In a recent episode of the Multiamory podcast, the hosts talked to people in the polyamorous community about the different types of relationship styles that people find work for them, besides traditional monogamy. Listening to this particular episode of the show made me smile because I fully support alternative relationships; and even though I don’t currently want to be polyamorous specifically, I do love the concept of still being able to have alternative relationships of some sort as an actual part of my life. So for example, me telling a potential partner that I don’t want her to completely change her other relationships just because she and I become a couple, this stance of mine would be considered something that differs from how society generally conducts traditional romantic relationships. Or if the tables are turned and we’re talking about a man I’m having sex with/that I want to have sex with, I wouldn’t want him to feel like our sexual relationship was somehow less meaningful to me because he knows that I identify as gay/lesbian.
But to get more technical about this relationship creation difference that I talked about in the previous paragraph, in another episode of Multiamory, the hosts of the show talked about a term for this particular practice. The term is “relationship anarchy,” which in a simpler way, means that each individual, for his or herself, decides whether they want to allow society to dictate the way their relationships work or whether they want to carve out a completely different system for the romantic relationships, or all of their relationships. And one reason that this particular model if you will, appeals to me, is because by default, I’m the type of person who constantly questions why society functions in certain ways and not others. And so, it doesn’t require much thinking power for me to think outside of the romantic relationship style box/the all relationships style box that I’ve just always unconsciously been involved in. But also, part of loving whomever you’re with, in my opinion, is the viewpoint that you shouldn’t want to control the other person or people…but rather, you should want them to consciously choose to be with you. Because the idea behind relationship anarchy, indicates that people’s relationships are not governed by figurative societal chains but instead, all adults involved decide amongst each other, how they want their relationships to look and feel.
Another thing that resonated with me in this particular Multiamory episode, was when the hosts brought up something that’s ingrained in many of us by society…which is this idea that when we’re in a romantic relationship of any kind, we might have to compromise on the kinda person we’re looking for because society tells us that we can’t be too picky. But the thing that the Multiamory hosts accurately point out, is that when it comes to the values that mean the most to us as individuals, we have the right to stick by those truths about ourselves. Because no one but us truly knows that we’ve thoroughly thought this particular thing through. And also, it’s considered non-traditional to challenge the harmful belief that us sacrificing any part of who we are, is a necessary part of what it means to be in a romantic relationship with anyone. And so, for example, when I say that I want the woman I’m in a long-term relationship with to be an atheist who’s childfree, yet who’s also feminine as I am, those are all things that I believe in my core. Put another way though, I don’t buy into this toxic thought process that I shouldn’t have standards like these that I’ve talked about here.
In another episode of the Multiamory podcast, the guest was named Andrew Gurza (who is someone with disabilities who is also in the LGBTQ+ community). I loved this particular episode of Multiamory because I’ve never heard the hosts of this show openly talk about those of us with disabilities, before this point. But also, I really identified with what Andrew Gurza pointed out to Jase and Emily which was that all human beings fuck up. Disabled people are not exempt from that human truth–but what Andrew Gurza added to that truth, was that we could all become better at forgiving folks when they use terms that are different than the ones that we ourselves, use.
So for example, when I talk about being blind, I use the word “blind.” Because there’s no part of me that’s impaired in any way; and I don’t care that it’s legally correct to use the term “visually impaired.” Because when you’re interacting with me, no matter who you are, I expect that you’ll follow my lead as a sign that you respect me…and if you don’t follow my lead, even after I’ve explained to you why I use the particular language I do, then that will most likely be the only time I interact with you ever again. The same applies to misgendering people; if I tell you how someone prefers to be identified, it’s a piss poor excuse for you to then say “oh well, I’m going to keep calling them the gender I think of them as because that’s what’s easy for me.” It’s 2020, and as our lives evolve, so too, does the language we use. If you can’t get behind that, then keep your blatant disrespect to yourself.
But anyway, going back to the Multiamory podcast, in another episode of said show, a couple of the show hosts talk about ways that we human beings can lovingly come back to our partner. They talk about this in terms of if we or our partner have been getting to know a new partner; and they talk about it from the angle of partners one and two sharing a living space with each other, while each of them also makes space to go on dates with other folks. And this particular episode was interesting to me because I think it’s important to be aware of powerful ways that we can make our partner feel safe and cared about, whether we’re talking about this happening after we’ve had a heated discussion with one another or whether one of us has just gotten home from having a date with someone new. And honestly, listening to more episodes of this show is great food for thought for my potential future with someone long-term.
