Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Just Because You’re a Dyke…." Doesn't Mean You Don't Deserve Freedom

It is a funny thing being human.  I say this because we experience things as individuals and as groups.  I experience things as a couple, as an African American, as an American, and as a human.  For instance, all of us will experience death and all have experienced birth, but how we experience death and life is unique.  Our individual journeys can feel so unique that each of us has felt like the outsider, like the other.  Human eroticism is another example of how we are individuals and how we also share experiences with the group or community.  I am an African American, heterosexual man.  Like other heterosexual men, I enjoy sex with women, and I am attracted to and pursue intimate erotic relationships only with women.  On the other hand, I had watched lovers of mine suck others' cocks and lick women’s pearls for my own sexual satisfactions.  I have let women play with my anus, and I admitted to myself and the world that I have a fetish for the female anus.  Moreover, I have dedicated my life to the field of study of human eroticism.  Now every heterosexual man will claim such.  African American lesbians are one group that experiences the world as a community of women who love women and as individual humans.  I am blessed enough to have had the opportunity to rap individually with five beautiful African American lesbians for research.  Here I will share with you part of the stories of three: Disco, Princess, and Doc.  Their communal story is one of liberation and self-definition.  There individual stories vary in tragedy and comedy.  They, their individual stories, are fingerprints

Pushed Out: The Story of Disco
Disco is the only woman of the three that I have known for some time.  When I met her, she already was living openly as a lesbian, and we liked each other straight away.  We always said that we would hit the strip clubs together.  That was probably the first time that I was turned on by the idea of watching a woman admire the beauty of and lust after another woman.  I never shared that, and we have yet to make it to a strip club together. 

As Disco story told me her story, I loved the energy in her voice.  She sounded proud of her story.  It starts with tragedy but ends with acceptance from loved ones and a refusal to hide ever again.  Appropriately, Disco was the first African American lesbian that I approached.  She also was the first to open my eyes to the individuality in the lesbian experience, for Disco doesn’t have a coming out story. 
           She has a “pushed out” story: “My coming out story wasn’t really my choice. I was kinda pushed out.  I was dating somebody that was really… ah… a little bit crazy.  And it came to point in our relationship that nobody really knew that I was dating a woman at the time.”

Disco gives.  When I first met her, I was introduced to her by an ex-girlfriend of hers.  I got the chance to spend time them.  Disco seemed to be a loving, easy-going partner who took commitment seriously and who enjoy spending time with and creating family.  The beginning of her coming out story does not begin in a easy-going loving fashion.  It started in confusion   In coming out, Disco finds out that love and giving is not always enough.  During her coming out period, Disco told her lover that she could no longer give her love and support.  This realization was the beginning of a journey, mentally and physically, a journey marked by violence.

            Disco states, “I was going through it, and my best friend lived at Atlanta at the time.  She sent me a ticket to go see her.  And the night before I told my ex that… alright, “you know I’m going to Atlanta….  We talked about this….  I am just letting you know that when I come back that we don’t have a relationship.”  And she was so mad that night that she actually tried to stab me.  Like she had the knife to my neck and everything.”

Though Disco got through that part of the path without any physical harm, she was changed.  You see, Disco’s lover made some calls.  She “outted” disco to friends and family.  The outting did not provide verification for Disco, but it did bring freedom.  She felt secure, but she did not know how here family would react, which is not unusual in African American coming out stories.  Traditionally, many African Americans are communal folk; in others words, the extended family historically has been very important to African Americans in America and prior to slavery on the continent of Africa. 

Disco shares, “I really didn’t care what anybody else thought because I knew I had, you know, the good job, I was raising my daughter by myself, and I was happy with my life.  My thing was my family and what my family can do for me.  My mom, my mother has her reservations…, but she knows that am her daughter.  You know that is more important than any reservation she might have, so she is going to love me regardless….  Everybody has their reservations, but I am still their sister, or their aunt, or their cousin, or whatever.  My whole family excepts it because I am me.  I never had a problem with my family at all….     I have been having these feelings since… since… probably since I was 12 years old.  The strong feeling that I should be with a woman, but because of what society said, I’m gonna do what everybody expects me to do”

That was the last moment Disco spent in the closet.  Coming out was a moment of liberation, freedom, and joy.  Subsequently, she now demands that if you love her, you must love being who you are, a lesbian and an individual.

