Inside an "Anything Goes" Sex Club

(Photo: Stelladiplastica (C) Medhi, Zivity.com)
(Photo: Stelladiplastica © Medhi, Zivity.com)

“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.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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448 Replies to “Inside an "Anything Goes" Sex Club”

  1. Tim,

    For a proponent of life simplification, elimination, and at times outright minimalism, I must say I’ve raised an eyebrow at this one 🙂

    One of the grand things about life and getting older is that doors start to shut on you. When you’re young you can be an astronaut or the president. As you get older, your priorities realign and aspirations change to match. And to be honest, door closing on you is a hell of a relief – the pressure is off, so you can focus on what you realise matter most. Life simplifies and you focus on what’s essential.

    What I’m getting at is, find a great partner and be done with it. 80/20 rule comes into play: stop expending energy on the hunt, enjoy the spoils. It’s not only what you might miss out on by committing, but vice versa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg_9FQk6UnA

    Good luck mate!

  2. We are devolving as a human race. Climate change will not destroy the, but our self destructive habits will.

    If you read self-help books from a hundred years ago, they talked about developing our higher self or nature, through virtues as self discipline, self control self mastery, moderation, Humility and chastity.

    Today our society encourages vices over virtue. Gluttony. If it feels good do it. We use lame excuses for our self destructive behaviors like “Evolutionary biology says I evolved from a dog, so I should behave like a dog.”

    I think as species is than better that. Read think and grow rich chapter on sex transmutation. Direct that energy in positive product direction.

  3. Elisabeth Sheff’s book “The Polyamorist Next Door” is worth investigating (She also has a book on poly families “Tales from the Polycule” which I have not read but she is the go to academic expert on this topic).

  4. Timeless and eternal knowledge dropped in this article! What would it take for sex ed to incorporate a healthy view point like this post? 1 generation taught these timeless principles would change the world it seems!

  5. What works for me:

    Choosing between the monogamous intimate relationship vs. sexually adventurous lifestyle is a legitimate issue for A LOT of people. I think a lot more than anyone realizes.

    The problem is everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. Tim, you are incredible at finding ways to adjust the system so you get it all. It’s why you are the success story you became. But I really believe in the case of dating/sex/love, there is NO such thing as getting it “all”.

    By getting it all, I mean getting intimate and sexual needs both satisfied at once. How does one go about doing that? Find the perfect intimate partner that satisfies all sexual needs? OR find an open relationship that allows one to find sexual adventure but also provides sufficient intimacy? Neither of those options work.

    I really believe you have to make a choice between two needs. Either you you find a life partner, someone who is yours and only yours, who can be your best friend and lover. This person will satisfy all of your needs for intimacy. However, even if that person looks incredible naked and does amazing things in the bedroom, you will never be fully satisfied on a sexual level.

    We can only achieve sexual satisfaction by having sexual freedom to be with anyone.

    On the flip side, you can choose a sexually open lifestyle. Perhaps you are in a relationship but it is an open one. Of course, you can be free to explore and find all the sexual excitement your body desires, but there WILL be an intimacy void. I’m sorry but NO open relationship no matter how hard you try will ever satisfy your intimate needs like a monogamous relationship will.

    I believe we all have both sexual and intimate needs, and the shitty thing is they can never be satisfied all at once. You have to make a choice which one gets attention, and which one you end up craving because its needs aren’t being met.

    I choose intimacy. I am in an incredible relationship with my life partner. I can come home to her every night and never feel alone or in need of love. She’s someone with whom I can share a bottle of wine, have great conversation, cuddle in bed and make love to. She meets my sexual needs to a point, but not nearly to the level that a sexually open lifestyle would do for me. But that’s okay, I have made my choice.

    In this case, you just can’t have it all. You gotta choose.

  6. Hi Tim,

    Without having read any of the comments here so far, I’ll give you a more practical response that I think may make a lot of sense to you and to your readers. The reason for these things to be gaining on blogs and discussion boards, mostly with men, revolves around the disincentives to marriage and monogamy for guys. That is, no-fault divorce, income-based alimony and child support, and the expanded definitions for domestic violence (‘anything goes’) which can have a devastating impact, not only on men, but on their children, their relationships with friends and family, and their future prospects for work, new relationships, and second marriages. If this is of any surprise to you or your readers, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock, or just graduated from high school. And I say things things with great empathy for men, because I am in the same boat, and I very well understand how men can find suddenly find monogamy unattractive in the US, when in fact it is in our very nature to bond with the opposite sex. I also lived a life once where messing around cost me big time, and I’m still paying for it, complete with lost friends and family. American men also know this because they hear stories from friends who have been through it, or they’ve lived it themselves, which is not hard to miss with our 1 in 3 divorce rate, and the new film that just came out last year, Divorce Corp, which documents these issues at-length. American men have a LOT to lose in circumstances involving out-of-wedlock child births where the mother decides to ditch them, and the same goes for divorce. And American women, primarily social-progressive types, are well aware of this as well. So to your statements about novelty, I get it. But be honest about why you and others really feel this, because it didn’t always used to be this way. Men are being pushed out of traditional circumstances all throughout our culture, from marriage and fatherhood, to education, to the traditional white collar workplace. Consider these issues the next time you think you need a sex club or a longer string of hookups. Don’t be a sucker for the feminist-Left. You are better, and you deserve better.

  7. “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.”

    It’s funny, biologically, we clearly were made to mate man and a woman and I would reckon to say that the majority of posters on here would say that homosexuality is a great thing. This was a little too much Tim.

  8. You got me back in business (and my feet). I owe you BIG TIME!

    And you certainly have EVERY right to do as you please.

    However, I was disappointed by the pornographic picture into my inbox.

    Certainly not why I signed up for your list. I’ll miss you in my inbox.

  9. “A million sticky nights”

    Reading this, I’m left to assume that Neil will eventually reach the conclusion that alternative arrangements are more trouble than they’re worth. I’ll not be buying the book to find out: Although obviously skilled, the passages are basically trope after trope directed at the lizard brain to keep interest. Sorry, but just because the read was stimulating doesn’t mean that the content is worth consideration.

    There’s a conversation to be had here, but I don’t think that this is the best method to have it.

  10. What no one has written so far in the comments is – who says being in a relationship or casual/poly/blah interaction is the default normal standard anyway? We are all brainwashed to think there is something wrong if we’re not involved romantically or sexually. What about – “I’m struggling with monogamy and feel I have to just indulge every desire whenever possible.The healthy mature diagnosis here is I’d better take a step back. One year of celibacy as far as other people are concerned”

  11. Neil I think you are possessed by a demon that uses you to feed off all the psychic energy generated by lust and all the people in such a scene similarly inclined: all with similar varieties (styles) of fractures in their energy bodies

    One of those sex clubs would energetically be rife with demons pulling the strings of their slaves generating the fire for the demon to harvest

  12. One can get quality sex with a partner that is trusted, committed and simply compatible. The wide picture normally comes after 10 sessions and more with a single partner. One-night stands and two-week affairs are simply other forms of masturbation. )

  13. What has worked for me? Being single, that means I’m on a 0% success rate. Then again, I’m a sample size of one.

    I know you don’t often air your thoughts on relationships and the like, but I’m assuming you’ve spent a lot of time thinking on it. Spend as much time as you need so that the Four Hour Love Life can come into being haha. But seriously, I’m guessing you haven’t often taken a position on it because you haven’t come to a concrete position on it. Maybe I’m wrong. I think on this a lot because intimate relationships seem to have the largest desire/outcome disparity of any issue in my (and maybe most people’s) life.

    I have no solutions but a few thoughts I’ve been sitting on for a while.

    Firstly, I wonder if an ability to assimilate information carves a particular reflex. We devour, conquer, and move on. Maybe we unintentionally do that with our relationships. Perhaps we take our cues from boredom to tell us we’ve learned what we are meant to learn from that relationship. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just might be the case.

    Secondly, I wonder how much surprise and suspense plays into it. I like that the concept has been applied to novels, political races, gambling, and sports but it just make sense in relationships (at least to me). I find that as soon as I know someone well enough to be able to guess their opinion on any given topic, I can no longer be surprised by them. Maybe that’s a lack of effort on their part. Maybe it’s my problem for treating people as a puzzle to be solved. Maybe I should find more interesting people.

    Like I said, just thoughts.

    I was recently in an undefined arrangement for 10 months (assumed casual – never had a conversation). It turns out we were exclusive the whole time and neither of us knew. Surprise monogamy. This was oddly a more successful relationship than anything I’ve ever done although replicating it would be pretty impossible.

    I know I haven’t mentioned Neil’s stories. I just figured every opinion worth listening to (and also not) has already been said on both sides and I don’t think my personal take adds any new angles to the discussion.

    Apologies for the long comment. I don’t think I’ve ever commented on a blog and I wanted to give a genuine response.

  14. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing.

    I’m the founder of a dating & seduction school for men here in Paris have the same 4-point relationship criteria as you…

    It’s tricky… and to be honest I have taken just under 10 years to find how to make it work robustly (what frame to come from and how to implement it).

