I’ve been learning that it’s bad to assume that someone
has the same deﬁnitions as you do. For example,
when I say the word “non-exclusive” in reference to
relationships, I think people hear, “Hey, you can just
have sex with me one time and then pretend like I
never existed and then sometimes booty call me at 2
a.m. because I’m just an object for sexual pleasure and
don’t actually exist as a human being.” What I mean is
something completely diﬀerent.
Here’s my deﬁnition of non-exclusive: when my
partner(s) and I are together, we are together. When
we aren’t, we can go date/sleep with/worship the feet
of someone else. In the meantime, we treat each other
with respect. If something changes, we talk to each
other about it. We go on dates. We communicate.
I could have gone on very happily like this, dating
a few people, having my own life, and having lots of
lovely sex. Unfortunately, I began to assume that people
understood what non-exclusive means to me, and that’s
when I ran into problems.
It boils down to one essential principle that should be
present in every relationship, sexual or not: respect.
Whether you have a one-night stand or a f*ck-buddy or
three girlfriends and a boyfriend, respecting the other
person/people is key. Make sure you’re on the same page.
If you just want a one-night stand, communicate that. If
you have an open relationship, communicate that. If
you don’t want to have sex with someone anymore, tell
them. Don’t just start ignoring them. That doesn’t go
over very well, especially on a small campus like Beloit.
And, of course, get regularly tested for STDs. The
ultimate disrespect is genital warts, and an apology
doesn’t really help with that.