After the scribbles done over the last few days about dissing monogamy for another way to go about exploring love, sex, and relationships, I’ve had reason to reflect back on my own double-decade (and a bit more) journey and adventure down this path and a journey that saw a heady mix of amazing moments and migraine producing cluster fucks and, well, the result is the title of this scribble.
The biggest things I take away from my experiences is what I learned along the way and things that pointed out all the flaws in being monogamous as well as how our belief in this makes us ill-prepared to attempt something that those flawed rules never account for as well as how totally outdated and ineffective the mandate to always be monogamous is.
Decades of being non-monogamous raced through my head, sometimes making me smile, sometimes making me frown or shaking my head and I’m not sure if I spent more time smiling or frowning. Do I regret any of it? No; not because there aren’t any points where I could justify regret but it makes no sense to be regretful about it. The mind likes to focus on the stuff that didn’t go well, the things that could have been handled better and, yes, all the mistakes that were made and that includes the one’s I made as well because while things tend to go wrong, they rarely do so without a lot of help so when things went wrong, we were all to blame for it, not so much because of how things panned out along the way but simply because of what none of us knew.
I read about people kicking monogamy to the curb in some way and many are quite informed about it – there’s a lot about ethical non-monogamy in books and on the Internet that people who are interested in this can refer to and if there is, indeed, one regret that I do have, it’s that I wish I knew then what I know now… but that regret gets kicked to the curb because, duh, I do know it now.
The folks who were either told what we were about or figured it out would ask me what was the hardest part about living this way, a question that was quite secondary to the primary one – why in the hell would you even think about doing some shit like this? But, the answer to this question was, in fact, easy to answer: Because we had to and walking away from each other wasn’t a viable option not to mention having enough hubris between us to convince us that we could do the impossible.
The hardest part? Managing it. “Fixing” or otherwise adjusting the things that needed fixing or adjusting, dealing with the many problems that would show up uninvited or just because they could. Trying to constantly assimilate petabytes of information that, often, didn’t want to be assimilated, collated, processed and understood. Always trying to remain focused on the vision, what this not only meant to me but always trying to wrap my head around how everyone else involved was seeing things and how their perceptions were getting in the way of a clearer vision… and a vision of something that, as it turned out, we really didn’t know how to do.
The ultimate experience in on the job training; being able to make snap decisions about so many things while trying to figure out where all of this was going and trying to figure out – and, often, without a lot of what I’d call helpful input – how to make the journey as smooth and, ha-ha, trouble-free as possible.
Many sleepless nights spent second-guessing everything and asking myself, “Why did this sound like a good idea? You wanna explain this to me again?” Too many – way too many – moments of understanding that we were all in over our heads but, lord knows, we were still trying and being comforted in knowing that despite all the shit that was constantly getting out of whack, by God, we were doing it; we were making it work despite ourselves.
Even harder at times was trying to explain this to others. Some got it, saw the sense in the overall scope of shredding the rules of monogamy into tiny little pieces and scattering those pieces on the wind while many more thought we were just crazy and quite insane to be doing that which should never be done – and because those horribly flawed rules says never to do what we were trying to do.
What we had been doing. Looking at the people who thought us insane, listening to them insist that it couldn’t work – it’s not supposed to work… and me looking them in the eye and saying, “Yet, it is working, isn’t it, because if it weren’t working, we wouldn’t be doing it, would we?”
It wasn’t perfect… but nothing ever is, is it? At the core of things, yeah, we knew it would fail at some point; what we didn’t know – what we couldn’t know – was at what point would it fail? What would cause it to crumble into nothingness? Oddly – and right from the beginning – I knew how it would fail. I’m not clairvoyant but I could see the weak points, the stress fractures, the points of failure aligning themselves… and, well, we “stupidly” said – but justifiably so – that we’ll worry about those things if they happen while also understanding that it was never a matter of if they would…
It was a matter of when they would… and that’s just impossible for anyone to know. So it became a project of sorts to make “when” an event that would happen way down the road even though we also understood that at any time, we could stop all of this and, yeah, we talked about doing just that a lot… but always found a reason to keep working at it and as best we could because not working at it just didn’t make much sense; you never fail at anything before you actually fail at it.
