my habit of taking lovers

manifesta, slutdom

New York. Chicago. DC. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati. Akron. My list of pop-up lovers reads like a mildly successful Midwestern fashion label.

While I certainly am no stranger to humping and dumping, I tend to collect men like jewels in a cigar box. You may only take them out and wear them on special occasions, but sometimes you lift the lid, admire their sparkle, contemplate which is your favorite. Other times, the thought of them sitting there, safely awaiting your return is enough. My relationships with my lovers are always built on a confusing conglomeration of varying emotional connection, transiency, and great sex. True to millennial form, we often leave schools and jobs for other schools and jobs. Relocation is our life blood. I never intend to begin a prolonged courtship with these men, but I suppose I prove hard to let go and our circumstances unforgiving.

The beauty of my laundry list of lovers lies in its opportunism. Should I find myself visiting any of the above cities, I will have free accommodations, a local tour guide, and nights filled with glorious moans that will wake the neighbors  – but not my neighbors.

The great frustration of long-distance lovers lies in their gelatinous boundaries and delicate power maneuvering. Negotiating visits requires one partner admit their desire and wait for confirmation from the other that their arrangement has not changed. Afterwards, we forgo communication about future expectations and instead offer trite condolences. Life is mysterious. Never say never. Until next time. You know where to find me.

To seek clarity in the relationship would risk discovering difference in our needs and jeopardize the sanctity of our sexual paradise. Lovers should revel in hedonism. We allow no cathartic practicality or regiment. We suspend reality.

These problems aside, the arrangement works just as intended on most occasions – passionate and harmonious love-making, pleasant conversation, and a quick “see yah sometime, probably” before we both go seamlessly on with our lives. If emotions become entangled along the course, the drama at least feels extravagant, cinematic, and worthwhile. Lessons are learned.

I’ve read think-piece after think-piece about millennial hookup culture (as if I, a millennial immersed in so-called “hookup culture,” need an outdated explanation from do-gooders) and determined my practice of taking lovers is a superior form of engagement.

One night stands have their purpose. Those drunken nights after run-ins with ex’s. When all of your friends have peeled off with someone on their arm and your drink is only ice. I get it.

But I know sex’s potential to be a much higher art. Lovers learn each other’s bodies and relish in the power of touch. Each rendezvous brings lucid bodily pleasure and the thrill of imaging oneself as an opulent Roman courtesan in a smutty historical drama. While I may not love them romantically, my lovers and I have developed genuine friendships. In my uncertain, ever-changing polyamorous life, commitment is not only unwanted, but utterly unfeasible. I have stumbled into a life of lovers, and I appreciate the variety and fullness of love I’ve since learned can be possible. With the faults and uneasiness that may come with it, I have discovered friends, pleasure, adventure, and even some bounds of my own love.

I may not cherish my lovers in a romantic fairytale capacity, but – conventionality be damned – lovers do indeed love, and for that I am grateful.

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