Compulsory monogamy, open relationships and the art of compersion
Dissecting the cultural propaganda of marriage & monogamy.
“At times I think of human relationships as soft, like sand or water and by pouring them into particular vessels we give them shape. So a mother’s relationship with her daughter is poured into a vessel marked ‘mother and child’ and the relationship takes the contours of its container and is held inside there for better or worse. Maybe some unhappy friends would’ve been perfectly contented as sisters. Or married couples as parents and children. Who knows? But what would it be like to form a relationship with no preordained shape of any kind? Just to pour the water out and let it fall. I suppose it would take no shape and run off in all directions…No obvious path before us by which any relationship can proceed…There are no boundaries or conventions by which our relationship is constrained. What makes it different, in other words, is neither him nor me, nor any special personal qualities pertaining to either of us, nor even the particular combination or our individual personalities, but the method by which we relate to one another. Or the absence of method.” – Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You
Raising a 13-year-old nonbinary child who is carefully exploring their burgeoning sexuality in a wide-open, thoughtful manner has, for me, been the ultimate parenting experience. Violet is already evaluating their identity with a perspective I didn’t know to consider until my forties. At birth, I was immediately constructed into a female gender for whom a path of heterosexual, monogamous marriage was considered the ultimate life goal.
I hate to sound like that asshole - because until recently, parenthood has typically been assumed to be the ultimate culmination of heterosexual, monogamous marriage and there’s nothing I hate more than mindlessly following another goddamn social construct - but parenting is truly the great joy of my life. Should I die before they’re old enough to understand, I want my children to be able to read that because I don’t think they believe me when I tell them. They think it’s blah blah blah mom jive that moms are supposed to say.
You are my greatest joy, sweet souls. Being your mother is such a privilege. It continues to mold me in ways I never imagined possible. That doesn’t mean you aren’t little shitheads sometimes, but damn if we don’t have a good thing going. I say it every time we travel somewhere together: This is a solid crew. We have a really good thing going, y’all. It’s not like this in every family, don’t I know.
My firstborn’s journey involves many incredible conversations that shine a flashlight into the dark, unexplored corners of my own gender expression and sexuality. Violet experiences male and female constructs as a limitation on their expression of personhood. They do not feel male and they do not feel female.
A lovely woman I trade emails with who is raising her own nonbinary teen explained it to me with words that really resonate. Her child feels ‘beyond gender,’ she wrote.
Her: They explained it like this: “When you or dad say stuff like 'C'mon boys, time for dinner!' it's like I wince inside because 'boy' doesn't feel right. It hasn't felt right maybe ever." I told them to keep listening to that inner self and following its lead. I wasn't shocked by it, as we've had regular conversations about identity, gender and gender roles, and sexual orientation. If I had to guess, I feel like they are struggling a bit because they feel not so much transgender as beyond gender, if that makes any sense. They have made little comments since forever about 'why does everything have to be something? It's so silly.' I am so here for that.
Me: It's so beautiful to see these wonderful humans shedding constructs forced on them by society and just being the people they feel that they are, you know?
‘Gender-fluid’ is a fairly new term. As Jessica Klein notes in the BBC article, ‘Gender fluidity’: The ever-shifting shape of identity, “The term ‘gender fluidity’ has come to best describe the way some people feel they fit outside the gender binary. The term acknowledges that gender doesn’t have to be fixed, and de-emphasizes the need to align oneself with a specific gender – a concept more and more people are moving away from, as conversations about alternate ways to express and experience gender proliferate.”
Liz Powell, a gender-fluid psychologist explained in the same BBC article that “There are as many ways to navigate gender fluidity as there are gender-fluid people.” Essentially, gender and the specific social constructs applied to the male/female binary melt away, allowing people to “take their identity and expression one day at a time, instead of feeling tied to a single, overarching gender label.”
As Violet navigates their gender and sexuality, I’m doing the same for myself. Very often I offer them advice I find I am needing much more than they do. When they changed pronouns I told them I wished I could change mine but I’m probably “too far gone,” a victim of the construct. They encouraged me and I now use she/they interchangeably. A small difference, perhaps, but it makes me happy.
It’s such a thrill to be raising a child who feels completely free of the very same heterocentric, monogamous assumptions and gender constraints that have imprisoned me and caused a lifetime of confusion, shame, and pain.
