Since approximately the Reagan/Thatcher triumph, conservatives lost their connection to the parts of Christianity about loving your neighbor, not being a complete dickface, etc. The “American left” obviously hasn’t heard of communism, let alone anarchism. They remove the collectivism from things like meditation, when they adopt them. It’s not normal for kids to play unsupervised and learn how to consider other people’s feelings that way. Schools don’t teach people how to have academic debates.
That’s the only way defenses of polyamory like this one make sense to people. In it, a woman named Anita explains how she fucked around on her husband Marc and emotionally abused him into submission. He adds an addendum defending the practice himself. The problems are obvious from the first paragraph:
It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to say to my husband, Marc. Three years ago, I sat down and told him: “The idea of having sex just with you for the next 40 years – I can’t do it any more.” But I had come to realise that my life was built around something I didn’t believe in: monogamy.
We had been together for 12 years and had two children, now nine and seven. I love being a mother and I set the bar high from the start – cloth nappies and cooking from scratch. But I needed something more in my emotional and sexual life.
Notice how she doesn’t explain why it was a hard thing to say. She explains that they’d been together for a while and had kids, but she doesn’t directly say she loved them so much that the thought of losing them was unbearable. She was like, “Oh Gawd I need to fuuuuuuuck.” The feared consequences aren’t described, and neither is any context about the quality of their relationship.
So she tells her husband he’s not good enough in bed. I’m 35. I’ve had sex with 3 people. The sex was good while the quality of the relationship was good. If you’re doing it right, sex produces a sense of bonding, try as polyamorists might to deny it. We can talk about whether the legal institution of marriage is a good idea or not, but the tendency of good sex to promote bonding isn’t a social construction. We have to consider it when making ethical decisions, and monogamy as a practice does a good job of that. The need for sexual variety looks to me like the sex is emotionally unsatisfying, so it’s a high-chasing, grass-is-greener phenomenon. Inability to experience contentment as a personality problem.
Before my relationships turned to shit, I didn’t see what was so bad about having sex with the same person repeatedly. Maybe liking the same things forever is just a trait of autism, but I don’t think that’s the best explanation. Having the relationship in a good emotional state is a precondition of good sex, so pure sexual boredom doesn’t exist.
Notice also how she uses the phrase “set the bar high from the start” about parenting, and by good parenting she means parenting that makes use of status symbols. Quite a cold way of writing about your children.
Marc’s reaction was remarkable; he agreed to support me and open our marriage to other partners, although it wasn’t really what he wanted. We started counselling to try to identify the best of what we had, to save it and protect it. Sex is a big part of a relationship, but it is only a part. We didn’t want it to scupper us.
If that sounds difficult, it was. I don’t think we could have done it if we hadn’t spent most of our marriage reading, talking and exploring together.
It’s not actually remarkable at all. “I get to fuck whoever I want and you can’t say shit about it, or I’m taking the children.” He picked the children. Abandoning your dignity is just one of those things you have to do in life. She used nuclear manipulation and succeeded, then congratulates herself and her husband for his total surrender.
My marriage fell apart over my ex-wife deciding polyamory was part of her identity. We met under tainted circumstances. My life was a piece of shit for multiple reasons at the time. I’d basically given up on life, so being “secondary” seemed preferable to nobody ever touching me. I suck, so I couldn’t inflict myself on someone as their only sexual partner for the rest of their days.
Soon after starting the relationship on those terms, her ex was like “Yay! She’s somebody else’s problem, now” and we became a monogamous couple by default. In reality I was secondary until we got divorced. I was given books to read on the virtues of polyamory.
She takes no ownership of the fact that she can’t separate what she’s doing from punishing her husband for whatever she’s resentful about. That’s how it was when it happened to me. I was cold and distant while finishing my dissertation, and she punished me forever and ever and ever. It would come up in arguments years later until I was like, “Alright, you’ve officially hurt me back. Fuck.” Not that that fixed the marriage or anything.
I quickly embraced the dating scene and discovered another side of my sexual self. I enrolled on lots of sites, where you are asked specific questions about yourself and your preferences. It was illuminating: do I like this? Yes. Do I like that? Well, let’s see. They were the kind of questions I’d never been asked before – and had never asked myself.
See? She already conceded that Marc was willing to go to counseling. But then she concedes that they spent the last 12 years with poor sexual communication. He never, like, tried stuff and sensed if she liked that. But he was willing to work on it. She made that completely impossible by charging forward with Operation Fuck Everyone. He didn’t stand a chance, and she’d already made up her mind. She’s doing the opposite of creating a safe environment to improve their sex-life. Now when they do fuck, the other dudes she’s fucking haunt the bedroom. The man is obviously already suffering from feeling of inadequacy.
I became convinced that traditional relationships are like an air lock. You meet someone. It’s amazing and it’s rare, and then you lock it; you shut the windows and doors, and you try desperately to keep it all to yourselves. Then the air turns sour because there’s no oxygen. You might make a sexual mistake on the spur of the moment because you are craving some – any – contact. Why not live in a world where you can have room for that connection, that spark?
Maybe her relationship was “traditional,” but she’s just describing what it’s like to be lonely in a bad relationship. She could model working through interpersonal problems for her children instead of showing them how to be emotionally abusive.
I think most people’s reaction was that Marc should have kicked me out. My immediate family have been supportive, although my mother is still ambivalent. We discuss everything openly, and she understands where I’m coming from, but worries that I’m going to end up on my own. If I do, though, it will be because I have chosen that.
