When I first started dating Morgan, I said to her a simple phrase, “You’re a free woman.” I explained that when it came to our dating or engaging in physical intimacy with other people, she didn’t need to ask me permission, owe me an explanation, or even have to tell me ahead of time. She was free to do what she pleased. This brought some interesting responses from my bride-to-be. She was new to the non-monogamous world and this openness had her believe that I cared less. She didn’t understand that it was actually about creating a space for her to make her own decisions to be free. In this week’s podcast, we’ll be talking about concepts from Ester Perel’s Mating in Captivity on how to create safe spaces for you to express your desires. Her book tackles the subject of how we get into partnership and then set exquisite deep rules of how we want to be owned and own.
150: You’re a Free Woman
This show is called You’re a Free Woman with the subtitle of How to Ensure that Your Partner Never Cheats. I did this show as a shock value, a way to bring some ideas and to get across some great writing. I’ve been reading, Esther Perel, Dan Savage, Helen Fisher on relationships in prep for my book, unHIDDEN. For more shows, please visit RobertKandell.com and if you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app and subscribe and leave a comment. It’s really helpful.
Thank you to all my long-time readers. Thank you to the people who have supported me, most specifically Morgan, my crew of regulars who come on the show. I’m here every week to speak the truth and bring forth guests that will hopefully engage with you and add to your life because I think it’s important for us to have the fullest, richest lives possible and not use fear to stop us from living. This show is called You’re a Free Woman. This show is brought by a lifetime of work. The first thing is to give a warning that this work that I’m presenting has been accumulated over twenty years of practice, out of so much time, energy, thought, great teachers and great readers. Do not try this at home but try this at home at the same time. The main thing is to understand that this is not something I recommend that you’re like, “I’ve got this mastered.” You need to take this on as a practice and a concept if you want to bring it home.
When I got together with Morgan, I met her in February of 2015 and we started to date in March of 2015. In the very beginning, it was obvious that we were in a relationship, we were in something. I recognized her and she recognized me. There was this way of looking at each other. It was very clear that we saw and knew who each person was and who that person would be in our life. In the first week, she was calling me dear on text messages, which I felt that deep into my soul. We were deeply connected from the beginning and we started talking about our relationship, strategy and options. The first thing we talked about was my desire to be non-monogamous. I was very clear that I wasn’t in a place to be non-monogamous. I had been in a very strict box for a very long time. I had gone from OneTaste into a monogamous relationship and felt stifled in the relationship.We act like we own each other. We start to put ourselves into each other's boxes of ownership. Click To Tweet
When I started this relationship with Morgan, I wanted to be in a place of freedom, openness, and possibility and she had feelings about that. One thing I said to her was, “You are a free woman. You are a woman who can do whatever she wants. You do not need to ask permission if you want to have experiences outside of our relationship. You don’t need to check ahead of time. You don’t need to do anything because you are totally free.” Her reaction to this was like, “I don’t understand,” and she was slightly insulted that I didn’t care enough to keep her in a box, like I didn’t want to engage or love her enough that I wanted to keep her small, which totally made sense from a societal point of view. I know I was pushing the boundaries of a relationship and at the same time, it was a tenant. It was a requirement of our relationship that I would no longer be in the position or set myself up in the position to own another person.
Some of you, and there’s been certainly a lot of charged dialogues about feminism and femininity, might say, “You’re a man. You historically owned women and women had been in captivity.” You might be on this rant. I’m not going to disagree with you at all because it’s true. I’m not here to ease the pains of the past and to debate that because I think it’s right. I wanted to set the environment, create a relationship, and create a space where I could be in a relationship with someone and they could be free. For all you enlightened, evolved people who think, “I don’t possess my partners,” I’m going to call bullshit to that. It’s not true. You just do. We have this viewpoint in a society that if you’re in a relationship or have some form of sexual connection, a kiss, going down on someone, a one-night stand, there normally is some form of biological response.
I found an article on Vox that was great about the amazing Helen Fisher. Helen Fisher wrote many books. I think she’s written six. One is called Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. There’s this great quote from the article where she said, “You can think of love as an intense obsession, but it’s an addiction.” She was talking about casual sex and she wrote, “It’s not casual because when you have sex with somebody and it’s pleasurable, it drives up the dopamine system in the brain. That can push you over the threshold into falling in love and when you orgasm there’s a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin. Basically, there is a chemical response.” The second you get the nookie, you have the chemical response, “We own each other.” We act like we own each other. We think that there are all these rules and regulations, and so we start to put ourselves into each other’s boxes as ownership.
There’s a response on my comment where it said, “You aren’t the person to say this, she is.” She’s not saying it either and neither are you, in a relationship. We’re not saying it in a relationship because we believe that there’s some part of us that wants to be in captivity. There are some parts of us that want to be owned and owned by other people. There’s a response once you’re in a relationship and this is Tuff Love. This is the truth that needs to be told. We capture and hold our partners deep in captivity. I’m going to talk about someone whom I’ve been listening to a lot, the great Esther Perel, who wrote the book Mating in Captivity, which is all about this response of how we get into partnership and then we set exquisite deep rules of how we want to be owned and own.
