What is Commitment

How do you define commitment and how does this influence your romantic relationships?

What is Commitment

Compulsory monogamy refers to the ways in which sexual and emotional exclusivity between two people is normalized and subtly reinforced as the standard for romantic relationships. One of the many ways in which compulsory monogamy influences perception is the understanding of commitment. Due to the influence of compulsory monogamy, many people define commitment as sexual and emotional exclusivity. If you are in an open relationship, this just...isn't accurate.

For example, when dating, many people in open relationships are seen as only available for sex. While some chalk this up to a misunderstanding about open relationship types, denying the influence of compulsory monogamy creates a larger gap in understanding for everyone.

When we understand and accept that compulsory monogamy influences us, we are better able to intentionally develop our romantic relationships. It is important to take the time to define what your want, what you are available for, and how you define commitment outside of the lens of compulsory monogamy.

Monogamous dating is rife with "letting things develop organically," and this idea is unfortunately also pervasive in open relationship dating. The problem with this approach is that "dating organically" does not include the impact of other relational partners. If a faulty metaphor would help here: if you are a flower pot and your relationships are flowers, you have to let new flowers you are inviting to grow in your pot know how much light they are going to get and how much soil is available. It would be unfair to the flower to tell them they have a whole damn field if you really only have an apartment complex's patio box. Said another way, it is wildly important to understand the time and emotional energy you have available so you can make this clear at the beginning of your interactions.

One place to start is to define commitment and ask your partners' to define it as well. Then...share your definitions and see where you align and where you might have different ideas to navigate. You do not have to agree, but it is important to understand variances.

I define commitment as the intention to develop a long term emotional connection with agreed upon expectations for time spent together and growth. You can see in this definition, there is no requirement for exclusivity. Rather it is about intention and growth.

So, how do you define commitment?

If you are interested in learning more about foundations of open relationships that can help you be a better partner, consider coming to Open Relationships Basics - more info below.

In curiosity,

Dr. S. Kay Webb