Thursday, March 31, 2005

Not Forsaking All Others

Charlie brings up a topic that's dear to my non-monogamous little heart. I realized, when I was in my teens, that monogamy didn't make much sense to me--or, rather, FOR me. It's not that I haven't seen sterling examples of it, mind you: both sets of grandparents had solid marriages that lasted for more than 50 years, my parents will celebrate their 49th anniversary this year, and none of my aunts or uncles has gotten divorced. But it just didn't seem like it would make sense for me.

I had a couple of boyfriends in college (in succession, rather than simultaneously), and, while one of those relationships started out with monogamous intentions, both featured an assortment of other more-or-less casual lovers along the way. It was open and above-board, mind you--sneaking around didn't seem like an acceptable choice to me. There were some awkward moments--when a boyfriend met a lover, for example--and, really, I was young, so that's not a surprise. Then I didn't have a "boyfriend," per se, for 17 years. Lovers, yes, but noone with whom marriage was a possibility or likelihood.

When I met C (under circumstances that I will not detail here), and especially when our feelings for each other became clearer, we discussed monogamy. I said that I'd consider trying it, but wasn't sure how I'd feel about it--that, really, I didn't see the point, but would consider it if it was important to him. He thought about it for awhile, and thought maybe he wasn't that keen on it, either, but wondered how it would work--he challenged me to write down the principles, if you will. As best I remember, I came up with the following:
  • Honesty at all times. No lying.

  • No revenge-fucking, i.e., no having sex with someone else because I'm mad at you.

  • Tell only as much as the partner wants to hear.

  • The partner and the primary relationship comes first.
There may have been more, and there was more elaboration, I think, but that's the heart of it. He was a little uncertain, at first, but he also recognized that, deep down inside, he wasn't particularly monogamous, either. Entertainingly enough, I haven't had a lover other than him in about five years--and we've been together for six. I would, mind you, if one came across my path, but who has the time? Eh, I'll get around to it sooner or later. He's had a couple of excursions, and enjoyed them, and realized that I meant exactly what I said about it not bothering me in the least.

I know that this path isn't for everyone. I've also realized, however, that the biggest problem is when people don't know what their own paths are, or are afraid to take them, and then find themselves in the wrong place. As Charlie says, "Regardless of how it happens, being forced into a choice that isn't right for you is going to make you unhappy. Worst of all is to be forced into a choice merely due to ignorance of any alternatives. In the case of marriage, how many people have found themselves married for ten years or more only to belatedly realize they would've been happier with a different kind of relationship? "

So that's the theme of our show again today: Know thyself. And then act on that knowledge.

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