Dining among the beautiful people

Belle and I went out to dinner Saturday night at a shmancy new restaurant that feels like it’d be better suited to Soho than our fair prairie metropolis. Even the people in it seemed to be imported from one coast or the other. Where do these people live? Food was pretty good, though.

Anyway, we had a chance to talk, just the two of us. It was nice and something we needed as there were real life things that had to be discussed (but are unrelated to the world of this blog). Along the way, Belle asked how things were going with Drew.

At no point in my life did I ever think my wife would be asking me about my boyfriend but there she was doing it and all I could do in response was smirk. But it was fantastic and wonderful and such a great thing to be able to chat to her about him and me and me and her and the funky life we all lead. She’s entirely comfortable with the position Drew has in my life and that makes me very comfortable. It’s amazing to me how well this whole thing is working out and I’m impressed with all four of us involved that we’re able to be so perfectly cool about it.

To clarify about Drew’s “position,” I feel for him about how I’ve felt for all the other men I’ve been involved with. In the way my brand of bisexuality allows, greater than just a friend but less than someone I’m romantic with. I feel close to him and very fond and am quite pleased the pressure to have to feel more than that isn’t present. It’s great to have a relationship like this where I can be totally honest about what I need and can give back and not have to worry I’m not giving what he needs. In fact, I think I’m giving him exactly what he needs.

I told Belle again that I encouraged her to find her own Drew-like person, but she again said it wasn’t for her (and no, I’m not harping on it). She’d be afraid of developing an attachment beyond that which I have (or can have) for Drew, nevermind the time commitment something like that would require. Funny thing is, I expect if she ever did pick someone up on the side like that that she would develop feelings for him but I don’t find that in any way threatening. I know what I am to Belle. That said, of course, I’d be jealous. But not an unhealthy jealousy grounded in fear and insecurity. Maybe jealousy isn’t even the right world (or maybe we don’t have a word for it). I think whatever frisson I imagine I’d feel would actually be healthy for me and our relationship. The natural byproduct of our inherent promiscuity as a species. A little high octane fuel, as it were.

A little while back, Belle said she was glad I wasn’t poly. Thing is, I don’t know that I’m not. Do I love Drew? I don’t know that I’d go that far. As I said, I’m fond of him. I feel inside me the capacity to be fond of more than just him, though like Belle, I can’t imagine having the time. When I was unfaithful to Belle, I think the part of it that may have bothered her most was when I said I had “feelings” for the other woman. And of course, I did. I’ve never been good at sex without some kind of attachment like that. But nothing in those feelings changed how I felt about Belle. If anything, it drove me to feel more deeply for her. Nothing in those feelings were a threat to Belle. Same with the feelings I have for Drew. There’s not a finite reservoir of affection inside me that can only be divided up so many times. I don’t think that about any of us. More than ever, I think the limiting factor in how many loves we can have is that insecurity and fear. If not in us, then in our partners.

But whatever. The point of this post is to point out how great my wife is. That she could find the security in herself and to know well enough what she is to me to allow me the freedom to have Drew on the side. She’s awesome and I’m lucky. We’re all lucky. And for that, I’m grateful.

Dawning appreciation

Sex at Dawn didn’t so much show me how others live or reveal to me some mystic, hidden secret about human nature as much as it put form and structure around things I had already figured out about myself and human sexuality. It has left me thinking and feeling things more deeply than any book I’ve read in a long, long time. Maybe ever.

Cheating on Belle was certainly the most colossal screw-up of my adult life. I don’t see Sex at Dawn as a way to retroactively create for myself a pass on that in any way. But man, do I wish I had read it before all that went down (not that I could have since it was published about two years after those events). So much of how we human monkeys are put together I intuited from that and subsequent experience, but it’s all laid out in the book. It all makes so much more sense now.

The affair was about more than sex. It was about connectedness with another human. It was about feeling alive and vital. And in becoming involved with The Other Woman, I felt things I didn’t know one could feel for more than one person at a time. Not the same type of love I feel for Belle. But affection and interest and many similar aspects of how I feel for her. Nothing that detracted from Belle’s place in my heart. If anything, I felt more in love with her. I wonder what it would have been like had I been honest with her and all the feelings of significant guilt and fear hadn’t been clouding the picture.

But that’s in the past and it’s what led to the present and the present is good. I regret the choices I made, but not the consequences.

The most interesting reaction I’ve had to the book is how it’s colored my opinion on marriage. Not being in love with someone and wanting to spend a really long time in their company (up to and including the rest of your life). Not on being committed to them and pairing up and building a life. But absolutely on what I think is a government sanctioned perpetuation of the myth of one-man-one-woman monogamous bliss. I think that’s bullshit.

