In an airport recently I got tea at a cafe called the Wonder Tree cause I’m a sucker for names that combine fairytale like adjectives with natural features.
“Enjoy,” the thick lashed barista said, as he handed me a cup of steaming earl gray.
Then he smacked his gaze into mine, the way you do when you want to efficiently convey something sexy. We gave each other an electric look before I returned to my gate. I thought about how my husband, Alec, would grin when I mentioned this hot, wordless exchange with the stranger who made me tea during my long flight delay.
My husband and I like to share these things. To belong to each other and ourselves and the world all at once, it’s complicated and delicious and vulnerable. Talking openly about the flirtatious nature of humans is how we navigate the complexity of dedicated partnership. It’s a flashlight through the wilderness of love and sexuality.
You see, for a long time I believed dedicated partnership required an arsenal of refusal.
I refuse attraction towards anyone other than my partner.
I refuse boundary pushing conversation regarding my sexual needs as they evolve.
If it feels sensual, I refuse the vibration of energy coursing between myself and other beings.
Armed with this refusal, I became divided. Shame feeds on division and so shame arrived and set up camp.
Whenever I felt anything I believed I should refuse, shame was quick to accompany my experience.
After shame feeds on division, shame short circuits the feeling process. Shame shuts us down. Shut down, we are unable to let feelings move. When feelings don’t move, they fester. When they fester they become toxic in some way and that toxicity impacts our well being and the well being of our relationships.
My husband seeks my wholeness and transparency and this seeking is mutual. We want to have each other and also hold space for each other. It’s a complex fusion of animal instincts and spiritual companionship. We want to acknowledge and share the evolving process of being human around other humans, including the array of feelings and desires that texture connection. We want to do this respectfully, openly and with a healthy dose of playfulness, because loving is soft willingness in action and it reveals our sweetest underbelly.
This is a work in progress. I’m not advocating that if you just tell your partner you had a flirty encounter at an airport your intimacy will deepen. Conversations about attraction and desire necessitate a strong foundation of trust and a mutual interest in sharing. The sharing must be allied with connection and learning. If the sharing is used to trigger jealousy, self-doubt or other shadowy interpersonal experiences, it becomes damaging.
Alec and I have created a space for dialogue about other people’s beauty and the intricate nature of our own desire because it helps us know each other more deeply and see each other more fully. When we are honest with each other, it doesn’t negate our vulnerability. In fact, sometimes the vulnerability we feel amidst our honesty is the most crucial part of our growing intimacy.
I am wildly attracted to my husband. I’m attracted to his expansive mind and his tender heart and his wise spirit and his gorgeous gorgeousness. He gets me and he’s got me. At this point in time, monogamy is what we want, met by an acceptance and celebration of our own sensual nature.
I am attracted to other humans all the time and so is he.
Here are the beautiful things that happen when shame doesn’t short circuit our feeling process and we can talk openly with each other:
Our appreciation for the unique beauty and sexiness of other beings grows.
Our appreciation for the unique beauty and sexiness of each other grows.
We learn that attraction is like an electrical flare sent off by the charge of connection and connection can be many things besides sexual or romantic.
We are able to deepen and discover our truest bond with people because we’re not terrified or guilt ridden by the experience of attraction.
We are able to be clearer and cleaner with our own boundaries because we are not trying to divide ourself or hide something from each other, nor do we view attraction to others as a forbidden fruit.
I repeat - this is a work in progress.
Relationships reveal the sweetest underbelly and offer us opportunities to shatter paradigms of secrecy so we may better tend the tender.
In the wild territory of loving partnership, we are remembering how to be whole, sovereign, united and free.
We are learning the undulating language of belonging.
We are gazing with reverent adoration at all the sexy-sexiness.
I am a Portland, Oregon based writer, filmmaker and choreographer. I believe stories dissolve the grip of isolation and return us to each other.