There never was a time I was interested in just one person, even if there were times I was fixated on one person in particular (hi, Darlene...) Of course, that didn't mean I had multiple partners. No, until I was almost 19, I had exactly zero partners outside my dreams.
But boy (girl!) were there a lot of dreams. When I was a teenager, they were sexual dreams, too. All of them.
I stopped being a teenager almost 28 years ago.
At 22, I embarked on my first "poly" relationship...and sunk that 'ship in short order. Torpedoed the bloody thing, really. Burned, and more critically having burned others, I stepped back from any relationships at all until I met Eva five years later.
During that five year dry spell, if you asked me, I would have told you polyamory was what they call communism on a personal level. Beautiful sentiment, completely unrealistic and unworkable in real life, guaranteed to end in tears and probably bloodshed. But oh, what a lovely ideal.
I recognized in Eva someone who was at least as "poly" as I was. It was many years before we became poly in practice, but we had talked about the possibility from the very beginning.
I came out in 2014: you can read the post here. Much of what is in that post came to pass.
Several personal and family friends stepped away from us without explanation. I'm not sure what they were thinking, because none of them bothered to tell me. Maybe that the Breadbin had transformed into a brothel overnight, I don't know. It's been intimated that people don't want their children exposed to us, which is both hurtful and perplexing. As Eva says, 99% of what goes on in this house mirrors any other home, including yours...and the rest is none of anyone's business.
So we lost some people -- as expected -- even before we gained Mark and Kathy, both of whom, for our part, we consider family.
That, at least, was a one-off.
What wasn't, and what has grown so tiresome over the last five and a half years that I've finally said, you'll pardon the expression, fuck it-- IT'S NOT ABOUT THE SEX.
Oh, Ken, you sweet, sweet summer child. Of course it's about the sex. For literally everyone else, polyamorous or not, it's all about sex sex SEX.
I get called "sex-negative" even talking about this, and people inject so much vitriol into the term "sex negative" that they may as well be calling me a child molester or a Trump supporter. Incidentally, I'd never even heard the term, much less been called it, before I came out as poly: one more indication that polyamory, for most people, is about horizontal refreshments and little or nothing else. It has affected every aspect of my poly journey, very negatively, and I'm sick and tired of it. So I'm going to deconstruct this, and yes, for the last time on this particular topic, I am going to get personal.
By the time I wrote that blog I linked above -- July 6, 2014 -- we'd been open for a week. After explaining the dynamic, Eva was told "oh, so you're swingers, then". No, really not: the thought of having sex with strangers is just...I'm not going to call it revolting, because then you'll really swat me with the "sex-negative" stick, but I will call it incomprehensible. This is the most intimate act two people can engage in, at least as far as I'm concerned, and I simply don't know a stranger well enough to know if I want to share a room with her, let alone a bed.
I'd been asked why I got married if I was just going to "fuck around". I didn't have another partner at that point, but I imagined I did, and further imagined how she might feel being reduced to a fuck toy. Internally, I seethed. I didn't hear the proper comeback to that question for a few years: "why'd you buy a house if you were just going to visit other houses?"
I didn't have my first extramarital date for nearly two years, and for a while the scorekeeping grated on me. I didn't keep score, but I had plenty of people willing to do it for me, and observe that I was "losing". Well, no excrement, Holmes: Women can have six dates a night if they want them, but maybe one in sixty will be any kind of quality. Eva actually got lucky: Mark, who is quality, was the second man she dated. I was willing to wait for the right person, never knowing my right person was hiding in plain sight.
But before Kathy and I met, there was a date with a woman named Sarah. I am not in the least intimidated by strong women...every woman I've befriended (and every partner was first a friend) is strong and resilient. But Sarah's intellectual gifts are such that my mind struggled to keep up. She spoke in coherent, often academic paragraphs. She revealed herself to be both passionate and compassionate, and for me that combination is about seven tenths of what I need to fall in love with someone.
At the end of the date, Sarah told me something I was going to hear over and over again: "I can see us being friends, but I can't see anything sexual happening between us."
We're still friends, and I think by now she understands that I was slightly taken aback by her statement. NOT because she said she couldn't imagine having sex with me...THAT I fully understand. Virtually every woman who ever laid eyes on me made damned sure not to lay anything else on me, or imagine me laying anything on her, after all. No, I was taken aback because I truly didn't expect sex to come up on a first date at all, nor did I enter into that date with sex as even a long term objective.
