Step One: What role models have you had for relationships?
That’s the first question posed in The Jealousy Workbook: Exercises and Insights for Managing Open Relationships that I received in the mail today.
It goes on to ask what monogamous relationships did you witness? Were they really monogamous? Was there cheating? Did they stay together? Which were the healthiest relationships?
I was immediately overwhelmed. As I started to think about the relationship role models I had growing up, I became very aware at how much I didn’t know about their relationships when I was younger compared to what I know now, many years later.
My parents were not monogamous. I would venture to say they were a mixture of ethically non monogamous and non ethically non monogamous. But they presented as monogamous, as most people do. I didn’t have anything too concrete growing up, but looking back and having stories now, I can see they were definitely not monogamous. They divorced when I was 17. I wouldn’t call their marriage a great relationship. It had it’s better times and worse times. They did the best they could. But I’m not going to say I want to look at them as role models.
My grandparents, on both sides of the family, were together until death they did part. Great role models? I don’t know. The one set lived next door. They functioned well together. Do I aspire to be them? No. Same with the other set. I didn’t know them well enough to say.
I guess what really dawned on me, thinking about adult relationships that were around me growing up, is that I can’t think of one relationship I saw growing up that inspires me to emulate them. I think that’s why I’m non traditional in my views. I want to make my own rules and build the relationship that I desire to live and love in. I don’t think it has to be built around any of society’s norms.
In the ethical non-monogamy world, there isn’t one way to do things. There isn’t even just a handful. You can negotiate the relationships you want, how you want them. I can have my cake and eat it too. So can my partner. We just have to agree to what that cake looks like. That’s where it gets tricky. The cake has to work for everyone. It is easy? No! It’s really hard. But so is monogamy. Relationships in general are hard.
So to answer the question, I haven’t had any rolemodels that I want to model my relationships after. Moving on to the next question.