Have you ever wondered if it’s possible for you to maintain several intimate relationships without being called a “cheater”? Well, having grown up with Channel 8 TV dramas, first from SBC, to TCS, and now Mediacorp, strict heterosexual monogamy had always been the only way of life for me. And everything else was just wrong.
Even today, every time I step into a KTV pub in Boat Quay, everyone’s just singing songs about heartbreaks because “you love him more than me, so I shall let you go, because I love you so”. In the Singaporean concept of love and relationships, sharing a lover has never been part of the deal.
Don’t get me wrong, monogamy is beautiful. I mean, just look at our parents. I can’t really imagine how life would have been like if it hadn’t just been Mum and Dad, but instead, Mum, Dad, Uncle Tommy, Auntie Lisa, and some woman named Meiling, who seldom came by except when Mum went on holiday.
How would other kids have spoken of my family? What would your parents have thought of mine?
The unwavering love, dedication, and commitment to a partner is indeed a wondrous feeling. The idea of building a family together, going through everything that life throws at us as a team, and the pillar of support that promises to always be there for you; pure bliss.
I had always dreamt of such a life. I had always envisioned myself getting married. I had always wanted to have kids. But along the way, I became disillusioned with the whole idea of monogamy – not that there’s anything wrong with it, but why does it have to be either:
a) marriage, or
b) a lonely life with two cats whose sex lives are more exciting than mine?
Are there no other options?
I met Linn about three years ago and after getting to know her better, my hormones started going all insane and my head told me, “I want to spend the rest of my life with this woman.”
Right, so does that mean I have to give up on random booty calls after club nights? Do I have to stop calling Linda for our lazy Sunday afternoon hangouts in the bathtub? Why should I?
I know what people say: that if you love someone enough, you wouldn’t be interested in anyone else. But why is that so? There are so many people who are amazing, inspiring souls that never cease to teach us new stuff and shower us with bliss. Would I stop seeing the beauty in these people?
Could I not have meaningful, intimate relationships with them as well? Why does romantic love have to be reserved for only one significant other? Does loving someone else mean that I love my partner less, or worse, does it mean that I don’t love her anymore?
We discussed this and we figured that our relationship is up to us to define. As young, sexually active human beings, temptations would always appear in our lives, and instead of trying to fight them off, why not embrace them and enjoy them?
Our love for each other isn’t about ownership, it’s about loving each other for who we are. I’m not yours, you’re not mine; we’re two individuals who are deeply in love with each other.
Of course, with both of us venturing into the deep waters of polyamory for the first time, there was no handbook for this. Relationship advice has always been reserved for those who choose to be in monogamous relationships.
We had to draw our own lines, but we didn’t know where to draw them until they were crossed. And even if we got hurt, we questioned if it was because we were using the well-learnt monogamous mindset to approach this polyamorous relationship.
There was jealousy. And we learned to talk about it and ask each other why. It still hurts to know that my partner is sleeping at someone else’s tonight and not mine. And there’s always an element of guilt involved when I’m spending time with another lover, knowing that my partner is alone at home. Would all this pain be eliminated if we were monogamous instead? Probably.
But then again, “cheating” is no longer an issue in the relationship. You can’t cheat if you’re in an open relationship. And we all know that many relationships end because one of the partners have been caught cheating.
That wasn’t our problem. We were learning how to handle the jealousy and talk openly about it when our partner had been seeing someone else. We didn’t want to give up seeing others – it was too much fun.
What we needed to figure out was whether we would like to have our relationship as the basic, stable partnership, and avoid jumping into anything too serious with the other lovers. Or should we let go of this need for a core partnership and just be completely free? Or maybe even bring a third person into the relationship, and instead of a couple, we become a trio?
I couldn’t let go. I was afraid that I would lose someone that I consider my life partner because we’ve decided to open the relationship up to a point where we could be replaced as the rock and pillar of each other’s lives.
But if we don’t open this up, does that mean that all intimate relationships we form with other people would merely be confined to occasional booty calls and temporary lovers? How would they feel knowing that a relationship with me can only develop into a part-time lover, full-time friend kinda thing?
For us to be able to keep being in each other’s lives, we realised that we had to let each other go completely. To truly be two individuals in love, without any obligations, only daily conscious choices to keep loving each other.
I’m not going to go somewhere with you just because “you’re my girlfriend”, but because I truly want to go there as well, and with you.
We’re both free to explore all other forms of relationships with other people, without being tied down by the idea that “we can’t be too serious with them”. It’s fair for us both, and it’s fair to the people that we meet and love.
But does that all change how much we love one another? Hardly.
What then, have I learnt from this? There isn’t a fixed format that we have to stick to when it comes to relationships. What works for a couple might not work for another. And it’s all about talking openly and honestly about your feelings and thoughts without fear, and figuring out what’s best for you and your partner, or partners.
But of course, it’s difficult to explain to my parents our choice in the relationship. They’d think we’re weird, or even perverted. They’re still waiting eagerly for the day when they would attend my wedding and for me and my wife to serve them the ceremonial tea on our knees. So for now, we’re monogamous to them.
Your relationship, your rules. But parents? Well, one step at a time.
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