I have always considered myself to be an incredibly open person when it comes to sexuality. I’ve never been shy talking about my own fetishes, fantasies, and boundaries, and am pretty much the go-to person for my friends when it comes to talking about sex in general. In short, sex as a topic of conversation has never bothered me, which is why I was taken aback when several people in my Poly group told me I was sexually repressed.
While all Poly groups are different, one of the more interesting things I’ve noticed is the connection between polyamory and sexual expression. After attending your first few meetups, it won’t be long before you realize just how many members of your group have loosened their grip on the idea of sexual monogamy and, if sexual monogamy has been all you’ve known, you might find this a bit…out of the ordinary. Although not every Poly relationship is sexual in nature, you will probably find that many of the people you meet will be more open about who and what they like in the bedroom (or kitchen, or car, or the family restroom at the movie theater…). This can be true for even the introverts of the group, so don’t be surprised to hear a normally quiet person suddenly jump into a conversation about rope play (after all, “introvert” isn’t always a synonym for shy). For a person as open as me, this is extremely refreshing, and I love that I have finally found a place where sex isn’t considered a four letter word. But, despite my openness to discuss sex, my willingness to participate in it with more than one person at a time is another story.
I have always considered myself to be sexually monogamous. Not because of any type of jealousy, moral upbringing, or religious attachment to the idea, but simply because that’s where I feel the most comfortable personally. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that sex is a VERY complex thing for me, and the idea of sharing my body with more than one person at a time makes me feel unbalanced. Because of this, I am always very upfront with potential partners that sex is not something that will be immediately on the table and, for the most part, I have received positive responses.
But there are the rare occasions where this is not the case, and there are some in the Poly community that believe sexual monogamy and polyamory simply cannot coexist. I guess I can understand their reasoning. Even though we might not always have sex with those we are in love with, when you are in love there is often the desire to express it physically. I know I am certainly not immune to that desire, and it’s why I do not expect my partners to be sexually monogamous with me (it would be rather difficult to tell Zim he could no longer be intimate with his wife, after all).
So why is there push back in the Poly community? Why do some believe that sexual monogamy equals sexual repression? A lot of that probably stems from the way society looks at sex in general. Many of us were brought up with the belief that abstinence until sexual monogamy was the only acceptable form of sexual expression. I have known several people who were made to feel guilty or uncomfortable in their own skin simply because they dared to masturbate! So, for some, hearing that a person is sexually monogamous may actually trigger real feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, and self-loathing. They may feel like you are judging them for having multiple sexual partners or, worse, that you are feeling shame within yourself. Telling you you are sexually repressed may be their way of letting you know it’s OK to proud of who you are, that you can let go of all the negative things society has placed on you about sexual expression and be free to be yourself….
Or they can just be jerks who are just trying to get in your pants (those people exist in the Poly community too and will be addressed in a later post).
So, here’s my advice, only do what makes you feel comfortable, when you feel safe. Polyamory, at its core, is about love and love comes in many different forms. For me, sex just isn’t something I need in a relationship to feel whole. For others, it’s the exact opposite.
But the beauty of it is that neither of these two options is wrong. As long as everyone in your relationship is on the same page and understands your needs regarding physical intimacy, then the only wrong way to have sex is forcing yourself to do something you are not comfortable with. Yes, sexual monogamy and polyamory DO go together, quite well, in fact. And while my opinion on sexual monogamy may change over time, it will be because I decided what was best for myself. And, for now, what’s best for me is to just stay the course.