The word “love” spurs a sense of excitement and wonder, while “commitment” feels weighted by social pressure, monogamy, and laundry lists. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this episode, Jeff and Schuyler muse about their 25th wedding anniversary and visit their friends Dave and Erin Kennedy, a polyamorous couple whose views on love, commitment, and sex offer a radically different view of long-term partnership.
Jeff: Okay. So there's a little different format this week. I am joined by my better half, Schuyler Grant. We've just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Took a little trip with our family down to Laguna Beach, California. And here we are set up in the gymnasium of a Airbnb.
Schuyler: It's pretty oddball, but that's kind of representative of our 25 plus years together. So I suppose it's just perfect.
Jeff: For a little background, for those who don't know us, which I assume is most of the people listening here, we've been together since 1988. I've documented some of my epiphanies and chivalrous pursuits of Schuyler through my writings. And we've had a very particular approach to our relationship and commitment in some ways. You might even think of it as a traditional approach.
Jeff: We were dating, I guess if you could call it, for seven years before we got married. So really it's been over three decades of cohabitation, and I think we've found commitment and I've written about this a number of times, but we have kind of dispelled this myth of commitment as been limitation. And it's often associated with limitation and things that you have to give up.
Jeff: And I suppose our mutual pledge to each other and unconditional love has allowed me to pursue a lot of very uncertain dreams and unlikely career paths and take chances and risks with my life that I wouldn't have otherwise done knowing that in failure, and there have been many, that I always had that bedrock of comfort in failure held by our commitment. And that's been very liberating. And I think in that way, we see commitment as very much the same way as freedom or at least I do.
Schuyler: Yeah. Can I pop in?
Jeff: Of course. [crosstalk 00:03:17] We're on this together. We're on this journey together.
Schuyler: I guess I would qualify what you said, which I largely agree with, but I feel like it's not that longterm commitment has been without sacrifice or limitation. We give up all kinds of things, I think, for a longterm commitment, but on balance, I think the net effect is more freedom.
Schuyler: And our general happiness, the depth of our love, the solidity of the place that we have created together, the thing we have made. Because I think every relationship is not just a sum of its parts. It's more than the sum of its parts, whether it's friendship or parenthood. You make something new out of two or three or five. But I would say the entity that we have invested in has engendered sacrifices and things we've given up, but we have managed to make that really worth it.
Schuyler: So I agree, though I would say that I see our partnership, which is quite balanced and we both give a lot to the thing, to the superstructure of it. We both do a lot of the not very sexy work of making a family run and the toil of parenthood and all of that. But I would say that probably on balance, I do a little bit more of the infrastructure for the family.
Schuyler: And so there is I think a part of every mother who is really the day-to-day homemaker, in our case, with a ton of support, but still more of the bones of the family body. I think every mother in that position has a fantasy alternate life where they're free of children, free of spouse, where they really do live as an autonomous unit.
Schuyler: I wouldn't ever choose that. I'm very happy with the choices that I've made, but I think that this is... Probably the thrust of one of our biggest disagreements is sometimes you have more freedom as a man than I have as a mother and woman. But given that dynamic, which I think is endemic to motherhood and fatherhood on balance, I feel very much that we have come to a place where our partnership has engendered largely support and freedom which is beautiful. And it's been a lot of hard work and his born much fruit.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, as much as we may fashion ourselves as a kind of class, we actually have fulfilled a lot of the kind of traditional roles in some ways of modern Western culture, and we'll talk specifically about sex later in this podcast, because certainly we have pursued a highly long term monogamous journey together and that has worked for us, but that is arguably not the way humans have evolved to be and we can talk a little bit about that.
Jeff: I think that when you say that two different elements come together to form something new, you could think about that kind of in very pure scientific terms of hydrogen and oxygen coming to form a bond and to fill each other's outer electron shells. In a way it modifies the traditional definition, I think, of love, of how we think about love. And when our electron shells are filled, when we form this molecule of water in a way all of our needs become met. And I'm playing out this scientific metaphor here.
Jeff: But I think there is a different understanding of love that emerges in the absence of need, and it is not love as purely an emotion. And this gets into sort of psychological concepts around what emotions and thoughts and feelings are and how we identify with them. That emotions are sensations that visit us and then leave.
Jeff: And then we are just the subjects of perceiving that phenomena in a transitory fashion. That they come and go and jealousy comes and goes, and fear comes and goes, et cetera, very roomy understanding of how human beings experience emotions.
Jeff: But I think, and Mooji the meditation teacher talks about this quite a bit and I'm a big fan as you know, is that in the absence of need outside of ego that love emerges not as much as an emotion, but it is an essence that springs forth out of wholeness where one is not the experiencer of that emotion, but one is actually the source of that emotion.
Jeff: And I think that that happens inside of a certain kind of alchemy when one's needs are completely met and fulfilled. And that's how I see the... One of the great purposes of relationship is that. Is to unlock love as an essence and not as an emotion by being able to fill each other's needs and infill into deficiencies and parts of the ego that question itself.
Jeff: Certainly for me and I won't monopolize the entire conversation, but I've thought about this a lot, which is I have a need for the approval of others. That is a weak spot. It's an Achilles heel for me. It keeps me trapped in my ego. Is that I often identify through the eyes of other people and I need that positive reinforcement of other people to feel a sense of wholeness and identity, but inside of my commitment with you, I don't need that anymore.
Jeff: So then I can place my ego aside or just rise above it and witness it and more easily access this place of wholeness or what Mooji might call emptiness, self-transcendence, Brahman and step into the place where I become more of the source of love and not the subject experiencing it. Anyway, that was a departure from where I thought we'd go.
Schuyler: And let me just interject quickly that this makes sense and it's quite beautiful. I would say that children of course are that thing and it's a bit hackney that you don't really know love until you have children, but I think that is exactly what children are. When you love your child, especially when they're quite young, maybe not where our kids are now, but there's no quid pro quo when you have a baby. That love is pure.
Schuyler: And there are all kinds of needs on you, but you have no needs of them for so long and to just give love and to fulfill needs and to learn how profoundly satisfying that is. That is one of the... And perhaps people who have a relationship to a god or a goddess or some spiritual giving of themselves have that experience.
Schuyler: For me, that's not been my path, but I certainly felt that as a mother. The deep well of pleasure to give love and to get it in return, but in an absolutely unintellectual unpreconceived way is one of the most beautiful things you can have. And I think that's not what we get with our partners usually and certainly not for a long time.
Schuyler: And I would say that is one of the really beautiful places you come to in a longterm committed partnership, or even if it's short term, but your mutual feeling is that this is for good, as long as it's good, but you're not holding back. That there's, you look at your partner and you are excited to be on the path of seeing them become old.
Schuyler: All of that. That you would... I mean, I think it's amazing to see the journey with someone, both to watch them psychologically, intellectually, emotionally evolve. And then also physically evolve. I don't think I will ever look at you and think that you're old. I'll just see you having a metamorphosis, which is so amazing and so incredibly cool.
Jeff: Inverted beauty and the beast [crosstalk 00:14:37] in this case.
Schuyler: Where we both become beasts?
Schuyler: At least in tandem.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, I think what you say about children is astute and certainly it gives you a common cause. Well, I think healthy and good and longterm relationships are often full of common causes.
Schuyler: Transactionality. Healthy transaction.
Jeff: Well, and also creative endeavors and raising children can be very, very creative. And it also changes the geometry of love. And I wrote about this and I saw that when you edited my recent article, you mentioned that I think you liked this part, so I'll bring it up, is that typically love exists in a partnership in a very linear way from partner to partner.