So to elaborate on some of the examples given in this episode of Multiamory, one of the ways that we can communicate effectively with our partner, would be to say something like “I know that we’re having to work our way through something that’s challenging; and I understand that you’d like to resolve this situation right now. But in order to give this issue the attention it deserves, and in order to also ensure that I’m fully present for both of us, I need some time alone to think about my perspective.” And the reason that this is great communication, is because you’re letting your partner know that you value their thoughts, needs and desires. Whereas, if you just say nothing, your partner might feel like you’re blowing them off, for any number of reasons. And in fact, this sort of thing was a huge problem with the last romantic relationship I was in, because I liked to communicate with my then-boyfriend about how we could make things better, while he seemed to prefer to avoid discussing difficult subject matters altogether. This particular thing was far from the only thing wrong with that romantic relationship, though.
In another Multiamory episode, this one discussed how to remove yourself from situations in which everyone involved acts as different characters, for lack of a better word. So for example, what this particular episode brought up for me, was that it became clear to me what kind of part I’ve played most often. And I was able to see, going all the way back to when I was a little girl, that I’ve mostly been the person who wants to take everyone’s pain away, whether that pain is physical pain or emotional pain. Like, even going back to the relationship I had, or didn’t have, with my bio mom, I was always determined to find a way to fix her life in some way, shape or form. And even with the romantic relationships I’ve had with men, I wanted to be the person who made their life better…because I could see them so clearly. I totally believed that I had what it took to make those men, and my bio mom, into better human beings. And so, in listening to this particular Multiamory episode, I immediately recognized that part of myself that wanted to mold people into the versions of them that I thought they ought to be. Because as I’ve just said, that can be traced back to my childhood, when I had this idea that I could make my bio mom’s life so much better…even if it would take me years to do so. And this same thought process could be applied to all of the men I’ve dated.
And so needless to say, it always feels really empowering to me any time that I discover the fact that I can make different choices for myself as an adult. And I know I’ve talked about this on my blog before, because it’s been something that’s really helped shift my perspective from one where I felt I had no control of my life, to one that showed me the polar opposite: that actually, I have the power to change the stories I tell myself, and also, the world. Because it’s only been a few years ago since I’ve unlearned the ways in which my childhood caused me to act/live. And TBH, it was difficult for me to do that, especially because I felt like I was doing something dirty or wrong, even, by unlearning those harmful ways of being/thinking. But that being said, once I truly became comfortable with carving out my own path, it also became second nature for me to then continue thinking of different ways that I could re-write my story. And so now, I’m even able to be a comforting source for others who are currently going through what I went through just a few years ago. And that’s a great feeling, not to mention, I realize that in a way, it also feels like I’ve come full circle.
Another Multiamory episode that I listened to, made me think about past experiences that I’ve had. In particular, this episode discussed important things to think about when you’re considering whether to live with anyone, be they a romantic partner, a sexual partner or anyone else. So when I very first moved to this new state, I lived with my then-boyfriend for a few months’ time; and we honestly worked great together, for the most part which may surprise people, given that I’ve discussed areas of this romantic relationship that were problematic for me. But seriously, the two of us had similar values as far as our housekeeping habits went. Neither of us were messy, nor would we leave piles of clothes just laying around the house. We were both also able to cover rent sometimes, if the other person was falling short of all the money that they’d usually pay. We were also good about having hard conversations which kinda feels weird to me to say, given that my then-boyfriend usually preferred to avoid discussing topics that were difficult to discuss.
