On Selling Sunset's Bre and Chelsea Nonmonogamy Drama
"Selling Sunset"'s Bre and Chelsea Drama Shows Why We Need to Stop Judging Nonmonogamy
As "Selling Sunset" fans binge-watch and weigh in on the latest season, one plot point has stood out: series newcomer Bre Tiesi facing judgment over her nonmonogamous relationship with Nick Cannon. On Netflix's überpopular reality show, realtor Chelsea Lazkani said that she finds the relationship "off-putting," that Cannon is "creating multiple broken homes," and that she would not conduct her relationships that way "as a Christian." Lazkani also claimed that Cannon cannot possibly have enough time for her and Tiesi's son, Legendary, given that he's the father of 12 children, and assumed that his most recent child with Alyssa Scott was kept a secret from Tiesi.
Tiesi, a model as well as a real estate agent, told Just Jared on May 24 that she's "not a monogamy kind of person," adding, "Everything I've ever seen is divorce, and people are unhappy and it ends badly, and the kids suffer."
She also told the outlet, "I don't know if I would say I'm single. I've been in ― I don't want to call it open, but open relationship, I guess. I just know we just had a baby, we're really happy, so I'm happy in my relationship now."
An open relationship is one kind of nonmonogamous relationship in which two partners are allowed to have other sexual (and possibly romantic) relationships. While it may not be super common to see nonmonogamous relationships on screen, they are all around us every day. In a 2020 YouGov poll, one in eight Americans said they'd engaged in sexual activity with another person with their primary partner's consent.
We should work to end the stigma against nonmonogamy, not nonmonogamy itself.
Still, many people seem to have knee-jerk reactions like Lazkani's. Over two-thirds of Americans in a more recent YouGov survey, for instance, said they oppose making it legal to marry more than one person. Some assume, like Lazkani, that monogamy is necessary for a committed relationship and stable household.
However, many of these assumptions are based more on stereotypes than on fact. In reality, monogamous relationships are not always stable or committed, either. One in five Americans say they've cheated (according to the 2020 YouGov poll), and half of first marriages (not to mention even more second and third marriages) end in divorce.
And as Tiesi herself brought up on Instagram, being monogamous with your spouse doesn't guarantee that they'll carry their weight when it comes to household work or childcare, either. Nonmonogamous relationships can actually have their own unique benefits when it comes to child-rearing — they can allow children to have more people supporting and caring for them. While monogamous marriages can certainly provide a positive environment for kids, Tiesi has a point that they are not necessarily better than arrangements like hers.
Lazkani also evoked Christianity in her argument against Cannon and Tiesi's relationship, but there are many ways to approach relationships and sex as a Christian, and as Tiesi herself told "Entertainment Tonight," Christianity is about not judging others. If people who judged nonmonogamy instead listened to nonmonogamous people and learned about their experiences, they might better understand them, and being nonmonogamous would probably become less difficult altogether.
The biggest risk to being in a nonmonogamous relationship, in fact, may be the stigma associated with it. Not only do many people feel that they cannot open up to their families and friends about their nontraditional arrangements, but they do not have the same rights with regard to marriage and parenthood as monogamous people. If we want people to have healthy relationships and want children to grow up in better environments, we should work to end the stigma against nonmonogamy, not nonmonogamy itself.
Ultimately, a healthy relationship and family can exist within many relationship structures.
Ultimately, a healthy relationship and family can exist within many relationship structures, and what matters is not whether the people involved have additional partners, but whether they treat one another with respect. Far from what Lazkani assumed about Cannon keeping his most recent child a secret, those in nonmonogamous relationships are often very good at communicating and respecting boundaries. Because they are crafting their own relationship from the ground up — rather than following unspoken societal rules — many of these partners talk about everything. And because they can talk about their desire to be with other people, they're probably less likely to sneak around behind their partners' backs.
As Tiesi said of her decision to have a child with Cannon, "I just respect and love who he is so much as a person. . . . Look at your characteristics, look at your personality, look at how you treat people." That is what really matters in a relationship and what we should all strive for — whatever relationship style we choose.