    Today I’m happily married to Carole, a terrific girl I approached in the Paris metro subway system, we have a 1-year-old daughter, and we also enjoy shared sexual freedom and novelty, the keyword here being “shared”.

    I’d be glad to swap thoughts with you over coffee when you’re next in Paris.

    Cheers,

    Alex Wagner

  15. Why do people want what they ‘can’t’ have and create rules just to break them? From my perspective it seems rebellion is what advances our species. Why do people crave controlling other people? Is the internet going to undo the tolerance we have created in society? Or are we just all lying to ourselves some more? Sorry I’m not much help. I have more questions than experiences. This post was a total turn on though 😉 Just wish it was your stories instead of Neil’s

  16. Tim, I read a little of your Straus post. It made me think of Kant’s ideas on morality (he thought there was too much religion in the world and wanted to replace it with intelligence. Anyway I think anyone interested in this sort of nastiness (in my opinion) should consider what he said. This is from today’s “Book of Life” posting: “Kant came up with the idea for which he is perhaps still most famous: what he called the Categorical Imperative. This strange sounding term first appeared in a horrendously named work, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.” It states:

    “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”

    I doubt anyone would want this kind of behavior (some thought or maxim anticipates this kind of behavior) to become universal law.

  17. When is your next audio book club book coming out? I know you teased it back when you got the rights to your tv show. I know this is unrelated to your wonderful article. Thank you for doing what you do.

  18. When I read this-just your intro actually, I burst into tears. (yes, I’m a woman). I got to spend some time wondering what made me so profoundly sad and scared, if I’m being honest, which I am, about the premise. The only real conclusion I could draw was that it made me despair of ever finding a partner/friend with whom to explore life, an open couple of two, yet with a closed membership roster.

    I see people that are polyamorous and they seem so…happy. So well adjusted. And I wonder about it. Could I love two men, three men, and share intimacy with them? Could I get as deep as I think two can go? Are we just talking about another animal all together? Are we talking the difference between great and abundant orgasmic, athletic sex vs. great and abundant orgasmic athletic sex that goes to a completely different place inside? IS there a difference? I’ve experienced both in my life, and I will always opt for the connection, the kind that leaves your body happy and your heart going ‘WTF just happened there?’. I’m a woman, though. I’m not sure men really want it. I’ve been told that men are “just scared” yet I wonder if men are “just not into it”. I do think we can be differently wired, though my younger sisters seem to be able to have sex that is totally devoid of strings of any sort-ride it and leave it. Is that simply a construct of our society? Are they the new breed of woman? Is it the difference between growing up in the 70’s and growing up in the new century?

    I’ve just got questions, and no answers, and it still ruffles my guts a bit, but in a good way.

    I do think it’s worth noting that the writer of The Game is now married, with a baby, and living in suburbia. Or so says that bastion of reliable gossip, the Daily Mail. So there’s that…..

  19. How do you know that the craving for variety or lots of sex isnt simply addiction? There’s no stronger biology … Tapping into those parts of the brain triggered by addiction. I would propose that our high tech, highly connected environment, always be entertained environment encourages our frenzied thinking that we “need” variety (food, activity, drugs, alcohol, facebook, sex, etc) when we are often just not comfortable being. Dont get me wrong, I am no prude. Have nothing against people having fun, but its hard for our biology to not trick us into thinking that we have to have it. So exposure to such “fun” (variety) ultimately puts any relationship – with ourselves or others – at risk because we cant just be ….satisfied, at peace, joyful.

  20. Relationships are complicated. I’m gay and would really like to have a non exclusive relationship, however 99.99% of lesbians won’t “share”, so it’s frustrating and discouraging. I’ve had a non exclusive relationship with three women, and it worked well with two of them, until they started falling and didn’t want to go on unless I stop seeing other people.

    Maybe some day I’ll find that chick for whom having so many things in common is more important than us having sex with others.

  21. Have you ever explored TNT? I highly recommend this process for conscious exploration of sexuality: http://thenewtantra.com/

    My understanding is you’re looking for intimate, emotional and sexual connection with the freedom to explore this with multiple partners without jealousy? This tantra school teaches not cumming as the highest practice to achieving sexual satisfaction, understanding and overcoming egoic tendencies that hold us back from realising our deepest desires and over-coming jealousy. Being horny and having fantasies is not a problem if it’s explored consciously – i don’t believe labelling yourself as a sex addict is the whole truth just because you like to have sex with a lot of people. I’ve just had sex with 6+ men and women during this process without shame and with incredible (non-peak) orgasms, like full body orgasm and with deep connection to each partner. I feel much more in my body, focused and relaxed than ever before.

    Cumming is an addiction, sex isn’t. When you remove the goal it’s much easier to find connection with the other and explore yourselves without detachment or unfulfillment because one has come too quickly. there’s nothing wrong with living out your deepest desires to become a fuller more authentic person – if done consciously in a supportive, held environment. It’s the best sexual de-conditioning and core-breaking work i’ve ever come across.

    thanks for your post, it’s a territory most are afraid to talk about yet it’s what most of us think about a lot!! i WISH YOU WELL on your sexual explorations! x

  22. Hey Tim,

    I love sex, so I read the blog. The bottom line is love, attraction, and commitment. Have I been attracted to other men? Sure, but not that much. I think back to “just sex”, and it was awkward and empty. I follow the instruction manual for us selfish, human beings…The Bible. The truth will set you free.

    Praying for you to find your soulmate. It is worth it.

    Peace,

    Julia

  23. The kind of experiences that Neil has are fleeting, simply because of our conditioned egos. In the U.S., almost all of us have been conditioned to ‘not get treated like that’ or ‘graduate, find a partner, buy a house, have a baby…’ blah blah blah. When these ideals have dominated your psyche, even if you’ve woken up from this matrix, it’s difficult to overcome what has been beaten into you since birth.

    I had a wonderful, long singles life and am now happily married. I too used to struggle with monogamy until I found someone that I lusted after as much as I loved. While I understand that this is rare, it was MY answer. I imagine that it’s the unachieved answer for many others as well, being as though the divorce rate is over 60%. I’m a man, I’m visual. I picked a woman with a perfect butt and banging body. It’s nice to go places and see other attractive women and know that I am more attracted to mine…not because I love her, but simply because she’s a fine specimen that I would want to (for lack of a better term) bone, even if I didn’t know her. The best part about it is that she wants me just as much. Maybe others should hold out until they find something similar. I didn’t get married till I was over 30 because I made the early decision that wasn’t going to settle. Not that it’s old, but seems to be older than most. I’m glad that I didn’t settle. Just saying…

  24. I disagree about monogamy not being natural. There are other creatures in nature that choose to be both monogamous and poly. Why can’t humans choose as well? As a woman who is open minded, not bad looking, and spent a lot of time in Europe, I’ve had the chance to pursue multiple interests if I wanted. But something I discovered is that sex is so much more amazing when I love, trust and can fully give myself to someone in a way that I can’t just give to strangers or aquaintances. It’s incredibly difficult to find a true connection and passion with one person, let alone several. I can make myself orgasm easily, I don’t need a partners just for that (and even feels better compared to some of my exes lol). If the sex isn’t going to be amazing, like when you have deep feelings for someone, I can honestly say it’s not worth the effort to me. And it feels overwhelming to think about micromanaging multiple relationships while living an already stressful life…then having a legitimate concern about STDs. I just don’t see the benefit for me personally. I naturally enjoy being monogamous. If you are poly, fine, but don’t try to pretend the rest of us are just going along with social expectations instead of truly choosing to have one partner at a time and being fine with that! I never understand how people say monogamy isn’t natural when there are animals with ‘primitive’ minds who freely choose.

  25. Tim, by the way, you are a model, not for this, but for your work ethics. Anyways… Pepper had the equation mostly right, there becomes an exponential sum when the relationship grows in numbers. Solution, date bisexual women only! Not just for the awesomeness of the sex, but because the sharing changes. You don’t have a feeling of two women sharing you, they share each other as well. No guilt for monopolizing women when they love the other as much as you. It is actually four relationships in a triad (math gets weirder for four) It’s you and girl A, you and girl B, girl A and girl B, and all of you together. But it works so much better because when one of you is absent the bonds still hold. They have their own love, their own sex, their own talks. It frees everyone to have their ‘private’ time to be alone as well, a must in any relationship. Plus you can go on business trips knowing your lovers are in good hands. Above all else, and I can not stress this enough, no lies, no secrets. Be %100 honest to them %100 of the time. When love, sex, and friendship works in every direction, you and they, are stronger for it. Good luck and hit me up if you have further questions. -Damon

  26. Awesome stories! It’s very deliberating to see that Neil and Tim have the courage to touch this topic. Thanks a ton for this.

    We think it’s a great service to our society to help making sex normal and remove the taboos. We will be much better of, much safer and much more fulfilled once people can talk openly about sex.

