Friday morning at five o’clock I found myself on a long coach journey, headed North for the wedding of one of my oldest friends. We met at ten, disliked one another at fourteen, fucked each other at eighteen, paced the stage as lovers at nineteen, and at twenty-three I am proud to say we are still tight enough that I was sat just one row behind his family, in a small church, as he said his vows to the beautiful red-headed girl he met at university. And truly, sincerely, I could not be happier for them both. I might not have a huge amount of faith in marriage as the be-all and end-all of love, but I do think they will have – at the very least! – a few, maybe many, wonderful years together.
But this story isn’t about the newlyweds This story is about the friends I was reunited with as I looked up at the alter. On my right side sat a girl I have fought with and slept beside probably more than any other, whilst on my left side was the first man I ever played the (rather mild) submissive with. To say I was a little nervous to see them again would be an understatement. Not because of what we have all shared, but because of the distance that has grown; I wondered if they would really know me any more, and just how well it would be received when, in answer to the inevitable questions about love-lives and (as the wine bottles grew empty) sex lives, I would tell them about non-monogamy and a rather darker brand of kink.
As it turns out, my fears were misplaced. It seems that even at fifteen, in many important respects, I knew how to choose my friends. Instead of the judgement I feared, my explanations were met with interest and further questions. I was queried on my various relationships, the people involved and the dynamics therein, and couldn’t help but smile when the gentlest of my old friends admitted to indulging in a little spanking from time to time.
But the question that struck me as being most poignant, came from the friend with whom I shared a bed and fought so many times. The morning after the wedding, slung across sofas, and nursing hangovers, she looked me in the eye and asked, point blank, “Does non-monogamy make you happy?”
The simplest, most obvious question, and I have never even thought to consider it, let alone actually had it asked of me. Perhaps it seems a little arbitrary; why would I do something so out of the norm, if it didn’t make me happy? Why take on the added strain of multiple partners and the time it takes to communicate with not just one person, but five, unless I was taking pleasure from the situation?
The reason this question struck me as being so particularly pertinent, is its total disregard of the usual, nonsense questions I am required to answer. It doesn’t matter if we – that is people in non-monogamous relationships – have to deal with more jealousy, or if our relationships are perceived as being odd; who cares where we lay our heads, or who we share our kisses with? Just so long as we are happy.
It cuts through all the political and social bullshit we are usually expected to consider, bypasses the tonnes of expectation, and goes right to the heart of the issue. And yes, I was pleased to smile back at her, nod and say, “Yes – it does make me happy. It really does.”