Pinning down what this is about is proving a bit difficult, mainly because I’m not entirely sure myself. So I thought I’d start at one kind of beginning and go from there.
When we were about six years old, my best friend and I told our parents that we wanted to get married to each other when we grew up. It made perfect sense to us because we couldn’t see why girls could only go out with boys when boys were so smelly and noisy. We were promptly ‘separated’, which was a bit stupid considering we went to school together, but it did mean that we could no longer run over to the other’s house when we wanted to play and that, after we were allowed to see each other again – shortly before I moved away – our mothers always hovered nearby, as if waiting for something to happen. What, exactly, was never explained to us but we understood somehow that touching each other would be a bad idea; ‘bad’ not because we thought there was anything wrong with it, but because other people would not like it and might punish and separate us again. And by touching, I mean holding hands and kissing a bit, which we discovered was quite a pleasant thing to do, but not something I would call sexual at all. We were six. It felt nice. That was it.
I wonder if it would have been better or worse for me if I had told them that, honorable intentions towards my little girlfriend aside, I also had crushes on a few boys. Older boys, of course, since most of the hygiene-challenged creatures my age were my friends and didn’t look like anything one was supposed to have crushes on. But talking about boys – even just friends – was another taboo, so I kept quiet.
That pattern has remained pretty constant since then. There are certain kinds of men who make my knees go all wobbly, but my interest in them is purely sexual and I have no desire to get to know them (other than biblically, as it were). There are others that I have very loving, intimate friendships with, but with whom I don’t want the hassle and politics of a sexual relationship. Basically, with men, sex is sex, love is love and while it’s wonderful when the two coincide, it’s not necessary. I’ve never actively looked for a man to fuck or love or be friends with either. It just happens. All the bloody time.
Women, on the other hand, are a more complicated proposition mainly because I can’t switch off the emotional attachment in favor of the sexual. That doesn’t mean I don’t have purely platonic relationships with women – in fact, I have almost nothing but. The few relationships that have been anything like sexual have been extremely intense and wonderful but largely unfruitful because ultimately the risk, both personal and social, of going there, has been too huge.
So I’ve dithered.
And while dithering, I have landed myself not just in another straight relationship, but in a marriage. A wonderful, warm, loving, intense, committed, non-restrictive, happy marriage, yes, but also one that is entirely monogamous. If you would like to virtually whack me upside the head, please feel free to do so.
It’s not that I have a problem with commitment – I have no desire to end my relationship with my husband (henceforth H). But I do have a problem with monogamy. I think it’s too much to ask of a person to be all things to another. And, like it or not, we do all go outside our primary relationships for something, be it intellectual stimulation, fun, emotional support, or whatever, so why the restriction on sex? Neither of us wants children, so there are no potential paternity, pregnancy or child-rearing issues and no social fallout for potential children to worry about. We’re not possessive or jealous – we are both very comfortably with members of the opposite sex, sometimes more so than with our own, and nobody has a problem with that. We’re both all about safe sex and contraception, so infections are not an issue. We’re both quite private and, beyond basic updates on activities, don’t discuss our relationship or each other even with our parents and siblings, so it’s not like we’ll have to deal with their judgment. So then what?
I don’t know. It’s not that I’m confused. I know exactly what I want. The question is, is it workable?