Adventures in Polyamory

It’s kind of strange, my life.  I am often told I’m a role model (and frequently told by people I should behave like a role model, whatever that means).  However, the truth of the matter is that I’m still pretty much a kid trying to figure things out (while trying to be responsible at the same time).  I try new things and I make mistakes, and I have no problem telling people about it because I hope that nudges others to be more shameless about who they are.

It also makes me wonder how a role model is supposed to behave.  I don’t concern myself with being one, just with living the way I think is best.  I believe a good person is honest, fair, investigative, unafraid to take chances (which includes violating social norms), and should be able to admit when he makes mistakes (and also to take pride when he takes a chance and it turns out awesome).  If that’s not role model behavior then I have no desire to be one.  There are some people who think a role model should give an impression of a particular set of behaviors, many of which seem arbitrary or the product of culture, and should project themselves as too responsible to take chances.  I’ve never looked up to someone like that.

So, today I’m going to try and demonstrate what I find to be admirable behavior by being honest, sharing a story that changed my mind about something, and saying to hell with the consequences.  I’m going to tell you about having sex with a married woman.

At Skepticon last year I met a woman from St. Louis, Christina, who would go on to become one of my closest friends thanks to the magic of the internet.  Christina and I had quite a great deal in common and a lot of the same curiosities about life.  I felt very fortunate to have made her acquaintance.

I knew she was married and soon found out her marriage was polyamorous – i.e., both Christina and her husband had sex with other people.  I thought nothing of this as our friendship continued to grow.  Sex was not a taboo subject for Christina.  She spoke about sex as casually as discussing what to have for dinner, which at first made me slightly uncomfortable.  Not in an “oh my gosh that’s wrong” way, but in a way where I thought “ok, if that’s what fills your sails, but it’s not for me.”

Sex is a magical topic.  It’s so interesting that with the proper approach its introduction can save almost any boring conversation.  And, as two fairly open-minded people, our conversations eventually turned to what we liked in bed.  We both were meticulous in our avoidance of diseases, but there were some stark differences between us.  I liked giving back rubs.  Christina liked having meat hooks pierced through her back and being suspended by wires.  I wanted to be in a threesome one day.  Christina had lost count of how many she’d been in.  She began to call me naive, a charge to which I almost immediately plead guilty (by comparison to Christina, what choice did I have?).  She then told me we should have sex.

I laughed.  Christina didn’t.

Now, I’m not a prude.  I enjoy responsible, casual physicality as much as the next guy.  If there are two friends who are bored and their options are playing checkers or going down on each other, I see nothing improper about opting for the latter choice (then again, I hate checkers).  But Christina was married.  Although Christina had told me about being physical with other men, this still struck me as something I should not be doing.  What if her husband were to find this conversation?

“What about your husband?” I asked.

“We’re polyamorous.  You know that.”  she responded.

“Yeah but…where would we do this?”  Perhaps if I could come up with an insurmountable obstacle I would have an excuse to give power to my reticent emotions.

“Um…my house.”  Well shit, that didn’t work.

“Is your husband really ok with this?”

“Do you want to ask him?” she asked.

“No!” I quickly exclaimed.

The whole thing just felt odd.  I tried to put my finger on it, but I couldn’t.  Eventually I concluded that my feelings of weirdness grew purely from the fact that she was married and what that word meant to me.  It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to expect someone else to conform to my notion of what a marriage was, so my reticence was not from any concern that could be considered rational.  And as someone who has made a career out of telling people that emotional responses should not take precedence over rational ones (and as someone who likes sex with attractive, super nerdy women), it did not take Christina long twisting my rubber arm until I agreed.

