In the past couple months I have been “coming out” about my non-monogamous relationship to close friends and family who I can trust not to judge me. The reactions have been anywhere from indifference to surprise to confusion. Most of the time people just say something along the lines of, “Well, whatever works for you guys.” But I also get interesting questions that force me to think about my relationships and what they mean to me. And I think it’s this active questioning and participation that strengthens my relationship with Chris, rather than passively going with the social script of what a relationship, and eventually marriage, should be.
Neither Chris nor I really understand jealousy, let alone why some see it as a sign of love. When we started dating, we would check out girls together and laugh that our tastes in women were usually pretty different. We both felt like we had hit the jackpot, not having to limit our sexual desires in order to be in a committed relationship. I adore Chris. He makes me feel loved and beautiful and protected and supported no matter where my life takes me. He can make me laugh when I’m having the worst day and we can have in-depth discussions about anything from philosophy to our geekdom. In many ways, he’s who I hoped for in a relationship and in others vastly different. We agree on many core life concepts but even when we disagree, we still respect each other and our opinions. I want him to be the father of our children and I want to spend my life with him. He sees me for who I am and he loves me for it, not in spite of it. And I feel the same way about him. And because we love each other so much, we allow the other to pursue whatever makes them happy, up to and include sex with others.
I met my something-on-the-side going to Atheist conventions and being a godless heathen. She quickly became one of my best friends. Her fiance is a wonderful man who makes her as happy as Chris makes me. We have a lot in common, both of our fiances do the same little things that endear/annoy us, we’re both planning our weddings and finishing school, and we like to get drunk and sleep with each other from time to time. Really, apart from the last activity, we’re not much different from other “besties” out there. But just because we fuck each other doesn’t mean we have romantic feelings for each other. Don’t get me wrong, I love her as a friend, but not like I love Chris. And that’s okay. Hell, it’s more than okay, it’s awesome!
In the weird and confusing journey of figuring out my sexuality, I realized that I generally find women more sexually attractive than men. However, I generally enjoy relationships with men more than relationships with other women. My BFFWB‘s feelings are pretty similar. But rather than feeling like I have to choose one aspect of attraction while losing on the other, I’ve found a solution that works for me and my fiance as well as my friend and her fiance. It took me a while to get rid of the residual guilt that society places on us about relationships. I worried I was really a lesbian and was just finding ways to compromise. I worried that I was cheating even though I had permission. I worried that this was just a band-aid covering deeper issues. All the shit society says about non-monogamy and bisexuality that I had internalized had to be worked through. But now that I have, I’m even more confident about who I am and who I love and in what ways.
I think what bothers people so much about “cheating” is not that their partner has had sex with someone else, but the dishonesty involved. However, because we all follow the rules of our relationships, nobody is “cheating”. There’s none of the dishonesty people engage in when they sleep with someone else in a monogamous relationship. People also think non-monogamy must be awkward when hanging out withmetamours, but it’s all very honest and friendly. Chris and my friend get along very well, and while I don’t get to see her fiance as often, he’s a quiet but funny guy and I enjoy his company too. The whole reason why we’re linked in the first place is because we’re so much alike. It’s not weird or awkward at all, it’s just friendship with some added perks.
I wish there were more labels and language about non-monogamy out there. I’m neither monogamous nor am I polyamorous. I used to like the term “monogamish”, but it seems to convey a monogamous couple who enjoy one-night-stands with strangers, and at the moment I only have sex with one person outside of my relationship. So, while I feel limited by language a lot of the time, I’m trying my best to convey what I engage in because it makes me happy and I like to talk about things that make me happy. For the time being though, maybe Facebook said it best. It’s Complicated. (But worth it.)