or three years ago, a guy who went by the handle Puck
asked me how I could have more than one lover. It was
a serious question which I wasn't able to answer to my
satisfaction. In trying to pen a reply, I found myself
defensive, angry, and distracted by my negative feelings
2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact
I'm not sure that my feelings are completely settled,
but dating this "new boy" Matt has certainly
given a new life to Puck's old question. Not only did
Matt challenge me with the question "Don't you already
have a lover?" but Mike, one of my lovers, has been
asking repeatedly, "Are you sure you have enough
time and energy for another relationship?"
Last week I called myself a "polyandrous romantic."
Androus comes from the Greek word meaning husbands and
poly, of course, means many. Simply put, I believe that
when put in the right context, we ought to have no problem
loving, sexually and otherwise, more than one person.
The Judaeo-Christian culture in which we are immersed
preaches otherwise. I still think that the Mormons made
a mistake in rejecting polygamy in order to be accepted
into statehood. I find it strange that Christianity imposes
monogamy, when the patriarchs and the apostles, according
to the scriptures themselves, had many wives. Men like
Solomon and King David practiced both polygamy and concubinage.
Fathom that one!
So why can't I have more than one lover? I can.
I need not be "normal". I'm convinced that there
are one-man men and one-woman women, as well as lots of
hets who are quite content, if not happy, with monogamy.
On the other hand, there's no need for me to trash the
one-on-one role model --- the divorce rate is proof enough
that long term monogamy must leave something to be desired.
Monogamy most likely gained popularity in order to prevent
problems concerning child-rearing and inheritance rights.
Since there are no off-spring in same-sex marriages, there's
little reason to foist monogamy on us Gay polyandrists.
And polyandrists there are. Multiple relationships of
families, as we call them, are more common among leather
folk than we think. I know of several groupings around
the country where one master has more than one slave or
groups of men share sexual favors with one another on
a regular and on-going basis. With effort and understanding,
(two qualities that all relationships demand), it's a
role model that works.
By what I've observed, honesty, though difficult, is the
best policy and the only way to make any relationship
work well. Many gay men use monogamy as a cover for their
promiscuity. Even patently "open" relationships
often are so only with unspoken rules that insist on secrecy
and anonymity. The "I don't want to know" scenario
is rampant, as if the lack of discussion and information
will make for better relationships.
There are four things to consider in terms of multiple
relationships: fairness, honesty, self-esteem, and health.
The last is the easiest to address. Safe sex needs to
be practiced in any and all sexual situations. Whether
one has one or many lovers, care must be taken not to
spread disease. Even in monogamous relationships safe
sex is still a requirement, since history proves that
most people in monogamous relationships eventually open
up the relationship in some way, even if only surreptitiously.
When the partners have strong, positive self-images multiple
relationships are possible. Jealously, feelings of inferiority
and rejection, and fear of loss are strong emotions that
can haunt open relationships. The introduction of a prospective
lover into an already established group can pose a serious
threat to one or several of the partners.
Overcoming this threat is necessary, and only possible,
when each of the partner has the inward strength of their
own self-image so that they can see there is no need for
fear, for competition, or for jealously. Each partner
must have a firm grasp on his or her own strengths, self-value,
and contribution to the family.
Each member of a multiple relationship is going to bring
different strengths of character, personality traits,
and benefits to the group. Though the word is often used
prejudiciously, each fulfills the needs of the others
in unique ways. For instance, in my family, Lynn is masterful,
Mike loving. My relationship to each is totally different.
Neither could replace the other for the important roles
they fill in my life.
Likewise, it is true that Matt offers satisfaction of
my own needs not being met by either Lynn or Mike. That
is not to speak ill of either of them, rather it is a
truthful assessment of who and what Matt is and can be.
Believe me, neither Mike nor Lynn will clean the house
as Matt does and they surely aren't going to be calling
me Daddy any time soon!
Puck's concern was that jealously would rear its ugly
head in any more-than-one sexual relationship. His concern
was right, too. A jealous person, according to my dictionary,
is one who is fearful or wary of being supplanted, especially
apprehensive of the loss of another's affection.
A monogamous relationship often places heavy demands on
each of the partners to be "all things" sexually
to the other. One of the conflicts I faced as a married
man was that my wife expected me to be "everything"
to her in the marriage. Likewise, in my five year long
monogamous relationship with Steven, I wanted to experience
sexual activities, namely leather sex, in which he was
unwilling to participate.
Both scenarios made for a no-win situation. Polygamy,
on the other hand, offers the opportunity to find others
who will meet needs not presently met, without the need
of supplanting, rejecting, or cheating on the primary
And there I have hit upon the concept that makes polygamy
and/or polyandry work: the primacy of one relationship
over the others; a reasonable, agreed upon hierarchy of
Monogamists object, rightly so, that you can't love two
people in the same way. I agree. I love each of my lovers
differently. I love Lynn as my lord and master, while
I love Mike as my buddy, friend, lover. There is affection
and equality in that relationship that I don't share with
Lynn. There is more authoritarianism and submission (which
I enjoy) in my relationship with Lynn.
My relationship with Lynn is primary. Mike knew that from
the day he met me. It was a sine qua non condition that
he had to respect my relationship with Lynn. I told him
straight out that nothing nor no one would come before
my master's will.
Love struck from the beginning, Mike agreed to those rules.
In the months that followed, Lynn, Mike, and I found ways
to make that rule work, while our love, the love among
the three of us grew. In due time, affection grew between
Lynn and Mike. Mike and I defined our relationship more
closely, more deeply as lovers.
One night Lynn acknowledged that Mike was part of my family.
Later he admitted that Mike was, in a different way, part
of his family.
What had happened, with honesty and fairness to all, was
that we had become a family of three.
It was, of course, only a matter of time before we would
become a family of four. Lynn and I have both invested
a great deal of time and effort in finding slaves.
We have been honest in our searching. In fact, several
highly likely candidates turned down our overtures to
domination simply because they desired to be in monogamous
relationships. That is their right, just as it ought to
be seen as our right to be polyandrous.
Honesty means that we are honest with ourselves as well
as with each other. To admit that a lifestyle is unfitting
to us may be a very true and liberating conclusion. Just
as I discovered that monogamy was not possible for me,
each of us must to their own selves be true and live accordingly.
As the weeks have moved on, Matt seems able to fit into
the family. That's lucky for him because he gets three
older men for the price of one. As I wrote in the first
column about Matt, "Wish us luck".
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