Big Things in Little Packages: The Story of Princess
Princess’ personality can fill any room regardless of it’s dimensions.  On the other hand, her physical stature does not match her spirit.  Princess’s story is not a traditional fairytale in which a prince comes to save the day.  Sometimes our heroes and shereos must be us.

            Like Disco, Princess did not control when she came out.  While Princess and her girlfriend talked for forty minutes or so, an accidental pocket call to her mother pushed Princess out.  Her father knew already.  It was his phone that outted Princess as he and Princess drove her girlfriend home.  Although Princess’ father knew, neither of them came to rescue her from the dragon in this tale.

Princess shares part of her story after the phone call: “I felt like a fucking rock had landed in my stomach.  I was so scared and nervous, and then I thought about it.  I said what a minute.  This happened crazy, but at least I didn’t have to tell her verbally.  At least she heard it for herself.  She heard it in rare form, and I didn’t have to beat around the bush.  Plenty of friends of mine have been through very tough times communicating with their parents about being lesbian or gay. They tried writing letters, and you know, getting into physical altercations.  I am very… very blessed with not having to deal with those physical altercations between my mother and I but between my farther and I, we did get into, cause you know, he tried to….  He wanted to equate his masculine…. Him being a man and me liking women [to him was] me wanting to be masculine; you know, because he said we did the same thing with women….  My father would beat me and say, “Just because you’re a dyke doesn’t mean that you can take me on because you do what I do with women, doesn’t mean you can handle me.”  He slapped, choked me, beat me and all that.  I would never break….  It was very difficult… for having to, I guess,  defend, defend my  choices from violence.  ….I myself am 4’10”.  My father is 5’11”.  I am 4’10”, and I had to defend myself against my father, the fellow that I love, you know?”

            Fredrick Douglass never broke during slavery.  In his own Narrative, never breaking was a moment of freedom for him.  Princess never said that to me that what it meant to “not break,” but as she told me her story and as I listened again later, I imagined the battle meant more than just stopping the violence.  The battle was recognition of her ability to self-define.

            Princess did not mention Douglass or freedom, but she does tell us that she demands her personhood, her humanity, even if the demand comes from a little package: “Not that you have to accept, you know, my lifestyle.., and I don’t even call it a lifestyle.  It is a conditioning term.  Um… but I choose to be happy I’ll say.  You don’t have to respect the way I choose to be happy, but at least, respect me as a person.  What happens in my home is my business.  And my bedroom is not of anyone’s concern to damn or to judge because that is a sin….  (Sigh)”

A Journey into Womanhood and Blackness: The Story of Doc
Doc’s story is an academic’s story, filled with theory and reflection.  In some ways, coming out almost seemed calculated, not a choice, but calculated nonetheless.  In my eyes, it is a beautiful story of gaining knowledge: “I think my coming out story has many different beginnings and endings and restarting and ending again.  I came out when I was 19 years old in terms of officially announcing to the world or announcing to my mother, but as I trace my life trajectory up until now, I realize that when I was in elementary school, I had a little a special little girlfriend that I put into a place who was more than just like all my other little friends.”

Doc’s coming out story has many parts, for she includes such things as realizing she was making non-sexual but erotic friendships with girls since she was in elementary school.  She includes learning the language of womanhood and lesbian theory was coming out too.  Defining her Africanness was also coming out.  Lastly, gauging her experiences for correctness was also coming out:

“…I was coming into my African American identity, my female self.  I was coming into my lesbian self.  And so going to  ________ was that door through what I was able to study, read, and learn; friendships I was able to develop….  And there were a couple of other people who I met along the way there who I was able to have whatever experiences I needed to have to conform that this [being a lesbian] was a good fit for me.  So once I knew, what I knew, based on some friendships developing, some introspection happening, just exploring safe zones; I said, ‘okay, that part is good, I really need to be invested in the African American students here….’”

