Will and Jada Pinkett Smith Taught Me Relationships Aren’t One Size Fits All

How the Hollywood power couple’s unorthodox style of love helped me embrace my own

Joshua Everett
Published in
6 min readNov 16, 2021


Photo: Axelle/Getty Images

In a recent interview with GQ, Will Smith confirmed long-standing rumors that he and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith were in an open, or ethically nonmonogamous (ENM), relationship. There are many nuances to ENM, and Will didn’t go into many specifics. But for anyone unfamiliar, an ENM relationship is one in which both parties consent to be sexually and/or romantically involved with others.

Will’s revelation is no surprise to many. Since they began dating in the 1990s, the Smiths have fielded rumors of infidelity, living a swinger lifestyle, and impending divorce. (Will gets even more candid about the origin of unconventional marriage in his newly released memoir, Will.) Before this most recent admission, the Smiths have been open about their struggles with marriage and their need to redefine their relationship. Jada has likened being a wife to “a golden cage.” She has publicly noted that Will has “all the freedom in the world” as long as he can “look himself in the mirror and be okay.”

Then, of course, there was thee Red Table Talk. Anyone tangentially aware of the Smiths watched or heard about this conversation, and the word Jada used to describe her involvement with August Alsina. Celebrity blogs and the Twittersphere (along with its sister worlds, the InstaGossip Shop and Facebook Outlet Mall) have focused on the more salacious aspects of Will and Jada’s relationship. Who’s fucking whom? Who’s living where? Who knew about what? The pained look on Will’s face during the Red Table Talk episode birthed countless memes (he’s noted that the expression on his face was more indicative of physical exhaustion than emotional torment).

Some have lamented the nontraditional nature of Will and Jada’s relationship as a failed Black love experiment. Others have called Jada a hypocrite who doesn’t deserve her platform. Then there are the people who have treated this news as a loss of cultural innocence. If Will and Jada can’t live in domestic, monogamous bliss, where’s the hope for the rest of us? Ten years ago, I may have shared many of the aforementioned sentiments. But as someone who’s been…