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Maybe it’s more important than you think

November 30, 2013

So, in what I very much doubt will be a surprise to any reader, I’m a bit queer. My primary relationship is with three people.

Recently, my psychotherapist, whom I presume to be straight and monogamous, told me that they thought that my sexuality appears to be a very fundamental part of my personality and conception of self. And yes, I suppose it is, but I very much doubt that this is as unusual as they implied.

The straight monogamous assumption exists for a reason, I know that. The majority of people are straight and monogamous. Fine. Go for it. Have your straight monogamous fun. My parents are straight and monogamous, and it’s from their example that I learned so many of the relationship skills that I now use daily with my partners to build and maintain our lifelong commitment.

If you’re straight and monogamous, then trying to NOT be straight and monogamous probably isn’t going to work that well for you.

I’m not either of those things though, and thus neither of them worked particularly well for me. As it happens, I have a whole worldwide community of people I can look at, most of whom are in straight monogamous relationships, that show me that even though the straight monogamous model doesn’t work for me, it evidently does work for other people. So, not my relationship, not my problem. I can just sit on the sidelines and watch your wonderful love, and be happy seeing how happy y’all are with your straight monogamous partners.

I just wish you’d extend the same courtesy my way.

Because straight monogamous people get to talk about and celebrate their relationships all the time. There’s the initial teenaged explorations, often euphemistically referred to as ‘spreading wild oats’ or ‘growing up to be a lovely young lady’. There’s the high of a new relationship, telling friends, family and colleagues about this fantastic new person you’ve met. Sharing photos and stories. Receiving congratulations and being wished well for the future. The first meeting with each other’s parents, and the various embarrassing comments from people who are glad you ‘finally got laid’, or are thinking of ‘settling down’. Moving in together. Making them your emergency contact at work or in your medical records. Getting married. Having children. The process of growing together so that it no longer seems like you have very many friends who belong to either one of you alone, but all are shared.

For straight monogamous people, these life events are almost always shared and universally celebrated.

How about me?

Last week I got a haircut, and the hairdresser asked me if I was up to anything interesting that weekend. I answered, honestly, that I had a date the next day, where my new lover was coming over for dinner to meet my husband and one of my boyfriends. The woman who was cutting my hair checked that I had actually said what she thought I’d said, and then did a kind of ‘some people juggle geese’ shrug. The man at the front desk though, who had prior to this come over to chat politics quite a bit, blatantly checked out the third finger of my left hand, made a face like I was the dogshit on the sole of his shoe, and then conspicuously ignored me until I left.

This is not unusual. I am used to these reactions. I didn’t make a fuss because I just wanted to get my damn hair cut, and at least the person who actually had their hands on my head didn’t appear to think I was the Antichrist. At any given time, I can probably tell you an anecdote like that about something that has happened in the last month.

It takes it’s toll. And it can make you a bit defensive.

So yeah, my identity and sense of self do feature quite prominently the fact that I am not straight and that I am not monogamous. I don’t, for example, spend an awful lot of time thinking about the fact that I’m white, because I’m white in a predominantly white country in a predominantly white city where most of my friends are white. My whiteness is not routinely challenged. It’s not something I often have to think about. It just is.

(In fact, my colour-blindness is something that I was made aware of (although I now can’t recall how) about a year ago, and I’ve since made a conscious effort to follow more non-white people on twitter to help mitigate my lack of IRL contact with people outside my own ethnic group. Also hopefully learn some shit, and be less of an asshole white feminist. Can you believe that once upon a time I didn’t even know that it was black women who invented intersectionality? I have been proper schooled over the last year on this one.)

We tend not to notice the things about us that are least challenged. I know I’m white, but it’s never been made into any kind of a deal to me, so it’s never been made to be important. I’m into maths. That’s just a thing about me. It’s not the first thing I’d think of if I had to describe myself to a stranger, but I’d definitely miss it if it were gone.

And I get the feeling that if you take anyone and attack the most important relationships in their lives, submitting them to the routine scrutiny, disbelief and dismissal that I experience around mine, then they might suddenly discover that their relationships and sexuality are actually a whole lot more important and fundamental to their personality and sense of self than they previously realised.

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53 Comments
  1. I agree, people tend to focus more on areas of their life that they feel require defending/explaining.

  2. As a straight monogamous female, I celebrate you and want you to know that I support whatever it is you choose to do in your life as long as you are being safe and protecting yourself and not hurting anyone in the process. To aid in the destruction of a relationship on any level isn’t cool. But besides that, live the life that makes you most happy!!! I also love that you are educating yourself about others who walk this Earth as well!!

