Brandon Wade is a 44-year-old MIT grad with a receding hairline and glasses. He's not what you'd automatically expect when you imagine a relationship entrepreneur. But in recent years the former software engineer has founded WhatsYourPrice.com (where men bid on first dates), CarrotDating.com (where men offer "incentives" in return for a rendezvous), and original sugar daddy hub SeekingArrangement.com. Now, he's taking advantage of a growing public interest in polyamory with his latest venture, OpenMinded.com.
Polyamory is when a relationship involves several people and couples. It's not cheating because everyone is in on it, nor is it a basic open relationship, as all those involved are emotionally invested. Brandon noticed and capitalized on this cultural shift by creating a site to match couples who want to keep it tight while playing fast and loose, and not let their network of open relationships interfere with their marriage. Although guilt-free open relationships sound like a pretty sweet deal, he's quick to point out that getting everything you want actually takes more work and communication than just sticking with one person. We talked with him to find out more.
VICE: Hi, Brandon. Are you married?
Brandon: I am. I've been married for three years, and I speak to my wife very openly about where I think our relationship may end up some day. We're monogamous, but understand eventually, at some point, it likely will turn monotonous, and we might want to involve other people.
How do you manage being in a relationship with that frank idea it'll probably turn to shit one day?
It's about taking a more intellectual approach to things. Once you start rationalizing at that level, you start to think feelings of jealousy, selfishness, the love for just one person are a type of selfish love. You open your eyes to the idea you could love more than one type of person, and it's not wrong to do so. I look at relationships not just from a purely emotional perspective, but with an intellectual rationale.
But how do you rationalize jealousy?
That's the trickiest part of polyamory. There are many things that motivate jealously: the biggest one is the fear you might lose somebody, or the person might abandon you for someone else. You need to feel secure not just with that person, but with yourself. Feelings of jealously result from feelings of insecurity.
So if you went home today, and your wife said she wants to have sex with your best friend, you'd be fine with that because you believe in yourself?
Um... well, in our case we would be talking about this openly. I would realize she was perhaps unhappy or bored, and we would already be discussing this. In that sense, I wouldn't be caught by surprise, but I'd want to find out her motivations behind it, and see if we can reach some sort of consensus on approaching and solving her issues, as well as mine. Perhaps my insecurity might be the real issue, if I feel jealous that she wants to sleep with my best friend.
What do you mean by "consensus"?
Privacy might be a concern. As innocent as it might seem, it could embarrass the other person. Safe sex would be an important point to discuss. Of course, what happens with emotion after the act is important, because the question is: Is the act purely a physical need to exercise, or is there more of an emotional connection she's looking for?
Open relationships are really not simple. People think, Wow, these are hippies sleeping around like nobody's business. There's a lot of communication, and a lot of emotional consideration, as well as mental processes before people can successfully engage in open relationships. You go back to the basics of brutal honesty: communication, communication, communication.
How is all this different from a mutual "Don't ask, don't tell" situation?
That's called a monogamish relationship: You give each other permission to date and sleep with other people. Not everyone is involved in your relationship, so it's certainly not polyamory. That is actually a growing trend. I think it's a very modern approach to the problem that people feel, the monotony that comes in after being with one person over a period of time. Monogamish is one way to solve that issue.
So polyamory is unique because it's more about building a sort of community, rather than just each person having a series of relationships. But I feel that connectivity would bring so many issues.
Well, you'll be interested to know I'm working with my legal team on a pre-dating agreement. It's like a prenuptial agreement that we'll be making public, hopefully by the end of the year, so that people who are about to start dating each other can negotiate the conditions and terms and put them on a piece of paper. That way, when they do break up, things can be done in a cordial and organized manner.
How is that going to make things less of a clusterfuck?
Think about it this way: When two people date today, they share a lot of things. It's not just financial stuff or the pet dog, they also take pictures, send love letters to each other, and these things can be misused if the relationships doesn't work out. If you break up with a girlfriend, she may get jealous and start posting the naked pictures you took together on Instagram and the next thing you know, your privacy has been violated.
It's best to put these things on paper and negotiate these things upfront before you're too emotionally involved.
Ultimately, are you saying the traditional model of marriage doesn't work anymore?
I think when you look at the history of marriage, it was created for a lot of reasons that had to do with the survival of the human race back then. Life was hard, so it was important to group together in family units. Today it's really different. Men and women are very self-sufficient. We can survive without "the other."
The concept of a marriage is not necessarily a crucial part of human survival anymore. In today's society, marriage as an institution is not completely necessary to how we exist.
Will monogamish take over?
There are people who believe in monogamy and are happy being with one person. But when you look at the other dating sites I run, and the fact 50 percent of the members are married people cheating, it makes you think. Given a choice, most people would subscribe to the monogamish method of being in a relationship.
Were you surprised to learn that?
I don't think so. I went to MIT, and across the river is Harvard—they did an analysis by polling all the alumni to find out how many of them would cheat. Over 60 percent of them admitted to having at least one affair, if not more. It's just human nature.
To expect somebody to be with one person for the rest of their life is an unnatural requirement. In this case, I think more and more people would find the monogamish mode of relationships far more acceptable as opposed to being monogamous and then cheating.
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