Feminism. Art. Porn. Sex.


My boyfriend is dating my best friend – polyamory and me
October 5, 2010, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Feminism, Sex | Tags: , , , , , , ,

So as I write this, it’s ten o’clock on a Monday night, and my boyfriend, W, is on a date with one of my best friends, R. See, we’re in a polyamorous relationship. In fact, over the almost three years that we have been together, our relationship has been open in theory. However, it’s only recently that theory has become reality.

W and R have been dating for roughly two months now with my explicit blessing and encouragement. I am not currently in any other relationship, as I’ve felt myself to be too busy to pursue anything much. Besides, the few crushes I do have seem to be of the unreciprocated or un-pursuable type because I always aim to be an ethical slut… Er, not to mention the fact that whenever I experience attraction to anyone, I become a nervous, incoherent wreck.

But this is not going to be a blog entry about what a silly, wimpy loser I am, this is going to be about why I am happy that my boyfriend is dating my best friend.

Polyamory and me – in brief because I’m sleepy!

The notion of monogamy has never sat well with me. Even as I’ve loved several people and only been in long-term relationships, the idea of only ever being able to love one person seemed suffocating and the thought of only ever being able to fuck the one person… ever… for the rest of my life was almost inconceivable and libido destroying.

My first “proper” boyfriend was incredibly monogamous and also quite possessive, not in any sort of dangerous way, but rather in a way that many would consider loving (and which was, for him, for he was a good man but not meant for me) but I felt incredibly constrained by my relationship with him, for he even insisted that if I ever so much as posed naked as a photographer’s model, he would leave me. To me, monogamy meant sacrificing autonomy over my own body and life and this made it feel hard to breathe.

So of course I internalised the idea that there was something wrong with me, that I was a bad person, a slut. Destined, ultimately, to be alone and riddled with STDS. Inevitably, it seems, in 2003 I fell in love with two men at the same time and not just a little in love, deeply in love. And they both loved me. I felt ripped and torn apart, I felt intense pain, helplessness and, well, an incredible erotic charge from it too. The Unbearable Lightness of Being became my all-time favourite book and I made angsty art about my emotions. I was about 18 or 19 years old at the time. Here’s one of those old artworks:

Torn by Two - 2003

There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain… but through it, I learned to be as honest as I possibly could with them and through it all, they both still loved me and I loved them. I learned a lot from and because of these wonderful men and have a lot of gratitude towards them.

Unfortunately, because I did not move to Melbourne until 2006, I was not exposed to polyamory nor any discussions about open relationships outside my own until then. At one point in 2005, I had tried discussing open relationships with a therapist but she slammed the idea down there and then, telling me that open relationships never worked and bringing up the fact that she was a Christian. I did not go back to her after that but her words stayed with me, like a grey and looming thing that looms and is grey. The only bit of hope I got was from reading about one of my heroes, artist Len Lye’s beautiful, happy and open relationship with his second wife, Ann. They were not monogamous, yet they were together until death parted them, the “happily ever after”, fairytale, marriage mantra and their life was nothing at all conventional.

But yes, moving to the city of Melbourne meant that I was actually meeting people who were in healthy, communicative, polyamorous relationships and the privilege of having my own personal computer for the first time ever meant I was actually able to research this stuff. It helped me feel like I wasn’t a freak for not being into monogamy (I respect it if it works for others, but it just doesn’t for me and I hope people can learn to understand and accept that) and it confirmed my notion that one could be non-monogamous and still have healthy, happy relationships. Fuck, it was awesome.

So before my current partner, W, and I entered into this relationship in an official and serious manner… I wrote him an email. A ten page long monster explaining myself, explaining who I am and what I need, laying out my deal breakers before jumping into the deep end with him. Because it was always going to be the deep end with W; we already had a long, complicated history and beautiful friendship behind us. This was going to be serious, but I was tired of compromising things that were fundamentally important to me and polyamory had become that important.

I needed to feel free. Not free to do just anything, not inconsiderate, cold or cruel… but free to feel unashamed, free to love where love blooms. Free to have a few exciting adventures before I die.

