Like many of you, I spent last New Year’s Eve in the company of some friends, a mix of known faces and new ones. Also thanks to the inevitable board game, as the house party kicked off we all got the opportunity to know each other better.
I don’t make a mystery of my lifestyle. I like to introduce myself as a polyamorous man. I find it refreshing and it helps people relate to me in whichever way they see fit from the off. No pleasantries and no false expectations.
One of the reasons why I love my friends is that they seem to have developed a penchant for teasing me in front of strangers by “casually” asking for the details of the last fetish party I attended.
Sometimes, this makes for a fun conversation starter; other times, it also helps other people who are open about their sexuality and sexual practices to come out to our audience and join the chat.
In this case, it did both.
As midnight drew closer, we ordered a cab and made our way to a nightclub in Central London. We got there just in time for the countdown.
Later on that night, in the middle of the dance floor and surrounded by our friends, three of us exchanged a few long, passionate kisses. It was the most spontaneous, natural thing in the world. Our mutual attraction was very clear from earlier, and so was our alignment of thought and emotion.
In the early hours, the group parted ways and the two girls set off on their respective journeys home.
Once I was reunited with the remainder of my friends, to my greatest surprise I realised how desperately preoccupied they had become with knowing who of the two I had “chosen”. I had to have a favourite, someone I would pursue. There had to be a winner. As simple as that.
I explained myself – in vain. There was no way to talk them out of their conviction.
It just did not seem possible for them to understand that three people could share a completely spontaneous moment of freedom together. That they could give in to their attraction for each other and share in an experience greater than the sum of its parts – without worrying too much about the next step, if any. There had to be a catch. I, the man, had to be manipulating the girls somehow, or had to be “trying each one out”, at best. Who would I want to see again – and have sex with?
It isn’t the first time I come across this argument, even amongst people who know me well, as this experience clearly shows. It will never cease to amaze me how strong and innate is our need to define, mark, rank. Our brain seems to have a dangerous tendency to binary thinking: it understands well only things that can be put on a line and measured against each other. And, maybe, that is a big part of why non-monogamy, particularly non-hierarchical polyamory, can be so challenging to step into…