Inside an “Anything Goes” Sex Club

420 Comments

“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.” – Mae West

In this post, we’ll look two alternatives to monogamy: an “anything goes” sex club and living with three lovers at once.

It’s very graphic, definitely not suitable for work (NSFW), and guaranteed to offend most of you.

If you’re chomping at the bit to express mock outrage, please check this out instead. For the rest of you, I’m hoping the below is hilarious and somehow helpful.

Lifestyle design is, after all, about a lot more than work.

And if anything below shocks or appalls you, please ask yourself: why does this make me so uncomfortable? Dig into the discomfort. Looking inward before lashing outward is good for the world.

Now, on to the taboo.

Context

As some of you know, I’ve been conflicted about monogamy for a long time. I love intimacy, but my biology craves novelty…

So, what the hell is a guy to do? There is reality as we’d like it to be, and then there is reality.

This is where Neil Strauss often enters the picture. I’ve known Neil for years. He’s a seven-time New York Times bestselling author, arguably best known for The Game. In that book, he enters a subculture of pick-up artists as a hopeless nerd and comes out able to conjure threesomes on demand.

Not surprisingly, Neil went on a tear of sexual hedonism after his transformation, and many men read his book hoping for the same.

Then… Neil fell in love. Things got complicated once again.

On this blog and in the podcast, he and I have talked about kickstarting creativity and his genius writing process. But at night over drinks, we still discuss what two guys usually discuss: women. The same questions come up a lot:

– Are humans really designed for monogamy? Is it possible or even desirable?
– Should you choose excitement over intimacy?
– If you’re a driven type-A personality, can you really have both with one person?
– Would life be better if you could sleep with anyone you liked at any time?
– What if you could get a hall pass every once in a while?

Neil has spent the last six years attempting to answer these questions, and the result is a brand-new book called The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. I’ve been reading drafts for months.

This post includes two of my favorite stories from his experiments, adapted and embellished for this blog.

It’s written from the perspective of a male, of course, but many women grapple with similar questions. These are challenging times.

MY SELFISH REQUEST: Please share in the comments what has worked for you! I’m a simple animal living in a confusing world. How have you navigated the above questions?

AND ONE IMPORTANT NOTE (added after much confusion): The below is written by Neil Strauss! It covers his adventures, not mine.

Now, enjoy the debauchery…

Enter Neil Strauss

Several years ago, I was in a relationship with a fantastic person. She was great. Yet I was miserable. I felt trapped. Being romantically and sexually with one person for the rest of my life–at least four decades, barring any cruel twists of fate–made no sense.

First, there was the science: I had interviewed evolutionary biologists, anthropologists, historians, geneticists, and more. I could not find a single shred of evidence supporting the theory that monogamy was natural. And when I talked to a professor who wrote the only major research paper I could find suggesting monogamy was good for civilization, even he admitted, “If humans, just by nature, mated for life and there were a very tight pair-bond, then we wouldn’t need all these marriage customs.”

As Stephanie Coontz, the world’s leading marriage historian, explained when I spoke with her: ”…Now you don’t have to [accept traditional marriage and family as a package deal]: It’s literally pick and choose. Cut and paste the kind of life you want. Family life and love relationships are essentially becoming a build-your-own model.”

So I decided to build my own relationship, and after some thought, this is what I came up with:

  1. It can’t be sexually exclusive, which rules out monogamy.
  2. It has to be honest, which rules out adultery.
  3. It has to be capable of developing romantic and emotional attachment, which rules out being a permanent bachelor.
  4. It has to be capable of evolving into a family with healthy, well-adjusted children, which rules out unstable partners and lifestyles.

Then I started experimenting. Some turned out far better than others. Let’s start with one of the winners.

THE “ANYTHING GOES” SEX CLUB

Everywhere I look while traveling to Paris, I see young couples pushing sleeping children in strollers, carrying blanket-wrapped babies in their arms, hurrying along superhero-backpacked toddlers.

Each family makes me think of Ingrid, the girlfriend I broke up with, and the future I ruined. I wonder what Ingrid’s doing, who she’s doing it with, and if she’s happier living without my wandering eyes and ambivalent heart.

In Paris, however, everything will change. I will finally find the freedom I’ve been looking for.

First, there is Anne, a woman who’s been flirting with me on Facebook. She’s waiting in the hotel room when I arrive. She’s slender and toned, with dirty blond shoulder-length hair, minimal makeup, and boyish clothes. As I approach her, she looks deeply and mutely into me with quivering brown eyes. I take a step toward her, brush her hair aside, and we kiss.

We disrobe. Get in bed. Make love. Spoon. And then she says salut. It’s the first word we’ve exchanged.

Then, there’s Camille, an open-minded Parisian who some new swinger friends made me promise to get in contact with.

“Hi Neil. I’m meeting my friend Laura, who’s American just like you,” she texts. “She wants to go to a great switch club and I promised I’d get in trouble with her. Do you want to come with us?”

“Is it okay if I’m with a date?”

“Dump the girl. There’ll be plenty of dates for you there! And they all want to have sex :)”

This switch club sounds like a goldmine of open-minded single women. The only problem: I want to bring Anne.

“If you have to bring her, use the ‘We’ll just have a drink and watch’ technique,” Camille relents. “That’s how my boyfriend got me there in the first place, and look at me now! The club is by Montmartre. Give me a call after dinner.”

In my monogamous relationship last year, my credo was to say no. Only by saying no to others could I protect Ingrid’s heart. But now, I am saying yes—to everyone, to everything, to life. Because every yes is the gateway to an adventure. Whatever I am heading toward, it is a relationship that operates out of a place of yes.

At dinner that night, I do exactly as Camille instructed. Anne and I are with two women I met on a European press tour a few years earlier: a German fashion photographer and a Swedish designer. They spend most of the meal gossiping about people I don’t know.

“We don’t have to do anything,” I explain to Anne. “Let’s just plan on having a drink and watching, and we can leave right away if it’s lame.”

“I’m a little tired,” she replies, her voice barely audible. Throughout the day, she’s barely spoken. Instead, she’s attached herself to me energetically, gazing at me almost constantly with big, vulnerable, barely blinking eyes. I get the sense that she wants something from me or may already be getting it from me. “Is it okay if I go back to the hotel?”

“Can we come?” the fashionistas interrupt.

“You can go with them if you want,” Anne tells me softly.

It’s hard to read Anne. I’m not sure if she’s legitimately tired or just uncomfortable with the suggestion. “Are you sure it’s all right for me to go?”

“I don’t mind,” she replies.

I study her face to make sure she’s sincere, that it’s not a test to see if I’ll choose her. She appears placid and unconcerned. I ask three more times just to make sure.

“She said you could go!” the German photographer snaps at me.

We drop Anne off at the hotel, and she gives me a deep kiss and walks off. It’s a good sign: Letting your lover go to a sex club alone is actually a much more open-minded feat than going with him. As the taxi speeds away, the German photographer loops her arm in mine.

I’m determined not to wreck this orgy like all the others [Editor’s note: elsewhere in the book].

We arrive at the club just after midnight. I spot Camille instantly. She has long brown hair worthy of a shampoo commercial and skin so smooth and flawless that a metaphor to an inanimate object, like a pearl, would hardly do it justice.

She’s standing with two other women: Laura, her American friend, who looks like a burning candle—long and narrow, with a white pantsuit and a shock of short blond hair. And Veronika, a haughty beauty from Prague with lips like cylindrical sofa cushions, flowing brown hair, an overdeveloped nose, and a tall, thin, sensuous frame that reminds me of the actress Jane Birkin.

“Do we have to put on robes or towels when we go in?” I ask Camille, unsure what protocol is for places like this.

Camille looks at me like I’m crazy. “No, we just wear our clothes.”

That’s a relief. Despite my desire to be open, evolved, and shame free about sex, I’m still not totally comfortable with the sight of my own body. The first time I ever had sex, I was too embarrassed to remove my shirt. And the second and third times as well.

Behind us in line, there’s a Frenchman with a shiny suit and slicked-back hair. He looks like a shady businessman who snorts a lot of cocaine. “Since you have so many girls, is it okay if I come in with you?” he asks.

The club has a rule that all males must enter with a female—and I’m standing there with five of them like a glutton. I suppose this is what I missed when I was dating Ingrid: options, variety, adventure, discovery, novelty, the unknown.

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “It’s my first time here.”

As we wait, Camille and Laura discuss sharing toys, by which they mean boys. “Is your boyfriend coming?” I ask Camille.

“No.”

“Does he know you’re here?” I’m asking not to judge her, but because I’m curious how their relationship works.

“No.” She smiles guiltily. Clearly, having an open relationship is no cure for infidelity. Almost everyone I’ve met in the scene so far has transgressed even the minimal rules of their supposedly open relationship.

Perhaps the problem with most relationships is that the rules start to become more important than the values they’re supposed to be representing.

Eventually two of Camille’s toys arrive, both in designer jackets and skinny ties. They introduce themselves as Bruno and Pascal. Bruno looks like a clean-cut college athlete, while Pascal, with thin-framed glasses, tight curls, and slow, well-mannered gestures, looks like an intellectual dandy.

Unlike the highly sexualized crowd at Bliss [another sex party], the men and women here aren’t divorced weekend warriors dressed like porn stars. Aside from the slick-haired businessman behind us, everyone here seems young, hip, well dressed, and silicone free. They don’t look much different than the crowd outside an exclusive nightclub. Evidently, after a night on the town, they come here for dessert. As the line starts moving, Laura takes pity on solo slick guy and invites him to come in with her.

“Do you know how I can tell these people are barbarians?” the German photographer says to her friend. “Look at their shoes. I wouldn’t wish a single pair on my worst enemy.”

I glance back nervously and think about ways to slip away from them. But it’s too late: We’re being let inside.

When we enter, a hostess asks us to check our jackets (which for some reason leads to sniggers from the fashionistas), then gives me a card that she explains will serve as my tab for the night. Veronika removes her blazer to reveal a loose-fitting backless dress that, when her stride is long, would get her arrested. “She will be my first fuck tonight,” Pascal tells me confidently as I stare mutely at the tan expanse of Veronika’s back.

We walk downstairs to an empty, low-lit dance floor dotted with stripper poles. The twenty or so people in the room are clustered against a bar, drinking away their inhibitions. Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” is playing. It seems so . . . obvious.

At the end of the anteroom, there’s a black door that leads to the fun. After her friends have drifted into the rooms behind it, Camille takes my hand and offers to show me around. “What about my friends?” I ask.

“They’ll be fine. Are you coming or not?”

I look over and they seem deep in snide conversation, concealing their discomfort by increasing their arrogance. I should invite them to join us, especially since I brought them here. The last thing I want to do, however, is walk around the orgy with them making obnoxiously loud comments about how everyone’s sexual techniques are so last year.

• • •

Behind the black door, Camille and I slowly wander through sunken living rooms and small porthole-fitted chambers, all in copious use, until we arrive at a space that consists of just an enormous bed and a narrow walkway along the front wall.

Most of the women on the megabed are completely naked while the men are still wearing dress shirts, ties, and pants. However, their pants are all unzipped or lowered and their junk is hanging out. Dicks are everywhere. Even the guys who aren’t with women are walking around the room with expectant cocks dangling in the air in case someone has a need for them. I’m the only guy who’s zipped up.

In the bottom right corner of the bed, Laura is on all fours with her dress up. Bruno pulls out of her and parks in Camille’s mouth while Pascal, true to his word, fucks Veronika against the wall. She’s standing up, facing frontward with one leg raised and her face flushed, in a pose that, if photographed, would incite a million sticky nights.

I don’t know what to do, how to get involved, or what the rules are.  This is the closest to a free-for-all I’ve ever seen.

So I sit in the empty space on the mattress in front of Laura, who’s still posed on her hands and knees expectantly. “Thanks for letting me come here with you guys,” I tell her, because I feel like I need to say something.

“Is this your first time at a switch club?” she asks astutely. This is probably the stupidest place I’ve tried to make small talk since the last orgy.

“Pretty much.”

As we’re talking, the creepy businessman from outside the club materializes behind Laura and rubs her pussy. Then he scoots under her like he’s repairing a car and starts eating her out.

“Is that cool with you?” I ask her. “I can tell him to stop if you’re not comfortable.” Here I go again: taking care of everyone’s needs but my own.

“That’s so American of you to say,” she laughs.

“What do you mean? How is that American?” I don’t even understand the comment: She’s American herself.

“No one’s ever asked me that before.”

“But I thought maybe—”

“I just want a cock in me.”

This is the kind of woman I fantasized about as a teenager: an indiscriminate one. And more than anything I’ve experienced so far, this seems like free sex–because there’s no spiritual baggage, drug baggage, or even much relationship baggage around it. In fact, there’s no baggage or encumbrances whatsoever, just randomly intersecting body parts. And now that I’m in the midst of it, I’m terrified. It’s so shockingly . . . open.

It’s not society that holds us back, it’s ourselves. We just blame society because not only is it easier but it’s a nearly impossible weight to move. This way, we don’t actually have to change. I thought I was fighting the system, but perhaps all I’ve really been doing is fighting myself.

Meanwhile, the slick-haired guy stops licking Laura and appears to be going for a home run.

I realize this is very crude, but the story takes place in a sex club. What else am I supposed to describe? The chandeliers? There’s nothing going on here but sex.

“Can you make sure he puts on a condom?” Laura asks.

“Okay,” I reply over-enthusiastically, grateful for the opportunity.

I have a job to do now. A purpose. I am the condom police. I watch him carefully to make sure he puts the rubber on. Then I worry that I’m creeping him out. But I won’t be swayed from my very important duty: no protection, no service. That’s right, sir, roll it on all the way. Otherwise I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the bed.

“It’s on,” I tell her with an air of authority,

As he thrusts inside her, Laura’s face swings closer to mine. Now’s my chance, I think, and I start making out with her.

And that’s when I realize: No one else here is making out. How many dicks has she had in that mouth tonight?

So I pull away. It’s time to say yes and unzip. I kneel so that my crotch is level with her head. And sure enough, she takes it in her hands, guides it into her mouth, and starts sucking.

“What do you like?” Laura pauses to ask.

Good question. I like this. What’s better than a blow job? Or does she want more specific instructions? Perhaps they have names for different blow jobs here—the spit-shine, the round-the-world, the confused American.

Like anything, I suppose sexual freedom is a learned art. I still need more experience to get comfortable.

Suddenly, I see Pascal’s head appear over mine. He whispers in my ear, “Veronika wants you.”

It’s music to my ears, especially since things with Laura feel awkward. I know she has an any-cock-will-do attitude, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my cock isn’t quite doing.

When the businessman finishes, Laura makes her escape. But instead of Veronika appearing, Camille kneels in front of me and takes Laura’s place with more enthusiasm. I’m not fully present because I’ve been stuck in my upper head, so I look around the room and notice a woman lying spread-eagled in front of me. I take her hand and start massaging it, and she massages my hand back. I move my hand between her thighs and start playing with her.

I’m starting to get comfortable here. Finally, I’m actually part of an orgy—awake, accepted, alive. I rear up tall and look around. Everyone is fucking and sucking.