Learning about being a lesbian and woman in an academic fashion gave Doc strength.  She refuses to be defined by the word lesbian and is interested in the word ‘queer” because it comes with less limitations.  Moreover, she is an advocate for the LGBTQ communities.  Doc places her coming out story into a larger context of general oppression.  Studying gives her language with which to argue for human freedoms and against oppression.

In the movie, Inventing the Abbotts, a character states, “Life is not a cafeteria.”  In other words, in life, we do not stand in line, picking all the things we want off of glass shelves, leaving behind what might be distasteful to others or what might be difficult.  We do not to pick things that taste good to our individual taste.  Life is messier than that.  These women reminded me of that.  They also reminded me that we all have coming out stories.  There is much in each of us that when revealed to ourselves and the world, changes us forever.  There are parts of eroticism that we all have hidden.  Disco, Princess, and Doc taught me that erotic freedom is worth fighting for.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ben Wa Balls, Bend-Over-Boyfriends and Manhood

I had never heard the term B.O.B before a client of mine shared the term with me over a phone meeting.

“B.O.B.?” I questioned.  I was slightly embarrassed that I had never heard the term.

Bend Over Boyfriend,” said Kevin in almost a whisper.  “I like anal stimulation…, and I like my wife to wear a strap-on dildo and fuck me.  It wasn’t my idea.  She wanted to do it, and now I like it.  And I can’t help but question myself…, my manhood.” 

Manhood.  My time working with and learning from Kevin was time spent reflecting on what it meant to be a man.  Different societies and cultures give different definitions during different periods of time.  What is a man?  At different points in my life, manhood meant different things to me.  At one point, manhood meant being tough; at one point, manhood meant being a good Blackman who earned and who kept his Ongo Bongo hard.  However, if I reduce manhood to paycheck and cock hardness, what happens to my humanity.

An ex-girlfriend of mine, with whom I am still friendly after almost 30 years, once told that I had always been very interested in sex.  She reminded me that we went to sex shop and bought a pair of Ben Wa Balls.  I did not remember, but I had no reason to believe that she was lying.  I do remember trying to negotiate trying anal sex with her way back when.  (I lost the negotiations by the way.)  Thus, I thought we bought Ben Wa Balls with the hope of loosening up our sexual life (I really mean her anus.).  However, in our discussions, she told me that the Ben Wa balls were for my ass.  Do I vaguely remember the notion and the action, or did she plant it in my head, a test to my manhood?  We bought cracked up and argued about whose ass the balls were for.  I may have lost those negotiations too.

I thought about another incident: one of the nastiest ladies I have ever known had the dream of donning a strap-on and buggering me.  She let me do all sorts of nasty things to her, so you know the negotiations were fierce.  I thought if I even let a girlfriend of mine mention the words strap-on, what does that say about my manhood?  Is a man less of a man because he lets his woman deliver a package in the rear? Is a man less of a man if he lets another man deliver a package in the rear?  In the end (pun intended), I experimented with her.  Manhood….

As I reflect on my life and dedication to Sexology, to education, to Life coaching, and to creativity in the name of healing, I realize that I am a nurturer, and I am willing to fight for my position as such in my family.  This role is often considered a feminine one, particularly in western influenced cultures.  I enjoy clothes shopping with my daughters, and often the ladies in my life defer to my sense of style.  I have the heart of a poet.  Manhood….  Now as I learn to earn as writer and sex coach, for the first time, I do not earn as much as or more than my lover, a shock to both my wife's and my system.  Manhood….

I work with a wide range of men now.  They vary in sexual orientation, and they vary in sexual behavior and desire while holding multitudes of different opinions about eroticism.  I hope to assist every one of them who choose to work with me.   I am humbled and honored every time a man or woman walks into my office or gives me a call.  I cannot judge how folk develop sexually.  The only sexual actions that I am against are those associated with oppression, like rape, molestation, slavery, and etcetera.  I cannot define what manhood or womanhood for others.  I can define what manhood is for me. 

