by: David Chastity
I’m one of the polyamorous types that are so hip in the news these days. It is at least five times more exciting than you think. And I know you think it’s exciting, because all the monos I talk to are always full of questions. So settle on down there, I am here to answer all of your worst questions about the poly lifestyle, so you can stop embarrassing yourself. Seriously. Y’all ask ridiculous things.
First, though, there is one legitimate question that no one asks often enough. Is poly an orientation or a preference or what? Do you choose to be poly, or are you born this way, or something else?
The answer, as you will often find in the poly world, is “yes.” I was born this way. The first time I wanted two boyfriends, I was about 13. A few years later, I learned there was a word for it, and I’ve never looked back. I tell people I’ve only been monogamous by accident, and these days I can barely even date single people. It just weirds me out, all that free time they have.
Don’t assume I’m the norm, though. Plenty of now-poly people spent years happily monogamous, then fell for someone poly, then discovered that this way of life is so much better. (I’m at least half kidding, some of my best friends are monogamous, etc.) Sometimes, dating a poly person isn’t enough to change a mono! My boyfriend’s wife’s partner is STILL monogamous, in spite of being involved in a family in which “boyfriend’s wife’s partner” is a perfectly normal way to describe someone.
So, as you can surmise, there is no easy overarching poly story. Because we’re humans, complex and all. There are some broad themes, though, and it seems like everyone pretty much wants to know the same three or four things, so how about we get those out of the way now, so we can have more interesting conversations? Awesome.
1. How do you make sure not to call the wrong person’s name out during sex?
Easy. Stop saying people’s names during sex. For a while, my response was, “Who the hell does this anyway?” but then it turns out that my boyfriend’s wife totally does, so I guess at least one person might have this problem. But I haven’t heard of her screwing this basic thing up, either, because of “the different people you are dating are different from each other.” And if you do screw it up, you all have a good laugh and go back to the sex you were having — because sex is awesome and names aren’t that important anyway.
2. Can I have a threesome with you and your roommate?
Usually, this is from someone I have already had sex with or am about to. The answer is: DEAR GOD, NO. Why do you think this is okay, dudes I have had sex with? (Ladies know better than to ask.) What awful porn plot has made you think that people regularly engage in casual sex with the people they live with?
My sluttiest boyfriend has tried to tell me that this is a totally legitimate request, but I have seen the way he reacts when someone suggest that he and his roommate have sex. It is: “We have a good thing going on here, adding sex would make it weird.” Having sex with someone you live with after you start living with them is weird. Stop suggesting it.
3. How do you know who sleeps in which bed?
My boyfriend lives with two partners and also his wife’s partner. I generally go over to his house to hang out. That’s a lot of people, and there aren’t that many bedrooms — so this is actually a pretty legit question. The answer is very simple, though. We talk about it. Sometimes, we have a fancy robot battle to figure out who’s gonna be stuck in the bed that will inevitably have a squirmy three-year-old by the middle of the night. Mostly we just use words, though. They’re pretty useful. (Some poly-people put more than two adult people in a bed at night. Some don’t! I bet they all talk about it though.)
4. Aren’t you going to get AIDS?
This would be the judgmental response to “I’m not monogamous.” It doesn’t even really make sense, and you all certainly know better. So I’m not going to spend much time on it. The answer is: “People who are honest about having multiple sexual partners tend to be a lot more careful.” We use condoms; we get tested regularly. Some poly people talk about “fluid bonding,” but I think that sounds gross, even if it’s supposed to be a tender expression of deep love and commitment.
5. How can you be a Christian and poly?
I probably get this more than most poly folks. Let’s not pretend all the poly people are Christian, after all; none of my partners are. I also happen to be in seminary and pretty active in a lot of Christian circles. And let me tell you, folks: it is not that hard to be Christian and poly. Sure, you gotta deal with judgmental conservatives, but who doesn’t?
And there is a lot more Biblical evidence that God doesn’t care so much about monogamy than there is evidence for a pro-queer stance. I don’t know that there’s a single dude in the Old Testament who has only one lady-partner. (Alright, Isaac, but he’s the worst patriarch anyway, and God wanted to kill him, right?)
Sure, the New Testament’s stance is generally “sex is kind of icky and you should avoid it,” but who wants to live like that? You don’t need to dig into fundie Mormonism to justify multiple partners; it’s all right there in that emphasis on loving everybody. And the part where Solomon, Wisest Person Who Ever Was, has over 1000 wives and concubines. I wanna see HIS Google Calendar.
So, there you have it, folks! The five questions I am most tired of answering. I hope this helps you dispel some of your silliest notions about the lifestyle where love is multiplied, not divided. (That’s a Sister Wives quote. Sister Wives is a fantastic show.)
If you have less silly (or, I guess, more silly) questions about being poly, hit me up in the comments! I am full of Sage Advice.
David Chastity is some girl who lives in a city on the East Coast and likes kissing. She also really enjoys doing the Onion A.V. Club crossword puzzle, drinking good beer and finding the secret sexual meanings in popular music. She’s working on her MDiv and convincing Jesus to marry her.