October 06, 2013 / The "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" Relationship Model
An open relationship is not your only option if you "can't" be monogamous
Open relationships are increasingly common
Open relationships are becoming more and more common nowadays; however, I do not believe that a true open relationship is a realistic model for most people. Men (and women) get jealous. It is in our nature, and when we truly love someone, the mere thought of them sleeping with someone else is a thought we would rather not entertain and definitely not wish to condone! (See my article on Jealousy here). However, with that said, it is undeniable fact that attraction fades and things slow down in the bedroom after being with the same partner for an extended period of time. There are ways to spice things up, sure, but realistically, it simply is not the same as being intimate with someone different and new.
Most people think of three ways to have a relationship
How then can you possibly walk the fine line between jealousy and the lack of satisfaction of having one sexual partner, potentially for the rest of your life? For most, the answer is simply to choose from one of three options: either have an open relationship and feel feelings of jealousy on a regular basis, cheat and hope you don’t get caught, or have a traditional monogamous relationship.
But there is a hybrid between an open relationship and outright cheating
Those are all reasonable options (yes, even the cheating one!), but I actually think there is another option that may be a solution for a relatively large subset of people; a "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" relationship model. The common convention is that open relationships involve trust, honesty, and of course, openness. But the reality is, do we REALLY want to know about our significant other sharing intimate moments with other men? I sure as hell don’t want to know about it, and I think that many men who say they want to know about it haven’t really thought about it fully, or, to be blunt, simply don’t care that much about their significant other.
What you don’t know won’t hurt you
Either way, what I am really getting at here is that there is no reason we have to know about our partners’ "infidelities" in an open relationship. The "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" relationship is exactly this: a relationship that is implicitly open but where the participants do not talk about relationships with others, don’t ask about it, and I should add, don’t try to find out about it either. Living in denial is not always a bad thing.
4 basic principles to make "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" work
How does one make a relationship like this work? Here are 4 basic principles I believe are critical for a "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" relationship to succeed.
1. Follow the rules:
This means DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL, and as I alluded to earlier, DO NOT FIND OUT. Don’t go fishing through your significant others’ e-mails or texts, and likewise, don’t make it easy to find out! Delete your texts, disguise what you are doing, etc.
2. Your significant other is priority:
A major danger of an open relationship or a "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" relationship is a danger that your significant others’ needs can be marginalized. Remember who your priority is and treat them that way. Yes, this means last minute cancellations of potential hook ups etc. but it is the only way I believe a relationship like this can work.
3. Be safe
STDs are a major risk so be safe and do the utmost possible to prevent the transmission of any STDs.
4. Be reasonable
Perhaps the most important factor in a relationship of this kind to be successful is being reasonable. "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" is not an excuse to party every night. it is meant to help strengthen a relationship that is lacking in sexual excitement and variety while minimizing the jealousy component of an open relationship. Don’t overdue it. Not to mention, overdoing it would make it too hard to follow principle #1.
Monogamy is not for everyone
If you think a typical monogamous relationship is simply not for you, and you don’t like the idea of an open relationship or cheating without "consent", consider this hybrid approach. Yes, it requires lying, and hiding things from your partner, but choosing to agree to lie to each other about certain things is very different than being dishonest.