Moreover, my definition of manhood and womanhood are not placed on a foundation of erotic activity or gender.  In other words, my definitions are probably best articulated through the notion of human hood.  I find I respect and want to learn most from humans who  love their families, respect their lovers, protect their community, and who understand that they are part of a world culture that is dependent upon the health of the earth.  When I work with individuals, couples, or groups, I come to the table with the following guiding notions:

·         I have love for certain erotic acts that other do not share.  I am okay with that.

·         Others have erotic worlds that do not fit who I am.  I am okay with that. 

·         I do not have the authority or knowledge to objectively evaluate the “correctness” of anyone’s erotic world.   Therefore, I accept them all.

·         I have as much (if not more) to learn from my clients as they do from me.

Kevin and talked about manhood as we worked together.  We looked at ideas about how gender roles can be oppressive, for the stereotypes often leave little room for individuals to be individuals.  Kevin realized that, unconsciously, he had many strong ideas about what it meant to be a man.  His guiding erotic myth for himself did not include male vulnerability, sensitivity, and certainly, no anal stimulation, but he enjoyed all those things at times with his wife.  The dilemma was causing Kevin much grief, affecting his general enjoyment of sex, his performance, and his belief in himself.  Hence, the time we worked together was spent freeing him from what he believed the world needed from him as a man and developing a personal definition of manhood that better aligned with his present reality. 

“Real men do not like their woman to give IT to us.  We are supposed to give IT to them.  It is the way of the world,” said Kevin during one of meetings.  I observed how culture affected his sense of the erotic world.  He made his statements as if there is only one erotic world, one true erotic reality.  I disagree:

“Is that the way of the world?” I asked.

“Sure it is.  Men aren’t takers.  We do the penetrating.”

“I understand what you are saying, but I wonder would you be less of a man if you loved to sew?”


“Yeah.  Sew” I repeated.

“Sewing is a long way from what I am doing.”

“I guess it is if you want to be.  Don’t you decide what makes a man?  Is it possible to be man even if society might not agree with the choices you make?”

“…I think it is….”  He hesitated to answer.

“Do all of your other decisions fit in with what you think society wants?”

“No.  In business, I am sort of a maverick.  Many of my ideas are different than my colleagues.”

“How do you make business decisions?”

“I gather all the information I can, and then listen to my heart I guess.”

“Can’t the decisions about your sex life be more similar to the decisions you make about business.”

“…I think they can,” he said with a slight smile.

Kevin continued to be a bend-over-boyfriend.  He also reported giving up other notions about being a man.  He found enjoyment in talking about how he and his wife felt about moving forward together.  He rarely talked about feelings before he accepted all of himself.  Both he and his wife thought his talking about feelings was an improvement in their relationship.

To me, folks’ erotic worlds are their own; moreover, the erotic world is so important to each individual’s overall well-being that I refuse to attack the erotic worlds of others.  I prefer to assist in helping others except their erotic worlds and improving them in ways that are consistent with their goals, desires, and spirituality.

Dr. T
For more informations about my coaching services, please call 336.662.7777, or email me drtafari@triad.rr.com.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Erotic Mind F@%k: I Think I Have A Mental Hard On

I am in love with a text called the Erotic Mind by Dr. Morin.  It was a turn-on, a mind f@%k.  The text has had a profound effect on my thinking, my writing, my coaching practice, and my life.  Before I started reading the text, I thought that I had a fascination with sex and sexuality; however, I was wrong.    I am not interested in sex at all.  (That didn’t come out right.)  What I mean to say is that I am interested in so much more than the act of sex.  I am interested in the meanings we place on sex and sexuality.  I am interested in how culture and oppression affect human sex and sexuality.  I am interested in the contradictory emotions connected to some our biggest turn-ons.  I am interested in the art created for and inspired by sex.  I am interested in the dark sides of sex.  I am interested in the healing properties of reflecting on and knowing our “core sexual themes”.  My friends, from reading this text, I now know that I am fascinated, not just with sex, but with eroticism.  I study sex and eroticism scientifically.  I am a sexologist.  Using Dr. Morin’s research, others’, and my own research, I accessed the power of my eroticism, which in turn gave me greater access to my spirituality, creativity, physical body, and psyche.

