30 June 2011

2 Years---Holy Crap!

He who binds himself to a joy does the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in Eternity's sunrise.
--- William Blake


"Feliz aniversario, love!" I texted Butterfly Boy upon waking...in another man's bed.
While I admit the timing of this tryst may have been a bit awkward perhaps, it also seemed a fitting way to celebrate my two-year anniversary with BB.

As a devoted voluptuary I had little interest in settling into a relationship that would curtail my activities or natural inclinations. I have tried that before, and it does not work for me, at least not for very long. Eventually, the weight of my desires and the repression of those desires and inclinations has become an unbearable burden on both myself and those partners with whom I tried to make a go of monogamy.

I had decided single, footloose and fancy-free was the way to go: a free agent, as I've always said. But there is a romantic buried somewhere deep beneath this lusty exterior, so part of me wondered if it might be possible to find somebody. Not "the one", or any such nonsense, but perhaps "a" one. One who had the qualities I wanted in a partner, including the confidence to be in a non-monogamous, yet deeply loving and committed relationship.

Friends (all male) told me it was impossible. "You're not going to find a guy, not one that is worthwhile, who will be ok with sharing you."

Well, I've always been stubborn. And I'm used to getting my way.

I found what I was looking for in a most unlikely candidate.



As we were driving around on the actual date of our anniversary, talking about my romp the night before, I told him how lucky I feel to have found somebody who allows me to just be me.

"Most of the guys I've dated wanted to have all of me...they didn't feel comfortable with the the idea of sharing me," I told him.

"I feel like I do have all of you...by letting you be exactly who you are." he replied. He pointed out that if he or I were to deny that aspect of my personality, well...he wouldn't really have all of me.

He's a wise one. He figured out very early on in our relationship that the best way to "keep me" was by making no attempt to do so. And hey, what do know? It works!

I know people find it puzzling. I am often asked "So, wait...he's just ok with you fucking other guys?"
Well, dears, it works both ways.
He is also free to pursue extra-curricular activities which, incidentally, works out well for a touring musician!
It is, however, one of those cruel twists of fate that makes it much easier for a woman to pursue these sort of "secondary" relationships or trysts. I have found my partners (male and female) to be much more comfortable with the idea that I have a serious boyfriend but that we have a non-monogamous relationship.
Many of the women BB has encountered, on the other hand, try to figure out why he's "cheating on me" or when he's planning on dumping me so they can take my place as "the girlfriend".
I know he's a catch, but I still find this thinking rather quaint and naive.
There are some women who understand the situation, but aren't comfortable in the role they deem that of "the other woman".

I have to wonder at their position.

Is it out of an ingrained reluctance to be a home-wrecker? Given that everything is out in the open and very much "approved", that hardly makes sense.
Is it a fear of just being used for sex? Self-proclaimed monogamous people do that too...and they're usually much more sneaky about it.
Unfortunately that approach is much more socially acceptable than open and honest non-monogamy.
There are so many misconceptions about non-monogamy. A lot of people think it's about having a free pass to screw anything that moves. It's not just about recreational sex, although it can be. Many people in open or non-monogamous relationships form very close emotional bonds with more than one person. These are sometimes described as "secondary" (or even tertiary, etc.) relationships. I think these terms a bit old-fashioned and misleading in their implication that one relationship is more important than another, although some people do implement such hierarchies in their open relationships.

I've never been one of those girls who views every person I'm attracted to as a potential mate. I just let things unfold as they will. During my two-year relationship with BB, I've experienced the gamut--- from one-night romps with out-of-town visitors, to a deeply emotional connection/relationship which I held in equal regard to my relationship with BB (that one got a little complicated). As for BB's experiences? Well, those are his to tell, aren't they?

This was never intended to be a discourse on the wonders and benefits of non-monogamy*, but I could hardly sing the praises of my Butterfly Boy and our relationship without touching on the subject.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
---Antoine de Saint-Exupery


I feel very blessed to have found such an amazing human to walk beside me (in a literal and metaphorical sense) these last two years. He inspires, delights, and challenges me. He has shown me the utmost trust by laying bare his vulnerabilities, and has given me a safe place to bare mine (metaphor, you pervs!).

