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Good friend: “Welllll… You guys are ‘European married.’ It’s not really what other people think being married means.
I’ve been asked the question before: “If you’re going to fall in love with and sleep with other people, why did you bother to get married?” The answer for me personally remains pretty straightforward—because I wanted my now-husband to be the person who decided what happens to my broken body if I get in a car wreck, not my parents. While that was the most pressing point, there are a whole host of other social and economic benefits that come from being married, including tax breaks and insurance… Although I am personally very much opposed to the legal institution of marriage, trying to live up to that particular principle is a pain in the ass, and my now-husband and I were both quite poor and financially desperate when we got married, so we weren’t really in a position to do a complex dance to try to take advantage of the legal parts of being married that we liked while sidestepping the social bullshit we didn’t. And so we wrote monogamy out of our wedding vows and moved on with our lives.
Did I surprise you with how unromantic that explanation sounded? Oh… sorry. To my way of thinking, a legal marriage is a business contract. It’s the relationshipthat is loving and romantic, not the marriage.
I could rant for hours about all the reasons that I hate the social institution of marriage. I hate the trappings of marriage and the way that people take the label “husband” so much more seriously than that of “partner” or “boyfriend.” And despite the teasing of one of our dear friends, who has pointed out repeatedly that our idea of being “married” and most people’s idea of being “married” have little to do with one another, the label does fit pretty well. My husband and I started dating at my 18th birthday party, and we never even did that teenage make-up/break-up thing. We’ve been together for very close to half our lives at this point. We’ve been together longer than many people a decade older than us. Our relationship is a huge part of who I am as a person, and I think that’s a big part of what people think “spouse” means.
And for all that I grumble about the social institution of marriage, I think I understand pretty well at this point what commitment looks like to me and my husband. Other people may be confused by it, but unless they’re emotionally involved with us, I don’t really give a fuck what they think about it. For us it’s about spending an agreed upon amount of fun-time (including sex and cuddles and lounging-doing-nothing) and responsible grown-up adulting time together, loving each other and our cats, building and maintaining a home together, keeping each other physically and emotionally safe, sharing a bank account, planning to retire together, planning everything from tomorrow night to future retirement together, and–most importantly–planning to continue doing all of these things together indefinitely. I’ve been doing this whole committed-to-my-husband for a long time now, and I think I’ve got this one figured out (knock on wood).
But goddamn am I confused about what commitment should look like in my other (real/wistful/hypothetical) relationships.
I don’t think it’s just the fact that I’m married and trying to be in relationships with other people that creates the confusion. I think that if I were “single” and poly, I’d be every bit as confused (and there’s just no world in which I can imagine being monogamous, so don’t even ask me to try. It’s like telling a gay person to imagine their life as a straight person). I think some of that confusion is personal; I think some of it is the particular confusion of a very kinky, hypersexual, polysexual, polyamorous cis-femme; and I think a lot of it is because dating norms in America in general are in a state of mad flux.
I don’t really struggle with the “relationship escalator”—the idea that people just automatically expect a relationship to take a very specific trajectory of increasing seriousness that eventually leads to marriage, childbearing, and a white picket fence. I never expected to get on that escalator in the first place, since I grew up planning to live a communal poly existence, not a normal marriage. I don’t sit around biting my nails, thinking that if I don’t share a bank account and a mortgage with someone and hyphenate our last names, it means we can’t have a “real” relationship. But I do sit around a lot wondering what the fuck commitment means in these non-standard relationships, what it looks like, what its value is, and why—in spite or because of my very kinky, hypersexual, polysexual, polyamorous nature—I still crave it like whoa. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
- Commitment is the security blanket that supports my feeling that I can safely trust you. It doesn’t have to be a relationship title, but commitment is an implicit promise that you value our relationship enough that I can believe you won’t break your word to me; not just because you’re a good person, but because you value our relationship and don’t want to damage it. It means that you really don’t want to do things that would hurt our relationship because you want the relationship to stay strong and healthy.
- Commitment is the security blanket that helps prevent jealousy and insecurity. If you make a commitment to me and honor it, I don’t have to worry that just because you hooked up with that pretty young thing last week that you’re just going to meander away from what we have together in a fit of twitterpated distraction. Of course, I might still worry anyway, or you might still meander anyway, but that’s why it’s a security blanket–not a guarantee (ditto with the trust thing above).
- Commitment is the thing that makes me feel like I can plan my life with you. Not necessarily in that “let’s build a house together and plant a garden of hopes and dreams together” way, but in that “I want to know you’ll make it worth my while to not date other people” way. I know planning makes some people twitchy, but NOT planning is the thing that makes me twitchy. I’m enough of a relationship anarchist at this point that I don’t see the symbolic representation of a relationship in a title; I see the symbolic representation of the relationship in its cumulative presence in my google calendar. But “commitment” isn’t about the past there: it’s about the future, and about the times we expect and plan to spend together. It’s the promise to make time and energy for each other in the foreseeable and unforeseeable future. I see commitment in all the marked and unmarked places we make time for each other in the future.
