A lot of people, male and female, are attracted to the idea of a non-exclusive relationship. And when presented with the opportunity, they jump for joy, thinking that it is carte blanche to do whatever they want. They may start checking out, flirting, texting or talking on the phone with other people right in front of the person that they are dating or otherwise doing “stuff” with. They seem to mistake lack of exclusivity with lack of rules. But there are rules. They are known as respect, discretion and empathy. It is sad that I have to write about this but observation has demonstrated that I do.
When you go out with a friend, acquaintance or colleague, you don’t just ditch them in favor of socializing with who ever happens to be around. I hope. It is suffice to say that doing so would be disrespectful to the other person and that they would cut you out of their life pretty quickly for such behavior. Hopefully you possess enough self-respect to not put up with that kind of crap either.
Why some people think that the same basic courtesy does not apply in a non-exclusive relationship (whether romantic or sexual) baffles me. Just because somebody has consented to seeing other people does not in any way suggest that they agreed to be disrespected. It does not matter if you are in an open relationship, casually dating or in a friends with benefits arrangement. Respect, discretion and empathy are the minimum that you should be extending to any person that you come into contact with.
So if you are in a non-exclusive relationship, go ahead and do whatever you want with other people, on your own time. But when you are together, your attention should be entirely on that person. If it is not, then why would they want to be around you in the first place? They can feel alone all by themselves, without your help. Conversely, if you are on the receiving end of this kind of behavior, then cut that person loose. They still have growing up to do.