And to W, everything I said in the email made sense. And with W, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel safe and loved, solid as a rock and light as a feather. Gush, gush, puke. I know!

To be honest, since I’ve been with him, I have not been with anyone else (apart from long distance flirtations with a dear heart) but I know that if something right comes along, we can discuss it and unless W has any deeply felt objections, I can pursue it. No, it won’t be uncomplicated, yes there are risks, yes only time will tell if this is a good idea but we always talk so openly, I trust W deeply and I really feel so good to know we’re pursuing happiness in our own way, in a way that feels constructive, liberating and right for us.

And that is why I am sitting here typing this, happy and content while my boyfriend’s on a date with one of my best friends. Because I love him, I love her and I love figuring out my own life in my own terms.

As a small aside…

Just recently I’ve been reading Sex at Dawn (along with everyone else in the sex blogosphere!), a book which very strongly puts forward the argument that humans are not inherently monogamous but that monogamy is an institution which evolved relatively recently and is very much intertwined with agriculture and patriarchy. Though I am sure the book is not holeproof, the references seem solid, interesting and a lot of the observations in the book ring true to my own experiences. I highly recommend reading it, not just as a book about monogamy but about human sexuality in general. It’s some fascinating shit and has some great stuff one can use to shoot down people who use Darwin to say bullshit about sex and women. Wicked.

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15 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love the blog (and the artwork by the way)!

Comment by buurvanurk

That means a lot, thanks so much!

Comment by Nio

this gives me just another reason to be certain you’re the loveliest.
Great smart stuff!

Comment by caitlinmae

The certainty of loveliness is mutual – to be clear, I’m certain you are lovely.

And thanks!

Comment by Nio

Ooh for the times this works it could so nice. The best thing is you have an unrestricted ability to express love and affection. free from suspicion and negativity and that’s wonderful. and that I think will positively effect your life even if you didn’t have sex with anybody but W :) but I Ithink you will because your so likeable and your nice so whatever level of sexuality you want to express I think it’ll have good karma.

Comment by Jake

Well, I wouldn’t call it unrestricted but I certainly do feel a great degree more freedom.

And thankyou, Jake, that’s lovely of you to say! xox

Comment by Nio

Sex at Dawn is excellent; I have never “not” been in open relationships; jealousy has always been an ultimate dealbreaker and no one since I was 17–a normal age for someone (him in particular; he was older but had been cheated on) to reveal jealous tendencies with a girl who talked to all and was the crush of a lot of 16-25y/o guys… Then again, as I knew abour the torn era, you also knew T&I were entirely open to being open and saddened for your sake that the then-partner was indeed incompatible… I remember thinking how much breaking up must both hurt when he is so dear but also relieve you as it never works to put conservative and liberal lovers (I mean the love being liberal or conservative… Politics can be HUGELY negotiated; sex ultimately can not be sacrificed beyond a reasonable and giving expectation as defined by -both- people; that said, plenty of political conservatives–some hypocrites, some only in a fiscal sense–are more liberal than me as I wouldn’t swing-date a dozen a week–but instead establish a “one” then branch out as nature allows; the foundation can’t be built with 2 at once for me–doesn’t give either enough time… Dave almost couldn’t grasp that him sleeping with other girls was entirely okay as long as he was protected–not like THEY were manogamous either and the trail of STDs was a real threat–and got tested every 3-6 months depending on activity. I am probably the only girl to that point that didn’t feel any need to hold him as property, that knew from–even with Scott, that I needed recharging via friends that had no boundaries –though I never had sex with anyone else in that time, nor did he, as we were also managing 85 hour weeks til I fell ill).