    Emily and Michael

  27. Hi Tim and Neil,

    First of all, Tim please don’t back up or defend your position. You are who you are. The mind that created 4 Hour Workweek that led way to many innovative ideas over the years. That ground breaking book came from that unconventional mind.

    Nothing here is shocking. I am shocked about the amount of narcissism and entitlement I come across in the USA on a daily basis, like all the duck face selfies and ass pictures taken at a gym. Society is full of self-proclaimed moral police. Religion and insecurities. Those who have problem with such things are the ones who have the sickest suppressed fantasies.

    Europe is way ahead of the USA when it comes to relationship talk. They are much more open-minded and tolerant. Being grown up as a Mediterranean in a multicultural household, having traveled around the globe and now living in New York, I’ve met all kinds of people. I know we all share the same dilemmas. If anyone says, “I never thought about it.” she/he would be straight out lying. And most of us can’t figure it out either. Some people seem like they do, in reality many people chose “comfort” in the expense of freedom. Comfort of going with the flow.

    I know I can’t be a swinger. Neither can I date multiple people at a time (I did once and ended up liking one of them the most and left the other two), but I get bored with the same person after a while. I don’t believe there is “one” person for us. There are many. I don’t believe in “We belong together” Hollywood bs. I believe in friendship. You need to be your partner’s best friend. You need to accept him/her exactly the way he/she is and not change a thing. For many, relationship means “ownership”, like they owning a dog. Proximity is power. It is so rare to find a relationship that you can be completely who you are and be loved for it. I saw it only with my parents who were exceptional people. Long story short, I figured out their secret for 23 years of marriage (until my father passed from cancer at 49) :

    – Don’t tell your partner what to do or what to think

    -Never complain. Whatever life brings support him/her.

    – Have a kinky sex life

    – Take care of yourself physically. Always look your best.

    – Never use crude disrespectful words. Never.

    – And, most importantly, always have some fresh ideas to talk about. Read, learn and keep improving yourself.

    And I know they both thought about the things you two thought about. They agreed to have a swing once in a while if they liked someone as long as they would come back to the main base. Not sure if they ever acted on it. I don’t think they did because life wasn’t easy. Kids, work etc.

    I haven’t seen any other relationship as noble as my parents’. They were passionate for 23 years. When I become as good as Neil and you on writing, I want to write a book about all this stuff (my parents and my life so far)

    Speaking of which, I enjoyed this blog so much, I have to buy Neil Gaiman’s books. Never read from him before. Where was I? In Mars? Apparently.

    Tim Ferris, please don’t change. I’ll unsubscribe if you do. 😉 lol

    Have a pawsome week, all! xxx

    1. By “I am shocked about the amount of narcissism and entitlement I come across in the USA on a daily basis, like all the duck face selfies and ass pictures taken at a gym.” I meant, the shallowness you see on social media is the shocking subject (since humans are supposed to be smart), not humans’ questioning their instincts about sex.

      Reality is only a perspective. Maybe there is a parallel universe with a different life style. In this one, evolution went south. No surprises though. All the intellectual people I know have no kids, while ignorant people keep breeding like rats. Hence, more ignorance on earth. We should have evolved from gorillas. They have sex once a year and eat salad all day.

      Best xx

  28. Tim Tim the relationship paths your looking at end up with one of two fates. First if your lucky you get the same emotional result Jack Nicholson’s character got at the end of Carnal knowledge or secondly and much more tragically David Carradine’s in Thailand. Your goals of intimacy, novelty,and I would guess true love are right, but they can’t be achieved via horn-dog and harems. Those old fashion approaches throughout history in any culture you would care to name have never yielded the results your looking for. You can’t be Mr. Olympia by gluttony and refusing to exercise.

  29. When I am presented with the options similar to the one you described in Paris – I ask myself: Would I get in an skyscraper elevator on the top floor, that had the same idiosyncratic odds of crashing suddenly to the ground, equal to the odds of me contracting Hep C / B, HIV, drug resistant gonorrhea, syphilis, MRSA, “ I know you remember MRSA, etc, – if I chose to jump into an offered pile undulating beautiful strangers for “safe” sex? What would be the acceptable odds for the fun at “hand” in exchange for contracting such a life altering disease I ask ?- 1/ 100, or 1/1000, or, 1/10,000? None I am affriad.

    Please spend an afternoon in a San Francisco AIDs hospice, and chat with an infectious disease expert at Stanford, conduct a systical analysis on it all, Hack to topic before you go hacking pan sexuality in the current STD treatment – environment. The metrics of the times are not on your side. Not even with a condom.

    I so much enjoy reading how you are crafting your life, I would hate to see that all change.

    Best wishes,

  30. Just a thought:

    Tim mentions that his biology craves novelty.

    My own biology craves beer and TV. It’s not natural for me to work 14 hour days in a sweltering hot kitchen. The discipline and structure that I have created reward me in ways that I could not have imagined before I had them.

  31. Great post with 293 Comments. You go some haters too which means your on to something. One thing that has surprised me in the 37 years I have been in the swinging and poly community is that most of my friends in that community have stayed married a long time 20+ years for many of my friends. More so than my vanilla friends. This may be due to the fact that they value their partner more as the relationship is a lot of work. Also the work finding another needle in the haystack may re enforce the couples bond.

  32. Surprised everyone looks at this from a selfish point of view (ie as long as I’m happy, then….).

    Rather than coming across like a prick, you can sound awesome when discussing your polygamous endeavours.

    Polygamy is the key to controlling population growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (waste,depletion of natural resources etc etc) all whilst you have more time on your hands.

    Imagine marrying 11 chicks. A pre-child family of 12. (Equivalent to 6 couples totalling 6 houses 12 cars, 18 kids, 12 jobs, 4 swimming pools, 3 tennis courts, etc etc) compare that to your family unit of 12 owning one (albeit very large house), 4-5 cars, one pool, one tennis court…Even if every women has one child, that’s a litter of 10 crazy brothers and sisters.

    If you’re not already convinced this is the one, then think about work. You wouldn’t have to! 5-6 of the women could have full time jobs and the others could look after the kids (aka no day care bills). You’d have time to be just like Tim ‘the boss’ Fezza. Golf, surfing, archery.

    I’m writing a book on it. Love to get your honest feedback or experiences.

    Thanks

    Henri

  33. Thank you for putting polyamory and explorations in non-monogamy on the table Tim Ferris – you pioneer and trail blaze and it is much appreciated. I’ve dwelled in both the theory and practice of alternative relationship models for most of my adult life and have discovered that what works is integrity. I don’t mean morality, I mean your word. And that non-monogamy is not for everyone. And that’s ok 😉

  34. Great piece by Neil, not a surprise though 🙂

    Hey Tim, since you are interested in this topic I would check Ars Amorata FB page and get in contact with the creator of it Zan Perrion (I am his friend and he is friend with Neil as well, tell him you came by me). The group the Amorati his by far the most fascinating and in depth group of guys discussing relationships, attraction and romance.

    Cheers!

    1. We do safe sex. At the same time, we’ve yet to see any half way decent evidence that swingers on average would have a higher risk of STDs than any other group. Certainly, a number of people tried to proof that but it looks like no body succeeded yet.

  35. Are humans designed for monogamy? From an evolutionary standpoint, probably not, however over the last couple of hundred years society has groomed us to be so (read the book Sex at Dawn, which draws some interesting conclusions about this). I always say non-monogamy won’t work for 99.9% of the population and that if you try, you are probably going to fail especially if you can’t check your expectations at the door and if you aren’t 100% honest with yourself and with your partners.

    I live with one partner and we each individually date a 3rd who also dates us together. Think about that: A dates B, B dates C, B dates C, and A, B, & C date together. That’s 4 relationships, not to mention the most important relationship, which is that which you have with yourself. We’ve been relatively successful for 2.5 years doing this (I say relatively because there have been break-ups and a lot of getting to know one another over that time, but ultimately our connection has remained and here we are today).

    Then throw in the fact that the partner I live with also has another individual who she dates and that individual is married and the 3rd dates another as well. It can get confusing pretty fast, I had to read the above 3 times just to make sure it all made sense to me!

    What works for me you ask? Honesty. Communications (and lots of it). Having a support system or community where you can discuss your issues with people who won’t default to, “Well that’s happening just because you’re non-monogamous.” Don’t overreact. Knowing myself and what I want and not being afraid to voice that no matter what the consequences may be (sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to say what you want knowing there’s a really good chance you’re going to get a response of, “no” or “I can’t do that,” but at least you’re being true to yourself. Educate myself: read books, read blogs, listen to podcast, go to workshops, go to conferences (yes there are polyamory conferences.

    And never forget, it’s not easy. Like was mentioned above, one relationship is hard work, in my situation there are 4 individual ones, so you have to learn to be patient. I wish you luck Tim.

  36. The article made me remember the Pre-Trans fallacy. A term allegedly coined by Ken Wilber. It means when you interpret abnormal behavior from a conventional worldview you will always see it as PRE-rational or pathological. Alternative ways of coupling are read by the mainstream as pathological (Pre-Rational). But the thing is that the conventional mindset cannot distinguish between pathological and evolutionary (trans-rational as Wilber describes it). The movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” is a marvelous depiction of the fallacy.

