By Anna Merlan
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Following in the footsteps of some of our great politicians, stars, and sports heroes, Rudy Giuliani apparently can't keep it in his pants either. Or so said his wife, Donna Hanover, who claimed his cheating was the reason they have separated. He denies actually doing the deed with his former communications director, Cristyne Lategano, but the statistics are not on his side. (And by the way, there is no imagenonethat skeevs me out more than that of the hypocritical, hairline-challenged mayor having sex with anyone.) Matrimonial polls reveal that 40 to 60 percent of people cheat on their spouses at least once, and half of all marriages topple. Haven't we learned anything from Monica's mouthwork, Frank Gifford's elevator shenanigans, and all the other scarlet-letter activities? Let's face it, folks: Monogamy is dead.
Maybe not completely dead, but goddess knows, it's barely breathing. These high-profile couples, as well as many others, might benefit from breaking the pattern of one-ball-plus-one-chain-equals-love. Look, the hair-pulling caveman is gone, and the Cleavers seem oh-so-retro. This month, when the state of Vermont legalized civil unions (read: gay marriages), that single act struck fear into the hearts of conservatives everywhere and signaled the downfall of the American marriage as we know it. We're all going to hell now anyway, so why not move into the next century and expand the possibilities of our intimate relationships? Let's explore polyamory!
I am not recommending you all go Mormon on me. Mormons practice their own brand of polygamy, which involves men marrying multiple women at a very young age, marrying their new wives' relatives, and making way too many babies. Mormon polygamous lifestyles have also been known to include coercion and abuse, and there is that whole religion thing. So, let's just leave the Mormons out of this discussion.
Polyamory, a catchall term for many different practices, encompasses relationships that fall outside the traditional, sexually faithful, two-person model known as monogamy. Think of it as a postmillennial antidote to chronic serial monogamy, which includes an abundance of cheating, embarrassment, deception, scandal, separation, and divorce. Many polyamorous couples practice nonmonogamythe partners are emotionally committed to one another, but their relationship isn't sexually exclusive. Some poly people have multiple partners with whom they have both sexual and emotional/love relationships. Some polyamorous couples expand to become a triad or a group.
It may be every red-blooded American man's dream come true (finally, that threesome with your wife and her best friend legitimized!), but that doesn't mean it's a free-for-all. Polyamory for couples requires honesty, communication, boundaries, mutual respect, and rulesrules based on your individual relationship, desires, needs, and goals, rules that everyone can agree on, rules that you need to stick to. You may decide that having the occasional ménage à trois to spice things up is okay by both of you. Or you may allow each other to have fuckbuddies as long as you two remain the primary relationship. Your rules are whatever you need (no sleepovers? no anal sex? no blondes?) to feel secure, sane, and satisfied. One member of a poly dyke couple told me, "Say I am going through this phase where I want to be spanked and tied up, and my lover's not really into it. What about if we just go find someone that I could do that with? It could be safe, fun, and hot. It doesn't mean I am going to go run off and marry that person."
I know one polyamorous couple that comes to the table as a package deal: If you want to get jiggy with him, you have to boink her, too. Another duo bases their sanctioned dalliances on geography; when either or both are out of town, they have free rein to do the nasty with whomever they choose. While in the same zip code, they remain true-blue. A rad bisexual couple works the gender angle. She's allowed to muffdive with other girls, but he's the only XY in her equation. He can suck all the cock he wants, but must remain loyal to one and only one pussyhers. Two leatherwomen in a Daddy/boy relationship have a rule based on s/m roles: They are allowed to play with other tops and bottoms as long as the boy has only one Daddy and vice versa.
My freaky friends are not the only ones expanding their horizonsthere are plenty of people doing it, trust me. If you're looking for them, a good place to start is a magazine called Loving More(www.lovemore.com), which has a wealth of information on the subject and celebrates alternative arrangements of all kinds. At the risk of sounding like my fellow Voice columnist Michael Musto, I have it on good authority that a certain married couple of actors who starred in a late-'80s drama has a three-way marriage with another woman; they all live and have tantric sex together in Northern California. Dude, everything's way cooler on the West Coast.
While it may seem reminiscent of '70s free love without the drugs, polyamory today encompasses a greater consciousness of safer sex and everyone's feelings and boundaries than it did in the days of wife swapping and key parties. It's a surefire way to challenge your sexual and emotional boundaries and explore your feelings about jealousy and possessiveness. If you were allowed to stray within the confines of your relationshipthe illicit naughtiness of an affair no longer presentwould it still be desirable? Could you live with the knowledge that your partner was fucking someone else but still loved you? Polyamory is not a tool to avoid issues in your marriage, not an excuse to act out irresponsibly, and it's not for everyone. It takes just as much work as monogamy, and probably more honesty. The sneers slut, swinger, and sex addictmay be vaulted your way by others, but check the sourcethey're probably just jealous. Who says there can't be a president, two first husbands, and a first girlfriend in the White House?
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