The best part about the Huffington Post (HuffPost) is the Divorce: Marriages Come And Go, But Divorce Is Forever section. Or, the best part about the Huffington Post could be the Divorce section. With a little help from non-traditionalists.When the page loaded this past weekend, the headline at the top read: “Proof Your Partner is Fantasizing About Someone Else.” Earlier this week, curiosity toward the section manifested from this headline: “Ex Sex Is Something Lots of Young Adults Do, Says Obvious Study.”
The first headline indicates suspicion, or plants the seed that suspicion should be warranted or is the norm. The second headline undermines ex sex by referring to the study as “obvious.” Rather than act as baselines for support, the headlines are assumptive, creating fear or undermining issues. The headlines create gossip. And what could be worse for people undergoing divorce or partnership breakup than gossip?
It’s depressing. But there is another angle not prominently displayed in the HuffPost Divorce section. Scrolling through the archives, “Life After Divorce: Readers Share Their Thank-You Letters To Their Exes” makes an appearance. It is uplifting and gracious. It is forward thinking. It is reminiscent of A Softer World.
It might be what the perpetually single, the sustainable relationships, the open relationships, the ethical non-monogamists, and the ethical sluts work hard to accomplish every day. The opposite of gossip and bitter sentiment. The opposite of jealousy: compersion.
There has been a surge of news coverage and community building efforts in the last few years focused on alternative relationship styles, often labeled polyamory. Some of the news coverage takes a look at sociological shifts and gender disparities. Others take at a more DIY approach to the dynamics. Others go straight to the source. Open relationships can engage and challenge traditional concepts of what a relationship is, or has to be.
Why is this important to HuffPost’s Divorce column? Because, though progressive as it is in nature by simply existing, it still purports gossip culture, in some cases even fear culture, and operates within a gender binary system. Where are the queer or gay communities represented in the articles?
What if fantasizing about other people turned a partner on instead of arousing suspicion? And what if that’s ok? What if ex sex became a luxury, a healing, to those at the mercy of other, more controlling counter partners, or metamours?
If some of this language is confusing, it is because it hasn’t hit the colloquial discourse of how break ups affect people who are in multiple partnerships. It could be argued that open relationships heighten the sense of responsibility within an individual, and therefore community, and questions gender normativity in the process. It radicalizes the concept of care.
Perhaps Huffington Post and other news outlets should consider creating content for alternative relationship styles.
It’s been a hundred years, but even Amelia Earhart had some thoughts on the matter.
And they were not all that radical.
Two excellent books on the subject include: Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustianing Open Relationships and The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures.
A critical study of non-monogamous vs. monogamous relationships was published recently in the academic journal Personality and Social Psychology Review: A Critical Examination of Popular Assumptions about the Benefits and Outcomes of Monogamous Relationships.
Psychology Today is another good place to begin.