I remember when Facebook first made its appearance back when I was in college and users had the option of listing their relationship status as “single”, “dating”, or the catch-all, somewhat enigmatic “it’s complicated”. At the time through my conservative lens, I remember thinking, “what the monkey balls does that phrase even mean? You’re either with someone or you’re not.” Flash forward to today and “it’s complicated” seems like the best way to describe some of my recent relationships. Or is it…
Actually that phrase only works when I feel confined to speak in strictly hetero-normative, traditional relationship terms (a rather mundane way to speak) and put everything into the simple little categories that mainstream society likes to use. Without proper context, trying to tell someone that you have a “Sir” is tricky and without wanting to spiral off into the various dynamics of the relationship, sometimes it’s just easier to say “I’m involved with someone.” Single, dating, married, these are easy to use…the rules and expectations are clear. But how many people out there feel like they exist somewhere else beyond these little categories?
The leather community has a plethora of relationship constructs available for people to use: Daddy, boy, Master, slave, Sir, pup, the addition of thirds and fourths, etc. I once heard some one say he had to use a chart with boxes and lines to clearly explain his relationship status. Over the past year I’ve been observing and pondering these various relationship formations and wondering which ones work and why. Intimacy, sex, love, fun…how do we balance all these and find a stable and healthy way to care for ourselves and each other?
While pondering these notions I’ve also been reading a book called, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, that’s all about humankind’s origins and how for the bulk of human history–about 200,000 years–we lived in communities where sharing everything from food to sexual partners was the norm. It’s only when agriculture began–about 10,000 year ago–and human society starting changing that the notion of “partner ownership” became the expected practice. The book is dense and enlightening and makes a very good case for the support of people having more freedom and flexibility with their relationships…and as a young man exploring I find all this to be rather exciting (especially since I was raised with the whole ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN, FOREVER thing).
As a gay man living in NYC, I feel like I have the freedom to create whatever form of relationship I deem best for me. As of right now, I’m really not sure what that is and thus I continue to observe and explore. What I do know is that honesty, respect, and openness of mind and spirit are key–especially when venturing outside the standard models. Being self-assured is also essential since jealousy and envy are some of the most common forces that tear people apart. I’m grateful for the men in my life who I can learn from…soaking up the experience and wisdom they’ve gained in life.
So in that vein, I’m curious about the relationship status of my readers. Take a look at the poll below and check off what you consider yourself. I included an “other” box where you can type in whatever you don’t see listed (I just went with a limited list). Next week I’ll have a pretty graph showing the results!