Casual Intimacy

Casual relationships are not for me.

I’ve been spending time with some truly incredible humans this summer, and through these connections, I’m learning so much about myself. However, despite feeling all manner of feelings, there’s been no immediate potential for a committed, intimate relationship. In the past, that would have been a signal for me to move on. Now, however, I find myself lingering.

There’s nothing casual about the way I enter into intimacy. I wholly reject the term casual. I’d like to replace it with ‘intentional’ or ‘carefully measured’. Perhaps even ‘low expectation’. I don’t need monogamy as much as I need transparency. I don’t need large commitments of time as much as I’d like quality, connected time.

I enter into these interactions assessing how a person might fit into my life. I’ll meet someone, try to understand their values, try to get a sense of their lifestyle, and then I can calibrate how I interact with them, and how deeply I’d like to connect.

Of course, this sometimes goes awry. Unpredictable elements like shockingly good chemistry, or a nearly perfect alignment of values and thirst for life can throw my best intentions of a measured approach way the hell off track. I grow fond of people, and fond of the way I feel in their presence. I’m learning to temper my lifelong ability to get carried away by this heady feeling with my newfound practice of self- connection and grounding.

I can’t use casual to describe hours of conversation about life, and purpose and the way we choose things for ourselves. Casual is not witnessing people describe their world in ways they’ve never been able to articulate before. Casual isn’t stepping into my body in ways I’ve never experienced. If you find a place where you can explore physical, emotional and mental corners you’ve never examined, do you just dust yourself off after and say ‘well, that was nice’?

Every morning, I sit on my porch and write. I’m doing that now. Every morning, this compact, wiry man is out for his morning walk. He’s likely younger than I am. He’s always at top speed, and always yelling at someone into his headset. He’s so loud. He’s oblivious to the cicadas and the cardinals and the way the pine trees smell when it’s been humid. The judgemental part of me figures this guy is great at casual relationships. The truth is, I marvel at people who can connect and then disconnect so easily. I wonder if they are actually connecting at all…

So, while I wholly recognize that one of my lovers is far too young to even contemplate being my partner, and another is in the midst of re-imagining his life, I will care so deeply for them both. Everyone knows about the other, there are no secrets. We have an agreement to keep communicating how we feel as we move through our time together. I trust them both to tell me about any new partners they choose to engage with. I trust them both to be clear if they want our connection to evolve into something deeper, or if they feel like it’s time to move on.

I suppose I’ve found my way back to polyamory again. I’m not necessarily committed to this lifestyle, but it seems to suit me well in this moment. I love the freedom, and the way it challenges conventional relationship traps, like codependency, that I believe really inhibit personal growth.

Each day, I choose to nurture the intimate connections I have found, while I also tend to my child, my practice, myself, and my clients. I choose these connections because of what they are teaching me about my own heart, my needs in relationship, and my desire to slow down the process of falling in love. I can transcend the euphoria of great sexual chemistry and see my way through learning about a human in all of their aspects before I declare my love for them aloud. I can watch how they show up, and learn about what they have to offer me, and what they don’t.

I know I’m wholly capable of choosing one person to commit to. When I do so, it will be from a place of clarity and safety this time. That sweet rush of falling will always be a thrilling ride, but the next time I tell someone I love them, it will be after I’ve landed and know with great certainty that I’m safe and still intact.

Try With Me

I started out the month of April deciding I would try to be celibate for 30 days. Things on the romantic front were more stressful than pleasurable. Worry and confusion about dynamics and intentions had taken over my brain in ways I didn’t like. I needed a reset before launching into Spring. I made it exactly two weeks, but in that time, I realized a few important things:

I can’t do casual sex. Maybe if I connect with someone once and then decide it’s best to keep it friendly and take sex off the table, it remains casual. Beyond that, I develop feelings. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, and lighthearted sexual fun will continue to have its time and place in my life, but I know to avoid trying to build space with people who prefer casual arrangements.

I’m getting really good at letting go of connections and relationships that challenge my boundaries in an unhealthy way. I’ve been clear and kind while telling people that the timing isn’t right, or that the chemistry isn’t working, or that I want something deeper.

In the past, I’ve tried to make pieces fit, or make concessions, and these relationships always end with me feeling hurt and mistrustful. I trust myself to choose well. I trust my intuition to illuminate things I should see while deciding whether or not to create space for someone.

Nobody is perfect. The later we are into adulthood, the more hurt and complexity we all carry around with us. It’s impossible to meet people without baggage. I think the key lies in choosing people whose luggage compliments your own. Our life experiences can create strength and support for someone else. These lessons help refine our awareness of what we need.

I’m deeply drawn to seekers who strive to understand their own minds and hearts. People who want to be better, and who want to live deeply in their emotions. Those people are going to be the ones who will at least try to weather the storms with their partner.

