A new take on Open Access

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Quiz time! Jessica should

A) Work on her article
B) Work on her other article
C) Work on her other other article
D) Work on her book
E) Read for pleasure
F) Blog

Hint: Four of these answers are equally correct.

…got it figured out yet?

Answer: Jessica should get her ass moving on her writing assignments. Doesn’t matter which one. At this point, ANY sort of productivity would be a welcome change.

It may surprise you that I’m not choosing to squander the evening on choice E), reading for pleasure.

I take that back. It should be pretty bloody obvious that I’m blogging. You are reading this blog post; ergo, I have chosen to blog.

I’d be reading, but none of the fourteen books on my floor are calling to me. Or rather, thirteen of them are not calling to me, while Jack Whyte’s third book in the Camulod chronicles is crying to me in a plaintive, lonely sort of way. It’s very touching, very compelling, and it is taking quite a bit of willpower to resist. The problem is that The Eagle’s Brood is a fat, slow-paced, bug-crushing historical novel. I can’t commit to it right now.

Tonight I think I’ll touch on a topic that I’ve been meaning to discuss for well over a year, longer than this blog has even existed. I’ve written extensively about my peculiar sexual orientation. By “extensively,” I mean “in such comprehensive detail that readers are both embarrassed by the personal content and bored by the sheer length.”

Embarrassed AND bored. Impressive, if you ask me. Hard to provoke both reactions simultaneously. That’s talent, that is.

Permit me to exercise that talent again. I am going to embarrass you to boredom, and bore you to embarrassment, with part II of my treatise on sexual orientation.

Last time I talked quality. Now I’m going to talk quantity.

Here is my two-pronged thesis:

I prefer open relationships, and I prefer polyamorous relationships.

Some vocab: open relationships are those that permit the principle parties to seek fulfillment (usually understood to mean sexual fulfillment) from other people.

Polyamorous relationships are those that involve three or more people.

A polyamorous relationship can be open, but it does not have to be. A traditional, two-person relationship can be open, but it does not have to be.

Let’s get a few things clear before I go any further. For starters, I realize that these are foreign ideas to most of you. They contradict social norms. It’s hard to accept the legitimacy of poly and open relationships. If it seems weird or wrong to you, well… I wish I could convince you otherwise, but I don’t blame you at all if you don’t buy into it.

Let me make one other thing very, very clear: I do not condone cheating. Adhering to the vows you’ve made with your lover(s) is honorable.

Enough disclaiming.

First thing: I’ve slowly developed my thoughts on relationships based on my personal experiences through the years, and based on a brilliant book by Dan Savage, The Commitment. This is one of those exceedingly rare books that I think everyone should read.

You can do yourself a favor and stop reading this post now. Go read Mr. Savage instead. He says everything I’m going to try to say, but he says it a lot better, and he’s really, really, really funny, as in Snorting Tea Out Your Nose funny. The Wilhelmsplatz library doesn’t own it, but don’t worry. I have several copies.

Let’s start with open relationships, and why I think they’re a good idea…

With a few interesting, short-lived exceptions, I have been resolutely single and celibate for the past two years, ever since moving here. (Virginia is for lovers, my ass.) Prior to that I had two long-term relationships back-to-back, with precious little sex in either. We’re talking months at a time of chaste pecks on the cheek.

In all of my relationships, no matter how enamored I was, I found myself attracted to other people. Really attracted, not just idly interested. I didn’t want to have to pick one person or the other. I wanted both.

I felt terrible about it, just wretched. Remember: I don’t like the idea of cheating. I worried that something was fundamentally wrong with me because I couldn’t contain my interests, no matter how fabulous the person.

Good old hindsight: I had these problems because I’m a polyamorist at heart. That’s just how I approach things. I can be totally in love with more than one person at a time.

True polyamorous relationships are very rare. It’s hard to find three people who all love each other romantically. I entertain no delusions that I’ll ever be involved in a long-term poly relationship.

It’s a little easier to find people willing to go along with open relationships. Any significant relationship I have in the future will have to be open, unless I find a person who dazzles and fulfills me so much that I don’t have any desire to look elsewhere, and frankly, I have doubts about that happening.

Does this make me a bad person? Certainly makes me unusual—or at least, it makes me unusual to admit it out loud. But as Dan Savage so ably articulates, it’s uncommon for any two people to fully satisfy one another’s needs for an entire lifetime, or even for an entire relationship.  So I ask: is it necessarily wrong to occasionally seek satisfaction, sexual or otherwise, from a third party?

Answer: yes, it’s definitely wrong if the two main romantic partners don’t agree. Cheating is cheating. If your actions are hurting the person you love, you’re behaving selfishly.

But if both people willingly agree to let each other seek occasional external satisfaction? Nope, I don’t think that’s unethical. Better yet, I think it’s healthy. If done properly, it makes each individual happier, which in turn makes the relationship healthier.

These are not popular ideas. Even as recently as two years ago, I thought of poly and open relationships as unwholesome and freaky—and I was already unusually open-minded about sex and relationships. And people who are as perpetually single as I am are in no position to make bizarre dating demands. “Baby, I think you’re great, but I should tell you I don’t want to be 100% exclusive. Baby?….Baby? Hallo?”

Aw heck, I’d appreciate it if you’d just read Dan Savage’s book. He’s so much better at explaining this stuff.

…okay, that’s one evening wasted. Perhaps I can be clever and turn this blog post into an article or a book chapter. I wonder if Readers Advisor News would accept it for publication?


2 responses »

  1. The Queen of Claremont

    I’m proud to say that we have "The Commitment" on the shelf at the Claremont Library. In fact, you ordered it for us! ‘Nuff said.

  2. eleemosenary archivist

    One must utilize Socratic archival methodology(sic?semper) in order to rewire nuero-muscular brain channels they tell us at PhysTherapy,so why root through diaries of long-dead diplomats when this site provides interesting, clearly written data for same results..just more pleasant reading… Slowly workin through back postings evenings whilst slogging thru dipdespatches 08:00/17:00.. Obrigadissimo Thou as fem-gen would be constrained however to utilize selfsame term for "much obliged" as "obrigadissim-"a".Some languages are like that..EA/tgb


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