Jeff: But when children become added to that particular mix, that geometry changes and it becomes a much more multidimensional consecration of your children and that's what you share. I mean I've often said there's two types of people in the world. There's people with children and people without, and it does...
Jeff: I mean, there is a certain psychological piece to it, and this is wired into our evolutionary biology for sure. But that idea when you would, without hesitation, fall on a sword for another human being like most people feel with their children, that completely dissolves self obsession and self interest and all of these things that keep us in a state of egocentric, misery and distraction.
Schuyler: Well, there's plenty of parents who are trapped in a vortex of ego, misery and self obsession.
Jeff: Of course there is.
Schuyler: Your point is well taken.
Jeff: Of course there are, but I think having children can help and like I said, I think it creates a common cause, almost a project for-
Schuyler: A lifelong project.
Schuyler: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, let's talk about sex because this is going to be an awfully long podcast and I have to interview our friends, Aaron and DK.
Jeff: Right. Like I mentioned, Schuyler and I we have a very committed, monogamous relationship and this has been ongoing for some time and it's worked for us. But it's not the only path to committed relationships. And I recently picked up Christopher Ryan's book Sex at Dawn, which has become sort of the Bible for polyamory. I'm not sure he would put it that way.
Jeff: But I'll kind of provide some of the cliff notes for it, but I think there's a cultural myth that 50% of marriages end in divorce. I think that is actually not true. I think it's about 39% from what I've read more recently and that that rate is going down, but that is a significant four out of 10 marriages ending in divorce is not anything that a society should be bragging about.
Jeff: So in this book, Sex at Dawn, Christopher Ryan unpacks some the ancestral history and its relationship to sex. And we've talked about it a number of times, but essentially some 12,000 years ago, pre-agricultural revolution while we were existing kind of on the Serengeti as foragers and in hunt and gatherer societies-
Schuyler: Closer to what you would say would be our mammalian nature.
Jeff: Yeah. And certainly you can map some of the sexual behaviors onto our closest primate relatives bonobos and chimpanzees and that's what this book does. And they have a very active promiscuous sex life, which was also documented amongst homo sapiens pre-agricultural revolution, which the notions...
Jeff: And there were some societies that had monogamy as a central tenet, but largely it was very, very casual sex and the notion of love and sex were not as conflated as they are today. And of course, this was also prior to the ascendancy of Abrahamic religions, which created all sorts of taboos and not just taboos, but mortal punishments around adultery. And I believe even it's written in the Bible that if you're not a Virgin the night before your wedding, you can be stoned to death.
Schuyler: And not in the good way.
Jeff: Yeah. Not in the way that you don't need to go to the dispensary for that particular kind of stoning. But I've actually even read, and I think this was documented in Yuval Harari's book, Sapiens, where in some societies, I believe this was Aché tribe, that there was not a scientific understanding that one particular sperm from a particular distinct male impregnated a woman.
Jeff: So a woman, if she was seeking to birth the Ubermensch progeny would source the sperm from a whole variety of members of the tribe, for different traits. So she would have sex with one for-
Schuyler: Strength and virility and one for intelligence and one because they're a good snuggler.
Jeff: But somehow in there-
Schuyler: The snuggle trait.
Jeff: ... I managed to [crosstalk 00:21:28]
Schuyler: embody all of those.
Jeff: ... all of those things so that's one of the reasons why monogamy has worked.
Schuyler: Your mother did a really good job sourcing for many months clearly.
Jeff: That is highly untrue if you knew my mother. But so there was a pattern of sexual freedom of promiscuity that happened. And then one of the primary theories is the agricultural revolution came along, and then man started to develop private property and grow mostly grains and what we think of as sort of cash crops now on private property and develop surplus and develop riches that could be inherited.
Jeff: And in order to be able to pass down that wealth through primogenitorism, which is essentially passing down that wealth to the oldest son. I believe that that's what that means.
Schuyler: Right. You had to be able to prove [crosstalk 00:22:32]
Jeff: Yeah. You had to. Right, you actually had to know that that was your son. And so monogamy began to become sort of the dominant lifestyle. And then of course later as Judaism and Christianity took hold, it became-
Jeff: ... codified.
Jeff: And then in modern life, there's a million different logistical reasons and tax benefits and all the other things that are folded into having sort of that nuclear family of being married and having kids and et cetera.
Schuyler: Right. That's a financial codification of a Judeo-Christian rationale for patriarchy really. I mean, at the core of it that's where it sits. A lot of this science is speculative and different biologists and evolutionary biologists and sociologists have varying views on this, but it does seem that there's consensus around the fact that as an animal, we would be considered social monogamous or you might even call it a serial monogamous, where there's a certain number of mammals that are truly monogamous like a goose.
Schuyler: Apparently a goose mates for life and if the goose's spouse, their partner dies a goose never mates again. I mean, they're in, not even until death do us part, they are in it for the rest of their life. And then there's a few other, I mean, I think wolves and beavers or bats, but it's only three to 5% of the 5,000 or so mammals that are actually genetically biologically monogamous.
Schuyler: But it seems as if even in our pre-agricultural revolution nature tended to make partnerships for the raising of children and they call that social monogamy, so you would... And that doesn't even mean you might have sex with other partners, but that we do actually pair up because it has been beneficial through history to have a guy around, even though we have had grandmothers and mothers. And that's also part of our social structure, but we do pair.
Jeff: Yeah. Although there was notions in forager societies of shared fatherhood that seemed to be actually quite beneficial for the tribe where essentially as a man, you were fathering the whole flock and that created a certain kind of social-
Schuyler: Social coherence.
Jeff: ... cohesion and shared responsibilities and kept tribes together.
Schuyler: But they just don't really 100% know.
Jeff: [crosstalk 00:25:29]
Schuyler: I mean, a lot of this is speculative about whether there was... But mostly they think that there is pairing. There are quite a few actually bird species as well, where the father's around when it's useful and then they can peace out, and the mother too, because their infants don't have the kind of protracted fourth trimester that ours do.
Jeff: Yeah. I think the other point in the sex at Dawn book that I found interesting and maybe even surprising is that we are highly sexualized mammals, just our genitalia, our physiology-
Schuyler: And women too.
Jeff: And women too. And there's a whole section around dispelling the notion that women have a lower sex drive and there's experiments where they put women and men both watching pornography and they measure the amount of blood flow to the genitalia and stuff like that. And in many, many cases, women actually are more aroused than men, but aside from those experiments-
Schuyler: That's the 25 year anniversary scientific experiments.
Jeff: Yeah. We'll try that tonight. We'll report back on the podcast next week. But just the fact that men have very, very large genitalia and that our testicles are on the outside, which I understand [crosstalk 00:26:55] maintains sperm at the right temperature. And that our sperm when we ejaculate we release a chemical first that protects our own sperm so it's not destroyed or compromised by another man's sperm and in many cases-
Schuyler: But doesn't it also have enzymatic properties that also fight off, that actually go to war with other sperm?
Jeff: I believe that's true, although this is getting-
Schuyler: And some swim faster than other.
Jeff: Yeah. This is getting a little bit beyond my pay grade. And of course, as everyone knows, I have absolutely no experience with it. And that also it takes longer in some cases for women to orgasm, which has been postulated that that idea encourages or allows for women to have sex with multiple partners at the same time and some of... Not at the same time-
Schuyler: For longer. Well, potentially, but for longer.
Jeff: For longer and consecutively and that there is also the fact that women can be very vocal during sex was also seen as a call to attract other mates. So I don't know.
Schuyler: And do bonobos also make lots of noise. Females bonobos.
Jeff: Yeah. I believe so.