    So if you like polyamory -or any alternative way of coupling- chances are you will be judged as a sick pervert that needs rehab. From a trans-rational point of view, polyamory and other alternative mating strategies are just social experiments trying to solve the most fundamental issues of conventional marriage design.

    As any experiment, it is risky, it can be thrown by culture to the dungeons of pre-rationality (strip clubs and such) and has social taxation implied. Social and sexual innovators go back and forth to pre-rational and trans-rational thinking without being able to distinguish themselves as an exotic mix of pre-rational and trans-rational behaviors triggered by troubling past histories and trans-rational genius at the same time.

    Chances are, that social homeostasis will continue to produce troubled individuals like you and me, to push us into the abyss of social innovation and abnormality. From an evolutionary standpoint, the first fishes with feet (wannabe reptiles) looked like total freaks by their “tribes”. These poor bastards where the result of nature trying to improve itself. Maybe they died earlier as a result of being ostracized, but their existence was paramount to species’ evolution.

    Same thing happens here, I see hope in the increasing number of people looking to socially-innovate mating. That will mean less number of “Fish with feet” being judged as pervert freaks and dying alone with no one willing to marry them. That’s how evolution works.

    Shall we go together to the surface?

    Alejandro

    1. We would agree, Alejandro, if mankind would not have been living as de facto swingers (sex in fierce-egalitarianism-tribes) for about 5 million years. For 5000 years, an evolutionary blink of an eye, we tried monogamy which developed because of the agricultural evolution. The two of us would argue that it is not you, Neil or us doing “social experiments trying to solve the most fundamental issues”, but we rather revert to tried and trusted forms of mating from a time, not long ago, when men did not try to “posses” women. But then again, that does not change the fact that we might comes across like “fishes with feet” 🙂 But it’s so worth it!

    2. Alejandro oh ha ha ha ha ha. You are SO funny. You refer to the pre/trans fallacy (mentioned in two other places in the comments already) but interpret it to justify your own ends. It’s a bit hard to contextualise it unless people understand what it means (easily fixed) but the kind of activity described by Neil is PRE rational, NOT trans rational. But nice try, very creative interpretation of Wilburs definition you’ve offered there.

      1. I’ve read Neil’s book already. I dare to say that there’s a mix of both pre-rational and trans-rational intentions in his quest. I don’t want to be judgmental, but hypothetically speaking most of us are conventional lads with pre-rational pathologies using trans-rational ideas to justify our behaviors. If that’s the case, I’d rather act out my pathological repressions and evolve through the suffering than staying at a cage of darkness just because of fear of defying the statu quo.

  37. Having not married until I was 32 and now enjoying bliss with a wonderful gal for 20 years, I can report that nothing beats a monogamous relationship, especially when committed before God. Truth is that it takes years to learn the wants, needs, and deep desires of an authentic sole mate and its worth the effort. The total trust is what makes sex stellar. Also, having been a doctor for 30+ years, I can assure you that the lifestyle described by Neil is highly risky. Condoms provide minimal protection. So no, don’t even consider mutiple partners; its a false freedom with a heavy price ultimately.

  38. As a man of more years than you or Neil, I can offer a few bits of insight.

    – Are humans really designed for monogamy? This is the wrong question. In a sense, the question feels like it is trying to justify a behavior. Young men sometimes seek out variety and sometimes do not. Look at Bill and Melinda Gates. Men are all different and live their lives according to different inputs.

    –Is it possible or even desirable? Yes and yes, depending on who you are and who you are with.

    – Should you choose excitement over intimacy? False dichotomy. After 30 years with the same woman, I can say with pretty good confidence that the two can coexist in the same relationship. Note: it’s a second marriage for both of us, and that helped a lot.

    – If you’re a driven type-A personality, can you really have both with one person? Again, see Bill Gates.

    – Would life be better if you could sleep with anyone you liked at any time? There, there, middle aged man. Don’t be scared. Your life at 40 may be as unpredictable as at 25. Does that possibility please you or terrify you? Were you expecting to settle down? Are you bored; no longer challenged?

    – What if you could get a hall pass every once in awhile? Go for it, if the hall pass is real. Go for it if it means that much to you, but accept the consequences if not everyone really understood how they would feel. Don’t be an immature douche.

    As to Neil’s experience of his first time looking into Veronika’s eyes on the bed in Paris, all I can say is not all that glitters is golden. Intensity in an exchange of energy is often separate from other qualities of energy and intellect in a relationship. The outcome depends on both participants in the energy. Sometimes there are delayed tsunamis of emotion that can be quite negative, disrupting your world in ways you will never like.

    On a lighter note, a bachelor friend got this fortune from a cookie: Even if you understood women, you wouldn’t believe it.

    Enjoy!

  39. What a great post. I am so happy to see such a taboo topic admitted and talked about on this public stage of yours. Good for you for having the chutzpah to freely admit to feeling in such a way that general society still seems to frown upon.

    Personally, My wife of 15 years and I are just about to come upon the hopeful end of our “burn in period” as Neil puts it (2 year anniversary to opening up). We too had our knock down drag out “bumps in the road” that exposed facets of our marriage that we never would have even noticed had we not been open to begin with.

    So, even still working through those issues now, we each feel free and true to ourselves for our current relationship structure (ethically nonmonogamous leaning towards polyamory).

    Just as we believe one person is nearly assuredly not the perfect fit for one person, not the be all, end all, we believe that all relationships are a living, changing entity that may come into your life at the right time and then leave at the right time for you. No relationship is failed if you are able to glean some sort of happiness or lesson or insight from it.

    Best of luck Tim

    Excelsior!

    ~PhilomathJ

  40. My 2 Cents:

    1) Learn to create deeper intimacy, more pleasure, and keep things *fresh* and satisfying with the partner you already have.

    My solution: Tantra

    http://www.sourcetantra.com

    2) If you can’t have (1) Happy and Harmonious relationship …. don’t go for the second relationship

    3) If you *must* play outside of the relationship (which is mostly happy and harmonious), try to keep the action within the boundaries of the event/party/rendezvous

    4) Learn Self-Control and the Power of Boundaires.

    For the record, I practice hands-on Sexual Healing work as a profession, and am Ecstatically Married to a man who has enjoyed many multiple sex partner experiences in his life, and can say ‘No’ when there is any possibility that it would create dis-Harmony in our relationship. 3 years, and so far, so good 🙂

  41. Tim and Neil,

    Thank you so much for the post. My husband started something we call the Red Underwear Revolution. The concept is this: each of us is wearing red underwear, scared to death that someone will find out that we are wearing red underwear. As members of the Red Underwear Revolution we simply tell people (or show them) that we are wearing red underwear. In doing so, we give other people permission to share their red underwear. Each of us has things that we worry others might judge us for, that we feel we need to hide. When people whose lives are very public share things like this post, it gives all of us a little more permission to be authentic. Thanks for being a part of the revolution!

    My husband and I are both in the healing profession, he’s a Chiropractor and I’m a Naturopath and Acupuncturist. We both spend our lives researching ways to help ourselves and others, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. I share this background because we are also in an open relationship, and we regularly say we don’t know how people can do relationships (any relationships, not just open ones) without so many of our healing tools. Our position is that everyone in a relationship has these challenges, things that can derail us or cause us to crash. Some of us choose to travel at much higher speeds so the potential crashes can come up much more quickly with less time to course correct, and may be more fatal if they occur. But everyone faces similar challenges, open relationship or not.

    Our relationship has aspects of both swinging and polyam. We host orgies in our home on occasion, we have also had lovers live and travel with us. And so we provide ourselves with plenty of opportunities to get triggered, for our personal shit to come up. Our choice is to take ownership of those things, and in the face of those wounds, we choose to heal.

    We combine any techniques that we find that work from Total Body Modification, Life Coaching from Byron Katie and Gary Acevado, and information from books by David Hawkins and David Deida and so much more. We are also constantly developing new techniques as situations arise. By using these tools we find we’ve been able to work through all the emotional challenges that have come up in our relationship in a way that brings us closer to each other. And as we get get closer with each other in a beautiful, joyful, and supportive relationship, we find we want to bring more people in to experience the joy with us!

  42. I like how you have the balls to write about what you are thinking and doing and not trying to portray yourself as a one on one person and then screw around with a faux-saude. You fucking did it, but came to the conclusion which was what I said in the 1st place….One on one is hard….and then multiply that….Our resonance that we have with others and intimacy and whole mind body connection rather than just body in-body-ment….

    Some factors it seems may have to do with your high testosterone levels through diet, supplements and lifestyle and how the hard pink elephant in the room kind of takes over….harder faster is a short intense burst in a shorter life…you borrow from the bank the length of life for we only are allotted so much energy. Biologically this is the produce as many offspring mode…there is also the long term single mate in which most males live longer in a hetero relationship.