- Meanwhile, without commitment, it feels like any declaration of my own needs or an objection to the way the “relationship” is going is practically an ultimatum. We haven’t agreed to try to improve our “relationship” at any point because we haven’t agreed we have one. So if I/you don’t like the way things are going, do we just give up and stop seeing each other? Relationship processing is an inevitable and necessary part of having a healthy relationship, but how can we have a serious conversation about the state of the relationship and how things are going when we haven’t agreed to HAVE a relationship? The idea of trying to fit needs, wants, and desires together without commitment just feels like a confusing and hopeless proposition to me.
- Without commitment… it feels like the “relationship” only exists as long as things are going well. If my mom is dying in the hospital, and I’m crying all the time, and emotionally messy, I feel like you’re not going to want me anymore because all I’ve really signed up for is to be your sexy entertainment. If your mom is dying in the hospital, and you’re crying all the time, and emotionally messy, I don’t know how to support you because that’s not really the role of an entertainer either. You can’t hold me up in crisis, and I can’t hold you up in crisis, if the most we’ve agreed to be to one another is a party date next week.
- And so… If you feel like you can’t ask me for help, and if I feel like I can’t ask you for help, our relationship dynamic is doomed to superficiality. One of the most important ways that humans connect and build intimacy between each other is by asking for help when they need it. But if we feel like we’re not allowed to ask each other for help, or if we’ve just made the unfortunate decision to be fiercely independent, we’re basically guaranteed to hit a terrible ceiling on intimacy that has nothing to do with the relationship escalator.
Through all of those positives and negatives, the best definition I’ve come up with for commitment in the context of relationships (romantic and otherwise) is simply the mutual promise to share and maintain things of value for that relationship. That might be the promise of time, energy, affection, shared information, shared activities, and/or a relationship title. Without those things, it feels like what you’re left with is an easily disposable fragile semblance of a relationship. As long as you’re having fun and things look shiny and pretty, it’s fine; but as soon as challenges arise—as they inevitably do—what then?
Both intellectually and emotionally, I want to believe that my partners (including my husband) are with me just because they want to be. I don’t want to believe that they stay with me because they feel obliged to by legal, social, or economic necessity. I want regular affirmation that people are in relationships with me because they want to be. But for those “relationships” to mean more than just “we hang out and have a good time together,” I think there has to be something that looks like… commitment.
Seduce Me (erotica)
This is erotica… There are probably many things in it that are inadvisable for real life. But that’s why it’s called a “fantasy.”
“Where can I touch you?”
“Anywhere that’s not covered by my underwear.” I don’t think it’s the response you were looking for; I know that Look. It’s a look that speaks volumes in desire. A look that wants to ask for more but is afraid to do so. “Look, just seduce me,” I say.
“What does that mean?” you ask in optimistic confusion.
“Show off and convince me to fuck you… If that’s what you want,” I add, as if there’s a question. There’s no question. “And if you’re persuasive enough, I’ll say yes.”
There is already rope in your hands, and I watch with amused arousal as you stroke it without realizing you’re doing so.
“I’ll tell you if I want you to stop,” I say, in a voice that is intended to sound more like an invitation than a reassurance.
“You’re fucking with me,” you say. You try to make it sound like a joke, but I can hear the reluctant desire in your voice as you say it.
“It’ll get worse before it gets better,” I say wickedly. There’s a charged moment when I feel you try to decide if you actually want to play with this shit… and then decide that of course you do. You start pulling more rope out of your bag and half-throwing it onto the mat in front of you. I’m not used to watching riggers placing rope feeling like foreplay, but this does. This feels exactly like throwing down a glove to challenge someone for a duel—but your rope is thrown down over my verbal challenge.
Once you’ve done, you stand up and look at me expectantly, hesitating for a moment before saying, “Take off your clothes.”
“If you want them off, take them off,” I say, still challenging you.
I watch you one more time make the decision to do this. Then you walk up to me until your lips are just an inch from mine, look straight into my eyes, and inform me, “You want me. And you will beg me to fuck you.”
I say nothing as you reach your arms around me, as if to embrace me; but instead you pull me violently towards you by my hair with one hand, and slowly and deliberately unzip my dress in the back with the other. It falls down around me into a pool of satin at my feet. I’m not wearing a bra, and I instantly feel exposed and stripped bare, my nipples now colder and hard.
