The Pressure to be Poly
I’m not one to bow to peer pressure. I usually don’t even feel it or deal with it. For example, people often want me to have beer with them, but I don’t drink alcohol for the most part. So I don’t have a drink even when they appeal to me to “just have one.” I also don’t want to get married though it seems the main focus of much of the lesbian community these days. I don’t even want to think about raising children even though among my generation of lesbians it’s been the craze for some time.
But, the pressure to be poly is a different beast altogether. “Are you two exclusive?” friends and acquaintances will ask me in a disapproving tone about me and my girlfriend. Or “You’re not monogamous,” with the tail end of the questioning statement moving to a higher pitch.
The idea of non-exclusive relationships used to be radical and termed non-monogamy in the early days of lesbian-feminism and I was all for it, even though I never practiced it. I’ve discovered that presumptive poly-ness is today the default position in the various circles I run in here in the rotten apple. It’s just plain not cool to be in a monogamous lesbian relationship. And people, acquaintances I mean, will roll their eyes and say that it’s just not “natural” to be monogamous and also in the same breath say that someone, me—or my girlfriend—is going to cheat. They say this to me as if I need to brace myself, bite the bullet and suck it up because one day my girlfriend is going to cheat on me and I’d just better get used to it
There is some type of belief that we—human beings, not just lesbians—are animals when it comes to sex. Well, yes and no. Sex is pretty animalistic, a basic instinct and actual sexual interaction can get pretty base. But the assumption behind the humans-as-sexual-animals “theory” is that it’s normal, natural, etc., to want to have sex with many partners may or may not be true. But, the real kicker, that we cannot control ourselves when it comes to making decisions about our sexual destiny, is bullshit!
People talk about needing “willpower” not to cheat, or friends will say they are “tempted” by so much eye candy walking down the street to have an affair behind their girlfriend’s back: all the tall, blonde, bronzed women parading half-naked around the Village on a summer afternoon are so “tempting,” as if they have no choice in the matter. Are they just talking with their pussy—or is there something else at work?
Both my girlfriend and I have been in long-term monogamous relationships where our girlfriends cheated on us and neither of us needs to cheat on the other. And I’m not being idealistic here: I think there are elements of sabotage (self- and other), disrespect, betrayal , drama, and other reasons people cheat that I feel I (nor my girlfriend) have. I mean if I (or she) want out of the relationship, I’m just going to say so. That’s our agreement: to just say we want out, not damage each other psychically by cheating as a way to end our relationship.
It all came full circle the other day when I expressed these sentiments to a mutual friend who said we should “open up” our relationship just to make sure neither of us gets hurt.
Presumptive polyandry at work. Oh, the pressure.
Blogger Bio: Stephanie Schroeder is a dreamer, wanderer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She likes to exchange apartments with artists and other interesting folks from around the globe and travel in search of new friends and singular experiences. She makes purple a way of life and also fancies green, purple’s complementary color on the color wheel. (stephanieschroeder.com)