Will and Jada Smith found themselves at the center of a scandal last week, when the tabloid Star Magazine allegedly caught Will canoodling with Margot Robbie, a 23-year-old actress and a costar of Focus, a movie he’s shooting in New Orleans.
The tabloid ran pictures from a photo booth photo shoot of Will and Robbie hamming it up. In one picture they are baring their chests at the camera; in another they are flashing peace signs; in the third, he’s hugging her from behind and throwing the peace sign. It looks pretty chummy, if not necessarily lascivious.
But Star’s spin on the cover story might be missing a key ingredient to the Smiths’ marriage. While the cover blared: “Will & Jada: The Photos That Will Tear Them Apart!” and alleged, “Will cheats with sexy 23-year-old in New Orleans,” it has long been rumored that the Smiths have an open relationship.
Robbie’s already taken to Twitter to issue a denial:
But in April, Jada Smith told Huff Post Live: “I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK. Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man,” she said. “It comes from respecting that you are in a partnership and that also you are an individual as well.”
Later, she clarified in a Facebook post: “Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.”
Though they aren’t totally fessing up, the Smiths aren’t the first celebrity couple to face open marriage speculation/rumors and open relationship talk. When the picture of Robin Thicke with his hand on Lana Scolaro’s butt at a VMA afterparty was Instagrammed and Tweeted around the world, the typical narrative of the celebrity scandal was upended. This time, Thicke wasn’t in trouble with his wife; she wasn’t about to leave him; and he wasn’t getting dumped for being a dog.
Perhaps that has to do with Thicke’s carefully cultivated—and relatively new— image as a Lothario (see: “Blurred Lines.”) But in this narrative, his wife, actress Paula Patton, was supposedly cool with it all. Scolaro told the tabs that Patton was in the next room, and didn’t mind. “He mentioned that he and his wife are very chill. He was like, “Be nice to her, she’ll like you, she’ll love you,” she told Life&Style.
And Thicke’s interview with Howard Stern last July also seemed to imply that they had an unconventional relationship. “We’ve done just about everything,” he said. But he stopped short of saying they were in an open marriage. “Out of respect for her, we just won’t answer that one.”
Later, Patton’s rep denied it all: “It’s just a girl looking for some attention.”
If the Smiths and Thicke and his wife do have a very French arrangement, they wouldn’t be alone. Polyamory and open relationships have been gaining prominence with the public. From TV shows like Polyamory: Married and Dating to celebrities like Mo’Nique coming out about being in an open relationship, polyamorous (loosely defined as loving more than one person at a time) relationships are becoming more visible. If you are on a dating site like OkCupid, chances are you’ve encountered someone who is already in a relationship looking to spice things up.
“I think more people are participating in open marriages and polyamory now than ever before,” says Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage. “It’s becoming clear that heterosexual monogamous marriage simply doesn’t work for most people. And I think people are tired of being unhappy and dissatisfied.”
With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, monogamy may seem like impossible ideal. “We cannot control our own desires and we certainly cannot control the desires of others,” says Block, who has been in an open marriage for the past 10 years. “You cannot tell someone, ‘Don’t be attracted to anyone else. Don’t desire anyone else.’ You can say, ‘If we’re going to be together, I want it to be monogamous.’ But you cannot control the other person’s heart and mind. The heart wants what it wants.” ...