Queer Man Talks About What He’s Learned From Being In Open Relationships For 20 Years

A queer man has seen one of his Twitter threads go viral, sparking a debate about open relationships. In it, he explains his history of being in polyamorous relationships and why they work for him and his partners. He also states why he thinks some people have an issue with them.

Wilson Freeman (@the_sidecarist), (pictured above), 35, lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

He posted on Twitter recently, explaining that, ‘Because so many gays love to post shitty opinions on open relationships and/or polyamory, now I’m going to post some thoughts/takes of my own, as someone who has been in those relationships for 20 years.’

‘People choose to be in open relationships for a plethora of reasons,’ he begins. ‘There’s an assumption that everyone in an open relationship is doing it because they’re looking for something their partner lacks. Not true. Some are, but not the majority.

‘Even for those who do seek out other partners because they’re looking for something their partner can’t give them, what’s wrong with that? I don’t share all my primary partner’s kinks. Nor he mine. So we have other people in our lives to scratch those itches.’

‘That’s really beside the point, because it’s not just about sex,’ says Freeman. ‘It’s about being able to have a genuine connection with multiple people. I’d still be poly even if I for some reason could never have sex again, because it’s about more than sex for many people. Myself included.

‘I genuinely care about the other partners I have, and my primary cares about his. We all hang out together, get dinner together, etc, sometimes without ever getting into bed at all.

‘You do not own your partner. Full stop. Policing what someone is allowed to feel about someone is shitty behavior and often belies deeply rooted insecurities.

‘Your partner doesn’t owe you anything simply because they are your partner. Not their fidelity, not their attention, not their money, nothing. Those are given because they want to give them. Feeling like you’re owed them simply because you hold “boyfriend” status is shitty.

‘Your partner is a fully fledged human being who has chosen to spend his time and energy on you. Telling them they can’t also decide to spend their time and energy on someone else is like telling them they can’t have a particular hobby or job because you don’t like it.’

‘If you feel insecure about your partner having something else in their lives outside of your relationship, you should deal with those insecurities, because they’ll still be there long after that relationship has ended,’ he advises.

‘And you should investigate why you have those insecurities. With a professional. It’s totally okay to get help and therapy! I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was 6 years old, and it is a large part of why I’m a stable, successful, happy adult.

‘People are not commodities, and relationships are not zero-sum games. If your partner gets a second partner, it doesn’t negate your existing relationship, it adds to it.

‘I see a lot of “but what if my boyfriend finds someone else he likes?!?” worries from folks. If your partner finds someone else they like in addition to you, you talk about it! Communication is a key part of all relationships, but especially open/poly ones.

‘All relationships shift and change over time. The only ones that don’t are those in TV and movies. Sometimes those shifts mean that a relationship needs to change – maybe one partner becomes more secondary, or another more primary. Communicate.

‘Not all relationships are meant to last forever. All relationships have a timeline – sometimes that’s until the end of your life, sometimes it’s for three days, sometimes it’s for three months, sometimes it’s for three years. Recognizing that is important.

‘If your fear is that opening up your relationship will lead to your partner leaving you, then that means you’re already afraid of them leaving you, and you two need to talk about why that is. That’s a relationship that is already unhealthy in some way.

‘If you open up your relationship and your boyfriend leaves you…news flash: they were going to leave you eventually anyway. You’ve just figured that out faster, and now you can both get on with your lives instead of staying in an ultimately doomed relationship.

‘In a healthy poly/open relationship, what’s far more likely to happen is that this new person becomes a more significant part of your relationship in general. Leaving one partner for another is pretty rare in healthy poly/open relationships.

‘One of the things I like best about poly/open relationships is that they can give you clarity about what your partner really needs, sometimes, and whether you’re truly the best primary partner for them.’

‘Before my current relationship, I was with my now-ex partner for eight years. We split amicably when I sat him down and told him that the person he’d been seeing a few days a week for a year or two was a better fit for him as a primary, in the long run, than I was.

‘He agreed, but had been worried about hurting my feelings. I wanted to see him in a happy, successful relationship, and I felt that he’d have better luck with that with his other partner, so I gave them my blessing. Three years later, they’re now happily married, and it’s great!’

