U-hauling. The urge to merge. Love bombs. All lesbians live in Decatur. You know the drill.
I unlocked the U-Haul achievement at 30 and failed miserably. Why? Because society conditions us to find “The One,” get married, have kids, and die. But do queer women really want to nest mere minutes after meeting “The One”?
That’s a terrific scenario for some people, but not everyone functions in the same way.
My vision for The One was simple: she’d be a sugar momma. We’d be rich and famous. From our luxurious home overlooking the Pacific, we’d travel, dine out and wear black. We’d zip around our big film studio wearing big sunglasses in a big golf cart networking with bigwigs and making big decisions. We’d grace magazine covers. We’d be immortal.
Now I am 48, and while much of that came true in one way or another, I figured some things out, got real, got cats, and sorted out what doesn’t work for me in relationships. Namely: monogamy.
What does work for me is the range of types of love, autonomy, playfulness, growth, sex and romance that I have been gifted with through consensual non-monogamy (CNM).
Most LGBTQ folks are starved for examples of healthy relationships and for guidance on how to cultivate them, not because these relationships don’t exist — they do — but because we are a non-traditional culture trying to fit into a traditional status quo, while at the same time rejecting the status quo.
Similarly, CNM requires us to figure things out that the conventional wisdom of monogamy doesn't.
In a highly scientific survey I conducted on Facebook, I asked: What do queer women, baby queers, and newly out folks need to know about CNM?
The following wisdom dropped:
It is absolutely an option you have open to you, the same as anyone else. Fuck respectability politics and go for who/what you want in your life. — Kit
Look for other queer folks in these communities and follow them home, even if (especially if) they're not people you're romantically interested in. — Josh
Ask yourself, What are my core values, boundaries, and goals? What’s my purpose in engaging in relationships? Which Hogwarts House am I in? — Magaly
You’re going to do it imperfectly, especially at the start. The boundaries or agreements you make in the beginning will change. The sooner you embrace the continuous evolution of them, the easier those changes will be, even when they’re not easy at all. — @polycoachrachael
For me, knowing what I want, my boundaries, how I want to be treated, my Hogwarts House (#ravenclaw), and how my behaviors affect others are paramount to cultivating lasting, meaningful relationships of any type. I didn’t know these things for most of my life, so I set out to learn about myself.
The most important part of this was writing a relationship manifesto — a set of intentions and guidelines that help me prioritize what's important in relationships, and that keep me in check. Drawing from other manifestos and my personal values, I crafted a living document that changes and adapts as I change and adapt. I’m sharing a few of the points here.
We are driven to experience security in our relationships. This starter pack of five guidelines helps me experience security from within instead of looking for it from my partners.
Don’t prioritize sexual or romantic relationships over other types of relationships, like friendships.
If I feel jealous, it is not an emotional distress to the point of not being able to handle it. An insecurity crisis is not an emergency.
Relationship changes are not failures.
I will ensure I have the capacity to start and continue a new relationship before beginning it, and ask that to be reciprocated.
Relationships have a cycle of growth and decay like any living thing. Holding on to dead relationships isn't healthy.
If you’d like to read the others or have questions, send me a message.
This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue online here:
Pick up Q magazine at queer and LGBTQ-friendly venues around town and find fresh content every day at theQatl.com.