Has anyone ever been in a relationship where your partner suddenly says hey, why don’t you try dating other people? I mean there could be relationships like that, do whatever makes you happy, but when this idea appears in the media I instantly get annoyed. I feel like it typically only happens in female/female relationships where one of the women has not dated any or as many women as her partner. I recently saw this in the now cancelled Almost Family and it has previously appeared in The Bold Type where women who recently came out or are coming to terms with their identities are told that they should consider seeing other people by their monogamous partner.
I want to start that kicked off my thinking about this trope, Almost Family. For those who did not watch this now off the air show. A male doctor who helps people conceive who are struggling to have children. It is revealed that he has been using his own material to ensure conception and this means a number of the children he helped people conceive are actually his children. One of these children is actually a long time friend of the family Edie. Her mother had asked for help conceiving as a single mother and while she technically chose a donor she thought that he had probably been the donor. Edie did not know this and only learned about it when all of this information came to light. She is asked to be part of her recently revealed father’s defense team and during this she finds herself spending more time with the DA, Amanda. Their very first meeting is over lunch and become very sensual and ultimately evolves into a full blown relationship. The issue is Edie is married to a man named Tim, but over the course of her plot we learn she has always been questioning and never really felt like she had met the one. As Amanda and Edie’s relationship evolves, the relationship with Tim is ended, but Amanda pushes Edie in a different way.
Since Amanda is the only woman she has been with she says she should try casually dating some other people so she gets more comfortable and doesn’t feel like she missed out on anything. Edie does not want to do this, but reluctantly agrees. This leads her to wind up trying to go on a date, which does not go well, and then in a bit of a twist she and Tim hook up. Amanda is then very annoyed and uncomfortable with Edie having hooked up with Time, even though technically Edie was told to sleep with other people, though Amanda did assume she would hook up with women. The two do wind up working everything out and Amanda and Edie stay together, but pushing Edie when she doesn’t want to date other people is just so odd to me. After seeing this I remembered that I had seen it before in The Bold Type with Kat and Adena.
In that version of the trope, Kat has recently come out and she and Adena are comfortably together. They have been dating monogamously and Adena, who has been out for some time, tells Kat that she wants her to be able to date other women and explore a bit. Kat, much like Edie does not want to do this, but ultimately gives in and tries to date. What happens after the relationship is sort of opened up is that Adena ultimately regrets the decision and never wants to hear about the people Kat has been with. This becomes the point at which their relationship starts to break down and by the end of the season they are no longer together. The most recent season of the show has built off of this trope a bit by also having Kat determine that she is actually bisexual and not a lesbian. In many relationships where one character is a lesbian and the other is bisexual the bisexual’s choice to be with a woman when she either has not been with other women or has dated very few women is often questioned.
I grew up in a smallish town where there weren’t a lot of out people and of the people that were out an even smaller number were women. This meant that I didn’t date women before I met Krista, my now wife. The fact that I didn’t date a number of women before I met her doesn’t make my feelings for her or my desire to only be with her for the rest of my life any less real. The idea that if you are interested in more than one gender that your feelings may change or not be valid creates the idea that a bisexual person isn’t good enough for a committed relationship and will want a way out. Tropes like this feed into that idea and actually show lesbians pushing their partners away until they prove themselves in a sense as “committed” to being with women. I don’t see why one person’s experience in a relationship should matter or why it should be common in plots for a character to have to prove themselves to their partner. Regardless of whether a partnership is monogamous or not there should always be trust in the relationship that is there. If you can’t trust the love your partner is giving you then how can you survive as a couple. If you’ve seen this trope or have your own tropes that annoy you let me know.