Schuyler: I think that's right too. Anyway, let's see-
Jeff: Anyway, so around this topic, because as Schuyler and I have invested 32 years of our lives in this experiment in commitment and monogamy, we thought it would be interesting to interview a couple that we've known for quite a long time.
Schuyler: 12 years or so. 10 years anyway.
Jeff: Yeah. Dave and Erin Kennedy because they've been in a longterm committed relationship, but they have an absolutely polar opposite... Not polar opposite, but very, very different approach to sex and entertaining multiple partners. So Schuyler will be off to interview them.
Schuyler: I'm going to be off quote unquote, interviewing them while Jeff gives and takes care of the kids.
Jeff: Yeah. While I set up the camcorder. Yeah.
Schuyler: You just definitely dated yourself.
Jeff: Yeah. Dated myself there. And then we'll report back and see kind of how that interview goes and if we've learned anything and if we're off to swingers club.
Schuyler: A swing party. Yeah. The trapeze later.
Jeff: Bye for now.
Schuyler: So my parents were definitely non-traditional in their relationship paradigm. And it was very open. As children, we kind of always knew that it was pretty loose on the monogamy front, and it wasn't... I can't even actually really remember the age that I became really aware that my parents set up was pretty different than most of my friends.
Schuyler: And I think it was probably maybe in fourth or fifth grade when it really kind of got it. And there was definitely some relationships that I was aware of that were really pretty funky and made me really uncomfortable as a kid, but overall it just was what it was, and it didn't really particularly bother me. But as my brother and I got older, there was a linchpin triangle in my parents' relationship.
Schuyler: That was very disruptive and became years, really, maybe even a decade of really intense heartache and sticky and difficult and so hard to watch as a kid. Heartbreaking really. And so that certainly colored my lived experience of being more open to alternative ways of running a relationship. But I also saw the positive sides of it. My parents' relationship was never dead.
Schuyler: You would never say that... It was always vital and is still is. I mean, they are a living testament to the fact that you can go through some really rocky, rocky times and they are so rock solid and so happy, and they love each other now. And all of the sex, all of it's done.
Schuyler: They're in their late 70s and 80s. My dad just turned 80. But every Friday they have love day and they spend all Friday together doing fun stuff together. And I'm sure back in the day, love day involved a lot of things I don't want to think about. Because whoever wants to think about their parents having sex is mostly unappealing thing possible, but and now it's just they'll give each other a massage. Now they hang out.
Schuyler: So anyway, the long and the short of it is that I was certainly not consciously scarred by that, but I was a virgin till I was 19, I mean 20. Jeff's really been my only partner.
Schuyler: I mean, we had a few little college things that, whatever. Saucy, saucy college explorations, but nothing substantial. I've never had another lover. I assume Jeff hasn't, as far as I know. You know? And you never know really what goes on with your partners. But from my understanding, we've been monogamous now for 35 years and overall are really happy with our life choice, and think that it's given us a lot of freedom, which is a lot of what I want to talk about from your perspective.
Schuyler: Because I think both of us... All of us really share that, like looking for what our relationship structures provide in the space of vitality and freedom in all kinds of ways: emotional, sexual, otherwise.
Schuyler: So that's my story, and so I'd love to get yours.
Erin: All right. Well, I'll go first. As far as my background and my history, I actually grew up in a really conservative household, where we weren't allowed to say breast, or vagina, penis. It was chest, bottom, private parts. My mother was very skirmish about human anatomy and how our bodies work. So it was kind of always this discomfort in the house around anatomy, and sexuality, and just all of that, and so we didn't really talk about it much.
Erin: But I think from a really early age, I discovered that I was naturally sexual. I think most children go through this experimental phase. I remember being caught once by my mother, when I was maybe three years old, with my brother. We weren't doing anything too major, but we were super shamed for it. I remember how heavy that felt on my heart and how weird and kind of yucky it felt just energetically. I kind of carried that with me, a lot of my childhood.
Erin: As I started to develop into a teenager, I was experimenting a lot just with my own self-pleasure and realizing this was really fun and that there was nothing wrong with it. But it was still like definitely hide that in the household. You don't want to get caught. Because I still carried that like, "Oh, my gosh," the shame around it.
Erin: And then when I started to get a little bit older... I had sex actually quite young, at 14, with just a friend, and it was really casual. For me, there wasn't a whole lot of energetics like, is it stigma behind it? And it wasn't necessarily the best experience. It wasn't like, "Wow! That was amazing. That felt great." But it was sort of like, "Yeah. I got that done."
Erin: And out of most of my peers, my gal peers, I was certainly the first to start experimenting. I had a lot of guy friends that I just hung out with and also experimented with. It was just sort of like matter of fact, "Oh, this is what we should do." I slowly started to develop my sexuality that way. Eventually, I started to get more of a sense of what I really liked and what I didn't like and I started to learn how to communicate it a little bit better.
Erin: So by the time I was 16, I had actually fallen in love with my first boyfriend. We had a wonderful relationship. We communicated well. We had wonderful sex, actually. And that was a real heart-opening experience. Because coming from my family, where that wasn't talked about, and there were many divorces and sort of husbands and wives coming in and out on both my parents' sides, having a stable relationship around in my life was really important.
Erin: It came actually quite naturally with such an unorganized background. I met Dave when I was quite young, at 20 and... Actually, sort of back up a little bit. The first boyfriend only lasted about a year and a half, which seemed like forever at 16. Total heartbreak at the end, and it was absolutely devastating for me. So after that, I just started going back to my old ways of hanging out with my guy friends and having a lot of sex.
Schuyler: Friends with benefits.
Erin: Yes. Yeah. It was really positive, but I was still searching for something more, some deeper connection. I actually wanted to get married really young and have children in my twenties, probably because that's what my mother did and my grandmother did. I valued the youthfulness in that. And that was sort of my mission. So many of my peers, as you can imagine at age 20, weren't ready for that kind of commitment.
Erin: When I met Dave, I was 20 years old and kind of searching for maybe the next one. Like somebody who would be more serious and who could meet me in those places. It's a long story into that, but that's the beginning of our relationship. Maybe, do you want to take it from there? And we can kind of add on?
Erin: Okay. All right. And that's right up until when I met Dave. Do you want to take it from here?
Dave: Sure. At first, I want to say, having known you and Jeff for quite a while now. At least, well over a decade, that I can verify your joy and happiness and that the authenticity of who you guys are together shines both individually and together. And I've known you guys... It's lovely. I think I have equal relationships with both of you, in terms of being able to drop in and just connect. And what it made me think of, when you were saying it is, I think one of the sexiest things in a dynamic is being true to yourself.
Dave: When people ask about our relating... I was thinking about, or feeling to what you were saying, and I was realizing you guys are so honest with... Like you're living a very... I don't feel that you're struggling with any shoulds. I'm not getting should upon, in life a lot. You're being yourselves and there's a rich ownership of who you are and an appreciation for that.
Dave: And then there's also this really adventurous curiosity and willingness to explore other ideas and listen to them and feel to them. And it's not like there's a block that says, "This isn't what we... We can't do that." It's more like, "Hey, we're pretty settled. Maybe so, maybe not. It's interesting." But it's not... I don't feel a tension.
Schuyler: Yeah. I would say that's very well read at the same time. I'm always as just, in general. Not just sexuality and structures of marriage and relationships. But I always feel like the pull of the life not lived, the choices. You can't have it both ways. I mean, you can play around in the gray area of things, but you can't be both monogamous and nonmonogamous at the same time. You could have periods of the two. You could interplay. I assume you guys have been back and forth. But as far as the larger structure of a marriage, you generally are choosing one or the other.
