Mo here, talking about being (mostly) mono in a poly world. And by “poly world” I mean the BDSM community as I experience it.
I’ve been around a while, and I am not a shrinking violet when it comes to hopping around the country chilling with my Leather and Kinky and Sex Positive and Freaky Peeps. And due to this, many assume I play all the time, everywhere.
This is not the case.
I don’t have people banging down my door. This is just the fact. Why? Lots of reasons I suppose. But since I’m in a bit of a gutwrenching funk, I’ll focus on the one contributing factor I can process without it becoming a festival of self-deprecation.
I’m pretty monogamous. Not entirely. Certainly not by the standards of broader society and not even by the standards of some other kinky monogamous people. But at my core, I really have only room for one in my heart’s harbor. I can’t have an octopusesque emotional USB hub and have network multiple people, it overloads me and it is unlikely I’ll do that to myself again. I get Very. Intense. In relationships and that paradigm does not work well for me. In fact I prefer to use the term monoamorous, since it tracks better alongside polyamory, and is more descriptive of my heart’s tendency to wish to bond and love one, but does not imply that the one heart-bond is exclusive of other affectionate bonds.
But this makes me a bit of a unicorn amongs the Confederacy of Perverts. Along about the time I became actively involved in the public BDSM community, back in 1996, there seemed a movement afoot that really embraced an open and polyamorous paradigm in kink. Most dominants had multiple submissive partners. Dominant women were NEVER short of willing supplicants, and het male tops usually had solar systems of partners…maybe a spouse, a lover, a sub, two slaves…whatever suited the dominant’s needs and made them comfortable.
For some, this works!
For some, it HAS to work.
I can say that, from personal experience and from speaking with many people over the years, this arrangement was often one they entered out of emotional necessity, or out of adoration and love for the dominant involved, or out of fear of being alone. If someone you love is poly, it is often the case you will “go there” to see if it can work.
I heartily advocate this approach. Why? Because sometimes you need to have the experience to know for certain.
I’ve done non-monogamy since the age of 16. I’ve done non-monogamy in my BDSM relationships and furthermore, none of the people I’ve served or any of regular play partners have been monogamous types.
Years ago, ago, I evoked hearty gales of laughter when I stood at a local Munch…one I’d attended for over 10 years…and introduced myself as being monogamous. This was not because this was a major departure for me…I have never stood and introduced myself as poly. Being in poly relationships does not a poly identification make. No, the laughter was because, to many people, it is “funny” to hear someone proclaim monogamy.
Being a single monoamorous female submissive is not. Fucking Easy.
Not for me, anyway.
See, here is the thing:
There are plenty of people…awesome people…awesome people in relationships…who want to play with me. So, yes, in a way, I have access to lots of wonderful people I love, who are happy to fuck me up. And I appreciate them, and sometimes, on a good day, I’ll go there and have a spectacular scene.
But a scene is only an hour or two.
And I have to go home alone. THAT is where the problem kicks in. I don’t have anyone with whom I can unpack the emotional aftermath, to cuddle days later if something comes up. When I play with someone already in relationship, I’m an adjunct, an afterthought, the cherry on top the icing on the cake, the gravy on the turkey. I’m not the essence, the meat, the focus. If they don’t play with me, no biggie. They have [x] other play partners, and their primary / secondary / partner(s) / whatever to whom they go Home.
I do occasionally get over myself enough to ask people to play. And I like to play with people I know. And yes, I’m selective. But when I ask, and then have to be slotted within the comfort levels of a primary, or shuttled between 3 other playdates, or blown off because they top is tired after 3 other scenes, I am sure as fuck not feeling like an awesome rock star. I feel expendable, and I really feel how much my position engenders vulnerability. For me that is taxing. And often, it just isn’t worth the price.
I go through cycles.
And often, the cycle means I’ll wind down and only play in situations where the expectations are crystal fucking clear for me. Like when traveling, at cons and events where I am already in the mode to not fully “Let go,” because there isn’t the time or bandwidth.
As a single person, playing with poly people means I will never be as important to their core “need” set as they potentially could be to mine. That inequity can only float me so far. Even in relationships where we have carefully structured guidelines for insuring emotional needs are met, those prioritization techniques will not work if all parties involved don’t feel the same sense of urgency over loss. If I am engaged with a poly person who has other relationships, their sense of urgency and investment is dissipated over several other people they love, whereas I have my heart and soul focused solely on them. As much as some people eschew the “hierarchical” model of non-monogamy, I know how different it is to be the central love, the heart, the home of my partner versus being the secondary option or the occasional indulgence.
Mark Twain said ““Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” And in my experience, I have yet to be in a relationship situation where I was the “option” and felt fully valued, appreciated, and important. In fact, even in casual play situations, people who aren’t monogamous and have many options available to them are disinclined to prioritize me. What USUALLY happens is that everyone “leaves it open” and “doesn’t want to commit” for fear of letting someone down. SO one has to hope the magic Pervfaries make everything right and perfect. And when that doesn’t happen, as is often true, we all have to smile graciously and say “Well, they never PROMISED it would happen, so no harm, no foul.”
But it does harm, in tiny ways. Micrometeors hitting my emotional forcefield, leaving my worldview pitted and a little milky. If you have 4 people to choose from, and you hit 3 out of 4, you’re doing great! But if you are that last one…the #4… left untouched at the end of the night…it sucks. Sucks balls. I’m going to bed alone, unbruised, and not feeling very well taken care of. You’re going to bed tired from all the scenes you did…without. Me.
Is this anyone’s fault? Nope. Does it make poly people evil? Nope. It means that as a monoamorous person in a predominately poly community, I’m on Polyfolks turf and I have to suck it up. And hey, there’s gotta be other monogamists out there, right? And if there are, I’m well positioned to meet them. I am about as “out there” as one can be, so no one could accuse me of “hiding my light under as bushel.”
But being that “out” has its own risks and pitfalls.
There is a uniquely horrid sensation to feeling trapped in my own accomplishments, in my own work. I wish I could get past the feeling of being caught within a shiny glass ball, beating my hands bruised and bloody as I try to explain I’m shy, I’m lonely, I feel broken, damaged…the confidence, the certainty, the glow the warmth the whatteverthefuck you THINK you see is there because it is me but ALSO there is the me who stares wildly and screams inside because, after all of these years, she hasn’t met the person she loves who loves her back and who was satisfied to be with her. She isn’t ever enough. They always need someone else. All she wants is to have someone she loves and respects look to her and feel the certainty that there isn’t anyone who they’d want to be with right now except for her.
The human condition I suppose. This doesn’t make me unique…not by a longshot.
The flip side? I wouldn’t change who I am for anything. It is unimaginable to me that I’d give up anything about my life now. And if the price I have to pay is the occasional howl into the Screaming Dark Place, so be it. I’ll walk with my Bad Voice; I’ll sit with that self-doubt until it fades. I know it will: it has faded considerably since I decided to live, and not die, and March 14th, 2007 marks the demarcation of that window.
But sometimes…? I really really wish what I wanted was what the majority of my kinky peers want. I take a deep breath and hope to meet the Owner who can see themselves accepting my service and offering their dominance and sees themselves pleased to have our relationship be our focus – to relish the work and the play and who has a heart uplifted and a mind resolved to focus on ownership, as my heart is opened and my mind energised by slavery.