This woman, an anonymous Northwestern senior who had never engaged in any sexual relationships before college, used to have a monogamous mentality on love and sex. But after having a pretty dry first quarter, she had her first time with her first crush from seventh grade. After engaging in a longterm relationship, she realized that systemic relationships are inevitable and that people should be able to share their love with multiple people.
On first love:
My first major crush was in seventh grade. He was a year older than me and went to my middle school. He was that mysterious skateboarder. The guy I always wanted to know more about. It was basically like the goal that I knew I would never attain – until we actually started hanging out via mutual friends. After getting to know him more, I wasn’t as infatuated anymore. That initial honeymoon energy went down and I wasn’t really so romantically attracted to him because I saw him for what he was and not for the ideal that was in my mind.
I didn’t have actual sex until winter break my freshman year when I was home in Virginia. It was actually the guy I had a crush on in seventh grade. He had always told me he’d be the one to take it and I knew he would, too. I was just so comfortable with him.
On uncomplicated sex:
I’d always believed that sex was complicated. I knew I didn’t have sexual love for everyone and that I couldn’t give sexual love to more than one person. I had this traditional monogamous conceptualization of love and sex, so I was looking for the right person to give all of my sexual energy to – but what I’ve been realizing over the years is that I have infinite amounts of love. I can have sexual and romantic relationships with multiple people at once.
On casual sex:
I don’t think sex is casual. I think it can be casual if you intentionally create it in that way and you discuss that casualness with your partner. I believe you should explicitly say, “Hey, I'm looking for a purely physical fulfillment. I'm not looking for an emotional fulfillment."
I think that reflects more about the person than the actual sex act itself. I would encourage asking that person why they want physical and not just emotional relationships, because I think that sex is always emotional. It’s our relationship to our bodies. It’s our relationship to other people’s bodies. It’s about self-love, self-care. I think it’s very emotional, so when people dismiss that element, I question their history, and I question their own relationship to their body.
On college hookup culture:
Going to fraternity parties my freshman year, I started to realize how closely intertwined sex was to alcohol culture. That was really problematic for me. I felt really uncomfortable not really being able to give consent, and watching a lot of my friends engage in sexual activity that they may or may not have wanted to engage in intentionally. I feel like there was a lack of intention in the sex community here … It just happens and no one will reflect on it. We reflect on it with all of our friends, but we don’t actually talk to the actual sexual partner who we have had sex with.
On being polyamorous:
As I got older, I would say I became polyamorous, which means multiple loves. I think that was the biggest transition or transformation – my openness and vulnerability to multiple romantic partners, not just one. I had this notion of one-on-one relationships, and now I have this notion of “systemic” romance where everyone is connected. Just because I say I’m in a relationship with one person – and in this case I use “relationship” interchangeably with “sex” – I’m also in relationships with all of those people that that person is in relationships with. I’m not living one-on-one with anyone; I’m living in a system of inter-subjective relationships and interconnectedness. I always want to know who my sexual partners are also having sex with so I can know that better as a sexual being. It’s just sexual maturity – coming to terms with your ability to love many different people and your ability to be in relationships with a whole system of people.
On dating a monogamist:
I’m currently in a complicated relationship. I’m romantically involved with someone who has a girlfriend. That’s been very transformative for me because I started to grapple with the notion that not everyone is going to practice sex in the same ways that I do. There are going to be people who just want to have only one sexual partner. But then there’s also this notion of, ‘we love each other romantically and we are sexually attracted to each other’ and we [the man and I] have discussed this. There’s this illusion of a constraint that’s from preventing us from loving each other the way we want to.
I’m questioning his relationship to sex. I’m questioning why he thinks that that’s a constraint in his life. Why does he think that his girlfriend, one person, prevents him from others? So now that’s kind of the question I’m dealing with in my modern sex life: How can I deal with my relationship, my sexually-attracted relationship, to this man who I see multiple times a week and don’t act on that intention? It’s a challenge because I’m just trying to be comfortable with doing that.