I feel envious of the way Violet perceives the world. Their thoughts are pure and true. They see people as energies and actions while I’m stuck in the habit of separating beautifully unique humans into the same old tired labels and constructs, often with a Mormon mentality that maintains a vice-grip on thoughts that feel programmed and not originating from my true consciousness.
“I trained for wiving but I’m not made to be a wife…You can’t become a warrior until you separate your identity from your husband’s. You can’t move out of the warmth of your home, culture, or religion until something shakes you free, cracks open the earth to expose your roots. I lift my roots like skirts and go.” - Caitlin Myer, Wiving: A Memoir of Loving Then Leaving the Patriarchy
My Mormon background mandated not just how a woman must appear and conduct herself in a patriarchal, heteronormative society, but enforced a strictly heterosexual love only validated within the bonds of marriage. Despite a history rife with polygamy, the LDS church teaches that monogamy is the only appropriate relationship structure.
Where I meekly followed a path laid out by the elderly, white, male leaders of the Mormon church, Violet’s hurricane hands slash a machete through one construct after the next, forging their own triumphant trail through the violent jungle of life.
Violet couldn’t give two fucks about the patriarchal definition of womanhood that has kept me in check for most of my life; Long hair I regularly dye blonde, carefully applied make-up, and daily tweezing and shaving all bodily hair. Violet doesn’t have any interest in makeup and doesn’t shave although I suspect they will eventually razor off the hair on their head because they can’t spare attention to something as trivial as a hairstyle.
And so it is that at 45 I find myself undertaking the same explorations of gender and sexuality as my incredibly wise 13-year-old firstborn child who has unwittingly become my North Star.
Who am I? Who was I before my mom began dressing me in tights, black patent leather shoes, frilly church dresses with sleeves like cupcakes, and telling me boys only really like girls with long, blonde hair?
Who was I before the world began forcing its rules of girlhood and then womanhood down my throat? Before the bastards began their insidious programming that now runs on a sinister, Mormon-mandated autopilot if I don’t constantly check in, check myself and recalibrate.
Am I straight? Am I gay? Bisexual? Pansexual? Asexual?
I truly do not know.
“Sociologists, philosophers, and anthropologists have long been interested in the power of social institutions to shape people’s thoughts and expectations,” Elisabeth A. Sheff Ph.D., notes in Psychology Today. “Two of the most powerful social institutions are heterosexuality and monogamy.”
At this point, it’s hard to find my true preference beneath all the programming from Mormonism and society. And anyway, can the answer to that question even be definitive? We all fall somewhere on a spectrum between masculinity and femininity and so it is with sexuality. That fluidity should also apply to relationship structures including monogamy, non-monogamy, polyamory, and polygamy. As with gender and sexuality, there are as many relationship styles as there are relationships, should we choose to explore ourselves and our partners.
Society is collectively learning that compulsory heterosexuality in which only straight sex is appropriate is bullshit and we need to open our minds about the structural umbrellas under which we choose to form those relationships.
Essayist, poet, and all-around badass, Adrienne Rich, popularized the term ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ in the 1980s through her essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Rich holds that compulsory heterosexuality is “both forcibly and subliminally imposed” on people who want to be considered morally upstanding adults.
She rightly asserted that “Any theory or cultural political creation that treats lesbian existence as a marginal or less natural phenomenon, as mere “sexual preference” is, in so many words, bullshit. “Feminist theory can no longer afford merely to voice a toleration of lesbianism as an alternative lifestyle, or make token assumptions,” Rich said. Likewise, no one in non-monogamous, polyamorous, or polygamist relationships should be shunted into a narrative that assumes an “alternative” lifestyle or sexual deviancy.
Although it’s slowly (oh, so slowly) changing, American society remains focused on heterosexuality and monogamy as the social centers of reality largely due to continued male control of law, religion, and science. Hetero-monogamy is the default. If you identify as anything other you have to ‘come out.’
If like mine, your relationship isn’t monogamous, you must endlessly explain yourself to friends and family who have a lot of negative stereotypes in mind about what it means to be in an open relationship. They think it’s all about sex and consider you deviant or they assume you don’t love your partner as much as those in monogamous couplings and they even consider you a failure at what they think of as a ‘real’ relationship. Your non-monogamous love isn’t as valid or romantic as monogamous love. Eventually, you say nothing because it’s easier than fielding ignorant questions brimming with judgment.