There was a time that I thought the nasty ‘ish that I wanted to do with my lovers was wrong.  Good girls DO NOT scream out, “Do not put it in my good girl hole!  Put it in my naughty hole!”  Well, at least that is what I told myself, and I wanted to be a good guy.  Good guys do not even dare ask good girls about pushing their erotic limits, but now I know that pushing the erotic limits with a partner is one of the healthiest things lovers can do for each other.  I am very thankful that I have met women who have stretched my sexual limitations.  Moreover, I am truly blessed that I have a wife with whom I must keep pace and who excites me as well as pushes my limits.   They accepted what I lusted after, and some of them taught me the difference between having a lust-filled relationship and a love-filled relationship.  Additionally, they taught me that I love relationships in which love and lust overlap to a great extent (Thank the Universe for my wife.)  I know this because I have reflected and used creativity to reveal my, what Dr. Morin calls, core erotic themes; moreover, I have helped clients do the same.  In my own practice and research I have begun to use the term Core Erotic Myths, (based on Dr. Jack Morin’s theory and Dr. Stanley Krippner’s theories concerning mythology) which hold the key to our most secret insides, the secrets we even try to keep hidden from ourselves.  In other words, our core erotic myth is a combination of the cultural, psychic, spiritual, and erotic stories we create to understand our erotic worlds and the world at large, to protect ourselves from harm, and to make life decisions, many of which made unconsciously.

For instance, many of my clients have come to me after having a string of bad relationships.  I can empathize with those who seem to repeat a bad relationship over and over again.  Repeating bad relationships, Dr. Morin points out, may come from an eroticized self-image; in other words, one may repeat bad relationships because at the core of their being they may feel unworthy, guilty, in need of punishment, or many number of things.  A lesbian client of mine who had been molested came to work with me.  I was honored to help in here healing process, for she let me into a world that many men do not see.  Stacey was an educated African American woman who repeated having bad relationships, first with men, then with women.  She kept giving of herself to the point of exhaustion.  In our coaching sessions, Stacey revealed that she had been molested and that her mother had been complicit in the abuse from ignoring it to assisting in it.  She had gone to a psychiatrist to deal with the abuse as an adult and felt that she had successfully dealt with a painful part of her life. 

Stacey and I used Dr. Morin’s survey to explore her erotic world and her Core Erotic Theme.  We creatively explored the erotic mythology that filled her life.   Stacey was molested at an early age, pre-teens, and she was confused about enjoying some of the sexual acts while she was molested.  It is not uncommon for the body to involuntarily react in a positive sexual manner even when the acts are unwanted and oppressive.  Moreover, she said that she became good at pleasing her abusers, so the abuse would stop quickly.  This Stacey knew logically; on the other hand, her unconscious mind kept calling her nasty and dirty.  She was “over” being molested, but she still unconsciously felt guilty about “enjoying” it.  Her Core Erotic Myth told that she needed to be punished and that she didn’t deserve to enjoy sex now:

 “Sex is not a game for me.  It is not pleasurable,” said Stacey.

“It’s never pleasurable?   What attracts you to a lover or partner?” I asked in reply.

“…I like women who I seduce.”

“Was this true when you dated men?”

She thought for a moment or two, “…Yes.  I think so.”

“Can you name the things you like about seducing?”  Stacey didn’t answer right away.  She looked to me as if she did have an answer but was unsure about how to say it.  “I like the feeling of winning over someone who is not interested in me.  Most of my relationships start with someone who is not interested in me other than sexually.”  Tears rolled down Stacey’s face. 

