Human sexuality and attachment: it has been going on for well over sixty years and it’s about time someone put a stop to it. It used to be that you would find one random person, pretend it was fate that brought you together, and spend the following decades learning how to see your spouse as the one thing preventing you from being happy.
Ah, the good old days!
But there are so many options now! Of course, these options present new levels of complexity that most people just sort of stumble into. That is why I, “Relationship Textspert™,” am going to help you, the perplexed reader, navigate through the muddy waters of non-monogamy.
I think that polyamory makes the most sense as a relationship choice because why would I only give one person a headache? I even once bought the polyamory starter kit (five extra AA batteries, renters manual, a commemorative pen, travel thesaurus, and seventeen different calendars) so I know of what I speak.
Please keep in mind that although I am focusing on non-monogamy, no one method of human contact is better than the other because all fall grotesquely short of the love robots feel for each other.
Just as black has white and squirrels have penguins, there’s always an opposite point of view. So, before we sashay on to Non-Monogamy, let’s talk about its (potentially evil) twin:
Monogamy is when two people decide that from then on, they’re going to gun it “Thelma and Louise” style over the cliff of their options and disappearing youth. General society says that this is the most secure relationship type. In fact, it works 100% of the time for a little under 50% of the population.
This is old-fashioned “mom and pop” shacking up. Most often, someone assumes their partner’s name. This used to signify property ownership back when women were essentially livestock.
Just joking. Livestock had more rights.
Nowadays, name transfer isn’t always a given. Neither is monogamy.
Non-monogamy is when you decide that the “there can be only one!” Highlander method doesn’t work for you and you’ve decided that putting all your begs in one ask-it is a sucker’s game. Well, buddy, there are options!
Let’s talk about what is by far the most popular form of non-monogamy:
Almost everyone has done it and those of us who haven’t get to be smug about it. It is generally felt that you shouldn’t do it. Apparently, it isn’t that strongly felt because it happens all the time.
The actual consensus seems to be, “don’t you cheat on me and HOLY SHIT look at that person over there, I’ll be back later. For matters completely unrelated to secret, panic-wrought sex in the ladies’ bathroom of the closest Arby’s we can sneak off to, of course!”
Not based on an actual scenario.
CONSENSUAL (OPEN) NON-MONOGAMY
This is where everyone involved in the group agrees about the whole “Highlander was really an over-rated movie and why the hell was Sean Connery playing an Egyptian while they had a Swiss actor playing a Scotsman… I guess hearing about the movie is WAY better than actually watching it” thing. This is really a blanket term because it encompasses a lot of different styles, many of which I will completely misunderstand on your half below.
Also, non-monogamists agree that Queen was the best thing about the movie.
How very 1970s of you! This is where you hang an “Open For Business” sign on your pants, lower your standards, and then presumably your pants as well. So, I guess don’t bother hanging up a sign. Removing your pants is a pretty strong indicator of something. Usually, it’s an indicator that you’re about to be arrested.
When I picture swinging in my head, I imagine a key party with men wearing white polyester suits with black shirts unbuttoned to the navel so they can explode their tangled chest hair to the various women, all of whom are wearing very fussy floral prints. Of course, they are all huddled around a silver fondue pot. “Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass” is playing in the background and the whole place smells like Jean Nate, cigarettes, and impending disappointment. Later, the men try to untangle their gold chains from the musky carpet of their chest. A pair of scissors may be necessary.
You can see why I never got into swinging.
Every article I’ve ever read about this mentions Dan Savage as the creator of the concept, so thanks Dan! It’s basically the “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas” style of relationship. You’re mostly monogamous except for one weekend per month and one solid month every year.
Wait, am I thinking of the National Guard?
POLYAMORY AND POLYFIDELITY
I haven’t seen any articles over who invented this term but they need to be slapped for mixing Greek with Latin. The Romans would’ve loved it because their entire pantheon was nothing but bad Greek mythology fan fiction. Jove is not Zeus. Bulfinch’s Mythology can suck my knob!
Speaking of, polyamory is when you have more than one romantic/sexual/racquetball partner at a time. The key here is that everyone knows about it. If they don’t, see the “CHEATING” section.
Polyfidelity is more of a closed-loop – all the members are considered equal partners and agree to restrict sexual activity to only the members of the group. Once formed, it is generally accepted protocol to build a fort for your cool little club in your backyard and invent secret handshakes.
There’s a lot of social wagging of the finger from “traditionalists” against polyamory, but what a man, a woman, another man, a GrubHub driver, their friend, a Circus pony trainer, a massage school, a rogue hypnotist, another woman, and I do in our amphitheater is their own gosh-darned business.
This is Polyamory for bureaucrats. Basically, there is a “primary” who is treated like a life partner and a “secondary” who is treated like a doormat. There’s a pecking order in this place, and top spot is most often held by the person with the pecker.
If Kung Fu movies have taught me anything (and they have taught me EVERYTHING), the person at the top of the hierarchy is the one who is best at fighting.
This relationship style usually involves WAY fewer Molotov Cocktails than are necessary.
In Relationship Anarchy, you put as few obligations as possible on other people and expect the same extra-special kind of nothing from them. Each relationship is unique and evolves or devolves as the participants require.
One day, you’re lovers! The next, you’re friends! The next, you’re siblings! The next, you are two completely different species trying to make a hybrid crime against nature! You expect your hoary star-spawn to become the next alpha predator but oh no! Your relationship has mutated again! Now you are two different snow globes both depicting Copenhagen, occupying adjacent bookcases!
This exists to remove distinctions between hierarchical valuations of friendships versus love/sex-based relationships. It is usually the relationship of choice for people who’ve taken a couple of Women’s Studies courses and are horrified into action.
WHICH UNTENABLE MESS IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Like I wrote, not one single relationship “style” is the right one. It all depends on what you want to do.
Do you think that growing old and embittered with a single personification of all of your bad choices sitting in front of you telling you to stop draping your underwear on the TV night after night isn’t for you? (Not based on a real scenario.) Then maybe monogamy isn’t your thing.
On the other hand, do you like requiring six-hour-long negotiations, PowerPoint presentations, and a laser pointer in order to meet someone for a 15-minute cup of coffee on the weekend? Maybe give a Non-Monogamous relationship a try!
BUT WHAT DO I TELL MY CHILDREN!?
I don’t care what you tell your goofy kid. Figure it out for yourself. I am assuming you haven’t let any children you have or are in any way obliquely connected to in on your sex life. If this is the case, keep that up. No child needs to know what their parent is up to. The second a child learns their parent is into vintage East German Tentacle porn is the second that kid is no longer a child. (Not based on a real scenario.)
Tell your babies that love is all-encompassing. Or tell them that if the love isn’t between two robots then it is barely love at all. After all, robots can love each other with an accuracy of up to seventeen decimal points!
If it’s a “fur baby” you’re trying to explain things to, you need to tell them, “who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? You are! Good boy! Such a good boy! You’re such a good boy, aren’t you? Good boy!”
SUMMARY? YES, PLEASE!
There are, of course, many other options when it comes to shacking up. The problem at the base of all of them is they involve humans. This means the relationships will be complicated and involve lubricants. This is the one thing that human and robot love has in common.
No judgments here! You do you and you and them and her and him and me and whoever. If you want to be stuck with a single person who doesn’t get you for the rest of your life, that’s great! Or if you want to be stuck with a group of people who don’t get you for the rest of your life, that’s great too! Or you can choose to date no one so you can be the only person who doesn’t get you for the rest of your life.
There is only one bad choice you can make: falling in love with a robot. You’ll never be able to compete with that.
Based on a real scenario.