Apr 27 • 6M

Maybe it’s okay to just have some fun

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Welcome to Sex and the State, a newsletter about power. I’m a writer working on decriminalizing and destigmatizing all things sex. I synthesize empirical evidence, stories, and personal experience to interrogate existing power structures to propose new, hopefully better, ways of relating. To support my work, buy a subscriptionfollow me on OnlyFans, or just share this post!

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I love this song, “Back to Back” by Dustin Kensrue. Here are some of the lyrics:

Let me gather wood, when the fire's gone out
Let me pray for you, when you're filled with doubt
Hold your white-knuckled hands when our daughter's out too late

Let me be the one
That's walking with you through the night
When the morning comes
With its brash and blinding light
Let me be the one
That's crawling with you through the thorns
Back to back, we both were born to share this fight

“I want that with him,” I thought, listening to it this morning, about Mr. Alabama Monogamy. Then I thought about my ex/BFF. “I want that with him too.” Then I thought about Maeve. “I want that with her too.” And if that’s not the beginning and end of polyamory for me. I mean, yes, it’s about sex. But, for me, it’s more about the fact that sex doesn’t determine who I choose to walk through the trials and tribulations of life with. I’ve banged these people. And, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll live to bang them again. But that’s really neither here nor there to my desire to share this fight.

One night MAM asked me what I was thinking. I told him I was thinking about how to explain this, what he and I are still doing, to my newsletter, which is really me trying to figure out how to explain it to myself. His response was basically, same.

On the one hand, I’m slightly embarrassed. “Don’t you have standards?” On the other hand, I didn’t overcome Evangelical programming around shame and stigma just to slut-shame my damn self just because the current object of my lust happens to be Problematic(TM). What’s left for the good progressive empowered feminist to find in the realm of the bad boy except the toxically monogamous, toxically masculine tradboy?

Oh, you’re not going to call me back after sex? Yawn. But the one who’s trying to make me barefoot, pregnant, and monogamous? That’s a challenge I haven’t encountered in a minute. It’s so retro it’s fresh again.

Maybe he hits all the parts of my brain that were taught toxic monogamy and masculinity are the things to want, but also the parts of my brain that now interpret them as taboo.

Or maybe he’s just hot and kind and excellent in bed. I’m a simple girl, after all.

I feel like there has to be a happy medium between “Fuck the world,” and “Every decision of my life must be in perfect line with my ideals for how the world should be.” I can’t see a world in which I completely disengage. But I’m starting to believe maybe it’s okay to have some sort of fun and joy and rest outside of activism. This morning I texted him, “I remain convinced you’re the most fun a human can have.”

My romantic relationships have taught me so much and facilitated my growth in so many ways. I’ve been inspired by my partners. I’ve been shown a mirror. I’ve learned how to be a better thinker.

But as I’ve grown and come into my own, I think I’m less focused on how a particular relationship might make me better and started looking at other things a relationship can facilitate. Maybe it’s okay to mostly just have some fun, in love and in life.

But that’s not all I’m doing here. I’m also learning.

“Wear the world like a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly.”  -St Francis of Assisi

Part of me hopes he finds exactly what he’s looking for. Even knowing monogamy with someone else would likely mean losing him entirely. Of course I feel all the fears I’ve been taught to have.

But, there’s also nothing he could provide me that’s worth denying him the best life has to offer him. If giving into my scarcity mindset and loss aversion would preclude him having something he wants more, it’s not even a question. That’s how I want to love. The goal isn’t to protect what I’ve found. The goal is to do what I can to help him have the biggest, best, most fulfilling life he can. If that’s with me, all the better. But if it’s not, that’s okay too. I’d rather be with my community than be in the way of something better for him.

I don’t need a future or a promise to make it worth the time, energy, etc. The way I feel about him and the way he makes me feel is more than enough.

Love is infinite. But time, money, and energy are finite. I trust everyone in my life to use them wisely. I don’t need to monopolize them. I trust when/if they come back to me they will have enriched themselves and that will benefit me as well. Even if not directly, I get to know they’re flourishing. And that’s the name of the game. Life isn’t about hoarding everything good for myself. It’s about helping everyone I can to have the best life possible.

Of course part of me wants the promise and commitment. I feel the urge to build a life with someone. To have that one person to do life with. To feel like I’m investing in something lifelong.

But I don’t really want to be more invested in any thing than the person involved. I don’t want to be a stumbling block. I don’t want to keep anyone from anything that might be best for them.

If I never love romantically again, I’ll be okay. I’ve loved a lot. Wish I’d done it more. Wish I’d been more honest and vulnerable. But loving romantically again isn’t something I have a ton of control over. And it’s not something I’m going to hang my happiness on.

But if I kept someone I love from something that would make their life better, that’s something I would have a hard time living with.

I don’t need anyone more than I want what’s best for them. That’s not something I probably would have said ten years ago. It probably never would have occurred to me. But after years of losing people to better (for them) offers, there’s not an instance I’d want it to have turned out differently. I wish I’d treated them better. I wish I’d behaved differently at times. But I did the best I could with the tools I had available. And they made the best choices they could with the same.

Having a community is probably why I can say all this with a straight face. They’re why I’m going to be okay no matter what happens with any individual person. It will hurt, tremendously, if/when I lose him. It will be a real loss. I may love again, or I may not. But either way he is irreplaceable. He’s an individual with whom I have something extremely valuable and singular.

But I will be okay. I will have a full, interesting, fulfilling, meaningful life regardless of what he chooses.

So I want to love him as fully and vulnerably and unselfishly as I possibly can while he’s around. That’s all I can hope to control.

I want to hold him as closely as I can without grasping. I want to be entwined without attachment. I want to wear my love for him, powerful as it is, like a loose garment. After all, we’re all just borrowing each other. My best bet is to know him and love him as deeply as I can and hope whenever and however it ends he’s better off for my efforts. Because I’m definitely better for his.