Freeman goes on to talk about his current relationship and boyfriend. He says he knows plenty of others in open relationships who don’t have issues. He says he also knows, ‘monogamous people who are totally happy, and monogamous people who are totally miserable.’

Wilson (right) and partner, Richard

‘Being in an open/poly relationship makes you no more likely to be happy/miserable than being in a monogamous one, and vice versa,’ he says. ‘You know what does? Bad communication, not having a solid handle on your issues, and a sense of entitlement.

‘A bad relationship is a bad relationship, whether it’s monogamous or open/poly. A bad partner is a bad partner, whether they’re monogamous or open/poly. Conflating these things is a mistake many people make.

‘Open/poly relationships aren’t for everyone, for a variety of reasons. I don’t particularly understand why someone would want to be monogamous, but I don’t think it’s any less valid than my own relationship style.

‘But I meet a lot of monogamous folks who think poly/open folks are inherently lesser in some way. Don’t be that guy, folks. If it’s not for you, that’s fine, but recognize that it’s a perfectly fine answer for many, many people, and we make it work.

‘I also see a lot of people, especially gays, who complain about the number of people on dating apps who are open/poly. This always strikes me as rooted in bitterness and loneliness and makes me cringe.

‘If you don’t want to be with someone who’s in an open relationship, don’t. But don’t shit on them just because you wish they were with you. There are plenty of people on the apps I wish would date me, but I’m not going to shit on them because I’m not what they’re looking for.’

‘You are not entitled to anyone’s attention, or even anyone’s solitary attention. If you want to go for someone, but they’re in an open relationship, that’s something you’re going to have to accept. Either go for it, or decide it’s not for you. They’re not obligated to change.

‘I also see a lot of those same guys say things like “Why won’t he leave him if he’s looking elsewhere?” that belie their own misunderstanding of poly/openness. Again, it’s not a zero sum game. Just because he already has a boyfriend doesn’t mean he can’t also date you.

‘In short: poly/open people aren’t better/worse than mono people, those relationships can work and are valid, investigate your insecurities and learn to communicate better, stop mistaking bitterness for legitimate opinion, and consider that you might learn a bit from poly/open folk.’

The thread has prompted dozens of comments. Many have come from those who prefer monogamous relationships, but the majority have been respectful of Freeman’s views, despite saying an open relationship is not for them.

‘Thank you,’ said one. ‘It put it into perspective for me. I’m in a monogamous relationship and never understood what an open relationship truly meant.’

‘I’m glad I read this and got more information. I inherently disagree with many statements underlying your argument, but realized we’re just different people and have different experiences and desires. And that’s fine,’ said another.

Freeman told Gay Star News he was unsurprised that his thoughts had sparked conversation.

“I see a lot of backlash against polyamory and open relationships in both the straight world and the LGBT community,” he said. “Though the concerns in each group are often a bit different and generally are informed by the fears of those particular groups. I’m not surprised that it touches a nerve in folks. If you’re raised to think that there’s only one ‘right’ way to have a relationship, you’re going to automatically balk at anything that challenges what you’ve been taught.”

He said he finds open relationships more common among gay/bi people than straight.

“I think open relationships are more common among people in the LGBT community because we’ve already defied societal norms in a major way, so tacking on something else deemed ‘inappropriate’ isn’t such a big deal.”

Asked if he could ever envisage himself being in a monogamous relationship again, he said: “I’ve honestly never been in a monogamous relationship, and I don’t think I could ever be in one. I can’t imagine being told that I couldn’t pursue or express interest in someone that I thought would bring me happiness or fulfillment in some way. I’ve been polyamorous from my very first relationship. I started dating one guy, then started dating another one because I liked him too, and I was genuinely confused as to why this was a problem. I liked them both! I’ve had long stretches of my life – years sometimes – where I’ve only had one partner and was by all appearances monogamous, but the opportunity to sleep with someone else, or to love someone else, has always been there, and that’s what matters.”