Within a few months I was on a plane to St. Louis.  Christina met me in the airport and tackled me with a hug as I emerged from the terminal.  As the hug broke I got the impression that I should kiss her, but I wasn’t sure so I smiled and invited her to lead the way.  She took my hand and we strolled to her car.  She looked extremely pretty, I knew she was into me, but my brain kept screaming “This is a trap!  People are never this forward about wanting to sleep with someone except in porn!  There is no way this is going to work out well and you’ll be eight hours from home when it goes pear-shaped!  She’s married you ass!  Where’s your moral high ground now???”  Once in the car I reached for my seat belt, but before I could pull it across my chest Christina had lunged across the car and her tongue was exploring my mouth.  I remember being torn between panicking over the fact that there was now no going back and relief that she had broken the ice.  After a period of time that could’ve been 2 minutes or 20 minutes (hard to tell when your pulse is racing that fast), we disengaged and drove off.

On the way to her house I asked her where her husband was that night.

“At home” came the thoughtless reply.  Oh fuck.

And like that we were walking into her house.  Within seconds Chris, her husband, came over to give me a hug.  He seemed genuinely excited to see me.  He didn’t seem awkward at all!  I thought that he must not know!  And here I had just made out with his wife.  My stomach sank.  I sat down in the kitchen and Christina and Chris went about making dinner.  As nonchalant as a man ordering a cheeseburger he asked me how I was.  I’m a fan of honesty almost all the time, so I decided to come out with it.

“I’m good.  I admit though, I’m a little uneasy about this.  I’ve never…um…y’know…been physical with a married person before.”

And he smiled!  He actually smiled!  I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Surely this was a facade and the guy was going to punch me at any second for this whole scenario.  I think Christina was aware of what was going through my head because she pointed directly at me, looked at Chris, smiled, and said, “I’m going to have sex with this man.”

Again, Chris smiled, almost laughing.  “Cool” he said, and went right back to making chicken fried rice.  We proceeded to talk over dinner about polyamory, about Chris’s girlfriend, and about physical fitness.  It was actually very pleasant.  Chris and Christina hugged and kissed – they were a perfectly adorable couple.  Finally, it came time for Christina and I to excuse ourselves (she did the excusing, I couldn’t bring myself to say “Well, it’s about time for me to go stick it to your spouse”).  Christina gave me the option of going to their bedroom or staying downstairs in the cuddle pit (a huge room full of soft – it’s awesome).  I chose the cuddle pit.  Having sex with a woman in her marital bed, though clearly an unreasonable apprehension by this point, was still further than I was willing to go.

And so we did it.  And we cuddled all night afterward.

In the morning we got up and made breakfast.  Christina kissed Chris, and this whole fucked up situation finally resonated with me as closer to normalcy.

Over the course of the day Christina told both Chris and me that she loved us.  I later asked her how that was possible and she told me that love is not like a bathtub; somebody doesn’t need to get out to make room for someone else.  I had honestly never thought about it that way.  There is a standing presumption in our society that if somebody is physical with someone who is not their spouse that they’re automatically ‘cheating’.  It’s a silly assumption, but one so prevalent that it had infected me.  There are really people who can love freely – and I don’t just mean sex.  I mean honest, genuine love.  And I think that’s beautiful.

We’re a funny lot, Americans.  We use sex to sell everything in sight, but we want to act like prudes when it comes to the actual subject and treat sex like it’s something to be ashamed of or cannot be used as a means to entertainment.  Some people act like we’re stuck with checkers.  We’re not.  Sex is fun.  And neither love nor sex needs to be relegated to a lone individual.  If you want to make love and sex about one other person, fill your boots.  But the expectation that that should be the case needs to be done away with.

I should also point out that this is not the only way polyamory can be done, and that for some couples it’s not as easy as Chris and Christina have made it.  Some couples must work at it daily.  I am thoroughly fascinated with the easy approach though.

The response to this will be, “But I just don’t know if I can have sex without falling in love.”  I will write a whole blog post about that later this week.  For the time being, I just want to leave it here.  Love is not a bathtub.  I’ve learned a lot from Christina and Chris, but chief among them is that I am polyamorous and would have been much sooner if not for a bunch of wonky societal myths.  And so I write blog posts like this, because that’s why we come out.  We come out to normalize something we think are awesome in order to dispel those myths.

Polyamory is pretty rad, and for me it was worth the initial confrontation with uneasiness.  It’s comfortable to live without jealousy and to be free to express to others how you really feel without thoughts of hurting anybody for being yourself, without trying to own the actions of another human being and without having your own actions bound by someone else’s sense of ownership over them.

