Monogamy, once the structure and safehold of my rule-based life now resembles the unhappy wasteland of Auschwitz. It is a place I once lived in, starved of freedom, healthy love and emotional growth. I clung to it as an better known devil and whilst I accept monogamy as a choice of my friends, I don't find it rational or sane. Even having lived in it for 32 years, I no longer understand it, if I ever did.
My open relationship, once the considered as the essence of depravity and a guilt-ridden closeted spectre, has over the course of 7 years become the sweet smelling lubrication which allows my life to function with beautiful fluidity. In our polyamorous relationship(s) sex is incredible, respect is high on the agenda, communication is constant. Love (really is) all around. Relationships are my hobby and my passion. But as monogamy recedes into the background, my unfamiliarity with how the monogamous world works becomes more and more apparent.
And so I sat down with my monogamous friends with whom we were going to spend the new year hot tubbing and watching the fireworks, and said "I just wondered about the whole midnight kissing thing. We'll be in bikinis and we'll all be drunk. I need to discuss the boundaries with you beforehand. Our friendship is too important not to."
We agreed a peck on the lips was fine. We even informed all of our partners of it. "No tongues!" I told my boyfriend during our prior discussions.
Parties are dangerous territory for a mix of philosophies. Boundaries can be pushed with the spin of a bottle (Yes, let's blame the bottle).
"It's so difficult to play games like truth or dare with monogamous people." Said my boyfriend. "The dare is always about daring people to do stuff you know they're forbidden to do normally and you never know how far you can push them. Is it okay to dare someone to snog their mate or show their boob? Am I crossing some sort of monogamy line?"
"No idea." I replied. "I've never found the line. But I think the worst thing is how they might feel afterwards. If they ever cross their own boundaries they might not tell us, they might even avoid us. Let's just err on the side of caution."
Being polyamorous is a responsibility. Being comfortable with your own openness might challenge and threaten others, but it also liberates others which in itself challenges your relationship with them. Generally, where I go others were quick to follow. Rebellion is infectious. I didn't have a problem flashing a boob or a quick snog. Did my monogamous friends? Should I consciously reign myself in to set a 'monogamous' example? And if I am a true polyamorous activist why would I want to?
Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means." Albert Einstein
Peacemeal liberation whilst drunk - when you define yourself as monogamous - comes accompanied by hefty doses of guilt and shame which then project themselves onto those who have inspired to liberate. We're the bad influence. And that means we're great scapegoats when the shit hits the fan.
My friendships are precious to me. So precious that when I interact with my monogamous friends I feel like I need to put up the barbed wire to protect them from their own desires for liberation, in case our friendships suffer the consequences. But we're adults and that shouldn't be necessary. In an ideal world, we would own our desires, our boundaries and create our relationship landscape accordingly even if that's not how it works in reality....because if you hadn't noticed, personal boundaries are the first thing to fall to the ground after a few drinks and among good friends.
You need a clear head and a firm idea of your own ethics if you are to protect your own relationship landscape and that can involve safeguarding your friends' monogamous rules when they've had too much to drink as well.
"I do not believe we can give good poly advice without starting from an ethical framework and without being willing to say some relationship choices are ethical and some aren't. It's easy to say, "Anything that the people involved agree to is okay," but that ignores the reality of the human condition. It ignores that abuse victims often voluntarily remain with their abusers, at least for some value of "voluntarily." It ignores that people may agree to things at the start of a relationship that later become untenable-because, seriously, who among us can predict at the very beginning of a relationship what direction it might go?"More Than Two
Sometimes merely the presence of freedom is a game changer for those who are not or choose not to be mindful of their own boundaries. If you're adult enough to take charge of your own relationship landscape, then you should be mindful of others who haven't done so. My friends and I were lucky we defined our limits when sober beforehand because if you didn't know...
1. Mindfulness, boundaries and pear cognac is not a good mix ;-)
2. Mindfulness, boundaries and hot tubbing is not a good mix ;-)
3. Mindfulness, boundaries and truth and dare is not a good mix ;-0
But if you're brave enough to be an adult, it makes for one hell of a New Year's Party.