Perhaps my previous disasters in CNM (consensual non-monogamy) have actually been necessary experiences to get comfortable at these things, learning lessons on the road to orgy mastery.

Suddenly I hear a guy’s voice exclaim loudly, “Tu es sur ma jambe.”

Nearly everyone on the megabed starts laughing.

Evidently I’m kneeling on some guy’s leg. I slide out of his way and notice Veronika crawling toward me on the mattress. I drink in her unique amalgamation of devastating beauty and awkward innocence, and I instantly harden.

I make out with her passionately. I don’t know why I keep touching people’s filthy lips, but I crave the intimacy and connection more than the anonymous sex. Maybe I am polyamorous—because it’s not just free sex I’m searching for, it’s free romance, free connection, free relationships, free getting-naked-with-someone-you-enjoy-and-who-enjoys-you-and-then-getting-to-know-each-other-even-better-afterward.

I seriously need to gargle with Listerine when I leave this place.

Meanwhile, Bruno has appeared out of nowhere and started having sex with the spread-eagled woman.

I pull back and look at Veronika’s face, and she bites her lower lip in response. There’s so much heat between us and we’ve only just met. I hope it isn’t because she was abandoned by her father (long story).

I run a finger across her lips and she sucks it into her mouth and . . . oh god, I feel like I’m about to . . .

But I don’t want this to end, so I pull out of Camille’s mouth.

“Let me suck you!” she begs.

This is the best night of my life.

I’ve finally entered the world I’ve been reading about in porn magazines and watching in adult movies since puberty. Just as women are trained by the media and society to look for their Prince Charming, men are conditioned to look for their nasty slut. Not for a marriage, but just for an adventure. Both are fairy tales, but a Prince Charming is nearly impossible to find, because it’s a lifetime illusion to sustain. It takes only a few minutes to play the role of nasty slut.

The only thing keeping me from fully enjoying this sexual paradise is the guilt: that Anne is in the hotel worrying, that the fashionistas are angry, and that because I’m liking this so much, it means I’m a sex addict, as is everyone else here. The counselors back at rehab have really done a number on my head. I used to be worried just about sexually transmitted diseases, but they’ve turned sex itself into a disease. And now, any time I’m giving myself over to pleasure, I hear a therapist’s voice in the back of my head telling me I’m avoiding intimacy.

Just as I promised my friend Rick Rubin I’d go all in on addiction treatment without doubt, I need to go all in on freedom without guilt. The answer will become clear over time: Either I’ll hit bottom, as others predicted, or I’ll find a solution that works for my life, as I hope. I need to get out of my head and be present for this experience. And to remember why I’m here: not just to have a lot of sex, but to find my relationship orientation and like-minded partners.

As my eyes meet Veronika’s again, I notice a dick hanging in my peripheral vision like a cloud covering the sun. Its owner says to me in a thick French accent, “All the girls here, they have been sucking your dick.”

“I guess so.”

“Do you like having your dick sucked?”

It seems like an obvious question, but I reply anyway, “Yes.” I try not to make eye contact. This conversation definitely isn’t helping my staying power.

“Would you like that I should suck your dick?”

“Oh, no thanks.” I don’t know why, but the situation seems to call for politeness. “I’m good.”

I suppose if I technically wanted total freedom, I’d let him go to town. But, I realize, the goal isn’t sexual anarchy. It’s that I want the rules around my sexuality to be self-imposed, not externally imposed. That’s the key difference—perhaps in everything.

The goal, then, is liberation: to be the master of my orgasm. I don’t want my partner to own it, which would be monogamy, but I also don’t want the orgasm to own me, which would be addiction.

My new admirer has inadvertently given me a gift. Though he doesn’t say anything else, I keep seeing his dick—on my right side, then my left, then a foot above me—as if he’s hoping that by just dangling it around me, at some point I’ll decide to show my appreciation. That seems to be how things work here. Maybe this is where all the women hang out who actually like it when guys text photos of their dicks.

A Valkyrie with long blond hair and missile breasts clambers onto the bed with her boyfriend. I eye-fuck her to get back into the spirit of the orgy. She holds my gaze. But before I get a chance to do a thing about it, Bruno appears out of the blue and starts fucking her.

I don’t know how he does it. This must be his tenth woman. Suddenly I remember that Camille has been down there sucking me for half an hour straight. I put on a condom, lie down, and move her on top of me.

Camille rides me as Veronika positions herself over my face. I am smothered in woman. If this is happening right now because my mother smothered me, then I owe her a serious thank-you.

Suddenly, a loud, condescending German voice fills the room: “Where is he?”

I tilt my head back and see an upside-down image of the fashionistas standing against the wall, staring into the mass of bodies.

“It’s just like him to do this to us!”

I try to shield myself underneath the women so the fashionistas don’t spot me.

“Let’s just leave without him.”

Their voices cut through the room, killing all sexuality in their path.

“So selfish.”

For a millisecond, I consider stopping. I should probably get back to the hotel and check on Anne anyway.

Then I think, No. This is amazing. I don’t want to stop this. So I’m selfish. Let me be selfish. They can leave and I’ll deal with it later. I’m learning how to take care of my own needs for a change.

In moments like these, the true nature of one’s soul is revealed.

“Let’s switch,” Veronika suggests. This is a switch club after all, so I slide out of Camille so she can swap places with Veronika. However, as soon as Camille’s lower orifice is free, Bruno is in there. The guy never misses an opportunity. I’m sure he’s a great businessman in the outside world.

Veronika slides her body over mine, her skin rubbing against my clothing, her back arched so we can see each other’s faces. I switch condoms and slowly enter her. We move against each other sensuously. Time slows. We fall out of sync with the rest of the club and into each other.

I gaze deeply into the world in Veronika’s eyes and she into mine—and it feels like love. Not the love that is a thought that comes with expectations of commitment and fears of abandonment, but the love that is an emotion that makes no demands and knows no fear. I’ve found, for a moment, love in a swing club.

Connected sex is a spiritual experience, but not in the way new-age western Tantra devotees describe it. It is spiritual because it’s a release from ego, a merging with the other, a discorporation into the atoms vibrating around us, a connection to the universal energy that moves through all things without judgment or prejudice.

Thus, orgasm is the one spiritual practice that unites nearly everyone on the planet, and perhaps that is why there’s so much fear and baggage around it. Because they were right both in rehab and the pseudo-religious sex cults: It is sacred.

And every orgasm. Is in itself an act of faith. An attempt to reach out. And just for a moment. Relieve our separateness. Escape from time. And touch eternity. And, yes!

As she drenches the mattress, I fill the condom.

Not only did I find love at an orgy, I think I found enlightenment.

ENLIGHTENMENT COLLIDES WITH “REAL LIFE”

A MONTH LATER, IN SAN FRANCISCO

“I moved in with three girlfriends and it’s been a complete disaster. No one’s getting along.”

That voice is, unfortunately, mine. I am making an emergency call to the smartest person I know in the world of polyamory. I would caution against, however, judging his level of intelligence from the name he goes by. It is Pepper Mint.

Really.

Months have passed since I made the decision to find a free relationship, and I eventually found three of them. So with a relationship roster that looks like a visit to Disney’s “Small World” ride–Anne, from France; Belle, from Australia; and Veronika, from the Czech Republic–we all decided to move into a house in San Francisco together.

And while months have passed since my decision to broaden my relationship horizons, unfortunately only a day has passed since we all moved in together. Problems came up that I just couldn’t anticipate, that weren’t covered in any books on the subject, that even the experts didn’t mention.

Like this one: The four of us traipse down the stairs, hungry and excited for a good meal. I get in the driver’s seat of the car. And… three women stand in front of the passenger seat of the car, looking confused and uncomfortable. They look to me to make a decision. But how can I pick favorites? That’s not going to help us live in equality this weekend. Eventually, we decide on a rotational system for the front seat: Alice will take the front seat now. Next time, Belle gets the front seat. Then Veronika.

It’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

The automobile was clearly designed by monogamists.

And that was just the beginning: Even though all three women were excited about being in a group relationship, and two of them had already had related experiences, by the end of that first night all together, I felt like I was on an episode of The Bachelor. Competition reared its ugly heads at a party that night, at which all three of them wanted to leave at different times, Anne became jealous when anyone else touched me, Belle became upset when I told her to be careful about touching me because of Anne, and Veronika was irritated with all the drama.

There’s a term popular in the poly world: compersion.

It was coined supposedly at the Kerista commune in San Francisco decades ago. And it’s the idea that if the person you love is with another partner, rather than feeling jealous, you can feel happy for them because they are happy. And if you love someone, you should be glad that they’re happy, whether or not they’re experiencing it with you, right?

Compersion is evidently a lot harder to feel than it sounds. And it already seems pretty difficult to feel.

So that night, in light of the clear and total absence of compersion, I ended up sleeping on the couch so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The moral thus far: Be careful what you wish for.

So now, the next day, I was on the phone with Pepper Mint, begging for help. Things could only get better from here.

“You’re trying to run before you can walk,” he informed me.

“What do you mean?”

“How many people are in the house?”

“Four of us.”

“So mathematically that’s six relationships. And it’s hard enough to make one relationship work.”

I had thought of it as a single relationship, or three at most. But I do the math—n(n-1)/2, with “n” being the number of lovers in a poly pod.—and he’s right.

“But there was this guy Father Yod,” I protest, “who had fourteen wives and it worked for him . . . I think.” I realize I don’t know much about how Father Yod managed his relationships. In fact, I just looked at the pictures.

“Who’s Father Yod?”

“He’s like Charles Manson, but without the killing.” Actually, that’s not totally true. I recall reading online afterward that Father Yod was a judo expert who murdered two people with his bare hands in self-defense.

“What I can tell you is that a shared living situation is what we call an advanced skill,” Pepper says, unfazed. “But trust me, it can work. I just went on a weeklong vacation to Hawaii with my partner and her boyfriend. And it was totally smooth because the three of us had spent so much time together.”

“Right now, I can’t see us ever getting to that point.” I suppose after a few years, one can get used to anything.

“Do you want me to come by and talk to them?”

“Please!”


When Pepper arrives an hour later, we gather in the living room, desperate for a miracle. I dare not sit on the couch in case it looks like I’m favoring whichever girl drops down next to me, so I take an armchair instead. Veronika and Pepper sit in the other chairs while Belle and Anne share the couch.

I introduce Pepper to everyone and list all the problems we’ve had so far. He listens carefully, then responds as if telling preschoolers to play nicely with each other. Unlike with monogamy, our culture offers no schooling on how to make a group relationship work, no real role models to look up to, and few—if any—friends to turn to for advice. Even in movies, when couples decide to open their marriage, the results are usually disastrous and the moral of the story is to stick with what you’ve got.

“Here’s your first lesson in going out together,” he begins. He is a sharp-featured, pale creature with long black hair, a black choker, and a slow, measured voice. I wonder if he was always this calm and deliberate or if it’s something he learned from years of managing multiple relationships. “You need to talk before you leave and have a plan for party protocol. If someone gets tired, do they take a cab home alone or do you all leave together? And if it’s a sexual situation, decide ahead of time whether you want to watch or leave or join the sex pile.” This makes perfect sense, yet it never occurred to me: The art of group relationships is logistics. “I want to encourage you to do little check-ins with one another constantly, with the knowledge that you don’t know each other very well. This way you can start to build a team feeling together.”

We nod in agreement. I suppose I was naïve to assume we would all just instantly become attached and live in relational utopia together. I’ve made mistakes in every monogamous relationship I’ve had, but I learned from them and that made the next relationship better. So it makes sense that my first multiple-partner relationship isn’t going to be a runaway success. It takes experience and failure to get good at anything. This is my opportunity to learn.

“I want to add something that’s important,” Pepper continues. “You”—he points to me—“are the fulcrum. This is a long-known poly situation. The fulcrum is the only person in a relationship with each partner, but because of that, you end up torn in a lot of different directions. It’s a very uncomfortable thing, because you’re empowered and disempowered at the same time.” He turns to the women. “So I would like to recommend that you all try to de-center Neil a little.”

I heave a hopefully imperceptible sigh of relief. I watched several documentaries on poly pods before coming here, and many were led by people with a pathological need to be the focal point of everyone’s love. They didn’t seem to care whose feelings got hurt as long as the empty space in their own hearts was kept filled. But for me, it’s no fun being the center of attention when it results in collateral damage to other people’s feelings.

“So how do we de-center me?” I ask Pepper.

“The three of you”—he gestures to my partners—“should hang out without him and also start negotiating decisions that don’t have to go through him first. The easy part of the situation is you and Neil, and you and Neil, and you and Neil”—here he points to each woman. “The hard part of the situation is your relationships with each other. I have a saying: Poly works or fails on trust between metamours.”

“What’s a metamour?” Veronika asks.

“A metamour is a partner’s partner. So if Neil and I were both dating you, then Neil would be my metamour. And it succeeds between him and me, because we have the hard part but not the good stuff. So when you build trust among metamours, everything comes together and the group starts functioning. Does that make sense?”

We were in the dark before. This pale Goth guy is the light. He’s a relationship pioneer, mapping new realms in interpersonal space.

He tells us about the burning period, which is the length of time (usually two years) it takes couples who open up to deal with the issues and challenges that occur as a result. I learn about the joys of theoretical nonmonogamy, which is when two people say they’re in an open relationship—but instead of actually sleeping with other people, they just get to feel free knowing they have the option to do so. There’s the jealousy test, which you pass if you’re able to have a serious relationship with someone who’s sleeping with other people or in love with someone else. Then there’s fluid bonded, which refers to partners who feel safe having unprotected sex with one another, and veto power, which means that one partner can ask another to end an outside relationship—an agreement that Pepper feels can cause more problems than it solves. Finally, there are the wearisome cowboys and cowgirls who get into the poly scene, date someone’s partner, and then try to rope that person into a monogamous relationship.

“So what do I do if I want to spend time with Neil alone?” Belle eventually asks. “Every time I try to do that, he says it’s rude to someone else.”

“Try not making the request to Neil. Make it to Anne and Veronika. And if they both say it’s okay, then you can do whatever you want with Neil.” The corners of Belle’s mouth turn up in an unsuccessfully repressed smile. Pepper spots this and adds sagely, “But be willing to hear a no.”

Veronika sighs and uncrosses her legs. “It’s so hard to share a person,” she says. “It would be easier if we didn’t have strong feelings. But there’s always going to be this mental fight to have him.”

Although having three attractive women fighting over me may seem like an ego trip, in reality it’s nerve shattering. Whatever interest they had in me before they arrived seems to have been exacerbated by the competition. According to a copy of O magazine I once read, polygamous men live nine years longer, on average, than monogamous men. But I wonder how Oprah could possibly be right. Because this is definitely not good for my blood pressure.

Pepper turns to me: “What you can do to get them past that point is reassure them. I’ve seen really jealous people and people with a lot of abandonment issues get past their shit once the fear of loss goes away. A good nonmonogamous group is like a flock of geese, which is to say it separates and comes back together.”

