Love : Long Term Commitment

(Photo : Sean Cody)

“Long term commitment.” It is a frightening phrase for many queers. I count myself as one of them, once upon a time.

Years ago, I was afraid of what commitment symbolized: being bound to someone else, with little or no escape. You see, back in my early 20s I was an expert escape artist when it came to relationships – although, I did end up dragging my lovers down with a whole lot of drama and self-destructive behaviour. I didn’t know better at the time.

In my mid-20s, I was married to a wonderful man whom I had met and dated on and off since I was 18. There were happy times in our marriage, but our marriage was mired in my lack of relationship experience and an incredible inner conflict: what type of relationship did I truly want?

We had tried to be closed for a time. For a time, we tried to be open. Either way, I had to grow up just a little bit more emotionally before I was able to give my now ex-husband what he needed. (I am grateful that we remain friends to this day, by the way.) 

It was also around this time that I was diagnosed as being HIV-positive. The new generation of HIVers seem to have a plethora of sexual options open up to them, upon diagnosis. That line may get me in trouble with my HIV pioneers – those who paved the way during the early years of the crisis, bearing many battle scars of loss, survival and yet hope. However, this was certainly my case and one I know is shared with the newly diagnosed (at least the ones I speak to).

I have seen the newly diagnosed, within the past 10 years become successful amateur porn actors, educators in sexual health, have multiple lovers, engage in bareback sex within their triads, be monogamous and become happily married couples with children. This leads to an important question: are HIVers afraid of being in a committed, long-term relationship? If so, why?

Perhaps it’s the type. Monogamy seems so monotonous, doesn’t it? At least, that is what the naysayers would have us believe. “Heteronormative” I believe is the word du jour: a term used pejoratively to describe monogamy, at least in how ‘un-queer’ and ‘boring’ it can be. I have heard this line repeated to me many times. When I hear it, it makes me wonder what the person saying it really is fearful of? Is there such a phobia attributed to tokenistic picket white fences.

Monogamy has its positives: knowing the one person you are coming home to, knowing their heart belongs only to you and knowing that their sexual interests lie with you and you alone. You know the one person with whom you will share your bed with at night.

But perhaps it is not monogamy that has my fellow queers and HIVers so fearful. There is always polyamory. Polyamory can take on so many different shapes and sizes that at times, it can be dizzying. I don’t blame my friends in the queer community for having trouble pinning a relationship (or relationships) of this type down. It takes concerted effort to communicate at a level of emotional balance and maturity that can at times be quite taxing. At times, one might think you’re on a conference call of love.

“I am of the firm belief that as much as some of us like to still play in the sandbox, we want to share the pail and shovel with someone – no matter how we may be deceiving the world.”

Yet, polyamory can be satisfying. Where one person is able to satisfy a certain need, another person serves another and so forth. Many queer folk define their polyamory differently, with guidelines and structure to abide by. This allows for something that should always be present in both types of relationships.


I speak passionately about the ins and outs of both monogamy and polyamory because I have experienced both, at their worst and at their best. When I was married, I had convinced myself that monogamy was the answer for me. At the time, it was not. At other times in the future, it certainly was. I have always gone with the vibe of the relationship: what myself and my partner(s) are feeling will provide the best chance for success.

I used to fight vehemently for polyamory, thinking it was the only option available to me. I had rationalized that because I was HIV-positive, a polyamorous relationship was the only choice for me. How limited. How monotonous.

When it comes down to it, what we really crave in a loving relationship is truly safety: knowing we are emotionally secure in the relationships we are in, with the people we have chosen to open our hearts to. It means overcoming our insecurities and being aware of how to move through those insecurities.

In the past, I have mentioned to former partners my panes of jealousy, the sources of my anxiety and what is irksome in the relationship, This is the foundation of longevity: communication.

I am of the firm belief that as much as some of us like to still play in the sandbox, we want to share the pail and shovel with someone – no matter how we may be deceiving the world. It is a human instinct to want to share our lives with someone, to connect in a spiritual and loving way. Why should we deny ourselves that? Moreover, why should we deny that that is truly what we want, when seeking out a partner or partners?

As HIVers, we will approach the question of commitment depending on our life experiences. Our experiences are like a script written for the film that is our lives, playing out constantly as we move forward as best we can.

So, after all analysis of the R-rating of our lives, what do I truly believe in? What type of relationship do I think has the best chance for success?