And...he's turned me into a freakin' girly-girl!


*For those of you who do have questions about this whole non-monogamy thing (or anything else really), you can submit them here anonymously:

http://www.formspring.me/coatcheckgirl

It's a complex subject so I can only speak from my personal experiences--- everyone has a different approach to it, a different set of rules, different code of ethics.

Suggested reading:

-Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino

-Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha


All Content Copyright 2011, Juliana Tobón. All Rights Reserved

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. I have found myself contemplating the same thing myself (the position that women seem to take as viewing themselves as "the other woman"). For the mental energy I have spent on the subject, I am no closer to an answer.
    Not only did I spend years in a non-monogamous relationship, I (fairly recently) got involved with a bi sexual girl couple who where in a non-monogamous relationship My experiences in those matters showed me something that I stillust don't understand. It seems people (particularly women...sorry to say) want to be lied to. At every point where I was open and honest, both in my own relationship and interacting with the other, I was met with frustration and turmoil. Yet, when I would be less than honest, things just seemed to work better.
    I am not trying to make any general statements about women or people, this is just what my experiences have seemed to have shown me. Even after these experiences I still firmly beleive that honesty in not only the best policy, it is the ONLY policy. I refuse to be deceitful merely because it enables me to get what I want. But why does it have to be so damned hard?

    You are absolutely right that it is harder for men to seek other relationships, whether meaningful ones, or slightly less so. I can tell you that your ability to recognize that fact is actually a wonderful thing. I don't know BB personally so I don't want to speak for him, but I can tell you, that as someone who has been in that position,it means a lot to have a partner that understands that concept.
    Anyway, I could type for hours on this subject so I will quit before the flood gates open. I just want to say that I am very happy for the two of you, and that your relationship has filled me with hope that a non-monogamous relationship really can work.

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  2. Well, thank you! It's nice to get the positive feedback. We are quite content with the arrangement, but I know it's difficult for a lot of people to grasp. Even those who can see the benefits of it on an intellectual level run up against years of cultural indoctrination: we must not REALLY love each other if we could even consider being with other people, right?

    It's a shame that it's almost more acceptable to go behind somebody's back than to say "I love you and am completely committed to you...but I still want to pursue other relationships."
    Even within open/non-monogamous relationships, there are people who chose to go the "don't ask, don't tell" route.
    I believe in full disclosure. I don't mean giving every last little sordid detail, but definitely disclosing my intentions and a general re-counting of my experiences and my thoughts on them.
    The term "open relationship" is pretty apt. To me, it emphasizes the open and honest communication required to maintain this kind of relationship. Again, it's not about giving a play-by-play, but it is easy for a partner to imagine the worst if left in the dark--- which is why I'm not a fan of the "don't ask, don't tell" model.
    BB and I always check in with each other before and after an encounter. It's important to re-connect and address any concerns right away. Just because we have this agreement doesn't mean insecurities and jealousy don't creep in; they do, but we address them promptly. People are funny. Sometimes we understand things intellectually but struggle to grasp them emotionally. Sometimes it’s as simple as hearing “I still love you. You are not being replaced”.

    Non-monogamy is NOT easy. You have to be self-aware and willing to be vulnerable and to actually communicate those feelings. It’s a lot easier (and much less embarrassing) to say “I’m pissed” than it is to say “I’m feeling self- conscious and threatened. Does she give better head than I do?”

    Be who you are, be honest. You WILL find like-minded folks, even if it takes a while :-)

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  3. It is nice to see that someone shares my point of view. I always that that a more "open and honest"
    way was the best way to navigate the territory of an open relationship. Of course, the same could be said of any relationship really.
    One day, I would love to sit down with you (and ever BB if you guys are open to it) and talk to you more on the subject.
    My own foray into this different world has been a horrible experience, I still feel like my logic and feelings on it are still sound.
    But, yes, I totally agree with all your points in the blog and the comment.

    ReplyDelete

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