  43. Kudos to you, Tim Ferriss for introducing this “taboo” topic in a way that’s conducive to a thoughtful dialogue, and big credit to Neil for being authentic and relatable, and especially in keeping it real and non-superficial. In being open about the metaphysics of your experience, you did a great service – beyond furthering the conversation about sex, because you revealed something we all struggle with regardless of how that struggle expresses itself. Thank you.

    1. We would second the opinion of Ryan P. Flynn, even though we are not monogamous at all.

      One society that gives us a bit of an idea of how various forms of relationships are good for various people is in the Himalayan district of Humla. A lot of families over there are polyandrous, other are polygynous and many are monogamous. They don’t have one single prescribed idea about relationships and family. Everybody can decide and find their own solution. Their interpretation of relationship and family is extremely flexible. They are very happy with their open minded system. There is no guild, shame or anything if women or man step out of their relationship and enter into other forms of relationship.

      Because all people in Humla can freely choose and because they choose all forms of relationships, we believe that all forms of relationships are good for certain people.

  44. Sex, and the intimacy hormones it releases, is meant for reproduction. That’s all it’s really for in nature. Humans are embedded in nature. All this pointless copulation we do is just out of boredom and that persistent nagging for reproduction. Once I had kids I saw this more clearly. So, if there is a future in polyamory one should study families with a lot of moms and dads and check the outcomes because here is the upshot of all reproductive success –

    your children didn’t ask to be born.

    You have a total obligation to their future. Then the relationship with your children, in itself, is a primary source of energy exchange and work effort that supplants the desire for more reproduction. It’s about rounding out your life cycle with essential moments of natural succession.

    Review Erikson’s Stages of Life and realize that you are much more like all the other animals in nature. The human animal is a natural object. It’s no wonder that a lot of humping for humping’s sake leads to nowhere satisfying long term in any context. From a biological perspective, what other animal on planet earth hopes to copulate over and over without achieving reproductive success?

    Sex makes more sense in the context of reproduction than in the contexts of entertainment or even enlightenment. What is really a crisis moment for people is when the reproductive end point is removed from the act – see menopause, infertility, contraception and other stifled reproductive landing points.

    1. Be sure that your apparent reduction in amor is not caused by something else. It’s only been in this century that we’ve stopped having like 10-20 kids.

  45. I’m a fan Neil’s and have read most of his books, including his pre Game stuff. Are his stories over the top and even slightly exaggerated? Possibly. But he is a great writer and I can’t wait to read his new book!

  46. Tim, you never hesitate to say what so many of us are thinking. Although this sounds like fun, I think that humans, women especially, are not capable of coping with the emotional distress that is attached to an open relationship. I think that society is evolving to accept polyamorous relationships, but I don’t think that we’re there yet.

    1. There are a growing number of people who do this. I’m not sure how you would look them up, but there is probably at least one group meeting in whatever area you live in. Many of them have web pages. Many are associated with dom/sub lifestyles too, which might help you find them.

      Women can do anything, if her man is “strong” enough. She must be sufficiently open-minded and secure in herself, and trusting. He must be trustworthy and know how to handle her. There’s more to it, of course, but that will start you off.

  47. Hi Tim,

    Wonderful read. I have recently been on a bit of a journey myself, going from a successful mono relationship of 9 years that was fraught with my unsuccessful attempts to be a faithful partner, to an open relationship where I have multiple long-term loving girlfriends.

    Not only can this work, it works easier and better than monogamy. I can’t tell you how many people I meet that pull me aside and ask me if they can talk to me about how they can go open – of both sexes in every relationship status you can imagine.

    Stick with it- this is awesome and only getting better!

    -Lars

  48. Tim & Staff, I have an unrelated request to the current entry. Would it be possible for the blog posts to use fonts/styling or something so that it’s clear that the byline, “Written by Tim Ferris” or whoever covers the intro? I’ve found many of the posts on fourhourworkweek.com to be confusing as to whose voice I’m reading. I swear there are posts that someone else had the byline but the bulk of the content was your voice. “Enter Neil Strauss” isn’t really sufficient, since “AND ONE IMPORTANT NOTE (added after much confusion): The below is written by Neil Strauss! It covers his adventures, not mine.” was necessary. Thanks for wonderful books and content.

  49. Hey Tim,

    This is a great post. And my response is, “WWLASD?” That’s, “What Would Lucius Annaeus Seneca Do?” Because I’d like to do that. In the romantic realm as in so many others.

    Also, I like how this is filled under, “Filling the Void.” Which is quite suggestive. 😉

    1. The Stoics believed that areté (moral virtue) was the sole good.

      It should be obvious that this story from Strauss does not depict a man exemplifying areté.

  50. You had me at the intro, Tim: Any of your negative feelings toward my article are dishonest, mock feelings (of course praise is not mock praise, though). If you don’t like my views, you’re doing something wrong, trust me, so go examine your feelings and find out why they’re so wrong and invalid.

    Well, I’m lovestruck. I’ll gladly take advice from someone whose sum life experience has resulted in such a charming display.

  51. I would love to introduce you to a book called 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I have seen many content couples and families in open relationships. As long as you make your partner(s) feel loved, various forms of relationships are possible. UNLESS your love language or your partner’s primary love language is physical touch. If it is physical touch, s/he would be threatened every time you connect with someone physically. I had many break troughs while reading the book. Highly recommended to understand yourselves and your partners.

    1. Thank you! This book was an important addition to my understanding of people, and your observation here is a key insight for poly.

  52. Isn’t the process of discovery fascinating and utterly enjoyable! Don’t we find what we need in the moment? I think we’re all looking for ourselves and we won’t find it “out there”, but out there will be a stage to make the in-here discoverable. It takes a village, I don’t see a need for one special one, but wouldn’t that investment be enjoyable, a playmate, a friend, or many; I want someone like me, the discovery, exploration, conversations, as I keep knowing myself, I’ll recognize it when it comes along, again, and again, and again, choosing what I need in every moment, but also considering the parter(s). I’m a serial monogamist, it works for me, it’s simple; but rarely am I in relationship, so the in-between is when I grow and explore. I’m waiting for a strong and self-aware partner to practice and venture into a poly, through trial and error, but supportive and sane = communicative. I see everyone has something to teach me, and I don’t like limiting that; but when it’s a choice for a goal, it’s not a restriction or limitation on my lifestyle. If it feels restrictive, then there’s something to talk about. If I come up in someone’s story we have ideas to share, as we both have something to give and represent for other, the form we intertwine for our lesson varies, depending on individual/mutual needs at the time, timeframe, wind direction, attraction, energy, lol, etc. I think in theory, as a partner, we don’t need to know everything about another’s process, it’s their journey, and as a parter, it’s something we can be supportive of and share, and dial our communication levels to whatever we want or need, again, a process. Connection is grand, it’s a joy of the process, and useful in remembering who we are; I don’t see a point in limiting it unless it’s a choice and then merely appears as a limitation to somebody

  53. This is just a warning. There is more to sex than just the physical. You dont have to believe me. Do your research. Google it. For ex “sex and occult”.

  54. Tim,

    I like your work! You are very handsome as you know and you seem smart. I like your attitude toward some of the things I have read, if that is truly how you feel towards life. You seem interesting so far…it would be nice to get to know you better before I decided for sure on my thoughts.

  55. A really good book to understand our sexuality from an evolution perspective is “Sex at Dawn” [Moderator: link removed]

  56. I read, “The Game” years ago when it first was published. Really enjoyed it because it was unabashedly honest and didn’t make apologies. This post is the same…honest. Thank you for being wiling to get out there a little bit with this post and just fucking owning it. That’s been a big theme in my life for the last year or so…be who you are…”Own It”! If you want a specific type of relationship because it’s auhentic to who you are…go get it! Own It! If you hate your job and want to change it…change it! You get the idea.

    Thx for the post

  57. Oh man, such a rough subject. I’m currently coming out of a relationship that started out poly and was a disaster which prompted the transition to monogamy, which didn’t fair any better. What I’ve learned is that if both parties aren’t super enthusiastic from the outset and willing to be very transparent with all involved, it’s not going to go well. Neither approach is right for everyone, so be sure you are dating people who are on the exact same page. And the biggest thing I learned was that poly is not a solution for problems in a monogamous relationship and in fact may shine a spotlight on them. I made the mistake of dating someone who just wasn’t a great partner to begin with, and poly didn’t make him a better one. So be a great partner, and choose a good partner, not one that isn’t great but you think it’s ok because you can still see other people. Good luck!

  58. I find it so interesting to look at the comments and points of view here. I live a poly lifestyle myself and have had as many as 8 partners at one time. It is a ton of work, almost like another full time job with an excellent pay off.

    My struggle is being type A and knowing that I crave the novelty of new lovers. I love women and they love me. But long term relationships, especially monogamous ones become disasters.