    • See, on the one hand, thank you. It’s nice to hear people say that they ‘celebrate’ you. And I don’t want to make you feel like I’m anything but grateful for your support.

      On the other hand, a lot of the things that you’ve said in your comment make it clear that you think that your relationships are normal, and that mine are ‘other’, and need to be justified.

      For one thing, you celebrate me? Isn’t that a little weird? I don’t celebrate you. If you’re happy in your relationship then good for you, but what I’m aiming for here is not to be celebrated, but just to be able to have and talk about my relationships in the same way as any monogamous wife is able to talk about her husband.

      And that’s why some of the other things that you say in your comment make me feel a little uncomfortable. Because, in a way that you would never write of a straight monogamous relationship, you say that you support my choice so long as we are ‘being safe and protecting yourself and not hurting anyone’. The implication here is that there is a good chance that we might be dangerous, and harmful to ourselves and others. Can you see how that implication could be hurtful?

      There’s also the fact that you’ve mentioned the destruction of relationships. I assume by this you’re referring to the common assumption that cheating and open relationships are in any way similar to one another? They are not. And again, this implication is hurtful.

      As I said at the start, I am grateful that you enjoyed reading my post and learning something about how different people can manage their lives and loves. I hope this comment can help you learn a little more.

      • I thought that too… I wish there was a ‘like’ button on this… so that I could just ‘like’ your comment back… without having to go into a long comment… reiterating what you thought about the original person’s comment… I found her remarks patronising and offensive… but I suppose it is just that monogamous people do not really understand non-monogamous people.

      • Hello
        Thank you for your writing. i enjoyed your creative expression and your point of view.
        i wish for a better quality of love, relationships and sexual expression. (acceptance will help…maybe even understanding)

        much peace to you my friend!

  3. Loved the title, and the way you told your story

  4. wakingofthebear permalink

    If you don’t like to have your feelings hurt, maybe you should refrain from airing out your whole life to strangers.

    • Oh my gods are you ever not getting the point. Did you even read the bit about how I’m not wanting anything special, or anything that people in straight monogamous relationships do not already get?

  5. I would like to understand. Would you mind sharing the reasons behind getting married?

    • Same as anyone else. We love each other and want to spend our lives together. We plan to have a wedding ceremony for all 4 of us at some point, although obviously that won’t be legally recognised in the same way.

  6. liked the sentence “Fine. Go for it. Have your straight monogamous fun.” )))

  7. I’m an old girl , straight in that sense of the word, please forgive me if this is a dumb question, but, what is intersectionality?

  8. People aren’t bothered by things, they are bothered by “their” idea of things. I live life understanding that people are not bothered by the things I do. Their hangup is with their idea the things. And that’s just not my problem.

    • Luzbelitx permalink

      “…they are bothered by “their” idea of things. ”

      I think you totally nailed it :)

  9. I really liked what you had to say. Can’t help but think that if a person has a problem with who you are though, maybe they are just insecure/unsure of who they are. Not that there’s anything wrong with either side, as long as there’s respect involved in the outcome. Hopefully in the future, your fearless perception gives you the respect you deserve.

  10. Love it! I am also not straight or monogamous and I can relate so much to what you have written.

  11. Interesting. I a guessing that there are more people like you, just not as honest about it. Have at it honey. : )

  12. wow awesome post!! before now I never thought of it… your blog made me realize the things about me which I didn’t pay attention to before but are really important to me…

  13. I loved this post. Society is just so judgemental it makes me sick. Why can’t we just let everyone live their lives as they choose without batting an eyelid or doling out disparagements. Those people at the hairdressers sound so rude. No one has any right to judge anyone. Gah. Just live and let live, people.

  14. Reblogged this on ponderingsandgreentea and commented:
    Assertive

  15. got to live life as you are and not pretend to be some one else. I think people do get hung up on sexuality on both extremes from the conservative 2.1 nuclear family to the I am gay be proud of it I kind of think yep fine no prob now just get on with it but some still want to make a song and dance about it being straight or gay, 30 yrs ago may be but life has moved on now there is nothing special bout one or the other.

  16. Great post. I took a sociology of gender class this semester and it opened my eyes to the under-represented gender identities and sexualities that exist in this beautiful life.
    I agree that we’re a heteronormative culture and polygamy is definitely taboo, but if love can exist on any platform- regardless of age, gender, sexuality or number of partners- then why the hell not?

