Like I said in the last post, there’s also going to be a few non-personal posts with my thoughts on sex, sexuality and relationships, mixed in with the rest!
Originally I wanted to write about these things separately but when I tried to I found it’s really hard to talk about one without the other, so here we go, you’re getting a mish-mash. It might still turn into two posts – ooh the suspense – depending on how long it grows. We’ll see.
So, let’s start off with monogamy, shall we? Since I suppose you can’t be an adulterer/adulteress without it. In the society we’re all familiar with, finding a life partner and settling down is still even now seen as the “normal” thing to do, and for a lot of people it’s (one of) the major goal(s) their life. But is that really monogamy? After all, look at how many people you’ve dated, slept with, kissed or whatever, before you find “the one”. Even if you got married to your childhood sweetheart at the age of 16 and then divorced at 30, then married again after five years of celibacy, your second relationship already negates “monogamy” in the truest sense. We’re not pigeons and we don’t pair-bond for life, thank fuck (can you imagine being saddled FOR LIFE with the person you had your first ill-advised awkward fumble with? I can, but I don’t want to… No offence if you’re reading this). At best, we can be described as “serial monogamists” – creatures, for lack of a better word, who theoretically have a series of individual encounters or relationships which are by and large monogamous.
But. It doesn’t always work out like that, does it? Wandering eyes can lead to wandering hands and eventually to wandering genitalia, often repeatedly. Be it a one-off, or a full-blown regular affair, cheating, as it’s known, does happen, and I think it happens more often than we’d all like to acknowledge. But what does and does not constitute cheating? Does it start with the first look, the first kiss, the first sexual act, or as Piero claims in Umberto Carteni’s hilarious and highly-recommended bisexual romantic comedy “Different from Whom?”, after the third time you go to bed with the “other person”? The film also touches a bit on the fluidity of sexuality, which is another blog post in the making.
(Food for thought, in the words of Shazzie: “and what is and isn’t sex anyway? You can have amazing intimate encounters with people that don’t involve sex, and you can have the worst sex ever tat felt as emotional as standing at a bus stop”. I’m not going to get into that debate here but it’s worth thinking about).
I don’t pretend to have the answers to these questions, and I don’t believe everyone does. They’re things that need to be worked out primarily by you yourself, or if you’re already in a relationship, between you and your partner. If you’re single, sitting yourself down and having a good think about what you actually want out of a relationship, and more importantly why that’s what you want (just because it’s what everyone expects? Because it’s all you’ve ever known? Or because you want to try new things?) is really important. As I mentioned above, finding your own boundaries with what behaviour you’d accept from a partner and expect them to accept from you, is also worth taking into consideration. Be honest with yourself, there’s no point in trying to tell yourself anything other than the truth anyway. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with and when you do meet Mr./Ms./Mx. Right (or even Mr./Ms./Mx. Right Now), make sure you’re fairly upfront about your beliefs and desires. It’s probably not a great idea to do this on the first date (“I want every second Wednesday off to go and have sex with a stranger/my friend who is the same/opposite sex from me/you”). When you do bring it up, a bit further into the relationship (but not too far), be gentle about it and try to describe it as something that can be negotiated, even if it’s a dealbreaker for you. Also be prepared to listen to your parter’s concerns, views, and suggestions. You never know, they might have thought of something even more fun that never occurred to you!
If you’re already in a relationship, that can make negotiations a bit trickier – really, they’re renegotiations, since you’ve presumably already laid out your ground rules in the beginning. Generally though I’d say the same rules would apply; be gentle, and be prepared to negotiate. In this case you also have to be prepared to be disappointed, because there’s a chance that your partner might not feel the same way as you do about open relationships. And then you could be faced with a choice between the lifestyle you’re interested in trying out, or your partner; probably not an easy decision to make.
All of that said, you could sit down and ask yourself the very same questions and very rationally come to the conclusion that, actually, monogamy really is what you’re after; a long term intimate relationship which only involves one partner for both romantic and sexual desires. That’s a perfectly valid choice, but the point I’m trying to make (and probably not doing very well at making) is that it has to be a choice, not an assumption that that’s the way things are going to be. You can decide for yourself what kind of sex and romantic life you want to have and as long as you’ve thought through the implications and are firm in your decision, then it’s the right decision. For you, not for everyone – just because you have solid reasons for being a serial monogamist/ethical slut/swinger/celibate, doesn’t mean those reasons hold true for everyone and judging others or trying to convince them your way is right isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. If you want some guidance working all of this shit out, I really recommend the book The Ethical Slut, which is part guide, part workbook to working out what kind of relationship you want to have with the significant other(s) in your life and how to go about making it happen.
So what, then, am I after in a relationship? Am I even after a relationship? Those are two big questions (for me, at least. You probably don’t care but you’ve made it this far so you might as well keep reading). The honest answer is that I’m pretty much up for anything. I have a fair bit of fun – obviously, or I wouldn’t have this blog – but if I’m being honest, I miss cuddles and presents and, well, closeness. I like waking up next to someone without a hangover, and knowing more than their name and sexual preference. Does this mean I want a long-term monogamous relationship with someone? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m open to negotiations on most things and I’ll try almost anything once except watersports. As someone who very openly identifies as bisexual and more privately as polysexual, I don’t feel the need to necessarily have (the opportunity for) sexual contact with both sexes or lots of partners with different gender identities, at the same time, as some people seem to believe to be true of non-monosexuals. At the end of the day what I’m looking for is someone who I can be physically and emotionally close to. If I happen to find two or more of those people (then again, how hard is it to find even one decent partner!), I’ll need to re-examine this. All I can say just now is watch this space.