He went on to add, “I sometimes feel like inclination toward monogamy or polyamory is almost akin to a ‘relationship’ orientation, similar to sexual orientation. Some people seem to be sort of ‘made for’ monogamy, and others for polyamory or open relationships. Trying to change someone who is naturally monogamous into someone polyamorous, or vice versa, is going to be a fraught and unpleasant experience for everyone involved. It’s better to just meet someone where they are.

“On the flip side, there are a decent number of monogamous people out there who are only such because society has told them that that’s the only acceptable option, who would be much happier in a polyamorous or open relationship. I’ve known several people who were previously serial monogamists or serial cheaters suddenly become much more loyal and caring about their partners, and much happier in general, once they became poly/open.”

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  1. J
    March 02, 10:41 Reply

    Wow what a world of possibilities. I didn’t expect all these when I was a teenager ? I miss my teenage years when I didn’t give a ?about sex or relationships. That was the best part of life, I had nothing, but I was happy ?

  2. Black Dynasty
    March 02, 15:57 Reply

    Nice article, i learnt something new today.
    I was quite ignorant on the matter but this helped educate me a fair bit.

  3. mike
    March 02, 18:53 Reply

    Well, he needs to investigate why he needs more than one partner to fill him up, make him feel loved. Funny his lifelong therapy didn’t address that neediness, its not healthy.

    If one person can not fill you up, there’s are good chance a hundred more partners wouldn’t.
    Some people get stuck at that dopamine phase of a relationship, infatuation. Others just like the rush, feeling that rush a new everytime, like a junkie moving from person to person, falling in love a new and a fresh. Then they come back to mother earth, the stable partner, the primary one, the boring one.

    Poly relationship is discouraged for alot of reasons for one, sex can blur the lines between things, cause alot of obscurities, yhu never really see a person till yhuve stopped having sex with them, now imagining having sex with multiple partners, thats alot of persons to keep track of , to see clearly, that you are not, cause yhu can’t.

    I see relationship with people, other human beings as a representation of your own relationship with yourself, the way yhu see yourself, blah blah blah.
    If yhu feel you deserve better, yhu are better , yhu automatically extend it to the next person. If yhu are hard and intense on yhurself, people around you would definitely fall under that pressure.

    If yhu feel yhu are not worth it, enough for yhur own self, then. Polygamous relationship. At the end of the day, his ex settled for one person, just one, not multiple, just one. That should teach him a thing or two.

    • Francis
      March 03, 09:11 Reply

      You’re drawing your own conclusions.

      *I sat him down and told him that the person he’d been seeing a few days a week for a year or two was a better fit for him as a PRIMARY, in the long run, than I was.*

      Keyword: PRIMARY

    • Bee
      March 04, 07:28 Reply

      I think his point was that you shouldn’t need someone to “fill you up” in the first place. I think that’s what he meant when he repeatedly said we should “investigate out insecurities.”

      And he really didn’t come off as someone who isn’t satisfied with himself.

  4. Francis
    March 03, 09:07 Reply

    I was rolling my eyes in tbe beginning as it seemed as though he was shitting on monogamous people till I got half way.

    I just wish people could be this open about what they they truly want instead of wasting people’s time promising what they can’t deliver.

    At least now I understand Polyamory/oopen relationships to a larger extent. What I need is clarity on polygamous situations in which the women aren’t fucking one another ?

  5. Babe
    March 03, 09:50 Reply

    I don’t even know anymore lol, I undertstand poly relationships, but how about mono relatioships with a little bit of side pieces and threesomes here and there.

  6. Christopher Emmanuel
    March 03, 11:24 Reply

    My partners and I feel affirmed by this article. I like it that Wilson Freeman talked about love as a connection. I too have never believed that love should be an exclusive connection. That if you fall in love with one person, you heart is auto configured against falling in love with another person! Twitter: @256Chrisemma, thesilentnoisemedium.blogspot. com

  7. Sleek Creamy
    March 03, 22:48 Reply

    I totally do not agree to an open relationship no offence.
    But what i agree to is the fact that if an individual noticed that his partner is having an affair or tired in a relationship, it should be discussed peacefully, so as both parties can walk out of it peacefully and still be friends after wards without dramas…

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