Living Freely
by Somerset

Somerset is a man in his seventies who has only recently begun to search for compatible women for open relationships. He prefers sexual variety and treasures his independence. This is the first in his Potentially Polyamorous series, in which he explores open relationships. The entire series is archived for reference.

My life is devoted to the task of finding personal and social freedom. This means re-examining many generally accepted social patterns of thinking and behaviour and, as a result, continuously modifying my own convictions and actions. Some ideas look good to me initially but it is not until I become immersed in an activity or ideology that I find I can properly judge whether or not, or to what extent, I may wish to curtail, prolong, or expand my own experience of it. Unfortunately commitments to full, impartial explorations often mean running against the tide of cultural and family norms. Additionally, extracting myself from situations I eventually judge to be unsatisfying, physically, mentally, or spiritually, usually present major difficulties.

John Ankerberg and John Weldon put the matter succinctly: ďThe difficulty is that a counterfeit initially looks so good and feels so good that one rarely suspects something is wrong. Only when the counterfeit is examined and compared with the real thing does the counterfeit become apparent. By then itís often too late ÖĒ

During my lifetime Iíve developed a taste for erotica, clearly distinguished from pornography, which I find repugnant. I recognize that this is a very subtle, very subjective distinction, but one that enables me to separate healthy fantasies from what I view as unhealthy ones. Erotica provides me with a relatively healthy alternative outlet for variations of sexual experience between sexual liaisons and during times when partners are unavailable.

In open relationships I am learning that following my personal preferences, rather than blindly accepting and following conventional mores, continuously confronts me, and those I care about, with exquisite challenges related to personal freedom and psychological growth. I regard these as part of the costs we humans must inevitably be prepared to accept if we are to strive for those higher levels of living that we each, uniquely, perceive to be more ideal. Iím happy to say that I've come to realize, despite periods of suffering, that each new experience provides a pivotal learning opportunity for more personal growth.

Iíve found that I am, with certain reservations, sympathetic to the ideas of polyamory since these tend to balance my preferences for isolation and independence with those for intimacy. More generally, I find that it offers a wide range of behavioural choices that may be freely adapted to meet the unique preferences of all partners. I consider that were it not for the unnatural constraints placed by society upon more open forms of intimate relations, many more men and women would probably embrace unique forms of non-exclusive sexual alliances. As they do so, I suspect that they would have fewer reasons for using fantasy as a sexual substitute.

In general, I'm searching for enlightenment, by which I mean a more realistic, more ethical approach to life and living: one promoting co-operative effort, more refined sentiments, and more rational methods by which we humans might build more viable sets of values and so save ourselves, our communities, and this awesome planet from self-destructive behaviour. I find polyamory presents important suggestions as I search.

So my life has been and is devoted, more or less, to learning to be more free by living and caring, by helping to discover and create an improved reality: by moving ever forwards towards an understanding of what was, what is, and what might be. Only by having some vision of a more desirable, potential future reality, can I feel justified in contributing time and effort towards bringing my own version of it into form.