Monogamy and polyamory are both valid relationship types. I limited myself for such a long time, placing myself in a quagmire of such inner conflict that I took down many romantic casualties. At 33, I am done. I choose to live in the present moment. Today, truly is all we have.

And who’s to say: we may look back none years from now and be holding a hand, or two, or three.

Jason at PositiveLite

There are 18 comments

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  1. einathens

    Monogamy is a choice. If you don’t both make it, the relationship won’t work.

    Open relationships are also a choice which must be mutual.

  2. sfrumprdr

    Let me start with true love does not equal monogamy
    We’ve been conditioned through religion and other external pressures to believe that “true love” equals monogamy. It is not only unnatural and against our genetic design, but it is also psychologically unhealthy for the majority of us to follow that belief. There are people who are quite happy being with the same person for 50 years and they become the subject of envy, but it should not be regarded as the standard we should all try to achieve at the cost of our mental and physical well-being.

    True love is unconditional, unwavering loyalty and respect for a person. Sexual desire has absolutely nothing to do with it. It is possible to respect and appreciate someone so much that you never want to be away from them for too long, all while still lusting for a “new experience” once in awhile. Its called being human. Just be sure that you are open, honest and respect the other persons’ wishes before you do anything. You don’t deserve to be respected back if you do something covert that you know would deteriorate the mutual trust and hurt the other persons’ feelings.

  3. Pierce

    Been there, done that (15 years). It was a very valuable learning experience that I hope never to have to repeat. I value my independence!

  4. Maximus

    I think true love means different things for different people. For some, true love is something that extends to everyone they care about, not just their potential partner(s) in life.

    In the latter part for me, that true, deep love goes to purely one person. Personally, I just feel downright weird even considering the idea of being with more than one person. I feel like I can only give that more sensual type of love to a single person than to multiple people, and likewise…it doesn’t feel right to me personally giving that love to someone and then lusting after another person. To me, I don’t care if it’s a mutual agreement…if you are caving to this idea that you can’t love someone soley because you have to be able to get your rocks off with multiple people, then it’s not worth it to me.

    Granted, not everyone feels the same way as I do, and I completely respect that. Everyone’s definitions and thought process on the topic is different, and I’m in no way going to tell other people how they should express their love, who they can express it to, or how many people at a time they should. Some people feel genuinely more happy in open relationships, and some feel genuinely happy with multiple partners, and that’s totally cool for them.

    But for me, I’m an old traditional type, and again that really just comes down to deep down feelings that I have. Even if my upbringing was different, I feel like deep down my feelings would still be the same.

  5. panda

    I have been with my partner for over ten years. We have been both monogamous and open. Over the years we have also had poly relationships. No matter what relationship we were in what made it work was trust and honesty and being understanding and mature. Without these qualities you will never be able to make a long term relationship work.

  6. Allen

    All I can say is that among the gay community it is very rare to find another person that wants a long term monogamous relationship and being superficial and fake with no sense of commitment seems to be much more popular

  7. Inuyasha

    Being in a committed relationship I welcome it.but there is so ment that don’t want one.I find no enjoyment jumping from bed to bed with different people.I don’t want to get STD or HIV I believe if the person is committed to you and you to them these diseases that are hindering us and killing us off slowly will cease and desist.yes I want a committed relationship but the other people don’t so I for one stay clear

  8. jaquaw

    Being poz myself didn’t make me want monogamy anymore than when I was negative, at one point in my life I believed that monogamy was an unreachable ideal that I pined for, yet the older I got, the less tolerant I became of sharing my “monk space” and began to believe that monogamy was a form of slavery. There is a big difference between monogamy and partnership, in a monogamous relationship the general practice is that there is/are aspects of a person that you own and have particular ownership of, in a partnership, you do not own your partner, or their sexuality, but the two or three or more of you agree to provide safe space for one another.

    For me, the excessive energy and sometimes corrosive emotional states caused by trying to maintain an intimate relationship with someone is a bit too taxing, and personally I would rather have a kitten.

  9. Neil modino

    I dont know about this article it has a lot of controversies. Safety?? How do you become safe when a person when a person sleeps with everybody he thinks is cute and good to fuck and u think just because u have condoms and u practice safe sex that its alright?? Oh my gosh arent we all gay people selfish? We all want our cake and w at it too. So wats the concept of love if we all have sex to one another and spread the disease because we love everbody sexually really??? Should we practice commitment and get the same respect and honor like a straight man becausr we too have morals and beliefs that we can also love one another truly and exclusively?? And we expect unity and marriage?? Dont about sleeping with everybody. I,just think we have no commitment we are just dogs who are just in heat and greedy by how many we fuck because it s good. Oh please we are just disrespecting ourselves.