  59. i have been friends with Neil for a few years…i also have loved your posts, especially the one with Rick.R.. Neil and i really got to talk when he was doing his book THE TRUTH as he wanted to know about The Source Family, Father Yod and his 14 wives (Father did not want mistresses, he thought that was demeaning to the women -so we were outfront his wives:))….the thing is it was the timeframe of the 60/70’s a time when the hippies/flower children dropped out and had their own rules

    it was freedom on all levels but being ruled from the love/heart and kindness.

    spiritual genre was on the forefront and it made it a whole other animal…it was like the PERFECT STORM to allow it all to happen for a short period.

    We were a communal mystery school family…we had protocol and respect and honor for each other. Father Yod had 14 wives and for that time it worked..we were a sisterhood before his wives so we knew and loved each other…we also knew what we were stepping into and agreed to it..this puts it on a whole other level. I am not saying there were not twist and turns along the way but it always got worked out because the respect and love was there…each women had what she needed and he was head of that household with kindness and fairness.

    It worked in that timing….40 years later in the now ? I do not know if it would work for any of us now or if we even would want to again …that is the mystery of it all ?

    I think this is a genre that has been going on and around and around n circles since beginning of time…I think when a mass population is in the same frequency of that genre with the protocol, love, respect, kindness and freedom of it..then it works ..mankind is not always in that frequency to hold that together…it takes the masses to hold that genre together in a mindset for that timing …it is almost like having inter dimensional threads overlapping in one time ☺) anyhow might be more than anyone here wanted to hear …just saying

    in kindness

    isis aquarian

  60. Tim, Neil,

    re: relationship solution

    Perhaps it’s not a problem to be solved, but instead a complex set of variables to be considered in a larger equation: when a problem seems unsolvable, reframe the question and you may find better answers.

    So with that I ask … for what purpose? What is the point of a relationship for you?

    In all your life hacks you always define a purpose, a goal: you want to learn a language, a skill, loose weight, gain weight, cook, and so on. What’s the goal of a relationship?

    Maybe drilling down another layer might help provide context for the the purpose of a relationship… for life?

    Perhaps and you believe it is a function of hedonistic pursuits — do what you want when you want to. Perhaps freedom. Perhaps enligthenment (whatever definition you give that). Perhaps to leave a legacy – via progeny and/or accomplishment. Perhaps something else.

    Now you can frame the relationship question around that defining purpose, you might be able to build a framework (guiding philosophy, approach, etc) that you can THEN begin to apply and test various relationship mechanisms.

    Monogamy vs polamory is not a debate without context. You can debate it all day via values, merits, benefits, effectiveness, natural vs unnatural, choice, history, biology, and so on. All of that is irrelegant without a definition of “for what purpose”.

    I think it’s obvious, and reasonably well proven in various psycho-social experiments, that we’re biochemically in need of human companionship — it’s why isolation is such a strong form of punishment and why we spend the majority of our adult lives tip tapping our way around the landmines of unmet childhood needs.

    What’s not obvious, is the form that takes — how the companionship need is filled.

    Here is what I know:

    – Oxytocin and serotonin, the two key “feel good” neurotransmitters that give us that sense of accomplishment, satisfaciton, self worth, and general positive vibe, are directly stimulated by relationships of all kinds, especially intimidate ones.(there are others, endorphines, dopamine, but thocy and serotonin are the big ones)

    – They last 6-24 hours, so just like food and water, we need to replinish them daily.

    – You can get them in various doses, and some of those dosages can be achieved through other means, such as big sporting wins, getting a big payday, or accomplishing a goal.

    – The easiest and most consistent daily path to oxy and sero boosts come from stimulating intimiate human-human interactions

    – That inimatacy does not necessarily have to be sexual, but a person needs to feel 3 things: connection, significance, and respect.

    – The greater those feelings are exhibited in your relationships, the greater the boost of oxy and serotonin.

    – And obviously, the greater your history and association with the person, the deeper and easier those feelings are to achieve.

    Now that line that up against what purpose you define for your life, and you can start definining a practical framework for what type(s) of relationships you want.

    Obviously, a hedonistic lifestyle would lead you down a different path to obtaining your shots of oxytocin and serotonin. So would various paths to enlightenment, say one as defined orignally by buddha by becoming non-reactive and perfectly mindful would define relationships different as well.

    I could go on and on about building this framework, but I’d add only one thing concerning sex itself as that’s a big part of what you wrote about Neil.

    As males we generally treat sex as a biological imperative; because we can, we should. And just because I can eat fries every day, for various reasons that align with my health and life goals, I do not.

    So I consider sex as I do food. Some nourishes your body and fuels your life. Some clogs your arteries long term, but feels good in the short term. Some puts excess pounds on your body, yet tastes great.

    You don’t need the sweats every day to live a fulfilling life. But Candy sure tastes good once in a while.

  61. I am surprised at how amateurish Neil sounds in his first story. I would think one of the reigning kings of PUA would have figured out how to be okay with himself. But maybe not. I recognized fairly early that I would have to work on “inner game” before I would have any real success. i had to figure out how to be okay with myself, and okay with letting go of the stupid shit society saddles us with. Before I heard of Neil, I would not have been able to go into that club without thinking the kinds of things he thought, and probably would not have been able to go in at all. Now, though, I would have almost no problem. Would still be nervous at the new experience, not wanting to look like a fool, and such, but I sure the hell am not saddled by the crazy idea that women don’t like sex at least as much as men do. But I never limited myself to Mystery. I listened to as many as I could get my hands on. Ross Jeffries, David DeAngelo, Brad P, just off the top of my head, and dozens of others. Understanding the psychology of the situation, and so forth, made me a LOT more confident in myself. I would guess Neil needs more than anything to work on his inner game and his feelings of unworthiness. (btw, his is one of the few books I didn’t read.)

  62. Wow, what a new opinion, a man going on and on about how dirty a woman’s mouth is, but has no problem cramming his dick in there. Such a fresh take, that women who have sex are dirty.

    1. Most guys have no desire whatsoever to put another man’s junk in their mouth, or even their own, not even by proxy. I can’t kiss a girl at all after a bj until she’s rinsed her mouth out. Most guys are like this. Despite the apparent rising popularity of everyone turning gay, the fact is, the overwhelming majority of men still find it repugnant.

  63. As a female it’s been a long time goal for me to have multiple boyfriends where everyone is ok with everyone else. I’m surprised I’ve even come close. I do have to do this weird dance. Alternating schedules. Keeping everybody’s anonymity, except mine, intact and being transparent all at the same time. I’ve had enough success with them knowing OF each other. I don’t dare letting directly know each other. This puts some kind of “stress” on me but I think my empathic(sp?) Side is happy to come to everyone’s protection and aid. Idk. This whole thing is weird even to me.

    1. Lots of guys are just insecure. Insecurity is borne of jealousy, usually suppressed, up to a point when it boils over. Some guys have a handle on it. I personally decided I didn’t want to waste time on jealousy. I believe that if I love someone, I want them to have the best. And maybe that isn’t me. But I was damn-well going to TRY to be the best! And I wasn’t going to take it personally if someone was better than me.

      In most areas of my life, my goal is to help other people improve themselves in some way. I have in many instances been surpassed. Many people would get jealous in such situations, but I do not. I am glad they have achieved so much. Any genuine teacher or parent wants their student or child to exceed them. I just tap into that.

      I often find that when I rephrase something, when I restate it into a different perspective, it often helps people to change their minds about things. You might try it with some of your harem and see what comes of it. Might get that threesome/foursome/fiftysome you want.

      The above being said, I’m not perfect at it, and though I’ve not felt jealousy since I made that decision, I DO still sometimes feel competitive, and I have not had what I would consider a “serious test” to see if I really have defeated jealousy or if I only think I have.

  64. Wow Tim, I’m kinda surprised with the lack of legitimate open minded advice. I’m 41, and I can tell you my TRUTH of what works and what doesnt’. I suspect your struggle monogamy, isn’t necessarily a struggle but something you haven’t made a concrete decision. 100% honesty from the jump is necessary. #1. I was dating a gorgeous doctor who was “grounded” (so key if she’s the core partner) like me, and I can tell you that the trust and comfort you build first is most important. Then inviting a 3rd party or open relationship is healthy. It’s when you genuinely have no insecurities(or just minor ones) btw. Forget about this to anyone insecure. I’m not going to pen Neil’s next book so I will skip to the worst set up I’ve tried. Which is either staying with someone unhealthy that poisons the well, and a lot of times women will go along and it’s not in there DNA but they like you. Never partake of it’s trying to fill a hole in a relationship or you think it’s not 50/50 because you will enjoy for a second and suffer tenfold. That my two cents. I see Tim with a primary partner, and then you branch out… And I’m sure you have. Props for having the stones to post this.

  65. Tim, I know effectiveness is one of your mantras, and yet by your admission you’re going round in circles on this topic. Deconstruct further! A clearer understanding of how humans emotionally relate to one another (and why) is required before these questions can be answered. Here are some exceptional resources:

    Your Brain at Work, by David Rock.

