Open relationships are becoming more common every day. They’re also gradually becoming more accepted. However, hidden biases can show up in the words we use to talk about open relationships.
Forever 39 Podcast cited a study from 2016, where four percent of respondents “admitted” they’d had an open relationship. While “more than half indicated they are morally opposed to the idea,” another 44% said “the request wouldn’t be an automatic deal-breaker.”
Our Word Choice Can Betray Our True Feelings
More media and blog/podcast outlets are talking about open relationships. The language is sometimes biased toward traditional values around monogamy, which may influence the outcome of surveys and questionnaires. For instance, the Forever 39 post described those four percent as having “admitted” to open relationships. This seems to imply guilt as if they’d done something wrong or they had been hiding their open relationship. Or perhaps the word “admit” betrays the writer’s bias.
Let’s Examine the Hidden Biases
It’s time to examine our feelings about open relationships. A majority of young people under 30 today are considering variations of monogamy that may not appear traditional So it’s time for all writers, authors, bloggers and journalists to confront their own feelings about alternative relationships and be aware of their languaging.
I know I am guilty of being overly open at times, not taking into consideration the more conservative viewpoint. I have to try to examine my own liberal bias in my blogging.
Examining our subconscious bias about relationships might reveal our true feelings and it could push us to think on a deeper level about how our words and ideas may affect our readers.
Relationship CHOICE is What I Advocate
I want to be clear. I don’t believe that open relationships are right for everyone.
I do believe that everyone should define their own relationship terms. I also know that communication makes the best relationship even more intimate and connected.
Exploring the wide variety of what’s possible in a relationship can help make you and your partner feel connected. It can make it easier to make tough personal decisions.
With careful negotiation, openness, trust, and ongoing communication, open relationships can be healthy and satisfying and connected.
Your Chance to Shift the Narrative
At the end of the post on Forever 39, the writer invites those who have ever been in open relationships to contact them and share their story. This could be an excellent opportunity to start shifting some of the unexamined beliefs about open relationships, not only in the minds of all journalists, but in readers’ minds, as well.
Therapists Need to Root Out Hidden Biases, Too
Hidden biases are one of the things that we work on during the Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) training. All aspiring sex therapists, counselors, and educators must complete a SAR in order to attain certification.
Allowing hidden biases to stay unexamined and in the shadows can lead to negative outcomes in client sessions. The therapist can unwittingly do harm by conveying ignorance, ridicule, or judgment toward a client because of their sexual and relationship choices.
The Integrative Sex Therapy Institute (ISTI) is now offering the new Certified Sex and Couples Therapist certificate (CSCT) program, which includes a SAR requirement and other training to expose and eradicate those hidden biases. Contact me today for more about how you can register for this new program today.