Boyfriend Land: Town Hall Meeting, Exclusivity

by: Adam Guerino 

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Boyfriend Land is a relationship blog. Even though I’m a gay male, the term Boyfriend Land can apply to relationships in general. Told mostly from my perspective but at times from other voices with what we’ll call a Town Hall Meeting. For our very first Town Hall Meeting, I’ve asked three people currently in relationships to join me. Mar Curran is a trans man currently dating a girl. Brett Mannes is a gay male who has been married to the love of his life since 2008. Keith Ecker is a gay male currently engaged to his boyfriend.

I’ve called this meeting to discuss the very foundation of Boyfriend Land: Exclusivity. If you’re wondering where I stand on the subject, the rules and regulations of my relationship were covered in the very first Boyfriend Land post, Itinerary. I asked the gents specifically to meet today because we are respectively in different stages of relationships so I’m assuming our opinions will vary.

So, let’s dish, what is your relationship’s definition of exclusive?

Keith believes all relationships are negotiable, and it depends on what is right for the individual couple or thruple or quaduple. But for him, exclusivity means cultivating an emotionally intimate relationship with one person. Mar used an allusion and described that his “dating receptors” have been turned off. Meaning he won’t be making himself receptive to physical touch, texts or calls of a romantic nature from others and expects the same from his partner. Brett explains that everyone should try monogamy but his marriage is a bit harder to define by exclusivity, saying the two just know when to play and when to not but what’s more important than what happens is being honest with each other.

Now, I know we all turned 21 yesterday but, have your ideas of what constitutes cheating changed throughout the years?

Brett’s opinion for cheating has drastically changed, back in his teens and early 20s, he thought kissing someone else when drunk was grounds for divorce but now he thinks if they stumble across a chance for a hot time, then they may take it because “sex is awesome.” Keith agrees, saying that just because somebody who is not your boyfriend touches your junk doesn’t necessarily mean you should throw years of your life in the trash. He feels that emotional cheating can be much more destructive than a sexual infraction. Unlike myself and the others, Mar actually did only turn 21 a few years ago so his idea of cheating hasn’t changed much but admits that watching 7th Heaven as an adolescent made him see his value in relationships.

Which do you think determines the longevity of a relationship, more or less explicit rules?

On this last question, everyone has a different opinion. Keith believes more explicit rules are the best bet because talking it out and setting boundaries and limits from the get-go will help avoid misunderstandings that can derail a relationship.But he concedes, it’s easier said than done because  a common fear amongst couples is that they will be shamed for voicing what they want, especially if it’s a non-vanilla sexual kink or something the other person finds threatening, like opening the relationship. The trick is to figure out how to best communicate what you want in a way that won’t make the other person feel immediately defensive. That takes patience and compassion.  

Mar believes in explicit rules but doesn’t get too into the semantics of what he wants until something upsets him and then they can talk about it. He then explains that the previous question has now enabled him to voice his rules and regulations for a relationship and his partner Stacy should observe them as a cheat-sheet (get it?) But all joking aside, he’d rather go through the “laundry list”  of dos and don’ts rather than be unpleasantly surprised by their actions.

Brett believes there should only be two rules: 1) Don’t lie. 2) Respect yo man.When you learn what is going to upset your partner, try not to do those things. And if it upsets you that your partner gets upset over something you don’t think he or she should get upset about, then talk about it and be ready to have a hard conversation.

Thanks guys! Hopefully you’ll all come back for another Town Hall Meeting in Boyfriend Land sometime soon.

Though it seems each person had a different approach to their relationships, everyone agrees that you should be honest and open with your partner. And honestly, I’m a bit surprised at the other implication. Both Keith and Brett agree that they once believed that monogamy was the thing for them. And now they are currently in relationships where they only have one partner but playing around is, more or less, permissible. The question I have to consider now is whether I want to be monogamous because it’s what I want or is it just what 28 year old me wants? Maybe Mar and I are young and idealistic? Maybe monogamy has more to do with maturity than relationship type?

Regardless, everyone agrees on one thing: Talk to your partner. I’m not going to worry about whether or not my partner and I develop into a more open relationship. If it happens, it happens. If one of us wants to move in that direction, hopefully we’ll build up the trust and communication to keep our relationship intact. But that’s tomorrow. For now, I’ll worry about today.

For more from our Town Hall Meeting contributor’s, check out the following:

Keith Ecker runs a live lit show called Guts & Glory: Live Lit For The Lionhearted and if you want more info about his classes and writing, check out keithecker.com.

Brett Mannes is a writer, producer and comedian and also runs The pH Comedy Theater in Andersonville, which you can read more about at whatisph.com.

Mar Curran runs a live lit show called All The Writer’s I Know as well as a dance party with a cause named Subject To Change 

The next Boyfriend Land is ready to roll. Expect a new post very soon with the title “Glossary.” Until then… you are now leaving Boyfriend Land.

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