All the Cute Girls Have [Multiple] Girlfriends: Polyamory And Queer Women
I have these friends – let’s call them A and B – who had been in a committed monogamous relationship for over a year. Recently, they started dating C. There are rules. The three of them can all sleep together. A is allowed to sleep with C when B is not present, but B and C are not allowed to sleep together unless A is there. They are all into “poly” or polyamory, which Wikipedia defines as “the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.”
Like a whole host of sexual identities, preferences, and fetishes, I don’t get the poly thing. I understand and accept that it exists, but I don’t get it. And it’s everywhere. So many of my young, queer, female friends are doing the poly thing, and I can’t help but wonder: are they doing it because they are genuinely interested? Or are they doing it because it’s the hip new thing? Either way, I’m starting to resent its popularity.
Each trio (or quartet, quintet, etc) has its own rules. Sometimes there are “primaries” and “secondaries,” as in “Kate is my primary, and Rose is my secondary, but Rose is also Lucy’s primary, and Lucy has a secondary named Christy,” and so on. It can get confusing, and in some instances, messy. In these relationships, consent is essential. Everyone has to know where they stand with each of their partners, and rules need to be clear. I’m not sure how people avoid – or deal with – issues of fidelity, jealousy, or commitment, but they seem inevitable to me.
This is how I know I could never do the poly thing. Call me old fashioned, or boring, or vanilla, or whatever, but I want to date one person, and I want her to only date me. I want monogamy, commitment, exclusivity. I don’t ever want to call a woman and I’m dating and have to hear, “Oh, yeah, we can’t hang out tonight, I’m with Mary this weekend.” Maybe I just don’t want to share. Maybe I’m selfish, but really, aren’t the people who are double-dipping (or triple or quadruple-dipping) in the dating pool really the selfish ones? My friends in relationships keep adding partners, while I remain perpetually single. (Two weeks ago, my brother and his girlfriend came to visit, and over the course of the weekend, I was the third, fifth, and seventh wheel.)
There is a segment of the queer community that is determined to push a set of norms that challenge what they believe are the traditionally heterosexual practices of monogamy and marriage. I’m not one of those people. Growing up with my parents, all I ever knew was a loving, committed, balanced, monogamous marriage. So that’s what I want. I don’t want to worry about a crazy web of concurrent partners and all of their potential issues and infections. My dating life should not look like some crazy game of musical chairs where everyone scrambles to find a partner at the end of the night. I would never want to explain to my father, “Well, yes, I am dating Tara, but we’re also dating Michelle.”
Polyamory is becoming more and more popular among young queer women. I suppose it’s better than everyone just sleeping around, but I can’t help but wonder about the motives. Is this a rebellion against monogamy as a heterosexual institution? Is it about exploration? Is it about boredom? Is it just the cool new thing? Maybe all of the above, maybe none of the above. But I’m not interested. I don’t want to have a threesome with you and your girlfriend, and I don’t want to date the two of you either. I’d rather be single.