Monogamy to Ethical Non-Monogamy: A Reflection 16 Years in the Making

Do you remember your first genuine relationship?  Of course you do, that first love stays with you, long after you’ve grown apart or in some rare cases grown together.  Today I was shocked to realize that it would have been 16 years had I stayed in my monogamous relationship/marriage.  I’ve mentioned a few times throughout my blog, that I do believe I would have fallen into non-monogamy eventually.  The fantasies were beginning, and there were sex acts that I just didn’t want to take part in, so I figured a unicorn would be perfect.  And as I have admitted, I was coming closer and closer to cheating all the time.  My then boyfriend and I would have taken the non-monogamous route to keep us together for the sake of the un-realized children.  It’s painful to accept, yet, I realize the truth in those words, having gained such a deep knowledge of myself and my needs.  And I absolutely know that I am not alone in this thinking.  So many have turned to an open relationships to save themselves and their partners.  Or to level the playing field after an indiscretion.  All judgement aside, this is the simple truth to why many have found themselves in the non-monogamous uncertain waters.

In my case, I consider myself lucky in that I ended things when I did.  When I walked away from monogamy and started serial dating I had yet to have heard the term non-monogamy.  So as I have mentioned when I did meet my current partner I had my eyes opened.  I can now say how fortunate I am to have found him and to have ended up where we are.  But as with any relationship we did not start out well.  I think our relationship can be broken down into two distinct parts.  The first, where I was so overwhelmed with being in an open relationship that we were living in an extremely unethical fashion.  Dates were hidden, and extra curricular activities were discovered, rather than discussed.  We began open, but did so, with a rocky and unstable foundation.

So we broke up.  I kept writing and he kept living the exact way he wanted to.  And then, a really surprising thing happened, we started building a new foundation, free of all pressure, just two singles coming together every now and again.  We weren’t intending to get back together, instead we used each others strengths, weaknesses and experiences to start forging ahead with a relationship style that would meaningful for each of us.  By the time we knew what was happening we were living together, and running on parallel paths.  There was a strange symmetry to our work and home lives and the word boyfriend and girlfriend was replaced by that of the title, partner.

Our love story was truly beginning.  And this is when we started looking together for our first couple.  We had been to a swing club, and had mixed feelings about it.  But the take away was the same, our foundation was ready to start building upon.  To start creating experiences together.  It was around this time that I started using the word ethical non-monogamy in my blogging.  I finally understood what it meant, and more than that, was living it.

I look back on these two distinct failed relationships, knowing that I am a direct result of them.  They were both interlaced with non-monogamy, but it wasn’t until I brought the word ethical in that my shift from an uncertain bystander turned to owning my relationship norm.  I cannot help but wonder if there is a parallel universe out there, where I sit here typing in secret about cheating and the mistakes I had made in monogamy.  That perhaps, I would still be a voice, but for those of the pained, rather than those of my current community.  It’s a strange feeling, looking across time like this.  But I feel a calmness in doing so.  It’s a peaceful realization that I am right where I need to be, and perhaps I need to watch a little less sci -fi (Ok, that would and could never happen!).  The path to non-monogamy was never straight and narrow, but I hope, in some small way, my reflection can offer some comfort to someone currently struggling.  After all, the journey is where the real memories are made.

 

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Update Post, Family Changes: A New Year, New Challenges

I wrote a post nearly 4 years ago, whereby I questioned the forgive and forget mantra when it comes to family.  I wrote also, that I was done allowing my family to control me.  When I read back through this post I can see that I was a mess, both in sentence structure and grammar, but also in the waves of emotion I tried to conceal.  I was forcing objectivity while hurting so badly.  It is never easy to walk away from a family that does not support you as an adult.  A woman who is trying to find her way in the world, judged from the foundation out. 
But I am very proud to report a few things.  Number one, I closed the door on a family member who emotionally abused me.  Number two, I opened the door to a family member that had been closed out of my life for years.  We offered each other forgiveness and love and are working diligently to have a real father daughter adult relationships.  And I couldn’t be more thankful that he came back into my life during this dark timeline that I am in.   
I broke free of my families hypocrisy.  And rejected the notion that I had to accept them and their words and actions, while they talk about me behind my back and judge me.  Acceptance is a two way street.  My biological dad and my renewed relationship with him is based on this principle.  We do not judge each other, simply try to understand and support.  We are no longer re hashing past events, but rather forging new memories and experiences.  He found peace, and I have found my inner voice.  I can not lament the closed minded people who share my blood.  I can only be grateful to have relationships with those who are open and genuinely love life, themselves and me. 
Finding unconditional love within a few of my family members has helped my confidence in the dating world as well.  I am more open to new partners and less jealous of the past.  It took a few years to really see the truth in who I am and who my partner is. Now that I can, well, I treat myself with the respect and pride I deserve. 