  17. Reblogged this on Rumored Humor: In My Head and commented:
    Sexuality: Embrace It.

  18. The only thing I’d like to say is, in order to change the social norm, it needs to be discussed more openly. Which is, in fact, what you do in your daily life. And the wonderful thing is, you are doing it because it is normal, not to point out any fallacies, in other people’s choices or to make some grand statement. And whether fallacies exist or not is a matter of perspective I suppose, perspective is reality to that individual.

  19. This blog post is very awesome, if you ask me. <3

  20. bluerosegirl08 permalink

    I love this . I am in a non straight non monogamous with two partners and have many similar experiences. Fortunately for me my parents and sister and most of the rest of my family are very supportive even though I’m quit sure the idea took some getting used to. I am not always completely honest with strangers about my relationships but our close friends know the truth and anybody on my Facebook if they pay attention to what they read.

  21. I’ve gotten to know many polyamorous couples recently and I’m beginning to feel it’s more common than monogamy! There are so many variations of sexuality and relationships in the world, it’s just impossible to define what is so-called “normal”. We’re all weird in our own ways. But people don’t hear about relationships like yours often, so I’m glad you’re discussing it here.

  22. Just get used to the idea that the main population isn’t used to that and they don’t find it ‘normal’, so if it was me, I’d just not comment about it to strangers. Me, as a straight monogamous girl have no problem whatsoever and wish you all the very best, but don’t expect other random people to not react negatively. It is how it is. Great post, congrats on being FP’ed. :)

    • I am very used to the idea that most people don’t find it normal, and I’m very aware that it isn’t the way that the majority of people conduct their relationships. But that does not mean that I am in any way okay with or resigned to being ridiculed, belittled or assumed to be immoral as a result of my relationship structures. I have thought about it all very carefully and fully, and I refuse to accept the condemnation of others for the way I live my life. Same sex couples used to have to deal with the same prejudice, and attitudes have thankfully changed on that front over the last few decades. I accept that I am at the forefront of this new wave of people asking for acceptance, and that may mean a lot of people just advising me to ‘grin and bear it’. I will not. I demand to be treated with respect, regardless of my relationship’s structure.

      • For the past few years, I have been thinking hard about the topic of what is considered normal and what is considered strange. Where did these ideas come from? Where did morality come from? Who says what is moral and what is not? What kind of authority can make such a claim? The common answer to some of these questions may be, “that is what the majority of the people do.” But that answer does not make sense and does not even answer the question at hand. Look at all the other animals in world. There is instinct, there is survival, there is hunger and there is reproduction. That is the basic fundamental part of nature. Now there is mankind, we have rules, regulations, exceptions, pleasures, thoughts, currency, nonsense, and the list goes on with things you do not find in nature. Where did that come from? I say all that to say this. The reason why, and this is my opinion and observation, people find things to be “not normal” is because they cannot see these actions happen anywhere else in nature. If the animal kingdom has something like marriage, or a life long partner… it is one life long partner of the opposite gender. Why? to reproduce. If an animal does not have one life long partner, that animal fulfills the need to reproduce and leaves to do it with someone else and may come back for more later and do it’s rounds, but there is no commitment, and there is no partnership. If you really want to understand such thoughts as these, it is important to study the ideology of philosophy and start asking such questions, than follow those thoughts until you cannot go any further and see where it leads you. We should not be asking ourselves which kinds of relationships are acceptable, we need to ask why are they acceptable, where did it come from, how did it all start, who can make such a claim to tell everyone what to believe, who gave them that authority…? Keep going until the only thing you are facing is the complete truth and explains everything and has not changed it’s placement. Make your answers in something firm and sturdy so you know no matter what others say you have the absolute truth on the situation, than make the choice to accept it and live in it or deny it and believe a lie.

  23. Reblogged this on BeauTEAs Tea reviews and creative uses for tea! and commented:
    This is well worth reading. Sometimes we don’t realize when we’re wearing our judgey-pants. And really, who are we to judge another? Different strokes for different folks. I think the most important things in life are to be kind to others and follow whatever path leads to your happiness. :)

  24. This article is so good, I like this blog, Thank you very much for sharing

  25. I believe most of us are polygamous in our minds. it is, however, our conditioning to be monogamous (it provides social and emotional simplicity) that inhibits us to think of us as polygamous. It takes a lot of courage to speak out what one thinks and does that does not fall in the restricted spectrum of our thinking, so kudos to you. To be able to speak your mind and your life, on this domain.
    On a different note, your writing impresses me :) – congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  26. Yes, I completely agree – if you are constantly challenged or looked at as odd for something that is important to you, then yes, it DOES become a major thing for you. It may not be any more or less important than anything else in your life, but *other people* make it so by their reactions.

