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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Orgasms Without Obligation (2004)

Molly Coddle
Once upon a time I thought that polyamory was a radical act, and when I finally came out last year as a poly person, I realized that it’s not always a choice. I last about a month in a monogamous situation--it’s stifling for me--so I’ve begun to consider poly as I see other non-dominant sexual preferences, as conscious radical choices or natural urges. It’s also helped me understand that monogamy works as well for some people as poly works for me.

Coming out has been a bit painful--telling friends one at a time, finding a supportive community that understands--but rewarding. I’m developing my own ethic for intimacy, since I don’t believing extending a monogamous framework to many partners is sufficient. My influences have been anarchism, Buddhism and the wisdom of my community. Principally I’m working on overcoming physical and emotional scarcity, practicing full disclosure, and seeing love as a gift exchange.

My vision of functioning polyamory is to become my own primary partner. As I discard the residual morality of monogamy, having a primary relationship seems less necessary. As I understand my own completeness, I can honor intimacy without prioritizing, and practice honesty with partners instead of getting permission to be poly from them.

The need for fidelity is changing as I depend less on others’ approval for my self worth. Just as I would be delighted over my best friend finding a new lover, I find delight in my lovers’ new joys. Cheating, per se, is not about sex, but about emotional dishonesty and breaking commitments. If a lover of mine had unsafe sex, broke a date to fuck someone else, or lied about what level of intimacy they wanted, I would be hurt enough to need the issue addressed. However, everyone has different triggers, and we can only know by discussing them.

The biggest downfall of being poly for me is the amount of time it consumes. I could spend the next 50 years happily dancing, cuddling, talking, fucking and processing and never do another minute of justice work, but it would be a life less than fulfilling. Knowing that my love is not finite but my time and energy are will form the most concrete boundaries of my relationships. If only orgasms could overthrow the government.

I firmly believe in non obligatory relationships. Love is a gift exchange and in order for intimacy to be healthy, I must give and receive. While I can’t know what joy is coming, I expect it, as well as some pain. Growth often comes from such discomfort.

As I stray farther from monogamy into my own definitions of intimacy, I find more gratification. I know that I’ll be grateful for lovers and at other times retreat to my own self-satisfaction. Either way, I’ll know that I’m loved.

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