In a Utopian world, this post would be about everyone in my life forgiving and forgetting.  However, this is the real world and this post is celebratory.  I have forgiven myself and by forgetting the past on an individual that never thought I could or would, I have found peace.  Here`s to new and amazing beginnings.  Why wait until 2016 is officially over to move forward?

Is Your Relationship Reaching the Ultimatum Point?

Women are so often told that men just need a little nudging in order for their women to get what they really want.  And often this mentality snowballs into the often given advice comprised of time to shit or get off the pot.  That scary point in the relationship where you face the great divide and all your friends and family tell you that you need to give that boy an ultimatum.  “He either loves you or he loves his job”, “he either marries you or he leaves you”,  and of course “it’s either you or it’s her”.  Just writing these little words I have shivers running down my spine.  Why do so many of our relationships end up at this point of no return, that judgement day so to speak.
I am absolutely guilty of doing just this action that I now loath.  I gave my ex fiancé an ultimatum to either marry me or end things.  Yup, I, with head hung down low did this terrible thing.  The worst part about it was that although I got exactly what I wanted, I was miserable.  I am not sure it always turns out that way for people.  Perhaps my case was just an extreme.  But it really gets me wondering what could possibly be the best case scenario from listening to that advice of our loved ones who always have our best interests at heart (sarcasm is tough in written form).  When you give the ultimatum is it suddenly happy ever after?
I know a man who was an alcoholic.  He met a woman and fell madly in love.  They had a couple of kids and one day the woman sat the man down and gave him an ultimatum to quit drinking or to lose his family.  The next week he was attending AA meetings and cleaning himself up.  It has been nearly 20 years since that ultimatum was given, and perhaps it was just the wake up call that this man needed.  But I often wonder, now that the kids have grown up, and he is no longer in fear of losing everything, would he start drinking again like he jokes about from time to time?  Did this ultimatum actually make him happier, better, and whole?  Or was this just the right time and right place for him to get his life in order and all these years has he actually harbored a grudge for this woman?  I wonder this because I know the guilt of forcing someone to do something against their will.  It is a sickening feeling and I personally had troubles living with myself after I did it.
The final point I want to make in regards to giving ultimatums is this.  It seems simple enough, but seriously, put yourself in the other persons shoes.  How would you react, how would you feel, and how would you feel in 20 years.  A person who holds your life hostage like that is not someone who is ready to be in a healthy and loving relationship.  A person who believes that an ultimatum is the only way to seek change, and get what they want is a person who has poor communication skills.  The relationship is already at fault if it comes to that point.  Some real internal soul searching needs to be done as very often, the person seeking the quick fix, take it or leave it response, is actually the main problem.  Why?  Because they are the one with the problem and can find no other solution than to commit relationship terrorism.