    I breastfed my son until he was gone five. For us, that was normal. It worked, we were both happy. No, he is not clingy. No, I was not doing it to satisfy my own urges (Ewww.) No, no, and no.

    But surrounded by people where it was not normal, it became a big thing. I knew it would end one day, and it was private to us so I had no desire to talk about it often. But your relationship(s) are a major part of your life, and everyone wants to talk about the people they love.

    Perhaps it is because people are genuinely ignorant of what it means (multiple relationships like yours, extended breastfeeding, etc, etc) and it is very different to what they anticipate then it comes as a shock to their worldview. Perhaps not intending to be rude, but feeling a reaction to the impact it has on their internalised world.

  27. Martin Maldonado permalink

    Just to let you know, I am straight and monogamous. How dare you attempt to live a fulfilling life with people who love you for who you are! Who are you to show others by example that tolerance and acceptance should be the norm, not the exception! You have no right to impress upon others that fulfilling relationships can be created between those who are straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual! I hope someday people will accept others for who they are and the diversity that they contribute in our society. I wish you continued success in your writing. All the best.

  28. Luzbelitx permalink

    I loved this post, I think it’s an excellent description of how “normal” almost always means “never challenged”.

    I think “normal” is the first step to dehumanize the “different”. When a person doesn’t realize the real weight their sexuality (or gender, or monogamy…) has in her/his life, the consequence is they don’t see how their getting angry/patronizing/shaming etc other sexualities affects those who are “different” from her/him.

    Also, I’m convinced if we were not constantly bombed with straight monogamous propaganda, such choice would be far from the majority.

  29. Reblogged this on .

  30. One of my mottos is “to each its own.” As long as you’re happy and you’re truthful to yourself, it’s all that matters :). Really enjoyed your post.

  31. Would it be okay with your if I quote from this post in an essay I’m writing? With proper credit, of course.

  32. This is pretty cool. See, to me, my religion is the main way I identify myself, and it’s probably because I do feel like it’s being challenged all the time (mainly because I don’t fit in with the majority of people in my religion, and also happen to have friends, including my husband, who don’t believe in it at all). I opposed gay marriage for a long time, probably because I was just listening to what the people around me were saying, and because I didn’t see the big deal. I didn’t see why sexuality was such a big deal, why gay people said they couldn’t be happy if they couldn’t get married, etc.

    Until!… my own plain old monogamous, heterosexual relationship was challenged. Without telling the story, basically, I couldn’t marry the person I wanted to marry. We had to wait years, and we were under a lot of scrutiny the whole time. Then I think I “got it” about as much as I ever will. “Oh… they really want to get married and not deal with haters… hm, just like me!”

    So now I’m pro-gay-marriage, pro-whatever-the-hell-other-people-wanna-do-that-doesn’t-hurt-anybody because I do see why it’s important.

    Live and let love. There’s so much to do in the world besides bother with other people’s happiness.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! And yes, I don’t think a lot of queer oppression is malicious, it’s just ignorant, in the innocent meaning of the world.

  33. Bore_Off permalink

    STOP TELLING EVERYONE CHARLIE, NOBODY ACTUALLY CARES. If you want to be seen as normal (which, you don’t, you love the attention) then stop going on about it. I don’t feel the need to brag about my relationship with my partner. Therefore it isn’t judged etc – because I keep it private. The only reason you get “judged” is because you won’t SHUT UP.

    • And this is why I keep writing about this. Because I still get reactions like this when I’m trying to fight for the right to simply talk about my family without people assuming I’m talking about my sex life, or thinking that I’m bragging, rather than simply talking about my life and the people who are important to me. Wearing a wedding ring and saying that one is spending some time with a monogamous spouse is not seen as bragging, so why is it bragging when I talk about my partners in the same way?

  34. Thanks for sharing.
    Here’s to Your Health!

  35. trishabatra permalink

    hi i have this dream of becoming a writer, and it would mean a lot to me if you could check out my blog!

    I write different works like poetry, stories(with purpose and meaning), and analysis of famous quotes that were the top uses of literature.

    Back to your post: I believe that us as people, we always judge. Considering I am in highschool, judging is a part of life. I believe we should just ignore it and move on with life, and not care what everyone thinks. As a person being not straight doesn’t define you as a person, it’s what actions and the way you treat people defines you. I think this little fact makes you different and unique:)

  36. acojonante!

  37. I don’t even know you, but I now possess immense respect for you.

  38. As I read this, I couldnt help but think how I’d love to meet you! As for people, they can eat a d*ck. (sorry for my vulgarity so early on.) Loved this post.

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