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 seventh in a series of articles exploring open relationships. The entire series is archived for reference.
"We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that, deep inside of us, there is something valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit." - e. e. cummings
It’s now been only 50 days since I joined the ranks of those who take Polyamory seriously. Since then I’ve advertised for compatible women and begun to write this series of articles about my experiences.
While that has been going on I’ve been pondering about the implications of the polyamorous life-style. The more I’ve pondered, the more my mind has entered the world of fantasy. Today, for instance, I imagined that Mother Nature, aka God, came bounding into my home, fresh from a vacation in Scotland.
“How are ye, me lad?” she asked, having obviously acquired a touch of highland dialect, “I hear ye’ve been doin’ a bit o’ writin’”.
“Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I have,” I answered, “but tell me, did you enjoy your vacation?”
“Och, Mon, but those sand-traps at St. Andrews fair did me in! And I’ve taken to callin’ meself Heather, since that’s a bonny Scottish name and runs off the tongue so much easier than ‘Mother Nature’ or ‘God’. Besides that, the name is used by the Heathen, who live among the heather, and who show me a little respect!”
“OK, Heather, so quit with that phoney accent and tell me what you think about what I’ve written so far.”
“You’ve hardly scratched the surface, dear man! Firstly you need to appreciate that when a man and a woman have unprotected sex they take a risk that she’ll get pregnant, that they may be sharing some dreadful STD, and that, if they do so, they’ll be passing along that STD to the poor wee bairn that she may be carrying. That’s one of my laws. That’s the way it is. That’s reality. It has nothing to do with right or wrong, or good or bad. That’s just the way it is. Get used to it!”
I was quiet for several minutes and then said, “It seems to me that, beneath that steely, rational exterior of yours lies a soft, mushy heart! Would it make any difference if they love each other?”
“Not a scrap!” she replied, “except that, if he really cares about her, the man will help the woman face the music, whatever the tune may be.”
“So polyamory is a risky business however it is practiced?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” Heather responded. “just think about it! If STDs are transferred or an unwanted child is conceived, all hell breaks loose. That’s bad enough when only two lovers are concerned. When three or more are involved, how do they share the responsibilities of raising the children? Your networking ideas need some major modifications since there would be the risk that all the members of a network would become vulnerable to STDs if even one member became infected.”
“And then,” she continued, “you’ll need to consider the psychological, physiological, community, legal, and economic needs of each partner, particularly when children form part of a polyamorous group. Remember, too, that the world has far too many children that are not being cared for properly.”
I was beginning to think that polyamory may simply be an impractical, idealistic dream.
“Is there no way that networking might work?” I asked. “Here we humans are, with the strong sexual urges that you’ve given us, but with barely adequate means to scratch the itches. I think you just like to tease us!”
“I’m not perfect, either, but that’s the system I came up with to ensure that the species propagate. So sue me! Use your creativity – that’s why I gave you an imagination! There may be ways for polyamory to work – even though with great difficulty! You’d have to plan carefully and have combinations of men and women members who can trust each other completely. One arrangement that might work, for instance, could be for a group of, say, seven men and seven women to form a closed network, each member being tested for STDs before entering the network and agreeing to be re-tested before re-entry any time he or she strays and has sex with someone outside the network. But remember, ‘there’s mony a slip ‘tween the lip and the cup’ (if I may edit Lytton’s words slightly).”
I reflected about that arrangement. After a while, I asked, “What about compatibility?”
“Well,” Heather answered, “ if a network carefully selects its members it should be possible for each one to find at least three compatible members among the fourteen in the group, particularly if all members participate in the selection process. Then you’d have at least some of the variety of sex and companionship that you’re looking for. But remember, too, that ‘the best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft aglee!’”
“Thanks, Heather,” I said, “you're really into that Scottish vernacular, aren't you! You’ve given me a lot to think about. I think I’ll leave the peripheral problems of polyamorous relationships to specialists to sort out and to suggest the detailed policies and procedures for networking groups to consider.”
“Good idea,” suggested Heather. “But tell me now, laddie, will ye be looking for other lassies?”
“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t,” I said, thoughtfully. “I’ve one sweet lady who’ll go along with the idea of networking, but I want to be sure I don’t lose her, and that we don’t put each other at risk for STDs, unnecessary heart-ache, and such.”
“Dinna fret yerself too much,” Heather said breezily, “life is just like a game of golf. The hazards and challenges are there to make the game, and life, more interesting! I could send a tsunami or a plague your way at any time. Being at risk, throughout a lifetime, is just a part of the scheme of things! Blame me for that if you like!"
"Ah weel," she said, as she bounded, once again, through my door, "I must be off to the links. I’m playing with Luce; he’s the one who told Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the tree of good and evil. He opened the door for humans to begin to question everything they’re told; that led them to feel autonomous, to become curious. From there, humans became inventors and scientists and artists. You’d like Luce, he’s a man after your own heart! So good luck, my boy, doing whatever you decide to do.”
I hope she’ll get rid of that damned Scottish quasi-accent soon. She doesn’t do it very well!