You turn me around roughly so that my back is to you and begin ungently pulling rope around my chest and arms. I don’t fight you or struggle as you quickly build a TK tie, but I am still impressed by how quickly you can constrain me. You’re moving so fast it feels like I’m being tied by an aggressive whirlwind. I hear you panting behind me, and I deliberately rest my weight gently against you, my ass against your crotch. I want to know if you’re panting in exertion or arousal, but I can’t tell if your dick is hard through your jeans. I move my hips against you in a way that almost could be accidental.
Since I’m now solidly ensconced in your chest harness, you reach around and yank me by the front of it and push me up against the side of the rig, your lips against my ear as you whisper fiercely, “Stand still.” …Apparently, my wiggle didn’t feel so accidental after all.
You pull me back to the center, and start throwing lines from my back to the ring above me, and at this point I’m pretty well caught standing up. I watch you decide whether or not to tie a hip harness on me, and then reluctantly decide to do so. Down on your knees, with your face in front of my crotch, I know that it’s inevitable for you to smell my pussy and inevitable for you to smell how turned on I am. But I deliberately keep my legs closed to see what you’ll do. You could tie them closed after all, but what would be the fun in that?
“Spread your legs,” you order. It’s an order that makes me wet under most circumstances, and I wonder what state my underwear—now in front of your face—might be in. Your hands go around my waist and my thighs, and rope drags through my crotch. I try not to show how arousing those fleeting brushes are across my covered labia, but at this point I’m so aroused that faint brushes of your fingers, rope, or anything else only makes me harder.
“I could just slide my fingers up under your underwear,” you inform me, looking up at me.
“It’s true,” I say, as if I’m unmoved by the prospect. And I think, tie me, hit me, pull my hair, step on me—but I still have the power of this “yes.” That control feels so good it is almost literally a sweet taste in my mouth.
You shake your head in irritation, and quickly bind my ankles. Then you stand behind me and start throwing lines from my ass up to the rig. But the entire time, you’re running your lips slowly down my shoulder and my back, and biting the spot where my neck meets my shoulder. You don’t actually let go with your teeth until the moment you start hoisting me into the air, and the transition from being held onto by your teeth on the ground to painfully floating in the air in your ropes is so sudden that I gasp.
In no time, you hoist my ankles up high, and I find myself floating in mid-air in an excruciating upright back bend. You stand in front of me, my face level with the base of your neck, which is literally dripping with sweat. It’s very hard to breathe with my chest pulled up so high, but the temptation to lick that sweat off of you is positively tantalizing anyway. You unbutton your shirt right in front of my face, and the combination of your smell and my dizziness from not being able to breathe is intoxicating. Stripped to the waist, still standing in front of me, my face pressed against your chest, you start tying my hair, but you leave it free. Only as you walk behind me do I realize that you’ve left my crotch at the perfect height for yours, and that you’ve left my legs splayed open.
Standing between my legs, with the heat of your hips against my crotch, you grab hold of the line attached to my hair and yank my head back towards you. It is nearly impossible to breathe with my head pulled back so far. “Are you going to let me fuck you?” you demand.
“I will if you can make me cum,” I gasp out.
You snort and roughly let go of my hair. You let down the line on my chest so I’m level with my hips, which gives me a moment to catch my breath a bit. You lie underneath me on the floor, looking up at my face and inform me, “Your underwear is a mess, you greedy fucking slut.”
“You’re the one trying to get into them,” I say, able to talk again.
You sit up and smack both my tits simultaneously, which makes the ropes shake, and makes me scream. Then you stand up and untie the lines holding my ankles up, leaving me caught in a strange position, with my toes just barely brushing the ground, and my hips and chest still levelly suspended. You come up behind me again, and I realize you’ve still left me in a new perfect position to fuck me. But you don’t offer this time. You just let the realization sink in.
Instead, you lay down underneath me again, a couple of the ropes that are tied to me in your hand.
“What do you want, slut?” you ask me.
“Your hard cock poised just outside my pussy and you begging to fuck me.”
“Be careful what you wish for.”
You pull on the ropes in your hand, and I abruptly plummet down to just two inches above you. The impact is intense, and it’s like you’ve punched my chest and my hips with your ropes. I scream, completely disconcerted. You slowly lower me until I’m lying on top of you, no longer tied to the rig at all. And I realize through my pain and endorphin rush that this is, unquestionably, the sexiest thing that has ever happened to me in rope.
You roll me over, taking your weight off me, and ask me wryly, “Am I allowed to put my hands under your underwear to make you cum?”
“Mmmm-hmmm,” I agree, enjoying the stupid haze I’m still in, feeling your ropes still digging into the bruises on my skin from the impact of the drops.
You push two fingers into my pussy, my underwear pushing up on my labia, and your other hand playing my clit. I try not to cum for as long as I can, but it takes no time at all before I’m convulsing all over your fingers. You laugh in triumph as you lean down towards my face and say, “Are you seduced now?”
I smile lazily and say, “Yes.”