Anne opens her mouth to speak. The words escape soft and unsure. Everyone leans in to make sure they catch them. “For me, I was really surprised last night because when everybody was touching, it was hurting me.” She takes a pause so long it seems like an intermission. “I have a complicated family history, so maybe I get more possessive. But I understand now that we have to make things work so this can be a relationship.”

Pepper’s talk seems to be straightening everyone out. The metamours are remembering that they didn’t come here to be in some reality-show competition, but to live, learn, and grow in a mature relationship together. “I would recommend letting go of expectations and trying to get to a place of comfort with everything,” Pepper tells her. “If things get weird, let them be weird. If you can all get to a high communication level, and learn the process of negotiation and setting boundaries and talking through discomfort, this will start working much better for all of you.”

Before Pepper leaves, the girls and I agree to hold house meetings every day, during which each person gets a turn to speak uninterrupted–like in the talking-stick circle I made fun of back in sex rehab.

As a sense of calm and understanding descends on the house afterward, Veronika makes egg salad sandwiches and we sit around the table, all on the same page for the first time. Then, with Anne taking the front seat of the car without incident, we visit Alcatraz. As we walk from the ferry to the island prison, Belle holds my left arm while Anne clutches the other. Veronika wanders behind, taking photos.

“I feel like I’m a third child whose mother doesn’t have enough hands to hold,” Veronika says as she catches up to us.

She takes Anne’s hand in hers as a group of frat boys walks by and gives me a thumbs-up. For the first time, there’s a group energy connecting us. Perhaps all of us just needed to let go of our expectations like Pepper recommended, adjust to being somewhere new, and allow the relationship to set its own course.

And that’s when something unexpected happens: I’m overcome by a powerful sense of unworthiness. It doesn’t seem fair that these women have to share me. Any one of them could easily have her pick of the guys here who keep looking at us. But instead they’re settling for scraps of my affection.

When I imagined living in a freewheeling love commune during my monogamous relationship, I thought I’d be adrift in a blissful sea of pleasure, excitement, and feminine energy. But instead I only feel embarrassed that I’m monopolizing three hearts.

I spent my childhood starved for the love of the adult figures raising me, feeling like most of their positivity went to my brother and their negativity to me. So being in a position where I’m actually getting so much positive female caring is a new experience. Maybe the real purpose of this relationship for me is to break through my walls and feel worthy of love—or whatever this is.

CONCLUSION

This was the quiet before the storm: One of the worst relationship storms I’ve ever experienced.

The situation lasted roughly a week, then turned into a triad with just Belle and Veronika, then turned into me alone.

The lesson: If a relationship with one person is difficult, then a relationship with three people is going to be three times as difficult—or, according to the Pepper sum, six times as difficult.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am not a quitter. I decided that if I couldn’t make it work with three other people, then I’d definitely be able to make it work with ten.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

But that’s a story for another time.

###

Want more stories and more of the lessons learned? Of course you do. Check out The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. I have my own dog-eared early copy.

Posted on: October 13, 2015.

The Tim Ferriss Show is generally the #1 business podcast on iTunes, and it was selected for iTunes' "Best of 2015." Each episode deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. If you want to 10x your productivity, click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

420 comments on “Inside an “Anything Goes” Sex Club

  1. You made money guys but cannot control your vices. I think it is fair..

    If you would have a 9 to 5 job and 3 children at home, credit for the house, I dont think you will spend your time and energy (because you dont have any left) to think at multiple partners sex..

    Money comes with advantages but also with some vices, keep the advantages, get rid of vices if you want to be balanced and happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, people like sassy stories, so this post is a safe bet. However I feel bored with them, when the hook of the title is giving answers. I don’t care for Neil’s life just as he obviously doesn’t care about mine. Could he just list his conclusions in a paragraph? Something like: I’ve tried orgy at a swing club in France and I liked it, tried living with a few girlfriends, couldn’t last a week, still searching for solutions. Wam. And no sassy story, where solutions are promised (and not given)

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Very interesting. This is an area I’ve had a lot of intellectual curiosity about, even if no real personal allure to it. I’d say the whole monogamy debate is never really going to be settled, but probably needs to be tossed out as a standard assumption. Neil’s experience seeming to be a prime example.

    More than anything, I see a lot of baggage in the form of conditioning. With a life long assumption about how everything is supposed to be one way, it’s a little hard to just switch that on a whim. I’m really fascinated as to why the attempt to move in together came so seemingly quick. Even in monogamous relationships, you wait. And that’s just have to share space with one other person. It seems to make sense to me that you should have the same grace-period of seeing how you get along with someone before deciding to move in together, in a polyamorous relationship. And the same for each additional person. The chemistry has to be there between all elements and everyone should have a full understanding of expectations. I don’t think (even) Father Yod had fourteen weddings in one day.

    Like

  4. Ah Tim – I have had an open relationship that was quite intense. Yes there were multiple play partners. It worked for a little while, but as time goes on / I yearned for something deeper and more intimate and my partner he didn’t desire that level of intimacy and wanted to maintain the status quo – I found I needed some one who needs a sexual connection that starts in the mind but that doesn’t mean I am opposed to being polyamorous but it does mean I want more connectedness with a partner beyond the sexual bond

    Liked by 3 people

      • I think there’s a misconception that poly is kink. Poly is not kink, but poly people can be kinky.
        I applaud Neil for trying to make it work. Sure he missed some foundational pieces, but as he said – you learn from your failures and do it better next time.

        There are many arrangements of poly and so the beauty is that it’s customizable. I have a husband and two kids. We each have a main secondary partner and can date/play outside of those bonds.

        If you’re not familiar with poly, here is a pretty inclusive resource: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory

        I think, based just on what you’ve indicated in this blog, Tim you could very well be poly and live poly successfully/happily.

        Most importantly, people need to accepted no matter what their lifestyle choices are – as long as they are living in a healthy and ethical way to everyone they encounter.

        Like

    • I think that’s what Neil discovered — the play gratified for a bit, but he ended up craving the connection.

      I enjoy sex a great deal, but I really only enjoy it when there is some form of spark of emotion, some connection. I grow bored quickly unless that spark fans into a flame of shared intimacy and love — with a suggestion of something larger and enduring lurking out there.

      Interesting to me is how so many latch onto the “sex” part of the stories of open relationships and turn blind eyes toward the romance and commitment parts. I suppose those are all old hat — everyone loves a good sexy tale, but talk of domesticity? Pah!

      Like

    • You should evaluate weather that is a life you are willing to live for the next 5, 10, 15+ years.

      I recently had 4 months of Therapy for Alcoholism. I discovered the roots of that came from my decision to suppress my feelings for previous loves at the start of my marriage (going on 6 years now). As a result, I now see that I am no longer willing to live a life of only Monogamy. I am still young, and have plenty of time to experience life. I know i have many long and difficult conversations I will have with my wife. But is is worth it in the end.

      Like an entrepreneur battling their fear of failure for possible success, I am now battling my fear of abandonment, rejection, and shame for a future I clearly know I want to have.

      I still have so much more to learn.🙂

      Like

      • There are several MeetUp groups around the world that discuss polyamory (the transition, how to communicate your needs etc). One amazing book on the topic is “More than two” , which you can easily find in Amazon. Good luck!

        Like

  5. I really have no experience in this, but hopefully something I say will be of some use.

    I honestly think that monogamy is not this elusive thing people can’t fathom. One of the key factors that led to human development is the fact that males took care of their offspring. Most parents in the wild are single moms. And a male is much more likely to raise a child if it’s actually his, and the only way he can assure a child is his is if people are monogamous.

    I think it makes more sense if you look at it that way. If people find balance in other forms of relationships, then okay, but we also have to appreciate that, whether we like it or not, monogomy is probably the biggest building block of modern society. It’s a genetic insurance system.

    But then again, I’m only 16, so what do I know?

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I love the idea of a switch club but work in a hospital and I know I wouldn’t be able to get over the fear of STDs. Having random sex from time to time is nice but I enjoy a personal connection as well. I would love to have more than one person to enjoy both sexually and personally but the idea of living with them at the same time just sounds like a huge hassle. Not something I’m interested in trying at all!

    Like

    • The two of us always practice safe sex with everybody. So we are not all that afraid of STDs. Having said that, we hope that sex as such (swinging or not) will get more normal and less tabu in our society. That way it would be much easier to talk about risks and educate everybody in a meaningful way.

      Like

  7. My belief is do what you like as long as it’s not hurting anyone else – cheating is likely to hurt someone else. I think the key is communication. I’m a highly sexed woman and I’m fortunate to be with a man who can (almost) keep up, and we are discussing exploring sharing and other options. I’m the jealous one so I have to be comfortable that the communication is honest and open. As long as we are open with each other it’s all good…but if he wants to “have an affair” then that’s probably going to be the end of our relationship.
    Everyone is different and wants different things, I think that’s why relationships break down. Don’t settle until you find someone who has similar needs and desires to yours I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think you’d be interested in what Emma Sayle is doing in this space too. Built a lifestyle business by organising high class sex parties around the world. Killing Kittens. Saw her give a presentation, she started with the slide “When I grow up I want to organise orgies” Said no one ever.

    Like

  9. “Perhaps the problem with most relationships is that the rules start to become more important than the values they’re supposed to be representing.” This is the most important sentence for me in all of the article. I think if we finally manage to honestly talk about our values and keep them in check, anything is possible

    Like

  10. Great stuff, Neil has the ability to make me lose track of time while reading. Can’t wait to read the now book, I think you should do a second podcast sometime soon!

    Like

  11. Thank you for writing this up Tim. It’s empowering to see that even men with your experience, status, and accomplishments can still struggle with monogomy.

    Keep up the good work!

    Like

  12. Wow, this was probably one of your best posts! You’ve definitely enlightened me on the topic of intimacy, and your story was wildly entertaining as well! Thanks Tim, for opening our eyes to a world that mainstream society typically labels as Taboo.

    Like

  13. Ha, this was such a fascinating read. I’m a huge fan of both of you and have questions of my own relationships and monogamy.

    I have a policy of 100% honesty. I’ve done this for the last 6 years. Being someone who says what’s generally on my mind, it’s crippled a lot of aspects of my life but made it so so so much easier and free. A huge aspect of this is relationships.

    Being free is my ideal state and being in relationships always bears a huge weight on me.

    Love the glimpse of the book and will be sure to add it to my reading list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt, wanted to jump in here and say that I think your idea that freedom is the opposite of being in a relationship may change after reading the book. Mine definitely did during the process. Will be curious to hear your thoughts.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hey Neil,

        Hmm, it would seem that now I HAVE to read the book as I’m terrified to get into relationships because of the unease that they cause me and the repercussions and misunderstanding it causes my partners. Very very curious.

        If you do manage to see this, my brother asked me to get him The Game for his birthday. He always manages to get his heart broken or chase the wrong girl. I didn’t know if it was the right book as he has got “game” but I would think he falls for the wrong girls or doesn’t know where the friend zone is. Any reading suggestions, does you new book cover this?

        Like

  14. The first thought that comes to my mind is that the above described desires are the results of this: We tend to make our partner the focus of all our emotional desires and isolating ourselves so we can focus even more on this one person.
    -> Many romantic relationships destroy friendships or even family bounds.
    So, instead of projecting all your hopes into one person, you should start to get attached to other people who have other functions like a person to share your secrets, a motivator, someone has known you ever since, someone to care about, who’s thankful for your attention, someone who chooses to always be loyal to you even if you’re screwing up, someone who gives you direction.
    Of course, you should find your place and function in this system, too and not only consume people.

    The other part of this whole thing is, of course, the sexual desires you want to live out.
    To me, there is a solution which is inward and outward. This means that I live out my physical sexuality with one person, growing into better communication about our desires and growing into a deeper intimacy.
    The inward part is connected to how I feel about myself:
    Am I attracting myself? If not, that’s a problem to be solved!
    But if I feel desireable I am enjoying some kind of (not actual) “sexual” realationship with others (men and women, even if you don’t feel homosexual), that keeps me calm and in the end it’s some honest kind of love you can share with someone by just giving her or him a look that says: “You are many people’s perfect partner.”

    I haven’t thought about the whole thing very consciously, but I feel absolutely loyal to my girlfriend, when I express my appreciation for someone else and I believe, it makes her trust me even more and feel free to do the same.

    Love is connection and being connected to only one person doesn’t seem to be the way to build a loving society.

    Like

  15. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for not just being an entrepreneurial inspiration to me. With this post your showing the world that lifestyle design definitely is about more than work. Thank you for that.

    Over the last couple of years I’ve had a really good experience with finding out how multiamory (because you don’t mix Greek and Latin) effects my love life and how I feel about my life in general. At first I had to find out what it is that I really want from life. The answer was simple. I wanted to be happy and I wanted to stay happy even if I’m inside of a relationship. To often I felt like relationships where not correctly designed to cater what either one of the partners really wanted from them.

    So here’s what I say works for me. Whenever I meet someone that I think is an awesome being and I want to have them around and spend time with, I tell them that I want a meaningful connection with them but that I will not promise them that they are the only person that I will ever be interested in for the rest of my life. Usually people understand and welcome this thought. This is when I have to go deeper and explain that I want to keep growing and learning and I want them to do the same if they want to. For me it is important to grow and a lot of relationships start off at one point, let me call it the status quote and this status quo is more important than anything else, more important than the personal development or the emotional development of the couple. I don’t think that that is sustainable.

    So now I have two women in my life that appreciate me being part of their life. Because I bring joy and good communication to them as a man, because I’m deeply interested in what motivates them and what it is they want to learn in life. We share all the time he wants together and at the same time we also actually talk about the other partners that we have, as a means to learn more about the person in front of us. In return I get what I need. Someone to talk to someone to care about someone to love someone to have sex with someone to discuss crazy ideas about life, work, love, sex. And the greatest thing of all this is that I know that in any given moment my partners Friedi choose to be there and spend time with me. That they don’t feel no obligation due to a role or rules. This gives me the outmost freedom to be who I am and live a life that I love.

    It is in this way that I get everything that I want from my life right now. I see this lifestyle design as a spectrum of colors. I have a set of colors. No one in the world is responsible to match all of these colors or make me feel great about them. Definitely not one single person has to bear the weight of making me happy. It is myself that has to create the balance with in myself. So I find people that match some or even most of my colors but not all of them.
    And in return I match some of their colors. Together there is a greater some of colors. A bigger inspiration then before and simply a very ethical and friendly way of living with each other.

    This is merely about the sketch of how I feel about this. If there’s anything that you’d like to discuss or any of your readers please feel free to contact me.

    Greetings from Berlin,
    Chris

    Like

  16. Hilarious and so sincere. There’s a great TED that talk addresses this topic pretty well: “the secret to desire in a long-term relationship,” by Esther Perel. Cheers!

    Like

  17. Gotta love Neil’s writing. He really makes it feel like I’m going through this with him. I then question my own response and emotion in each situation…

    Great topic, I’ve wondered about this many times. I’m definitely getting this book, as I think it will be the most accurate picture to a world I thought I could predict.

    Thanks Tim!

