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17.11.09

Promiscuity?


Image by Karen Jones
http://www.kazzy.co.uk/



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.

31 comments:

Patsy said...

No, I do not consider you a slut. Whatever you did in the past is your business, no one else's. You are an author and a pretty darn good one. I love your books.

Emerald said...

Hey Lisabet,

I relate so much to this entire post. I'm not sure you said a single thing in it to which I did not personally relate (it almost seemed uncanny, in fact).

I particularly appreciated your offering that "You can share love even with a one night stand." I wholeheartedly concur.

Thank you for this post.

Best,
Emerald

Heather Howard said...

Hi Lisabet,

Reading this post, it occurs to me that promiscuity can mean quite a few things, and from the outside looking in, there is no way to truly judge what one is sharing in the coupling. "Promiscuous" denotes a lack of discrimination. Though there is nothing wrong, except in the socially defined sense of "wrong," with having multiple partners for pleasure, one may also look at your "promiscuity" as sharing love. Releasing oneself from the strictures of one and one only to share love with many... well, I can only conclude that it is admirable, and a bit enviable. :)

All the best,
Heather

Ginger Simpson said...

I imagine if more women came clean, they'd have similar stories to tell. I divorced after 37 years of marriage (married at 18) and I had never been with another man. I went "overboard" with my new found freedom, but I learned an awful lot. Some, the hard way, but I wouldn't change that experience for anything. Sluts come in all shapes, sizes, colors and walks of life. If people consider I am one, at my age, I think I'd take it as a compliment.

BTW, I very much enjoyed your "thankfulness" post on my blog. It took me for a walk down memory lane and reminded me that I'm I love three men. I'm "in" love with the one I married.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Patsy,

Thank you. Twice!

I don't feel ashamed or slutty. But I worry that maybe the average romance reader has different standards.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Emerald,

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only serially monogamous woman out there.

When I was with someone, he was the only one...

Thank you for commenting.

Warmly,
Lisabet

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Heather,

I agree with you 100%. Lack of discrimination was never something anyone could have accused me of.

But things have changed so much since those times...

Warmly,
Lisabet

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Ginger,

What a treat to have you come and comment! And I'd love to have known you going overboard...!

It was my post for your blog, actually, that triggered this post. I feel like I've led a different life from most romance readers (e.g. no kids, living abroad, lots of sexual experience before I married). But your comment makes me wonder if maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks for dropping in!

Hugs,
Lisabet

Jude Mason said...

Hi Lisabet,

An interesting post indeed. When we're young that's the time we all experimented, if we were lucky. The numbers don't matter, at least I don't believe so. I had my share of lovers and I'm very glad I did. I learned from each of them, plus I learned about myself and to some extent, I learned about mores. We all grow in our own ways.

I believe you can love many people in your life. Some at the same time, some one after the other. Why not. One doesn't exclude another.

A really cool post. Thanks for sharing a little bit about Lisabet.

Hugs

Will Belegon said...

Personally, I find it a bit silly when people start setting "rules" about love. IMHO, there is nothing limited about love.

It's not a diminishing resource. You don't need a conservation program or rationing for it. Indeed, the more it is shared the more it increases.

So I find the comment that you loved all of them in their own way perfectly reasonable.

Does that make you a slut? If yes, I am one too and proud to be so.

Devon Rhodes said...

Well said, Will!

Lisabet, what a unique and interesting topic!

Being generous with your love and affection can never be a bad thing. Monogamous for sixteen years, this post brought a smile to my face as I remembered my own days of sharing the wealth. :)

I agree with Emerald, every point resonated true with me as well.

jw90019 said...

My first serious girlfriend in college was Homerically promiscuous, juggling three lovers at one time. She didn't conceal it from anyone of us. When she was really randy she could go from one to the other in a day. Memories...

Anonymous said...

'Promiscuity' to me means little or no emotional input - using the other person as an instrument of pleasure. Running three (or indeed more) concurrent relationships fits the definition of polyamorousness rather than promiscuity. I know not a few people - of both genders -who have done it and whom I would certainly not regard as promiscuous.

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