You turn me over and haul me back onto my knees, my ass in the air. This is awkward since my hands are still tied behind my back, and I have no way to hold myself up. I hear you unbuckle your belt and slide your pants to the floor, and the sound makes my pussy contract in desire. “I’m going to rip your underwear now,” you inform me. It seems reasonable, since the ropes from the hip harness are still in the way of getting it off. “Go ahead,” I agree. The sensation of the fabric ripping along my pussy lips makes me scream, and I feel the fabric clinging wetly to them in spite of the tear.
I hear you put on a condom, and then you use the ropes on my back to pull me up a semi-level position. I realize that you’re about to use me as leverage to fuck me, and I know this is going to hurt.
But I scream anyway as your cock enters me, because it’s much bigger than I expected, and because the position I’m in gives me no way to adjust to the sensations inside me. Through the haze of my pain, I realize that there’s something almost extravagantly sexy about the fact that your cock is now bruising my cervix, but I’ve never seen it, felt it, smelled it, or tasted it. The intensity of your desire has driven you inside me without any conventional preamble, but there’s part of me that still wants control. I feel you trying not to cum, I feel you trying to get reign in your desire, but I deliberately clench my pussy down around you hard again and again. It takes no time at all for you to cum, shuddering inside me while I continue to scream from the intense sensations.
You pull out of me suddenly, and I’m surprised when the next thing I hear is your belt coming off. My hips instinctively fall to the ground now that you’re not holding them up, and when your belt connects with my ass, I can’t help but grind my crotch into the mat beneath me in masochistic delight from the stinging pain. “You bitch,” you say, hitting me again. “You deliberately made me cum too fast.”
“Just to make sure you’ll fuck me again,” I gasp, pain and pleasure going through me as you hit me again and again. You turn me over so that I’m lying on my back, and it hurts to have my weight on the fresh welts on my ass. And my hands still trapped underneath me. You’re between my legs, and you start hitting my clit with your belt too. Even though I try to move, there’s not much I can do to stop you. I can almost cum from this, but not quite, and you laugh at the way I writhe.
“Why don’t you cum, you greedy slut?” you ask.
“I can’t quite cum from this,” I squeal.
“Did you even cum from me fucking you?”
“No,” I admit.
You hit me harder, and I scream. You pause for a moment in these exertions to finally take off your boots and your pants and even your underwear, adding it to the wrinkled pile of dress. “Will you untie me while you’re at it?” I ask.
“How’re your arms doing?” you ask.
“They’re okay,” I say. “But I’m better at sex if my hands are free.”
“I don’t think I want to risk that. I think I’m not going to untie you until you’ve cum on my cock.”
“My hands are really helpful for that,” I say helpfully.
You glare down at me. “You cumming was the price of me getting in, now it’s the price of you getting out.” There is something so unquestionably fair about that logic that I don’t bother to argue.
“It’s hard to make me cum with just your cock,” I warn.
“‘Hard’ is not the same thing as ‘impossible’.”
“I think that means you’re just going to have to tell me some secrets.”
I feel strangely trapped by this line of reasoning. “It’s no great secret,” I say. “Leave me on my back. Go slowly for longer than you think, and keep pulling all the way out.”
I take a moment to admire your naked body for the first time, now in front of me, covered in sweat, before you stick your cock in my mouth. It gets hard quickly, and I wriggle with desire, wanting it back in my pussy. You put on another condom, and then deliberately leave your cock just outside my pussy.
“Beg,” you say. This was not how this was originally supposed to go in my head.
I say nothing, even as my hips seem to move upwards of their own accord.
“You want me inside you, and you want out of those ropes sooner rather than later, right? Beg.”
“Please fuck me,” I whisper.
“I couldn’t really hear that.”
“Please fuck me!” I say louder.
“I think you could make that more believable.”
“Please fuck me!” I beg. I hate you a little bit right now, until you thrust inside me and all I can think about is the way you are filling me up.
You drag this out. You’re following my directions perfectly. I actually give an involuntary scream of aroused frustration when you don’t quite fuck me fast enough, but that’s what my pussy perversely likes. I whimper and moan, and finally, my body gives in, and my orgasm is deep inside me.
“Do I get untied now?” I ask, a little bit stupidly.
You grin at me. “I didn’t say how many times you had to cum before I’d untie you.”
I moan, my pussy aching as you relentlessly plunge your cock into it.
“I guess I earned this, didn’t I?” I gasp.
“No. I did,” you say, plunging your cock into me so hard that I scream in pleasurable agony, cumming for what feels like forever as you lean down and kiss my mouth for the first time, your tongue going inside my mouth as your cock goes further into my pussy, cumming with me and filling me.
The Slut will be presenting an academic-ish talk live and in-person at the Takoma Park Community Center in Maryland this Thursday titled, “BDSM: Sex, Hobby, Religion, or Art?” It’s free and open to the public! Come check it out!