Category Archives: Love Life

Monogamy is Ambiguous and I might be a Hypocrite

 

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This is a confusing world we live in.  Just when you think you’ve thrown off all the traditional mores you were raised with and become who you really are, you are faced with something you never saw coming – the fact that people actually like to have exclusive relationships in which they also have sex with other people.  Like other people who aren’t in the two-person relationship with them.

I hate this about relationships: people talk about them like they are beasts that need to be fed.  “We need to work on our relationship.”  “We are taking some time together to work on our relationship.”  “We are in couples counseling so we can work on our relationship.”  “We need to work on our relationship so we can get married/buy a house/have a baby.”  Fuck, why do relationships need to be work?  I already have more than one job.  I just want to meet someone cool to hang out with; then we can live together, have simultaneous orgasms together four to five times a week (even more if we shower regularly and get enough sleep), read the NY Times together on Sundays while we eat breakfast (it’s too much newspaper for one person as I am reminded on a weekly basis), and like, I don’t know, be on the Amazing Race?  Or at least travel enough that we feel like we went on it?

I mean really, that’s what I want.  What everyone wants – a best friend, right?  But like, a best friend that I have sex with, who has the same ideas about housecleaning.  But nobody wants a best friend with no other friends right?  I want all my best friends to hang out with other girls, have a hobby that doesn’t interest me, and not make me feel like they are dependent on me.  I used to say to my ex: “every day I will set you free, and every day I will hope you come back to me.”  I can’t believe how full of shit I was either, but I was honest about the fact that I didn’t need or want to do everything with him.  I wanted to do lots of things with him, and I wanted to keep doing lots of things into the future, without worrying about where we were gonna live or if we could afford to be adults and stuff like that.  I just wanted to love each other and be kind.  The fun part was already there, or we wouldn’t have been together in the first place.  And I was okay with him having some secrets, as long as I could keep mine as well.   But one of those secrets wasn’t going to be other women in our present.  And he never could have handled that either, if it was other men for me.  Non monogamy just seems like a load of additional work.  Think of the therapy and talking and honesty about EVERYTHING.  I don’t even like my boyfriends to be in the bathroom when I pee if I can help it.  Mystery, please.

It occurred to me that beyond the internet linking us across continents (and, city blocks, if you’re the type to Tinder for your dates or your ass), air travel changed the world before I came into it.  You can’t meet anyone in my city who hasn’t been to Iceland now that we can fly there direct.  People are full of photos of themselves in various locales.  This traveler is who I am in my heart and will always be, they seem to say;  “You can never pin me down”.  It’s an option my Mom never would have had – because she had us, my sister and I, by the time she was eleven years younger than me now.  What else was she going to do?

So more than world travelers, we are daily travelers in my circle – meeting and connecting with so many people for work or friendship or some kind of transaction.  The options can seem limitless even in this formerly small city.  I don’t want to not be able to enjoy that, and I’d never expect a partner to give up that openness, or expect him to have a life in which he felt like he was my man, glued to my side, unable to act in so many fashions.  Some privacy, some separateness.  I need this too.  We want to keep this feeling of seeing the other one across a room – there you are, my special one, just like you were before we met.  And so perfect, as I found you then and find you now.

Then again, I’m hypocrite like anyone.  And occasionally, when I fall in love, I forget all of that, start cooking more, watching Netflix, and falling asleep on my lover at 11:30pm on our couch.

I feel that intimate moments are the only time we can really feel like we own each other.  I am yours, and you are mine, because this is the one thing we have we don’t share with people.  I don’t want to let go of that like all these uncomfortable trappings of supposed adulthood and relationships I’ve watched drift away.  This one I really like, and it makes me feel safe.

My personal monogamy is this: if we are sleeping together, regularly – for example, once a week – we can’t be doing it with anyone else.  But if we are sleeping together like, once a month, I might be squeezing someone else in around you.  Because neither one of you are reliable most of the time, you’re just reliable infrequently, I consider myself an uncommitted single who is enjoying the moment and the present you bring me when you bring it.  However, this situation has only really lived in one era of my life.  Other times I had some overlap… because I was young, and on the town, and would meet one guy who would fade, or didn’t live where I lived, or was married, or something like that… and some other guy would show up on the tail end of it.  It was clear how uncommitted everyone was.  But I was always looking for something sacred.  That was always the hope on which I acted. You know, like Carrie Bradshaw.  And Charlotte.  Miranda and Samantha were sluts.