I am ambiamorous. This is a new term in the lexicon of loving that I discovered recently. Someone who is ambiamorous is equally as comfortable in a polyamorous relationship as they are in a monogamous relationship. If they meet a partner who is poly, they feel good about exploring that. If love leads them to someone with monogamous leanings, they can exist this way too. So, if y’all were looking to slap some labels on me, please make sure this one is included. (I’m a queer, cis, pagan, single mom, ambiamorous femme)

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted in the bedroom. I did not. If you’d asked me in March what my ideal partner could bring to the party when it comes to sex, I would have said something like, “I need someone who will lovingly dominate me and explore some kink with me”. Or, “I need a horned god who will worship me like a goddess and I will return this adoration”.

Recently, I had a revelation. I became aware of the affectations I carry into new sexual space, and was rather stunned by this. I thought I was genuine, but I think it was bravado. Now, I want someone who I can arrive with in sexual space and be entirely open; free of preset ideas around what I need, ready to discover what that moment, and that shared energy reveals. I want someone who will meet me at the fire, take my hand and walk with me through it to the other side, grounded and present, and ready to explore any place we desire.

It’s okay to be scared. I’ve been through a lot, and I don’t mean over the course of this last year. It’s hard for me to trust romantic partners. It’s scary for me to believe that they are sincere and invested in building something real with me. It makes complete sense that I’d be afraid to be vulnerable again, but I don’t think this means I’m not ready to try.

According to certain psychological frameworks, I’m an anxious attached person. This means I need reassurance. I may get emotional/weepy when it feels really connected and real. I will still have my own world of interests and things to do, so I’m not worried about being clingy, but I will need to be reminded with words and gestures of how cherished I am. I give a lot of that sort of thing, so I don’t think it’s a big ask. I need to know I’m safe.

The right person will understand this and will be okay with holding my hand until we’re through the forest of newness and uncertainty.

It’s okay to wait. Or not. I don’t know if we’re all like this, but there comes a time in the getting to know a potential lover when I really must know how physically compatible we are. I love good chemistry, and usually if it’s strong while everyone’s clothes are on, it continues to be strong in other circumstances. However, there are those occasions when this is not the case, and this disconnect continues to happen beyond that ‘first time’ which is often a little awkward and a tad uncertain. It’s okay to let that chemistry build before you see how it translates to naked time, but it’s also okay to arrive at naked time sooner rather than later in the interest of researching an investment.

I can ask for what I need. I’ve been seeing someone for a few months who I’m quite fond of. It’s low key, and he was really clear on his own capacity for relationship. We aren’t looking for the same thing, ultimately, but I enjoy his company and he’s become a dear friend. Before I declared my sexual hiatus, I asked him for two very specific things if we are to resume that aspect of our relationship. How I follow through with this will reflect how well I honor my boundaries. Those boundaries, I realize, are everything. They are subject to shifting, and changing, but when I know they are firm I cannot ignore them because they help me create the safety I deserve.

Emotional safety is everything. What do I mean by emotional safety? I mean that I know I can trust my partner. I can lean into them when I need care and support. That I believe in my bones they are on my team and have my best interests in mind. That they will share their own inner world and their struggles with me. That they won’t be afraid to let me know who they are and what they need. That I can be exactly who I am and be loved for all that I have to offer, PLUS all that I have to work through. That I will work hard to be worthy of their love, by being as authentic and vulnerable as I can be, while trusting that they are doing the same.

The early stages should be fun. This period of discovering another person should be wondrous, and delightful. The only thing that should cause tension is the anticipation of that next moment. It should feel like forward motion, and delicious curiosity. It should be a slow burn until both parties are truly sure they want to sink deeper. It should not include anxiously fretting over where you stand, wondering why you have a weird feeling about the other person, wanting more and not being met, or reading text messages obsessively to try to decipher what is actually being said.

On Sunday I had brunch with my darling cousin Alex. How I love to talk with her. We discussed how each of us has our own mountain of stuff to deal with, and how life throws all kinds of things at us. How building relationship can really illuminate complex pieces of who we are. We agreed that at the end of the day, all we can really hope for is someone who will try. Try to create a home, with loving space to share. Try to face the hurdles together. Try to build each other up and see each other realize our dreams. Try to understand and offer loving support when the other person is struggling. Try, and keep trying because it’s a safe place to try. 

Not bad for two weeks, right? I mean, these things were already percolating in there, but there was suddenly more space for me to see what was swirling around. It’s like watching the stars sometimes, these little flashes that twinkle around in my brain.

This kind of clarity seemed sharper when I removed an element that was creating more of an energy drain than any kind of positive force. So much of my identity is tied to understanding sexuality, which I won’t apologize for, but it was kind of amazing to see what happened when I shifted that energy back into myself instead of out into the world.

