He asked me, quite nonchalantly, if I was the “dating type.” I said I was, but it depended on the guy. We were standing at the free weights, studying our reflections in the mirror, sweating profusely. We later met at the Starbucks near the gym.
After some good chatting, I dropped the bomb. “I must warn you,” I said, “I’m hard to date. That’s why I don’t do it often.” He asked what I meant. I explained that I was non-monogamous and polyamorous. The most I could give him was romantic exclusivity, at least for a little bit, but I could never be sexually exclusive to only him. Sexual exclusivity was a deal-breaker for me.
He took it in. He looked down at his to-go coffee, mulling it over. “I’m cool with that,” he said, “but why would you want to date if you’re just going to fuck everything that moves?”
There wasn’t a second date, and that’s OK. We were never going to work out. This gay man will never be monogamous. Here’s 15 reasons why.
My name is Alexander Cheves, and I am known by friends in the kink and leather community as Beastly. I am a sex-positive writer and blogger. The views in this slideshow do not reflect those of The Advocate and are based solely off of my own experiences. Like everything I write, the intent of this piece is to break down the stigmas surrounding the sex lives of gay men.
Those who are sensitive to frank discussions about sex are invited to click elsewhere, but consider this: If you are outraged by content that address sex openly and honestly, I invite you to examine this outrage and ask yourself whether it should instead be directed at those who oppress us by policing our sexuality.
For all others, enjoy the slideshow. And feel free to leave your own suggestions of sex and dating topics in the comments.
Hungry for more? Follow me on Twitter @BadAlexCheves and visit my blog, The Beastly Ex-Boyfriend.
In all discussions on monogamy, nonmonogamy, and polyamory, this is home base. You start here.
Sex and love are different. Our culture tends to conflate them, or at least see them as byproducts of each other, but the reality is very different. Sex is an animal act, something you may do with a random stranger or lifelong lover. Love — a word that resists any hard definition (much like “queer”) — is at least a mental and emotional connection with someone that exists independently of sex.
Want proof? There are many sex-free couples madly in love. And there are many people who will go home tonight with strangers they don’t know, don’t love, and may not even like very much, and have awesome sex with them for a couple hours. I’m probably one of them.
There’s a myth that “real” love comes in a limited amount — that love “shared” or “split” between two or more people is weaker or less authentic than love piled on one person. This is called “starvation economy.” Starvation economy myths are especially tough for people who’ve been emotionally or physically abused or have truly suffered from hunger or not having enough.
Our culture tells women to “fight” for a good man. It tells people to lay claim over someone’s love for fear that if you let your guard down, they’ll start loving someone else. These are unhealthy results of starvation economy narratives that our culture enforces over and over. Starvation economies are social myths that tell us there is a limited amount of things which are truly limitless. There is enough love, sex, and pleasure to go around.
Rejecting “starvation economy” is the first step to embracing a lovely and life-changing concept — polyamory.
Polyamorists and non-monogamists embrace a radically simple view of sex: Sex is a good thing. You can’t have too much of it.
Sex isn’t bad. Sex isn’t sinful. You’re not a sinful or dirty person for wanting it. Living this way — enjoying your sexuality — will invite social criticism in nearly every culture. You will be called names. People will refuse to date you because you’re a slut. There are many attitudes around sex in the world and most of them are negative. Many religions are concerned with what we do in bed and take great pains to police our sex lives.
Don’t listen to them — or listen, but understand that they are the result of centuries of social conditioning and institutionalized abuse.
Polyamory and nonmonogamy are not interchangeable terms. You can technically have a monogamous polyamorous relationship. What’s the difference?
Monogamy is sexual exclusivity to one person, or a few people. You’re monogamous with your boyfriend when you’re only fucking him and he’s only fucking you.
Nonmonogamy recognizes the problems with monogamy (more on that later) and defines relationships in which sexual exclusivity varies. Nonmonogamous couples may occasionally play with a third, or have separate trysts on the side, or have dominant/submissive relationships with other people, or play with others only when they’re apart, or may establish certain freedoms on certain occasions. (For example, many gay couples give each other permission to play freely with whomever they want on Pride weekend.)
Polyamory is simply the practice of loving various people at the same time. The difference between these two terms is that “non-monogamy” implicitly defines a “primary” two-person relationship with various secondary and tertiary partners on the side. In contrast, polyamory rejects a central two-person pairing as the “main” one, and sees all relationships as different, equal, and important, existing in tandem with each other. If nonmonogamy is a web with strands spread out from the center, polyamory is a series of strings laid together, running parallel.
“Nonmonogamy” is generally talking about sexual exclusivity — the “focus” of the word is sex. Polyamory (composed of the Greek poly meaning "many, several" and the Latin amor, “love”) defines many loves, many relationships. Its “focus” is affection for multiple people, regardless of sex. I am a non-monogamous polyamorous gay man.