    Explains why we have emotions at all (they’re the unconscious brain’s way of getting the conscious part of us to cooperate with what evolution has deemed best for us), and why they’re especially potent in social contexts. This one book on neuroscience (by a business guru, no less) provides a framework to make 90% of everything else you’ve ever read make twice as much sense as before.

    Mate, by Tucker Max & Geoffrey Miller.

    Covers the best evolutionary take on why women are attracted to certain traits, which helps all of us get out of the shame-gutter of feeling shallow and guilty about our dating preferences. Also explains why so much of what men usually try fails SO badly so often. (This book is advertised to men, but I swear they were secretly marketing it to women.)

    Conversation Transformation, by Ben Benjamin.

    Communication is probably the #1 breakdown in relationships, and this explains exactly how conversational “noise” fires up emotions and gets in the way of sharing our feelings in ways our partner(s) can relate to. Top notch at “separating the person from the behavior.” The SAVI grid (System for Analyzing Verbal Interaction) is truly eye-opening.

    Living Non-Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg.

    Simple explanation of how needs and feelings differ, and how we can express them without blame. Offers amazing optimism about being able to meet everyone’s needs without “compromising” at anyone’s expense. Best of all, it explains why our needs are not tied to any single person (which is key to eliminating fear of loss in relationships, which is key to expressing our most authentic selves).

    Lastly, one non-trivial concept to be aware of is “bidding.” Affirmative responses to our partners’ “bids” for our attention is one of our most powerful ways of reinforcing connection on a daily basis. It’s almost too simple, but it bears siccing the Reticular Activating System on it. Here’s an article: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/

    Love to go into more depth about any of these. Hope it helps.

  66. I should have left a comment earlier, but was too busy writing multiple boring treatises in favor of monogamy, so will keep simple now late in the game:

    First, I have no time or interest left in judging anyone’s choice or path in this area. I cannot state this strongly enough!

    Second, in response to Tim’s starter question about do you have to choose excitement vs. intimacy: You do NOT have to choose, but as with all the areas covered on this site, the successful combination is not obvious.

    Can monogamy be worth it?

    YES, YES, YES!

    By all that is sane and holy, it is mind-blowingly worth it!!

    Biggest hurdles to real, multi-layered unity are 1) lack of modeling that it can be done with both intimacy and excitement/passion/variety 2) lack of real advice – Neil found Pepper Mint to help him navigate – you will need something or someone to inspire and guide you.

    I have those influences and am serving as semi-official mentor to several other young men, one of whom is completely and successfully monogomous after hundreds of affairs, most while already married in his teens.

    It can be done, and enjoyed immensely!!!

  67. Awesome! Way to go exploring! Have you ever read a book “Sex at Dawn” ? dawn of civilization that is, it talks about how we as humans have only been somewhat monogamous for about 10,000 years and not really designed for it. Here is a link to the author’s Ted talk. I think you will find it interesting.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJhklPJz9U8

    Keep exploring and have fun! I love your books and posts!

  68. Here’s the best I’ve found on polyamory vs. monogamy. Not written by me, but I had the exact same experience as the author:

    Open Monogamy

    “I envision an extraordinary combination of unconditional love and total freedom within a very open construct of monogamy, where monogamy isn’t a prison based on fear that threatens to possess another or shame another if it is violated; it’s a daily choice between two individuals who choose to be only with one another, day after day after day.

    Every day, both parties are inspired to be the person their partner most wants to be with, even when there’s a whole big wide world of choice out there. If the day comes where one wants to be with another, there is no prison and no shame, no wrathful jealousy or possessiveness. Honesty is crucial to trust, so both partners promise to always tell the truth, even if it’s hard to admit.

    Communication is wide open and truth is shared gently and with great respect. The door is open and the other is free to communicate their desire to be with another, but not impulsively, without first examining whether there are areas of the relationship in need of repair which might make one party vulnerable to seeking physical connection or falling in love with someone else.

    If both parties are committed to healing that which can be healed and one partner still chooses to be with another, they are free to follow their heart. Some monogamous relationships have expiration dates, and that doesn’t have to equal failure. As souls, every relationship teaches us something.”

    Here’s the full blog post if you’re interested: http://lissarankin.com/dating-on-the-spiritual-path

  69. Hey Tim, an associate of mine worked for a guy that along with his wife practice polyamory. Not only do they practice it, Kamala Devi is a Sex & Relationship Coach, Author and Activist.

    For further research and information her site is http://www.kamaladevi.com and twitter is @kamaladevi.

  70. We are a couple with 10 years of swinging experience, 5 years while dating, 2 married, 3 while married w/children (difficult lol) and continuing today. We hope this post will help someone out there in some way.

    First, here are the things we’ve tried over the 10 year period, in order:

    – Threesome with a girl aka FFM

    – Same room sex aka with our own partner.

    – Soft swap (kissing/oral) with couples

    – Full swap with couples same room

    – Full swap with couples in separate rooms

    – House Parties or clubs where couples break off 2×2

    – Threesome with a guy aka MFM (no inter male play)

    – House Parties or clubs with group play. Wouldn’t consider it an all out orgy.

    – Hotel takeover parties aka booking entire or multiple floors of a hotel. 100-200 people.

    This is a pretty standard progression that many/most couples in swinging take. Some don’t go as far and some go further. There was a point where we were having trouble finding couples where both of us was getting what we wanted so we started with some solo play. Most couples in the swinger community never play alone. Going solo opens up more options and variations.

    Solo play experiences:

    – One of us goes alone to join a swinger couple for a threesome.

    – He went to some gang bang parties with one or two girls getting fucked by a room full of guys

    – One of us playing 1 on 1 with another person from a swinger couple.

    – One of us goes alone with single person we both know.

    – One of us goes alone with single person met online. (always told the others we were married) Extremely hard for him, really easy for her.

    The point of these lists is to show that you can make swinging or open relationships whatever you want it to be.

    It’s also not a perfect situation. There are fights, there is jealousy, there is a lot of work and communication involved. You’ll want to look at your partners phone to see what they are texting other’s about.

    On the positive side, swinging forces you to open up and share some of your deepest desires and admit your true nature to someone. It also develops communication like nothing else I’ve ever seen in a relationship. Setting up rules about who can do what and with who, and setting expectations.

    Our reason to start swinging was because it was fun to have sex with new people. We’ve had some great one night stands, but also found friendships that have lasted for years.

    After years of doing it, we realized it was actually about the two of us having low self esteem and wanting the attention and approval of others. “I’m attractive enough for someone else to fuck me”

    He found this was the case so much that he noticed the sex itself wasn’t that important. He would lose interest in the girls very quickly in most cases after putting the “notch in his belt.”

    We also take breaks for weeks or months. Sometimes you just get busy or bored of it, or just can’t find people you like.

    Hope this helps anyone out there, and if you have further questions, let us know.

  71. Not sure if anyone has commented about “Sex at Dawn”, by Christopher Ryan, but it’s a great book on this subject. Humans did NOT evolved monogamously. Much the same way we didn’t evolve in an agricultural environment for most of our species’ time on the earth.

  72. This is crazy for me to actually write this – I’m a 46 yr old rather conservative wife and mother of 2. After 18 years of faithful marriage – My husband and I were at the verge of divorce. I had put on alot weight and didn’t look after myself – although he loved me – he wasn’t hot for me and because he wasn’t hot for me – I kind of gave up. After 10 years of very little sex, we decided to go against the status quo. We had to be brave enough to do something different. The result – I created a very anonymous erotic blog on tumblr – aimed specifically at men who like to watch women – I write erotic storiesand show erotic images – it makes me feel incredibly powerful. My sex life has never been better with my husband – I feel desired and sexual and have lost weight. Its very private and all about pleasuring myself – I can’t believe that I do this – but I love it – it releases my deepest desires in a safe environment and my marriage has never been healthier. My husband has the sexy woman that he fell in love with again and for me, knowing my husband was secure enough and loved me enough to let me explore this fantasy – gave me so much respect for him and deepened our love – its been an incredibly liberating experience.

  73. Hmm, wondering how this fits in with your Stoicism, Tim! The Stoics claimed that virtue (areté) was the sole good, and frequently lambasted hedonists.

    Neil Strauss is clearly a (recovering) sex addict. There is no eudaimonia to be found in addiction.

  74. I appreciate the honesty and constant expression of Neil’s inner train of thought throughout this whole article. As a person who is also questioning whether or not I want to be monogamous, it’s really helpful to know what is going on inside another person’s head while they test the waters of non-monogamy.

    As an addition, for people looking for more information about how to navigate polyamory, check out the webcomic called Kimchi Cuddles. It’s written by a woman who has been polyamorous for a long time and is a fun but also very thoughtful way of exploring all of the issues that arise in polyamory(there are also lots of discussions about sexual identity and dealing with other people’s judgement of your choice of lifestyle). If you haven’t seen it yet Tim Ferriss, definitely check it out.

  75. My perspective comes from the fact that my current partner and I have been together in an “open” relationship for 6 years. We were both married before (me twice.) and all the kids we would have, are already here. His are grown and gone, mine are still in the nest for a few more years. So we eliminate the factor of wanting to settle down and have families–we already have those.

