One, Some or None – Intimate Choices

couple kissIt’s another Monday and the deadline for this column is looming. I’m wondering what in the world I’m going to say this week, trying to keep up the clever machine and fearful that I’m going to draw a big, fat blank as if there’s just no grist for the mill. Here’s the writer’s dilemma: not having anything to say when you have to produce.

Now, as anyone who knows me is aware, I’m rarely at a loss for words. In fact, I’m quite sure that more than a few of my friends would like to me to learn the joys of silence. It’s just that this past week I’ve had something rolling around in my mind and I was wondering if this were the moment to bring it up or not, hoping that some other idea would miraculously spring to mind. Well that hasn’t happened, so I’m going to have to go with the thought that I have been nursing since last I wrote to you. Please bear with me because ‘we’re going to go there’ and you may want a return ticket!

When bisexuality is mentioned, there does tend to be someone who jumps on the notion that all bisexuals are sexually voracious predators who are dissatisfied with only one partner and only capable of jumping from person-to-person, making unending sport of lust and debauchery — as if bisexuals had more time than and didn’t have to earn a living like anybody else!

I believe — and this is nothing new, I’m sure — that such a view is based on both on collective fears and desires. The Puritanism that seems to be our national heritage in the United States wants to tamp down sexual desire of any kind, let alone admit that it exists at all. This same Puritanism attempts to keep everything under control by conceding to us one single partner to whom, once united, we invest uniquely and irrevocably in mind, body and spirit.

It is any wonder fifty percent of marriages end in divorce? Or that some people are commitment phobic? Or that we try to knock ourselves out looking for that one someone special? Or that we beat ourselves up if we are unpartnered?

Ask anyone is in a relationship of any sort if their desires have suddenly disappeared? Talk to someone who has intentionally embraced celibacy to see if they have lost all attractions whatsoever. I think you will find that, quite realistically, the answer is no. It’s impossible. After all, we are living breathing creatures.  Besides, do we tend to show love to only one member of our family? Do we normally have only one friend?

As far as I am concerned, intensity and nature of relationships are just as fluid as sexuality itself. Once I accepted and embraced the non discrete nature of bisexuality, I had to accept that the notion that having a single partner can be rather contrived as well. Why put all my hopes and dreams in one person in terms of a committed relationship?That seems an awfully lot of undue pressure for another person.

OK, everybody take a deep breath. I’m not suggesting that everybody go out and get themselves a string of lovers. I’m merely asking that we consider where this notion of the ‘one and only’ comes from and that we deconstruct it in order to make more informed and authentic choices.

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by the Muslim convention that permitted a man — under certain conditions — to take four wives. It both chafed and enticed me. I realize now what chafed was both the sexism and heterosexism inherent in the practice, since only men can take multiple spouses and they have to be women. What enticed was the possibility of forming intimate attachments with more than one person.

Consider for example the Dr Phlox character from Star Trek: Enterprise — yes, it was inevitable that I would reference the Star Trek franchise at some point – who has three wives, each of whom in turn has two other husbands. It’s heteronormative, but you get my point. Someone associated with the show could at least imagine a fictional world where men and women could legitimately be multiply partnered.

Back here on the real earth, we have polyamory, which is the notion that a person can partner with more than one person at the same time. This may not be for everyone. However, just as I feel that whether one chooses to be monogamous or celibate is a choice, so do I believe that polyamory — with its inherent ethical code — is also a choice.

As a friend of mine has said, it’s not sexual — or emotional — freedom if we don’t get to choose. It’s also no kind of freedom if we are not honest about our choices and what impact they have on others.