One of the greatest things that having an open marriage has given us is the freedom to explore our sexual identities. Neither me or my SO have ever been hetero normative. I’m the kind of queer that sets people’s gaydar off from three counties over. She’s more passing, but she’s also much more hardcore than I am; if she decides that she’s coming out, then everybody is going to know about it, no exceptions.
Here’s a blinding flash of the obvious: non-monogamous relationships are beset with difficulties that are magnified by non-monogamy. This is so obvious that most non-monogamous folks try as hard as they can to justify the fact out of existence. Let me be clear like Barack — non-monogamous relationships are complicated in a way that monogamous relationships are not. Non-monogamy is harder. That’s not to downplay the difficulty of any long term monogamous relationships. They’re really freaking hard to maintain. It takes courage, sacrifice, and conflict management skills that no one is born with. It takes a student to be in any kind of relationship. Nonetheless, when you add more than one partner the problems don’t increase in a linear way. Between two people, there’s going to be a certain amount of conflict that’s got to be negotiated. Now add another human being, even the most well adjusted, eloquent, emotionally in-touch human being, and the problems get bigger by three fold.
This is why a lot of people don’t choose non-monogamy. Or to put it a different way, this is why a lot of people have non-monogamous relationships without consent of the participants.
All that is not to say consensual non-monogamy isn’t possible, but it is to say that it’s really, really hard. Harder than most of us are equipped to handle. So, remind yourself; if you’re going to do this, you’re making an ethical commitment to the folks around you, who you love and who love you, that you’re going to strive to meet the conflicts and obstacles. You realized that what you’re attempting requires above-average diligence, patience, self-control, and respect. You are aware that if you don’t rise to those challenges, the result will be emotional catastrophe.
Because that’s the truth. How many people do you know whose non-monogamy has earned them catastrophe? I know a lot. It scares me. It drives me to ensure that my communication with the people I so deeply care about is explicit. It makes me ensure that I practice the safest kind of sex I can – with everyone. I have additional responsibilities to my partners because I have chosen to have more than one. It’s just the facts.
I should do this on this site.
I’m still seeking questions for the Q&A I’d like to do somewhat regularly around here, so if anyone out there has any questions for me, I’d love to hear them!
I’d especially like to answer any questions folks might have about poly in a sociopolitical context, but anything goes! And I’d love to receive questions from both folks who are poly and folks who are not.
Questions can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I promise you’ll remain anonymous!
Thanks, as always, for reading.
One of the things I find illuminating about the way my gay friends live their lives is that they manage monogamy much more loosely than hetero-normative friends tend to. I don’t know if this is the often the case, so this is anecdotal, yet I get a lot from watching my LGBT friends deal with serious relationships.
Almost none of my LGBT friends could be described as monogamous. And yet, I just officiated at a wedding. If my group of friends hangs out, there will be fairly liberal flirting, some kissing amongst friends, and a even some mild sexual activity, mostly with clothes on, but there’s genital contact. Genital contact is my personal definition of sex. It seems like a good general way to talk about sex when making rules with partners. It’s certainly a sort of line in most people’s minds.
So the couple in question are probably the least monogamous amongst the group. They both don’t have external relationships, but they have sex with other people. They often have group sex. They are both young, attractive, and both of them are to some degree, bisexual, although they are both at very different spots on the spectrum of bisexuality. Anyone who spends any time with them quickly understands just how important they are in one another’s lives. They are both important pillars to each other. They build the social group they hang out with on the stability their relationships generate in their lives, and they are both very much aware of the fact. Hardly any of us in their social orbit would know one another without them. They spend a lot of time organizing events, throwing parties, and introducing folks to each other. The strength of their relationship affords a sense of community to all of us who know them. I can’t think of a better reason to cement a relationship with ceremony than those. I agreed to marry them, where I wouldn’t agree to marry most people, because I see the wonderful things their relationship brings to all who know them.
To some degree, it seems like how they have approached their relationship is a wise one. They’ve spent many years together before making the commitment. They heard very little social pressure, because they only listened to those that weren’t obviously homophobic. In the case of their families, that narrowed things down to a point where they could think about what they were doing without pressure. They knew, as most couples who get married do, that they loved each other. What their approach afforded them was disregard of negative voices, consideration of the social impact their marriage might have, and the ability to do it when it was emotionally and circumstantially best for them, and best for their other relationships too. That’s damn near unique. I envy them. My marriage did not occur under nearly the same circumstances. So many people get pressured into marriage.
I hadn’t really thought through the reasons that marrying them felt so right, and I’m glad I did. Let me know if this raises any questions in your mind. I’d love to hear from you, and what you think too.
The legal stuff took place in Washington DC, but we don’t live there, me and my two very good gay friends. They’ve been together for a long time, and they definitely wanted to have a ceremony that could include a lot of people. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a civil union, but the room will be located in a court, and it will be small, shabby, cramped, and will probably have a fake garland of flowers hanging from an aluminum arch somewhere.
For some reason, the couple in question got it in their heads that I was good with language, and wouldn’t mind writing up a ceremony for them. They said there only request was that they wouldn’t have read vows themselves. I asked them if they wanted me to get ordained for the ceremony, but they said that they would rather me represent their group of friends, than any other power, and I agreed to leave the gods outside.
