Plurality of partners is a constitutional component of my sex life. Broadly speaking, I aspire to have three to four knights seated at my round table at all times — two begins to feel restrictive, and five is a lot of names to remember. Like a revolving door that swings straight into my pants, my strategic set-up arranges my casual companions into a rhythmically rotating conga line that, whilst literally circling in and out of me, periodically releases an underperforming dancer back into the wild and rapidly recruits a replacement, all without missing a beat.
At the moment, I’m shuffling through the same trio of lovers I’ve remarkably managed to shepherd around with me since mid-winter break. As a consequence of COVID-inspired cautiousness, I’ve been holding on more tightly than usual to my bundle of boys. My reluctance to switch any of them out quite yet isn’t purely a personal safety measure, though. The three of them complement one another in a perfectly triangular manner that together lets them accomplish the wild feat of meeting all of my insatiably abundant wants and wishes surrounding sexual and romantic partnerships.
First up, we have the classically attractive athlete with either too large a heart or too limited a vocabulary to communicate a critical thought, and this — in spite of his Cornell communications major. Unassuming and genuine Boy #2, with his lanky physique, Ithaca College animation degree and sleepy vocal cadence, offers me the stoner art-hoe aura that sweet, sweet Boy #1’s hypermasculine emotional unintelligence and brawny build leave me craving. Completing the circuit is the biker townie whose deceivingly mellow demeanor, toxic irritability, sexual aggression and folksy fanaticism for nature and all things Carhartt have drawn me back time and time again for about a year now.
Boy #1 gifts me access to a bottomless reservoir of solid sex accompanied by extraordinarily uncomplicated conversation that reminds me of my much younger self’s comfortably non-judgmental exchanges with a childhood teddybear. From artsy Boy #2, I gain wholesome interaction that ever so slightly restores my faith in the decency of straight, cis men as a species. And earthy Boy #3’s contribution of a manageable dose of emotional and sexual turmoil perfectly counterpoises the calmer dynamics I’ve established with the first two. Each boy’s offerings have been integral elements of what’s turned out to be an altogether engaging, arousing and balanced Ithaca winter.
In the words of Nola Darling, the sexually liberated heroine of Spike Lee’s 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It, “It’s really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I’m not a one-man woman. Bottom line.” Nola’s words ring in my ears as I ponder precisely what it is about polygamy that so firmly appeals to me. I can’t help but come to her same conclusion — it’s all about control.
I can name countless strains of control that I derive from the multiplicity of my partners. Their collective availability for sex essentially covers every corner of my schedule, so I get it whenever I want it. Also, I’m free to choose the particular one among them that accommodates my immediate mood best, letting me embrace and appease the fluctuations of my ever-altering disposition rather than having me tame my personality for the sake of a single partner’s comfort.
In the more monogamous pursuits of my past, I’ve been troubled by a personal propensity for my steady romantic feelings to abruptly abandon discipline and erupt into unbridled emotional turmoil. My polygamous approach enables me to engage in all the sex and emotional intimacy I please without falling into the crippling sense of co-dependency that has plagued former romances. The sense of independence I’ve since been able to cultivate continuously and without interruption has been among the bigger blessings of my transition away from exclusivity in sexual and romantic relationships.
But the “control” that I speak of presents itself perhaps most vividly in my power to craft the man of my dreams out of the favorable characteristics presented across all three boys. I like them all, hence their invitation into my flock, but not a single one of them independently possesses the full scope of attributes I seek. Only in joint operation with one another do they begin to meet my standards in whole.
I would argue that many men rarely offer their female counterparts more than their most unadorned and idle selves. Consider the classic scenario of a well-dressed girl laboriously feigning interest in her male date’s tasteless tale about getting blasted with the bros at Lambda Sigma Delta Delta Sigma Chi the other night. He then sits there in his jeans and T-shirt, waiting for her to ask him yet another question without it occurring to him that she too has experienced things he might so kindly demonstrate some curiosity in.
I admit, I’m bitterly envious of some men’s confidence to go on a first date having done no more than brush their hair, of their brashness to assume that the story they told was worth listening to and of their (frankly healthy) belief that they, in their most effortless and uncompromising forms, are enough. As objectionable as female insecurity and artificiality may be, my point is that women aren’t granted that same liberty of being “enough” just as we are.
Instead, we must make effortful and suppressive adjustments to our natural state, and contort ourselves into the exhausting characters that men expect us to play (the silent listener, the emotion-interpreter, the curious inquirer, the endlessly entertained audience, etc.). So long as there’s an imbalance in the overall energetic input between a male partner and myself, I shan’t resign to an exclusive commitment in which my efforts to cover every one of his bases are pathetically repaid in the form of his bare minimum. I suspect I may never come across the man of my dreams, a reality I’m at peace with given that he already exists, albeit in a three-unit form.
Brat Baby is a student at Cornell University. Pillow Princess Diaries runs alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester. Sex on Thursday runs every Thursday this semester. Questions can be sent to email@example.com.