Since that time Jenny has been busy. She's made the rounds doing readings from her book and being interviewed on the topic of open relationships and polyamory. She won a Lambda Literary Award in the bisexual category. She's appeared on national TV talk shows (for example, Fox's Mornings with Mike and Juliet) and TV news magazines (ABC's 20/20, defending responsible non-monogamy in a seventh Commandment debate on adultery with evangelical Christian ministers in the presence of a very large evangelical Christian audience), syndicated radio programs, in print newspapers and in online venues. Along the way she's blogged on sex and relationships for Huffington Post and - what a pleasant surprise - now writes FoxNews.com's weekly sexual health column, Fox on Sex. Her latest column is Cheating: It's Not the Sex, It's the Lying, and it is fantastic. Jenny offers excellent advice on why, whether monogamous or otherwise, it's necessary to communicate clearly with our partner(s) and come to an understanding as to what specific behaviors with others are permitted and which ones are to be off limits.
Those who attend my workshops know how often I emphasize the importance of trust as key to building healthy, happy, functional polyamorous relationships, and as Jenny points out, this is important in ALL intimate relationships. Our monogamy-focused society creates expectations in us that few really think about, much less discuss with the people they love and are committed to.
Some people may not be phased by their love engaging in a bit of flirtation at a cocktail party, while another may be livid about it - who is to know for sure where the line is that shouldn't be crossed if this isn't thought about and discussed? I'm not talking about angry accusations and blaming, that's not effective communication. But I am saying that discussing it before it happens is going to be a lot less difficult than doing so after it does. For one thing, even if it's an uncomfortable discussion, the trust you share is intact and more likely to stay intact if boundaries and expectations are clearly acknowledged between you.
Obviously it's less likely that people in stable polyamorous relationships are going to object to a partner's flirtation with others, but I've known plenty to end up in conflict for having failed to establish a clear understanding of each other's expectations.
For example, conflicts have been known to arise between poly partners due to differing views over what constitutes "sex." If:
- Poly partner A agrees to tell poly partner B if they have sex with someone new,
- Poly partner A's definition of "sex" requires penitration to qualify, while
- Poly partner B's definition also includes making out and manual stimulation/foreplay,
- It is easy to predict that it's merely a matter of time before the drama begins.
To put it more bluntly, don't be stupid. Never, ever secretly rationalize breaking an agreement and crossing an established boundary as a means to have who you desire while expecting to avoid a potential confrontation with a partner. You are playing with a fire that in the blink of an eye will destroy the trust required for your relationship to be happy. Before you know it you are in deep relationship trouble, a kind of trouble that will require hard work for a long time to repair the damage done. Erase from your memory forever that old saw about it being easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It's a lie, especially in this case. For the vast majority of people it will not be worth it. Trust me, I've been there.