Welcome To My Bed

In defense of saying "no means no" to monogamy.

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And because I am sick and getting so much done, I feel I have license to sidetrack myself for just a moment to rant about something that's been grating on me quite a lot in the past month or so.

Let me start by saying that I have not read The Ethical Slut, do not abhor romantic comedies as a general rule, nor do I believe that the institution of marriage is a sham. That being said, I am happily single and casually dating various individuals who I will not incriminate in this essay rant out of respect for their (and our) privacy. I have absolutely no intention of getting any more deeply involved with any one of them. This is not because I am afraid; it is not because I am embittered by any past relationship; it is not "because" of anything. It is what it is. I am dating. Each relationship is good and right and functional and gives me joy in its own way. End of story.

It has come to my attention (mostly via "concerned friends" who claim they only have my "best interests" at heart) that the life I lead is viewed as dangerous, unsettling, and in several cases, downright abhorrent. This is shocking to me. If I am happy, as long as I'm not hurting myself or anyone else, I thought my friends would be happy for me. Not so, says the universe. Remember, you must derive your happiness from sources that the people around you find acceptable. "When in Rome" and all that jazz. You've transgressed the cardinal rule of sharing joy: do not present the masses with a form of happiness derived from a practice which they do not understand. It is like trying to make religious ecstasy tangible to an atheist, trying to translate the triumph of a flawless triple pirouette to someone who hates to dance. Do not tell those who do not live like you how happy you are, because the moment you try to explain, their lack of vocabulary on the subject will leave everyone involved in a very frustrated state.

Thanks for the heads up, universe. But I am going to say it anyway. I do not believe that monogamy is a healthy practice for me. I am of the mind that I have too much love in me to focus it all on one person at once. I believe that love is both a choice and a responsibility, not a mystical and uncontrollable state that one falls into and out of willy-nilly. Attraction is only the first step on a long road of decision-making that leads to and should strengthen the connection between partners. Love comes from these decisions to be responsible, caring, and present. Thusly, the validation that many of my friends derive from possessing their partners, I am able to derive from all of my less-than-tacked-down relationships, both those that involve sex and those that do not. Down to my most incidental friendships, I am a fiercely loyal person. There are plenty of people in this world I love so intensely that I would not only die, but kill for them. There is room in my heart for all of them. But this loyalty does not ultimately result in surrender. And to me, to have any one person call me "theirs", to possess me in a way that thereby means no one else has the opportunity to, would be an unnecessary surrender of myself. When it comes to love, I also have a responsibility to love myself. I am best able to do that alone, unattached, uncoupled, single, whatever you want to call it.

That being said, a troubling thing has been cropping up in conversation lately. I'll call it, for lack of a better way to characterize it, an unwillingness to believe my lifestyle is healthy, or, at worst, an unwillingness to believe that it exists at all. People assume that I have either numbed myself to what I am doing, or that I have buried my desire for commitment for fear of being hurt. Dear, dear friends belittle my decision to remain non-monogamous as a choice that will be my un-doing--as if I am King Lear teetering on the precipice of certain insanity.

And to those friends, I address myself now: I would like to tell you my love life is none of your business, but that would be a lie. It is your business, because you are a part of it. I love you. Even though you do not understand they way that I live, nor are you willing to believe that it could work for me without causing some damage, either on a daily basis, or at some point down the road. My love for you is just as important as the love I have for my blood family, my chosen families, my partners in business, pleasure, art, and intellect. And that is what I want you to see. I can love you and all of them, and where that gets me is only to a place of greater and more serious happiness.

There is no measure of love that is unimportant or repulsive. There is no specific place or space where love "belongs". There is no chant or name to invoke or ceremony to carry out that makes one kind of love more holy than any other. Love is only love, and can only be love. Romantic, platonic, what have you--these are just boxes we are given for sorting. I refuse to sort any of it. Let it be a mess. So what if you don't understand how I sleep at night without some specific face to greet me on my pillow. I get to sleep either way.

Forgive me nothing. Deny me everything. I will continue to love you anyway.