I like to think of myself as totally composed and in charge when it comes to sex. But the truth is that after a week’s dry spell, I regularly make some dumb decisions to get laid. This isn’t a rare quality, even for straight-ish women like me, but I’m seemingly so incapable of holding myself back when I Know Better that it would be comical if it weren’t so pathetic, and possibly pathological.
My reason for shame is in my coupling choices, which reflect a lower standard than I care to admit. I tend to pair up with people who lean toward the extreme end of narcissism. It’s incredibly fun at first, but — as anyone who’s ever dated someone with NPD knows — it inevitably leads down a dark path characterized by the need to escape, rather than just the fun, metaphorical escape that an affair should bring.
For me, the worst part about hooking up with a narcissist isn’t how they level subtle insults my way, or relentlessly chip away at my self-esteem. It’s how they draw my attention away from the healthy relationship I have with my husband. I’m not passing the buck here — I know my decisions aren’t coming from a healthy place either — but my dude deserves better than to be slowly eclipsed by someone who fancies themselves a young David Bowie. (Which they all do. What the fuck?)
Which is why after eight or nine years of fucking around as a polyamorous person, I’m simplifying things by going back to monogamy until I’m healthy enough to pick partners who will enhance my life — and, hopefully, my vagina — instead of sucking the life out of me until I’m a depleted, empty shell of a woman who can hardly function. Narcissists may be hot, but what they do to their victims is anything but sexy.
Now that I’ve successfully vanquished what I hope to Oprah will be my final fling with a narcissist, I’m tasked with rebuilding myself, reinvesting in my marriage, and making sure this never happens again. But first things first: getting my sexual needs met at home.
Even with all the knowledge and resolve in the world, it has not been a seamless transition into conscious monogamy. Guys and gals are still hot, especially in their winter clothes. My head continues to get foggy with indecision after a few days of not getting any. My fingers are itchy to download Tinder, just to see what kind of meat is on the market. I’m neither a liar nor a cheater, but it’s also been a long time since banging other people would be frowned upon in my relationship, which takes some adjustment.
So what’s a young, newly monogamous person to do?
Step one: reframing my romantic relationship with my husband. He’s not the most sexual person on the planet, which is why polyamory has been great for us. My raging libido is quelled by the willing masses outside my home, and he doesn’t bear the responsibility of satisfying the unsatisfiable. He also gets turned on by my fooling around with others, but that’s a story for another day. So when choosing monogamy, we had to factor this in. Not only would he be my primary sex partner, he’d be my only sex partner, and we have to meet halfway.
For me, this means trying to see him as a new crush, like someone I’ve just met, whose dick I can’t wait to get my hands (and mouth) on. It means breaking up routines, meeting in new places, and looking at this problem as one in need of exploration rather than fixing. Having this mindset is essential to avoiding the kind of frustration that would have me running back to polyamory and the unhealthy decisions that I would certainly make right now.
Yes, it’s a little soul-crushing to have to be working on our sex lives. We’ve probably been together long enough to qualify for Problems In The Bedroom, but with both of us being under 30 we feel too young.
But we also get to explore who we can be when there’s no one else involved. For the first time in almost a decade, we’re giving our relationship the space to find out how far we can take our physical relationship, instead of taking the easy, casual sex path (although I’d be thrilled if some threesomes get thrown into the mix).
I’m excited for what we can discover about ourselves and each other. Even though returning to polyamory is the end goal, the journey there will be a revealing one, and if all goes well, characterized by some solid orgasms — the kind that only someone who truly loves you can give.