Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Relationship Models

A few months ago a guy hit me up on Scruff having read some of my blog. He said he's always been curious about bondage and that in the recent past his interest in it had been increasing. Apparently he'd been monogamously coupled for the last five years, and recently breached the topic with his partner by asking to get tied up. Appalled, his partner said he wouldn't participate under any circumstances. So at this point he asked the next logical question: "So then can I try it with someone else?" and was also told no. Playing devil's advocate I can understand, for instance, someone with a history of abuse being unable to let their partner tie them up. But a man who refuses to try something with absolutely no personal emotional risk and won't allow other options? Personally, I wouldn't even entertain a friendship with someone that selfish, let alone a long-term relationship.

In some instances that dismissive of a response to a partner's sexual interests can be bordering on emotional abuse. At the very least it cultivates a very unhealthy air of superiority that is conducive to emotional abuse; being able to berate someone and treat him like a freak for confiding his sexual interests in you is some damn good fodder to that end. It's absolutely wrong, and it's something that happens far too often in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

I'm one of those people who's perpetually single, but despite that fact one of the most important things I've ever learned is that there are no default rules to a relationship - not a single one - and EVERY relationship is unique. Of course there are basic "models" like monogamy, open relationships, swinging, polyamory, etc, but no one except the people involved in a relationship get to decide what the rules are. Essentially, no one should be asking "Is this normal?" they should be asking "Are we happy?"

Just as no person is perfect, it's virtually impossible for two (or more) people to be 100% compatible on emotional, sexual, spiritual, and physical levels. I'm not enough of a cynic to claim it doesn't happen but, to borrow some lyrics, "I'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery." There's a little less difficulty for people who don't identify as kinky, but there's always the chance of a dormant fetish your partner doesn't share waking up. The example I commonly use is people who are into anonymity; not only might a partner not have the same fetish, they literally cannot fulfill that fetish seeing as how it would be impossible for them to be anonymous. If there's something you want or need that your partner literally cannot or simply doesn't wish to fulfill, there is nothing wrong with that.

So what about safety and STD transmission? I'd hate to break it to you, but the second you decide to have unsafe sex with a partner you are already taking a leap of faith and trusting them. Most people in monogamous relationships don't expect their mate would cheat on them until it happens, and it's not unheard of from someone in such a situation to contract an STD due to a cheating spouse. To put it simply: who's more likely to violate your trust, someone who has no other choice but to do so in order to get what they want/need, or someone who knows you care about their desires and want them to be happy?

There are very few times where I support monogamy, as it's an approach to relationships that seems to undermine our very nature. In lieu of love and trust and confidence it emphasizes possessiveness and jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. That's not to say people can't experience love, trust, and confidence in a monogamous relationship, but it's a model that stacks the cards against couples. When your solution to being afraid that you will lose your partner is to remove all other options, I don't believe anyone should be allowed to call that trust.

To be honest, the damaging effects of defaulting to monogamy are much less present in homosexual lives. But in heterosexual culture, children have to endure the pain of a divorce and living in a broken home just because mommy and daddy turned out to not be sexually compatible. The idea that a women with an incredibly high libido and a man with a non-existent one may divorce because the woman had an affair is insanity. Is that a breach of trust if monogamy as agreed upon? Yes, that's true. But is it fair that monogamy's cultural pervasiveness prevents such a sexually imbalanced couple from even thinking to discuss other options? Not only is it unfair, it's an affront.

As I said before, there are no default rules to relationships. Relationships are supposed to be about open communication, honesty, compromise, and sacrifice; intrinsic rules governing relationships impedes this process. So let's look at that unhappy straight couple. The wife asks to explore sex elsewhere and the  husband is appalled, but still loves his wife. The question then is, "If I know I love my wife and vice versa, why am I appalled by something that would make her happy?" Whatever the answer, the two most likely sources are either a lack of trust in the union, or personal feelings of inadequacy. More specifically "Does she really love me if she needs this?" or "Am I just not good enough for her?" The answers might still be pretty vague, but it's a starting point as to where the discussion needs to head. Unless you have a definitive reason to object to your partner doing something, you should find a way to be comfortable with letting them do what makes them happy. The important thing is, once you realize that there are no rules you can find a way to make compromises to ensure you're comfortable with your partner's actions. In this instance, maybe she's only allowed to sleep with one other guy approved by her husband. Or maybe she's allowed to seek sex elsewhere but he doesn't want to hear about it. Or maybe sex is allowed but not kissing or cuddling or some other sign of affection unique to her husband. There are countless possibilities to address what your personal fear regarding the situation is.

I guess if there's anything I'd like to be taken away from this it'd be: trust doesn't mean that you have faith your partner will rely only on you for everything, trust means having faith that your partner wants to be with you and will do whatever is necessary for you to be together and happy, even if that means biting his lip and admitting he's not perfect. Once you have real trust in your partner, you can begin having a discussion about what you both want and need instead of trying to adhere to a set of rules you didn't even concoct.

3 comments:

  1. Dick, many thanks for this entry! From my perspective, having been emotionally abused for several years in a marriage with a wive totally blocking any sex for fear of it, all your conclusions are fully and absolutely correct. Finally, I got through divorce, entering marriage as a male virgin and exiting it without change - though I had a very healthy sexual appetite. Though I still think it was the best way for both involved, I do not wish anyone any similar experience. Just for the records: this was no BDSM relationship, it was a vanilla relationship. Only later I learned that I was actually gay, or at least assume it to be.

    Many thanks again for your very true words!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing, Roland! It's definitely a more difficult situation when sexual orientation is the issue instead of sexual appetite or interests. Though I'm very sorry you had to go through that ordeal, I'm glad things worked out in the end; better that you got out instead of reading this while still in an emotionally abusive relationship. Best of luck moving forward!

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    1. Hi Dick, many thanks for your reply. However, I have to clarify that during the marriage I had, I was very attracted to women sexually, considering myself purely heterosexual, or at least thought so. It was later that my orientation changed, if such is possible, and the experience I had might play a huge role regarding this, as it was kind of traumatizing me regarding women sexually. I was not blocking sex at all, I craved for it, but it was my ex-wife who blocked any sex to happen with ultimate force due to some mental issues I suppose, and had I took any step to force it due to my appetite for her, it would have been rape imo - and in her's, I suppose. And there is hardly anything I dislike more than raping, so there was no choice, especially since I truly loved her, not ever wanting to hurt her in any way. Of course, I hoped it to change some day, trying to support her in any way possible, but learned that I could do nothing about it, since she did not want to change or develop, maybe due to fear, and besides that, a partner is simply not in the position to be any kind of therapist. Instead, I drained my energy, feeling deeply hurt and ultimately denied myself. When I left the relationship, feelings of ultimate failure just added on top. I was quite a wreck back then. But this was long ago, and I grew again in the meantime, though some scars might remain forever. Sorry that I was not clear enough about it first place, causing confusion thereby, but I am no native speaker of english.

      Many thanks for your kind wishes, I do my best to move forward, just as I do not want to stay single forever. I have been alone for too long already, I suppose.

      Btw, many thanks for making, updating and caring for this blog. I think it is great, containing hot material as well as most thoughtful entries!

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