Love and hate

Over on his blog, Drew wrote a post that was also a question. Basically, since he now has personal insight into outwardly-appearing “straight” couples and how they interact, along with his intimate understanding of how homosexual couples live and interact, he wondered how the two were different from one another. Gay couples are more often open than non-gay (apparently) and gay couples are often open with one another about their sex lives. Are “straight” couples the same? How are they different? And, of course, I use “straight” in quotes since that’s how Belle and I appear from outside.

I think M/M couples are more open in both senses of the word. They’re more often open sexually and they’re more open with one another about it. My simplification of their experience would be that it’s easier for them because they’re all guys. In a mixed gender scenario, you have something like alternating currents involved. The differences in how the genders process sexuality and the associated emotions need to be negotiated and that, more than anything, is what keeps F/M couples from chatting too freely with one another about sex and relationships. Of course, some do. But many (most?) don’t. When the couples are divided and grouped into their component genders, talk of sex increases because the currents are all the same. But even then, there’s a lot of uptight straight people out there.

And, of course, guys are allowed to be slutty in a way society frowns on for women. When the sexual dynamics are all about M/M sex, there’s a lot more of it. I’m not saying men are simpler sexually than woman or that woman are too complicated or whatever, only that it’s very easy for men to have sex without consequences (and that’s multiplied by about 10 when it’s sex with another man). I think men are also socialized to more freely have no-strings-attached sex than women. If it sounds like I’m saying men are pigs, I won’t lie and say that’s not true, but I think women could just as easily be pigs if we were all raised outside our dominant “good girls don’t”/”monogamy at all costs” paradigm.

So no, Drew, “straight” couples tend not to talk about one another’s sex lives unless their participants are broken out into their gender groups in which case they might. At least, that’s my experience.

Two caveats. First, openly kinky people are probably more likely to have these conversations than the non-kinky or the closeted kinky. Second, I clearly have no idea how those in F/F relationships relate to one another. Zero.

Now, when it comes to actually being in an open relationship, I think there’s more of that going on in the “straight” community than is let on. It’s such a taboo (or has been) that even if a relationship was like mine and Belle’s, chances are quite slim that information would be volunteered, even to close friends. Therefore, I think it’s impossible to know how many couples are open in some way (whether that be swinging or “fine but don’t tell me” or a cuckolding thing or like ours or whatever — there are many available flavors).

I would encourage my readers to check out the comments to his post because there’s a lot of good stuff there. But there was also this from someone called Pat…

I really don’t understand why everyone is so casual about this. For the straight couples it’s cheating. Plain and simple. For the gay couples, I guess you could call it a form of cheating but since those marriages are soon to be voided, I suppose it won’t be.

I made a vow when I married my husband to stay with him and only him. This bow [sic] was to him but also to God. I like to keep him in chastity to make our sex life stronger, but it’s just for us.

Open and cheating are not the same thing. I can tell you that for a fact since I’m someone who has cheated and is now in an open relationship. Open is so much better. And, if you read my last post, you’ll see how open can also be perfectly casual. In fact, I have to imagine it’s at its best when it’s casual. If I was sneaking around with Drew behind Belle’s back, that would be cheating. Since I’m not, it’s not. Plain and simple.

Regarding the dismissive hatefulness of the rest of that first paragraph, all I can say is you’re on the wrong side of history. You’ll soon be relegated to the same bin we keep racists who hated interracial couples and religious fanatics who persecuted the left-handed. That makes me very happy. We’re leaving people like you behind. I don’t say that with hatred in return. It’s a simple observation of fact. You’re either on the equity bus or you’re under it.

Also, point of fact, regarding the “marriages will be voided” comment, the question being taken up by SCOTUS would not, even in its most damaging result to marriage equity, void any marriages already performed. Nor would it stop marriages in states, like mine, were the elected legislatures made it lawful.

