Deconstructing relationships

Sex on Tuesday

This confession is a first for me. The thought of being in a relationship scares the living shit out of me. The relationship I’m referring to is the exclusive, long-term, monogamous kind. The kind that people most commonly consider to be a romantic relationship. To me, being in a relationship is synonymous with having to tell someone everything I do and having to repress any sort of romantic spontaneity when I’m not with my partner. It means not being able to act like myself to the fullest extent.

To me, monogamy can be a cockblock with many opportunity costs.

In our society, monogamy is imposed as the only legitimate way to be intimate with our partners. Most plots and storylines in popular media push the idea of finding that one person and being with him or her forever. We are given templates for how to act in relationships. We’re conditioned to think that this is what love looks like and that if we don’t feel like doing certain things for someone, we must not love that person.

Strangely enough, I have been in a surprisingly stable relationship over the course of this semester. One could label it as a friendship, fuck buddy, lover or open relationship — it’s anything but monogamous. This partner of mine is also a longtime ex, and together we’ve been through a saga of initial monogamous dating to hellish breakups to passionate reunions, a very involved open relationship and even more breakups. As monogamous logic goes, I could reason that given the number of times we broke up, we could not make exclusivity work, and this person is just not THE ONE for me. I could reason that I should scrap this relationship and just move on.

But I actually feel the opposite. My partner and I know each other extremely well. We communicate effectively most of the time, and we have similar values about life. We also have fucking intense, mind-blowing sex. This is a person whom I will probably always have romantic inclinations for and for whom I will go to great lengths in order for this person to always remain in my life.

But this semester, I was not interested in being exclusive with anybody or spending large amounts of time with one person. I just wanted to fuck people. So I communicated this to my partner, and we both came to the conclusion that neither of us was interested in being a couple.

The belief that being in love is synonymous with being in an exclusive monogamous relationship isolates many people who don’t feel comfortable with engaging in this lifestyle. This can be seen in the bad boys and bad girls, the players and the commitment-phobes who distance themselves from their emotions. These people stop themselves from forming deep relationships for the sake of retaining their freedom. The ideas of exclusivity and possessiveness hinder many people from loving and being loved for long periods of time. It implies that people who seek sexual freedom can’t and shouldn’t be loved.

My partner and I occasionally go out to places and events together, spend the night together and have sex once or twice a week. We also call each other for comfort and company whenever we need it. But we also see other people. I ask attractive people out to coffee and try to court them while my partner takes various people out to dates and dinner as well.

We do our best to support each other in our other relationships. Whenever my partner informs me about seeing other people, I am initially doubtful and apprehensive about how much my partner still finds me attractive or how much my partner will like the other person. But things get better when we both communicate about our respective partners while validating our continuous feelings for each other. Though it feels counterintuitive to disclose the feelings we have for other people, I feel closer to my partner after recounting my sexcapades or seeing what my partner’s significant others look like.

I’m aware that I can’t fulfill my partners’ every need and desire, and I shouldn’t be expected to. Just because my partner is attracted to other people doesn’t necessarily mean that my partner doesn’t love or care about me. My partner’s sexuality is not mine to oversee and control. I respect the part of my partner that wants to be sexually attractive and validated by other people.

There’s no universal relationship style that is suitable for everybody. Your relationship can be whatever you want it to be. By communicating honestly and coming to a mutual understanding, you can set your own boundaries and structure your relationship exactly how you and your partner(s) want it.

What I didn’t expect to find by pursuing a nonmonogamous relationship was emotional fulfillment. My partner always lets me know that I have someone who will be there for me.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my partner, who shows me that commitment to love and a relationship is possible, even if it isn’t monogamous.

Contact Nadia Cho at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter: @nadiiacho.

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  • LA Man of Burritos

    I’m older, an AA male and survived the 70s. I can report and tell you with all truth and candor and reality, Nadia, that can do this in your 20s, and very likely not after age 30. Enjoy.

  • What Is Truth??

    This article makes me angry at the abandonment of morals that the author embraces. But more than anything else it leaves me sad.

  • I_h8_disqus

    “The thought of being in a relationship scares the living shit out of me.” This isn’t something Nadia needs to tell us. We all knew this from reading her articles over the past couple of months.

  • horndiggitydog

    SPOILER ALERT: Nadia says fuck whoever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Like we haven’t heard this one before.

    • horndiggitydog

      *edit: with however many people you want

  • DTR

    This is more what sex on tuesday should be about. I actually think monogamous relationships can be a great thing, but if you can agree to something like what she described that’s all good with me

    • horndog

      DTR is at it again. He wants to bring the SEX back to sex on tuesday

      • DTR


  • iPosit

    Do you ever see this ending? What would it take to only want one person? I understand the need for being with many people, and how seeking depth in one person comes at the cost of not being with others.

    Do you feel like you’re limiting yourself to people who only seek open-relationships like yours, and if that’s the case, what do you think is the biggest difference in the ways people view ‘relationships’ (outside of the obvious difference of valuing monogamy)?

    Anywho, nifty article about how you like many others. You’d be more fit for Rome or Greece, if I had any real understanding of history in the Classics.

    • adsahdj

      You don’t. The idea that the Greeks and Romans were a bunch of perverts is an ahistorical exagguration.

      • Nunya Beeswax

        Well, human behavior is pretty constant over the centuries. That means that although heterosexual sex is the norm, there are also men and women who prefer their own sex, and that people (even within relationships) sleep around.

        I doubt whether the frequency of deviant behavior really changes that much in different times and places; it’s mostly a matter of how much people talk about it.

