What does the black umbrella in Mark Turrell’s chosen title of »The Black Umbrella Society« actually mean? A meet up that takes place monthly and of course I was there again. With the black umbrella Mark tells the story of the state of Kerala in India, where women are in charge and he claims that the women of the household would leave a black umbrella in front of the door to tell the man to take a walk while she is with someone else. So much for the phenomenon of the black umbrella and the emergence of a group dynamic of interested people who regularly meet up to discuss different relationship concepts.
Why do people come to these meetings? What is their interest in »relationship rules«? That’s the first question Mark Turrell asks the participants. A great enthusiasm for the whole poly topic is what excites the group to be sharing their thoughts with people who live very individual relationship concepts. In an open space every opinion is understood and reflected. For all those who already live in committed relationships, there may come a time when they decide to handle their relationship more openly. Especially when we talk about long-term relationships that have existed for well over 20 years. How do we create rules without hurting the partner?
»Don’t ask and don’t tell«
An important guideline, which may be crucial for most people, is »don’t ask and don’t tell«. The idea alone that the partner has just been in bed with another person is not desirable for everyone and most prefer to keep their fantasies to themselves. However, the very opposite can freshen up one’s relationship again, when the partner wants to be presented with all the details of the act of love that obviously took place without them. In general, however, I also plead for a healthy continuation of the current relationship with the credo: Talking is silver and silence is gold. An important basic prerequisite for lovemaking with others should of course be contraception, everyone agreed on that. Because nobody wants to endanger his own relationship, not health-wise and also not with regard to feelings. Which brings us directly to the next point.
Falling in love is an illusion
Who lives in a partnership and has the need to sleep with other people without involving his own partner, naturally runs the risk of falling in love. But what if everything is already available? If one is aware of their relationship with all the ups and downs that have been experienced, means: that no other person can influence it, that everything shared is of a exclusively physical nature and in the best case does not lead to an affair? Then ‘falling in love’ as we know it could actually be an illusion. Those who concentrate only on their own desires and always keep the stability of their relationship in mind can, in my opinion, exchange physicalities to their heart’s content without falling into decay. Mark’s statement: »The longing for different sexual partnerships is not a big deal when we consider that no monkey lives monogamously and neither is man. Just like Bonobo, man is not monogamous.«
Turn off the jealousy button
Separation of worries explains the different emotions between people and whether they are jealous or not, for example. Those who think rationally instead of emotionally can protect themselves and their partnership without hurting others. In my opinion, however, emotionality should never be neglected in order to pay respect to certain »one-night stands«. Anyone who decides in favor of an open relationship should definitely leave jealousy out of the equation. If this is a major problem for you, you might should be wondering about the triggers. So why are we jealous at all? Usually this is only connected with possessive thinking. Those who feel secure in their partnership actually have no reason to be jealous. The code of egoism states: »The driving force of human jealousy is selfish.« While the code of love states, »Treat others as you would like to be treated.«
By the way, a one-sided open relationship is not a good solution, at least not if it’s only about not losing your partner and thereby accepting their escapades. It is always healthy to question what you want and not to make compromises or obligations to another person. Every change starts with ourselves first and Pia’s answer to it looks like this: »Why do we always have to confess to another person instead of ourselves when I am over 30 years old and single and am pitied for it, something is not right.«
And that’s exactly where it starts and somehow ends. For the next round of »The Black Umbrella Society« on December 19th, Pia’s thought-provoking ideas brought the new topic to the table.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I’m not so sure of perfection in a relationship anymore, or rather, when everything is there and you feel comfortable, be it with a job that fulfills you or with friends that keep showing you how important you are, why do you need a partner? Is it just about settling in snugly, having sex at will, building something together and maybe being frustrated in the end because you have neglected your own autonomy? Isn’t the search for the perfect place, a place you’ve already found, the ultimate truth? Why do we always yearn for a sense of belonging, another person who completes us when we have arrived long ago?