I want to give you a little bit about my history before we go into Esther Perel and give you some background of where this came from. I was like every other kid growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s with my thoughts about freedom, relationship, monogamy and cheating. I watched every movie everyone else watched. I felt the depths of pain when it came to someone flirting with someone else. I had intense jealousy. I had body issues, emotional issues, and attachment issues. I was vanilla down the middle. When I was 26 years old, I was a yuppie. I worked in a downtown San Francisco firm and I had the opportunity to travel for business.
One trip, I was in Boston, Massachusetts. There I was, 26 years old, in the prime of my masculine youth and desire and just recently married. There were these two young women who worked in my department. I was in Boston helping them set up their systems and they were both very attractive in very different ways. They were like, “We should take you out,” and I’m like, “Let’s go out.” They show up at my fine Boston Harbor Hotel in these tight cocktail dresses. We’d go out, hit the town, three or four bars drinking and we’re in that one spot where I could have made the move to take one of them home, back to their house or to my hotel and cheated on my wife. I remember the exquisite sensation, pain, angst and desire in that spot and I did not make a move. I did not take one of them home. I went back to my hotel and I masturbated several times. There was so much energy in my body and there was so much desire.
On the plane ride home, I wrote a letter to my wife, Carol, saying, “I thought about cheating.” I handed it to her a little time after I got home. We talked about it and it was out. I’ve never cheated on a woman I was in a relationship my entire life. I didn’t do that for them or for the relationship. Though I was part of it, I mostly did it because I was scared shitless of getting caught. I’m a good liar. I’ve got a great Poker face and I can hold my facts. The main part is I never wanted to be the one caught and so I didn’t cheat out of not some holier than now thing. It was purely from my stark fear of getting caught. I was with Carol and we went to Birmingham. We had experiences there and started to talk about non-monogamy. I went deep into some internal work, exploration in terms of signing up for classes and workshops. I got involved in one group heavily.
I eventually started OneTaste and then inside OneTaste, I had ten years of intense non-monogamous situations like the PhD of learning about jealousy, ownership and possession. I’d be in this warehouse in my bed stuffing up my ears because I could hear the distinct sound of my partner making out with another couple down the way, the burn of it in my system.
Ownership Of Women
Then something happened where I stopped worrying about the ownership of women. This sounds horrible, the ownership of women, but we have it as men or women think they own their guys. It’s a human thing, a biological and addictive thing that we think we own our partners. We put our partners in little boxes and there’s all this pressure to behave and be everything, be the right thing, be the best friend, be the best sex partner and hold the money and raise the kids. It’s a lot of pressure.
What I found is when I was dating the next person after these intense experiences, I don’t recommend this because this sounds a little crass. I said to her, “You and I are going to have a little deal. If we have a date, a hangout, a sleepover and you get a better offer, I want you to take it.” She did once. She said, “I’ve got a better offer,” and I’m like, “Have a good time.” I slept like a baby because I knew in that moment that if she did come to me or we did have a date, it was purely 100% by choice, not some contractor some rule or some social engagement. It was purely because that’s what her desire was. It was so liberating and I felt proud of her and our relationship. I felt proud of me because I stopped the lock that had me trying to hold this person down.
What I said was, “You are free and I want you to be with me.” How to find that balance between giving someone so much space and also how to keep that connection going? It was charging to you and at the same time, it was wonderful. That was an epic thing in my experience. Remember, do not try this at home until you’re ready to try this at home. It made it a better offering, then I dated after OneTaste. I left OneTaste, then I met Morgan. I said, “You’re a free woman.” We’ve been in a relationship for three and a half years and it’s by far the most epic relationship I’ve ever had from the freedom. I don’t have the same rule with her because that doesn’t feel comfortable for her. Some people might think that’s not fair but to me, the relationship, power and engagement of the relationship are the most important. We set up this unique expanding game where she’s totally free to do whatever she wants, and I hold myself in agreements inside of it, which feels good after a lot of work.
Two Contradictory Things
Back to Esther Perel. She is amazing. She has credible YouTube talks, one of the highest rated TED Talks around on relationships out there. She has written several books. I’m reading her second book, The State of Affairs, but Mating in Captivity was her first splash. I’ve been listening, reading and absorbing it. She said some interesting things about Mating in Captivity. We want two contradictory things in our world and inside our relationship. In the past, when marriage was more of a contract or business deal and people lived half as long, it was a very different deal than it is now in the 21st century when people are living longer lives. We’re not in danger of needing to produce fourteen kids to keep twelve. We’re in a very different ecosystem than we were when marriage was in the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s and before that. What we expect from our partners are two contrary things. One, we want to have security, love and to know that person’s there. We want stability, a solid foundation of relationship and that’s what we call love.
