***Before you read this understand that the topic wanders a bit. It started as an article on relationships and ended as an article on me, my relationship and my sexuality. It’s all related. That being said, hang on for the ride.
I’ve just had a facebook debate with a friend and it made me want to broach a topic that is maybe one of the most difficult topics I could try to discuss. I say difficult because of the sheer magnitude of diverse options to discuss and not because of any difficulty in explanation. Here goes:
Now, let’s wade through the bits I don’t want to focus on today so that we can get to what I’m actually talking about.
Merriam-Webster.com defines Relationships as:
“the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.”
“a romantic or sexual friendship between two people”
“the way in which two or more people or things are connected”
Today, we’re specifically focusing on the middle definition. But wait. Before we can focus on it, I’m going to need to modify it because it doesn’t reflect an accurate portrayal of all possible relationships. I suggest the following definition for relationships instead:
“A romantic and/or sexual friendship between two or more people.”
There. That more accurately portrays the word and allows for a better understanding of the idea of the word outside of a puritanical Christian ideology.
Do we need to dissect it before we move on? Probably. …ok let’s do this.
A relationship can be romantic, sexual or romantic and sexual. Romance and sex are not always mutually exclusive, but neither do they always walk hand in hand.
A romantic, sexual or romantic and sexual relationship can be between multiple people. Relationships can be as varied as you can imagine: Monogamy being a staple of most cultures nowadays as it is built into a lot of religious beliefs …if you don’t read the holy books too closely. Polyamory, nevertheless, is becoming more and more prominent as the number of dreaded “non-standard” relationships continues to rise.
If you’re not familiar with Polyamory, here is what Merriam-Webster has to say on the subject:
Polyamory: “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”
Get it? …Wait. What? Ok. Seriously, Merriam-Webster we need to work on your definitions. This definition, while technically sort of accurate, is somewhat difficult to interpret. Polyamory could be having more than one open romantic relationship. But it could also be having more than one person involved in a single “relationship.” Or it could be having more than one person involved in more than one open romantic relationship, etc. It goes on. So, while the Merriam-Webster definition is concise, it is hardly all inclusive.
Phew. I’ve spent more time on defining definitions than on my topic. Now that we understand that there are many different forms of relationships, I’d like to tell you a bit about mine.
So really, the real topic is: “My relationship and me.”
I have been with my wife on and off for almost 11 years now. Eleven. Wow. Sometimes I don’t believe it’s been that long and sometimes it feels longer. Our relationship has gone through some major evolution due to hardships, mistakes, broken trust, anger, loss, misunderstandings, miscommunication, more mistakes, love, children, understanding, regaining trust, good communication, patience and genuine happiness.
Our current relationship is monogamous but we have relatively free reign when it comes to making out and/or fooling around with others with the exception of sex, oral or otherwise, unless agreed upon beforehand (or in the spur of the moment) with all parties consenting.
This has led to some interesting conversations with our friends and families (with more conservative views on traditional relationships) trying to understand us and “why we allow each other to cheat.” It has also led to a better understanding of our friends’ tonsils, extremities, boundaries, etc. This is fun.
We have boundaries which are clearly defined and we do one extremely important thing that keeps our marriage going strong: We communicate. We talk all of the time. My wife is my best friend and I tell her almost everything; even if it makes her upset or mad at me. We’ll spend some time working through it and we’ll come out of it stronger than ever.
–Trust me. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Now, if we were to cross these set boundaries we would be cheating. Anything within our boundaries is just us having fun. I’m not entirely sure why this is such a difficult concept to understand, but it keeps happening.
Do we have a Polyamorous relationship? Well, if you consider the nonsexual but extremely emotional wife-type-relationship we have with our roommate I’d say yes. My wife would probably say yes. But most would say no. Our roommate would probably say no (even if she really thought yes).
Are we swingers? Many people have tried to classify us as such. But if you ask me or my wife, we’d say no. We don’t go around and “have sex with random people” which is what my understanding of “swinging” is. I’d go check Merriam-Webster.com, but so far they have proven inadequate so I’m just going to trust my brain on this one.
I tend to like and dislike classifications pretty equally. I like the idea of being able to explain an idea pretty quickly with an understandable generic concept, but I also hate that it sometimes shoves people into boxes they may not belong in, myself included. I would classify my wife as bisexual. I recently made up a new word for my own sexuality because “Straight” didn’t fit exactly right and neither did “Lesbian.” Here it is along with its definition:
Lesmian (pronounced: Les – me – an): A male who is primarily attracted to lesbian and bisexual women.
Now originally this definition did not include the words “and bisexual” but I’ve had multiple people who identify as lesbian tell me (with a slight look of disgust) that if a woman that identifies as a lesbian would “mess around” with me (a guy), they aren’t really a lesbian. Funnily enough, some of these women have gone on to “mess around” with me anyway, but that is beside the point.
Again, there goes that classification issue. Why build boxes around us at all? Let’s just call ourselves people and get on with it. I like the idea, but explanations beg for easily reference-able words.
I just made up a joke to help with understanding my marriage:
A bisexual and a lesmian walk into a bar. No one is safe.
It might not be that funny, but damn is it accurate.
I was recently called a cis-man by one of my good friends (who is currently in college and I’m terribly proud of her) after making a sarcastic remark about beards and how great they are. What was meant to be funny somehow made her angry and during my facebook reaming she gave me a great reason to visit Wikipedia. I’d never heard of the idea of a cisgender before. The idea being that my gender at birth lines up with my self-perception of my gender. Or in layman’s terms: I was born a male and I identify as a male. This is absolutely true. I love being a man. I love having a penis. I love having a beard. It makes sense to me.
Here is where I began to think into a weird spiral: She is right. I am indeed a cis-man, however, does my gender identity mesh with my sexuality? Here be troubled waters methinks.
To me, it would be way easier and better accepted by all parties, if I were a woman who was attracted to lesbians. A lot of accidental hurt feelings (my own and others) would have been avoided if I were born a woman. But I can’t help but feel that being a male is right for me. So there is a difficult dichotomy here.
When trying to explain my sexuality I tend to get a lot of flak from all sides, Lesbians, Straight men and women…
…actually my gay male friends don’t really give me much flak so: thanks boys!
I’ve only known one transgendered person but he was so angry at the world for not being born a man that I didn’t take much of what he said seriously.
I’m not one to get all emotionally scarred and depressed but I do get upset at the lack of understanding. In some ways I feel less accepted than those in the LGBT community, because not only do I get looks of displeasure from the so called “normal people” but most of the disapproval comes from the community you’d imagine I could actually connect with.
So here is my hardship. Because of semantics and classifications that put some of us in boxes we might not belong in and which hold others of us in fear of being seen as something that doesn’t fit in a box because of… fear of rejection from a community? …fear of letting go of an identity classification they worked so hard for? – For me the issue of sexuality and gender identity has become thoroughly muddled.
This article began as an explanation of relationships evolved into a deep look into who I am. It wasn’t my intention, but the topics are related. My wife accepts me for who I am and I accept her. That is what’s most important.
I suppose in the end the only thing that matters is this: I’m glad I married my best friend.