Another of those combination category things as my mind ponders some stuff about, well, not being so monogamous as is expected. As I scribbled in the last blog, some couples can manage to pull this bit of impossibility off while many can’t and to the point where they can’t even have a conversation about it even if the resolution to their relationship issues happen to point in this direction.
The thing that’s been running around in my head isn’t one of those “this is how you do it” kind of things; no, my mind is cruising along and thinking about all the shit that has to be done before making the “final” decision and turning a plan into action. And it’s a nightmare and that’s being nice about it.
One of the questions I found myself having to answer wasn’t how things were getting done: It was why it was being done in the first place and in developing an answer to this question – and without sounding like an idiot – I had to look back at the beginning and take a close look – a very close look – at the many flaws being monogamous glosses over or tries to get around and recognizing that unmarried couples are also being subjected to this flawed school of thought.
Years ago, I used to read a lot of blogs written by women who bemoaned being cheated on and always asking why they were being cheated on and my entry into non-monogamy taught me the answer or, really, one important aspect and one I’ve said here many times: Cheating happens when someone’s needs are being neglected or otherwise unattended; that some people are just incapable of being monogamous plays into this but I’m not talking about them.
Monogamy actually doesn’t allow much room for growth as individuals or as a couple; “for better or worse” is invoked right alongside “keeping only unto yourselves” and, again, goes for the unmarried, too. Indeed, it is considered to be bad form to be single and date several people “at the same time,” right? No one can foresee problems or issues that might crop up down the road and the tenets of monogamy are rather silent about what a couple should do when problems show up; the usual resolution is to dissolve the relationship and start over with someone else, only to find themselves right back in the same situation at some point.
And monogamy never accounts for the fact that over time, a person’s needs can change because, um, let me put it like this: Monogamy requires and demands that a couple become static but people are really dynamic, meaning that, literally, a person changes a hell of a whole lot just going through a “normal” day while billions of “yes/no” and “if/then/else” decisions go through their minds. Most people are very much in touch with themselves or they know what they need now and we tend to keep going in that direction until we discover that we need something else.
The problem is that monogamy implies and insists that if you find that you need something that a partner cannot or will not provide, well, that’s your ass and the only recourse is to do without whatever it is you need to keep yourself growing or break up with them and go through the process again with someone else.
Another problem many couples run into is the sure knowledge that dissolving their relationship just isn’t going to be the smartest thing they could do; their relationship is, on the whole, pretty damned good but, ya know, it needs a boost, something to rekindle the sun-hot flames they both felt when the relationship first began and I’m sure there are a lot of you reading this who have either thought or have asked a partner, “What can we do to spice things up in our lives?”
And spice is called for and even mandated after a fashion and there are some things that monogamy will allow a couple to do… but even the most inventive couples find that only so much can be done between the two of them… but monogamy doesn’t allow a couple to get, ah, outside help. Once a couple runs out of the things they can do together, they wind up getting stuck again, not because they want to be stuck but being monogamous demands that they remain stuck in place.
A guy I knew was pretty distressed and wanted to talk about it and the short version was that his lady was cheating on him and he didn’t know what to do because the person his lady was cheating on him with happened to be another woman. He was frustrated, angry, and about as bamboozled as anyone can get with feelings of great betrayal tacked on for good measure.
He asked, “Why would she do this to me?”
My answer – and because I had learned it – was, “Because you don’t have a pussy, man.”
His response: “She’s not supposed to want anyone other than me!”
My response: “Is that what you really think? What makes you think that?”
Him: “Because that’s the way the shit is supposed to be!”
Me: “Hmm; apparently not, huh? Did she tell you why?”
Him: “Yeah,but I ain’t buying that bullshit; she told me that I’m not taking care of her emotionally and in a way she needs to be taken care of – what kind of shit is that?”
Me: “Sounds like a legitimate thing and more so when we both know that women are emotional creatures, that and one of the beefs they have with us is that we seem incapable of providing them the emotional comfort that they need.”
Him: “What kind of shit is that?”
The conversation continued along these lines and homey’s absolute belief in monogamy wouldn’t allow him to see what was really going on here and the one thing that monogamy doesn’t mention, that being, it is practically impossible for one person to provide for every conceivable need their part might have and that includes any future needs no one is aware of.
He did ask this: “Well, what if your wife told you some shit like this? What would you do?”
My response: “Funny you should ask because that’s almost exactly what she told me and what I did was say, “Okay. What do you wanna do?””
Ah, you should have seen the look on his face. He couldn’t figure out why I’d go along with something like that and I tried to explain it to him like this:
She needed something I couldn’t provide and, at the moment she decided to go get it anyway, she was sure that telling me about it wasn’t going to accomplish anything and, honestly, until I had some time to think about it, she would have been right. So I was faced with a dilemma; do I “kick her ass” behind this? Do I leave her? Or do I give my “blessing” for her to get that which she needed but I couldn’t provide and with the sure understanding that if I said no, she was gonna do it anyway?