I believe this was a turning point for her and for me.  This was a turning point for her because she realized the contradictory nature of her core erotic myth.  Her relationships start with someone she has to “win over”.  She realized that in her life that there where many men and women that found her attractive, but the past molestation seemly infused a feeling of not deserving love into her core erotic myth.  Thus, she was always attracted to people who may not be truly attracted to her but were willing to have sex with her.

This moment was groundbreaking for me, for it was an introduction into concentrating on eroticism and creativity as an entry point into holistic well-being.  Additionally, the moment showed me how important Dr. Morin’s concepts are to how I practice sex coaching and to how I view eroticism.  It led me to other works focused the erotic world and to my present stance that owning our erotic world is an act of liberation.

My core erotic myth is focused on healing.  As Dr. Morin points out, our present erotic patterns are often connected to unconscious obstacles created in childhood.  My mother was depressed after my father left.  She became sexless in many ways:  She didn’t date, go out, or seek the attention of men it seemed to me.  She also fell into depressions at times.  I always acted as a listener to my mother, and I shape my personality into the child who I thought she wanted; who I thought would help bring healing and joy into her life.  In my adult life the trend continued.  I became that the black man who would be the man for the black woman, which included being the perfect lover.  I had to be the perfect lover, but I also had to be good, clean, and respectful.  Good black women didn’t want naughty, nasty boys; moreover, I would not date outside of my race.  How can I be a savior of black women if I date outside of my race?  I am sure missed many opportunities for love and great sexual experiences because of this point of view.  Also, I repressed my truly nasty side, an act that left me sexually unsatisfied for much of my adult life, and now I am consciously as nasty as I want to be or as reserved as I want to be; My Choice.
The main reasons I love Dr. Morin’s Erotic Mind are, one, the text provides researcher, educators, and therapists focused on healing and the erotic a theoretical framework that broadens and deepens the discussions surrounding eroticism.  Two, the text provided me with practical information to use as a healer.  Three, the text is invaluable in helping one reflect on his or her erotic world.

Dr. T
For more informations about my coaching services, please call 336.662.7777, or email me drtafari@triad.rr.com.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Are Monogamous Relationships Possible?

First, let me say that I am sorry that I haven’t written in some time.  I have been researching Erotica and living new sexual experiences.  I have been reflecting on the black man I have been and the human I want to become.  I have been cutting off my locks.

                Shortly before I sat down to write this entry to my blog, a friend of mine shared with me that he thought his wife was cheating and that their marriage was over.  I have also felt the pain of love lost as well as assisted folk through painful divorces and separations.  All of this pain has led a few of my friends and clients to ask me whether monogamy works or not.  I have been fortunate enough to have both experienced “open” relationships and monogamous relationships.   Not to ride a fence, but I believe that both open and monogamous relationships are possible, enjoyable, and satisfying.  Contrarily, both can also be painful, heartbreaking, and confusing.

I have much more experience in monogamous relationships than I do open relationships, but I do have enough experience to know that open relationships hold many pitfalls as well as many opportunities to grow and learn.

                In my open relationships, I experienced a level of honesty and freedom that is unequaled in any of my monogamous relationships.  I do not mean honesty across the board, but my lover and I were very honest about our “peak” sexual experiences and our eroticism as a whole.  Moreover, we shared exciting experiences which pushed us and changed us.  I watched my lady perform oral sex on both men and women.  I watched the joy in her face as she made others cum or they made her cum.  I really had to reflect on my manhood to even be there.  I had to reflect on what was socially acceptable and my spiritual values.  With my lady, I experienced threesomes, foursomes, and an orgy or two.  They were life changing experience, not all in good way; however, I learned more about myself during those experiences than I did through my entire time as an undergraduate.   I had to come face-to-face with what it means to be black, a man, and a partner.  I had to ask myself can someone love me while she wrapped her lips around another man’s love gun.

