Image by Karen Jones
Do my readers think that I'm a slut?
I was recently working on a guest blog on the topic of gratitude. I wrote about how thankful I was that my husband was stubborn. When I first met him (twenty nine years ago!), I gave him the brush off, but he just didn't take the hint. He stuck around until, eventually, I was thoroughly charmed.
The reason I tried to discourage him was the fact that at the time we met, I was simultaneously involved in relationships with three other men. The last thing I needed was to make my love life more complicated. As I wrote about my three lovers in this other blog post, though, I started to worry. What will readers in the romance community make of this confession?
I may be over-generalizing, but from comments on chat lists and blogs it seems that most romance readers are married or at least monogamous. Romance is supposed to be about finding your one true love. Okay, in ménage stories we might be talking about two true loves. But three? And this was not a ménage—I had three different lovers. I spent nights with each of them. I was not cheating—each man knew of the others' existence (and were willing if not always happy to accept the fact). I hold honesty to be one of the core principles of any relationship. Looked at from the outside, though, I might have been labeled as promiscuous or even exploitative.
That wouldn't be fair. This wasn't just playing around. It wasn't just sex (although I will admit that this was the period when I was discovering just how amazing sex could be.) No, I loved each of them, though not necessarily in the same way. When I was with one lover, I didn't think about the others. And I often wondered, on the nights when I was alone, if any of them was my soul mate.
Before I got married, I had quite a few sexual partners. I'm not ashamed of this. I grew up sheltered, shy and bookish. I felt inadequate, fat and unfashionable. I was always at a loss in dealing with guys. It wasn't until I got to graduate school that I “blossomed”. I suppose that hormones had something to do with it, but all at once I was attracting men like a flower attracts bees.
Did I go crazy? Maybe a little, but it was all part of my education. I was exploring the relationship between flesh and spirit, sensation and emotion. Some of my experiences were profound—life-changing. Others were more superficial, but I'd never call them casual. You can share love even with a one night stand.
Am I shocking you? Do you think that I am debasing the word “love”? I hope not. I'm quite serious when I say that physical pleasure was never my primary goal. Attraction and arousal for me depend on personality and psyche far more than on physical appearance. If I am drawn to a person, I may want to become intimate with him (or her. I might as well really shake things up and admit that I've had a few experiences with women as well.)
Remember that during my “golden age”, as I think of it, AIDS did not exist. Contraception was safe and available. One could be sexually adventurous and still be responsible.
I've been married now more than twenty seven years. I cherish my husband and bless the day that I met him. He is my lover, my co-conspirator, my companion and my business partner. But I'm still not monogamous at heart. I'd never hurt intentionally hurt him, but that doesn't stop my dreams and fantasies.
Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to write erotica and erotic romance. I remember the magic of connecting with a new lover. I remember the uncertainty, the breathless excitement, the heat. These days it is my characters who are the adventurous ones.
I don't consider them to be promiscuous either.