So I wanted to post the ceremony that I wrote for them. It’s definitely not all mine, I’ve cobbled things together from a few sources, but let me say that it’s not plagiarized either. Most of this stuff is so adapted that you could say with some confidence that it is essentially anonymous. Nothing would please me more than other alternative, LGBTQ marriages had officials use this setup. Please feel free to steal this. You could consider the writer of what follows as “Anonymous” if you like.
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<Name1> and <Name2>’s Wedding
Entrance of the groomsmen
Entrance of the Best Men
Entrance of the Grooms
<Name1> and <Name2>, we are gathered here together to witness and affirm the love and respect that you have for each other. <Name1> and <Name2>, are you entering into this marriage freely, voluntarily and without any conditions?
In our lives, happiness is built, not found. Happiness is a product of the relationships we make.
A good marriage must be created. In making our happiness, little things are the big things. It is at no time taking the other for granted; It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is valuing the other’s feelings enough to hear them, honesty enough to communicate, and courage enough to act feel together. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in, and magnifies the relationships of both people.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
One of the purposes of marriage is to make a promise on your honor to stay together. It is a promise to uphold a relationship that last longer than the whims and changing desires of either partner. Upon entering this marriage, you will be committing to the idea that the rings you will wear are a symbol of your promise to walk through hard times with each other, to even carry one another in times of distress, even when it hurts. You commit to hold one another through the winter, as well as the spring.
It must be asked why anyone would make such a commitment to another person? Marriage bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Marriage is an esteemed institution because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity. The decision to participate in this institution, combined with the decision who to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.
<Name1> and <Name2>, please face each other and answer me with an “I do”
<Name1>, are you ready to take <Name2> as your husband, to live together with him in a growing relationship? Will you vow with him to be partners who will meet every situation of life together; the peaceful and the chaotic, the routine and the exciting, the sorrowful and the joyful, the threatening and the inviting? Will you love him, affirm him, and commit yourself to him in marriage as long as you both shall live?
<Name2>, are you ready to take <Name2> as your husband, to live together with him in a growing relationship? Will you vow with him to be partners who will meet every situation of life together; the peaceful and the chaotic, the routine and the exciting, the sorrowful and the joyful, the threatening and the inviting? Will you love him, affirm him, and commit yourself to him in marriage as long as you both shall live?
Lighting the Unity Candle
The lighting of the unity candle symbolizes the joining together of two families. It represents the union of individuals into one united family, and also of the commitment of the larger group of friends and family to help keep the flame of their love burning.
May I Please Have the Rings
What you have to give to each other is:he promise to take each other as your only love from this day forward, to stand by one another’s side, to listen to one another to give comfort when when there are tears, and to join your laughter together. Take these rings, and be part of each other’s lives forever.If you wish to seal this marriage with a kiss, you may now do so.
Presentation of the married couple to their friends and family
Yep, there’s a lot of bullshit on the internet about Poly. Everyone’s got an opinion.
In my experience, it can be exhausting to sift through all the bullshit on the web about polyamory and find some meaningful information. As I incorporate this relationship model into my life, I’ve realized I need to read I about how others are doing it, feel that I’m not alone, and hear that others have had the same struggles as me. Hopefully this little summary of websites can help speed up the process for others. If anyone knows of some better ones that I don’t mention please post into the comments!
Websites for meeting people
Okc is by far my favorite that I’ve found so far. First of all it’s totally free but nevermind that it’s my favorite for other reasons. I might be biased because this is the website I met my amazing lover on but I’ve heard from others that it has worked for them too. It…
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New Relationship Energy (NRE) is hard to deal with on all sides of the equation. In my case, it seems really obvious to me that I’ve clearly got the worst end of the deal. I have to watch my primary partner and her lover go through the glowy stages, the excellent chemisty and the fantastic sex. What do I get out of this?
But it’s not just hard for me, it’s hard for him and her too. NRE is an admission of vulnerability. Neither of them can read the future. And it makes both of them willing to do things they would otherwise never do, and no one likes being irrational, especially in polyamorous relationships where love comes at the price of being a social outsider. Let me clarify that last point. Since you have to choose between being something of an outcast, in a real tangible way, or being essentially monogamous, poly folks tend to put a lot of emphasis on their analytical reasoning skills. A lot of poly folks cleave to the idea that they are poly not just because of what’s throbbing in their pants, but because of what’s throbbing in their skulls. Therefore, the irrationality that can come with intense NRE can be irritating.
For him, in this situation, it’s hard to deal with the NRE because he’s not in the best place in his life right now, emotionally and in other ways too. It’s hard for him to want to commit to anything, but the NRE seems to be over-riding what he might otherwise consider good sense. He finds himself feeling things that are complicated, and wanting things that don’t fit into his game plan for his life. He doesn’t want to make any decisions based off biochemical reactions that could affect his long term goals adversely, and it’s a hell of a lot more nuanced than that. The NRE could cause serious pain, and he can’t really handle that.
For her, it’s the first time for her to experience intense NRE outside her primary relationship, and it’s scary for a lot of reasons, including the concept that she doesn’t really view herself as a particularly emotionally available person. Not only that, but there’s a lot of obvious things coming up for her in the near future, and she’s not really ready to commit to a serious relationship that the NRE seems to be indicating. It’s all very confusing, and the two folks are very vulnerable. All armor down. It’s scary as hell.
From the outside it just looks like exhilaration and crazy awesome sex. You know, the kind that leaves you breathless at work, just thinking about it. The kind of sex that changes your perspective. Really robust, healthy sex.
I don’t really have anything great to say about it, I just wanted to note to myself that it’s not just hard for me.