Schuyler: And for me, beyond this. There's a part of me that always craves the thing that I'm not living, not in an angsty way, but more in a curiosity way. I hope reincarnation is real. So I get to do it all again, a whole different way. And it's not about regrets for the choices that I'm making this round. But there is a little bit of the also...
Dave: Yeah. So that led me to sort of... When we met... I had just been coming out of a rather longer relationship, that still was sort of lingering in the background. We were in separation and I was not looking for anything at the time. I was frequenting a restaurant quite often that a friend of mine was running, and they had a great wine selection. And I was exploring, learning, developing a palette, so I was in there quite a bit.
Dave: And apparently she had taken a liking to me. I didn't even see her, if you will, and that the age disparity just wasn't... I wasn't looking for something. I think in the not looking for it, it allowed us to meet each other without agenda.
Dave: The way in which we went about our relating was really honoring and respecting the uniqueness of each other. It became quite obvious that there was a very mature sexual positivity in Erin. And because of our age disparity, my one... As it became clearer and clearer that we were compatible and having something that was really healthy, my one thing in the back of my mind was like, "This woman's 20 years old."
Schuyler: And you were what age?
Schuyler: 44 at the time.
Dave: And the idea that she's going to take the vast majority of her life and remain in that monogamy, for me it just... I sensed that it wasn't authentic. I wasn't looking to try to change that, but it was the one thing in the back of my mind that potentially made our relationship, where everything else was fitting, unsustainable. And so a little while into our relating, we ended up finding ourselves in a spontaneous moment with an older couple, not a cliche attractive couple in any way, shape. I had had a relationship with them as a somatic educator and a mentor for 20-something years prior to that. And it just came in a moment. It was like, "Hey, we're going to drop in. Would you guys like to stay with us?"
Dave: And we didn't know exactly what was going to happen that night, but it was kind of, we checked in with each other and like, "Are you good with this?" And Erin was like, "Actually, yeah. I am good with this."
Schuyler: Had you had any conversation around this issue before?
Dave: None. Zero. No processing. No consideration. Yes.
Schuyler: You hadn't brought up your qualms about her age and how that related to monogamy or a relationship?
Dave: No. No. Not in regards to sexuality, specifically.
Erin: He had heard a few stories about some of my relationships with one of my dear male friends and how we were hanging out in a different country. And we had another male friend and we were buddies and we were hooking up and kind of traveling around and having fun and just living the free life. I think he'd heard a couple stories like that and got a sense for, that I was a little bit more expressive and open. Yeah.
Dave: Yeah. I grew up in the 60s and early 70s as an adolescent in South Florida. And being in a political family, swinging was very, very prevalent. At a very young age, I was introduced to sexuality through my stepfather, having his secretary deflower me at a very young age.
Schuyler: How old were you?
Dave: I was pretty young. And it was a classic little rites of passage for a young boy, but it was definitely not traditional. Right. I had the key, a private key to his closet with thousands of Polaroids as a kid. For whatever reason, it didn't distort and freak me out. It just was just kind of like, "Oh, wow." There's a world of possibility in that.
Schuyler: And how did that then manifest in all the relationships you had subsequent to Erin? Were you largely monogamous, serial monogamous?
Schuyler: Did you ever had open relationships before Erin?
Dave: I did have a relationship with a sexual radical.
Schuyler: Sexually positive way.
Dave: Not only sexually positive way, but an incredibly emotionally intelligent way and a communicative way. That's where I learned, for example, from the outside, looking in a submissive role in an S&M dynamic. It appears that somebody is putting something upon the other person. But actually the submissive has all of the power in the dynamic because they give permission for the play to exist. Right? If it's consensual, they're the ones that says how far you can go. So all the power is actually in where you think it's not.
Schuyler: It's inverted.
Dave: It's inverted. Right.
Dave: So going back to that evening, which I checked in, "Are you good with this?" And Erin was, "Actually, yeah. I am good with this." And I was like, "Are you good with it?" I'm like, "Yeah." And it was a very liberated night of play. We were driving home the next morning and there wasn't a lot of processing for us. There wasn't a lot.
Erin: Yeah. It was a really beautiful thing to witness your partner, my partner with another person and just see how different the energetic exchange could be. Someone else with his energy was giving him something that I couldn't because we're different humans.
Erin: And in some way, it made me feel stronger in my relationship to know that we're that solid with each other. And there's that much trust to be able to have the space, to feel that, and to go fully into it. It felt incredibly liberating. And we also didn't look for that.
Erin: Even in the 13 years we've been together, we've never actually looked for relationships outside of ours. All of them have come to us somehow, like in a moment, or a friend that we've had for years. All of a sudden, like something just shifts and it sort of presents itself in a different way, and we decided to take that route. And then that sort of just transitions or fades and we're still really good friends.
Erin: We have an eight year old daughter. So certainly while we were trying to get pregnant and we had a young child and baby, we were really plugged into and honed into our own little insular family and happy about it just with where we were at. And there was never a feeling of FOMO anywhere else.
Schuyler: Right. I think it's just so amazing that those things do align, too.
Schuyler: Because one of the classic dysfunctions in marriages come around children. It's just a trope, really. You have a kid. And the mother is in that bubble. There's so much intimacy there, mostly, usually for new mothers. And the dude's like on the side feeling a little left out and whatever, horny and the mom's like, "Nah!" I mean, it happens all the time and it's just, I mean, it's a testament to how actually deeply functional you guys were, that it, that you rode that out really in tandem, which is very cool.
Erin: Thank you. Actually, as you mentioned that it, it sort of brought up the idea of the different stages while our daughter was a baby. Yeah. There was weeks. Sometimes even a month at a time we wouldn't have sex. I'd be so tired. I'd be so high with all the oxytocin flowing nursing, I'm so satisfied that I'm passed out and tired.
Schuyler: All the other married couples out there, are like, "One month was your driest dry spell?"
Schuyler: Screw you!
Erin: Certainly there's seasons to everything, but just the sort of where we were at. There's a strength in knowing that that was okay, too. Because also we knew that we were so solid and we trusted each other and we trusted our foundation, our mission in life. I don't know how you put it. There was a sense of settled in it. Like I'm in it for the long run.
Erin: And because that trust is so strong and because I feel like settling in that, I don't feel that itch. Is there something wrong? Are we still attracted to each other?
Schuyler: Right. There wasn't an anxiety around the future.
Schuyler: Well, let's wind back a little bit. I'd love to hear... I know you have just said that it all kind of unfolded very organically and there wasn't a whole lot of processing. But there must have been some conversation around how you're going to navigate this.
Dave: That's funny. Because that was kind of where I was going to go next. When we started to open ourselves up to more sort of complex relating or play parties or dynamics, there was a couple of things that we... Agreements, if you will, but not a lot. We happen to live... Just to give a little context. We happen to live in San Diego, or Encinitas North County, San Diego. And many of our community and friends are probably some of the most prominent players in the poly community, in the world right now.
Dave: San Diego County has some of the... Is really where some of the language is being developed at its highest level. There was times when San Francisco had that, and Berlin had it, and New York. But currently for the last decade or so. And many of those people are very dear to us and very close and we've never identified as anything, or necessarily a part of that community. And yet most of them have been lovers in one way or another, or we've had scenes with them.
Dave: So we're very close to that community. And there's a language that has been developed that is something that I would say that your parents were pioneers of some of those kinds of behavioral changes coming out of a really calcitrant-
Erin: Calcitrant 50s dogma.
Dave: ... 50s dogma, and we're going into that with a machete and no compass. And now they're starting to be... For example, Erin used a very elegant word that the poly community uses, which is you transition in and out of these things. And so you start to get more and more elegant at nonconfront... at being able to transition. You work in the sort of in between spaces in learning how to communicate in those places, so that it's not such a right angle. I think that's been very helpful to be around.