Regarding the question of vows, I can’t imagine why we couldn’t renegotiate whatever we laid out to one another soon-to-be twenty years ago. I can’t imagine why one would let their younger, less experienced selves place them in such a rigid box like that. Funny thing is, opening our marriage has been nothing but good for our relationship. So if by doing so we’ve strengthened the marriage, how is that going against the spirit of our wedding vows?

Of course, you can choose to make promises to your imaginary sky friend, but I’d rather stay focused on Belle and me, thanks. In my estimation, promises to gods have resulted in immeasurably more suffering and pain on this planet than the opposite. They’re all too often used to shield and justify hateful, damaging, and abusive words and actions. I’ll have nothing to do with them.

Pat also went on to say…

I’ve recently started reading [Thumper’s] again now that it’s back to more he and belle and chastity versus the gay fantasies and his feelings for sex with you.

You will understand that hearing you say you’re happy to read my blog again now that you perceive it to be more about one part of me than another you find distasteful does little to endear you to me. If there was a way for me to blot out my words so you and people like you couldn’t read them or find any value from them, I would. You must take me as I am, all of me. Both my wife and my boyfriend (and his lawful husband). If you choose not to, then please stop reading me.

I chatted with Drew about Pat’s comment after she made them and how much more emotional things like that make me than him. His said something that made me profoundly sad. Of course, he’s used to comments like that. Words that degrade and dehumanize and minimize him and his feelings and his life. He’s accustomed to dealing with injustice, prejudice, and intolerance. I’m not. I have lived in my privileged “straight” lifestyle and have only recently been exposed to terrible people in such a personal way. Unlike Drew, I haven’t had the opportunity to build up a thick emotional scab.

I don’t want that scab. I never want to let words like her’s roll off my back. Whether or not she was intentionally hateful, she was and I always want to feel an urge to say, “FUCK YOU,” than not. Impolite? Oh, sure. But justice is often impolite…at first.

8 thoughts on “Love and hate

  1. I think you’ve got a point about the component groups in m/f relationships being more open with each other than in a couple-to-couple conversational dynamic. Women, in general (whether part of a couple or not) approach me often about sexual topics, and I’ve had conversations ranging from “Does it hurt?” (from the over-20 virgin) to “My threesome experience was…” (from the stranger at the swing club) and a myriad of things in between. Sex – and the pleasure experienced (or lack thereof) – is a common topic of conversation whenever I have dinner with a female friend. I think that’s fairly normative behavior. From what my husband tells me, guy-to-guy conversations are bawdier but the topic if sex is a common one. He’s not a sharer when it comes to What We Do though, which I think is kinda sweet in its way. 🙂

  2. Comment, Part II ~

    Because phone touchpads just plain suck. I miss my BlackBerry. It had real buttons. le sigh

    (Regarding Comment, Part I: the topic OF sex is a common one)

    I am now on a normal keyboard. And I shall attempt to make sense.

    And, of course, guys are allowed to be slutty in a way society frowns on for women.

    Which makes sex – and how women relate their sexual experiences to one another – different for women, not least because of the Good Girls Don’t paradigm that we are raised with.

    I mentioned the ‘bawdy’ factor when it comes to how men converse about sex in Comment, Part I. I have to say that, as a woman, conversing with women about sex is very different. (As are man/woman friend conversations about sex. Those, quite frankly, are the best.) I often find myself walking a fine line when discussing sexual topics with other women, because – even when they are friends – WOMEN JUDGE EACH OTHER ACCORDING TO THE GOOD GIRLS DON’T PARADIGM. {As a general rule. There are exceptions, of course.} So I’ve repeatedly found myself in the position of being Departer of Knowledge, but I am careful to do so in a way that isn’t overly personal. When women ask me questions (and dear God, do they ask me questions… somehow I’ve become the big sister / surrogate mother figure to a bunch of humans with snatches), I talk about the topic without personalizing it. Rather than “This one time, at band camp…”, I tend to generalize with phrases like, “In my experience…” Or, depending on the situation, use common denominator language like “It’s very common for…” -or- “Typically…” in order to (a) not overshare, and (b) not be overjudged. Which is, in itself, a ridiculous exercise. Women want to be able to come to another woman in order to learn. Yet women expect other women not to be overly experienced, because Good Girls Don’t. What. The. Fuck. o_O

    Anywhoo…

    Just wanted to get those thoughts into writing so they could stop clamoring in my head. 🙂

    1. “(As are man/woman friend conversations about sex. Those, quite frankly, are the best.)”