Yet time after time, on date after date, I was treated as if I was evaluating the headboard-knocking potential of a woman's body, when what I was truly interested in all along was everything else. Heart. Soul. Mind. Spirit. Maybe sex would happen, eventually, if it felt right to both of us. But I never once regarded it as something necessary. I still don't. And people think I'm from Altair-4 because of it.
I was told "I do not want a relationship without a sexual component". I was told, three times, "I evaluate sexual compatibility first, and build from there." Which is kind of like saying "I evaluate your ability to climb Mount Everest, and then determine from there if you can walk or not."
It's ironic...my dates rejected me because I wasn't sexual enough, and I'm still regarded as some kind of ravenous sex beast by people who haven't even deigned to meet me!
I tried to be something closer to that, something more akin to polyamory as most people practice it. I found someone willing to try with me...and I bailed as soon as I realized I was to be absolutely nothing more than a booty call, to be used at her whim and ignored at every other time. Ugh. I found another person who truly did care for me, and I for her, but as I mentioned, there were fundamental incompatibilities I first chose to ignore, and then chose to run away from.
Most people have come to terms with Mark. They've been forced to: he lives here, and I think, or at least I hope, people have seen just how important he is to Eva (and to me!) But Kathy still isn't fully accepted in my circle and nor am I in hers. This by turns depresses the hell out of me and infuriates me.
I have pressed, at times too hard I'll admit, for openness, transparency, and above all the legitimacy that should come with openness and transparency. I HATE being a dirty, shameful secret. There's nothing dirty or shameful about Kathy and I. I don't need to be flaunted, exactly, but I'd love to be at a point where nobody has to think twice about my being next to her. It has been two years of dedicated partnership.
I think I understand people's non-acceptance.
I wasn't the only one told that my polyamory was a "phase": Kathy heard it too. In her case it was true. She tried, for over a year, to find someone who would be a partner to her as I was. Her story to tell if she chooses to, but suffice it to say
- it didn't work out, largely because every man out there just wanted to get his dick wet;
- "it didn't work out" is the understatement of the new decade.
And yet I'm still here. I take that to indicate something worked out, but I think (some) others see me as a shameful, dirty remnant of a phase of her life that is best forgotten. I think (some) others imagine me as just like all the others, stringing Kathy along, in it to get my dick wet.
Well. Here's my statement on that.
I have already mentioned at one point that Eva and I have discussed scenarios that would see me with Kathy. They were actually discussed startlingly early. God (or more pertinently, Kathy) willing and the crick don't rise, they'll be discussed in detail down the road. That is up to her and I put no pressure on her. But I do commit to loving her, to the best of my ability, for as long as she'll have me. I do hope that's a good long time. She deserves someone who won't abandon her, and who will cheer her on as she continually evolves into the next greatest version of the grandest vision she ever had about who she is.
And no, I don't love Eva any less, in much the same way Eva doesn't love me any less just because Mark is in her life. THAT, at least, is poly of me, poly as I understand the term.
Yet I have been informed I am in fact monogamous, in no small part because if I was really polyamorous, I would have no trouble engaging in casual sex, nor would it bother me if my partners did.
Funny thing about that: I'm not in the least bothered by my partners having loving, committed sex with others. I think that's great. But when they're being objectified and used as sperm receptacles, yeah, that really turns me off. I mean, intellectually, I get it, sex can just be this meaningless activity that feels kind of nice. For me, without love there, there's no feeling of any kind, but hey, I'm weird. I still don't understand what would possess someone to consent to be so blatantly used. It feels cheap and tawdry to me. Sex-negative? Call it that if you wish. I actually have no issue with you having casual sex if that's your jam. It just means you won't be having any kind of sex with me. Because, as I keep saying and nobody will believe, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE DAMNED SEX.
But it is to everyone else, no matter what I say or do. So fine. I'm not poly, if that's what poly is. Forgive me for seeing on the "amor" in there, the Latin word for love, and pretending it meant something. This is an ex-parrot, and you can keep the cracker. That's my public face going forward.
In private, I love the two people at my life's center in ways that are both very similar and very different. Believe what you want, I'm not going to half-ass this on anyone's account. There doesn't need to be a special word for this. Just call it love.