Throughout human history, the development of society and culture has extended our understanding of human connection and the various relationships in our life.
The explosion in the cultural revolution in the 1960s brought the “sex movement” with a focus on sex, gender, morals and love. It challenged the ideology of traditional marriage and monogamy with the image of the housewife and working husband, which had been promoted as a cultural product of traditional capitalism. The thriving sexual movement of the 1960s nurtured different types of human connection and promoted the “free-love” expression in sexual behaviour and sexual identity. With the promotion of freedom of love, open relationships have significantly flourished, and in the era of the internet and online dating, it is again blossoming.
An open relationship can be identified as an intimate relationship in which both primary partners approve that they can have amorous and romantic emotions with others outside their relationship. In a healthy open relationship, permission is the most important factor, because monogamy is, in most cultures, the status quo. Without any clear agreement between two primary partners, any other sexual activity outside the relationship is likely to be classed as “cheating”. Moreover, permission is also essential for all other outside parties who also need to be informed and permit their involvement in an open relationship. Any vagueness could pump toxic chemistry into these human connections with the unsecured feeling of jealousy. The open relationship represents outer expansion of free expression in emotion and sexuality, releasing humans from the structures of monogamy.
By contrast to the freedom of an open relationship, polygamy provides the power of the marriage with one individual in the partnership. It portrays a state of marriage in which an individual can marry many partners and divides it into two cases: polygyny means a man can marry many wives, and polyandry means a woman can have more than one husband. Therefore, for the polygamous relationship, commitment is essential. In feudalism, polygamy was usually practised all around the world mostly by the monarchy with polygyny. In contrast, only very few societies, like Sparta in Ancient Greece, respected the freedom and the power of women who could practice polyandry. However, polygamy has generally been rejected its legitimisation by modern societies and is now considered an outdated custom. Polygamy does not only describe a type of human connection but also an unlawful marriage; but, it is still legal in some countries based on the beliefs of some groups, like in Singapore where polygamy is legal only for practicing Muslims, who may have four wives.
With all the kinds of human relationships that have been discovered, it is not about the promotion of any ideologies, but more about humanity. In modern capitalist societies with more encouragement regarding the freedom of individuals, I believe that it is the right for everyone to explore their hidden desire in love and sexuality and act rightfully to be truthful to themselves.