I’ve never had a truly monogamous relationship. No matter how wonderful the man was, infidelity always became part of our lives together. Of course, things always started out well between us but I couldn’t resist keeping someone on the side, sometimes more than one someone. I never kept my infidelity a secret, I was brazen. I demanded that my partners accepted and understood my choice—which they did. For a while anyway.

You see, I’d turn to my side piece anytime things got hard in my relationship. They always knew every detail of the highs and lows between me and my main. Hell, I would even allow them to compose my responses during arguments. It wouldn’t matter which side piece I chose, they all served one purpose: my self-gratification in ways my partner didn’t fulfill.

My side pieces were inextricable from my relationships. The boyfriends could usually deal with for awhile. After all most men fantasize about having a “girl [who] got a girlfriend.” But when they’d get tired of the competition, and they always did, I’d simply run back to her. She was always willing and ready to take me back. She never held me accountable, always being sure to rest the blame for the failure of another relationship squarely on the shoulders of my latest ex.

I had her. I always did. Yet I was still lonely and unfulfilled. Who’s she, you ask, that she was more important to keep than any of my relationships?

She is my inner circle. My best friends. My family. Everyone to whom I turn in times of distress and the mistress of every romantic relationship I’ve had.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with seeking advice from one’s circle but, we can tend to take it to an extreme without realizing it before things fall apart. I have been guilty of being an extremist. While I’m fairly decisive in other aspects of my life, I relied heavily on my circle when making choices about my relationship. If we argued, I sought the opinion of my circle about who was right. If he angered me, I’d give my circle every lurid detail so that we could revel in the anger together. All conversations, tape recorded in the annals of my mind only be regurgitated for the circle so that we could analyze every part of it for hidden meaning. I allowed them to become secondary to what was supposed to be a primarily monogamous relationship and it decimated every one that I had.

When we over-involve our circle in our relationship, we keep ourselves from becoming self sufficient in emotional intimacy. Instead of trusting our own gut feelings, we turn to our circle to reassure us and eventually decide for us. Their opinion of us takes precedence over our self-perception. Eventually, they become so deeply involved that we end up being nothing more than the puppet at the end of their marionette strings. Your circle is there is assert your best interest and defense so, their views and opinions will always be biased in your favor. They’ll never forget or forgive the transgressions of your partners and will continue to remind you of them each time you seek them out for advice. Even worse, we end up developing deeper emotional intimacy with our circle than with our partner!

No relationship can sustain without trust, be it trusting our partners or trusting ourselves. Your intuition doesn’t need a vetting process by full committee. It’s time to cut the side pieces and secondaries out and focus on giving our full selves in love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danyelle is a Black woman who is passionate about both women’s sexual agency and the reconciliation of sexuality and faith. She is author of the book “Closed Legs Do Get Fed,” an examination of celibacy for both singles and couples as well as the founder of the blog 'The Unfit Christian.'