Most of us have been conditioned toward heterosexual monogamy without question. Male-dominated, institutional socialization over centuries has channeled, if not forced, women into heterosexual marriages. Thousands of years of books - mostly from a male perspective - center a ‘true love’ almost always portraying a man and a woman experiencing fabricated turmoil before the happily ever after that is monogamous marriage. While it is changing, we still see an overabundance of the same hetero-monogamous love stories play out in pop culture today.
Adrienne Rich also wrote about some of the methods male power is manifested and maintained including “the idealization of heterosexual romance in art, literature, media, advertising and so forth.”
While most monogamous people would say being monogamous is an intrinsic part of their identity, society tends to view non-monogamy, polyamory, etc. as an alternative lifestyle choice. Maybe swingers ruined it with their sweaty key parties and breathy whisperings about ‘The Lifestyle.' Regardless, views on non-monogamy are uncomfortably similar to the Mormon church’s stance on homosexuality; it’s not a biological identity, it’s a “choice.” And just as it is with homosexuality, there is a constant judgment that people in non-monogamous or polyamorous relationships are somehow immoral or it’s assumed they are just not up to the rigors that monogamy entails.
Heterosexuality was and often still is deemed the only real, legitimate, or moral sexuality. In a similar vein, monogamy is typically considered the only moral relationship structure as a result of the domination of culture by males, and, as Hester Prynne can readily assure you, anyone not wanting to adhere can be socially punished for failing to live up to the institutionalized terms.
Thing is, your monogamous relationship is no more sacred or loving than my non-monogamous one yet the government and especially religion have convinced billions upon billions otherwise. Pay attention to the language describing monogamy and those who step out of line. You ‘commit’ adultery like you commit a sin or a crime. Having an extra-marital relationship is considered an act of ‘infidelity,’ a word most often associated with “unbelief in religion or a religion opposed to Christianity.”
So if you step outside of your marriage you’re an infidel? It’s worth noting, synonyms of infidel include disbeliever, misbeliever, unbeliever. According to Oxford’s English dictionaries, antonyms for infidel include believer, conformer, conformist, heathen, pagan, and, of course, one who opposes Christianity. Ah, it’s starting to make sense now, isn’t it?
“Papa,” Lucrezia said and her voice cracked. She felt the sudden dangerous proximity of tears. “I don’t want to marry him. Please. Don’t give me to him.”
As if the meaning and fervor of her words bore noxious fumes, everyone in the room reeled away from her. Her father spun on his heel and walked back to his lectern, Vitelli shadowing him, the hovering secretaries scurrying back behind their desks.
“This is intolerable,” she heard her father mutter.
The Marriage Portrait - Maggie O’Farrell
While monogamy has long been accepted as the inevitable outcome of most relationships it is far less prevalent throughout history than you might think. In fact, modern monogamy is quite new. Marriage hundreds of years ago was a coupling borne of the need for strategic alliances between families and expanding a family’s labor force. Business arrangements made by and for men that solidified women’s status as property. Or it was a marriage of convenience for men who needed women to bear children and run the household and women who needed men to survive a patriarchal society built to keep them dependent and subservient.
Although the concept of marriage has ancient roots, it’s only in the last century that it has become entangled with the notion of god and love, causing monogamy to become a compulsory component of marital unions. Monogamous marriage has become a social or religious rite of passage most of us are conditioned to believe is as much a part of life as death and taxes.
The heteronormative, compulsory monogamous narrative most often fed to us from pop culture and especially religion is that our main purposes in life is to find the one, true love - a soulmate - who will complete us, and that religion has brainwashed us to marriage is necessary for god-approved sex with that one true love.
And it’s not just intense hetero-monogamous conditioning. Society tends to quantify relationships based on longevity, not quality. Marriages that end in divorce are considered failures and anyone marking a significant marital anniversary is reverently asked for marital advice as if the length of their marriage is indicative of relationship strength. It can be. But, just as often, people stay in unhappy, dysfunctional relationships because they fear judgment and they’re afraid to leave and be on their own. When I think of all the women throughout history who were stuck, for one reason or another, in bad marriages for a lifetime I cannot contemplate the awfulness and what they missed out on.
Why is ‘until death do us part’ the ultimate successful relationship marker? And in the case of Mormons, a lifetime isn’t good enough. They’re locking down that hetero-monogamy shit for eternity. As noted on the church’s website, “An eternal marriage should be the goal of every Latter-day Saint.”
What’s wrong with letting a relationship run its course? People naturally change. We are all changing all the time so why do we work so hard at maintaining a relationship when the people involved no longer fit? The reality is that with divorce statistics constantly hovering at 50 percent, divorce is equally as likely as ‘until death do you part.’ Still, people insist on viewing divorce as a failure instead of the successful conclusion of a relationship, even if both parties are relieved to be out of the relationship and feel much happier and healthier apart.