Dave: But one of our agreements was that if we found ourselves in a dynamic, no matter how excited we might find ourselves or intrigued by the possibility of a chemistry dump that's happening with somebody, if the other wasn't feeling comfortable for any reason, then we just sort of like... We didn't have a safe word perse, but it was like, "Hey, you put your hand up, and it's like we're out of here," and that was the covenant. Our covenant is still-
Erin: To each other.
Dave: ... to each other. I don't need to fill something. We spend an inordinate amount of time together. We enjoy each other's company. This is just adding and sharing more joy, if you will, or more excitement, or more edge in certain situations.
Dave: I found that if there was something I could provide her, whether it was a state of consciousness, whether it was an object or an experience, or that she allowed it, she received it. She allowed it to make her as happy as she thought it would. And she coveted it. She took care of it and it satisfied, or it fulfilled her. It wasn't off to the next thing. It was the first relationship I had ever really been in where I wasn't filling a black hole. I wasn't feeling a void. I wasn't the thing needed to keep shoveling coal into the motor. It was the closest thing that I had ever come to the state that my grandmother had sort of given me, which it's like, if you can't be happy with what you have, you will never be happy. It doesn't mean you can't want for things. It doesn't mean you can't, but if you can't let the nowness, the suchness of what is, fulfill you, you'll never get it right.
Schuyler: You can't ever fill a black hole.
Dave: You can't get there from here. And that's when I realized, "Oh, wow, this, this soul was something I could... Because I felt that I could... It wasn't, yes, I love dearly, Erin. But what I really began to realize was how much I appreciated who I was becoming in the context of being in this dynamic, in this relationship. I was enjoying and loving who I was becoming. And I think that's where we were really. It just kept going like up and up, or it just kept growing.
Dave: Elevating. And so there was that idea that if one of us wasn't feeling it in that particular moment, it didn't matter how good it was. You honor that and just pull...
Schuyler: Did it ever feel like... Were either of you ever like, "Well, no. I don't want to be told no"? Or was it easy? Was that when you were stopped? I wish I had a camera right now, for the looks that I'm getting these days.
Erin: What he was sort of describing, that was some of our beginning agreements. For many years, we hadn't really context related sexual relationship with others. It was at a play party. It was somewhere else.
Dave: And it was together.
Erin: It was together. And still most of our relating with other people is together. We, for many years said, we're not interested in dating other people outside of this context because it seemed like a lot of work. People's emotions, people's processes. I didn't have time for it. I mean, we have just enough time to really be with each other and live our lives and do all the things we do in this world.
Erin: So we were not into that for so many years and somehow we... I ended up falling for this person who's a close friend in our lives and it was a real hard crush. And it was the first time I had kind of approached him and was like, "Hey, can I see this person? This person isn't like really interested in being with us perse. We just kind of want to be together on the side." And Dave was like, "Hell no, hell no." And for lots of reasons. It wasn't just because the idea of me being with somebody on the side, but it was for reasons about like this person... There were personal things and I did deeply understand them and I respected them and I understood why.
Erin: But still when, for some reason that chemistry charge had like fired up, and I couldn't turn it off. You know, like when you crush on someone hard, you're like everything. It's like you're constantly thinking about them and your body feels tingly. I mean, it was classic.
Schuyler: And then like in your gut, the baddest shit. We all know like the gut twisting jealousy. Was it there? Be honest, Dave.
Dave: Yeah. Yeah. I'm going to endeavor to be, and I'm sure there was hues and shades of that. And it's very difficult in the beginning of those kinds of chemistry dumps of the no of that round, that whether I was projecting a potential challenge or behavioral or lack of communication, integrity, that that was covering up or sitting on top of that. But that is the beauty of this. If you want to call it a practice, which we don't. But that is the beauty of this particular fuel. And I don't advocate for it. I don't recommend it. I don't, I'm not... It's just who we are. Right. But there's nothing in my experience of, now 57 years on the planet, that cuts to the moment to the bone faster than what comes from this level of intimacy.
Erin: There's this cycle probably three times, and now it's pretty predictable. And Dave even jokes, "Oh, spring is here."
Erin: And now I really don't become as identified with the state. Before it was like anything that's new, you're so charged. Now I can look at myself and be like, "Oh, it's that again."
Schuyler: There I go again.
Erin: And I can see it more objectively and kind of know that there's this cycle that it goes through and be like, "Oh, cool." And it charges our relationship actually.
Dave: Oh yeah.
Erin: So much of our attraction to one another and liking each other and our own sexuality just revamps when we have different energies come in and out of our lives. That's really cool because we've had dry spells not only around having a child, but we've also had those without [inaudible 01:11:14] too. Sometimes you think, "Gosh, am I ever going to get that excitement back with my partner? Did it just go away? Are we just getting older? What's going on?" And then to be reignited in a way like, "Wow, this is better than it's ever been before after this many years. Wow." We both just look at each other and like-
Dave: High five.
Erin: ... high five. We have high fives [inaudible 00:05:40]. We're winning.
Schuyler: Well, you guys are a very good living argument for this path. I'm going to ask you a couple questions that are lingering that have come up as you're talking. The first one, we've really talked about this but I want to just plumb it a bit more, is this piece of the structure around what you can and can't do, the okays and the not okays. So just to be clear, I believe that you also have had other relationships not with this guy who we just talked about, but you have had lovers outside of your-
Schuyler: No, so it's always been together.
Erin: Together, except we have now long withstanding lovers either they are a couple or a singular person and we've been with them before together. And there have been situations where Dave's out of town or whatever. One of us just can't be there. I've even been out of town too or just other places and it wasn't like planned, "Oh, so-and-so's out of town. Let's party." But it just kind of happens.
Schuyler: And that's fine. That's all-
Erin: And that's totally fine. Yeah. We're all like-
Dave: It is fine and it doesn't have to be fine.
Schuyler: Right, if it's not fine, then you'd [crosstalk 01:13:09]-
Dave: If for whatever reason you're feeling particularly-
Dave: ... vulnerable in that particular moment, we check in. There was a time when I think for a long, say, pick a number in the 11 years that we've been sort of open in our dynamic, maybe almost 12, maybe say seven or eight of those years, we did have a standing agreement that we would check in with each other. And I think we've gotten to a place in the last couple of years where we're capable of making those decisions on our own. We've galvanized that trust to a level that it can be post. We can say, "Hey, I hooked up with this person and it was spontaneous, it was amazing. I just want to let you know."
Dave: And oftentimes it's, "Well, tell me more about it." It's not a threatening place because we've grown to a place where we do feel that we're not taking advantage of that. I mean one of the pieces before we even started this, we've never had any shadows. We don't compartmentalize with each other. I don't keep a part of me that I'm guarding just in case. It's like, no, it's all here. And I think once we really established for each other that that was the case, then the natural next obvious step was to be okay with making decisions on our own.
Erin: And strangely enough actually, the connections that I've been able to have during our relationship and in this dynamic with others, it's really powerful for them as well because I'm able to connect in a way that's coming from a really solid place, happy being where I'm at, and I think most of our partners and lovers have gotten a sense for that because they get a lot out of it too. Like I'm not looking to go somewhere. They don't need to provide me with a life other than this moment and/or whatever we have.
Schuyler: And do you feel like the people that you guys have touched in brief fleeting or more substantial ways, has it colored the way that they've gone forward and conducted their own patterns?
Dave: I think there's no way that it couldn't and vice versa. I mean I think that's the beauty of, again, the power of sharing intimacy it's so unique. To give that much, to open that much and to be that present with somebody is naturally going to inform the rest of somebody's relating.
