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?