Open non-monogamies

Barker, Meg (2014). Open non-monogamies. In: Milton, Martin ed. Sexuality: Existential Perspectives. Monmouth: PCCS Books.



Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre are well known for their openly non-monogamous relationship: something which is reflected upon in the many biographies which have been written about their lives. Clearly de Beauvoir and Sartre's existential thinking influenced their relationship philosophy, and their relational experience reflected back into their work, notably in de Beauvoir's fiction such as She Came to Stay and her work on gender such as The Second Sex. The themes of freedom and responsibility, relational conflict, objectification, and the possibility of mutual relationships, flow throughout their major philosophical works, notably Being and Nothingness (Sartre) and The Ethics of Ambiguity (de Beauvoir).

This chapter explores the forms of open non-monogamy which have emerged in recent years, including open relationships, swinging, and polyamory (multiple relationships), providing a brief overview of their history and key practices. These relationship forms will then be explored in the context of existential perspectives on relating and more recent theories of intersubjectivity. We examine the potentials, in monogamous, and non-monogamous modes of relating, for mutuality and the embracing of freedom (of self and other), as well as the limitations of this, and whether relationship structure – in itself – is enough to forge a different way of relating.

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