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"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."

Puck's Question Returns Again
by Jack Rinella

Two 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 about monogamy.

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 partners.

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 relating.

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".

Copyright 2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact


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