Illegitimate- An Outdated Term for Children

I am now officially in the demographic where over 33 percent of my friends on facebook are pregnant or already have children.  Not to out anyone in particular, but a significant number of those people discovered that they were pregnant prior to being married.  Many of these couples did subscribe to the necessity of a shotgun wedding.  My only conclusion for this is that underneath everything, it was to claim some sort of legitimacy for their child.  There are a few more liberal definitions of legitimate child floating around that include an amendment which states that if the marriage happens shortly after the birth they may still be considered within this term, but the legal definition is that the wedding must have occurred prior to the child’s birth.
With divorce rates so high and couples choosing happiness over marriage and lasting commitments of unhappiness this term should naturally decline in use.  I was born in to a happily married young couple,  who divorced just shortly after I was 18 months old.  I was not technically born as a bastard, but my mother was for all intents and purposes a single mother until I turned 10 when she met my step dad.  The technicality of why I was a legitimate baby just does not make any sense to me.  The spark to this was the other day I was having a conversation whereby a few of us were guessing which sibling would produce the first grandchild.  Almost instantly the game was amended to include the parameter that the child had to be legitimate. 
Does this mean that the child born in wedlock would receive an increased amount of love and privilege?  Should this honestly affect the child’s status?  Did the level of love I received decrease because my mom was single when she raised me?  As well, what if a triad was raising a baby, or a poly family?  Are certain members granted more legitimacy than others if all parties are equal?  This is just a new set of challenges that our society needs to face head on and start thinking more clearly about the terms that we throw around.  I know exactly what it felt like when I was first called a bastard growing up, and I staunchly denied it on the basis that my parents were married when I was born.  Somehow as a young child I was raised to learn that that made all the difference in the world.  But there is no way anyone could tell me that I would be loved any less had my mom given birth to me out of wedlock.  And I felt no less love from my family and extended family being raised by just one parent. 
Illegitimate should be taken out of our legal vocabulary.  It is a definition with no gains to be made, and is outdated.  I should add though, that some of you may view this post as a hypocrisy on my part when it comes to marriage.  I have written that I would like my children to grow up in a household where everyone has the same last name, and that is most definitely a want on my part.  But whether that is a reality or not, there will be zero impact on the unconditional love that will be present and always surrounding that child.  I want a unity of last names and legally that can occur with or without wedlock.

007- James Bond

It was a long time ago, somewhere in 2001, October.  I was in a friend`s basement in mixed company after a long day at University.  I was playing video games with the boys, and I remarked that I was going to kick the ass of one boy in particular, D, the game was Golden Eye.  I used every trick in the book to win.  And win I did, for a little bit anyways.  It grew very apparent that something was happening between the two of us and it became less about the video game, and more about how to subtly make physical contact without any of our friends around noticing.  Silly 18 year olds, we had no idea how obvious this growing spark was to everyone in the room.  But here it was, playful, flirtations with our attentions changing between the competitive drive to beat the other and the curiosity of this live new person. 
This spark of course grew into my first real and true love.  What started out as mere childish flirtation turned into the major relationship that shaped myself throughout my early 20`s.  And now I write with a lump in my throat at the irony of James Bond being the beginning, can now be said also to be the end.  
Flash forward 10 years, to a girl sitting beside a boy she loves, E, in February of 2012.  Picture the two of them sitting in a dark living room a few hours after an ill timed argument.  Both trying to crack smiles and move forward but absolutely exhausted.  Picture the boy trying to find something, anything to change the mood.  Enter in, my old friend in a new system, James Bond.  There is no playful flirtation, instead there is only a boy who is trying to get his girlfriend to try and play.  And for some inexplicable reason she resists.  She knows the good times that could be had if she just picks up the controller, relaxes and playfully flirts again, or shows that competitive side that she desperately hides.   And yet she continues to resist, to give up, and accept, the fate that will inevitably befall this relationship.
Will this girl regain that piece of herself, that playful and competitive side that made one boy fall in love with her, and without sealed a conclusion on the next?  How did I allow fear to take a hold of me so strongly that I forgot to let go and just have fun?  I honestly failed at communicating the big things, and chose to live just day to day finding small joy in everything I did.  I worked so hard at not taking life so seriously and I wrote extensively to that end.  I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish through and through.  But in the end, living day to day is a self fulfilling prophecy, in that if you are not working towards a future, then your partner cannot see a future in you. 
Life is a very interesting game of strategy and chance.  You can strategize and plan for a relationship all you want, but in the end without communication and planning, it becomes chance that the two people who matter end up on the same page.  I can appreciate why many men out there (and women), do not enjoy games of chance, as ending up alone is a scary thought.  I thought that living my life for myself along side my man who was doing the same would keep up happy forever.  It turns out, I put my relationship on the line by leaving things to chance.  Oh 007, you may have much yet to teach me.