      Agreed, but it’s been so long since I’ve had one of those!

      1. I’m lucky in that I have some great male friends to have those conversations with. I appreciate their candor and insight, and it’s really helpful to talk about sex with a male who is not a vested party. 🙂

  3. Another great post and even more information for me to ponder about this whole male/female dynamic. Who knew that all of this education would come as the bonus gift with a bisexual boyfriend? You said it was a limited time offer, so I am glad I got in on time.

    With that, I want to address the scab you mention and how that made you “profoundly sad”. I hate that because, while it should bother you, it shouldn’t make you sad because it’s just a small piece of the hate in the world. However, I think what you see in me when we talk about that, is less about immunity to hurt and more about determination that this will end one day coming up on the horizone. We are absolutely privileged to be living in a time where we can actually see these social changes happen in our lifetime. If you need proof, go to one single gay wedding and watch the cluster fuck of what happens protocol wise because none of us knew how to plan those things as we grew up becaus we just never never thought it would or could happen. For God’s sake, I got married in red pants. Bride Magazine would so not have approved.

    As for me and the “thick emotional scab”, I think you know one well enough now to know I don’t hold many emotions inside long enough to let a scab form. Hell, I teared up telling Stella bye this morning on my way to Australia. But, I will admit the scab is there and was started out of hurt, but mine is now made up of of thick strands of determination to not ever be the stereotype and to prove those hateful people wrong. I grew up actually never judging myself for being gay in a bad or a Christian way, because my theory is that if there is a God, which you know I doubt, he has far greater things to worry about then me being gay (like that Superlbowl halftime show).

    There were two times the scab was ripped open, though. One was right after I told my I parents and there was some story in the paper filled with hateful comments. It didn’t bother me for me, but it killed me that they had to read that about me. The second time was, as you know, in 2002 when I was fired from my job the morning after I took Axel to a company event. I was the youngest VP in the nation and had many awards, but, the fact that “I no longer represented the family man image” this national non profit wanted invalidated all of my work and just pissed me off, even though they legally had the right to do so.

    But, I used the determination to fix the scab, got another job, did some pro bono work for some community centers, and continued to make my life with Axel proudly and publicly. That’s another reason I changed my last name to his despite the shock and awe because everytime someone calls us, hmmmm, Dr. and Mr., let’s say Grantham, I get stronger and so does that scab. Its a bit like the bell in “It’s a Wonderful Life” in that every time a queen screams in excitement over his wedding, Pat and people like her lose a wing.

    I think I digressed a bit, but this is all to thank you for continuing to stand up to the bullies and monsters like Pat, but don’t raise your blood pressure in the process. They simply are not worth it (though they still fascinate me as to why they even read my stuff) in the long run, BUT, I so admire you for doing it.

  4. This is a very interesting post and question. Lots of information to digest, but I am disconnecting with the use of “casual” to describe the open relationship. I agree that open is very different than cheating but is casual an adjective or a category?

    This is an opinion thing I guess, but if only one partner partakes, can you see where it would be thought of more as cheating versus open? I wonder if that is how people like Pat get confused though she is clearly wrong.

    Off topic, how often do you and Drew see each other? I saw Twitter tonight and it seems like a lot or maybe you are just good making what you have count?

    1. I think it’s not unusual for one partner to have a pass like mine. In any event, the difference between cheating and open is all in the expectations the couple sets with one another. In our case, I am free to have sex with Drew but I have to be locked in the Steelheart when I do. If I wasn’t, that would be cheating. But the sex in an of itself isn’t because it’s part of our understanding with one another.

      I see Drew about once a month for a day or two.

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