The notion of swearing a vow ‘until death do you’ part may seem incredibly romantic at first blush but, to me, has uncomfortably loud echoes of oppression. As a reminder, Adrienne Rich explained, strict heterosexuality was forcibly and subliminally imposed to control women and the same can be said for monogamous marriage.
Certainly, the origins of monogamous marriages and the wedding ceremonies that precede them are overtly sexist, demeaning, and even infantilizing to women. A man asks a father permission to marry his daughter and we all swoon at the romance of it all. WTF? How is that romantic? And anyway, why is the father’s blessing so important and not the mother’s? Add to tha the virginal white gown implying chastity until marriage, the giving away of a daughter to her future husband, and the woman transitioning from her father’s surname to her husband’s. It’s all gross. Yet so many of us continue to spend obscene amounts of money joyfully celebrating the historic oppression of untold numbers of women. Because society taught us this. The propaganda surrounding heterosexual romance is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine of ownership go down. Even the fact that the bride’s family pays for the wedding goes back to a woman’s family gifting the groom’s family with a dowry when they assumed control of her.
“Who even gets married? It’s sinister. Who wants state apparatuses sustaining their relationship?” - Sally Rooney, Conversations With Friends.
Although Americans are moving away from patriarchal marriages, there remains a multitude of sexist scenarios still at play in modern monogamous hetero unions. The sexism isn’t inextricably tied to monogamy, it’s in the way monogamous marriages are typically practiced in our society. Think of it this way; the problem with patriarchal polygamy and monogamy is the same; It's not the monogamy or polygamy that is at issue — it's the patriarchy.
My relationship with Cory is the first one in my life that I have very deliberately constructed instead of thoughtlessly falling into another compulsory monogamous scenario. Just like heterosexuality, monogamy has never, ever felt right or worked successfully for me.
Cory and I have been in a non-monogamous relationship for many years, almost from the beginning. I do not use the popular phrases ‘ethical’ or ‘consensual’ non-monogamy because they concede an immorality many believe inherent in non-monogamy or polyamory. Cheating and lying occur every day in monogamous relationships yet society apparently can’t afford non-monogamists the same leeway. We must proclaim our ethics before we share our relationship styles!
Leanne, creator of Poly Phillia blog, says “No one says “ethical” or “consensual monogamy.” If people can be bad monogamists and still be considered monogamous, why can’t non-monogamous people do the same? Why do we need to justify ourselves in a defensive way?”.
At its core, non-monogamy simply means people can have more than one romantic and sexual partner at a time, and everybody is aware of and consents to the dynamic.
Everyone defines their relationships differently but for us, non-monogamy means both Cory and I can flirt, date, and sleep with whomever we want. He is my primary partner and I am his, but if someone strikes his fancy, I encourage him to explore it and he does the same for me. This isn’t something we tolerate. This is something I have come to realize we need. It consistently enhances our relationship and causes us to learn new, exciting things about each other that I don’t believe we would have discovered within the parameters of a traditional monogamous relationship.
It turns us both on to experience each other exploring other people so we tend to share details. That’s a choice we make that works for us. Others have different parameters and rules. I never would have thought that hearing about my partner’s intimate connections with others would excite me but you don’t know until you try.
I am discovering fairly late in the game of life that I will probably never subscribe to the traditional construct of heterosexual marriage again. While it may work for some, I find the setup intensely binary, inherently sexist, stifling, and limiting. Monogamous marriage felt cramped and airless. Suffocation over thousands of moments. And no wonder. “Today, we have to give one person what an entire village used to provide – financial and emotional support, companionship, entertainment, friendship, familiarity, mystery, love, sex, the works,” psychotherapist Esther Perel writes in her book Mating in Captivity.
Monogamy is so pervasive in our society that it is frequently conflated with romance and love with jealousy often portrayed as an indicator of passionate love. But monogamy very often leads to complacency and unrelenting sublimation, especially surrounding sexual impulses, which leads to resentment and, very often, cheating.
And unlike what most people believe, non-monogamy or polyamory is not even really about sex!
The idea that I can have an engaging conversation with flirtatious undertones appeals to me very much. I am attracted to people’s perceptions of the world, their thoughts, and the unique ways they articulate them. Sense of humor, and wittiness - all more important to me than physical appearance or sex. As a non-monogamist, I experience the world and people differently than I did in monogamous relationships. I feel more open and excited about life than I did within the parameters of traditional monogamy.
