My relationship styles have changed consistently over the years, always ebbing and flowing with what I needed, or thought I needed, at the time. I’ve been monogamous, poly, and even a somewhat interesting combination of the two which I think Facebook has termed something like “It’s complicated”, and right they were.
There are very unique qualities to these types of relationships, where if you haven’t lived as each at some point or another, you really can’t take a step back far enough to be able to say just what those are. A recent conversation with my sexy running friend really brought this into focus for me last week. We were texting one night, and as most of our conversations go, who knows what it even was really about. Texts are like highlights of mental processes kept brief for efficiency. It’s like reading the Cliff’s Notes of a real conversation. Somehow in the midst of this texting, the subject of this girl who had been none to shy with her advances towards him came up. Seeing as he didn’t seem to be rebuffing, I asked him if he had designs on fucking her. If I’m going to be fucking someone, I like to know who else will be playing in the pool, and I made that known.
The conversation that followed my query was a very clear example of the uniquenesses between monogamous and polyamorous people.
I admit that I can be a judgmental person. Fuck, we all are. I think it’s dishonest to not admit that on some level, everyone is, no matter how much they plead otherwise. This girl is a stripper. Having known an acquaintance friend who was a stripper, and hearing stories from her and her friends first hand, I know strippers sling ass like diners sling pancakes on a Sunday morning. That’s cause enough to make me reconsider even jumping in the pool if I know she’ll possibly be sharing too. For that reason, I asked him to let me know if he did, and I added, that I would offer the same courtesy as well if I have sex with someone else in addition to him.
His response? “lol I don’t mind. I have no claim on you, and we haven’t done anything yet really”
My response? “It’s not about claim, it’s about health. Hello? STDs? You’re already claimed lol”, to which he replied, “I assume you will be as smart and as safe as possible. But yeah, if you get an STD, tell me”
Say what? “If” I? I don’t want to be in that position.
I was really bothered by that, and the more I thought it over, I realized why. I was trying to have a very normal, run of the mill, polyamorous conversation with a monogamous person, and there in lay my problem. In a polyamorous relationship, when adding lovers to the mix, it’s done with full disclosure to pre-existing partners. Since I am inches away from dropping my panties, I figured I would ask beforehand. Polyamory, when done well and right, is about honesty and choice, and how those two meet.
Now, I am all for multiple partners, but I like to know who the players are. Too may people in the pool make me uncomfortable, and yes, that is where my choice comes in. I have ceased being lovers with people in the past when I felt they were sleeping with too many people at the same time, or felt the partners they chose were out of my comfort zone for the same reason. I like being healthy, and would like to stay that way, thank you. This was, to me, a very basic conversation to have when multiple partners are involved. ￼
I realize now that this is incredibly hypocritical of me considering I am ready to take a man to bed who is doing so behind the back of the current lover he has. It’s more than kind of foolish of me to expect honesty from someone who is being dishonest to his own girlfriend. She isn’t getting the same curtsey, so why should I dare to expect the same? Perhaps these are questions and quandaries that are unique to a polyamorous mindset.
What I found very interesting too was this idea of “claim”, and how in my wanting to know, or my desire to inform, about additional sexual partners, must be about some sense of ownership. How does open disclosure equal claim? It’s not necessarily a uniquely monogamous thought I suppose, seeing as in some poly situations there is the potential for veto power from existing partners, so what then? Why claim? And then it dawned on me, that sometimes monogamy can be confused with control, and in that control, ownership of the individual you share the relationship with. They are yours and no one elses sexually. It’s not meant to be, because it’s based on a mutual choice to be exclusive, but humans by nature are territorial creatures, and sometimes that animal comes out even in the best relationships.
When I was married back when I was 22, my husband insisted that no one else could see me naked. He went with me to a clothing optional campground, and although everyone else was going in the hot tub and pool naked, he told me I had to wear my bathing suit. Why? Because I was his. He didn’t want anyone else but himself to see his wife naked. I’m not sure why this seemed so dangerous to him. I believe he felt that it was an invitation for others to want me, and the clothing was akin to a lock and a key on something he had captured. To me nudity is very comfortable, very freeing, and I just don’t see what there was about it that was so disturbing to him for me to be naked in the company of others who were too. I honestly at the time had no designs on straying, but I can tell you without a doubt that this was the first nail in the coffin of our relationship. I am not a thing to be owned.
I am not something to be controlled or tamed. I certainly would not wish to inflict this sort of ownership on anyone else either. This is where all relationships find doom, no matter how many partners are involved.
So monogamous people, please don’t feel I am saying you’re all a bunch of control freaks. I know this is not the case. You can have freedom even with commitments. I know this and have lived this. And polyamorous people, don’t think I’m saying that somehow you are loftier than monogs because of your honesty and candid disclosure, because I have firsthand experience that is not the case as well.
Thank you every day conversations for brining to light the differences between how people from different relationship styles communicate.