It’s an interesting term and idea to be sure, this idea of non-monogamy being a way to outsource emotion and sexuality. It could also be thought of as a rather cold or unfeeling term. Trivializing even.
I am simultaneously cursed and blessed with the ability to step back and evaluate my emotions and life with a modicum of detachment. The curse of this is I’m often struck by the absurdity of emotion. The blessing is that this objectivity allows me to take a deep breath and change my perspective, sometimes mid-issue.
As a long time believer that we can’t be everything to one person (hence the largest argument against monogamy) I also believe that what works on the macro level of full relationship, also works on the micro level. Within the elements of your primary relationship, you can’t always be everything your partner needs emotionally, and you can’t always be everything they need sexually.
Sexually, the benefit is the wide range of sexual interests. A couple tends to limit themselves venn-diagram fashion to the overlapping sexual interests that they share. Sometimes this yields a smorgasbord of sexuality, other times it yields mild exploration but certain fetishes and fantasies that are left unfulfilled.
Interest in BDSM is one of the most important outsource-able sexual interests, because the range of practices within can be very divisive. Personally much of BDSM play, especially being Dom, hasn’t really appealed to me. I’m more than happy to indulge Marilyn and have some D/s play or bondage, or spanking every now and again, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to find enjoyment beyond her enjoyment. This was something that I have been more than happy to outsource to friends. And why not? They’re happy, she’s happy. Everybody wins. And it gave me plenty of time to figure out where my interests lie within the BDSM spectrum. (for those interested, I’m starting to enjoy spanking and looking into ropes.)
This idea when applied to the realm of emotions is a bit different, and a bit more of a touchy subject. Many swingers believe that while this idea of “not everything to everyone” is perfectly valid when it comes to sex, there’s often a pullback that accompanies the suggestion that the same could be said about emotion.
An important distinction when it comes to sharing both emotions and sexuality is that I am in no way advocating a wholesale transfer of these things from your primary partner. They should be let in on everything. The benefit of this emotional outsourcing is that you get to share ideas/feelings/issues with a wider variety of people who have a stake in your life and relationships.
We live in a society that still suggests you should keep things bottled up, you shouldn’t share, except maybe with your priest or therapist. The wonderful benefit of close relationships is a unique perspective on important emotions and life issues. To share this close relationship with many people gives you a variety of perspectives, and can also offer comfort, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and any other variation on emotional fulfillment you might need. While one partner may react in a progressive way, leading a charge toward solving a problem, another may just sit back and let you vent, or be that shoulder to cry on.
In the monogamous world, we may have friends for this, but I can tell you hands down that I was never as close to my friends as a monogamous fellow as I am with those in our non-monogamous community. We have this new unflinching ability to be ourselves. This is not to say that certain things won’t come up that challenge even your most open-minded companion’s ability to remain, well, open-minded. This will happen. It happened to us with several of our swing friends as we decided to explore the world of polyamory. But I have found that those moments of “I don’t approve” are not only few and far between, but tend to go away a lot more quickly.