Sometimes a great, big, inhale is all we need.

Polyamory and Promiscuity

polyamory and promiscuity

I’m on a personal journey to understand what I actually feel about monogamy, and to uncover that truth, I’m exploring polyamory. It’s not my first experience with a non-monogamous relationship, but dating and polyamory turns out to be quite different than the closed triad relationship I was previously in. One thing I’m learning is that people have some interesting ideas about what polyamory actually means. Of particular amusement is the difference between polyamory and promiscuity.


Polyamory isn’t all about sex. I’ve never been much of a one-night-stand or hook up kind of person. To me, it’s more about quality than quantity. I’m in this to build meaningful connections with the people I create loving space with. Those meaningful connections can take on many forms, since the technical definition of polyamory is to have many loves.


These connections can look like deeply affectionate friendships. Girlfriends and guy friends who I’ve bonded with. Maybe we have sleepovers that include some non-sexual physical affection. Maybe we just rant and rave and share our dreams while our kids slay the local playground. 


This can look like friends who I have deep affection for and who I connect with primarily on the physical plane. Our bodies want to hang out from time-to-time and we also like and respect each other enough to be transparent about the connections we are enjoying with other people. We share sweet, affectionate correspondence beyond trying to navigate the next time we can see each other. We take interest in each other’s lives without many demands or expectations being placed on the other person.


Some day one of these connections might be a combination of the two; a deep friendship and sexual partnership that isn’t built around the idea that we two will be ‘it’ for each other. Instead we will be ‘it’ to ourselves first. We’ll both be clear on the idea that truth and transparency are key. We’ll respect each other’s needs beyond the space we share. We’ll lean into each other and know that we have each other’s backs, and when we need to lean away from each other, we’ll feel safety in that too. Hopefully we’ll have some spectacular adventures together (both sexually and non-sexually) and build family and an amazing circle of friends. I want to throw great parties with my consort some day.


I don’t have many free days left in the week when I’m not mothering my kids. This tiny window doesn’t afford much time for the harem that some people might imagine. There are moments where it’s difficult to say no to some of the offers on the table, but I have to remember what really fills me. I suppose at this point, I’m dating and exploring my options. 


I’m listening to my gut and my heart and actively trying to redefine myself as a mother first, a storyteller second and a lover third. After decades of defining myself in terms of relationship, stepping into the space I deserve as an artist feels like rewiring my brain to some extent. I have to stop looking for validation in seeing a flirtatious text exchange evolve into a fruitful date, instead of in the number of words I put to paper each day. I get caught up in overthinking personal dynamics instead of losing myself in the edits that I still need to finish on my novel.


I need to be promiscuous with page counts.


One thing that has become clear is that without the ability to ask questions, talk about needs, and communicate from the heart, you’re not talking about polyamory. It’s likely just casual sex without attachment or complication. Or emotional unavailability borne of past hurt and fear. Maybe both.

Vulnerability and communication are sexy as hell to me. Another thing I have to remember is that communication isn’t always unpacking feelings and ideas in conversation. Actions, gestures, and the way someone reveals their character is a very valid form of communication.


So, sure there are plenty of polyamorous people out there juggling several lovers. It’s only one month into this exploring, but I don’t logistically see how that poly girl could be me. 

Real Talk About Polyamory

This morning I hopped on Facebook to chat about my early explorations in polyamory. As always, I want your questions on sex, relationships, and heart space. You can send them to me here.

Polyamory and Monogamous Conditioning

polyamory

I’m on a quest to do more for myself than I’ve ever done before. More healing, more growth, more knowledge and power. I’m tackling each day with as much mindfulness as I can muster, now that the crushing sadness of last year’s heartbreak has shifted.

Today, I’m struck by how deeply ingrained certain patterns are when it comes to romantic relationships. I’ve committed to trying out this polyamory business. This idea of finding meaningful physical and emotional connection outside the parameters of monogamy.
Polyamory (n.) — The practice of participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship with the knowledge and consent of all partners 

But there are certain parts of me that seem deeply conditioned for monogamy, and I wonder if there can be space for both. If any of you poly types are reading this, I’d love your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here are a few things that I’m noticing:

I fall for the idea/fantasy I’ve created of someone before really knowing them. I’ve got such an active imagination, and I live for characters. So many times in my life, I’ve fallen into that ‘head over heels’ narrative, only to be devastated when the person I’ve placed on a pedestal reveals their less desirable human frailties. How about I take some time to see if all that surface attraction can be supported by some excellent values and qualities?

