Fashion puzzle for the new millenium: what to wear when you’re about to meet the woman your boyfriend is dying to have sex with?
Six months ago, a question like this was nowhere on my mental landscape. Yesterday night, it was the first thing I had to figure out upon coming home from my work. So has my life changed. Six months ago, polyamory was an interesting lifestyle that a friend of a friend of mine practised; unless I was talking about that particular friend, I didn’t give a thought to it. This morning, I woke up in a bed with my boyfriend and the aforementioned woman-he’s-dying-to-have-sex-with.
The surprising thing to me is how easy it is, how natural. (People who have entered into polyamory with great struggle and agony, feel free to throw things at my head.) In fact the aforementioned woman (okay, she needs a name: Athena is appropriate, I think) commented last night on how I’d gone from conservative Christian virgin to polyamorous, bisexual, and kinky. It sounds like a dramatic change, but to my mind it’s quite simple. Growing up, I had exactly one rule about how to do sexual relationships (only within a monogamous, heterosexual marriage), and exactly one source of that rule (because God says so, and God knows what’s best for me.) I never absorbed a lot of the secular cultural prejudices against nonmonogamy, BDSM, and homosexuality, because I had no need for them.
Maybe that doesn’t make sense without further explanation. To start: I think most human beings have an intuitive sense of the inherent danger in sexuality. Certainly there are a lot of cultural voices preaching this danger, but I think those are generally dressing on an innate instinct. And the instinct is true: sexuality is powerful, and everything powerful carries at least a seed of danger. Yes, it gives pleasure, it creates life, it strengthens human bonds, but it also has the potential to cloud rational judgement, to fuel violence, and to carry disease. So. Our brains are formed to crave sexual activity, but also, at least a little bit, to fear it.
And think about the experience each of us has in going through puberty. Our bodies and our brains change dramatically; scores of things happen that we can’t control, some of them pleasant and some of them unpleasant. Even if we welcome the change, it’s profoundly unsettling, and I think most people instinctively reach for some kind of rules and structure in order to help mitigate the feeling of being a helpless plaything of biological forces.
So. According to my ad-hoc, shamelessly subjective psychological analysis, the need to have some kind of rules about sexual behavior is pretty common to human nature. Even people who don’t have religious bases may internalize rules like “only if you’re in love” or “only with one person at a time.” Me, I didn’t internalize any of those, because my “God says only have sex if you’re married, and God knows best” was ironclad protection against that sense of danger. So once I stopped believing that, the only thing I had to consult was my own inclination.
And my own inclination seems to be decidedly polyamorous. I liked having a thoughtful discussion with my boyfriend about whether he should answer a booty call from his ex. I liked sitting with his hand on my knee while I flirt with his friend across the table. I liked lying on one side of the bed and seeing the parallel curves of Shaun’s and Athena’s neck and shoulders as he lay with his arms around her. (He wants her so badly. They haven’t had sex yet. I relish the tension, the drama of unfulfilled desire, even as I hope it ends soon.)
It’s only been six months, and I know there’s a lot of territory for me yet to explore, and I’m sure some of it will be more difficult. But it’s going well so far.