This is our truth, tell us yours
Private jokes are perhaps one of the most obvious ways of saying, this excludes you, so you must forgive me for referencing one. Carter and I have a running gag where he mentions how long we have known each other, and I reply “you mean 3 months”. Its one of those jokes where repetition becomes a part of the point, the feed line getting the expected comeback so you can both smile. I am reminded of one of the new dialogue trees in Fallout 4, where wonderfully you can check with a click how your relationship is going. In the absence of a handy “press button A” in meat space, interactions like this help.
We started writing about BDSM because almost everything we read told us we were doing it wrong. Trying to process how telling a D type they are doing it wrong with their S type still makes my brain hurt. Apparently for so many who integrate kink into their lives, to whatever extent, the hierarchy is never ending. I sometimes imagine they picture some ultimate uberdom, whose voice booms out from the mountain top as he proclaims “Thy shalt not be a thinking human being on pain of having your fetlife membership revoked” (fetlife, does it even still exist? Is it still full of people masturbating with one hand and telling you why you aren’t a twue sub with another?)
The desire to tell people they are doing relationships wrong is not confined to kink of course. This wonderful specimen of humanity, Lord Monckton, believes that gay men are unhappy because they are having too much sex. Its probably an indication of the circles I move in that I have never heard someone say “I am so depressed today, I have had too much sex this week”. Clearly Monckton meets different people, perhaps only those who have bad sex, which can be depressing, although the money usually makes up for it. Or perhaps he meets those who pretend that a condition called sex addiction exists, so they can absolve themselves of all responsibility for their actions. They certainly seem to be miserable, as well as unselfaware. Or perhaps he is simply a vile little homophobe who hates gay men and doesn’t know queer people of other genders exist.
I can see some people’s hackles being raised by being compared with a homophobe, but fundamentally all too often one group is looking at another group and saying you are doing relationships wrong. This is largely based on proximity to respectability. It has occurred to me before that if carter, mr jem and I shared a house, with all our offspring, and set up a rota of nice vanilla sex (lord my blood runs cold even writing it) we would have less to fear about outing and public approbation. Which is not to say there is no stigma towards poly people, but that, as so often, stigma is not universally applied or of equal weight.
Have a relationship which looks like marriage, with an extra adult, and your proximity to the norm protects you. Have a relationship based on sexual tastes, and with a sex worker, and you are so far from respectable that its assumed everything you do must be outwith societies accepted rules. Its because of this so many sex workers have their children taken from them, assumptions of abuse made based solely on how far removed we are from one aspect of societies norms.
Which is why “you are doing it wrong” matters when it comes to relationships. People so rarely look at is it consensual? Does it help or hinder your mental health and well being?Do the others involved respect you as a human being? Instead how closely you follow arbitrary rules, be it number of sexual partners, using slashy speak, or declaring yourself in the thrall of romantic love is the determiner of “doing it right.” In an odd way people want to have no more freedom than players in a video game, moving a relationship on because they pressed the right dialogue options, a straight line from killing your first raider to building a house together and getting a lovers bonus whenever you sleep.
I know I shall never access the privileges which come with having a conventional relationship, even if I were monogamous and married sex work is the stigma that never washes off. I don’t generally mind that much, because what I do have makes me happier, ticks all those important boxes which matter far more than being seen to be doing it right. I do wish though that those who consider themselves to be free thinking spent less time sounding like homophobic members of UKIP whilst patting themselves on the back about how liberal they are.