You guys are wonderful.
PERSONAL: The corrupting power of fame and my love for my commenters.
Update and pics from #AACon15. MST3K cast members were at my talk.
PERSONAL: Happy birthday, Hitch.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Captain Mike

    I’m glad it went well for you.

    There is a standing presumption in our society that if somebody is physical with someone who is not their spouse that they’re automatically ‘cheating’. It’s a silly assumption, but one so prevalent that it had infected me.

    Frankly, I think it goes beyond being merely silly, into the realm of actively damaging. The assumption I would call silly is the one even seemingly sexually liberated people make: that monogamy is inherently superior or desirable. I suspect most people have simply never considered that there are alternatives.

    • JaydeRaven

      Well said.

      I know I was in my mid 30′s before I realized it was OKAY to be what came naturally to me – and that was not monogamous. I’ve now been happily involved in a poly relationship for five years and counting. I’m finding it difficult to find others who are poly (seems most of those I find either can’t handle poly or are simply looking for one night stands), but I have faith that they are out there… :)

  • dorcheat

    A fascinating account; well written in a factual if slightly detached and dry scientific style that I find refreshing. I would be interested in reading Christina’s account of the encounter as well.

    Forgive me but I must ask. Is the picture of the woman holding the gallon jug of windshield wash fluid actually Christina? If so, then I dare say good catch mate!

  • pondoro

    If you’re interested in further reading on the topic I’d suggest people try reading Holly Pervocracy, the blog’s great and she touches on pretty much everything that this blog network is about. She talks about polyamory a fair bit and handles the subject quite well; in particular the idea of this “one love” that we’re all allowed to have, there’s a metaphor about a house that hits home about how you can share your life with multiple people.

  • cbc

    Second the Pervocracy recommendation. It makes my day whenever a rare post of hers shows up in my reader.

    Kudos on the revelation!

  • dfl42

    For more reading on poly, check out ; it’s an excellent resource.

    Also, for the record, poly doesn’t mean that people in relationships can have sex with other people. Polyamory is often defined as encompassing open relationships, among other things, but, as the Polyamory Weekly tagline goes, it’s NOT all about the sex. It’s about relationships. Sex being a natural part of that in the same way that it is in monogamous relationships.

    Saying that poly means you can have sex with other people is like saying, “I’m in a relationship with Susie, that means I can have sex with her.”

    Strictly speaking, it’s not a false statement, but really, it doesn’t accurately represent what’s going on.

  • Carly

    I’m glad it worked for you.

    I like polyamory, but I had a bad experience relationship experience involving polyamory and I’m worried that I can’t commit to doing it right. I’ll always keep working at it, though, because the poly philosophy is great.

    • Jeremy

      This attitude has always puzzled me. Do you take the same approach to monogamy? Do you decide you can’t be monogamous after having a bad relationship experience? I had a less than optimal first experience in poly, but I did in monogamy as well. I didn’t give up just because it didn’t work the first time. In fact, that first time failure went farther than any experience in my life in teaching me to drop all expectations in relationships and just let the relationships happen, and it’s that philosophy that I credit the success and longevity of my current relationships to.

  • Toasted Rye

    I just want to say thank you for this post. I am still trying to normalize for myself what it means that I fell in love with someone while happily married and totally in love with my husband. Posts like this help. Thank you.

  • Laurence

    I have polyamorous friends, and I think it can be great if everyone involved is consenting and emotionally okay with it. But, I know that there are many people who would not be able to handle it emotionally, and I don’t think there is necessarily a problem with that as long as those people are saying that polyamory is wrong because it doesn’t work for them. I don’t know if it’s something that I could ever do because of my emotional make-up, but I know that rationally that there’s nothing a priori wrong with it. It works for some folks and doesn’t for others.

  • dfl42

    That said, congratulations, that sounds awesome.

  • Vicki

    *waves* I’d say “welcome to the club” but that would suggest that there’s something rather more organized than I find it to be.