Monogamy is expected. It’s assumed to be the natural order (just like heterosexuality). But it’s not and everything about us says that. Our physiology and psychology are both hardwired against it and constantly fighting it. This is obviously so. And yet, when we succumb to our innate drive to be promiscuous, we either do so duplicitously and hurt those we love or we do it with their (or one another’s) consent and are judged harshly for it by others. The stock assumption is because relationships that are open to other loves or other sex partners are complicated that they’re wrong and should be avoided. This is the same kind of thinking that makes people avoid anything other than standard, married, boy-girl missionary sex and it’s just as wrongheaded.

All human relationships are complicated, it’s just that we have more experience with some than with others. There is nothing innately bad with being in some kind of affection dynamic with more than a single person. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about having sex with more than the one person you’ve decided is the one you love more than any other. Because we have all been culturally indoctrinated to believe we are a certain way and to reject dynamics and realities that don’t align with that paradigm, we react negatively. We recoil and feel uneasy and fearful. We are afraid of who we are because we don’t know who we are.

And that’s why I think state-sanctioned marriage is bullshit. There are many ways for people to find happiness and love and commitment. It’s no one’s place to judge and it’s not the role of the state to pick winners and losers. Conservatives like to say that gay marriage will lead to the destruction of “traditional values” and I hope to fucking god they’re right. People can be happy and children can be lovingly raised and the world and our society will be better for it once we get out of the way of who we are and how we need to be, both on the scale of us as a species and the scale of us as individual people.

Of course, those who choose monogamy are free to do so. Just as those who choose to have their junk locked up by their spouses are free to do so and those who want to be tied up and beaten are also free to do so. Just as any consenting adult is free to do anything else with another consenting adult (or group of adults) that results in no harm to any other uninvolved person. Is there any better definition of freedom than that?

Reading Sex at Dawn has crystalized a lot of things I was already thinking. It’s given form to feelings. I don’t think I’ll ever think specifically the same way again. And that’s a really good thing. If you haven’t already done so and are sex-positive and open to new experiences and want to better understand what it is to be a sexual, loving human being, read it. Just read it. If you’re not those things…what the hell are you doing here?

Born to fuck

Belle says to me last night sort of out of the blue, “I’m really glad you’re not polyamorous.” She’s making the correct distinction between having multiple loves versus multiple sex partners.

I’m about halfway through Sex at Dawn and it’s rocking my world. Pretty much everything the popular culture wants us to believe about human relationship is wrong. So much guilt and shame and bullshit piled up in an attempt to hold back how humans evolved to be. Not act. TO BE. It’s a remarkable read and I’m sure I’ll say more about it when I’m done.

But the thing that I keep thinking about is the difference between polyamory and promiscuousness. Humans are designed to be promiscuous, but are they designed to be polyamorous? Belle’s right that I love only her. And I do it deeply. But could I love someone else at the same time? I don’t really know. I suspect that if I did it would have a different texture than the love I feel for Belle. I suspect that multiple loves take on unique qualities based on the unique combination of those involved. I know I can’t feel anything like the love Belle gets from me for a man (as we’ve already discussed in length), but another woman?

I doubt it if only because I’d know how it would make Belle feel. Not that it’s going to happen, of course, but the merest whiff of the potential to hurt her would cause me to immolate any other potential affection dynamic. The term “affection dynamic” is interesting to me as I think about love in the context of what Sex at Dawn says about us as primates. The entire concept of one-on-one exclusive and eternal love might just be part of the big lie that I talked about. When Belle says she’s glad I’m not polyamorous I hear fear that if I was I might leave her. As if love is binary. I will never leave her. I will die with her. Period. But that fear based on the idea that one person is always with another single person is pervasive.

She said again it’s why she’d never want someone of her own on the side. She’d be afraid of developing entangling emotions for them. I would be shocked if she didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think she should if she wants to. I don’t fear her leaving me. I know what I am to her. Of course, if such a thing were to happen and I needed to find a way to share her, that wouldn’t necessarily be a straightforward process for either of us, but I do not fear it.

I’m just spitballing here. Not making any suggestions or saying anything will happen. But I am trying to process where cultural conditioning ends and real human behavior begins. If anything, Sex at Dawn makes me angry. Angry at the powers and individuals who are invested in and part of the industrial complex of enforcing the dominant paradigm of human relationship in Western culture. Angry at those who are judgemental and rigid and think my business (or yours) is theirs. Angry that we are so fucking hung up on sexuality that we can’t talk about it. Not the average reader of this blog. I’m sure we’re relatively OK talking about it. But all of them. The ones who have been taught that sex and desire are things to fight against. To resist. To minimize.

We are sexual monkeys. We were born to fuck. Perhaps even to love. But we traded that in for what we have now. And that makes me angry.