    Like

  18. Open marriage, polyamory, yes. I think there is far more of this than we may realize, especially among long-married or long-partnered people who love each other wholly but whose sexual needs have evolved. That’s our life, my life. I feel incredibly fortunate to be loved this way. It is a constant work for me to be open, honest, and that is only even possible because of my amazing spouse.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post. I’m looking forward to reading the book! Been doing my own experiments with polyamory over the last few years and have to say the party aspect of it, when done as a single woman, left me with the lonley emptiness of a one night stand. I also find polyamory difficult to maintain in the long term as even when the mind says everything is cool, its not a nice feeling when your lover chooses someone else over you. Got some words of my own trying to grapple with the thoughts and emotions of it in the blog below🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  20. If you ever make it back to Paris, Tim, you can read all about these clubs (and the French attitude towards them) in “Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City”. Since writing the book I have met dozens of couples traveling from the US to have a little fun in Paris. They look like “normal” people, living in the midwest with average jobs and kids, etc. So I think it’s good to keep in mind that it’s not just sexy, young, artsy, alternative-living types from NY/CA who are experimenting with swinging/switching. You can be in what looks like a traditional relationship and still find ways to keep from getting bored (and keep it discreetly to yourself). As for your friend’s experience in the Paris club, I’ve found more couples tend to just play amongst themselves, but it really depends on the night you go, like any nightclub.

    Like

  21. Great read, as always with Neil´s stuff.

    Tim don´t worry about being confused – everybody is😉

    Experience after:

    Monogamous Relationships
    Adultery
    One way – Polygamous
    Both polygamous
    Threesomes
    Foursomes
    Swingerclubs

    Have fun

    Peter

    Like

  22. This is fantastic. Thank you and Neil for sharing and for sparking discussions and reflections. I agree that the lack of diversity with regard to relationship models limits us profoundly. I am sharing.

    Like

  23. Hello Tim,

    This blog post is tragic.

    If you could listen to your heart you would know that this deepest act of intimacy is meant to honour the other person.

    An interaction that can literally create life was never meant to be twisted like this.

    Thank you for sharing many of your pursuits for answers and excellence.

    However, these roads above devastate lives.

    Bravo for winning the tango championships … but how about starting with exploring a true embrace.

    If you want to know true love and true intimacy, you need to learn how to lay down your life and to give.

    Now that’s an adventure worthy of the gift of life and time!

    All the very best,

    Deborah

    Liked by 4 people

    • > An interaction that can literally create life was never meant to be twisted like this.

      Incorrect. As a species, we have way more sex than we have offspring. For a detailed review on what we are “meant to”, please have a look a the book “sex at dawn” which reviews human sexuality on a biological, social and economical angle.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Deborah, Thank you for the honest and candid thoughts, and actually a lot of what you are noting was part of the journey.

      One thing that popped out from your comment though was your definition of true love and intimacy. For me, and I’m speaking now from the other side of the journey in the book, it’s not about giving or about getting. It’s about being. As one writer puts it: Intimacy is opening up your reality and vulnerabilities to someone else and knowing you are safe, and them being able to do the same with you.

      You may find the Book Trailer for The Truth interesting, since it’s different people talking about what they think love is (note particularly the woman speaking about :56 into the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg0sJDTJ3J0

      Thanks again for the heartfelt response.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Neil,

        Ijust wanted to say that I absolutely love the fact that you’re taking time to respond to people on here.

        Also, I want to thank you for sharing your stories and your truth. Whether you know it or not you are allowing many people to reach greater self-acceptance – which is totally beautiful.

        R

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Deborah – If you actually read the blog post before judging Tim, you would realize the stories weren’t written by him, but are excerpts from Neil Strauss’ new book, “The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships” – not experiences he himself went through.

      Like

  24. Something like this would probably happen in Paris!
    I married a French woman when I was 21 and I didn’t know what I was getting into.
    Earlier on in our marriage we had a permission agreement that we can have sex with others as long as we asked first.
    Although she’d agree and even encourage me at the onset, she was always hurt afterwards.

    After some years it got to be too much to emotionally support her like that so we moved on to strictly swapping with other couples, sometimes in the same room, sometimes not.
    Lately it’s just not happening outside of marriage and we’re both ok about it.

    Anyone who can truly satisfy more than one woman is playing at a totally different level.

    Like

  25. Great to see you touching on the subject.
    Non-monogamy has many forms. The 2 examples you gave are the opposite ends of the spectrum of “emotional involvement”. From “random dick in a crowd” to “lets lives together and make babies” lies an entire world (just like between “gay” and “straight”) of possibilities.

    We write and podcast about this regularly. Let me know if you want to talk to any of the SF poly/swinger/kink/sexparty community.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I feel like the questions you asked in the context really didn’t get answered there Timmy…? I recall when posed the question of ‘are you polyamorous?’ on London Reel you said basically, ‘no, i don’t share well’. That’s where I’m at with it. I wonder if its still the same for you?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Great post Tim. I would like to share my own story. I was the guy that never could get dates in high school and still a virgin at 19. My first GF was a ballerina for ABT in NYC. The first time we made love she said ” You are amazing I want to share you with my friends”. Ok I am game for it I said. She took me to some wild private parties in NYC in the 70’s and a club call Platos. We were a very popular couple because we were young. She was stunning and I have 10 inches. After 3 years we broke up and I met my first wife and introduced her to the lifestyle. This was pre Aids but we always played safe. The club we went to was Le Trapeze in NYC and it was like a Steak and Ale with naked people. The food was pretty good and it was run by a German woman. Lots of fun and great people. I lost my first wife to illness and I moved back to DC. I met my current wife at the 9:30 club. She was with her friend and I said ” I have not had a 3 way in two weeks lets have some fun” Their reply was “Your on if you can handle us”. I fell in love and we lived as a threesome for 6 years. I married one of the girls and we have had a loving open relationship for a total of 28 years. ( Married 22 years). At 57 I still swing ( Thanks to the 4 Hour Body I am in great shape) and host bondage and gang bang parties. My wife has her long term GF. Open relationships are lots of work every day but my life has been awesome being honest to myself about who I am and honest with my partners. It is not for every one but know your self well and it can work. Sorry for the long post.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Articulate and insightful. At times sexy and amusing. I believe choosing to be involved in relationships, either monogamous or open, ultimately comes down to connection, having needs met and how willing you are to face internal fears.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. “Not the love that is a thought that comes with expectations of commitment and fears of abandonment, but the love that is an emotion that makes no demands and knows no fear.”

    I found this to be particularly poignant, as romantic partnerships don’t hold (for me) fears of abandonment or expectations of a forced march into monogamy. I’ve found incredible, soul-satiating connection upon throwing myself into a monogamous relationship with abandon, much in the way Neil does in the above. In fact, money where my mouth is, I moved across the world Unknown to take a chance on love. There’s freedom and unparalleled bonding experiences that can be found in relationships which allow a natural ebb and flow, without any threat of repercussion or irrational impulse should it happen to run its course. I’ve always stipulated that my relationship goal was for a partner in crime, and it suits my specific situation. Love seeing other perspectives and taking a peek behind the curtain. And, an aside, massive roflcopters on the descriptive language, particularly surrounding the capers in the group scene. x

    Liked by 2 people

  30. “There is reality as we’d like it to be, and then there is reality.”

    People always start with this when they talk about polyamory and open relationships. But what about the reality of jealousy? Realistically, “compersion” is unnatural, any person would feel some kind of jealousy or anger if they knew their partner was having sex with someone else, it makes biological sense to feel this way. To be honest, maybe monogamy is unrealistic (or at least difficult at times), but polyamory and open relationships are EVEN LESS realistic.

    Just want to link to a good example of how ‘open relationships’ can work out:

    Liked by 1 person

    • “compersion” is unnatural

      How the heck do you know? How can we humans know what is ‘unnatural’ from our limited perspectives? The best we can do is look at the long history of humans (and human-like creatures) on this planet and suppose. Most often, people use that word ‘unnatural’ to mean ‘something I would be uncomfortable with.’

      Like

    • Thank you so much for the freedom to respond without judgement to this article, I really appreciate that human to human.

      I am balling my eyes out. Thinking of all the hard working men around me, and their boys whose mothers had better options.

      How do I deal with the gift God has given me, four, THAT’S RIGHT FOUR JAMIE FRASERS(evidence that global warming has happened before coal, and the Nordic genetics are strewn across the Northern hemisphere(but I digress!); Gorgeous, smart(gifted in all functional areas), incredibly athletic, GIVE MORE THAN THEY TAKE, leaders of men, sweet and connected with women and the funeral last week for my quanta-bigamist/polygamist father-in-law who I will not be disrespectful of, thank you very much.

      The finances required to support this lifestyle could not withstand the repercussions of the community organizer’s shakedown of the banks and the aftermath of the jobs supporting those Mortgages going offshore. The payout of each woman and support of her children and the wooing caveman style of each desperate single mom with children and then the subsequent payout of the next one as she was discarded, bankrupted the company as the government revenue agency deemed it to be a “FAILING BUSINESS MODEL” after 25 years and on a 3rd brush with insolvency. How dare they be so judgemental! We could have done it and my father-in-law would continue to wake my husband up at 3am and scream at him for something not quite right. Record sale of $375k in a month and scream at him for the dishes not being washed!

      So, thank you for a glimpse into the lifestyle of the 1%; the children nominally raised by the failing families of the unwed Moms and the angry Islamists will dispense with your lifestyle immediately a la Lebanon in the 80’s and we will be left to fight it out with them THANK YOU VERY MUCH, as the West dis-ingrates.

      Thanks so much far your non-judgemental search for wisdom Tim and Neil, I feel so unleashed!

      Sandy

      Like

  31. Oh God, I can’t get my hands on Neil’s book fast enough! This was an AMAZING read; so thought-provoking and insightful, and hot! What a great way to wake up this morning.
    I live in a poly-fedelitous triad, which is to say I have two partners, but we are closed to any others at this time. Neil isn’t kidding, it’s a tough journey to find what works and requires more honest communication and self-awareness than anything I have done up until this point. We are six years strong, and we get stronger as a family each year, but not without lots of honesty and support, and an amazing therapist. Why bother if it’s so much work? Because it’s filled every dark corner of my soul with light and love, because my partners are the most amazing people in the world, who have taught me more about commitment (both to myself and to others) than any other relationship I’ve ever had, and because we have the three most amazing children in the world. None of us were really poly until each other, all of us wanted something more than conventional. It’s not for everyone, but it’s possible to find happiness beyond monogamy. Thanks so much for this sizzling post!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Sex can’t last forever. You don’t see many old poly amorous couples. This level of sexual freedom belongs to youth or is used as a band aid to fill other shortfalls. Is monogamy natural? I believe yes. Just as polygamy is. Humans have choice and experience complex thought associated with higher intelligence. As such, it’s more than just physical. If you want to see success in this field, watch Mormons. Strangely enough, “Sister Wives” is an interesting case study on this.

    As a married man, I’ve struggled with the guilt of my sexual urges. I like to flirt and watch porn, but every time I do I feel like in some way I’m being unfaithful or dirty. My switch to Catholicism certainly doesn’t help this.y wife has fantasies about being with another woman but becomes uncomfortable around the subject unless she’s drunk. When we were dating, she thought we were exclusive while I said we were dating…which meant I could date other people. It led to frequent fights early in our relationship.

    Would I love an open relationship? Sure. Who doesn’t, as the article said, love blowjobs? I love my wife, though. Trading sexual freedoms for the emotional intimacy we have is a worthy trade. Our friendship sustains and enriches us. Were I to choose the sexual freedom, I would certainly need sex to help forget what I am missing.

    Is what you’re doing wrong? Hell no! More power to you. To each their own I say.

    To sum up…religion and socially imposed standards on what is taboo and what is acceptable have created a culture that shuns this type of behavior. Find your own truth. If you’re happy and fulfilled, that’s all that matters. But that can happen with many or even just one. We’re omnivores…what really makes us any one thing is choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your point of view. It has put me at peace. “Find your own truth. If you’re happy and fulfilled, that’s all that matters”

      Like

    • isn’t a spouse supposed to care deeply about your needs? As a man, i’ve jumped through every hoop imaginable to meet a partner’s emotional needs (many of which are hard to understand as a guy). On the other hand, my emotional needs are fairly modest and easily satisfied. However, my physical needs are deeper and more complex.

      We live in a society where men are expected to meet deep, complex emotional needs but have virtually no outlet for their own complex physical needs. Even having the discussion will get most men scoffed at.

      I now am very honest with partners in stating my belief that my physical needs are every bit as important (and as confusing at times) as their emotional needs. It takes a very open-minded woman with a sense of fairness to even begin to contemplate that. Never would I suggest dishonesty is the answer however – it is simply wrong.

      Is it any wonder men are re-thinking things?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fantastic comment Effem. I’ve read through all the comments, because this topic interests me (guy, divorced). Your comment echoes with me. I ripped myself apart for my wife (18 years of marriage) and it was very hard to get a bit of physical satisfaction. It kind of robs you of your soul. I am now in a somewhat “shaky” relationship (which means she wants to commit and I am scared because of the past failure). Thanks Tim and Neil for this topic. Makes me think.

        Like

  33. So many people in this story mentioned a tough childhood. How telling is that, especially as a parent. To all other parents…take great care in your job of raising children, it will be the most lasting impact you leave to this world. Always focus on that impact (like we do in our businesses), parent wisely and compassionately, and just freaking love on your kids.

    Tim…love isn’t meant to be mastered, it’s meant to be experienced. I’m hurting for you on this one and sending love your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This plagues me too…and I’m a chick. For me, I still want my freedom but the MOMENT I find out my fella is doing something else, the crazy person comes out and makes me totally irrational😉
    I have had limited success with relationships where we have said from the word go that, if we choose to stray, thats ok. BUT only if the other person never finds out about it and they use protection. This covers the odd fling and allows us both freedom if we happen to get into a situation whilst travelling/away from normal environment. …I can’t say its the best way and those relationships were never my deepest or most meaningful.
    I WISH you could interview Tony Robbins on this!! He does not advocate cheating in any way so it’d be great to do a follow up interview with him on this. Thanks for manning up and being so honest Tim…..it takes a brave soul to be truly authentic AND post it out to World for all to see…

    Like

  35. I read this article…not because of the lady with the tattoo’d arse in the picture, but because the title made me UNCOMFORTABLE…and, as you so astutely pointed out Tim Ferriss it’s maybe good to look inside when we get those feelings, rather than just reject the external thing we attribute incorrectly as the source of the emotion.

    My comment is about **HORMONES**

    But first, don’t you think it’s interesting that anecdotally speaking there’s this rift between the two “sides” – where Polygamists generally look upon monogamists as “unenlightened”, repressed, conservative etc…

    …where monogamists generally think of polygamists as missing-out (on “true” intimacy), unprincipled, marriage-wreckers!

    Think we gotta dispense with the labels…continue to have adult discussions free of fear AND realise that this is not a dialogue about “WHICH ONE ARE YOU?!”…

    …it’s a discussion about HORMONES & HONESTY.
    (trademark title of my book hahahaha)

    It’s our receptor genes for hormones like Oxytocin, Vasopressin, Progesterone, Adrenaline, Testosterone, Dopamine, Serotonin – that make us FEEL like pair-bonding, or sleeping around.