Intellectual flirtation turns me on and while I find him supremely attractive in all of the above categories, I don’t expect Cory to be all things to me intellectually, sexually, or otherwise. And even if he was, variety is the spice of life! Relationships with others expand my mind, my sexuality, and my personality, and Cory directly benefits tremendously from all of this. I find that notion far more romantic than an institutional contract proclaiming until death do us part.
Although I’m usually not out there trying to hook up, there is a subtle yet crucial feeling of freedom that permeates my relationship with Cory that extends to my entire life. If I meet an interesting person I feel free to fully explore that connection and the same goes for him. Sure, jealousy rears up from time to time but, at this point, it’s more habit energy than actual emotion. When you understand your love is solid you can explore jealousy with curiosity, intrigue, and even excitement. Love and lust become exponential.
There is a word that isn’t very well known outside of polyamorous/non-monogamous circles: Compersion. I put it in bold so you don’t forget. Google that shit. Essentially, it’s the opposite of jealousy or envy in romantic relationships. As Eric W. Dolan notes in PsyPost, the development and validation of compersion was outlined in a study recently published in Archives of Sexual Behavior:
“Compersion, or the positive emotion one may experience in response to their partner loving and/or being intimately involved with another partner, is a fascinating topic because, in our mononormative society, most people believe that the ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ reaction to one’s partner engaging intimately with another is jealousy,” explained study author Sharon M. Flicker, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University at Sacramento and director of the Relationships Lab.
The concept of compersion, introduced to me by the writer, Rebecca Woolf, completely blew apart my perspective on relationships, jealousy, and love regardless of society’s take on any of it.
When I fell head over heels in love with Rebecca, a woman I had frequently crossed online paths with for a decade before meeting in person, Cory told me that he fell in love with me all over again. He fell in love with me falling in love with her. It excited him to experience me in that way.
Likewise, the notion of Cory excited about anyone turns me on. It doesn’t affect my sense of self or make me nervous about our relationship. I know he digs me. I have many great qualities. But so do other people. And their great qualities are different than mine. If he falls in love with someone else, that’s ok. It doesn’t mean it needs to culminate in a relationship, although it can. People can be in love with more than one person at a time, ask a polyamorist. Or hey. Ask a monogamous person who has experienced extra-marital love. If you’re a parent (or a pet owner!) with more than one child, you can perhaps envision the feeling of feeling immense yet equal love for two beings. Cory’s interest in someone else doesn’t take away from his love for me. It’s just different. Often, his interest in other people and their interest in him reminds me of what a beautiful human he is and how lucky I am to have found him.
Jealousy does not make me feel loved. On the contrary, it makes me feel small and owned, like property. Cory’s compersion throughout my relationship with Rebecca - which has continued to grow and change - has expanded me and filled me up at the same time. It increases our love. Him getting off on my getting off gets me off. In other words, non-monogamy has an exponential effect on the love and attraction happening in my primary relationship.
Mostly, I no longer experience jealousy as an emotion. It’s like a habit response to the construct of monogamy. Now, when it does happen, it’s almost like a fever, a sickness. I lean into it, allow it to happen, intellectualize what’s happening and it dissipates like morning fog.
If it sounds like all fun and games, it’s not. Non-monogamy is hard work. It takes intentionality, dedication, and constant communication. Over the years of our non-monogamous relationship, Cory and I have worked hard to unlearn jealousy and master the art of compersion. We pay attention to each other and ask what feels comfortable, and what feels right to us. Forget what society says, explode the labels, what do we want? We push social boundaries, ignore stigmas and do what feels good, what excites us, and what gets us off. No judgment.
I am profoundly grateful to Cory for the way he handled my relationship with another woman because it frightens me to contemplate a version of myself who never met Rebecca almost exactly two years ago. Her wild intellect, her liberation of thought, her sexuality, and her free spirit unlocked a part of me put in a shame cage as a child. She has shaped my mind and heart in expansive ways. She is a terrifically beautiful soul who has brought magic into my world.
What if I had been in a relationship where I wasn’t “allowed” to explore my feelings for her? Or anyone else, for that matter! My love for her and the freedom to explore that love also made me fall even more in love with Cory. Our relationship became better as a result. Our conversations improved, and the sex certainly improved. I wouldn’t be who I am without Rebecca. My relationship with Cory wouldn’t be what it is without her either.