Dave: I think Erin shared something that is a pillar of maybe something that's, I wouldn't say necessarily unique to us, but it is a pillar that would be a descriptor of us is is that there is a safety I think that naturally comes with our dynamic that way because if we're in that dynamic of sharing, it's coming from a solid stable place in ourselves versus, "Oh, I'm going to reach out now. I need that because I'm not getting it here and I need it there."
Dave: Well, that's a recipe for, in my world-
Dave: ... disaster.
Schuyler: Yeah, absolutely.
Dave: And that wasn't the exact dynamic of what I sensed in that first piece but something of that ilk. It was like this isn't coming from a stable place.
Erin: And we've had that.
Dave: We've had that. So we've learned, oh, okay, as much as that's a hot and sexy environment, sometimes its heat is being provided from a kind of fuel that's maybe-
Dave: ... illicit if you will or whatever. It's not a fuel that's conscious. And when it is that, then you're really starting to play with something that has true permission, then you really get a chance to feel the power of what sexuality has. I don't really necessarily want to use the word healing, but it has the power to really transform somebody, literally their [inaudible 00:12:55], their juiciness, their-
Schuyler: Well, it's energy-
Dave: ... energy,
Schuyler: ... in one of the most purer forms that we can access readily. I mean it is just simply energy exchange and whatever we want to do with that, negative, positive, powerful, destructive, all of it is raw.
Dave: Yeah. And so I think Erin's proclivity to be a natural born dakini became apparent to me. And I do want to share one particular moment that I think is relevant to this conversation which was the very first time we were in a play party dynamic where I was witnessing her in her full power, and that was being taken by three men simultaneously with me not very far away.
Schuyler: Erin's got the cutest smile on her face.
Dave: And I'll tell you, it was different than jealousy. I was caught on the exhale. I was like, "Oh my God, this is blowing my head off." And there was a moment where she made eye contact with me in the midst of it and transferred ... All I received was like I didn't know that much love existed in the world. I didn't know that I could be ... Like every version of love prior to that that I had been involved in had a limit, had a governor on it, had a limit on it in some way that I realized. The look hit me and, in the look, the nonverbal communication was like this carnal thing that's happening is unfreaking believable and thank you for letting me have it-
Erin: Lot of gratitude.
Dave: ... and it couldn't happen without us. This wouldn't be the same thing without having to have the most important thing, which is the stability to have family, to have trust, to have life. For me to be able to take that risk to let this happen so fully takes me being that solid over here. Because if I was just doing that, it'd be flimsy. It wouldn't have the depth of like, hey, I can be myself, but a big part of myself is also the stable piece over here. So if I have to give this away to have that, I will, but the fact that I could have this and have this, and I didn't know that that love could exist. I had no idea. It just blew ... it was like literally thousands of years of carrying around some kind of shit just was like gone in one moment. Never really had to revisit it. It was just like okay.
Schuyler: And do you think that that's because all of us carry so much self-loathing? All of us have parts of ourselves that are-
Dave: Yeah. I want to set Erin up to answer that question because I have no idea how she's going to answer it. I do want to say that yes and, for me, I realize a handful of these moments that have come in these dynamics, really the sexual part of what happens in those moments I now recognize they're wonderful. They're incredibly exciting, but they're not the thing. The thing is the off gassing and the space in between where the dialogue between us, it's catalyst for rich conversation and rich communication. And it has mined a authentic dredging up of where is that deep stuff. And now it even has taken forms in exploring kink, in exploring alternative and interesting ways of like, oh, there's a real charge in there of a childhood fantasy that that can now, after 11-12 years of this space, we can actually let that have a life, to let it play itself out, maybe let it exist or feed it or not feed it, but we have enough room now to do that.
Dave: And I think we carry a lot of cultural baggage, that self-loathing finds a way to be justified by so many things in culture and some of these breakthroughs for me, at least personally, in these dynamics, the rate of speed at which that sort of like, "Oh, wow, I could slough off that layer. I could slough off that layer."
Schuyler: And those layers are beyond the sexual. It's all kinds of other stuff.
Dave: Which leads to the point that you were making in the very intro which is this has its foundation in your success, your fluidity in communication and relating.
Erin: And it goes both ways too, beyond just the self-loathing. I feel like, as the partner who is going with another person, I've also felt in the past sort of a discomfort and am I going to make my partner uncomfortable. Even though I would want to go into something, there's that feeling of uncertainty like where you're sort of second guessing yourself. And although I don't feel it that much, I felt it before. And I'm sure that a lot of people go through that process and it really kind of takes both people to be on the same page. Thankfully ... I have been jealous before in my life, like three times, three times that I could remember feeling that visceral jealousy and they were really spread out.
Schuyler: And was it ever with Dave in this context?
Erin: Two times with Dave. Once when I was eight months pregnant and alone and had to go to work in the morning and whatever, he was out one night in San Francisco with a group of friends and this girl I knew had a crush on him, and at that point we weren't seeing people separately and nothing happened, but I didn't hear back from him in the morning. And actually it was one night I didn't get any sleep, and that feeling of angst and knowing that, yeah, everything's good. But I could actually really feel what jealousy felt like and it hurts.
Schuyler: Yeah, it's very alone.
Erin: It's a horrible feeling.
Schuyler: It's an awful feeling.
Erin: It really is. So I do have empathy for people who feel that. However, it's not a state that I'm really familiar with in general. I do have some friends that do struggle with jealousy or uncertainty or that self-loathing or their inability to give their partner that or receive it themselves.
Schuyler: Who are in the poly community or just in-
Dave: Yeah, some are.
Erin: Some are, yeah. I mean humans are complex creatures. I just feel like it can happen and I think some people are just maybe not ready for that kind of dynamic in their relationship. Some people are willing to be happy too and others are just not, and continuously in some people's lives they just keep going through this loop.
Erin: I've learned as a friend and as a family member to just ... you give them support but I can't change that in anyone. Thankfully in our dynamics, we're both pretty self-developed and stable within ourselves. So we can give that more freely. But I know plenty of people who struggle with that quite a bit.
Schuyler: Yeah, and Dave spoke to that so beautifully too that really where the functionality comes from is in two very solid individuals who are coming together with total trust.
Schuyler: You can correct me if I'm wrong because I actually may be remembering this incorrectly, but all the couples that I've known who have open relationships, to put a simple term on it, have had the rule that you can't fall in love. Like, okay, everything's all good but if you're going to fall in love, you've got to stop if you're feeling the love thing.
Schuyler: That to me has always been the piece where I'm like but you can't make that rule. That just doesn't work and that's where for my parents ... and it's not that you can't love. And let's be clear. You can love people but you can't fall in ... like you can't have the coup de foudre. You can't have the thing that exists between the two and leaves the other out to a certain extent. But what I'm interested in is can you fall in love with someone else but have it be additive even if the other person isn't in that dynamic.
Dave: I want to address that idea of falling. We have a romantic idea that we fall in love and it implies falling off one center and landing heavy on the other. And I'm interested in what made our love work was she remained on her orbit and I remained on my orbit and we orbited in a relationship and we did that dance and it's elliptical.
Dave: Like imagine if the moon became so amorous around the earth that it fell towards it, right? We'd have storms and tides going nuts and all kinds of things. It's imperative that the moon-
Schuyler: Stay in its orbit.
Dave: ... stay in its orbit. But that's the love. That's the lots of virtue expressed, being oneself in its own orbit, staying in the dance.