During the poly phase of the journey, a friend walked up to me with a smile on his face and said, “I know what y’all are doing – and I think that shit is so fucking cool!” I recall thinking whether or not I should play dumb, to say to him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” but, um, nah – that wasn’t gonna work because all you had to do was see us together and how we interacted with each other even in the most mundane and “normal” things to know that we were “up to something” and that we were much more than good friends.
That same friend patted me on the back and shook my hand as he told me, “Dude… dealing with one woman is bad… and dealing with two of them can’t be easy and, well, you’re fucking crazy!”
And he was right. And I knew he was right because it was a thought that plagued me at every turn, in every moment awake or asleep. This shit is crazy, hands down and for someone – anyone – to even attempt this would, in fact, severely question their sanity and mental integrity.
For those in the know, of course, the one question they wanted to know – other than whether or not I/we should be committed to the closest mental health institution was, “How’s the sex?” Now, I have to say that on this topic, the reactions between the men and women who knew or just figured it out (and they figured it out because it was a lot more obvious than any of us were aware of) was mixed; the guys would either high-five me until my hand hurt from being slapped so hard or shake their head sympathetically just thinking about what I was up against.
The women, well, some were accepting while one, in particular, commented that in her mind, I was really an arrogant asshole to believe that I had the “right” to have a harem. Yeah… she said that and, um, let’s just say my response to this wasn’t gentlemanly and leave it at that. People just want to shit on anything they don’t understand and even if you try to explain to them that they’re wrong about their assumptions, they’re just gonna keep believing what they want to believe.
It’s hard enough having sex with a woman, harder still to have sex with a woman you know, and one really interesting nightmare to be having sex with two women and two women with similar but different needs and I’m not just talking about having sex one-on-one with them. It is exhilarating… and humbling like you wouldn’t believe and I guess I’m grateful to have never gotten it into my head that I could handle it because I knew I was gonna be pushed way beyond my limits and that wasn’t going to be a good thing but, again, if you never try, you can never fail.
It’s the thing that makes me laugh hysterically and, sometimes, maniacally, to hear guys go on and on about how they’d love to have a threesome with two hot women and how they’d lay waste to the both of them like it was gonna be easy to do. Yeah, right… sure it is. I was in over my head and I knew it but go back to the last paragraph and read what I wrote about not trying. Was it fun? Oh, hell, yeah it was. Were there problems? You betcha there were. Did we keep working through them? Had to… because not working through them, again, didn’t make one damned bit of sense.
You think that you understand what sex is about… only in this situation, you learn that what you think you know doesn’t mean a whole lot because there’s some… shit going on and shit that you might not see coming. See, there’s the way you might think this should go… then reality comes alongside you and punches you dead in the face – and because a mere slap isn’t going to get your attention like a black eye, bloody nose, or a fat lip will – and shows you that, again, what you think you and what you think is gonna happen can be so very different.
And through all of the very exciting and very disappointing moments in this, I kept asking myself, “Is this still a smart – and right – thing to be trying to do?” Maybe… and maybe not but in for a penny and all that; you’re up to your eyeballs in it so just do the best you can – there’s no backing out at this point.
And the biggest issue, the biggest problem, is still one of management. From communication to conflict and problem resolution and here’s the thing about all of this: If everyone involved isn’t of a mind to participate in these very necessary things, it all fails. It drives home the point that, intelligently, a group of people can, in fact, agree on a course of action and still be very much in their own heads about how they want shit to go so, yeah, on the same page… and not on the same page so much.
When you keep hearing things like, “Yeah, but…” as a response to questions or possible solutions to the things that just go wrongly and because they can, well, you have a problem on top of all the other problems that crop up each and every single day. Worse than that is hearing, “I don’t know…” and it gets even worse hearing that when I’d get asked, “How can we make this even better?” and I asked, “What do you have in mind?” and the nerve-wracking answer of, “I don’t know” is the only one you get.
That and putting my ideas on the table on how things could be better… and have them all summarily rejected out of hand or, literally, I’d get outvoted. It often had me wondering, and futilely, how I’m supposed to solve issues that everyone wants to have solved but providing input is more of a “You figure it out” kind of thing more than anything else.
Now, usually, when you leave someone to their own devices, there’s no telling what the fuck is gonna happen but in this relationship situation, the one thing that does happen is… nothing. Ah, there’s nothing that eases your mind than being told, “You’re the man here – you figure it out and make it work – but the things you’re suggesting? Not interested – figure something out and be quick about it!”