Other people seem to drift from one intimate transaction to another, day by day, or week by week, when I still want it to mean something.  Do I hold on to moments meant to last for minutes and try to make them keep for years? Or do I go in getting exactly what I was looking for and then try to make it something else?  That’s when it hurts.

A friend who is decidedly and openly non-monogamous described the intense sex he had with a recent connection – a very strong, strong connection who then ghosted him.  She’d said “are you giving this kind of dick to everyone?”  Excuse the crude language, but isn’t that what we all wonder when it’s that good and we aren’t sure if we are the only one?  We want to be number one somehow, right?  It’s what we wonder in a break up when we see our ex with someone else.  He can’t be with her like he was with me – it’s not possible, right?

I can’t reconcile non monogamy with sluttishness.  They must go together, shouldn’t they?  But I’ve never considered myself slutty, and I don’t believe in celibacy at all.  I’m always looking for a regular sex partner who will devote himself to me even if I want to be able to leave the situation at any moment for a more suitable actual boyfriend, or, because I’ve become bored with casual sex going nowhere (hypocritical – and I found myself in this very situation recently).  But like, someone who embraces non monogamy, is that possible without being a slut?  I mean, isn’t multiple partners the definition of promiscuity?  But then that would include any single person who has sex.  My friends have often teased me for being the prissy one, the one with the shortest list (though I have finally come to terms with being a queen cock tease; I love a good make out that ends when I decide I don’t want to have sex with the guy), but I took a quiz that determined I have had sex with 95% more people than most people my age.  I guess you can be non monogamous without specifically seeking sex, but just wanting to be able to have it when you want to.  It’s hard for me to picture, but my openly non monogamous friends are probably not the womanizers an ex of mine from the past decidedly is.  How I put this knowledge aside when we were in love, and how it was cruelly painful to me once were apart.

Fuck, this is all so confusing.  I don’t have many rules, but I have this one.  It’s the only way I really know.  Love is so hard to find – once finding it, how can it not be enough?

 

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Lemonade

Beyonce is a Woman, and Women Like Her Can Not Be Contained

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“The Dragon Breathing Fire” Beyonce is my fave Beyonce so far.

I said to someone recently “I’m willing to take my chances”.  I know that’s all I have, and my chances (choices) sometimes boomerang hard and fast.  Who knew Beyonce has fucking problems too.

Like many of you (I assume based on the cross section of people I deal with in my life), I’m obsessed with Lemonade.  I can’t claim to be Beyonce’s biggest fan or anything – other than her hits I really began to notice her last year when a friend put “7/11” on a playlist for our lake trip.  I’m not usually into edgy sounding (are you getting I don’t know what is edgy in this genre?) dance music but that one really grew on me (how FUCKING cool is that video?) and I got into the rest of Beyonce when the need arose very quickly after that trip.  I needed upbeat empowerment.  Yeah, I had Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora (“Black Widow” and “Work”), Demi Lovato (“Confident”), Zara Larsson (“Lush Life”) and even a little Hailee Steinfeld (“Love Myself”) in my playlist – that’s how badly I had to brainwash myself into thinking I’d someday not be the pathetic mess that had replaced the confident sexy vixen I’d been.  This is the fallout of romantic rejection on a powerful woman.  Tell yourself in the mirror honey, “I love you, and I’ll always be there for you.”  It’s sad but it works – and you have to make it true.  Oh yeah, Ryan Adams singing the entire Taylor Swift “1989” album… that really suited me.

More than a companion to these other female pop stars – Beyonce was my queen.  Not just with Beyonce, but with Nicki Minaj on “Feeling Myself” and with Destiny’s Child.  I always fantasized about doing an “Independent Woman” parody featuring myself washing my car at a self serve, carrying groceries, and sexily mowing a lawn.