    It ain’t a question, in my mind, about whether it’s “natural” to be with one person for the rest of your life…or have multiple partners and shag who you want, when you want…most of us have gone through that spectrum of sentiment about sex and relationships at some point in our lives.

    It’s a question of “How do you want your life to BE?”

    …AND (this is the important bit):

    HOW WILL YOU MANAGE YOUR HORMONAL EBB AND FLOW WHEN THEY CHANGE SO THAT YOU’RE NOT SLAVE TO YOUR HORMONES?

    Feeling like being with one person…and feeling like being with multiple…even feeling like being alone…

    …they’re all just that: Feelings.

    And our hormones are one of the biggest, and most often-ignored influencers of our emotions.

    Women know this better than men…and instinctively…their monthly cycle gives them inherent insight into how their hormones effect how they feel.

    As a Type 1 Diabetic – I also know how much hormones (or the lack of them…in my case, INSULIN) can effect my moods and feelings.

    A reduction in Vasopressin will likely cause someone to feel more like wandering off in search of someone else…an increase in Oxytocin will be more likely to cause us to feel like bedding down and cuddling with one person.

    To my mind, lifestyle design isn’t about picking a side, but choosing HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE and having strategies to COPE with what our hormones throw at us…so that they don’t ruin the plan!

    The honesty bit starts with SELF-HONESTY…about the effect your hormones are having on your feelings…and honesty to others who may be effected by your hormonal tides.

    But ultimately it’s about getting clear on how you want your life to be…and managing the hormones that may seek to usurp the plan!

    Thanks Tim for experimenting on our behalf! Really thought-provoking.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. My status, in short: Divorced 5 years due to infidelity. I lined for an open relationship but it wasn’t in his mindset. So I left, after 17 years. Now, I find myself longing for partnership. I want a relationship where I feel security. I want to know this person has no intentions of leaving the relationship. Then we can have others join us. What that looks like exactly, I don’t know. I figured once I’m there it will have to be discussed and agreed upon.
    This is a great article! Looking forward to the book. I’ve also shared it with the person I thought I could have this relationship with to get his feedback.
    And, I really want to go to the sex club mentioned!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Guys, I think you made money but cannot manage your vices. That is fair.

    If you would have a 9-5 job, 3 children and credit on the house, you would not have time and energy left to think at sex with multiple partners.

    Money came with advantages but also with some vices. Keep the advantages and get rid of vices if you want to be balanced and happy.

    Like

    • Idleness is the mother of all vices.
      Be thankful for the relationship that you have.
      Try fasting from sex for 3 months and then you will appreciate your spouse more.
      Be stoic or Antifragile, go without pleasure to be more thankful for what you do have.

      Americans are becoming so weak. This is how Rome was destroyed. They were more focused on pleasure than living a life purpose.
      Pleasure like food is good in the right proportion, but there is more to life.
      Begin With the end in mind. What do you want people to say about your life.
      That it was full of empty pleasure.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think these guys are happy… AS HELL. but the other relationships don’t have to be about sex at all though. Just simple connection with someone else. Poly isn’t just about the sex for me, is about having the freedom to simply CONNECT with whoever I want and not hear any shit.

      Liked by 2 people

  38. Tim,

    I found both for a few years and while the relationship eventually ran its course, we made it work because we were open and honest.

    It started with a frank discussion of fantasies and desires. We decided to visit a swingers club. She was extremely nervous for lots of reasons, but I really was willing to “go and just watch”. It ended up being more and she found relaxed as she realized I wasn’t going to force any of this on her. It’s not my nature really.

    But what was swinging to be in our relationship. We decided a few things which worked for us:

    1) We wouldn’t involve our friends. If we became friends with a couple or individual we met through swinging that was different, but because of decision #2 and #3 there would be built in limits.

    2) Our other partners we considered to be animated sex toys. Much as using toys between two people, sharing and experiencing others would fall into being just “part of our normal sex lives”, but not dominate it. In the end, it was about the two of us sharing the experience. Which led to

    3) We only played together. We always knew we had each others back. We always knew we’d be leaving together. We always knew these were shared experiences. Watching her orgasm from myself, toys or others, never lost it’s appeal. She’s said the same thing. It was about enjoyment.

    For us this worked. I could see it working again with the right woman. In the end, we moved to different locales, but still remain friends and stay in contact.

    Perry

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Great to see that you are reviewing this subject.
    The examples you give here are both extremes on the spectrum of “emotional involvement” from “random body part in a crowd” to “let’s move in together and have babies”. Between them lies an entire world of possibilities.

    For those who are interested in the subject we recommend reading “sex at dawn”, “opening up”, “the ethical slut” and “more than two”.

    Tim, if let me know if you want to talk to anybody in the SF kink/poly/sexclub community.

    (Comment system ate my previous post)

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I have about four girlfriends at any one time. I have two rules.

    Know what you want,
    Say what you know,
    Do what you say.
    Give more value than you take.

    I don’t lie to them or act like I’m in love or ‘this is it’. It’s dishonorable and it’ll be blown apart the moment she finds a stray hair in the toilet. Tell them you just came out of a long term relationship, you’re looking for fun, but not looking to get tied into anything long term. If she doesn’t like that, fine.

    That said, I don’t feed their jealousy by telling them what’s going on with anyone else. I just emphasize that they don’t own me and if they want a regular boyfriend or husband, they should go get one.

    If one were to believe Hollywood movies, you’d think this was an impossible lie. It’s not. It’s perfectly possible to do and you don’t have to lie, cheat or bully anyone. You just have to hold your ground, be honest and present options which are better than they see elsewhere around them.

    They do get jealous from time to time, but they’re about as happy as any of the women I was in committed relationships with and these relationships usually last for years, as with my monogamous relationships when i was younger, (I’m 46).

    Sometimes they find a committed boyfriend, but come back to being my lover, because after all the prescriptive “life-has-to-be-like-this!” sermonizing, the fact is they just have more fun with me, feel better understood and better cared for.

    From experience, you need to do two things well to make it worth her while.

    1) Be interesting,
    by having an interesting life
    and genuinely being interested in her.

    2) [NatWest Bank survey conclusion on customer satisfaction…]
    Under-promise and over-deliver.
    You can’t just stonewall your way into a love harem.
    You have to go over and take care of them when they’re sick,
    support them when and where they’re weak
    and challenge them where they’re strong,
    be funny, give head, cook for her, remember birthdays and wash the dishes when she cooks. The number of lovers you have is limited by how much you can care about them, or it’s not going to last. If you do it right, you have a whole team of really interesting women in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Hey Tim – I’ve read all of your blog posts and nothing is going to stop me from reading every one you’ll write in the future. Just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

    – Are humans really designed for monogamy? Is it possible or even desirable?
    Do you get slightly jealous if the person you like is with someone else? If yes, you probably would want an exclusive, monogamous relationship. Is it possible? Absolutely – just look at Warren Buffett (in my mind, it’d seem like he loved/married 2 women but at different times of his life). Is it desirable? Well, it depends on your priorities – marriage, family, and efficiency – go with monogamy. If your priorities are – sex, having as many partners as you can – go with polygamy.

    – Should you choose excitement over intimacy?
    Hell no. In your own life Tim – look deeply into your past choices. How are your startups, your angel investments, and your career choices? Did you do it because they were sexy or because it was effective and occasionally fun? The latter. Intimacy – knowing something like a subject matter expert – being able to deconstruct something/someone – now THAT’s exciting and intimate.

    – If you’re a driven type-A personality, can you really have both with one person?
    Tim – listen to me. You’re an INTJ. Hell yes. We can do anything. I suggest you read the relationship section of “Please Understand Me 2” by David Keirsey. I think that’ll give you a better understanding on what you Really want in a relationship. Just look at Elon Musk. He’s hardworking and he’s single. Why are we so hardworking as INTJs? It’s because we want to change the fucking world and make an impact. Do you think Elon would have Time to have 3 wives AND make Tesla AND all the space stuff he’s doing? NO. He can’t even handle 1 wife right now. So even 1 is already A LOT.

    – Would life be better if you could sleep with anyone you liked at any time?
    Hell fucking no. I’d only sleep with someone if they’re also potentially someone I want to marry. Otherwise, that’s a waste of my time.

    – What if you could get a hall pass every once in a while?
    No – I wouldn’t want one or even need one.

    Tim – I know you’re really confused. But you’ll figure this out. Whatever it is that works for you. Good luck, buddy.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Love this post! I was at a sneak preview reading at one of Neil’s events in Toronto back in August, and can’t wait to read the whole book.

    I’ve been non-monogamous for maybe 3-4 years now, but only really open about it for 2. I won’t get into the really granular stuff about past relationships here, but I can share some two useful people:

    – Steve P. (from ‘The Game’, Neil can get you to him for sure) is really open and down-to-earth when it comes to this kind of stuff. There’s a podcast he did with Neil a while ago when he talks about pair-bonding vs. few-bonding, etc.

    – ‘Blackdragon’ is the nom-de-plume of a non-monogamy blogger who’s got books worth of stuff on this topic. He’s very analytical about it so his material can strike some as cold, but there’s a lot of great stuff about relationship management.

    The hardest part about being non-monogamous for me was finally deciding to ‘own it’ and be more open about it. I do get criticism from social conservatives (“you’re only meant to love one person”, “Jesus weeps for your poor soul”, or “you just can’t make up your mind”), but now all my friends (and most of my family) know about my relationship status and are fine with it, and anyone going on a first date with me will know about it too.

    Kind of like how you outsourced your dating process and found it to go surprisingly well, I found that once I was clear about how I engaged in dating, everything got way easier and less stressful.

    The depth and breadth of terminology in non-monogamy is fascinating, but it can get overwhelming if you’re trying to label every aspect of your relationship(s) – you’re an analytical guy, so I feel like that could be a tricky part for you if you start exploring relationship design.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. That was perfect, Tim. I would say it was a gutsy call but you wrote it knowing full well how much buzz it will generate. I imagine it still took some courage.

    Rather than lay my own particular trip on you I will thank you for bringing a topic most likely rarely considered in depth by your readers to the blog.

    The state of clarity attained by Neil as he finished his evening in the switch club occurs when the filters that we live in and wear in our bodies are transcended. It takes time, often hours, to go from street normal to sex elevated. It usually requires a partner who can go there with you. It is a lovely experience.

    He described each stage and the internal objections that were raised very clearly. Great writing.

    Then, after, the biochemistry/neurology shifts and we return to street normal with all of our baggage turned back on, yet we are forever changed. It is a worthy experience however it may be attained.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Hey Tim : )
    I’m new to polyamory. I’ve always been open, I’ve encouraged my partners in the past to have sex with other women and I did my best to not lock myself up in the mental cage of monogamy, but this experience is stronger than anything I’ve experienced before.
    When I realised that sexuality is not just the act of sex, but it starts with the simple curiosity and the desire to get closer to someone, I started to seek for the true integrity in relationships.
    In my experience the polyamory context challenges me to complete and utter honesty, humbleness and kindness. It’s like I’m having an intimate-spiritual performance of giving and receiving love surrounded by mirrors.
    Every reaction from my own ego just comes back and slaps me in the face few times harder and more painful than expected.
    But in the same time the beauty of the depths I’m diving into the relationship with myself and others it’s amazing and the evolution it’s very accelerated.
    Would love to know your own experience or just a personal conversation, whenever you wander the Central Europe again : )

    Like

  45. Hey Tim, this blog post is timely as I have been reading about other Lifestyles and I loved how you talked about lifestyle design doesn’t always mean your work lifestyle. I have met some polyamory couples recently and they have become good friends- just friends, not play friends. I was curious as to how they manage their relationship and it seems to work for them. Mmm.. I am still exploring myself.. wanting a blend with someone who loves me and I love him, yet we explore our sexual desires together as well. I do believe it’s possible to meld the two worlds. I believe that a couple needs to decide what is right for them and their life together – forget about the judgement of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. The Mae West epigraph shows the disconnect. People who use it nowadays tend to think their shocking people with their “transgressive” behavior when in fact they are actually conforming to the prevailing culture. It’s boring at best and saddening at worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. My partner and I practice ethical non-monogamy (aka polyamory and plenty of other labels). We are each other’s primary and we give each other the space to explore other relationships.
    This is particularly helpful when it comes to our kinks – we don’t have incompatible kinks, just different approaches so it’s helpful when we meet people that are more on our own wavelength to play with.

    It’s not always the easiest, there’s tons of sometimes difficult communication to be had and free time just evaporates.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Tim, I’m sure you are familiar with Steve Pavlina–author of “Personal Development for Smart People,” and frequent blogger (stevepavlina.com)–he has written on the topic of this blog post/podcast on several occasions. Rather than expressing my personal opinion and feelings on the subject, I would like to divert your attention to a few selected links to posts he has written on the topic.

    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2009/01/why-polyamory/
    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2009/01/conscious-sexuality/
    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2013/08/open-relationships-and-friendship/
    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2009/11/intimacy-abundance-and-label-free-relationships/

    I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many posts, but there are hundreds of articles to explore on the topic and Steve Pavlina is your guy–I don’t know him personally, nor do I know you personally, though I get the sense that you guys would hit it off!

    Like

  49. I gotta say I was taken aback momentarily for the ‘sexy’ image (which I would categorize more appropriately as salacious) for popping up my LinkedIn feed. But a big kudos for keeping the entire human experience open as subject material.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Tim,

    I read The 4HWW years ago but have been unable to come even close to creating a successful muse. I am not sure if I am just not seeing the opportunities around me, or if I am just not part of enough niche markets (I have a more of a specialist mindset than “jack of all trades” mindset when it comes to my passions), or if it is some other reason.

    What would you say is holding most people back from finding their muse?

    Ever since the podcast with Scott Adams, I have been writing “I, Firstname Lastname, will create a successful muse” 15 times every day. I am hoping this helps!

    Thank you.

    Like

  51. iawno…with population increase I see how you could feel unfulfilled in a monogamous relationship…but also your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease must increase as well. With how fast viruses are able to evolve these days, It’s probably wiser to jus stay monogmous.

    Like

  52. I LOVE this post. Thank you Tim for another thought-provoking, fascinating read. As a woman who’s chewing on the same question – the duality of love and eroticism, of comfort and excitement, I find this great to read. Along with this, Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity” and her talks on Erotic Intelligence, and a book called “The New I Do” are refreshing perspectives for those who don’t fit in the conventional views of marriage and relationships.

    Like

  53. Thank you Tim for this post and the timing of it !!! Even though I totally agree that we are not made to be monogamous I frequently feel guilty for the times I’ve been unfaithful to my ex-wife. But after this post,that couldn’t have come in a more convenient time, I feel soooooo much better knowing that I’m not alone and not a completely immoral person.

    Like

  54. Beautifully written and charmingly recounted. I am a lifetime into a relationship that has taken many forms including the past 10 years of CNM. I don’t fit easily into any targeted group, instead floating in and out as the tides push and pull me. I do know that it is all about the other person. There has to be a deeper connection than sex. Without knowing someone’s mind, drowning in their lips, or staring into their eyes, I’d be lost. I’m excited to read more, learn more and find ways to honor my relationships while maintaining my desperate need to be free.

