relearning to play the monogamy game
Two years ago I was still writing, at length and in various places, how polyamory felt like the right path for me. I was busily engaged in setting up some kind of love network—the “sailor in every port” model, I called it—and was having a few fun and interesting encounters as I traveled, and came back to a couple of more “steady” lovers during the winter months, and it felt fine.
Included among my sailors was a special man here in the UK, who I fell entirely in love with. Originally I had intended to simply make space for him in my “inner circle,” but after some time building a relationship with him I realized that there was no one else in that inner circle anymore. Not only that, but about a year ago I realized that I wasn’t even remotely romantically interested in anyone else, in any circle, at any level. I met up with past lovers during that strange emotional fugue period, and just could not find the sparks again. My mind said, wait, but polyamory, but my body and heart had flown to him and I could not coax them back.
But this sudden swing, this flip of the switch, felt just … impossible. I was almost angry with myself, and spent a fair amount of time poking away at my psyche. I was disturbed that somehow, after sacrificing so much and working so hard at building a life around ethical non-monogamy, my curiously meandering path had led me to an intense and important relationship that was the only place I wanted to put my heart and sex and everything.
How fucking retrograde, I thought as I beat myself up some more.
I still tried to fight it for a little while. I corresponded with a few people on OKC, met up with a couple of 'em, even. But making myself go on dates that I didn’t want, purely out of political convictions, didn’t feel fair to me or to the other person. And when I tried holding hands with soon-to-be-former lovers, it felt… friendly, but not sexual in the slightest.
Fortunately, at some point in my angst-ridden veer into romantic mono-vision, I started connecting the dots between this most recent sea change and my similarly unsettling shift at the age of 28, when my sexual focus widened dramatically to include cisgender dudes again. After 8 years with a woman, I had been crushed; I felt betrayed by my desires, and felt as though I was betraying everyone else. Follow your bliss, is what I said to myself. I said it like a prayer, held onto it like a lifeline. There was no going back on what I knew, no denying what my heart and body said.
Follow your bliss. It helped me come to terms with wanting dudes with dicks again, and the same affirmation kicked in for this new development as well. I was able to relax into this new facet of myself, but only after exoticizing the fuck out of it. Seems I still can’t stand the default, really, so he and I had to make my monogamy kinky, a cross between chastity games, tease & denial, and playing house.
The fact that I chose this way of being with my partner, in spite of the long separations that still remain, helps me to feel more comfortable in this new desire. Making radical monogamy part of our play, rather than absorbing it whole-cloth into my identity, means that when things shift again—as they surely will—I hopefully will have more stable ground to stand on. The change will feel less like a tsunami, and more like a swing. Yes, it can hurt if I fall off, but it’s not the end of my self.
Besides which, this new “monogamy” game super-charges the time in between, and fits extraordinarily well in our 24/7 dynamic. When my partner and I do get together, and I present him my carefully banked desire like a gift, the way that he accepts it and gives his own to me feels like divine confirmation that my choice this time, for now, is good.
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