  • Tony M

    [In our society, monogamy is imposed as the only legitimate way to be intimate with our partners.]

    Ah yes, the leftist/progressive world view, which suggests that all social conventions are somehow “imposed” on others, without the slightest bit of comprehension that perhaps certain standards of acceptable behavior developed over time for a reason. We all see how well the abandonment of monogamy has served the black community in this country, where 2/3 of all black children are born to unwed mothers. Sorry, Nadia, but the mere parroting of terms such as “deconstruction” and blathering about “relationships” does NOT make you a deep thinker.

    • iPosit

      Fucking people and having children are way different. Having a child is commitment that extends beyond sexual intercourse – that is a life they have to raise. The imposition of monogamy is a concern of sexual relationships, but not of child-rearing (which was originally done in community settings anyway.. takes a village to raise a child and whatnot).

      Also, you’re speaking more about an issue of family planning than Nadia’s point about the difference between a monogamist’s lifestyle and a polygamist’s lifestyle. If you ignore the instances in which a step away from the standard belief results in what you see in the Black community (something subject to alternate causality anyhow) you can begin to appreciate her article more on the level of the nature of being with others. yodida

      • Stan De San Diego

        “Fucking people and having children are way different.” – Our inner cities are filled with young people fathered by uneducated and unemployable young men and women who never planned on having children in the first place, but didn’t find it necessary to prevent having children whose parents neither wanted nor planned for in the first place. Liberal social engineering, motivated more by guilt than any rational thought processes, has removed some very necessary social and economic disincentives for unplanned pregnancies that has result in the current dysfunctionality in many minority communities (and some white ones as well).

        • California

          “Liberal social engineering…” Why must every Daily Californian article have to be broken down to a liberalism vs. conservatism argument? It is quite a stretch to blame liberal social engineering for deadbeat fathers as if they would have somehow not grown into deadbeat fathers without it. There is a stronger correlation between class and unplanned pregnancy disincentives than there is between mere guilt from opposite side of the political spectrum and those same disincentives.

          • Stan De San Diego

            ” It is quite a stretch to blame liberal social engineering for deadbeat
            fathers as if they would have somehow not grown into deadbeat fathers
            without it.”

            Removal of social stigma for fathering/mothering children out of wedlock and increased welfare/social service benefits if mother is NOT married = incentives for poor behavior. Liberalism indeed is responsible for the rise in illegitimacy rates in America.

          • California

            Again, equating liberalism with the removal of social stigma for bearing children out of wedlock is a stretch; true liberalism is the promotion of alternatives to traditional dating and relationships. And increased welfare benefits I will admit can be a magnet for those who wish to abuse the system, but it is not the root of the problem. Again, class itself is the root of the problem. Making everything into a liberal vs. conservative issue solves nothing.

          • iPosit

            There is plenty of stigma to becoming pregnant without the proper support system available to adequately rear a child. It still happens.

            Increased welfare is more of an attempt to heal the result of poor decisions and remedy the situation, but I do not think anyone chooses to become a single mother thinking “yay now I get more welfare”.

            I think I would blame poor decision making done by the individual. A lot of that is promoted by promiscuity and seeking a lack of protection, which I think is mostly the fault of the music industry and other sex-positive forces on the television. I guess that is what most people call liberalism, but if people really do pay attention they would notice the single mother struggling next door as opposed to how awesome it would be to bone that FINE ASS HONEY bareback. Don’t blame liberalism for people being dumb, conservatism makes a lot of dumb people too. The Gays did cause Hurricane Sandy, after all.

          • adsahdj

            It’s not a stretch at all. Before liberalism took over, poorer and minority communities had much less of the social ills that they do today.

      • Nunya Beeswax

        “Fucking people and having children are way different.”

        No, actually, they’re closely related. One tends to lead to the other.

        • iPosit

          You’re hilarious. That was totally new to me. I did not understand this before hand. You have shown me the light. Madam Beeswax, your claim has both belittled my sense of self-worth as well as motivated me to be more like you. I too will post comments serving no value other than to ignore points in their entirety and not attempt to analyze their connection to the article being written not more than a few Page Ups away.

          Oh wait stfu

          • Nunya Beeswax

            You have no sense of humor. And your head is so far up your ass that you can’t hear me laughing at you.

    • San Francisco

      The leftist/progressive world view does not suggest that all social conventions are imposing despite that line from the article; it merely suggests that there are alternatives to traditional social behavior, which I guess is the very removal from social comfort that makes paranoid right-wingers cringe and and retaliate with the family values platform of talking points. Monogamy is not the issue; it is choosing who you have a child with in the first place. You can date or bone whomever you want as long as you are willing to deal with the consequences.

      • Guest

        “You can date or bone whomever you want as long as you are willing to deal with the consequences.”

        Leftists don’t want to deal with the consequences.

        • Guest

          Hahahaha so true

      • I_h8_disqus

        You sounded like someone from the left until the last sentence. Then you suddenly took a quick right turn.

      • adsahdj

        Except people aren’t willing to deal with the consequences. Drug addicts and their supporters want their “rehab” paid for by the taxpayer. Promiscuous women want their birth control and STD treatment paid for by the taxpayer or insurance premium-payers. Et cetera. Do whatever you want as long as you are willing to deal with the consequences is a mantra many idiot, modern conservatives have adopted without examining the reality that people do whatever they want while expecting everybody else to deal with the consequences. The solution is reviving traditional societal standards that say, no, you can’t do what you want, and if you do, we’ll look down upon you.

    • adsahdj

      Tony m is the voice of reason again.

      • fa

        i agree.