A short time ago in class, the subject of monogamy was discussed. My teacher remarked about how the San Francisco Bay Area has such a variety of lifestyles and sub-cultures. He asked, “Some of you may have heard about this strange lifestyle called monogamy. Do any of you prescribe to that?”
No one raised their hand. Time seemed to slog on as my fellow classmates looked at each other. It was one of those defining moments: Tell the truth and “out” myself as a monogamist or pretend I didn’t hear the question. Relying on the scant confidence that perhaps my teacher was asking in sarcasm (he was), I raised my hand. I looked around the classroom. I was in the minority.
Never in a million years, would I consider myself a traditionalist. However, in this case, in the amorphous land of San Francisco lifestyles and sexual orientations, I felt like a heretic.
My teacher asked me why did I choose monogamy? I felt like the uncool kid about to admit that she likes homework. “Why?” I said, “Because it feels good to me”. And then I went on to say, “Because it provides a certain depth I desire in relationships”. My teacher reiterated my answer, and then went onto another person.
In thinking about my answers now, Answer #1 was complete b.s. “Feels good to me?” Monogamy is not a “feel good” exercise. Choosing to be in intimacy with one person, exclusively, perhaps for the rest of my life, can bring up all sorts of doubts, questions, and fears. I’ve got such huge capacity to receive….WHY with just one partner?
This brings me to Answer #2, “Because it provides a certain depth I desire in relationships”.
A long time ago, I explored the ideas of polyamory and polyfidelity. Polyamory is when you are in sexual intimacy with someone, and have opened up your partnership to include others. Polyfidelity condones open sexual relationships with others, as long as they are in a pre-defined closed/committed group with you. I liked the idea of open relationships. There seemed to be no limits on the amount of love I could give or receive, so why should I?
As time passed, I realized that YES…I have an infinite amount of love to give and receive.
But that doesn’t mean I have to enter into a sexual relationships with everyone in order to express it.
It’s important to make a distinction between love and sexual chemistry. Love is a feeling of openness…a feeling of affinity, affection, and closeness with someone. Love is when light infuses our hearts…our being….so that any barriers between two people melts. There are no bounds as to how many people we can love. Sexual chemistry is the energy that is created when sparks fly between two opposite poles (e.g. the masculine and the feminine). It is erotic mutuality expressed in passion’s fire and light. Love and sexuality are two separate vehicles which bring people together. The former is a two-bodied prayer of the heart. The later is a two-bodied prayer of the flesh. Both can bring us closer to feeling the divine embrace of our Eternal Lover. When the two are combined, it’s ecstasy.
In all the years working with women, assisting in David Deida’s workshops, and leading men’s/women’s circles, I have seen so much confusion around sexuality. I am not immune. Once sex enters the scene between two people, a whole new level of relating, opening, and feeling occurs. At first, the honeymoon stage makes it seem like the relationship is infallible…how perfect it is! Euphoria and an expansive feeling of openness occur. And then…the first sign of conflict happens. The initial openness brings increased vulnerability – When conflict occurs, old wounds, old stories and conditioning often rear their ugly head, whether it’s in a monogamous or open-relationship structure. The question is: What do we do with these inevitable conflicts?
One option is to work it out, compromise, and create agreements so that everyone feels some level of satisfaction with the issue at hand. Exercising this option is often necessary. Another option is to go beyond the compromise, and also use relationship as a portal to discover our deepest gifts and love through the excavation of our deepest fears and habits. This option is not for those who enter relationship to “feel good” or to “get something just for themselves” (e.g. another notch checked off on their “To Do” list of a “successful” life). This option is for those who are dedicated to living Love in every moment…through the beautiful parts, as well as the ugly.
Just recently, I discovered that my portal to Love is often through my deepest fears. Within intimate relationships, there is no escape from our own hidden asylum of unfulfilled needs. Only through the facing of my fears combined with the trust that my partner is with me all the way, can I absolutely surrender into the hell that self-doubt can bring. For me, the simplicity of one partner makes the road to clarity much deeper and potent because there’s no escaping, no other partner to turn to…only me and God to forge the way to love. It is challenging enough to have a deep, truly intimate relationship with one person. If I couldn’t have a deeply successful relationship with one person, what makes me think I can do it with two? Yes, there is definitely something appealing about having more than one partner, especially when we are all getting along. But when we’re not getting along….well….it’s complicated. At this point in my life, I know my heart relaxes much more with the simplicity of less…not more. I used to be a kid in the candy store, wanting the freedom to have all there is to have. Now, I’m the adult who manages the store….wanting the freedom to not needing to have freedom.
Love and sexuality are two separate things. These days, freedom to me does not mean liberation from limitation, but rather liberation through limitation. Freedom is not in “having”, but in the spaciousness of being. We cannot have freedom, because essentially, we are freedom. As my teacher, David Deida says, “We are Freedom making an appearance.” It has taken me a long time to realize this.
Through over a decade of hard practice, I am still learning what it means to live with an open heart, through the fears, through my conditioning, through my stubborn ego-centered preferences and pride. What I am now seeking in this period of my life, is not having more choices to choose from, but feeling IN CHOICE now. Choosing to live with an open heart now…in the face of limitations….even in the midst of grief, anger, and sadness.
I, by no means, am saying monogamy should be the path to love for everyone. It is for me. Different people have different reasons to take the path they do. With my partner, I’ve opened up to more love than ever, and I truly believe that it’s because we are so dedicated to each other, no matter what. He’s my rock, and there’s something about having that steady, consistent, structure that provides an unwavering container for the wild nature of my feminine.
And since my feminine is growing, stretching, and trying on different facets of the rainbow (from light to dark and everything in between), having a steady container is good for me. It feels really good.
Hmmmm, did I say that Answer #1 “Because monogamy feels good to me” was b.s.?
Let me take that back….
[for more ways of how to create a path of Love where unwavering love meets wild love, go to http://afemininefeast.com/programs-services/group-programs/mens-womens-circles/]