    Like

  55. Neil, can I introduce you to Patti Stanger??

    My notes,

    ”I spent my childhood starved for the love of the adult figures raising me, feeling like most of their positivity went to my brother and their negativity to me. So being in a position where I’m actually getting so much positive female caring is a new experience. Maybe the real purpose of this relationship for me is to break through my walls and feel worthy of love—or whatever this is.”

    • Trauma
    • Lack of Self-Worth
    • Identity crisis

    ”I’ve finally entered the world I’ve been reading about in porn magazines and watching in adult movies since puberty.”

    • Intimacy issues
    • Addiction
    • Fantasy
    • False belief of relationships and women, early childhood.

    ”This is the kind of woman I fantasized about as a teenager: an indiscriminate one. And more than anything I’ve experienced so far, this seems like free sex–because there’s no spiritual baggage, drug baggage, or even much relationship baggage around it. In fact, there’s no baggage or encumbrances whatsoever, just randomly intersecting body parts. And now that I’m in the midst of it, I’m terrified. It’s so shockingly . . . open.”

    • False belief that “Free Sex has no spiritual baggage, drug baggage, no encumbrances.
    • Chasing fantasy of an “indiscriminate one”

    ”I make out with her passionately. I don’t know why I keep touching people’s filthy lips, but I crave the intimacy and connection more than the anonymous sex. Maybe I am polyamorous—because it’s not just free sex I’m searching for, it’s free romance, free connection, free relationships, free getting-naked-with-someone-you-enjoy-and-who-enjoys-you-and-then-getting-to-know-each-other-even-better-afterward.”

    • Craves intimacy, connection and relationship.
    • Believes the term “Free” provides no consequences, no responsibility.

    “Just as women are trained by the media and society to look for their Prince Charming, men are conditioned to look for their nasty slut. Not for a marriage, but just for an adventure. Both are fairy tales, but a Prince Charming is nearly impossible to find, because it’s a lifetime illusion to sustain. It takes only a few minutes to play the role of nasty slut.”

    • Agrees that looking for the fairy tale “nasty slut” is a lifetime illusion.

    “I hear a therapist’s voice in the back of my head telling me I’m avoiding intimacy.”

    • Avoids intimacy, AGREES he has a problem.

    “Just as I promised my friend Rick Rubin I’d go all in on addiction treatment without doubt, I need to go all in on freedom without guilt. “

    • Again with “Freedom without guilt” protest.
    • Doesn’t’ like feeling bad about himself = low self esteem.

    “The answer will become clear over time: Either I’ll hit bottom, as others predicted, or I’ll find a solution that works for my life, as I hope. I need to get out of my head and be present for this experience. And to remember why I’m here: not just to have a lot of sex, but to find my relationship orientation and like-minded partners.”

    • Agrees he has a need for a relationship, pursues disoriented sexual identity.
    • Wants people to agree with his beliefs so he doesn’t feel bad about himself.

    “The goal, then, is liberation: to be the master of my orgasm. I don’t want my partner to own it, which would be monogamy, but I also don’t want the orgasm to own me, which would be addiction.”

    • His penis owns him

    “Then I think, No. This is amazing. I don’t want to stop this. So I’m selfish. Let me be selfish. They can leave and I’ll deal with it later. I’m learning how to take care of my own needs for a change.”

    • Self-medicating through sex.

    “In moments like these, the true nature of one’s soul is revealed.”

    • He equates a spiritual experience = quenched desires and sex

    I gaze deeply into the world in Veronika’s eyes and she into mine—and it feels like love. Not the love that is a thought that comes with expectations of commitment and fears of abandonment, but the love that is an emotion that makes no demands and knows no fear. I’ve found, for a moment, love in a swing club.

    • Infatuation NOT love
    • Does not like expectations, closeness (oneness)
    • Abandonment Issues

    Connected sex is a spiritual experience, but not in the way new-age western Tantra devotees describe it. It is spiritual because it’s a release from ego, a merging with the other, a discorporation into the atoms vibrating around us, a connection to the universal energy that moves through all things without judgment or prejudice.

    • Agrees that sex is a spiritual experience. Perhaps, he has no other outlet to feel closeness
    • Again, craves no judgement or prejudice on himself.

    And every orgasm. Is in itself an act of faith. An attempt to reach out. And just for a moment. Relieve our separateness. Escape from time. And touch eternity. And, yes!
    • Connects an orgasm to faith = agrees it’s a spiritual experience.
    • Feels something, obviously when having sex. Perhaps, nothing else in his life gives him that satisfaction, on that level.

    “And that’s when something unexpected happens: I’m overcome by a powerful sense of unworthiness. It doesn’t seem fair that these women have to share me. Any one of them could easily have her pick of the guys here who keep looking at us. But instead they’re settling for scraps of my affection.”
    • Chasing this fantasy of no commitment no relationship
    • Results in a sense of unworthiness

    “But instead I only feel embarrassed that I’m monopolizing three hearts.”

    • Feels empty – failed expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You nailed it. Really. Great analysis. Read the whole book and journey, it all comes back around to many of these core issues that you identify. I’ll even send you a copy. (I’m assuming the insight comes from work you’ve done on yourself.)

      In the end, if you’re healthy, then any type of relationship you chose will also be healthy. If you’re not healthy…

      Liked by 2 people

  56. Wow Tim! This was an incredibly enjoyable read. I’ve been a fan of Neil since I read “The Game” and I love that you two are great friends. Thank you for being so open on this topic of polygamy Tim! You’re the man.

    Like

  57. I’m very happy to see this on your blog, Tim. Long-time reader that has always wanted to hear your opinions on “the lifestyle” here. You asked for “what works for us” so here goes–

    Wife and I have been married almost 5 years. We got into the “lifestyle” after the wife sustained a pretty serious injury to her knee playing sports three years ago. The injury really hampered our sex life, and once she was on the mend we came to the mutual decision that we wanted to spice things up and live life to the fullest… so after several long and arduous conversations, we decided to give it a try.

    A few nuggets of wisdom for those who may be considering the LS:

    1. It won’t fix your marriage. If you are having issues in your marriage, the lifestyle will exacerbate those issues. We have met with at least one couple who was trying to address their marital problems thru swinging and it worked about as well as you would expect.

    2. Its a lot of work. You very, very rarely just meet people at the club. There’s a lot of forethought that goes into it. Emails, chatting, meeting for dinner, etc. It can be both time-consuming and expensive, and sometimes…

    3. There just isn’t chemistry. In fact, most of the time there isn’t chemistry, and you have to deal with that gracefully. What are the odds that all four people will feel an equal level of attraction? Very slim. We find maybe one couple every 6 months or so where I’m as attracted to the wife as my wife is to the husband, and vice-versa. It’s also very hard to maintain that balance–after a few months one or more of those involved may get bored, and you resign to seeing each other a lot less-often.

    4. Unicorns are called unicorns for a reason. Simply put, you aren’t going to find that many women (or men) who meet your expectations for a third. No offense to any single-swingers that may read this, but we have found these people are usually unattractive or have a personality flaw that is keeping them single. Couples swinging is where its at.

    5. From the outside looking in you would imagine everyone is young and hot to trot. That is simply not the case. Most of the people who are currently in the lifestyle are over 30 (at least) and many more are in their 50’s and 60’s. Wife and I are both 30 and we are consistently the youngest people at parties and lifestyle events.

    6. DO NOT try to coerce your partner into this. Many guys (and some girls!) try to get their partners into swinging when they simply aren’t into it. Wives — If you aren’t into this, don’t let your husband coerce you! Couples like this stand out like a sore thumb and they get a bad reputation very quickly.

    7. Swinging and Poly — Know the difference. A poly relationship involves romantic feelings while swinging is basically just about sex. Know which one you are looking for and don’t cross streams. We’re swingers and when we’re approached by poly couples we always turn them down, because we have learned our lesson.

    8. Tools of the trade — We use Swinglifestyle.com but kasidie.com and a few others are good. the /r/swingers forum on Reddit is also a good place to start simply for advice. We use kik to chat with our couples. You can do group chats and its private.

    9. Beware of fakes, flakes, and pic-hunters. Never give out real names or face pictures just starting out. As you progress you can relax your rules a bit, but talk to your partner about what you are wanting and stick to your agreed-upon boundaries!

    I love talking about lifestyle stuff so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. ha.. It is very clear that a new paradigm for relationship is emerging as the old one is not working very well.. To me the key is doing it with consciousness and awareness.. and yet, I suppose that as one goes along the path of following ones desires, eventually (most) people will grow from it and find what truly works for them.. Personally I have explored widely whilst staying true to myself as much as possible in each situation.. And yes, each exploration was necessary and has allowed me to grow and to land a relationship that is so simply serene that it freightened me at times.. I have fought it..we have explored open relationship (my husband is bi-sexual) but in the end, whilst we stay open to the honest arising, we found that we do not like being apart from each other too long and that limits us to being with others..it’s not that we cling to each other but we genuinely love being together.. In our case we’d be open to polyamory, if it arises and if it is meant to be part of our journey.. However we are not going out seeking for it.. For us this works.. For now, as every arising is always a surprise.. But we feel sweetly surrendered to the truth that is revealing itself to us. We did not enter the relationship with this desire or plan.. We met with the desire to meet oneanother in deep truth and with the desire to be fully seen by each other..what we have is the result of our continued Yes to each other as well as tackling every arising with eyes wide open and with no attachment to outcome. At every difficulty we would ask not how to solve this or who is to blame, but rather -do we want to continue in spite of the “issue”.. and so far it’s always been a Yes! Even when we observed the mind saying “no” we were able to feel the hearts Yes.. No reason.. Just the invitation to dive into the mystery and follow its trail in the mist, revealing the light only one inch at a time it forces us to stay in the now.. And as much as we sometimes dive into the wildest fantasies, and for those moments they become Our truth..we then find ourselves back in our gentle, harmless homely bliss of innocent afternoon naps, a bed filled with kids, family hugs and kisses flying around in oblivious sweetness…the bodies surrendered in deep relaxation of having found Home whilst keeping the suspension in knowing that not only is everything possible, but everything is allowed and welcome…wow!

    Like

  59. I’ve found the male and heteronormative perspectives dominate this conversation. As a therapist, I’ve seen both men and women work through what kind of relationship is going to be fulfilling for them in both the short term and long term. Personally and professionally, I have found Esther Perel’s work to be the most useful. Esther Perel has written some insightful and helpful work on the topic- check out “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence.” She also has a couple TED talks I enjoy- “The Secret to Desire in Long-Term Relationships” and “Rethinking Infidelity.” Check her out if you haven’t already!

    Liked by 5 people

  60. Love the post.
    After 7 years of non-monogamy, a lot of research (hands-on and information -based) and a whole lot of messing it up, it’s starting to look more and more like looking to the structure of the relationship for a solution isn’t the best focus of attention.
    Rather, when you begin to recognize the complaints, insecurities, discomfort etc that a person seems to ‘catch’ from other partners’ behavior and preferences doesn’t come from the partner or relationship- it comes from them.
    ie Your problems are yours and literally aren’t problems when you don’t think about them (at first glance that statement might appear trite, but check your own experience for problems which only persistent so long as you think they do).
    Its more than can be typed here, but reflect on how many problems in relationships persist when you feel deeply in love with a person in that moment? Does it matter if they don’t clean the dishes or want to fuck your friend? Of course not. The sense of boundless Love isn’t as elusive as its made out to be, the sense of elusiveness is grounded in a misunderstanding that can be understood. Once understood, the structure of the relationship becomes two people showing up as they are and being non-judgmentally accepted and adored. When insecure, jealous, and angry thinking are recognized as being effectively disinformation (when contrasted to what makes sense while feeling a deep connection and love) it really stops making sense trying to reason with it, argue with it or really take it literally at any point. It certainly doesn’t make sense to act from that place.
    This isn’t to say partners emotional changes in weather need not be taken seriously, but the content of the complaints need not be taken literally as they will look entirely differently to that person the moment they return to Love.

    It sounded too good to be true to me too, but the more I look in this direction the more the structured sense making of poly, open, or even monogamous relationships seems entirely obsolete.

    Like

    • Enrique, that was certainly the intention going into it, just not the reality. And the blame for that lands squarely on me. That said, what you write is not a necessary precondition for polyamory. There many different configurations of possible relationships.

      Liked by 4 people

  61. Hey Tim,

    31F experienced in various flavours of “monogamish.” My problem with Neil’s work is that it’s founded on a logical fallacy from the outset, that being the naturalistic fallacy. Very little of what you extol in pieces like The Four Hour Body falls under the heading of ‘natural,’ and I can’t imagine Neil applying this line of reasoning to much else in his life. Bear in mind I am not necessarily in favour of strict monogamy, but arguing against it on the grounds of what is natural is intellectually bankrupt.

    Neil claims to posses a, “desire to be open, evolved, and shame free about sex,” yet his writing is preoccupied with the ephemeral, the appearance of things, the fantasy life he assumed that would follow organically from dispensing with monogamy.

    “I suppose this is what I missed when I was dating Ingrid: options, variety, adventure, discovery, novelty, the unknown.”
    – this is not the defined state of a committed relationship. It is incumbent upon emotionally intelligent, self-aware adults to define their needs and work collaboratively with their partner/s, if they plan for stability and adventure to co-exist.

    “men are conditioned to look for their nasty slut. Not for a marriage, but just for an adventure”
    – I reckon Neil would have had a better time with his quest if he didn’t define the women he desires as nasty sluts, as opposed to the women you downselect for marriage. This just reiterates the Madonna/whore dichotomy that prevents men from seeing women as whole beings, who are capable of being some combination of these things.

    Neil talks extensively about getting naked, but to achieve that state he idealises of novel, passionate sex and romantic whimsy, along with committed intimacy you can depend on…….you’re going to have to get a lot more naked than just taking your clothes off.

    Speaking for myself, I am in a long-term, committed relationship with a partner I love. A number of our friends are in polyamorous relationships, and claim that they simply find themselves in love with more than one person at a time. That is not something I or my boyfriend have experienced, but we do enjoy BDSM play and sexual interaction with other people. In particular, I like having sex with women and I, like Neil, do feel a sense of fear at the notion of only ever having sex with one person again. However, I also understand that this is not a desire that everyone has (plenty of guys have told me they wanted it, until they were confronted with it). I have had friends ask me if I “recommend” this sort of lifestyle – you can’t recommend something like this, as it will not suit many people. As Neil discovered, a healthy relationship is challenging enough with one person, let alone three. It is extra effort but my poly friends choose that for themselves. Likewise, my boyfriend and I have developed the trust, intimacy and love for one another that makes sex with other people safe, without threatening our commitment. This has required us to have some very tough conversations and to confront our individual self-esteem and feelings about jealousy.

    Based on what you’ve posted, Neil’s book looks more to me like it will be an exercise in vicariousness, rather than a constructive approach to alternatives to monogamy.