Although we are technically married, I don’t want people to view me and Cory as a married couple. It’s not how I feel and not how I want to feel. He’s my partner. My life partner, my love partner, my co-parent, a dad to our children, the great love of my life, so far. But not my husband. Not now. Not ever.
I will never be a wife again.
I do not want government or religion-sanctioned love. I want to love someone so much and so selflessly that I want them to feel many different kinds of love from all kinds of people who can appreciate them in ways that my personality may not offer.
But if it sounds like I’m anti-monogamy, I’m not! Monogamy is the right relationship structure for a lot of people. It may even be right for me again someday. I’m against compulsory monogamy in favor of intentional monogamy, is what I’m saying. People who desire monogamous relationships should communicate expectations within the parameters of monogamy the same way people in non-monogamous relationships do. But many married, monogamous people don’t do that. I certainly didn’t. I fell into a version of heterosexual monogamy fed to me by popular culture. Most married people default to monogamy with their own assumptions about what is and isn’t possible within their relationship and usually nothing outside of strict attention toward each other is all that is allowed. Even that word: ALLOWED. It just feels wrong to me in connection with love.
“The reality is that neither monogamy nor non-monogamy works for everyone, and there is no single form of relationship that is truly a one-size-fits-all, “ Elisabeth A. Sheff Ph.D., CSE writes. “Removing the compulsion from non-monogamy and monogamy can help everyone to calm down in this time of significant social change, which would enable people to form whatever kinds of consensual relationships that work best for them.”
As gender fluidity becomes mainstream, we should apply the same fluidity to what kind of relationship umbrella we choose to engage in these relationships under - because it’s ALL a construct.
Long before Jerry Maguire uttered “you complete me” to Renée Zellweger’s Dorothy our society was obsessed with the search for a single soulmate. Nobody should complete us but ourselves. The various relationships we carefully create with others are a beautiful bonus of being alive and human.
Philosopher and author Carrie Jenkins, whose book is called What Love Is: And What It Could Be, says our concept of romantic love is too narrow, too exclusive, too “mononormative.” Jenkins has a husband and a boyfriend and practices non-monogamy.
“You can custom-fit relationships to your life – if you dare talk about them. I keep coming back to this idea that we have so much control over what love is, what love looks like, what stories we tell, what is depicted in romantic comedies, what stories are told in romance novels,” she told Vox. “All of these ways we determine what love is are a social construct. We have so much control over that. That means we are responsible for getting it right. If we don't, we're excluding people from the social construct of romantic love without justification, and that makes it difficult for them to live the way they want to or the way they need to.”
Adrienne Rich echoed the sentiment in her fabulous essay on compulsory heterosexuality. “The absence of choice remains the great unacknowledged reality and in the absence of choice, women will remain dependent on the chance of luck of particular relationships and will have no collective power to determine the meaning and place of sexuality in their lives.”
Understand the social construct surrounding not just gender and sexuality but the types of relationship structures you participate in. Look beyond assumptions of what is considered “normal” and “natural.” Love doesn’t have to be static. It’s air. It’s a river, It’s a cloud. True love is a magical shapeshifter that can be what it needs to be to meet the moment, which brings us back to the Sally Rooney quote with which we began:
“At times I think of human relationships as soft, like sand or water and by pouring them into particular vessels we give them shape…But what would it be like to form a relationship with no preordained shape of any kind? Just to pour the water out and let it fall. I suppose it would take no shape and run off in all directions…No obvious path before us by which any relationship can proceed…There are no boundaries or conventions by which our relationship is constrained. What makes it different, in other words, is neither him nor me, nor any special personal qualities pertaining to either of us, nor even the particular combination or our individual personalities, but the method by which we relate to one another. Or the absence of method.”
Imagine growing up in a society that affirms being queer, gender non-conforming, non-monogamous or polyamorous.
This panorama of perspective, the explosion of the social construct surrounding sexuality, gender, and relationship styles with a spotlight on the intersectional fluidity of all of it is, I believe, the greatest gift I can offer my children. And I wish it for all of you as well.
Compersion explained: The opposite of jealousy or envy in romantic relationships.
If you’re considering a non-monogamous or polyamorous relationship, Leanne Yau’s polyphiliablog Insta page is a must follow.
Compulsive Sexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: Violet, who loves animation, introduced me to this video series and it’s maybe the greatest thing I’ve seen on YouTube in a while.
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