Are Open Relationships Selfish? | With Dan Powers and Cathy Vartuli

Cathy: Are open relationship selfish? This is Dan Powers from

Dan: This is Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: And I love that people ask questions like this. Because it is something like, if someone isn’t familiar with open relationships that could be the thought. like aren’t you being selfish that you want to have additional partners but the really cool thing about most open relationships is it’s not about one person having multiple partners it’s about both people being allowed to have open part multiple partners. So it can be very generous giving experiences.

Dan: And one of the things that I talked about all time is, you don’t have just one friend do you? Like you’ve got multiple friends because they are all providing multiple kinds of needs. You got in my case I’ve got a bunch of friends that I ski with. I’ve got a bunch of friends that I teach sex education with and I’ve got a bunch of friends that I go hiking in the mountains with. And you know a number of different friends for things so and I don’t do the same thing with everybody because not everybody likes it. And we think there seem to think that when we get into a partnership with somebody that they’ve got to fill all of our needs.

Cathy: well if you’ve ever watched a Disney movie. Prince charming is supposed to find princess whatever, and it’s supposed to be like every need is fulfilled by the other person. The thing is we don’t live in a fairy tale. So I could love Dan deeply and passionately could love me. and it doesn’t mean we’re like this perfect meld where we meet each other’s need, like I love the idea that I can get some needs met with this with some really good friends here and if can have a lover over here I could have a partner there i can have friends that it makes life really rich and delicious to me.

Dan: Totally and we like variety we don’t eat the same food every night either. You know brightly we don’t watch the same TV show over again it’s got to be so easy I just found one TV show that I like, like one episode and that’s all I want. We like variety we like a little bit of change to go on and there’s nothing wrong with that in a relationship as well.

Cathy: well there’s basic human needs humans need stability and they also need change. And it can be that for people that are monogamous there’s nothing wrong with that. Um you can have that stability and get your change in other ways or that maybe the relationship is evolving as you grow both of you but I don’t think open relationships are inherently selfish. I think some people are selfish and they might push an open relationship on a partner that doesn’t want it. Or they might say I get to have partners and you don’t which is fine if it’s consensual there’s plenty of monogamous/poly relationships that work. But it has to be equitable and consensual.

Dan: or the kind of like “well I’m going to go do this whether you like it
Or not.” like that’s that’s not going to quit

Cathy: or I’ve had people owe your poly. I’m poly too but my wife doesn’t know and I’m like that’s not open relationship that’s not consensual and I will go the drama is not worth. like I don’t for me that’s not anything I’ve ever.

Dan: that’s poly done wrong.

Cathy: yeah I mean it’s about consent mutually it has to be informed consent. it’s like my part my wife doesn’t know and so it’s fine “I’m like No” so would she be mad that you’re here talking to me right now? Yes I think so.”

Dan: yeah that’d be a problem. I do know that there are relationships where the partner doesn’t want to know like details

Cathy: that’s fine if that’s their agreement.

Dan: right

Cathy: yeah there’s plenty of people like okay I’m fine with you being poly I don’t even want to know you’re seeing people. That’s different from I’m not going to inform you that I’m going to be seeing other people. so and I think that you know one of the things about selfishness is it implies it’s never okay to take or to receive and we had a conversation earlier tonight about how taking as long as it’s allowed. There are times where it’s really okay to be the one receiving the one it’s like give me the stuff. As long as the other the other people involved or like “yeah I want I want to give you a lot right now when I allow you to take this stuff for me”

Dan: right because most of us are actually givers you know I just took a big Tanta workshop for two weeks here in California. And probably the number one problem or hardship the people had was receiving. I know I do, and it’s like I’m much better at giving let me give that side I want the attention me or feel like I’m taking but really in order to be fully fed. It was nice to receive and just to be able to receive her time doing it but, I was getting better towards the end of the hardship.

Cathy: That’s good practice makes perfect. Yeah yeah so I think you know selfish implies that you’re taking without it being allowed. Or you’re doing something that someone else expects. Whereas a good true open relationship or polyamorous relationship that’s consensual and agreed upon. It can be very generous and can be fulfilling for everybody. and it’s okay to be in relationships very sometimes you get your needs I’m like “hey I’m feeling really selfish I want you just to please me all night are you willing to do that?” and if the person gets to say yes or no or I’m willing to do that for a half an hour and then we can see we’re at. So there’s all kinds of room for selfishness and relations.

Dan: Or you go find somebody else to do that because I really don’t want to do that.

Cathy: I hope you have a really good time, I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines

Dan: let me know how it goes later

Cathy: yeah I love to hear all the details. Yeah so what do you think is it selfish to ask for what you want in relationships?

Dan: yeah and tell us how you deal with that.