Sunday, February 4, 2007

Well. The deal is...

I've been getting the question a lot - "what's the deal?" with Husband and Lover and Big City Lover and other lovers and whoring and Me. And I was waiting to write something poetic and cool, but it's late and I didn't post yesterday and I feel guilty because Tom Paine wrote me something really nice and I have something in mind to write for him and C., and I haven't had a chance. Bitch, whine, moan. So here's The Deal.

Twelve years ago, I *thought* that what was happening was that I was getting married before I was ready. In fact, what was happening was that I was buying into the idea - widespread in America - that once I, a normal healthy girl, met the right normal healthy guy, I would stop liking more than one guy and stop wanting to have flirty fun sex and dirty raw sex with lots and lots of people.

Wrong-O, Mary-Lou.

At first I thought there must be something wrong with me. Everyone else manages to be monogamous, right? (Wrong)

After 12 years of lying and cheating - I am now at the age where I used to think I would get married, except I've been married the whole time - and 5 years of advocating for an open relationship, and a lot of therapy and going to the SAA meetings where I was the only girl but my therapist said that was fine because I tend to look at relationships like men do, anyway - I finally said this. Apropos of nothing. We were in the car. I wasn't currently in therapy. We weren't even having a relationship discussion.

Husband: Is everything all right?

Mandy: Yes.

Husband: Oh, good.

Mandy: I love you with all my heart and I don't ever want to leave you and you are my soul mate. But I am not monogamous and I don't think I ever can be. I will give you anything that is in my power to give you, and monogamy is not a gift I have in me to give. It's not something I'm capable of, and I don't want to be. I understand if you can't be with me any more because of that, but that's what I am and I can't lie to the person I love best in the world about who I am.

Husband: Have you been sleeping with other people this whole time?

Mandy: Yes.

Husband: Are you now?

Mandy: Yes.

Husband: I just don't want you to leave me.

Mandy: I'm not going to leave you. Ironically enough, I feel like if I was going to leave you, I've already gone through the "wow, this is a great new guy, what if?" stage and learned that it's not permanent and I don't want to leave.

Husband: Oh.

Mandy: I don't sleep with anyone you know and I don't do anything in our town. And it's important to me that you still come first all the time, like always taking your calls.

Husband: Well, that's good.

(Interlude with hugging, crying, and reaffirming that we want to stay together)

Mandy: So do you want to know details or anything like that?

Husband: I'll ask if I want to know.


So it's just like when I was lying and cheating, except I'm allowed to be. He doesn't ask, I don't tell. I don't shame him or rub his nose in it or make it obvious - I mostly see people when I am already out of town. Though I do make some special trips for Lover.

However...I am still technically lying and cheating, because Husband has expressed his preference for me to have one-night stands, rather than an ongoing relationship with someone who he feels might threaten our partnership, and what I in fact have is occasional sex with friends and an ongoing, serious secondary partnership with someone I say "I love you" to and who owns part of me that no-one else ever touches.

Oh, and Husband has specifically and by name forbidden me to have sex with Lover...

Ah, sluttiness. How I dishonor you.


Tom Paine said...

Wow. I'm quite flattened by this. I urge you to regroup and re-write this because the emotion is just seeping out around the edges of your sharp irony and wit.

C. and I have dropped all the veils and torn down all the walls. I was a process that nearly took us down the shute. Many was the time I wished for death, walked in front of cars without looking, and contemplated the end of our relationship. Then, after more than a year of struggle, we reached a compromise. Rather, she reached one between monogamy and polyamory: the Tick Tock Diner Rule.

I apologize for blog whore linking to the post, but it's waaaay more complex than I can summarize here. Basically we agreed that we would form no emotional entanglements with others. I, course, stumbled and broke the rule almost right out of the gate, but that's grist for another post. In any case, we're trying now to put that rule into effect.

I suspect we'll both stumble, but we've reached a crucial understanding: nothing can touch the love and passion we feel for one another. This means that if she comes hard with someone else, or even wants to spend alone time with them, it doesn't take away from what we have together.

Of course, don't ask her to agree to that for me, as she's an Italian-American with a passionate nature. She likes to watch "The Sopranos" and her nickname among our friends is "Carmella."

Al Laddin said...


I feel your and tom's pain(e?!).

I did do the thing that dare not speak it's name and I'm not sorry. I'll be sorry if (when?) my sweetest heart of hearts finds out or I am compelled or impelled to tell her.

Till then I won't. But I'll cheat. Damn me, hooray for me, damn me, hooray for me for exorcising my accursed "Catholic Guilt" and filling THAT empty space with...what?

Poly-amory is probably out. An "arrangement" is "nah ga happen".

My stars!...

Well, M, good on ya'. Would that I could and did. Never say never I guess.

Scarlet said...

I'm fairly sure my husband suspects, but doesn't want to confront the issue. Because if he knows about The Affair, he might have to do something about it.

Gillette said...

All I can say is that I see you as veryveryveryvery brave.

Mandy said...

Tom - One of the things that has been interesting for me is that I deliberately choose people who are unavailable to me in some way (distance, relationships) or have something wrong with them that makes it not possible to have a full-time relationship even if we want it, as my non-Primary lovers.

Al - wow, that sucks. For me, the thing that hurts my soul is the lying, not the cheating.

Scarlet - Bingo!

Gillette - thank you.

Tom Paine said...

For me, the thing that hurts my soul is the lying, not the cheating.

That about sums it up. I like the idea of C. cheating on me. She has a "hall pass" if she chooses to use it.

The lying means building up rooms, sometimes entire houses inside you where you loved one never enters. I hate it. I fucking HATE it, and I will never go back to that place again. I'd rather die.

Heidi said...

mandy, found you via tom paine. i think i too happen to choose people who are somehow unavailable. not that i'm worried it will take away from my love for my husband, but that i just don't have time for that. he's the one who has another steady, i'm the one that plays the field...

it was very brave of you to tell him. i have faith it will get better, since his response was 'i don't want to lose you'. ultimately, how could that change? i realize there are many ways that it could, but there are also many ways to keep the bond strong.

i like what tom said about rooms. it goes the other way too, once you open some doors and find out your love for each other gets stronger, more doors can open.

Al Laddin said...


Yup, yup, yup, yup, and absolutely.