October 1997

Loving More

Once upon a time eleven years ago, I was in love with two women. I didn't hide it from anyone, not them, not my friends and especially not myself. Apart from the joy I shared with them, the purest happiness I experienced came from my choice to be totally open about my feelings.

All of our deepest passions and worst fears arose. I was forced to face myself. It was the beginning of my conscious path of evolution, what is called in the Tantric tradition the "path of fire," and what now, in retrospect, I can see was the beginning of my journey to freedom.

This was my first "polyamorous" experience - loving more than one person in an open and honest way. As distinct from sleeping around, swinging, cheating or so-called free-love, polyamory is based on friendship. It's about commitment - more than anything, commitment to my own truth, and to honor the truth of those traveling with me.

In order to be poly and happy, you have to have a very good relationship with yourself. Eventually, I learned how.

The real challenge of polyamory is finding the place where true freedom and deep commitment meet. It hasn't always been an easy trip. Some of my past relationships have been consumed in the flames of jealousy, resentment and fear. I've experienced difficulty identifying like-minded others, people committed to this way of being for the long-haul rather than as just a hobby.

One weekend in September, this changed in a big way. An organization in Boulder called Loving More, co-founded by Dr. Deborah Anapol, author of Love Without Limits, held its annual East Coast conference. The event, held at the old Arrowhead Ranch, now owned and operated by the New York City-based Ganas community, was preceded by a two-day workshop on Tantric sexuality, which means intentional, conscious and spiritually-grounded body-love.

To tell you the truth, driving to Sullivan County in the pouring rain that Thursday afternoon, I was a bit cynical. I had no expectations that it would be anything promised. Yet from the moment I arrived, my world was turned inside out - where once I felt chastised by society for being an open and loving person, I felt totally welcomed and encouraged to be and express myself. I felt deliciously strange in such a supportive environment after so long in the woods, but soon got used to it. It became obvious really fast that I had as much to offer the people there as they had to offer me.

Thursday night, the clothing-optional Tantric workshop began. Everyone was dressed; we just told our stories. I heard lots of different ones - from older, married people who felt that they wanted more out of life; from people seeking deeper meaning to their sexuality; from those whose sexuality was directly connected to their religion; and from others who had lived poly for many years and those who were still not ready to come out to the world, but who felt safe doing so in the intimate environment we had created. We had one thing in common: the old way wasn't working for us, and we were committed to seeking something better.

The next morning, the first thing on the agenda was nude massage. Had I spent any time thinking about it, I would have been very nervous and self- conscious. I showed up with my towel and went with the flow. In the two hours of this exercise, the room was transformed into a secret Eden. Hearts and minds opened up. Clothing came off and was never missed again. The atmosphere was sexual, but not the way we usually think of it - it was stable, respectful, grounded and very, very loving.

What happened, in reality, was that the thirty of us became lovers with each other, bonding into an extended erotic family.

I know it is hard to imagine in a world where there is so much negativity around love and sexuality, but it happened. I was there. In fact, a lot happened. In the midst of this extraordinary freedom, I started to change - to open up and feel more confident.

This was the first time I had been in an environment where any kind of sex was available at practically any time, and what drew me more was being in an environment where I was so free to share love with so many beautiful people, and where so much support was available. Friday night, about 100 more people arrived for the conference part of the program, which included discussion groups, a jealousy workshop, training in Gestalt therapy, drumming, dancing, art, music and a little astrology.

In the midst of this celebration of freedom, something very unexpected happened: I discovered I shared a unique bond with one person in particular. This grew almost imperceptibly as we slowly allowed one another into our realities. Our very young friendship was tested as we experienced other people, and then we reunited on even higher levels, experiencing and receiving one another consciously every moment we shared together.

On Sunday night, after everyone else had gone home, we sat on the empty stage of Arrowhead Ranch, before the setting sun and the fields and forest, and shared that what we both had in common was that God comes first in our lives. By God, I mean the Creator, the Universal healing force, and the deepest core level of existence we are capable of expressing as human beings, which is the core of all real relationships.

It was then that a door opened, and our time together extended into the following week, where we spent two days alone in my home, continuing our discovery process and finally having a chance to focus our energy exclusively on each other.

The ongoing challenge of finding the meeting place of freedom and commitment has now moved to a much higher level in my life. In this world, it seems that the more we love, the more we have to lose, and yet in polyamory, the more we love, the more it is necessary to let go.

As I write this tonight, I am once again at the core evolutionary issue of this way of being: I have set my life up so that I must love in a state of total trust and surrender, because she and I have committed ourselves to everything but the way we will feel in the future. One of those commitments is respecting the right we both have to love whom we will love, to share our lives with other people in whatever way we judge to be fully appropriate for ourselves, and to move on when the time comes.

I am feeling the awesome power of having surrendered her back to the universe from which she came, with the invitation to return if she really wants to. In the presence of such deep love and the absence of any future expectations, part of me is terrified. Not because I don't know she loves me; we experienced some of the deepest moments of intimacy either of us had for years. It's just that letting go is scary. Yet I know from long experience that it has great rewards. There is safety in freedom, and it is very different than the "safety" of control, which in reality doesn't exist. I feel the great honesty of allowing the future to remain in the realm of the unknown.

In this space tonight, I have no choice but to face my fear and fall back on the only real relationship I can ever have, and the only one in which I am truly complete: my relationship with my own existence, in which I must live in the empty space of total trust.

It is into this space that the deepest and most amazing love can rush in and fill up. As my friend explained to me, in Tantra, every meeting is the first meeting.

Originally published as Loving More in Chronogram, October 1997 at