On the flip side, we want to have the desire and desire is the complete opposite. Desire is novelty, nuance, separation, and longing. There’s a deep complication of how to be the man who’s the great lover, seducer and a solid partner. How do you find the balance between the two? Esther talked about in several talks that it’s not about Victoria’s Secret, candles, positions, and techniques. It’s about intention, relating, communication, and honesty. It’s about the expansion of the relationship rather than sitting on our laurels like most of us do and expect the sex to flow. Sex is not like a drop down where you’re doing the laundry. Sex is deliberate, relational, planned, and a priority in your conversation, which is challenging because we have so many issues with our own desire and inside that, inside the piece of the puzzle where we’re so afraid to let out these different parts.Sex is deliberate, relational, planned, and a priority in your conversation. Click To Tweet
Esther Perel talks about how children can be the erotic death of a relationship and how you need to keep working on it. When it comes down to creating a space, I want to create a space where Morgan’s not mating in captivity. She’s free from my perspective to do as she pleases and she gets to choose this freedom who she is, what she does and how she does it. I’m not attached to her doing anything, though I do tease her quite a bit about all the men that she flirts with or not flirt with. I do enjoy the teasing part, but at the same time, I’m not attached to any outcome inside her freedom. I want her to know that she’s free.
Why Do People Cheat?
In Esther Perel’s second book, The State of Affairs, she talks about how infidelity is one of the most destructive aspects to any relationship, but infidelity is not easy or simple, it’s quite complicated. Why do people cheat? Why do people stray? There are very different reasons. People have this viewpoint that if you cheat or are unfaithful in a relationship, then the relationship is bad, which statistically is not true. Dan Savage talks about if you have one night in twenty years and that’s one day in 7,300 days, that means you’re 0.1% unfaithful and 99.99% faithful. That’s what the statistics are showing.
The numbers show you’re 99.9% your entire life of the relationship, but people cheat once and think the relationship goes to shit just because you have one moment. I’m not saying, and neither does Dan Savage and Esther Perel, that fidelity is a good communication. It can be quite destructive, there are many other ways to do it. This belief system that we have to be something to be in a good relationship is a bunch of crap. It’s this total setup for failure that I don’t recommend.
How To Ensure Your Partner Never Cheats
When it comes down to this piece about how do you ensure that your partner never cheats, which I sneakily put as a subtitle in the Facebook Live, this is the thing I wanted to get across. This is the benefit of saying to Morgan, “You are from my perspective, a free woman.” When you remove the word “cheating” from your relationship as a possibility, there is no chance that she can cheat or they can cheat. I played the simple word trick. Morgan cannot cheat in our relationship because she can do whatever she wants. Hopefully, in that freedom that she can do, think, say, talk about, relate, feel, notice, desire in her total freedom for her to have that then, there’s no sense of betrayal on my part. She can’t break any rules because there are no rules. In that, I never have to spend an ounce of energy that most of you do, worrying that your partner is going to stray outside the lines.
This is twenty years of focused work to come to this viewpoint. I’m not recommending that you read this and say to your partner, “Let’s not have rules,” it’s not going to work at all. You have to build the strong foundation around it. If you start along that deliberate path to see the parts of your relationship and who you are and how you create this box that lives around you, then you can start to dismantle them. Instead of ownership tightly-held, vice-grip that people hold on to each other, you can invite the unhidden truths to come up, out and be told. To me, that is the only relationship that’s worth having. That is my bias, I also like a fine coffee. I’m not into the cheap bottle of wine. I like the exquisite taste and that’s the kind of thing that I wish for you.When you remove the word “cheating” from your relationship as a possibility, there is no chance that she can cheat or they can cheat. Click To Tweet
You don’t have to go from point A to point B. You can go from step-by-step one thing after another. Open up space in your relationship so you can speak what lies underneath. This experience I had in Birmingham in 1998 with my first wife, Carol, was one of the greatest moments of my life where we were honest with each other about our sexual desire. It was the first time in my entire life where I had been honest with another person about what lies underneath, and it changed my entire life. Even though Carol and I didn’t make it past that point, that had nothing to do with that conversation because I don’t think we would have made it regardless, personally. What happened was in the epic adventure that happened in my life, it changed, and it has infected so many other people. The way OneTaste happened was from that one truth that led me down this path to meet Nicole, to create a space for other people to explore their desires.
That is the rant for this episode. Tuff Love talks about the issues that matter and things at hand. If you’d like to hear more episodes, please visit RobertKandell.com. Put that in the comments below or you can visit it. You can preorder the book, unHIDDEN. Thank you so much for reading. If you have issues or challenges with this, I will be on Facebook answering any comments and you can always contact me via the usual ways. Go forth, be merry, get some nookie. I love you.
- Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
- article on Vox by Helen Fischer
- Mating in Captivity
- The State of Affairs
- TED Talks – Esther Perel’s talks
- Dan Savage
- Robert’s Facebook
- Tuff Love on iTunes
- Tuff Love on Stitcher