Then, Lemonade.  A friend gushed to me about it the day after the film was released on HBO.  I was tired from my two jobs and we were hiking and talking, a little bit, about dudes and the need to get laid.  “They’re just so dumb,” I said.  “I really sometimes think all I need them for is sex, but they can’t even handle that.”  I love men.  Really.  But I have everything I need, other than sex (intimacy!), because I don’t think one of them is ever going to take care of me.  So I finally buy Lemonade the next day and I begin listening, but I don’t manage to watch the entire film until a few days later.  I find myself in tears at the end of “All Night Long”, because I can’t believe Beyonce is still with Jay-Z.

Obviously Lemonade is about so much more than a marriage and infidelity, real or imagined, and I can’t stop reading articles about everything it means.  It takes the synchronized (by Bey herself) contributions of so many artists to make such a piece of work.  It’s also about more than womanhood – though I take this message from it so intensely seriously – it’s about being a marginalized American black woman of course.  I think – even Beyonce deals with this shit, this relationship shit, this gender-specific shit.  We are women – she is sexy, she is a parent (mother), she is smart like a fucking whip, she is a badass, she “gives you life”, she is still grinding with no pants on at thirty four after giving birth, she has piles and piles of paper.  I love her.  In other words, she is everything that is traditionally a man.

In the end of Lemonade, Beyonce claims that true love has saved the day.  I am left wondering, do we ever really fall in love?  Or do we just fall in lust that sometimes lasts for years?  Then that link is broken, or tired, and is it just whatever we brainwash ourselves into to keep a relationship together?  I wonder this about myself.  Never one to stray, but also not one to stay, my relationships always ended when I got bored and frustrated.  I finally told myself, as an adult in my thirties, that people stay together because they want to and decide to.  If this is unconditional love, I tried to practice it, albeit on someone I had such a burning lust for I could validate my own devotion easily.  I still ached for his body even when I hated every word that came out of his mouth, and for months after he gracelessly and abruptly ended things.  Seeing him with another woman (flagrantly) was the cruelest backwash of our ending, because what did we have if not the strongest of physical bonds – which I thought was an ephemeral issue of our love?  It seemed clear then, nothing.

Despite never being cheated on (to my knowledge), the betrayal aspect of Lemonade strikes me the hardest.  It’s so difficult to believe a man you get on your knees in limos for would actually need something sexually from another woman – especially if one aspect of your connection is that transcendent kind of “we’re in love” sex that accompanies deeply intimate relationships. No matter how much she kept it sexy and fun, and had her own money, and no matter how easy it is for her man compared to when a man had to really support a woman and her children (giving him more of a license to stray) – it doesn’t matter.  Even Beyonce gets cheated on.

Here’s the thing though – what I get from Lemonade is that Beyonce fixed everything that Jay-Z fucked up by forgiving his betrayal – by loving more deeply.  Her power seems to be claiming that only true love is real and her husband’s transgressions are the object of a problem greater than them.  But of course she has to be the one powerful enough to know this, if it is true. She saves the fucking day in her marriage, her love overcomes the pride of her much older husband, she is stronger than everyone.  Which is to say, she loves more than anyone, and harder, more painfully.

I want to think it’s noble: forgiveness, and repairing something, and unconditionally loving a flawed man who has cheated on you with another woman (and by Dan Savage’s rules if people asked permission before they cheated, maybe we could make all this stuff ok) but – why are women the ones that have to be strong?  Why do we have to do everything?  Every angry moment of  the first part of Lemonade resonates with me – the doubt, the denial, the beast awakening into absolute rage on my favorite track “Don’t Hurt Yourself”.  As the redemption process begins there’s a birth, things change, Beyonce comes out in the end a different woman, and as is pointed out in this article, the sex is still there but it’s different now – it means something again now, after it’s been used both to maintain a man and betray a woman.  It’s sacred, like most people agree it is when you love the person you’re with.

The times I’ve climbed out of despair, of that burning rage that comes with the most betrayal-laded heartbreak, in my mind I’m a phoenix rising, with new stuff in my closet and jewelry around my neck and probably some of my comfortable “boyfriend” weight melted from my hips.  I emerged alone.  Never did I transform and come back to that same man, whether he wanted me to or not.  Part of me just wishes Beyonce would “bounce to the next dick”.  Because what else can we really count on?

To quote poetry from Lemonade read by Beyonce… “why are you afraid of love?”  I think, we all know why.

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