Dave: So if we get dextrous enough in knowing how to do that dance and someone wants to come into our, or a couple comes into our world, our aim would be to help enable us to do a new, more complex dance with a larger universe that could take on qualities in the midst of the honeymoon period of a deep chemistry dump. But here's the advantage of having gone through a couple of those cycles of chemistry dumps is you no longer become identified with the chemistry jump. You can be objective about it and say, "Wow, this is hot and it's heavy and it's wow, man."
Erin: And it's deep.
Dave: And it's deep. But that doesn't necessarily have to take us off our orbit any longer or off our center. We can hold with that charge a strong enough nervous system and a strong enough vision of what's possible to say, "Hey, how do we titrate this at a pace in a way that we're not falling and we're not getting into a train wreck?"
Schuyler: But it never feels like, okay, if we're taking this analogy [crosstalk 01:33:42]-
Dave: I would say never is a word I wouldn't use. All, every and never, they don't work.
Schuyler: Okay. So in your experience and in your aspiration for the future, in your lived experience and your aspiration for the future, it's never felt like here you are, these orbiting bodies, these celestial bodies doing the dance. I get the metaphor. But there's never the feeling of like, okay, here you are, Erin's the sun and we're circling the moon. And then she just is circling around another [crosstalk 01:34:15] an asteroid, a dead asteroid up to the sun.
Dave: That's never happened, no. And recently, in the last two years, there was a situation and a dynamic with an older gentleman and myself and a dear friend of ours who became a lover who we actually began, over six months, to paint a picture where we potentially might become a triad and might integrate. Their love that was happening was something that I felt the whole was being enriched by. The communication was profound both somatically and physically. I could have room for what was happening for them. I didn't feel threatened by it. I felt respected. I felt appreciated. It didn't end up playing itself out and not because it ... It just migrated very gently and-
Erin: It had its time.
Dave: ... had its time but we did entertain the possibility. That's how far it has come, that it was lovely conversations late night in bed with ourselves, by ourselves, like how would we integrate this, how would we make this happen, where would it be, what would it look like. And like, yeah, I'm kind of open to that. I could see that.
Dave: There was enough richness and even incorporating our daughter and like what an amazing ... like it takes a village. And here's the beginning of what could be integrated and you could see once you do that, that there would possibly be a larger community even supporting that, playing roles around that. So I'm not sure that answers your question but-
Erin: No, we don't put a limit to love. There is no love rule.
Schuyler: Love limit, right.
Erin: Also, at the beginning of our relationship too, because it was so uncertain. Dave was actually really apprehensive to date me because of my age. He sort of patted me on the back and said, "I don't really want to go through another Saturn return." What's that? It'll never happen to me.
Erin: We really just lived love and we actually never said we loved each other until we spontaneously got married. And it wasn't a thing that we said we're not going to say those words, but we just sort of didn't say them. He was careful about his [mantrika 00:01:37:33]. Then eventually, like when we did get married, it was sort of laughable like, "I love you." And we said it but-
Dave: It wasn't laughable. It was beautiful.
Erin: It was laughable. [inaudible 01:37:48]. But the love thing is funny because we actually didn't say that until the day we got married, but we lived it and we knew it. And it was this ever changing thing.
Erin: And also getting old doesn't mean that, that dies. I've been with older people, men and women, who are incredibly juicy and on fire, really. They give me hope and it helps change that cultural projection about what aging is. And I think you could go all the way to the end and have that fire in your life.
Schuyler: You might and you might not, which is one of the things. And you might but I think one of the things that's really important to talk about in sexuality and aging is that some people stay really juicy and into it and some people don't, but not in a negative way. It's just you move on to a sage phase of life and you've lost some of that carnality.
Erin: Or getting it in different ways, like you were saying.
Schuyler: And you get it in different ways. You move to a different stage and one of the very cool things about your dynamic is that it feels that you will be able to navigate that artfully, and it will be a cycle and you'll honor each other. And maybe it will phase together, maybe it will phase separate, maybe it won't at all. But that that's not scary and to take away that lingering fear, just question mark out there, that's quite empowering.
Dave: I will address fear for a moment and scary. In my personal past and history I was a professional surfer, most of my life. The editor of Surfer in the mid 80's came down to the edge of the pipeline on about a 12 to 15 foot day and it was a real testing a watershed day in a young man's career. At the time it was a fairly male dominated sport and the interview was on fear. The idea was how do you transcend fear? And I looked at him and I was like, "if I'm not scared right now, I'm dangerous, okay." Fear is something I want to have a really healthy relationship with right now.
Dave: I want to present to it. I don't want to deny it. I want it to fuel and heightened my senses. So my sensory acuity is such that I have the ability to go out there and survive it and maybe even do something elegant. So I don't want to go into a situation that's not scary. I just want to have a healthy relationship with the scary so that I can go, wow, this is scary. Cool. What's scary? Oh, it's that, that's the thing that's scary. Oh, neat. Let me have a relationship with that.
Schuyler: Free soloing with Erin
Dave: Yeah, totally. Because I look at other lovers too. They'll look at me occasionally, and they'll go, "man, you got it so good and so lucky," and I'm like go for it. Hey, have at it, see how long you last, nothing left but marrow. I came to this. This dynamic was sitting on top of challenging myself in free soloing. But that is the degree to which I feel like that sexuality also is sitting on top of intimacy and sitting on top of trust, sitting on top of who am I?
Schuyler: So the last thing I just want to touch upon, and I feel like it's largely been addressed in our conversation. But it's very much a part of what Jeff and I have talked about and I think when we were in front of the fire last night he brought it up too. Is this a piece of time? Time and energy spent on the thing and it's so time consuming to be vital and honest and opening, creative in our sexuality. Relationships take a ton of time anyway, but then to open the aperture of what your relationship is going to be up to a creative and changeable way of operating, it's just a time commitment.
Schuyler: And one has to decide whether you're going to be willing to put your time there instead of somewhere else. And it was so interesting to me, Aaron, to hear you say today that when you guys it started out it was very much like, we're going to keep this playful, this is recreational, this is sexy, it's hot, it's additive to our relationship. But I don't want to have to spend the time on someone else's psychodynamics and the emotional output that it would take to really be, really, in relationship with multiple partners. Which totally makes sense to me. To have a hot night doesn't take that much time, it's just a hot night, but to really go down a road of authentic exploration with multiple. Bringing people in is a whole different time commitment.
Schuyler: And so part of Jeff and my, our narrative, and relationships are largely just built on narratives you build together and you reinforce and you kind of decide you're on this one and you think it's a good one and it hasn't been disproved otherwise. So you just forge on. And our narrative largely really does work in and the solidity and the superstructure that we've created together does give us a ton of freedom and space and time to do other things. Cause we are both so fucking busy. I think there's just a piece of it that's like we could totally see doing that and it does look creative and expansive. And it's not that it doesn't seem possible, it just seems like a big time suck.
Schuyler: It seems daunting. So we just put it aside, like we could also go travel to a million places we'd love to go. It's very much like I would love to go to the Himalayas and to Bali, there's so many places. And we just decide not, we don't buy that plane ticket. So I'd say that's a big piece of it. But I also really in hearing your guys' story and seeing your vitality as individuals and as a relationship and as parents, I really see the creativity of that. And it's very cool. It's really, truly inspirational. And I can't say that I'm necessarily going to. I don't know that we're going to go swing later today but if I was going to swing with anybody I'd pick you two.
Eric: I just want to also add to that too with the time cause I would think about it as part time, as far as the relating sexually. And actually at this point in our lives, many of these lovers and slash friends are actually just friends. So they have children too, most of them, and we have dinners together, we go to the beach, we hang out. And when we're hanging out it's not sexy, we're just buddies. And it's kind of cute cause you know, there's like the inner he he. But it could be like every other month or it's really part time and so many of them we've known for so many years now that there's just that long withstanding trust and relationship.
