My last relationship was a gay, polyamorous, open, interracial threesome. (I know, very 2013.) In a time when gay couples are becoming remarkably mainstream, we were "destroying the sanctity of gay marriage," I would often joke. Some didn't find it funny. A seemingly progressive friend once told me to my face, without a flinch, that we were "disgusting." It was as though I had to come out a second time to friends and family when asked about whom I was dating.
I've never been lucky in love. My path as bohemian, struggling musician puts me out on the road most of the year. I travel so much that I'm basically a homeless man with a MacBook. (Hot, right?) Potential suitors often assume I have a boyfriend in every city (I don't. I have a cheap hotel room and a cheaper box of wine) or my constant physical absence simply becomes unbearable for them. So when I met a seemingly stable couple of nearly a decade -- who were obviously interested in bringing me into their fold -- I went for it. "Maybe this is exactly what I need!" I thought. "There's very little about my life that would be considered traditional; why should my love life be any different?"
A tall and beefy Latino man approached me in the bar. "You have beautiful eyes," he said in a deep, resonant voice with a slight accent. Carlos* was exactly my type, and he was so forward and gregarious I couldn't resist. That moment could only have been more perfect if he had ridden into the room on a unicorn, but the fantasy cracked when Carlos' partner, Steven*, walked up.
The disappointment turned to strange and foreign excitement when Steven was equally if not more flirty. Steven was the opposite of Carlos. Pale, red hair and steely blue eyes. Very Nordic. Yin and Yang lovers they were.
I went home with them that night and pretty much every night after. At first it was a fun and sexy experiment, physical affection times two. We were quite the head-turners at parties as well. It was all very novel. After a couple of months, they started introducing me as their boyfriend.
I made a choice not to allow emotions to intervene -- which was ultimately futile -- but successfully made a decision to broaden my boundaries. This was completely uncharted territory. Would I be jealous when one of them exercised the "open" element of their relationship? I mean... our relationship. Could I simply choose not to be threatened? Does the human heart even work in such a way?
I can tell you that in some sense it does -- or at least mine does. I wanted to be with these men, so I allowed each unprecedented moment to teach me something new about love and relationships.
People always ask if we slept in the same bed. We did. We slept together -- usually in the same formation -- on a California King, although, I quickly figured out this was a veiled question not about literal sleeping, but rather biblical sleeping. Was the sex better? Uh... hell, yes. Basically I'm now forever ruined sexually. Once your nightly norm is orgy, there's really no coming back.
The next second most common question is, "Who did you love more?" Back then, when the nearly year-and-a-half experience was running its course, I evaded the question. It wasn't fitting. It's our nature to attempt to cram a foreign idea into some familiar model. Just like your aunt annoyingly asking who is the "woman" in a gay relationship, the question isn't even in the correct headspace.
I would answer with something to the effect of, "Do you love your mother or your father more?" They are two different people. You love them differently. My answer was truthful, but not complete. I look back on that whole experience with much more clarity now... like you do. I loved Carlos more. That would surprise absolutely no one who knew us. I'm sure Steven sensed this, and as the months went by it was probably something he just didn't want in his house anymore.
The ending of it all was nothing extraordinary. It just ran its course. That's the way love and relationships go. Sometimes they last; sometimes they don't. Not because it was non-monogamous. Not because it was unconventional.
Sometimes love just doesn't work.
As art imitates life, in the new web-series Three, I play a character named "Patrick" who's in a similar relationship. The nuances of this story I know well. My real life experience changed me and my understanding of what the heart is capable of.
Would I do it again?
With my expanded boundaries, no marriage to tradition, and now traditional marriage an actual possibility... who knows what I may discover my heart desires.
*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.
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