I’ve believed that I need a partner in order to be fulfilled romantically. I’ve moved on from thinking that I need a partner to complete me in any way, or to have a richer life. I don’t think that there is one great soulmate that I am destined to be with in this lifetime. However, I seem to be holding on to this notion that if I’m going to share heart and bed space, there needs to be one lover who rises above the rest. I’ve created this idea that I’d like a primary partner.

What if my life could be just as rich without a primary? For those of you who don’t know, a primary partner is the romantic relationship that takes top billing in a polyamorous lifestyle. Not all poly people have a primary, but those who do tend to treat that relationship more like a traditional partnership. Primaries set their own ground rules and boundaries that are mutually adhered to. I’m not anti-primary, but I think I need to shift from feeling that this is an end goal.

I want to fill up all of my brain space and physical space with a new lover who I happen to be excited about. I realize this is largely a chemical response that is driving me to procreate, but still, I’d like to think I’ve evolved past this. Sure, I can feel like I need a cold shower anytime a certain someone blips on my radar (every hour, by my last count), but I don’t have to act on that. Instead of texting incessantly, I can pour that frenzy into my art. Or into self-pleasure. Or a good work out. I love that feeling of delicious passion and attraction, but I’m growing to love my solitude and self-reflection just as much. Sometimes more because I can ugly cry to Netflix shows and fart in bed.

I confuse incredible chemistry with anything other than the chemical reaction that it is. I believe sex is sacred and holy. When I’m in that space with someone, I feel like I’m deep in prayer. I feel the essence of life, and my connection to the universe in that space. This is one of my superpowers. So, I suppose it’s easy to see why, in the very rare moments when I match with someone in a balanced, sober level of attraction, I can get confused.

There’s always the possibility that this delicious chemistry can produce something lasting and precious, but that only happens with time, and careful tending. And seeing people clearly when the fuck fog has dissipated. Amazing sex goggles can be real bastards. What’s more, it is my right to appreciate and enjoy this kind of sizzling sexuality without having to define it or label it to make it more palatable to anyone. Sometimes, people are going to enter my life only to rattle my headboard. That’s totally okay.

I start to set aside my desire to explore other people when I find someone I really click with. I’ve dated people who have basically said ‘if you give your partner permission to be with other people, sometimes that’s all they need in order to be able to walk away from that temptation.’ Testing the boundaries of monogamy to continue to exist in monogamy isn’t really the point. I see how polyamory might be a form of self-protection for me. I haven’t had this much therapy to be blind to that, but I’ve earned the right to protect myself and see how this particular shield serves me.

I believed that I was polyamorous before, and therefore know what I’m doing. Though my last relationship started as a valiant attempt at polyamory, it ended up a lot more like polygamy. The reality is that I did not feel like I had the freedom to explore my own desires in an authentic way, and the lines of communication were not the clear and open channels people need to succeed in the polyamory experience.

I am more interested in a scenario where I get to articulate my own needs and wants, and then realize them. If I end up with a primary, we would both ideally be self-aware and articulate about our needs and desires, and hopefully those would line up well. Meanwhile, I have so much to learn about how to be careful with other people’s pride, their hearts, their fragile egos, their valued needs, while still making sure mama gets the love she wants. 

Lovers who feel they can’t be enough for me. If I have chosen to share space with you, it is because I want to share my own space with you. I don’t need you to fulfill me, or to fill in any of my cracks. Oh wow, I walked into so many crude jokes there, didn’t I?

I want to walk with you, but I don’t need you to hold me up. I’m not comparing you. I’m enjoying your unique skills, insights, dreams, desires. I like the way your energy swirls with mine. The space we share is ours and ours alone. I enjoy what is unique about you.

Polyamory allows people to show up exactly as they are, and offer only what they have. This is only possible when you let go of the notion of one person being everything you need in one partner for the rest of your life. Maybe we’ll keep choosing to walk with each other until we’re done with walking, but I’m not out to find that. I’m out to find me and that’s the lifelong union I’m committed to.

Is this a selfish quest I’m on? Possibly. Could I get a few months into this and decide it isn’t for me? Sure. I’m giving myself that space for authenticity. I will say though, the more I resist my old monogamous patterns – the old ideas that there is another ‘half’ to me in someone else, the more of my own power I see.

I’m not out to break hearts. I think any of my lovers, or potential lovers, will vouch for how clear I’ve been about my journey through polyamory. Our needs and desires aren’t always lining up, but that’s life. I value each of them and the space they have shared with me. I feel a thrill when I think of the new companions I will meet and experience. This feels like an adventure instead of a minefield, and I absolutely love that dating is fascinating, and strange, and fun.

It’s a whole new ballgame when you become your own special someone.

I’m going live on Facebook on January 30th at 9 pm EST to discuss polyamory and to answer your dating, relationship and sex questions. Send me your questions, or suggestions for topics you’d like to discuss below. I promise to protect your anonymity.

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