By: Colette Pomerleau
Walking into the lecture with Tristan Taormino and having very little expectations seemed to be the right way to digest an evening dedicated to open relationships. Because it was hosted by the local "adult boutique", She Bop, I knew I would at the very least walk away feeling more informed than I had been in the first place. I've been a long-time fan of the shop, its existence and what they put out into the community.
It seemed as if most of the audience members would be formally exploring the idea of non-monogamy for the first time tonight as well. Tristan was introduced by outlining her background: an award-winning writer, editor, sex educator, speaker, feminist pornographer. I listened up, considering that my background of short-lived relationships could possibly be explained by this stranger.
My eyes darted between the largest armchair I’ve seen in my life, occupying an entire corner of the Q Center’s event space, and around the room. I took in the faces, the expressions and the overall tension in the room due to the strong possibility that everyone is available and looking. I’ve never thought about a place as a cruising ground more than this moment.
Tristan dove right into her lecture with picking apart monogamy, playfully and frequently referencing societal norms and pop culture. She discussed her defined myths of monogamy, that there is one person out there for all of us. After looking at the large diamond ring advertisement of a heterosexual and stereotypically beautiful white couple, I found myself kind of annoyed with my past monogamous tendencies. This feeling was less about the information she shared, but the realization that I have done very little questioning about my habits regarding the way I handle romantic and sexual relationships.
Why does anyone begin the adventure into non-monogamy? Tristan went through her list of reasons: sexual fantasy and fulfillment, rejection of monogamy, seeking freedom and openness, sexual and emotional diversity through exploring different dynamics, existing incompatibilities but not wanting to leave, confronting jealousy, insecurities and time management issues, personal and spiritual fulfillment.
To break this down even further, Tristan urged us to consider designing the relationship and future relationships we find ourselves in with specific intentions in style, who it’s with, what’s going on, when it’s happening, where and all the rest of the details. This route requires lots and lots of communicating. She urged us to be honest with who we are, right in that room, multiple times.
The benefits Tristan shared lightened the atmosphere in the room. It was interesting to consider how future relationships would look and feel. Relationship goals and needs based on us and not for society.
With all of the optimism, Tristan was serious when warning about dangerous introductions, like seeing where things go. She placed an importance in setting up more rules than leaving space for the unknown. Address things as they come up, rather than postponing. Decide how much transparency and privacy is needed for each relationship. Do not anticipate needs. Be aware and open to working on communication skills, time management skills, confronting insecurities and dealing with the stigma you might receive from family, friends and the rest of society.
Through the lecture, I began one of the exercises Tristan suggested. I took a personal inventory and thought about how I would create a relationship from the ground up. I journaled my most simple ideas of sex and love. I tracked where these ideas came from. I decided which I needed to challenge based on how much I agreed with its origin. Ultimately, it became clear that even if someone wasn’t interested in open relationships following this lecture, they would be more aware within themselves while being involved with another human being. I challenge you to evaluate yourself.
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