And if I did, indeed, vowed to love her no matter what and it’s implied that I am to do whatever I can to make and keep her happy – short of going out and killing someone just for the “fun” of it – well, okay; not an easy decision for me to make but just for myself, I’d feel better knowing what she was doing than not knowing.
And a lot of couples often find themselves in similar situations – but not all of them have anything to do with sex, as mentioned in the last scribble. They’re faced with a huge question: What can we do without breaking the rules? Toss in the usual “issue” of the things an individual has determined that they’re not gonna do or, as I like to say, that “I love you, but…” thing that I’m sure we’ve all said to someone at some point in our relationship dealings.
One of the things I was told about being married was, “Your marriage is only be as good as the two of you are willing to make it…” and the fact of the matter – and the fact that true believers in monogamy tend to shit themselves over – is that not only is the thing I was told true, but it also implies that if the two of you have to break some rules to stay together and be happy with each other, well, why not? Don’t they say that some rules are made to be broken?
They do, indeed. However, the rules of monogamy aren’t so easily broken and kicking monogamy to the curb calls for a shared and combined effort on both people’s part and as I’ve said, such a couple has to unlearn everything they’ve learned, everything they’ve ever believed in where love, sex, and relationships is concerned… so they can learn a new way to do these things.
Seriously not easy to do because going about kicking monogamy to the curb begins with taking a very close look at yourself. See, some guys are of a mind that seeing their woman getting banged by another guy or with another woman is the shit to end all shits and some actually do believe that they can handle such a thing…
Right up until they find out that they can’t handle it and the reason why they can’t is because of how ingrained being monogamous is in our culture and how it fosters and promotes feelings like possessiveness, jealousy, selfishness, etc., and I will tell anyone thinking about this alternative that if you cannot get rid of these things, you will fail – and miserably.
If you can’t sit down with your partner and have a totally and completely honest conversation about everything that’s leading up to this decision point, ditto – you will fail. If you go into such a conversation thinking only about yourself – and as opposed to thinking about “us,” again, expect to fail. If you have a huge list of shit you’re not gonna do – even for the sake of being and remaining in love, fail.
If your partner comes to you with this and the first thing out of your mouth is, “I don’t believe in that shit!” – you’re fucked and in a very not-so-nice way. If you think, feel, or otherwise believe that you, all by yourself, are the only thing your partner will ever need, well, hmm, apparently not if they’re trying to talk to you about this, huh?
This whole being non-monogamous thing is so… involved and complicated that most people can’t get their head around it and, oddly, this is one of those things that if you looked at it logically, it actually makes sense… except, the thing that really drives things and makes having such a conversation is emotional, not intellectual.
And in the war between intellect and emotion, emotion tends to win – a lot. I’ve actually sat and listened to couples having this conversation and have heard a lot of, Yeah, but…” being said; simply, you get a response like this because, intelligently, it makes sense… but here comes the emotional counter-arguments that are mostly centered on what one believes in.
Which is exactly and precisely why doing a brain dump so that you can learn a new way of doing this is important. Not only do people fail to pull off having the conversation to begin with, if they should manage to get past this part, the next point of failure is trying to be non-monogamous… while holding onto the rules of monogamy and I can tell you that this won’t work. Yes, a couple can maintain and preserve what’s called the core relationship – that’s the two of them, bound both by love and the commitment to each other while kicking monogamy to the curb but there’s a certain way to do this without invoking monogamy and, sorry, I’m not sure I can really explain that except to say that if you don’t believe in the power of love and have no faith in the strength of your love for each other, well, that’s a problem.
I’ve seen couples have this discussion and be very worried about loss; what we if add a person or two and one or both of us falls in love with them? Well, um, that’s kinda the whole point and more so when it’s bound to happen. What if they love the other person more than they love me? Tough question to answer except to say that if the love the two of you share is as strong as you think it is, it’s not that much of a problem and more so since we do tend to love people differently.
Being non-monogamous is a very scary thing to think about, let alone do. Even I can admit that it’s more difficult than being in a one-on-one relationship could ever be and in any way you care to think of but, ideally, you cannot begin to kick monogamy to the curb if the two of you don’t firmly believe that you can make it work and for everyone involved.
What’s another key to this? The much-dreaded open relationship and I apologize for this scribble being as long as it is but if a couple can survive being in an open relationship, taking the next “logical” step – polyamory – becomes easier. Problem is most people don’t survive being open because, again, any emotional turmoil they may be experiencing – and there will definitely be some turmoil – can easily override things, like one blogger who wrote that their poly relationship got flushed down the drain because she felt that her husband was paying too much attention to their shared lover than he was to her.
You see the difficulties involved? Monogamy creates a lot of these problems all by itself and, you betcha, this solution is going to bring up some problems, too, because, um, when people are in a relationship – any kind of relationship – problems are part and parcel of it – it’s an occupational hazard that’s hard to avoid.