    Like

  62. You can have intimacy AND excitement – with the right person (I know, it’s a tall order). After 23 years together, things are as hot as ever between myself and my husband. Have we thought about straying? Sure, but, being honest with each other and opening up about issues overcame the urge.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Three choices for sexual human beings:
    1) Deal with being attracted to other people and not doing anything about it (monogamy).
    2) Deal with the guilt and shame of less-than-complete honesty (any degree of of cheating).
    3) Deal with the high overhead of sexual-emotional bureaucracy (polyamory).

    Pick your poison? Live with a little pain? We pay the price to stay fit, healthy, wealthy, etc. … why not the same for enjoying sex?

    Liked by 2 people

  64. reading this turned my lunch break into the best EVER!! 👍👍👍💞💞 My favorite experts on this topic are Carl and Kenya Stevens. I love how Kenya says when parents have multiple children they don’t try to decide which one to love the most, the parents love them ALL. So why when it comes to romance and intimacy we have to find THE ONE?!! I’m so over it!! Best wishes to you and everyone here on their poly journeys!! 💞💞😊😊😊

    Like

  65. Thanks for this, so fascinating! I come and go, read your book years ago and loved it, but have only vaguely kept up with your work. It’s almost overwhelming to check out your blog, so full of fascinating stuff!

    I empathize with your search for love and all it’s complicated forms. After divorcing and leaving a conservative religious background, I am so much more aware of the possibilities in life, as well as the realities. I don’t have many conclusions, except that trying to enjoy the process of growth is likely my best strategy.

    Loads of love and best wishes that you find love every day in all sorts of ways and connections.

    Like

  66. “In moments like these, the true nature of one’s soul is revealed.”

    My mind is in this post. I’ve already had 3 girlfriends, each one about 2 years, but as an “constantly evolving human being”, I always feel something missing. Like Neil, I crave for new people, new experiences, new life, although always loving the person I am with. Call it polyamorous, open-monogamous, whatever.

    The women I loved (and maybe I still love), didn’t understand this point, didn’t have the same evolving mentality, and that made me break-up, because I just could’t go on limiting myself while hurting them. I understand and respect that, I’m just searching for someone who understands back.

    Anxious to buy Neil’s book! Will read it in one go!

    Like

  67. I’ve been offered… By ladies in relationships and never reciprocated. Been offered to go to a swingers party. Been cheated on but never cheated. Any type of lie, that deep, hurts my soul to think about. To answer your question as to why this makes me feel uncomfortable, probably because I can’t control or ever know what my partner is doing when I’m not around, that makes me uncomfortable. I’m not happy for anybody getting their fix based on deceiving another person and don’t know why the other person would be happy for that. I’ve read the book “the ethical slut” and thought I might try it out but I’d rather not worry about it and be a pissed off grumpy old man who is only sucked in by his business endeavors before I worry about if my friends and girlfriend is getting sexual needs met by multiple people, especially because the dishonesty is so prevalent. Maybe I’m too young and naive for a respectable opinion but it kinda makes me sick to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  68. I figured that you’d tackle this topic sooner or later, Tim. And who better to pull back the curtain than Neil – he’s described everything with incredible finesse and attention to detail. I instantly bought the book.

    My 2 cents: for my relationship with my wife, anything but sexual and romantic exclusivity is out of the question (at least from her point of view). I respect that, and I’m committed not to cheat – and after 3 years, I have upheld this promise to myself – but I can almost feel my sanity slowly unravel.

    It’s gone to the point where I simply avoid any and all women, and some of the more attractive men in my life, because I just don’t trust myself 100%, and removing the temptation is the only way not to screw up. Which, needless to say, isn’t a sustainable way to live.

    Trouble is, any time the missus and I try to communicate about it, I feel a fundamental disconnect. I can’t convey my need to have more than one romantic connection, because to her it’s inconceivable, on par with trying to see a sound, or taste a color.

    By the way, this isn’t to say that non-monogamous people are somehow entitled to a richer experience of the world around them, but to emphasize that seem to have a totally different toolkit for interacting with reality.

    And so it goes on – non-monogamy isn’t an option for her, dishonesty and cheating aren’t an option for me. I’m blessed to be with her, yet at the same time it’s weighing down on me. And neither of us knows what to do about it.

    Perhaps I’m just waiting until I become totally complacent with the situation, at which point maybe my yearning will go away… maybe? Hardly likely, but at this point there’s very little to go on.

    At this point, I’m ambarrassed to admit that I almost hope to catch my wife cheating on me. I’m dead serious – this would at least shift the balance from a complete impasse into the territory of negotiation and compromise. As pathetic as it sounds.

    You’re right to be careful about relationships, Tim. They’re a lot of work even when your personalities and motivations align. And when they don’t, you end up like me. Not 100% doom and gloom, but still a suboptimal situation to be in.

    Thank you, and Neil, for this post. And thank Neil for his book, can’t wait to dig in.

    Like

  69. I’d recommend David deida’s work when it comes to sexuality and what we are truly desiring when it come to sex. Because some people focus on quantity over quality. Sex is very powerful and can be a very enlightening experience, or a very damaging one. “the way you make love is the way god will treat you.”-rumi

    Like

  70. “I love intimacy, but my biology craves novelty…” Look, I don’t care if you want to bang every vagina on the planet. But who’s to say that novelty can’t be found with one person?

    I’m definitely Type-A, and am in a monogamous, committed marriage. And yes, I’m fulfilled both intimately and sexually.

    Whether people are intended to be monogamous or not is a bit of an aside. There is a capacity to “bond” with someone, particularly due to orgasm and skin-to-skin contact, etc. I don’t think a neurochemical bond has to mean two people must be together evermore, but it does lend itself to wanting to be together, only with one another, for some time at least.

    There’s something that healthy, happy married (or long-term partners) know that isn’t easily articulated, and it’s that the constraint of being together out of commitment doesn’t have to be a limitation in terms of sexual satisfaction. Commitment is a choice, and so is every other action. Being bored with a person is also a choice. Having a crappy marriage is a choice. It’s not sexy, but keeping the flame alive just takes a little commitment and work. But it’s not fake. As someone who’s had sexual relationships in various capacities (“meaningless,” boyfriends, husband, affair, current husband), I have to proffer that the best sex comes along with deep, meaningful bonds.

    Sure, the excitement from the “newness” of any relationship decays. Then what do you do? I mean, if you’re chasing that high, well, it’s no different really from chasing any other high. Adrenaline junkies, drug, sex or food addicts, etc. It’s all the same: super enhanced responses in the pleasure center of our brains. New relationships are invigorating.

    But if you can get past the normalcy and comfort that comes with a committed relationship, you can reach a level of security that enables the sexual relationship to grow and evolve also. The spark, the excitement, the intense sexual desire—it’s all possible to have. It’s possible to have mind blowing sex in a marriage, just as it’s possible to have independence and happiness within a marriage. All of these things reduce to owning oneself and one’s life, and being willing and able to communicate needs and respecting those of another. It reduces to doing life together in a way that can be all at once intimate, messy, dynamic, fulfilling, etc.

    It’s probably far easier to just find a new relationship every few months, or be promiscuous or whatever. (And that’s not a dig…that people who enjoy those things skirt the difficulty and go for easy—I just don’t know how to make this statement without the word “easier”.) But just like gratification must be delayed when starting a company, earning a degree or saving up enough money for a great house or sexy car, there is delayed gratification in relationships and with sex, or at least there can be. There’s a level of discipline whenever we want to achieve anything. Developing critical skills requires focus and commitment. If we blew off every book or class or text or meeting or practice (or whatever) would we ever succeed in anything? What’s so wrong with applying those same disciplines to a relationship?

    People who aren’t in long-term committed relationships probably aren’t privy to the types of bonds that are established when dealing with life… things like cancer or job loss or having a baby or losing a baby or raising a child or caring for a sick parent or whatever. I’m not provincial enough to believe that every person wants only one lifelong partner or can’t navigate the difficulties of life without one. But I believe those who aren’t experiencing major life crises with a monogamous significant other can’t understand the depth and intimacy that evolves from doing so, and how that type of bond promotes intimacy and fulfillment.

    I’m sure some people are perfectly close minded to anything that’s not vanilla. There’s also those of us, namely, me, who choose this way of life (monogamous and committed) because it’s fulfilling, not because I’m afraid of what it would be like to play around at sex clubs or share a partner with someone else.

    When I divorced my first husband, I had no interest in being married or having a family. In fact, having a family was the functional catalyst that drove me to divorce (and uncovered many fundamental reasons why I needed to). Family, kids—they certainly weren’t necessary. I could easily support myself. I was independent and didn’t “need” a man in my life. I loved the idea of being with whoever I wanted. I had decided if I someday wanted to be a mother, but couldn’t find the type of guy I wanted to “do life” with, I’d adopt a child. In the meantime, I’d spoil the hell out of my nephews and enjoy all of the love and awesomeness that auntie-ship had to offer while having fun dominating my career and living life however the fuck I pleased.

    I didn’t end up subsequently married with kids because I changed my mind. I change my mind about what I wanted because I found a guy who suited me. An honest person who was my equal, who I could respect and accept as he was. A person I would find infinitely interesting. A person who reciprocated all of those things. A person who, almost a decade later, still entices me in a crazy way. I don’t think I’d be married had I not found him (or someone else like him).

    It’s not a story of romance, it’s a story of choice. It’s one of knowing who I was, what I needed in order to consider being married or starting a family, being able to detect those qualities in another, and then creating a life together that works for both of us. It requires courage and diligence and, yes, immense effort at times. We hold one another accountable for the people we are supposed to be, the way we treat one selves and one another and our children, etc.

    One of the “promises” I made when we married (not a traditional ceremony at all, certainly not religious) was that I promised to accept him as he is, but allow room for him to grow and change. We’ve created an openness that allows us to explore new things and evolve as individuals, which in turn allows us to evolve as a couple.

    So for me, I’ve found my way to be happy and continually choose, each and every day (cognizant-ly) to “do life” with this man I call my husband. Will things carry on this way until we’re 90? I hope so! I believe it can and that it will. But nothing is certain. I’m okay with that.

    Like

    • Wonderful comment Mel.

      You using the word constraint also reminded me of how often Tim emphasized that he needs constraints in his life. I think last in the podcast with Jocko.

      You also alluded to what Jocko said regarding the 3 experiences that make a man. One of them was starting a family and having kids. If I remember correctly, Jocko also mentioned the degree of freedom this seeming “constraint” comes with … you’re “off the market” and no longer have to worry about trying to impress women. This made talking to women a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable to me.

      Like

    • Agree, excellent comment, Mel.

      I’ve found that you live several lives as you progress and each one wants or needs something different. It’s a part of your personal growth and maybe some of us are wired for novelty but as you say, for anything of value there may be times you must delay gratification. We can’t have it all, all of the time. Life is a delicate and ever changing balance, society doesn’t make things easier.

      How ironic is it that infidelity is reviled by a vast majority of our population yet a website like Ashley Madison thrived within it?

      A meaningful connection with another person is difficult to maintain over time as it is, with both individual’s needs or desires changing every seven years or so makes it even more challenging. It requires effort. Most of the time it’s worth it, other times it may not.

      Don’t worry, it won’t stay that way forever!

      Interesting post and some very insightful comments.

      Like

  71. Just curious

    Is it possible that monogamous relationships reach a depth that polyamorous relationships don’t?

    Conversely, does this also mean that polyamorous relationships reach a breadth that monogamous relationships don’t?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe that is the truth. It’s the trade off between being an expert and a jack of all trades. When you deal with several people at a time, even among my closest male friends who are like blood brothers, I have different relationships with them one to one compared to when we are all together.

      One to one is much much deeper with the right girl. It can also have breadth. More different people does not necessarily mean variety of ideas. Most people groupthink too much. One Da Vinci has far more breadth of ideas than the entire cast and productions of the Jersey Shore.

      Like

    • As someone in a polyamorous relationship, who has been in monogamous relationships in the past, I would strongly disagree. My husband and I are each others’ primary relationship, and I would say we have at least as deep a relationship as most monogamous couples that I know. The communication that goes into working through the issues that comes us deepens connection and increases intimacy.

      Like

  72. Tim: Thank you for the link!

    Neil: Congratulations on the book! This is a fun excerpt. My copy is on the way.

    To the various commenters: It’s not a good fit for many (perhaps most) people, but polyamory is totally a workable thing – you just have to really want it and do the work to get there. Same goes for sex parties.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. Just a couple thoughts. So many good comments.

    First: I love being able to read and examine viewpoints that I personally disagree with. This is one and why I personally find it brave and valuable.

    Second: I also can’t find a scientific reason to disagree with anything Neil is doing. I hope you, Neil and Tim, can understand how the scientific basis for polyamory may be the fallacy behind it.

    I fall into the camp of looking at life through a spiritual lens when examining issues. The physical lens is easy. It’s always there. It aligns with the scientific lens that finds all of the science which seems (to my reading) your main reliance for the lifestyle you’re choosing.

    I wish I had the time and energy (brain power?) to tackle each issue point by point. Dynastydc did a pretty good job of that and I wouldn’t improve on it much if at all. The best summations are Jen Zeman and J. D. Meyer. Here’s my ramblings.

    None of this is new. Yes, it’s a new day, a new era, a new set of words and phrases, but none of it is really new. That is, the search for “perfect” in relationships, life, money, happiness. Optimization?

    The custom of being with and sexually and emotionally open to one person might be a human construct, but it didn’t come from nothing. The “free” (baggage or cost) you’re writing about Neil – it doesn’t exist. The idea that you knew you’d need some serious Listerine rinsing after the evening was over kind of says it for me. What’s the “science” behind tonguing someone on/in an orifice after he or she has had an unknown number of cocks causing the heat and friction we all crave so often on that same orifice? There’s a cost (through my “spiritual lens”) that folks on this particular path just seem numb to.

    I’m probably the fuddy-duddy here. I know how hard it is to fulfill someone else’s emotional needs and my own in a long term relationship. (Married 30 years.) I haven’t yet discovered her depths. I know this because she doesn’t have a firm grasp of mine. But dang! we love each other. Should she suddenly be removed from my life, there would be no replacing her or substitute. That’s faith. Sorry Neil, but calling an orgasm an act of faith? Well, OK, maybe. I’m gonna spitball it here and call it “new”. You had a new experience and an orgasm within that experience. I get it. The ‘letting go’ of an orgasm. But doggone it man-an act of faith?

    I had to hike 9 miles in 100+ degree heat one morning tracking an individual who had gotten lost in the desert entering the country from Mexico. He had two gallon bottles of water when he started and more than seventy miles of hiking to do. That’s faith. (Him, not me. Found him. Dialysis. Back to Mexico.) I understand that our problems can all be one-upped by someone else’s and that’s not what I’m doing. What I’m talking about is general direction. The here and now of your experience relates mainly…to you. An act of faith, to my mind, is outwardly directed. Guy leaves Wall Street and starts schools in impoverished nations. Young girl blogs about her beliefs on womens education in the Middle East. Shot in the head for it. Continues on. Now has a chain of schools there. (A chain!) Ya’ know. Badass shit. Like Office Space.