And this is the entitlement that makes polyamorous people insufferable. I don’t think that most people who die alone do so on purpose. Before taking anything specific to me into consideration, the mere fact that I’m a mixed-race autistic person poisons my chances with most people. They books like To Siri With Love, containing passages like: “When I think of Gus in a sexual situation it generally has a ‘Benny Hill’ soundtrack. And anything with that music does not end well.” That’s a mother writing about her son, and people don’t see the problem because that’s also the premise of Atypical. And being bullied in middle school. Only a very small fraction of people, like so small I might not meet them, has “someone like me” in mind when looking for a partner. It’s not my fault. I was just born into a situation where being desired by multiple people at all times is like a description of another planet. Must be nice. I guess that’s what I’m missing out on.
People who choose to be polyamorous often do so after delving deep into themselves and their desires, so it runs close to the kink scene, which was also something I wanted to explore. There’s a temptation to think that, had Marc and I explored these things together, our marriage might have worked without opening it up. I’m not sure that it would have, though, given that he wasn’t into it. It can seem quite intimidating, but I was so ready for it. The first time I went to a fetish club, I felt like I was at home – that I’d found my people.
I think people in the kink scene are those that start to delve into their desires and then stop introspecting at all possible costs. When I started doing therapy after separating from my ex-wife, I found a psychodynamic person and read a ton of psychoanalysis. Nancy McWilliams and personality, etc., which led to reading about masochism in the sense of self-defeating personality, but that extended into moral masochism and sexual masochism. I read Venus in Furs and my therapist told me to watch this movie and sort of laughed about “the scene at the end” and that made me uncomfortable:
Then I kept doing therapy and read all the black history stuff I’d been avoiding and became somewhat less fucked up from the bullying and I got over that harmful shit. This is not my sex life:
It’s the type of sex life promoted by our progressive friends at The Guardian. The observation that polyamory “runs close to the kink scene” is important, because the kink scene is the people high-fiving Aziz Ansari for making that slut choke on his dick when she didn’t want to. All of this stuff comes from the same place of using people.
I now have a partner of two years, Andrea. We work as a couple, but we also have sex with friends. He’s the only partner I have introduced to my children. I love Andrea and I’m very lucky to have him, but I don’t want to live with him – we both value our solitude too much. He and I can flirt with other people and ask for their number, but I still feel jealous sometimes. He went away with another woman and, yes, it was difficult.
Cool, all her kids’ friends know their mom is into some freaky shit.
This shows that polyamorous people know exactly what they’re doing. She understands, on a deep emotional level, what she’s inflicting on Marc, and does it anyway.
The caption listed “Anita, Marc, and Andrea” in that order (without the Oxford comma). It’s interesting to speculate which is which. Presumably she’s turned towards the more dominant, square-jawed Andrea, who’s snearing at the wimpier, sadder looking Marc as he hands his wife over in capitulation.
Meanwhile, Marc and I realised we were no longer compatible. I had changed too much. We still share the family home and parent our children together. We still get on. We have counselling together, we spend Christmas together – we are still reading and learning as we used to. We wanted to keep all the bits that worked.
Translation: we were absolutely fucking terrified of risking anything by living out our beliefs authentically instead of being half-assed. That’s another problem with polyamory: the denial of the existence of trade-offs.
Mother of the year award:
We have had to learn so much about communicating better, and I think the children have benefited from that. We have explained that Dad needs one person to be with and Mum needs more people to make her happy. The talk is ongoing; we won’t wait to sit them down when they are teenagers, expecting them suddenly to get it. Understanding polyamory is complicated, but monogamy is fraught with ambiguity, too.
This is the same dynamic as my mom explaining that the man is the head of the house because the Bible says, and also that my dad made the wrong decision. The kids hear the surface message and also the desperation underneath. This will affect their children’s sex lives in their 20s.
She goes on for a bit more, but let’s turn to Marc’s side of things.
I’d realised for a few years that Anita wasn’t completely happy, so it wasn’t a total shock when she told me she wanted to explore non-monogamy. It was upsetting to hear that what we had wasn’t meeting her needs, but it was very important to me that she was happy. If that meant her exploring a different relationship style, then I would be there to support her.
I did a lot of reading around the subject of ethical non-monogamy. It makes a lot of sense intellectually, but it doesn’t resonate with me emotionally. It didn’t feel right. I was prepared for our marriage to continue, with me being monogamous and Anita having other partners, but that proved more difficult than we envisaged.
I completely support Anita. I’m glad she has been able to share with me what she’s discovering about the honesty and communication needed to make polyamory work. It’s also true of monogamous relationships, and I hope to take what I have learned from this experience into my future relationships.
What I have always wanted – and still do – is to be with one partner, long-term, with whom I can share all of life’s rich experiences, to enjoy the journey and the inevitable changes together.
Sad, isn’t it?
He was willing to accept that he fails as a man and tried to act selflessly. When he says “that proved more difficult than we envisaged,” what he surely means is that, having accepted his sacrifice, she went and did polyamory in the most diabolically hurtful way possible. Once, my ex-wife told me that she’d always wanted someone to bring her tea in bed in the morning. This was around the time where I’d realized I had to accept the polyamory thing or be single. I have to do a better job! So I got up first one morning and brought her tea. The first thing she did was show me some OkCupid person on her phone. I don’t think I said anything at the time, but it happened. I’m sure I brought it up in a fight eventually. He probably had to eat shit like that all the time, and everything he did to try and win her back proved futile, even when she was complaining to him about the other dudes. At some point he couldn’t take it anymore and he’d rather just not have sex again, ever, than have sex involve those emotions for the rest of his life.