I am not now, nor have I ever been, a serial monogamist.
I am, I am coming to realize, in the minority on this issue. It wasn’t always so.
I came of age in a loosely networked community of lesbian anarchists, radical fairies, bisexual art students, and feminist intellectuals. What they all had in common was a need to accommodate ways of being in relationship that did not conform to the structures of compulsory heterosexuality, which, beyond universalizing heterosexual desire, assumes marriage or its equivalent to be the final cause of human relationship.
I never thought about it at the time, but it was from these friends that I learned about relationships, and it was among them that I first experienced love. It was, you could say, in the ether.
What has always been difficult for me is finding a language for these experiences. There are certain extant vocabularies to draw from—the multiple relationships of polyamory, for example, or the monogamy without fidelity of gay culture—but even these are based, in whole or in part, on the deep structure of dyadic, long-term relationships.
The thing that comes closest, I think, is the extended family of gay male culture, into which lovers are absorbed as intimate friends. This implied continuum of sex—friendship—family neither assumes a teleology of relationship, as in the case of serial monogamy, nor precludes the experience of love, as does the casual affair.
Is such a thing possible outside of gay culture? More to the point, can a woman create this kind of family?
These are not abstract questions, even if they seem that way.