A couple of days ago, I was afraid this entry might be titled “The Breakup.” But what was one of our most painful fights, only ended up bringing us closer.
After ignoring Brad for most of two days, we finally sat down and talked. He’d already told me he hadn’t meant the things he’d said the day of our fight – “maybe we don’t have enough in common” – “we fight all the time” – “I don’t know if we’re good for each other” – “I’m not in love with you” – but they were still bothering me.
“I was just sad and depressed” he said, when I pressed him to explain. “I didn’t know what my unmet needs were. I was trying to figure it out, and I felt like you weren’t listening.”
“But I need to know what you meant by ‘I’m not in love with you,'” I said. “Like you weren’t in love with me at that moment? Or you haven’t felt in love with me for a long time? Or you’ve never been in love with me?”
“How do you define love?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s more accurate to say ‘I’m not in lust with you.'”
Ahh… lust… OK… that we can deal with, I thought.
“Well, of course you’re not in lust with me, Brad. I already knew that” – even though it hurt to be reminded. “That’s the whole reason we started this polyamory thing in the first place.”
“So what you’re saying is you’re not sexually attracted to me?”
“Sometimes, like most of the time?”
“Even in the beginning?”
“Ok, but?? Please, be honest.”
“But… when I first met you, I was not like ‘wow, that’s the girl of my dreams’… I mean, you were attractive, but it’s not like I was like magnetically drawn to you from across the room.
“I was just really lonely. I didn’t really have any friends in Raleigh, and you were nice to me. It was convenient – you lived on the fourth floor, I lived on the fifth. We shopped together, cooked together, swam together – it was just nice to finally have someone to hang out with.”
“Ok… I don’t really know what to say to that,” I said, heart sinking.
“But I started to realize you were really interesting. You were different. You were really smart and kind of crazy with all of your conspiracy theories. Remember when we stayed up all night watching that 20-part series on the secrets of the Federal Reserve?”
Then he got serious again. “We were good friends. But, you were my first girlfriend, and we’d only been officially dating for like three months when you got pregnant. You were the first girl I’d ever had meaningful sex with. I felt trapped. I felt like my life was over. But I sucked it up and did ‘the right thing.'”
I started to cry.
“Maybe if I’d done more dating, had more sex and more confidence in who I was before I met you, I wouldn’t be so curious about what it’s like to be with other women now.”
I assured him he probably would. According to my book – Sex at Dawn – men’s desire to spread their seed to as many women as possible is pretty hard-wired.
I also assured him, again, that I was fine with that, and reminded him that’s exactly what I’d been encouraging him to do for the last several months – “Have sex, as much sex as you want, whatever kind you want, with as many women as you want. Please. I want you to experience it all.”
But it hasn’t been that easy. Attractive, available women, who are willing to sleep with an essentially married man with a child, no strings attached, are few and far between in a monogamous society that shames women for extra-marital sex.
I soon started to understand that the source of all of Brad’s unhappiness for the previous week or so boiled down to one thing – it wasn’t finances, the stress of starting a new business, me or my lack of attractiveness. It was sexual frustration, plain and simple.
Brad, like all human beings, has a biological need for sexual variety. I could be the sexiest, smartest, kindest, most fascinating supermodel in the world. It wouldn’t make a difference.
It is in our DNA to desire sexual connection with lots of different people. As Sex At Dawn explains, sex amongst primates has been used for hundreds of thousands of years primarily as a social bonding mechanism – a tool for providing pleasure, enhancing emotional and mental health, community building and keeping the peace – and only secondarily for procreation.
“Our evolved sexuality is in direct conflict with many aspects of the modern world,” says Sex at Dawn author Christopher Ryan. “The contradictions between what we’re told we should feel and what we actually do feel generates a huge amount of unnecessary suffering.”
That’s it. Brad and all other humans who’ve been forced into this box of monogamy are suffering – driving ourselves mad – because we can’t reconcile what we “should” feel and what we actually feel. We are frustrated, sad, angry and depressed because we’ve so deeply repressed our deepest, truest, most beautiful selves – our sexual selves.
Since we got to the bottom of what was eating Bradley Grape, our relationship has sprung back to life. We had passionate make-up sex and, for the moment, we are back in lust.