After a forty year sexual career I’m beginning to understand monogamy… After a fashion.
I was never any good at exclusivity in previous relationships. I thought it an unnatural state for anyone, let alone a gay man. I was usually upfront about my disdain for it with any romantic partners.
My successful relationships have all been open until now.
“Open” takes a little explanation. It’s not “cheating”, it’s not even “permitted cheating”. It’s about openness on several levels — communication, letting the other partner know what’s going on and setting mutually agreed ground rules for erotic encounters outside the relationship.
I’m now in a three way relationship with two men who have a similar attitude to the whole thing. None of us have been exclusive for any appreciable time since our teens. We’re in our fifties and sixties.
We have all worked in queer hospitality one way or another so we have seen and experienced plenty of erotic variations over the years.
As a “triple” we all sleep together. Occasionally two sleep with each other independently of the third.
Weirdly, when we got together each of us separately decided to be exclusive to the relationship. We didn’t discuss it beforehand, we didn’t place any expectations on each other, we didn’t even mention it. We were all flabbergasted to later discover we had all arrived at the same place quite independently of each other.
None of us are really able to explain how it happened, but it happened.
Perhaps it’s something to do with being in middle age with a long history of assorted erotic dissolutions — street cruising, nighttime beats, safe sex orgies, commercial sex-on-premises venues and hookup apps — informing our choices.
Perhaps it’s just that none of us can be bothered with the chase any more.
Maybe we all felt like trying something new…
So, two years into this mutual exclusivity here I am alone in a rather posh resort of the “linen, yoga and wellness” variety attending a business getaway weekend.
Temptation surely awaits.
There is something undeniably sexual about staying at a resort, especially when someone else is picking up the tab. The alcohol is flowing freely — unless it’s from the minibar of course — the usual rules are relaxed and there’s a frisson of flirtatiousness in the air.
The guy at reception is very cute, efficient certainly, but efficient with that knowing smile. Knowing enough to make my rusting gaydar start to ping incessantly. He is South American — Oh Mercy!
A forty-something muscle queen with tasteful tattoos plants himself in the next lounger to me by the pool. There is much glancing in my direction over his phone in that mildly furtive manner that always makes my pulse race and my libido prick up its ears.
Gym fit young men in various stages of beachside undress wander about leaving luminescent pheromone trails wafting in their wake as they vanish into the sand dunes.
What’s a freshly exclusive boy to do?
Reminisce of course!
The last business break at a resort, a conference many years ago, just off season. Rain was a daily feature. The pool was deserted during the day. As night fell it became very private, isolated from the rest of the resort by a small rise and the regulation pool fence. Exactly the place to have a fabulously erotic encounter one evening when the skies cleared and the stars aligned.
The spa at the rainforest retreat. Those bubbles covered up the gentle “accidental” brushes from the foot of the guy opposite. The direct look on the second or third brush that set my hormones alight — making it absolutely impossible for me to get out after him without scandalising nearby families. He’d clearly realised the effect he’d had so he lingered in the shower just long enough for things to subside so they could resurrect in a more private setting a little later.
And so it goes.
In the same way that long experience allows me to spot a place where gay men might cruise, but choose not to cruise it, so I can find myself excited by these current interactions while happily choosing not to consummate them.
Nobody finds this odder than I do. Yet here I am, sitting in my room writing this when just a year or two ago I would have been actively pursuing every opportunity that presented itself…
I enjoy these subtle games of catch-as-catch-can we gay men play, I love picking up the signals that mainstream folk miss. I’m pleased that those signals still come my way. I get an erotic charge from them that will most certainly feed back into my exclusive relationships with my two lovely men.
So maybe that’s why exclusivity works for me now. No lover is demanding it of me, no jealous god is laying down laws for the expansion of His Flock, no court will extract alimony for breaching it.
It’s my choice and I’m happy with it — even as I experience the joyful tug of temptation, here at the resort.