You learn that having great lists of things you’re not gonna do will, ultimately, fuck things up. You learn that keeping your mouth shut when you shouldn’t is clearly and definitely not a good or smart thing to do. If you ask how to resolve an issue and a resolution is offered and you reject it, well, will the issue get resolved? If you go into such a relationship and you have your own agenda and are of a mind to keep pushing your agenda – and in the face of what’s supposed to be the shared and overall agenda you all should be buying into and working toward, guess what’s gonna happen? And then guess what won’t happen.
I thought about all of this and, again, alternatively smiling and frowning as called for. In my mind, it was the greatest adventure ever and, eh, not so much and, yes, I’ve asked myself honestly that if I could or had to do it again, would I? It’s not an easy question to answer because, today, I pretty much know exactly how it can all go tits up and in a damned hurry but, if I’m to be honest with myself, sure – I’d do it again because… it really is fun, enlightening, full of richness and purpose and maybe I’d come to regret a second exposure because, yeah, this is some seriously crazy shit but it does beg the question, “Is there really such a thing as too much love? Is it really insane to love and be loved in what can easily been seen as excessively so?
Is it the smartest thing that can be done? Yes… and you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. Is it easy? God, I hope none of you think it is because it’s even harder than you think it’s gonna be; I can pretty much guarantee you that you’re gonna learn some shit about yourself and those who are with you in that you might “regret” learning. Still, if you venture nothing, if you risk nothing, you cannot and do not ever gain anything and this is so fucked up that even a failure can be seen as a success.
Hence my ever-present warning and admonishments about this. You’ve literally got to be grown up enough, willing to take everything you know and believe and totally disregard it because that shit ain’t gonna work; if you don’t have a sense of adventure, don’t really have what anyone would call an open-mind, are fearful, bashful, shy, prone to giving up when faced with a problem, don’t know how to communicate to and with someone, afraid to speak your mind, or are quite stubborn and in that “my way or no way” way that rarely ever works, as well as having a very big list of shit you ain’t ever gonna do no matter what the reasons for doing it are, and are in possession of negative emotions like jealousy and a whole lot of other shit I know I’ve failed to mention, do not even try to do this. It’s not that an effort to do this will fail more than what the aftereffects of an epic fail will bring.
Yet and still, if you do choose to venture down this road, be prepared for the journey and experience of a lifetime. You may very well have an idea in your head about how something like this can or should work for you and those who are brave and daring enough to join you in this – it’s good to have a plan – but it’s the things you cannot plan for that will, put mildly, make things interesting and, indeed, one of the very exciting things about living and loving like this is not knowing what the hell is gonna happen at any given moment in time.
And yes, should anyone else stumble across what you’re doing, some will approve… and many will not and you have to be aware that many are not going to approve… but not let their disapproval sway you from a course of action the two of you have decided must be taken so that “we” can continue on for as long as possible.
Or, fuck the haters: It’s your lives, your choice and if they don’t like it, they just don’t like it.
And the things you’re gonna learn about yourself alone is worth the journey… if you and your soon-to-be “partner in crime” are brave enough to take that first step. Will you come to regret it? Again, maybe you will, maybe you don’t… but you also might very much regret not doing it when you had the chance to.
Besides, life is still too short and it’s still about getting all you can into your life before it’s over with and nothing is worse than knowing that you could have done something – should have done something – and you didn’t do it.
Whew. I know this isn’t quite a glowing recommendation in favor of having a multiple partner relationship of any kind. All of this kinda/sorta proves that it can be done while pointing out some things that if you haven’t thought about them, ya might want to take a moment to think about because it’s always the things you don’t think about – the things you never see coming – that tend to fuck things up when you’d rather not have them fucked up.
If you had told me at the time the decision was made to go in this direction that it all would have lasted as long as it did, I would have had you committed, would have told you it was impossible and maybe even that this ain’t the way things are supposed to work and can’t be allowed to happen. I didn’t know if it would work and was quite sure that it wouldn’t… and it took over twenty years to find that out.
If only I knew then what I know now. And if, by some sort of magic I did know it then, would I have still done it?
I still don’t know the answer to that one and I know I never will.