    From the start, this relationship was for us. It hinges on that fact that we are completely and utterly honest and transparent with each other. We have no secrets, we know the insides and outs of whatever is going on. Which means we also have gobs and gobs of trust. We set relationship boundaries (must use condoms with other encounters), and those are kept under any and all circumstances. We’ve even changed boundaries from time to time depending on how we were feeling or what was going on in life. We are each other’s primary partner, and when we are home, we are not out dating and bar-hopping. We are together. When we travel or do our workshops around the world, things open up and there are opportunities to meet like-minded individuals. Generally these new friends aren’t interested in carrying on relationships with us, but just want to connect for a bit and have fun, and maybe stay friends down the road. We are not swingers. We are not polyamourous. We don’t want other long-term partners and we don’t have sex at parties just to have sex at parties.

    For us, this relationship has covered all the bases: Security, safety, and allowance–the ability to experience other people or situations should we desire it. It’s like a permanent hall pass! If we happen to be somewhere together and he is interested in someone, we have a quick light-hearted discussion about how we would feel were any contact to occur. I get to have a light-hearted opinion about the other female and usually give a thumbs up. That way, if the situation presents itself, we have already talked to each other and we already know how we are feeling. Then, as per the usual, I get all the details afterwards. ( : As much or as little as I’d like. To date, I have met all but one of his “encounters” and I’m legitimately friends with all of the others. I am legitimately happy when we enjoys himself and he is truly excited when I do the same.

    This has been a relationship 6 years in the making. It hasn’t been easy at times. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly for us.

  76. Tim I really struggle with all this. I totally identified with the thoughts of ‘who or what am I?’ according to who Neil speaks to. I am very open and not shocked by any of it, so here’s my dilemma. As a woman, I crave the craziness of no boundaries, extreme daring of anything goes and letting loose, having a fantasy high but with someone who I crave on a mental level too. Fantasy is in my head and in order for me to truly fulfill that, someone has to be in my head with me, they have to meet me on an intellectual, creative and humorous level where I have insane desire and trust and am willing to do anything with them, but when I find someone like that, guess what? I don’t want to share them with anyone because that’s someone I want to do this with forever.

    Crazy free, open transactional interactions as described in this book are just that. They are possible and tempting but temporary. Quick fixes. Band aids. Drug highs. Anti depressants. Binge drinking. They are filling a temporary need and creating cravings and dependency. Are Those people there just filling voids?

    I want meaning. Total fulfillment, sexual, emotional and intellectual.

    I want the same feelings and openness, but long term with someone who really gets me and understands me and gives me the security that they are the only person on earth I desire and who can also transition into my rock, my family, my friend, my coparent, etc. My dilemma is that men who are monogamous, family oriented guys can’t let out their inner kink (if they have one) and the guys who can let it all go and be crazy with me have so many issues they are trying to escape from and are fighting to find control of themselves in real life and can’t be the strong, controlled guy I need to share real life with. I want both. Like me. Is that even possible??? And if so, where are these men? A very good male friend of mine has actually expressed the same needs as me, but what was really interesting and also hugely depressing, was that he said he’d thought about this for many years and the reality for him was that if he actually had chosen someone like me (who was just like him) he thinks it would have driven him to a bad place because he would have become addicted to the fantasy side of the relationship which would have affected his reality and therefore as measure for him to maintain his stability in life, work and family, he thinks being with someone who is less adventurous is good for him, to keep him stable. (But then he is driven crazy in trying to hide his ‘secret’ life which defeats the idea of monogamy.). See I just don’t get it. As I woman I can and want both. It seems it would take some kind of great, impossibly brilliant, self reflective man to match me. I’ve tried both sides of the coin. One was a 15 year marriage. One was a 5 year relationship. Both extremes. I need and want both. I also think a lot of this has to do with the large amount of creativity and inquisitiveness that one posesses. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’d love to discuss this more and find an answer

  77. This may be a repost…was attempting to post via mobile and had forgotten my password.

    I love constantly being surprised by Neil’s experiences in life to support his wisdom. Awesome! I loved reading this.

    What I loved about this article, his insight about monopolizing the hearts of 3 when he understand what it meant for himself not to love and be loved wholly.

    Love is a verb, often found within another action: relationship. Just thinking about that…..has me appreciate those that are endurance athletes!!

  78. The logic path my wife and I approach monogamy is straightforward.

    1. I love you.

    2. That means I need you to get what you need and want.

    3. My love is conditional. If you want to harm someone, I’ll oppose that.

    4. But if what you want harms no one, then I want you to have it.

    5. If I wanted to you deny your wants, that would mean I simply want to control you, not love you. I want love, not control.

    6. Consensual, safe sex with multiple partners harms no one.

    7. If I feel afraid of losing you, I will tell you. We’ll discuss why.

    8. My emotions are not dependent on your actions.

  79. I’m a living proof that poligamy can work and morover it can be healthy for the relationship. I want believe that my partner is with me not because he has to or because he didn’t have a chance to meet someone better. For oss relationship is a trust and deep connection that goes far more then sex. The most important part is that both side are honest and feel well in this. It’s not that you don’t feel jealous, we’re just conciously changing it to a stimulus. If we meet someone else without eachothers then we always talk about it with details. I like knowing that my bf is wanted by other women. And it works in both ways. We both know that we have to look atractive and take care of our bodies. Something that many couples that are together longer time forget about. I want my partner to be happy and he wants the same for me. If he meets someone else he feels better with then I will be happy for him. I don’t think I would be able to coming back to monogamy again. I like being free and I love my partner for letting me be who I really am. We take care of eachothers needs and talk about them probably more then other monogamic couples we know. And we almost never argue. The biggest reason of breaking up – cheating, just doesn’t exist in our dictionary and you can’t imagine how silly it seems for us that other people even have this problem. If you really feel that you want being in a poligamic relationship, don’t compromise. Find the other person that wants the same and build a happy, honest relationship with eachother. And it’s fun as well 😉

  80. Q1: We have different psychological stages (usually 0-6y,6-12y,12-18y,18-25,25-35,35-50 years old etc) we have that moment where we want to try and try new partners, new relationships etc, but as time goes by and getting security arises ( this can be in our 30s,40s,50s..depends on when we enter that stage… we just want monogamy. Eventually there is a possibility Neil wont be able to have sex anymore (prostate or whatever), he wont go to swing clubs,right? He will want that connection which is spirit based, although having orgasm is indeed also a spiritual connection… it is not the only way.

    Q2: The answer above is valid here, as you always choose excitement first and afterwards comes intimacy.

    Q3? every partner has something different to offer,we just want the one closest to our “prince charming”/nasty slut.. and we change constantly, 5 years ago i was smoking, eating meat, partying a lot, having too many friends, have slept with only one man (I am 28)… it depends who is around us and what is our true self… now i quit smoking, quit eating meat, had sex experiences i thought i would never have..

    Q3: it should go beyond liking.. but it is connected to boredom… if that person has no hobbies or craves for attention it can happen that changing partners very often becomes a part of his life for a while…

    Q4: if i have found the right partner i wouldn´t need a “pass” but with a wrong partner this will definitely happen… a better option would be just to let go the bad relationship… which is what i am trying to do now, but still cannot let go..

  81. TIMOTHY, First I would like to thank you for all the information you have provided me over the years. I finally saw my OWN path. My personal belief on this matter is that it does not matter how many lovers you have, but you have to all fully communicate and love each other. COMMUNICATION is the single thing holding HUMANkind back. Again, I appreciate everything you have taught me.

  82. Tim, I imagine you red “The ethical slut?” I don’t like the title but I find the book itself very useful when in the midst of transitioning from a traditional monogamous relationship to a more open one, or just to learn from other’s experiences and wisdom on the subject. I do think taking a step back from the way our society is conditioning us into monogamy can actually make us a better person (albeit I’ll admit not an easy process or transition) because 1-you don’t possess anyone, 2-nothing is eternal 3-no-one will solve your own problems except yourself. I do think the process and the reflection is positive even if it does not result in non-monogamy in the end. Makes me think of of your interview with Alain de Botton and how he reiterates that love is not what we make it up to be. Unfortunately my own personal experience resulted in the relationship ending, but perhaps we did not give it the 2-years required to get passed the difficulties of transitioning. When are you going to have Esther Perel on your podcast? (I still have to read “Mating in captivity”, which was also recommended in your podcast if I recall).

  83. Hi Tim,

    I believe in true love. But it does not just happen for many of us because we have walls and defenses that keep us separate from life and each other. I would like to help you with your struggles and find true love. Send me an e-mail to learn more.

  84. Crazy, just saw this blog now. Well, I’ve been in both worlds, and am now in a 11 year monogamous relationship, I’m married, two kids.. and the sex is better than ever.. there is always novelty and fun to be had 😉

  85. Been there, done it, got the t-shirt(s) – better for me with 1 quality relationship. (I am a little bit older, but have been where you are). Keep up the great work. All the best.