I actually had to fire a caseworker of mine… Beyond not really being super skilled, she is anti-gay when I am a bit bisexual and moreover believes polyamory to be a “sin” and I got tired of pointing out things like how children that ever disobey are commanded to be slaughtered… Agh I love smart religious people but hate the blind ones who don’t recognize time relevance! Ick. Nothing like firing someone for bigotry then having to cautiously word things so it isn’t me being a bigot… Only so much I could take, ESPECIALLY in Seattle, of this podunk Midwestern prarie ideal. glad you ARE open now (in the safe way–the way that still has you rooted–and I mean safe for YOU as plenty of ppl are well-suited to never committing, plenty of others suited to never straying, MANY of us needing to establish a strong core via monogamy before freeing it up, many of us also needing to know a lot of details about the who and when of other relations, and most critically most of us demanding as #1 to say no and it be honored when something poses a real, always legit threat… Which for plenty of people is -anyone- else hence monogamy being well suited for some). Here’s to happiness. If you dare misread this, I will stomp your jpg lovingly–only so much context disclaiming I can do when I have known someone who knows I am open since she was a MINOR. I still have–on an archaic hard drive–pokefangirl art of yours and am not afraid to use it ;)

Comment by L

“Here’s to happiness”

Hear hear!

And please don’t use the pokefangirl art on me… That’s emotional blackmail, that is!

Comment by Nio

I’m very interested to read sex at dawn. I’ve heard an interview with the author and the information does kind of lead to a certain inner relief.

Comment by Hannahspeltbackwards

You totally should! It’s quite a fun, accessible read as a matter of fact – not bogged down with jargon, doesn’t waffle on too much.

Comment by Nio

Wow, this is a real nice post! thanks… I was talking to two of my friends the other day (girls) about monogamy/polygamy and that I thought monogomy is againt love, for being “possessive” like you said or in other words selfishness. To me the concept of love is beyond ownership which leads to monogomy. Anyways, they would say monogomy is there only to bring peace of mind. But I agree with you, it has to do with Selfishness and Patriarchy.

Comment by Moji

Well, I wouldn’t presume to say that monogamy is about selfishness for everybody… maybe some people are simply happier and better off being monogamous, I can’t speak for them.

All I know is it doesn’t work for me, and in the context of my own experiences I tend to agree with your comment! :)

Comment by Nio

Wow, you are super exceptional. I introduced my boo to one of my best friends with benefits and they really liked each other – and after I while I was feeling like she is really needy(had a break – up/rough patch) and he is really attracted to him so it seemed like I was left out of the equation and felt horrible like rarely before. Your best friend must be a super nice and super emphatic person. I think I would not have a problem i was not distrusful or if I had not felt like she was about to stabb me in the back. I was all over the place and so was she. Very traumatic and we both cried and were very exhausted after a long conversation. The differnce between both of them was that whenever i was feeling unconfortable he would react very lovingly and she would just attack me and make reproaches and this is why I asked him to keep away from her and this is why I
will try to keep her out of my life. I really love her and I think a lot about her, but I am scared because of my past hurts.

Thank you for this article. My boo claims to be polyamorous too, but then he said he loves ONE woman and feels attracted to many/likes a lot of girls. I am o.k. with him having frinds with benefits since I believe at the end things will happen as they naturally should and I am on a different continent(like my best-friend).

I feel if a person I do not know will try to win over it will hurt like hell – but not as much as if my best-friend will try to lure him into an agreement that will exclude me.

Comment by annabell

Hey thanks for the comment!

I really believe (in my limited experience and reasonable amount of reading/thinking) that the key to a functional polyamorous relationship is honest, understanding and constant communication.

That’s not to say there isn’t emotional turmoil – there is, we’re human and we all have our own baggage, insecurities and misunderstandings. However, I really feel as if I can talk to my partner AND my friend about this all and that’s what makes the difference because I really feel they do their best to do right by me and I do the same for them. It’s a somewhat vulnerable, trusting position I’ve put myself in and I know that they understand, are grateful for and respect this.

Have you read The Ethical Slut? It’s a wonderful little book that’s basically an intro and guide to polyamory. It’s a quick, easy read… very accessible but very useful because if gives some communication strategies and ideas. I’d also recommend listening to the Polyamory Weekly podcast if you haven’t.

Good luck sorting out stuff with your boy, it sounds complicated and I hope you’re able to work through it, one way or another.

Comment by Nio

Nice post. I like this alot

Comment by SomeoneYouDon'tKnow




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