Communicating with the Rest of the World

One nice thing about being in San Francisco this summer was the sense of shared language and experience with the people I met. Granted, I was working in the sex field almost exclusively, but even random strangers I met in bars or through out-of-town friends knew what "polyamorous" meant. Relationships would come up and I'd say "I'm non-monogamous" and the response would be "Oh, that's cool."

Here in New York, however, the response is usually "What does that mean?" and "How do you do that?" and, subtextually, "Wow, you must be a sexual deviant extraordinaire."

Of course, I talk to guys in a strip club, but they aren't the only ones. And of course not everyone imagines I'm some crazy sex animal, but a lot of conversations get very awkward as soon as I mention polyamory, even if the other person's been talking about sex and their relationships for a half hour already.

I like educating people about polyamory, and it's really awesome when someone hears me and says "Wow, that's awesome. I never thought about that but it's kind of what I've been doing and I needed a name for it." Or when someone says "Good for you. Do what makes you happy," even if polyamory isn't for them. It gets taxing, though, having to explain every word that I would use to define my identity. Even "bisexual" isn't safe. ("Do you like boys more, or girls?")

The weird thing is that now I'm a senior, there's a new disconnect because the people around me are younger. I met a freshman boy in one of my classes, who was tall, cute, and friendly and followed me around for a while, to lunch and the post office and such. Sex and relationships came up in our conversation, and he's got a girlfriend who lives far away. He hasn't "asked her out" yet, but he also hasn't "messed around" with anyone else since the two of them hooked up. He's thinking he will "ask her out" soon, since she's coming to visit.

So when I try to say "yeah, I don't do monogamy" and explain all of that, I'm even one step further from his understanding. I mean, when I say I'm going to "ask someone out" I mean on a date. And if it goes well, we'll have sex. And then if that goes well, we'll do all it again. Months later, we'll talk about commitment and (not) being monogamous, etc. It's just a different mindset from 18 to 21. It was weird to have a language barrier in conversation with this person I otherwise got along with swimmingly.

So this year should be interesting. It's been my habit not to deal much with younger folks anyway, but I'm at a loss for what to do now that I'm the oldest one around. I want new people to play with. I know I can go off campus to find them and it'll be good practice for the real world, but it's so much harder. I guess I'll manage. Onward, ho!


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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