    No, polyamory isn’t always that easy, but it’s good when it is. When I wonder aloud what I’m doing right, one of my partners says that the trick is to start with the right people. By which she means some combination of “right for me” and okay with what we’re doing.

    I’m not particularly trying to be a role model either, except to the extent that saying “yes, I’m doing this, and it works, and we’re all happy with it” makes me a role model.

  • kosk11348

    Most men who share their wives do so because they get off on watching the deed. And you did it in their house in a special “cuddle” room? You were probably recorded by hidden cameras.

    • Captain Mike

      You just made a positive statement. Please provide evidence.

    • dfl42

      Yeah, this is certainly not the case in my experience. And I know a fair few who do various forms of poly or open relationships. Citation please?

    • tanyahiggins

      The practice you’re referring to, kosk11348, is cuckholding – and it’s no more prominent in polyamorous relationships than any other fetish. Also, the scenario you describe is tantamount to rape; that’s a rather serious charge to toss about without evidence. The subtle implication that a woman exists as her husband’s sexual property to “share” or withhold for his own gratification didn’t go without notice either.

      The TL;DR – your ignorance is showing.

    • blondeintokyo

      Uh oh…I guess I’d better search my bedroom for hidden cameras, then! Every single night I have sex with a man who is someone else’s husband. During our many conversations, my boyfriend’s wife has never actually come out and said she wants to watch us, but since you obviously know so much more about polyamory than I do, maybe I’d better now to your expertise.

  • Lana C

    This is a great piece. Marriage is a proposition that is doomed to fail when the rules in place don’t allow participants to stray occasionally, and the more I realize that the more I have to agree with you. This isn’t just my opinion, I know. I can totally sympathize with your two friends, because I have close to the same kind of relationship with my hubby.

    It’s a great thing that you can realize these things about yourself, but even more great that you can blog about them. I admire your stark honesty and bravery in this. Thank you for your writing about such needed topics, people really do get negative about open relationships and poly- relationships. ( I won’t say polyamory, because I refuse to mix Latin and Greek.)

    • LarryD

      “Marriage is a proposition that is doomed to fail when the rules in place don’t allow participants to stray occasionally…”

      Lana, I don’t feel that I can support that statement. Marriage is a proposition that is doomed to fail when the parties involved don’t respect/honor whatever covenant they enter.

  • Stephanie Zvan

    Nicely outed, JT.

    Although it felt really awkward at the time, there are advantages to coming at polyamory from the direction you did. I made messes in high school because I didn’t see why anything was wrong with polyamory. The problem was that I didn’t have the communication skills needed for a monogamous relationship, much less a polyamorous one. Nor did I really understand that not everyone felt the same way I did about monogamy. Oops.

    Luckily, I didn’t have any particular drive toward polyamory either, so I managed to stop screwing up relationships that way after only a couple of them. Still, it was messier than it needed to be.

  • Crommunist

    You had EXTRAMARTIAL SEX? Don’t you know that you’re going to burn in…

    …the sun if you don’t wear sufficient UV protection?

    • Juby

      You win 10 internets, sir.

    • ACN

      Amused :)

  • Vicki


    [citation needed]

    Aside from the propertarian implications of “men who share their wives,” this doesn’t match my experience. My husband is fine with my having other partners, but he doesn’t want to watch us do anything more intimate than bake an apple crisp.

    YKIOK, but it’s not our kink.

  • Volizden

    WOW… I grew up in a Polyamorous Household though my parents tried to keep us from realizing it. We knew it anyway, though we didn’t know what exactly it was until MUCH MUCH later. Due to this though there was a side effect, I came to understand multiple partners as the norm, and when I started dating in high school it really screwed up several relationships.

    I understand loving more than one person but most can’t grasp the concept. I am Glad you had an excellent introduction to it and that you adapted to it so easily. I am also glad to know someone else I know has the same feelings I do truthfully I dont know anyone else in my life that feels this way too.

    I was also happy to see the numbers of positive responses to your article. It makes sense thinking about it though, considering it takes and open mind to be able to accept this. Wonderful that you opened and shared this with us, and thank you.