    But what the hell do I know anyway? Thinking your IT for more than one person at a time? That that’s going to fulfill you? Them? That it can work? My faith pales in comparison. I just know that my wandering eye (Whew! that girl at the Charger game!) may be biology calling me out to the Great Adventure where many blissful moments await and a New Order of human to human relationship ensues. In reality though, none of that is new. Neil, the skill you have in articulating your journey is true genius. That we can learn from each other (well, at least me from you) is a real miracle in my eyes. We never have met, probably won’t, but it sure is a cool thing that we can all teach each other about this stuff. Maybe that’s the real “new age”. Or maybe it’s the end of the world. Who knows?

    I wish you all the best on your journeys, all of you.

    Cheers.

    Like

  74. I must admit, reading this did excite me… and this is coming from a female’s perspective. I’ve talked to my boyfriend about this before and I think about it from time to time. The idea of bringing another women, maybe even two, into our sex life sounds fun. We have unbelievably amazing sex, but still, I worry it may not be good enough and that he’ll get bored. Sometimes, I catch myself fantasizing about having threesomes and foursomes. Just the thought of him being turned on by other girls licking him while he stares at me turns me on. You know, I get it! It’s pretty hot and I understand why. It’s every guy’s dream. Just me fantasizing about it too, makes me feel like I’m living vicariously through a man. And if a guy ever says no, they have to be fucking lying. Shit, I want to and I’m a girl. Anyways… Not too long ago, we went to a strip club together called Sam’s. There were women in nothing but g-strings and thongs, huge tits and ass shaking everywhere. I had drank a lot prior to going so I was a lot more comfortable and open to it. Before I knew it, I was slapping ass and grabbing boobs everywhere. I was having a great time. I even grabbed my boyfriend’s hand to grab the strippers. The whole night, I was rushing with excitement. What I enjoyed most though wasn’t really physical but kind of…. I don’t know, I guess like a mental, power high – that feeling of that girl dancing for me and me basically whatever I wanted. She worked for that dollar, LITERALLY! But it was a feeling I never had. In that moment, I realized that the girls there were nothing but objects and were there purely for our entertainment. I knew I had nothing to worry about. None of them were like me, or even slightly close, and I knew that my boyfriend also knew that. But what did bother me was thinking about a women turning on my man, and possibly better than me! Ugh, fuck that! I hate that feeling – that gut feeling, just thinking about it makes me want to punch somebody in the face or rip their hair out. I apologize for my imaginative violence; but that’s all it is, imaginative, because I’m not like that. If you knew me, you would know I would never do such a thing. I’m one of nicest people you’ll ever meet. Seriously, I hear it all the time. But who knows… people don’t know a lot of things about me. I want to say I would have a threesome but I think I would go ballistic if I felt like someone crossed their boundary, and that goes for both parties. Anyways… Shortly after the strip club, he asked the “hypothetical” question “what if we were to bring one of those girls home?” We talked about it a few times and it always ends with “I don’t know…” or “yeah, I’m not sure about that.” It may be jealousy, ego, or fear on both ends. As a lover and partner, I want to give him everything. I want to fulfill his every need and desire. But is that even possible? Could one person be everything? I really believe that people should live life to the fullest and do whatever they want to, but it becomes so difficult when there’s another person involved that you care about. I thought about giving him a hall pass without me being there, but even with that, I don’t know how I would feel. We have only one life to live and I don’t want to rob him of any experiences. Any suggestions? Advice?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have experienced 3some before and it’s not as glorious as the fantasies. It’s awkward and tough to deal with 2 girls at a time. There’s too much anxiety and tension, and twice as much information to process. What we need the most in this world is focus and low information diet. We are too distracted and lost the ability to observe the beauty of nothingness.

      I can brag to my bros about how 2 hot girls were all over me at the same time, but the fact is that it’s all ego and bragging, not true enjoyment in the moment, which requires complete focus in the moment without distractions from another girl. The whole is less than the sum of the parts.

      Like

    • Hi J,

      Check out non-monogamous resources. Jealousy can be hard at first, but is usually actually manageable. From what you’ve written, it really sounds like you would enjoy some level of non-monogamous arrangement. A good starting place is the book “Opening Up”, by Tristan Taormino – lots of practical advice in there.

      Like

  75. Tim – thanks for the post. Here is what has been my experience. I have been married to my wife for 21 years. We have four kids and are very close. We committed to monogamy at our wedding and that has been the way it has been. I know a lot of people are truly afraid of being monogmous with one person for the rest of their life – but what I have truly found is that the absolute best sexual relationship can only be found in a committed relationship between two people. My wife and I have truly worked to become completely intimate with each other over the years. It has been enormous work that often was very painful. However – our relationship has given to each other amazing growth in all areas of life. I can honestly say that I have found the highest sexual relationship to be spiritual, emotional and physical. We both had active sex lives before marriage and we each experienced an incompleteness in them. Sometimes sex is just physical. Sometimes it is emotional and physical. But the greatest place to be is when all three happen at the same time. The rewards of full commitment build over time – and there will be temptation and some failing along the way. I can honestly say that we are now having wonderful experiences in bed and they keep getting better. I have found that the sexual relationship can grow you and heal you in every way if you treat your partner with the awe and respect they deserve. This is something that I truly wished other men especially could understand much better. I believe women – responsible for child birth and naturally looking out for the best for their children understand this better than the average man. I am not here to judge others for their choices – just want to encourage others to see the vast potential of a monogamous relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For a few years while in college, I would have completely laughed at what you said and the possibility of monogamy, but I have experienced the same incompleteness due to mind-body-soul disconnect that you speak of. Now I understand through my current relationship, and I believe that when 2 people share the same vision, growth in all aspects of life is possible only through one to one relationship. If I did not find my GF, I would have just exhausted myself to death dealing with multiple girls who fulfill different roles, and I would waste all my time bureaucratically managing relationships rather than doing what I really enjoy productively. With my GF, we can both play all roles and experience each other in a completely different way everyday. There is unlimited potential of variety in the singularity. We are finally free from the roles that society has cast upon us. With her, we can switch roles any time we want, but in polyamory, I would be trapped in one role until a different girl shows up; and all of the girls would be trapped in the roles that I mentally project onto them.

      Like

  76. In the spirit of Tim I would offer the punch line first, and if someone’s interested to read the longer version, it follows.

    The need for sexual novelty is strong and persistent, especially for men. But intimate relationships satisfy other psychological needs- they make us feel special, worthy and thus help us manage the fear of death. When we adore someone and attribute good qualities to him or her, it reflects back on us and improves our self-perception. Giving and receiving love mutually with the same person creates a powerful unit that can fight the randomness of our existence. I would say that for some, love- not science- is the new religion (although I am a geek thus science would be a close second).

    The background-
    As a psychologist and researcher, I too always try to find commonalities and guidelines that would work for at least some people. With relationships and sex I was sure I had it all down, and even served as an occasional “Pepper mint”. I was in an open marriage, that included all kinds of activities- from wild mass orgies, private parties with one or two couples, solo adventures and a full-blown poly phase. Until… at one house party, that started as all the other ones before that have, my eyes met a man’s eyes, and we were mesmerized. That night we had what we both thought was the best sex of our lives, only to discover that there are no limits to the pleasure, excitement and desire between us. This night was over a year ago, and a lot has happened. We are in monogamous relationships just because we don’t see anyone else. I used to be naturally flirtatious, and always enjoyed the game. Today, I am often repelled even by the smell of other men approaching me. And that’s coming from someone who used to be that girl in the back room of the sex club, wanting more and more. Until something changed at ones- maybe it is my hormones or maybe it is crazy luck. I do know for sure that nothing has ever turned me on so much as being only his, and being the only one for him.
    There could be of course an easy psychological explanation: my core psychological and physical needs are much better satisfied by this one relationship than by multiple relationships and encounters. Yes, it was fun to see how many men were attracted to me and it was exciting to seduce them, for a while at least. But with this one man I feel on top of world, I an the queen and he is the king of our own little imaginary kingdom. We are well aware of the illusion, but enjoy it as we have never enjoyed anything before. We couldn’t have done that if there were any other queens or kings. That would kill the delicate illusion. In the future, I don’t rule out adding some spice by bringing a girl for a night, but that would be only in service of our mutual desire.

    Like

  77. Tim, you’ve always been highly analytical, so why don’t you start with the end goal in mind? Look at where you want to be in life regarding your relationship and family. Then examine how you can get there.

    You get what you wish for in this world. Without any judgement:

    If you want a loving relationship with someone you deeply relate to and want to have a family with, you’re going to find that. It may take some time to find someone just right for you, but you’ll get there.

    On the other hand, if you want “novelty,” you’re going to get that too. The hormonal craziness of a new relationship fades within a year or two and if the relationship hasn’t progressed beyond just sexual attraction and curiosity, the desire to stay in the relationship will eventually fizzle.

    If novelty and sexual satisfaction are your primary drivers for being into a relationship, it’s bound to fail eventually.

    The hormonal craziness cycle can be restarted by getting into a new relationship. Everything is fun again. The only problem is that as with every repeated stimulus, you’ll eventually get used to it and the hormonal reaction (= the fun and novelty you seek) will grow weaker. So cycle length decreases.

    Inside his book “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk,” author van Epp quotes research that supposedly correlates number of past relationship with a higher likelihood of divorce (disclaimer: I didn’t check that research) … so in other words, the more often you switch sexual partners, the harder it will be to get long-term enjoyment out of a relationship.

    In the end, we all have to decide for ourselves what we want and with every choice we make, we knowingly or unknowingly decide against another choice.

    If monogamous long-term relationships aren’t for you, cool, just be aware that constant novelty also means constant change, which ultimately prevents truly deep relationships, because those need time and shared struggles to develop, not just sex.

    Lastly, you’re the sum of the people you spend most of your time with. If, like Neil in the story, you spend your time in sex clubs and open relationships, it will have an influence on you.

    If you spend time with happy couples or in happy families that have children, it’s going to influence you in another way. Of course, those groups are tough to get into for single men and they also don’t make for click bait quite as good.

    PS: Looking forward to what Neil’s next work will be about. From pick-up artist to sex club member to … ???

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a patently false dichotomy and frankly harmful. Lust vs. love, deep happiness and connection vs. superficial novelty and “hormonal craziness”. These aren’t the only two choices and believing that they are makes for a lot of emotional trauma.

      Like

  78. God Damn I love Neil Strauss. When I grow up I want to be just like him.

    Tim, as much as I love pretty much everything you put out for public consumption, this article hit close to home. Not only am I a huge fan of Neil’s but after a brief chance meeting, he connected me with a publisher for my erotica books.

    As far as my experience in this realm, I think by far the toughest part with polyamorous relationships is the jealously factor. I think it is human nature to not want to share someone you truly love with anyone else. So this means to make a three or four pod work, everyone must be loosely attached but not in love with any of the others. As soon as someone grows a set of feelings, things go south in a hurry.

    Kudos to you for once again stretching the boundaries of everyone’s mind, and doing it in a unique and entertaining way. I wish Neil good luck on his quest to figure out what he is truly searching for, and then to find it. And to you sir, keep the info and the podcasts cranking out!

    Darren

    Like

  79. Tim, if you want to learn about having several girlfriends in a meaningful way, contact Tim Veninga. He lives in Budapest and currently has 4 girlfriends. Besides this he’s a pickup coach. I trained with him, I have seen him take a girl home every single night if he desires so. He doesn’t use gimmicks, he basically is himself but acts in a very calm and re-creatable way which triggers women to hit on him. He is someone who really took lifestyle design to a whole new level, by applying it to love relationships. And he teaches this in quite an efficient way.

    Like

  80. I am a mother of three, entrepreneur, and besides my partner I connect intimitely with other people too, whether this ends up in a long time relationship or something shorter.

    I see people as opportunities for growth. They all teach me something about me. When having a monogamous relationship, it felt weird to have something outside me (social paradigms and unspoken expectations) telling me what I could experience with others.

    My partner and I both felt we wanted to be free to experiences with other people in any way that we would feel benefitted us most – including sexually.

    We have some clear rules between the both of us (like safe sex and complete honesty and transparency) and set each other free. I love novelty. I love other things than my partner does. Should I force him to fulfill my desires? Should I hold back and tell myself not to fulfill the desires he can’t fulfill? Or do we lovingly hold space for each other to grow and experience in any way we like?

    For me, this approach has brought me many amazing experiences, both sexually and non-sexually. I had the taste of exploring sexuality with women, threesome’s, BDSM – leading to acceptance of my body, my shadow sides (tapping into the anger I kept well-hidden), making me a more complete and loving partner and mother.

    But beware: non monogamy is like aa huge magnifying glass, bringing all your fears and insecurities to the surface. Be prepared to face them. If not, monogamy is a safe and absolutely worthy way of relating.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I find your closing interesting. It seems to me that as you wade through the development of a long term monogamous relationship, that a person would be much more likely to encounter the “huge magnifying glass, bringing all your fears and insecurities to the surface” scenario you describe.

      I’m of course assuming that the alternative you describe as “non monogamy” is based on a collection of casual relationships centered around sexual encounters with people you’re physically attracted to. If that’s not the case, feel free to correct me. However, I’m not sure I understand how a person would manage a collection of highly personal, intimate relationships at the same time. Its hard enough to date more than one person at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tim, I absolutely LOVED reading this.

        I was in a open relationship so I’d like to share the experience. I really enjoyed the freedom and honesty of it , it even turned me on (maybe I’m a dirty pervert but oh well). It only lasted a year however in relation to the other couples we met it was very insightful. When people hear ‘swinger’ they tend to think “oh they just run around having sex with whoever they want'”
        The other couples I met that made it work stayed together when for a long time when both knew what the other was doing and didn’t “play” separately. There’s a saying ” Those who play together stay together” and the couples I met who followed that were some of the happiest, well adjusted, not jealous couples I’ve ever met in and outside of the lifestyle. Otherwise they were just like any other couple, only happier.

        I’ll leave it at that. I’m a fan of your work and think it’s great that you have approached this subject, I think it’s something everyone thinks about but doesn’t talk about.

        Thanks, keep doing what your doing, John

        Like

      • Hi Travis,

        I do encounter people longterm, besides my partner.

        The magnifying glass effect is, imo, unrelated to the length of connections. The mere fact that my partner is free to connect (be intimitae with) others is enough to activate patterns in me. Feelings of being not good enough, less lovable/cute/sexy/smart as the woman or women he might meet etc.

        How to manage several connections? Letting go of the limiting belief we should or can have only one is a first I had to let go. Prioritizing, having respect for others’ boundaries, noticing when other connections are distracting me from my relationship with my partner (or adding to it) and good time keeping are quite essential I find.

        Thanks for bringing up these points!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Beautifully said! And completely agree with your closing. My wife and I have been poly for nearly 8 years and the level communication necessary to maintain a truly successful poly relationship is not for the faint of heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    • touching share! I am inspired by the clarity and adventure we each experience and share in our paths. i am new to poly and looking forward to evolving and creating my rich and full life with others. your shares are encouraging and examples of strong and brave experience! i appreciate your words.

      Liked by 1 person