You have to have the right mindset, the right attitude; your love for your partner should have few conditions in place where the “but” in, “I love you, but…” are few. You have to be committed (or, perhaps should be committed to a mental health facility) to the core of your relationship and at every turn think “us” and not “me” although, sure, you cannot just stop thinking about yourself in any of this – but that’s why being able to sit down and openly and honestly talk about what’s going on with “me” becomes an absolute necessity as well as keeping a finger on the pulse of how “we” are doing with this outlandish and blatant breaking of the rules.
Problems will crop up and fussing and fighting about them will solve nothing; putting your heads together and working toward an amiable and doable solution is the trick and working toward resolving problems until there’s agreement among everyone involved is just as important.
Expanded relationships aren’t any different from traditional ones: In order for them to work and continue to survive, thrive and grow, understand that they just do not run all by themselves – you still have to work at making it work and, again, be committed and dedicated to making it work at both the individual and joined levels.
It is always a work in progress and, as you can see, it’s a lot of work. Many people trash the rules of monogamy… and then impose a whole different set of rules that, as it tends to turn out, makes doing this harder and not easier – but methinks some folks do this because they’re doing their best to protect themselves. Couples who try to pull this off and wind up failing often do so because the lack a shared vision; it’s not, “How are you gonna make this work?” but “How can we make this work? What are the goals and other stuff we hope to achieve by inviting others to come and share our life with us?”
And it’s the kind of conversation that doesn’t lend itself to being taken care of overnight but how quickly that conversation takes place depends on the two people involved in it and you can pretty much bet that if one partner is suggesting this, the other will be opposed to it and, thus, making having the conversation damned near impossible.
How does one avoid the specter of infidelity? By eliminating as many of the causes for it. Yes, yes… there’s the whole being honorable thing; you gave your word (and before God if married) to not “let no man put asunder” which, as many have discovered, puts them right into that impossible situation of trying to take care of and provide for every need their partner has now… and might have down the road.
Um, sometimes, some agreed upon sundering is just what the doctor ordered. They say that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too; yet, many people are finding that, uh, sure you can. Not only can you have your cake and eat it, you can share the cake with the one you love with all your heart and soul because it’s what just might – and if we do it to the best of our abilities – be the thing that will make us and keep us happy with each other and, oh, yeah, banish the specter of infidelity altogether.
It’s a question of whether or not a couple is going to hold true to an idealism that, by its very nature, is terribly flawed, restrictive, repressive and oppressive… or is it in their best interest to take matters “into their own hands” and make their relationship as good as they can make it?
And what are they willing to do toward the goal of being together for as long as humanly possible? Do I recommend it? No, not really; I’ve actually tried to talk people out of trying it because it requires great changes that not everyone can get their head around, let alone implement. It’s not an insult or anything like that; it’s just that I know how horribly difficult to set aside everything you’ve ever believed about love, sex, and relationships and that it takes a special pair of people to not only make it happen but to make it work and, again, to the best of their abilities.
By comparison – and I gotta point this out again – being married or otherwise hooked up is easy; kicking monogamy to the curb is anything but. Ah, but when done the “right” way and for the “right” reasons – and by this I mean that shared consensus of what the right way and reasons are – it can be an amazing journey and unlike anything you’ve previously experienced.
But only if you strive to make and keep it amazing.
I think I’ve gotten all of this out of my head – for now. This… situation can affect any couple and regardless to sexuality, you know, in case you’re of a mind that I forgot about that aspect and, bluntly, if your wife/girlfriend needs a woman’s touch to allow her to be the person she needs to be, well, fellas, you’re just not equipped to provide it. If she needs it in order to be or remain whole and you won’t provide it, maybe she accepts this and sinks into the Pit of Misery and, as a result, makes your life a living hell because, well, you just made her life a living hell.
I tell bisexuals who fuss and fight about this that the issue of one’s sexuality usually doesn’t have shit to do with the person they’re in love with unless the person they’re in love with isn’t, let’s say, holding up their end of that deal… or maybe they are and it’s “just” a matter of a partner not being properly equipped to take care of this need. It’s what they need to be the person they need to be and now there’s a choice to be made: Provide them with the one thing you cannot do for them… or dismiss it out of hand and tell them it sucks to be them.
Guess what’s gonna happen after that? Cheating? It’s likely. Finding yourself having to deal with a very miserable and unhappy partner? Count on it and if you’re of a mind to not give a fuck how miserable and unhappy they are – but you’re not liking how it’s now affecting things, what’s the answer? I know – break up. Kill the relationship. Just let it die and move on and start over.
But. What if you didn’t have to and more so if you get an answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” Would you be interested in finding out what could be in it for you?
Normally, the answer is no because monogamy says the answer is always no. Doesn’t change the fact that a lot of couples are learning and discovering that being monogamous isn’t the only way to live and love.