If you want to be in a relationship with someone, and you’re keen on the idea of monogamy, my advice for you is to fill your life. Fill it with people who aren’t that other person. Add friends, and hobbies, and Netflix box sets that you greedily devour on your own. Try holidaying on your own, or walking on your own, or going to the pub with a good book for a quick pint on your own. Try having conversations with strangers on the internet about things that interest and excite you. Fill your fucking life.
Picture the scene: you’re lying in bed on a Sunday morning, having a coffee and a croissant with your beau or beaus. The doorbell rings, and in walks Louis Theroux. “Can I get you anything?” he asks, as you grin to cover the weird atmosphere and desperately wish you’d had the opportunity to brush your hair or put some fresh knickers on. “Tea? More coffee?” Slightly-too-long pause. “And tell me…” he continues, in his lovably awkward way “Tell me – are you happy?”
Compersion: the feeling you get when you see a person you love being really, incredibly happy with someone who isn’t you. It’s an awesome word, which I was introduced to by polyamorous friends. They explained to me that compersion is how they feel when a loved one is with (fucking, loving, hanging out with) someone else who makes them happy. It’s the opposite of jealousy, with which I’m much more familiar: the feeling I get when the person I love is fucking someone else and it makes me want to curl into a ball and weep until I shrivel and die.
Apparently Mike Pence only ever eats dinner with his wife. Another guy, a blogger called Matt Walsh, does the same – never dining with any women other than his wife in case it could be construed that he likes them. Or might shag them. Or fall in love with them. Today I learned that some men refuse to eat dinner with any women other than their wives. Consider my mind blown.
Here is a can of worms. Please sit down, make yourself comfortable, and watch as I try to sort them into delicate piles without squishing any of them.
I’m in a monogamous relationship. For me, that means that my partner and I both lust desperately after other people, but we try not to do anything about it, save sighing and making the odd comment about how beautiful those other people are.
When I tell people this, often they’re surprised, and some of them make efforts to persuade me that I really should consider opening up my relationship. That it’d be healthier if my guy and I could see other people, or that polyamory is actually the best course of action for everybody in the human race. I like the sound of it: I do. I like the idea that there’s a hell of a lot of love in the world, and you get to share lots of different kinds of love with lots of different people.
Thing is, I’ve tried it, and it sucks for me. It really sucks. I get jealous, angry, upset, and anxious. I feel worthless. My rational brain tells me that he can fuck other people without it having any bearing on how he feels about me, and that if he goes for a drink with a girl he fancies with a view to potentially snogging her at the end of the evening, that act itself isn’t sapping any of the fun or love that he and I share together.
Unfortunately, my irrational brain is a tedious Iago – piping up and screeching “I like not that!”, and ruining everyone’s fun.