Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting over being ashamed of monogamy

I recently had a conversation with a friend about polyamory.  We've both known couples who've opened up their relationships.  Either to just one other person or to several who come and go. Some to great success. 

It's none of my business what anyone does inside of their own relationships.  It doesn't make any difference in my life and I have no problem discussing it with my kids.  

In addition to the couples I've known who opened their relationships, I also have heard of people who tried to open up their partnerships.  

After a number of years being monogamous, one person met someone they really felt they could connect with.  They then went to their long term partner to discuss the possibility of trying out a polyamorous lifestyle. Maybe, just maybe mind you, changing the contract they made a long time ago. The issue was approached in a very intellectual manner.  A "we're just discussing the possible situation and how that would impact the two of us"  sort of conversation starter.  

It used to make feel unsophisticated or maybe emotional to a fault knowing that I would react, shall we say, badly to that particular topic.  I'd be hurt and pissed.  I'd feel like the person I really loved was asking for permission to cheat on me.  I'd demand my husband not even be friends with this person he wanted to spent more time with.   As much as I hate the word "disrespected"  I find it appropriate in this hypothetical situation.  

Years ago I watched the documentary When Two Won't Do about a woman who convinced her boyfriend to open up their semi-live in status.  But, when she would visit her other partner, she would repeatedly ask for validation.  "Are you sure?  Are you sure?  Are you sure?"  At one point she had three men in her life.  One was the man she lived next door to.  The other a man who was seeing just her.  The third a man who was actively involved in a polyamorous relationship. 

By the end of the film, the man who was seeing just her had met another woman who didn't dig the sharing thing.  He agreed to the new woman's terms.  And our heroine felt hurt and confused and mad.  

Her married but poly man brought his wife to meet her and the semi-live in boyfriend.  Things did not go well.  The wife said "You can't think you'll ever be as important as me".  And screamed they were breaking every rule before storming out of the room.  Later, the wife goes to see HER lover.  When they call her she yells at them on the phone before hanging up and refusing to speak to them. 

And in all this looking for attention and love and validation the wife never found it.  Not in any of the relationships she was a part of.  During filming she committed suicide.  Everyone sat around wondering what happened. 

I knew what happened.  Nobody loved just her.  She wasn't enough.  She wasn't special.  She was one of a cast of characters that moved in and out of her life.  Everyone left her.  And I felt sick to my stomach.  

And, during the documentary, there was a great deal of self-congratulation on how well everyone was able to keep their egos in check and accept the needs of everyone they were involved with.  

As I said, I've felt like I'm unable to separate my emotions from my intellect to understand that my husband DOESN'T feel unfulfilled or unhappy or dissatisfied with me should the topic come up.  He's just met someone he likes and thinks he could have a separate connection with them would be the reality.  Something DIFFERENT from our connection.  Not in place of, not to fill a need, just something DIFFERENT.  I'd still be the alpha bitch.  I'd still be number one. Should I be open to such a suggestion.  (I want to make sure I'm clear that this hasn't happened. However, I'm very aware of my feelings about it.)  But my complete opposition to this idea has left me pretty convinced this makes me insecure and lacking in the smarts department. Especially, the smarts department.  

As my friend and I talked I realized that that's not the truth for me.  That's me finding something to beat myself up about.  

The way I really feel, is that I deserve to have someone be faithful to me.   I have a good man.  He loves me to distraction and takes his responsibility to me and our children very seriously.  He puts up with my sometimes shrew-like behavior and need for attention. We have horrible fights and no one runs off to someone else until it all blows over.   We work it out and if that doesn't go anywhere we get some help.  

He loves me enough to want to be with just me.  And I love him so much I want to be with just him. That's pretty amazing.  

I'll take amazing.  Why would I give up amazing?  We're both worth amazing.  

Does that make me rigid, square, prudish, old-fashioned, a buyer of the society norms we've been sold by the media?  Maybe.  

Or maybe it makes me amazing.

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