner’s feelings!) Robin Rinaldi developed an emotional connection with the man she eventually left her husband for. Oops. Her husband, meanwhile, had a six month affair with a woman (emotional) and allegedly was not using condoms. So much for rules.
  • Respect your Partner(s)

  • How to handle it: Ask your partner what they need. Discuss what needs are not being met, and find respectful, mutually work toward solutions, and be willing to acknowledge when needs are simply un-meetable (for example, a person working full time and going to school full time and sleeping part-time only has so many hours, and “I need to see more of you” isn’t going to work short term; instead, these partners could discuss how things will change in the long term, and exactly when they expect to be able to re-negotiate their circumstances.)
  • How they handled it: Robin handed down an ultimatum (I am GOING to go have sex with people!). Her husband spent six months actively flouting the rules they’d laid down together, and the only one he willingly followed was “keep your mouth shut”. These are not respectful behaviors on either end.
  • I am not hating on Robin Rinaldi!
    Please don’t mistake me; Rinaldi is a grown woman who saw that her needs were not being met within her marriage and took steps to place herself in a situation that was right for her. She had lots of sex (awesome!) and opened up to new aspects of herself, and ultimately seems to have landed in a situation that is more comfortable for her.

    But the way she did it was NOT by having an open marriage. She and her husband physically and emotional separated themselves from their commitment to each other and dated other people while they tried to figure out if their marriage was fixable. It’s not an uncommon end to marriage, and it wasn’t, by outward appearances, a particularly devastating one, but to call it polyamory (or open marriage) is to portray consensual non-monogamy as ruinous and dangerous–a last-ditch, wild-oats patch on an already failing marriage, and one more likely to end that marriage than save it–and that’s not fair to those of us who, with the blessing (not just “permission”) of our partners explore intimacy, love, and yeah, plenty of hot sex with other people.

    Blessings,
    Kathleen

    Advertisements

    3 Comments »

    1. I love what you have written – it completely mirrors my own thoughts on polyamory and is why my wife and I are starting our journey 😊

    2. Fruit Taster said,

      I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

    3. Catie said,

      We listened to an interview with Dan Savage and Rinaldi. I wanted to scream. More of the latter and not enough of the former. What she happily, buoyantly described was not polyamory—and it made me mad that *this* person was taking more airspace than a well respected Savage Love. That man gets it.
      Your last paragraph is eloquently written and sums up exactly how I feel. Thank you for sharing!


    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: