I’ve been thinking about writing this article for at least four years now. Recent Facebook posts, written by several “sex positive” groups that I belong to, finally got me riled up enough to take the time to put my thoughts to the proverbial paper. But first let me start with a story. In the late 19th century, prominent American psychologist and philosopher, William James, was personally experimenting with a new psychoactive drug. During his heightened state of awareness (he was tripping as we’d say in this era) he was ecstatic to realize that he had stumbled upon the secret of the Universe. He was so enraptured that he knew he had to record his revelation on paper lest he forget the details of his experience which he found so profound, that he was sure would change the course of humanity.The next morning when he finally got up and remembered the night before, he raced over to his paper and found that he had scribbled the following:
“Hogamous, higamous, Man is polygamous.
Higamous, hogamous, Woman is monogamous.”
Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of women regarding the issues of monogamy, open relationships, polyamory and even polygamy. I have gained great respect for the courage it takes for these women to be willing not only to explore these options but for them to share them with me. Let me share with you the story of Jesse. Jesse came to see me immediately after leaving a an off-shoot sect from the Mormon Church. She told me of how they had indoctrinated her into the teachings of taking on sister wives. The male clan leader had told her how it was her spiritual duty to God to be accepting of these other women who would openly share a bed with her husband. She came to me still with the fear that leaving the sect for her freedom was somehow going against God’s wishes and she was struggling with knowing one thing and feeling another.
Then there was James, a client who came to me after escaping the confines of a remotely located “spiritual” new age group. James was taught that being in open sexual relationships was equivalent to being enlightened. He was struggling with feelings that by wanting to have a monogamous relationship, he was somehow limited, repressed, and had been derided by his teachers for his desire and had been told to sleep with multiple partners to get over his proclivity.
I’ve worked with thousands of women and men around issues of sexuality for nearly a decade and here’s what I have concluded:
1. There is a wide range of sexual preferences and they should be openly discussed at the outset of the consideration of beginning any new relationship.
2. A time may come when one partner seeks to alter things and “open” a relationship (and I don’t mean infidelity, which is a breach of trust altogether). In this case both partners must work through previous wounding within their primary relationship and create a very clear contract of agreements if they intend to proceed with the open relationship model.
3. Being pressured by anyone (religious/spiritual leaders included) into being in an open relationship or taking on any type of sexual belief system that doesn’t feel right for every member of the relationship, is a recipe for disaster. It takes a lot of honest and authentic communication to get to a place of really understanding if this is for you or not. Relationship sexual preferences have absolutely nothing to do with being spiritual or enlightened.
4. All men are not polyamourous by nature.
5. All women are not monogamous by nature.
One of the most valuable components of a sacred romantic relationship is open communication and trust. I’ve successfully assisted couples transitioning to a “poly” relationship with mutually agreed upon arenas of exploration. I’ve also been a sacred witness to those that have come to irreconcible differences in the bedroom and have chosen lovingly to end a relationship/marriage. A move to polyamory should never be about fleeing from a problematic relationship to something new and different – that never works.
I’ve been blessed in my personal and professional community to have several women who became my mentors in this arena after I expressed my desire to make the work of using EFT for healing the sexual aspect of relationships, the focus of my practice. One of the things they have candidly shared with me, was their involvement in “intentional” and “communal” living situations in the late 60s and early 70s. What was validated by their experiences was that the intermingling of sexuality and spirituality has been going on long before I arrived on the scene.
Recently, I got to work with a woman who came of age during this era of “free love” while living in a very dysfunctional commune in Montana. We had to work through layers of pain, betrayal and a deep sense of her feeling flawed because she wanted her husband to remain sexually committed to her alone. Her emotional pain had led to many severe physical conditions, most significantly contracting a venereal disease.
Spiritual sexuality can take many forms and at it’s heart is about a connection with the Divine, a connection felt with oneself or others through the sacred vessel of the body. I personally follow the Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society’s teachings of the medicine wheel regarding desire. I feel strongly that everyone has the autonomy and freedom to have a unique desire and path that is their own to choose and that we should understand that others will have different paths that they are called to pursue. When sitting on any place on “the wheel”, you realize that there is no one direction that is better than any other and that you can find God/Great Spirit in every possible choice.
By EFT Sex Expert Alina Frank