When news spread this week that singer August Alsina was alleging a years-long affair with Jada Pinkett Smith, many were shocked — but not for the reason you’d think. Fans who have long followed Jada and husband Will Smith’s relationship recall comments from over the years that left them all but certain these two had an open relationship. But Jada’s representatives have swiftly denied all allegations from Alsina, including his assertion that husband Will had ok’ed their affair from day one. Because this whole situation has our heads spinning, and because Will and Jada are known for being so open about their relationship, we decided to do some digging into everything they’ve said about whether or not they have an open relationship.
A quick caveat before we dig in — if Will and Jada are in an open relationship, that’s wonderful! It’s clearly served them for 23 years (and counting). It is not, however, a referendum on anything to do with Alsina or the credibility of his claims. We’re just grateful that Will and Jada have revealed so much about the inner workings of their marriage, and it’s been fascinating to watch their journey evolve in real time.
Here’s how they’ve addressed whether or not they’re in an open relationship.
2005: Will breaks the ice
In 2005, eight years after the couple married, Will Smith said this to the Daily Mail about his marriage: “If it came down to it, then one can say to the other, ‘Look, I need to have sex with somebody. I’m not going to if you don’t approve of it — but please approve of it.'”
2013: Jada says Will is his “own man”
Jada gave her own take eight years later, telling Huffington Post: “I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay. Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man.”
When Jada’s comments caused a stir among her fan base, the actress took to Facebook to clarify her thoughts — and share her disappointment at our limited view of relationships.
“Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should ‘behave’?” Jada wrote. “Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of ‘you better act right or else’ keep one honest and true?”
“Here is how I will change my statement…Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so,” she continued. “This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.”
2015: Jada says she’s not Will’s “watcher”
Two years later, Jada doubles down on her comments to Howard Stern. “At the end of the day, I’m not here to be anybody’s watcher. I’m not his watcher. He’s a grown man. I trust that the man that Will is is a man with integrity. He’s got all the freedom in the world. And as long as Will can look himself in the mirror and be OK? I’m good.”
“I’m not the kind of woman that believes that a man’s not gonna be attracted to other women,” she added. “It’s just not realistic. And just because your man is attracted to another woman doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. And it doesn’t mean he’s gonna act on it.”
2017: Jada addresses the swingers rumor
In 2017, Jada went on Watch What Happens Live and was asked about the craziest rumor she’d ever heard about her family. “The craziest rumor? That Will and I are swingers,” she said, laughing. “That’s the craziest one. It’s constant. And I’m like yo, I wish. I wish!”
While Jada Pinkett Smith’s representatives have denied Alsina’s claims, Will Smith has yet to speak out. The good news is that this couple has plenty of practice talking about their relationship. If anyone can navigate these tricky times, it’s them.
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