Something else that this particular episode of Multiamory got me thinking about though, was what my thoughts were and are regarding people coming into my home space and automatically treating said space like it’s their house, where they can do whatever the fuck they want, whenever the fuck they want. And it’s interesting to reflect on this because I vividly remember times when I had my own apartment back in Texas, and people would disrespect that that was my space. And for awhile, I didn’t even know that I had boundaries around certain things, like a particular person just going into my kitchen and taking one of my drinks for themselves, without even asking me if they could even do that. Because the first time that this happened, I just thought that perhaps they were thirsty because it was summertime, especially being that Texas heat is so awful. So I didn’t say anything to them, until they took drinks that I’d had in my apartment a few times, without asking me beforehand. And so, being that that was my own personal space, I realized that I could control how I wanted that to look and feel. So, the next time that this particular person took a drink of mine from my kitchen, I spoke up and I said something to them like “I’ really don’t appreciate you just making yourself at home here and taking a drink that I bought for myself. If you wouldn’t mind buying me another bottle of soda or can of soda to replace the one you’ve taken, that will be fine. But if you’re just thinking that you can take my drinks without me saying something to you about it, then we’re going to have problems.” And not surprisingly, once I’d said that to this specific person, they didn’t handle that new boundary I set well. In fact, they tried to make this into something that I was overreacting about, rather than trying to understand that in my apartment where we were, I had the right and the authority, to decide what was acceptable within that space and what was unacceptable within that space.
Another episode of the Multiamory podcast that stood out to me, was one in which the show’s hosts discussed the terms “sex positivity” and “sex negativity.” This episode stood out to me because I haven’t always been someone that’s comfortable with my own or other people’s self-expression, when it’s come to sex. And personally, being that I was raised in a religious household, I internalized the belief that sex was bad, unless we were referring to a married heterosexual couple having sex. But the thing was, even as a young girl, I’d experiment with other little girls by kissing them and fondling their breasts…and they’d do the same with me. But of course I’d never talk about that part of my life to anyone; and in fact, the girls that I’d fooled around with were also fine with just keeping our sexy times between us. But what makes this issue complex for me personally, is the fact that on some level, I’d always known that I found girls sexually attractive. Like, I vividly remember that my first celebrity crush, as well as my first crush on someone I knew, were both crushes on girls. But yet as I’ve said above, I was raised in a household where the grownups who lived there were deeply religious…or at least, they claimed to be. And so, because of that circumstantial truth, a huge part of me believed that keeping sex secret was something that everyone in the world did. And also, I of course believed that sex was dirty or bad, outside of the confines of a married heterosexual couple having it. And these complex beliefs of mine held true, until I’d gotten my own apartment and felt free to start having heterosexual sex myself. Because the truth was, even when I’d left my bio mom’s house, I still lived with members of my family of origin…and so, I didn’t even want them to know that I wanted to have straight sex. And so, that’s why I waited until having my own apartment, to actually make that happen for myself.
But before I go any further, I want to clarify that the reason I specified me having heterosexual sex, over me having lesbian sex, was simply to indicate that I was raised to believe that there was only one kinda sex in the entire world. Because that particular belief was what the grownups around me most likely wanted me to think. And the thing was, I’d grown up hearing my bio mom say “nasty,” when she’d see two females holding hands with one another or kissing each other on the lips. And so, that’s where the internalized homophobia that I had, actually came from: having years and years of that sort of thing happening.
And so, all that being said, I didn’t necessarily see me fooling around with females as being a sexual thing…even though it was. And so, even when I was in a romantic relationship with a grown woman during my early adulthood, I still didn’t consider us being sexual with one another. And it feels weird for me to think about that now because I live so differently, but self-refllection is important.
But going back to when I had my own apartment, I saw that particular change as being a huge life change for me, for multiple reasons. One of those reasons, was because I knew that I’d finally have the freedom to do grownup things that I’d never done with men before, such as have sex with them. And so, once my environment had physically changed, so too, did my confidence about becoming a more sexual human being. Because perhaps deep down, I’d known, at least on some level, that sex would be a quite pleasurable activity. And even then, I didn’t have the language to describe that I couldn’t have sex with anyone that I didn’t already have an emotional connection with…but I just instinctively knew that truth about myself. And in fact, that’s still true for me to this day. But that being said, if I happened to strongly connect with a stranger at an event where people were being sexual with one another, I wouldn’t be opposed to having sex with them. Because as I’ve thought about this sort of thing thoroughly, and for several years at that, I’ve come to realize that sometimes we just have to live in the moment because we’re really feeling it, whatever it happens to be at any given time.