Whenever someone talks about sexual relationships, it is somehow understood that it has all the three that I mentioned above.

Especially since most Filipinos were raised in the tradition of the conservative Catholic perspective on sex and relationships, our minds were somehow boxed into thinking that all relationships should be exclusive because it shall commence in marriage.

For years now, I have been a believer of free love. It is the belief that anyone can love (and most of the time, consequently perform sex with) anyone provided that; all parties are at the right age, it is done with consent and it is not incestuous.

Instead of thinking that all three “ingredients” are included, I present the view that those are actually three hierarchical stages of a sexual relationship. Though not necessarily literally, it is comparable to the three Hebrew words for love; Eros (where the word erotic came from), Phileo (the most common love) and Estorge (exclusive love). I won’t include the fourth word Agape (godly love) because of its religious uses.

Actually, looking at my concept closely, it is self-explanatory. All it takes is intellectual and moral honesty to really admit that it is what is truly happening in society. No wonder Friendster actually popularized the term “open relationship” and even trademarked the phrase “it’s complicated.”

Intimacy is simply about acting on your attraction. Everyone is attracted to a lot of people. All of us are infatuated, in a way of another, to other people. But unless we act on those attractions, nothing will happen. The first aim then is mutual intimacy. As a more common term, this is what we call as mutual understanding.

Commitment is the next level. It is actually formalizing that there is actually a relationship going on. It is recognizing the fact that both of you enjoys being with each other and commits that there is, in whatever way, some understanding of expectations and boundaries.

But having some form of commitment is not really being exclusive. Our hypocritical society only imposes that commitment is exclusive to being exclusive. But everyone has a friend who tries to justify having an affair with someone else while being in a commitment, right? Whatever their reason is, we must acknowledge the fact that exclusivity is something that is a notch higher.

I must admit though, in order to protect the usual preys from hustlers, given the Philippine context, all relationship should be considered exclusive unless there is an explicit understanding that it is not. I don’t want my views to be a weapon of the usual suspects for some breach of trust within their relationships. I refuse to use the term “infidelity” because of its moral undertones but that is another story.

In a lot of instances, the rush from plain commitment towards exclusivity is detrimental to the relationship itself. In tagalog, we call it as hinog-sa-pilit and  if it is not just rushed but forced, it will be a shotgun wedding that will produce another “unfaithful” husband/wife.

I must say though that it is still best to be in an exclusive relationship. It is the highest form of love towards another person. It is recognizing the fact that jealousy is not just an emotional thing but also mental torture.

But it is better to be honest and tell your partner that your attraction is not exclusive rather than fooling her/him that she/he is the only one you love.