Words by Sahar Mushin
When I asked my sister this year about romantic relationships she said, “Well, I’m done being the mother, teacher, or muse.” For empowered women, the old trap has lost its appeal. We’re not here simply to coddle male egos and mask their shortcomings, or silently and non-reciprocally uphold them from the shadows.
No, we are not open to old programming that has gone to seed within our collective consciousness. Much of just getting ourselves out there involves weeding through the toxic sludge which we know leads down a path many have walked before and lacks sustainability and mutual fulfillment. When my girlfriends talk to me about sex and relationships a clear pattern emerges, so much that, given the researcher I am, I have started taking surveys of women at large.
The Big Questions
How do women view sex and relationships and why has romance lost its most authentic emulations? People are so busy playing games to try to mimic the chase that they appear like caricatures of movies rather than the essence of relating that movies are fashioned after.
I’ve mentioned before, that I find, on the large, Americans fall into one of two categories: 1) those in love with the ideal co-dependent monogamy fused through Disney-level love delusions and 2) polyamorous commitment phobes. There is a much smaller percentage of true love matches (either fate or refusing to settle for a false sense of security) and thriving open relationships. I’ve asked hundreds of women including in group settings designed specifically for talks on sexuality and relationships and true harmony in coming to know another is happening, but the percentage is low.
Many are beginning to ask: How have we gotten here, and how do we find our way back to this small percentage of beings authentic relating? Often times people are picking up polyamory because the fad is beginning to eclipse the personal sense of what equals fulfillment.
Cut the Bullshit
Communication is key. Transparency doesn’t limit excitation. The false ideal of the machinations of the chase allow us to conceal our true intentions, ruminations and current personal and continually adjusting relationship standards. Once we come to understand ourselves as beings in becoming, we see that even if I say I am this now, it doesn’t mean I won’t be that then. Being clear about where we are, doesn’t remove the mystery it just, brings the other up to date on our most current starting point.
I identify as polyamorous. That is to say that even though I’ve spent the majority of the year celibate (11 months out of 12) and my life for that matter, and even though most of my relationships have followed the format of monogamy, I’ve come to full self realization that I value autonomy above attempting romance. (You should see how often autonomy shows up in my astrology)
The Programming Runs Deep
As a woman and POC and enneagram (1 & 2), I live to serve, so when pheromones and sepiosexual attraction signals a potential partner, I have to work overtime to mitigate over-functioning; which I’ve come to understand as a form of relinquishing power.
When I over serve I disallow the other to rise to the occasion, limiting their potential to be empowered, while simultaneously limiting my own autonomy, and for me freedom equals peace and power. Once a system is set, it’s twice as hard to reconfigure it.
I am clear about what I want, but I’m not what I once was, and who I am now is still forming and changing, crystallizing if you will.
Some of my favorite experiences of relating began with, “so let me just tell you where I’m at,” and, some of my least favorites involved a yawning void where any fucking clue where the other person was at should be. Most of these later kinds of possible relationships de-railed. Indeed symbiosis is rarely felt by two, who are not true to who they are, and where they’re at. This is also very reflective of consent.
There is this concept of enthusiastic consent that I feel is worth unpacking in this context. Just because someone didn’t say no doesn’t me they said yes. Clarifying interests, expectations, and ideals allows us to be all in when a conscious bid is made for our attention from someone picking up what we’re putting down.
For me those that without permission overstep clearly laid boundaries in a chase to meet their own wants triggers a siren signaling this is not a match.
What about the chase? Well there are hard limits and there are soft limits and BDSM aside we could all learn from setting personal standards, like instigating safe words; indicators, that let the other know when they have overstepped, without having to get too heady or chatty about it.
Let’s be honest in the throes many cis-men act like it’s a major turn off to be told explicitly that you either don’t like what they’re doing or you want them to do something else. Fragile egos.
On the other hand, if a lover knows the line from my ear to my shoulder is an erogenous zone, I’m more likely to have a good time alongside a gender who is unfortunately often wired to be selfishly goal oriented, their orgasm.
Let me cut from the misandry long enough to show another complimentary. If women are programmed to serve, and men keep collecting an unequal amount of orgasms, which according to Taoism will drain the limited primordial [non-replaceable] Qi or life energy for men, then we’re gridlocked in unfulfilling and unsustainable territory.
I don’t believe in this either, I want to fuck you or I don’t. Like I said it’s all pheromones and intellectual stimulation for me. I don’t go around checking people out and tossing a coin either it’s magnetic, or it’s not happening. In the cases where it is magnetic, I’ll hang enough to know about your ways of being to grow in non-physical intimacy and that time frame changes from person to person; it could be months, or a weekend; could be one perfect day.
Then I’m clear to the other about my sexual interest (which may not be verbal) and my prioritized autonomy. I told one guy I was incredibly into that I realized polyamory helped set healthy boundaries for me and that I have no intention of living with a partner. That could change, but as of now if I were to visualize loving someone enough to marry them, I’d grow in ambition, so I could be wealthy enough to be able to afford two houses. I love my personal rhythms I love my cave time. I dislike tuning into another so much that I fall out of my own rhyme and rhythm.
For the Guys
My advice: tell it like it is, “I like you, and I’m willing to wait to see how you feel about me, maybe hang as friends for a bit, but ultimately, that’s not my intention for us. Whenever it becomes clear to you how you want to respond to that, no rush, tell me where you’re at. I value myself and I value you too much to play games. We don’t know where this is heading but it makes sense to me to start things right with honesty and integrity, so I’m being true to myself, asking you to do the same and to consider giving this a chance.”
And when you’re ready to have sex. Beforehand, when you’re just chilling hanging out, have the talk. ‘What are your fantasies? What do you hate or think you hate? Where do you like to be touched? Any trauma triggers? It might take more than one conversation or micro-convo moment for those that are shy to get it all out, but you’ll be glad going in that you have a current personally tailored instruction manual.
During the Act
It doesn’t hurt to change things up and ask your partner what they liked more, so they won’t be worried about shattering fragile male egos, when they point out one thing that didn’t rub them right.
Also, having conversations about sex, when you are not having sex, are great opportunities to fine tune and streamline the experience. Remember, some of us aren’t racing to the finish line. Instead, we are like finely crafted instruments that take time, effort, and practice to be played right.