Nearly every monogamous couple I know deals with problems of jealousy, dishonesty, distrust, cheating, and absurd manipulation that I see as inevitable results of monogamy. Some people can make monogamy work, but I think monogamy ignores our natural human impulse to have sex with lots of people and enjoy it. I see monogamy as innately unsuitable for our species. The divorce rate bolsters this, as does the countless couples who check their partners’ phones for signs of “someone else” — the classic red flag of a toxic monogamous relationship.
Even if you’re a sex stallion, sex with you will grow dull to someone who’s only having sex with you and no one else. Sorry, but that’s the reality. If this is your requirement — monogamy — then your partner will have a boring sex life, and so will you.
Boredom is unavoidable. Every year, countless married couples spend thousands of dollars “spicing up” their sex lives only to be met with failure. Sometimes the solution isn’t adding a sex sling to the bedroom. Sometimes the solution is someone else.
It’s perfectly acceptable to want (and enjoy) sex with someone different because they’re someone different. Variety is fun!
I have a long list of kinks. No one is going to be into everything I’m into. To expect anyone to satisfy me in every sexual capacity I like would be insane. It would be an enormous amount of pressure on him to perform like a superman, and it would be pressure on me to like what he delivers (or pretend that I do) in order for our relationship to survive.
Sound bizarre? Yes, it does. But most people live in these kinds of relationships. No one is going to meet all your sexual needs.
In an ideal world, I would have a small handful of playmates — sexy, kind-hearted, open-minded men who are aware of each other’s existence. I will always enjoy hot anonymous sex with strangers in dark rooms, and I need these guys to know and understand that part of me. I want them to be there when I leave the dungeon/sex club/sex party, come home, crawl in bed, and call it a night.
I will not satisfy all sexual needs. I’m not that skilled. If someone I love wants to play in a way that I can’t deliver — or if they make a connection with someone that electrifies them in ways I do not — then I want them to enjoy sex with someone else without me. I don’t want to change them or restrict their pleasure.
Not all atheists are polyamorous, but this one is. Not believing in god makes it easy to make my own rules. The most aggressive anti-sex, anti-kink, anti-queer crusaders — people who work hard to limit my freedoms and hurt my people — tend to be religious.
When these people push legislation that harms me and hurts women and enforces negative views of sex, they contribute to a cultural divide that has long existed between sex-positive people and believers. People from both camps have attempted to bridge this divide. My friend the sex writer and radio host Chris Donaghue, author of the outstanding book Sex Outside the Lines (a book that everyone looking to redefine their sex lives should read), points out the various spiritual sexualities, Pagan faiths and Eastern philosophies that encourage healthy sexual attitudes. There are countless other authors who’ve studied ancient to modern tribal faiths which encouraged, rather than commodified, the sexuality of women.
There are many exceptions to this “faith vs. free love” war, but I see all religious attitudes as ancient enemies. Throughout history, people on my side were harlots, whores, sodomites, and sinners. I don’t let old grudges die.
No relationship is perfect, but a successful nonmonogamous relationship, poly or otherwise, comes pretty close. Imagine it: Everyone is getting as much sex as they want while getting the love and care we all need. Sure, jealousy comes up sometimes, but you communicate through it.
Telling your partner that you want to have sex with Evan next door will not be easy, but if you’re dating someone mature who will listen before shouting, they should reach a place where they’re thankful that you told them the truth rather than did something dishonest and sneaky behind their back.
This is how you start the “nonmonogamy conversation.” This may become the “polyamorous conversation” if you develop feelings for Evan and build up the courage to tell your partner that you’d like to explore the possibility of dating Evan, or would like to see if the three of you could spend some time together, because you think your partner would like Evan too.
Communication is important in all relationships, but in nonmonogamous ones, communication is paramount. Yes, you will get jealous — “starvation economy” mentalities are hard to discard completely.
Yes, you will not always communicate your wants and needs effectively, and your partner(s) won’t either. We’re human. But for your relationship(s) to work, you must learn effective communication and good listening skills. This will make you a better boyfriend.
I hurt some good guys before I realized I wasn’t a monogamous boyfriend. I broke their hearts. They didn’t deserve it. I was a cheater. I didn’t love them less, in fact I loved them all an awful lot.
I didn’t know that nonmonogamy was an option. I didn’t know how to tell them what I wanted. I felt ashamed for wanting sex with other people. “Why can’t I be satisfied?” I repeatedly asked myself in the middle of every disastrous breakup. These might have been avoided if I had been honest.
If this is where you are — if you’re about to cheat and hurt the person you love — talk to them right now about what you want and what you need. It may be the best thing you’ve ever done for your relationship.
I reject the idea that you have to live a certain way. People all your life will tell you who you can date and who you can’t, who you can and cannot have sex with, how much sex you “should” have, and how you’re “supposed” to live.
I’m telling you that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do — ever — and you can have as much sex as you want. Take care of yourself, take care of the people you love, and stand by your choices. Your sexual needs are important because you are important. They are worthy of your attention. They are worth addressing.
Sex is not this tawdry little piece of your life you have to keep in closets or sweep under the rug. You don’t have to be quiet about it or apologize for it or feel shame for it in any way. It’s your life. Love it and enjoy it every way you can.