Aaron: But I would say that now we really don't put a whole lot of time into it. I don't know if it's cause it's already established, but it's very integrated now in a easy way.
Dave: It's an interesting tell when somebody says, Oh, it's easier if I don't know them, I don't have a social thing. It's kind of like it's a one off thing. And I don't disagree with that, but there's something really special about if you're going to be intimate with people than maybe be intimate with the people that are closest to you and then you really dig as people, as lives.
Schuyler: Neat I like it. I would say that all of us, anyone who's doing work on themselves has gotten to a place where they feel that it feels obvious in a cellular way that there's no limit to love. That there's always more love, you can always love. You children and you realize there's just more love. You could have 12 of them, you're going to fucking love all of them differently, but there's no end of that. But I would say that most of us who've gotten to that point are still stuck on, there is an end, there's a finite about a passion, and that we're scared of letting the passion genie out. And you guys are clearly living that there's not. I would say what compersion is, is to say that.
Dave: It's a renewable resource.
Schuyler: It's going to fuel the 21st century. I like that. And it's really inspirational to see that. To take away that arbitrary border between love and passion or physical love. Like the physical manifestation of love, which you could say sexuality is or sexuality can be. And then make that too, renewable, which is very cool.
Dave: And I would say never confuse average with normal. We've gotten a distorted view there. And I think this is a reclamation and of we're living in a time when we're able to start to reclaim our relationship to these renewable energy sources and they could be doorways into our being able to have a relationship to them that can see. Now we can have the engrams to look out and realize what regenerative ag has to offer or solar power or these things. Because we realize we're in relationship to something that is not necessarily. It may have a finiteness somewhere in a very large aperture, but in the aperture that we've been playing at, we probably would be in a different place if more people realized that that wasn't a finite resource to. We're modeling something, perhaps that's not the most healthy and sustainable for us.
Schuyler: Right. Well, you just totally got me on the environmental inspiration. And you know how to play me, Dave. I'll see you later.
Dave: Are you okay with that [inaudible 02:01:07].
Jeff: All right, Jeff's back in the mix now. So how did that go? You look a little disheveled.
Schuyler: I do. I'm blushing. It was actually long, we talked for far long. I was trying to be efficient, that completely didn't happen. But it was really interesting. I can talk about sex for a long time and maybe that's the way that we've maintained our monogamous relationship for so very long, because I can just get off on other people's exciting sex lives.
Jeff: Well, on the off chance that we don't have to do that vicariously. I wonder if your approach to monogamy has changed at all, or just even softened, so to speak
Schuyler: Or hardened, so to speak. Well, I will say that they are truly inspirational as a couple. They're amazing. As you know, we've shared our basic cynicism about how exhausting and difficult and time consuming polygamy would be, or polyandry would be. And that came up a fair amount in our talk and it was really interesting to hear their take on that particular issue. Which was basically that they had that concern or Erin spoke to having that concern as well. And that was one of the reasons she wasn't interested in forming more substantial triangles or quadrangles, octagons, because it would be too disruptive and take too much time. And so first they entered into only very fun play party partnerships.
Schuyler: But it was also interesting because after we stopped our conversation and we were just having the conversation right outside. Which is, I think sometimes were some of the most interesting interview happens. DK said, part of our project together in life has been, maybe this was Erin. They work really hard and they have all kinds of creative things that they're doing, but they also have a lot more time. And that this is one of the things that's part of their creative life and that they do put a fair amount of time into, and they really are very authentically pushing the parameters of our paradigms. And we got into it a bit at the very end of the podcast where DK beautifully talks about how when we reshape the way that we structure our primary relationships, we're also restructuring the way that we interface with the world. Ecologically, psychologically, spiritually.
Schuyler: And talking to them I buy that. I mean, I really do. I believe that if you are going to break through paradigms that limit us in one of the most essential ways that we are human, in our sexuality, it's inevitably going to infuse the way you are in the world. We didn't get into this, but you could also have a very loose, open sexual relationship and that could all only reinforce the things that hold you back. You could have sexual partnerships outside of marriage that are also very patriarchal or are dominating in a way that is not positive, that's not human positive or sex positive. But what they are doing appears to be very progressive and not just boundary breaking. And that's what I really came to talking to them is that, like anything else you can break through dogma, or social boundaries that we have, and just continue to perpetuate all of the shit that we have made of our relationships in our world. Or you can actually be part of a creative process of reinventing the self and the self is expressed through partnership.
Schuyler: And they're definitely doing it. Thank God we're in a global pandemic and the last thing one's doing right now is swinging. But if we weren't staying in our close little COVID bubble, we might have to go out to a party.
Jeff: Can I still do the podcast? Will I have enough time to still do the podcast? I hope so.
Jeff: I think the last piece for me, and this has tended to be a very kind of male point of view, which is that the conflation of true love and sex is kind of specious. And you hear this from men mostly, or stereotypically from men, of that, Oh, I can just go have sex and it's casual and I don't have any emotion wrapped up into that and I'm back in my nuclear family. Just raking the leaves and doing my chores and being the guy and being a [inaudible 02:07:00].
Schuyler: Right and still wanting to have sex with your wife.
Jeff: And being completely in love with my wife and nobody else. And I think a lot of what keeps us back from additional sexual partners is fear is, "well, if I did that, Oh my God, there would be all of these repercussions. And my family might disintegrate and my wife might leave me and she won't love me anymore." And basically so all that stuff becomes off limits mostly because of a consequentialist kind of fear. And I wonder if there was anything in your conversation with them that transmuted that.
Schuyler: That's a good question. I wish that I'd asked Aaron this because I have often held the theory that women usually, not usually, women far more often fall in love through sex. That sex leads to emotional attachment quicker and harder than it does for men. And I think that, that's true. From what I understand from the things I've read it's not imperative, but we're more biologically wired to form deeper attachments. And it certainly has born out anecdotally in the relationships, the extra marital affairs, that I've seen both allowed and not allowed. That women often, not always, but sometimes create disruptive attachments that then break the commitment tie. What we did talk about is the trust piece. And of course that's the heart of it.
Schuyler: They have an agreement that does have very strong trust infrastructure and they are not violating each other's trust. So what I came away with really is just that. They do have a longterm partnership, as we do, and they've set their parameters at a different place. And there are trust things and it appears mostly that it's Aaron, who has to like dial herself back in where she's going to go. And I think probably that's on the intuition that DK would have that she would then be like, actually my heart's really going to go over here or could, and this could become a thing that would disturb the basis of trust. And what I really got from them is that, that's what you're setting. And any partnership always has a degree of fragility, which is one of the things that make it precious is that everyone's together in this endeavor that is fragile. And that they have a very evolved communication around how they navigate that trust. They set it at five, instead of at nine where we sit or whatever.
Jeff: Def-Con 5, mutually assured destruction. I'm going to go have sex, you're going to have sex, the whole thing's going to fucking blow up. They're way more NATO, they're mean way more UN. Well, I'm glad you did the interview.
Schuyler: I am too. It was very illuminating. And maybe we should do a 26 year podcasts and just see if anything changes. Post quarantine.
Jeff: Well, I guarantee the 50 year podcasts, there's not going to be even the remotest thought of [inaudible and 00:02:11:00]. We'll be lucky to have sex once a year at that point. All right. Well, thanks everyone for listening to the Commune podcast. As always, feel free to email me with your thought about this particular issue or others at [email protected] I read every one and I try to respond to every single one, eventually. My name is Jeff Krasno.
Schuyler: My name is Schuyler Grant.
Jeff: And we are here for you and each other.