                Ironically, my lover, an experienced swinger would ask me questions that exposed her own fears: Was she a better lover than me?  Do you think about her now?  During group sex, you may hear your lover say or see him or do things that are meaningful to you.   In other words, you may see and hear things that you felt were just reserved for you; additionally, you realize that other folk have the ability to make your lover holla, and that realization for me was very big.  In all of my open relationships except one, I, and my lover, formed outside friends with whom we were allowed to see and have sex with alone.  I was hurt that my lover would want to have sexual experience without me, but I was also excited for her.  I was excited for me too.  I met a few beautiful women whom I wanted and wanted me; in addition, a lover or two from my past thought enough of me to share their beautiful bodies with me.  The freedom is intoxicating, and the freedom made the sex with my partner wild, passionate, and nasty as if we were trying to remind each other why we chose each other.

Contrarily, for me, the freedom also helped to cultivate my feelings of insecurity.  Believe it or not, most of my sexual relationships were very traditional.  Things like anal sex, threesomes, and sexual fantasies, things I admittedly like, were rare, mostly nonexistent occurrences, yet I understood where the relationship stood.  I could feel when I came close to the boundaries better.  My partner and my insecurities were well hidden until an argument or particular situation stripped us naked.  An open relationship strips you naked: it is the particular situation.

In both relationships structures, I felt special but in very different ways.  In my successful monogamous relationships, I felt special because refraining from having sex with others felt like a gift.   Giving my body only to my partner is a gift, and when my partner gave her body only to me, I viewed it as gift to me.  I know that they could have other people in their sexual lives, but they chose to refrain. That is a powerful sacrifice, a sacrifice that I do not take lightly.  In the open relationship, my lover made me feel special by allowing me to totally control my sexuality and desires.  She allowed me to enter worlds or eroticism that I would have never entered without her.

My clients, whether in open or monogamous relationships, fall apart or succeed.  The commonality in the relationships that succeed is simply that they choose to stay together and communicate regardless of the circumstances.   Moreover, upon reflection, I have decided that the best way for me to have a good relationship is to focus on the things that are important to me and also to focus improving myself holistically.

My self esteem

When my relationships went sour, whether open or monogamous, I reflected on how I felt about myself, not how my partner felt about me, how I felt about myself.   In either paradigm, I had to have a high value of self to navigate my relationship.  My self-esteem was a compass.  It told me when I loved my partner more than I loved myself.  It told me when my partner was indeed right and that I should say, “I am sorry” and “forgive me.”  When my self-esteem at is at its highest, my lover can interact with anyone she wants, for I know my own worth.  If she decides to go, it is her lose and my gain; if she decides to face the world with me, we both gain and face loses together.  This was true for me in every relationship sexual, romantic relationship that I have ever had in my life.  I suspect that this will be true in the future.


Whether I was in a relationship in which my lover and brought another woman to our bed or I was in a “you-betta-keep-ya-dick-in-ya-pants” type of relationship, clear and accurate communication provided the best foundation for a satisfying relationship.  My lover and I would experience pain from what was said and from what was kept secret.   We would have misunderstandings.  We would speak from anger and fear.  Hostile communication has played a hand in every relationship failure that I have had; on the other hand, positive communication has always assisted in my successes.


I have favorite sexual experience in both my monogamous relationships and my open relationships.  When I met my wife, I was honest about my sexual history, and I believe my honesty helped provide and overall environment of honesty to which we both contribute.  It is not always easy being honest to my wife.  Additionally, I know that it is not always easy for her to be perfectly honest with me.  We try our best to let the other speak his or her truth while understanding that our own sense of “the truth” might be different.

Is monogamy possible?  I know monogamy is possible without a doubt in my mind.  Some believe that monogamy is not “natural”.  Whether or not monogamy is natural to humans make very little difference to me.  Humans create their own realities, and for better or worse, we have moved away from the natural a long time ago.  Thus, knowing yourself and what you can handle is easily the best way to know if an open relationship is an option for you.  The most important factor in staying together with a partner is deciding to do so.  The choice to love through obstacles can conquer all.

Dr. T
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