    • Ando

      If you were to have more than one kid, would you love your first born more? Or would you love all of them equally and unconditionally?

  10. Ray

    Its what works for the two of you ,, i have problems with an olen relationship but have come to realize even after a 20 year supposedly monogomous relationship , most gay mem will cheat in a manogomous the trust is broken, clear open and honest communication is most important , sadly thats rare and didficult to find

  11. Matt

    My wife and I are odd ducks. We’ve been best friends since we were toddlers and both of us knew at an early age we were attracted to the same gender. We are happily married. I have a boyfriend and she has a girlfriend.

    My point is that one guy finding the right guy to settle down with and live happily ever after is a 1950’s heteronormative construct that in no way is psychologically appropriate.

    Going LTR with one person is not how men (gay or straight) are programmed psychologically.

  12. Johnny


    A monogamous, true , equal, one on one, loving and honest love story?

    I desire that, I’m over the hookups, I’m over being seen as just SEX. It’s fun here and there, but when I got the taste of love for the first time, and equal partnership, where I FELT and NEEDED to get rid of my a4a account; and drop all my regulars. Shit, even bring him home to MOM! (She doesn’t “know” I’m gay).

    I want a husband, I can cook for, take care of in every way, be cute for and show him LOVE. I have sooo much of it to give to someone..


    • Ando

      Look at it this way, both forms of love can be positive and negative. If we want monogamous, then our minds have to be open to that, if you want polyamorous, then your mind will have to be open to that. I, myself don’t mind both types of love, and I would respect my partner(s) wishes of what the structure of the relationship should be like. But all I ask in return is that my wishes be respected too in that I want great communication and honesty. Also both monogamy and polyamory can be open and closed, so just because you’re polyamorous doesn’t mean you’re sleeping around with many people. Heck you can have 2 or more partners that you love equally, it works for some of us. Where as the other, if you don’t see yourself as being “tied down” or “enslaved” in a monogamous relationship, and see it more of a “I love this person, and I don’t care if the rest of the world is gone tomorrow, as long as I have that one favourite person of mine, to share the good and not so good times together, then I’ll live…” So neither monogamy nor polyamory is correct, it’s simply how you look at it and how much of an open mind you can have/keep while in this type of relationship. At the end of the day love is love, and love depending on the person can be different shapes and sizes, so nothing should be looked at in the negative light, and should only be seen in a positive light…

      Monogamy Exclusive = one person in bed
      Monogamy Open = Sleeping around and come home to that “special one” I love
      Polyamory Exclusive = Three/Four/Five/”HowManyPeopleInTheRelationship-some”
      Polyamory Open = Sleeping around but come home to the “group of people” I love

  13. ??

    I love Monogamous relationships but it’s hard to find someone who is willing to be Monogamous. Some men in general tend to not be Monogamous and sleep around. I mean in my eyes if you are going to be with someone for the rest of your life is for good and bad times. Some people tend to give up or say the love in their relationship ended. I believe that even in the worse times that person can be their. That’s why vows were written it’s marriage had become this new thing that people have change. I mean I believe that it’s supposed to be between two people not three or four. Sex has to be more than just pleasure and skin on skin contact. But it has become that sex multiple partners cheating on eather sleeping with others. Is not an intimate one on one anymore. I believe marriage in general has changed but not for me. I just think that if you can’t keep it your pants than you couldn’t possibly have a good stable relationship. Being Monogamous is hard for some people but not for me. I wish I was able to find a person who I married and be for the rest of my life. Build a home and a family be more than just an ordinary husband. But monogamy is not for everyone but if you like your open relationships or polyamorist then that’s cool what ever floats your boat that’s why alot of marriages don’t work due to the fact that they look for something else in someone else.

  14. Lamar

    For myself, its choosing the right one, for the right reasons, for the right job at that time, for the most fulfilling experience in getting to know/grow w/ and love each other. When, and if that comes to and end, then we would/should find the courage to respect each other and do something mature (not selfish) about it. At least part ways as friends, who still love each as friends like we did when we fell in love in the first place.

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