    • Jay

      I’m a little wary of your wording. I’m a fan of polyamory too, as I noted below. But I try to be careful about turning around and giving the impression that I think poly people are better people or that polyamory confers superiority in some way. I know several monogamous people who understand polyamory intellectually and support the concept, but just aren’t wired that way themselves.

  • Jay

    i’m a fan of polyamory. I’m glad you had such a good first experience!

    For me, the bottom line when it comes to true cheating is when you are breaking the contract or promises between your significant others – it has nothing to do with the number of people involved. People can cheat just as much on poly partners as they can on monogamous partners. It depends entirely of the nature of the understanding between the partners. Hence, I’m a poly person, but I have made a promise of monogamy to my boyfriend because he is not a poly person and right now our relationship is of more value to me than living poly.

  • Karl

    Great piece J.T. and I admire your courage and openness in posting it. I’m not polyamorous and I’m not convinced it’s a good thing generally, but I’m not judging anyone’s choices and I’m open to being convinced that my own judgment on the issue is wrong. I know “Chris^2″ and I like them a lot, but we’ve sort of clashed over this issue in a past online discussion and I’m afraid that the relationships might have been damaged as a result, which I regret. Maybe discussions like this will help grease the skids of public discourse so that people can vet the question openly and with open minds. Good work and best to all three of you.

    • dfl42

      “I’m not convinced it’s a good thing generally”

      It certainly doesn’t seem to be for everyone, but there are definitely plenty of examples of it going very, very well for people, in both short term and long term relationships. One friend of mine has been in relationships with the same two men for three decades as of this month.

    • Flimsyman

      Christopher here. I wouldn’t say that our friendship has been damaged. At least, I don’t feel that way.

      I’ve been good friends with people who have had much, much more irrational positions on a topic than “I’m not convinced that polyamory is generally a good thing.” I’m still open to evidence or argument that would convince me that our marriage would be stronger if we were monogamous, … it just seems really, really unlikely considering that we personally directly feel that our lives are enriched a great deal by our relationships with other people.

  • Timid Atheist

    Though I personally have never been involved in a polyamorous relationship, my brother was once upon a time. It turned out bad for him because the woman, who was the primary, with several revolving men, treated my brother like a doormat. No two relationships, whether monogamous or poly, are the same. I don’t think my brother regrets the relationship, he certainly learned a great deal from it.

    I find that while I think of myself as monogamous, it’s quite possible that I am poly with my affections. I’ve never really bothered to explore it and I probably never will in real life. But it’s made me realize that if I feel that way then there’s no harm with others feeling that way too. It took me awhile to get over my worry that I was simply fickle because of my Christian background. Once I realized that was where most of the baggage regarding polyamory came from, it was a lot easier to accept.

    I liked your account, but like another commenter pointed out, I’d be interested in Christina’s take on the events and what it’s like introducing someone to polyamory.

  • Shelley

    To answer a question above, Christina is definitely the one in that picture, and she’s holding a windshield wiper fluid bottle full of ALCOHOL (Yep. Blue stuff is alcohol. I was there.)
    You know, it’s rather fun to come read a friend’s blog to find a picture of your best friend and a post about their sexual encounter together. I was laughing by the end cause what JT says she said is just SO Chrissy. And I love JT’s reactions to what she says. Like Chris, my reaction to my married best friend and a friend JT hooking up, is none other than the word “cool”.
    I’m Asexual. I’ve never done it with either Chris or Chrissy, but I am sex positive – I support them and think whatever they do is fine.

    • Parse

      That antifreeze thing? That’s AWESOME. Everybody has heard about doing that trick with Windex bottles, but not antifreeze.

  • ziztur

    Hey kids!

    I am Christina.

    Yes, that is my pic.

    No, my hubby did not watch – he thinks watching is “sorta boring” and does not get off on it. No, we don’t have hidden cameras. The “cuddle room” is a large living room with a very very large sectional couch in it, a few antique chairs, and a TV. It’s meant to be a comfortable place to watch movies, play video games, and cuddle with our friends.

    In my estimation, polyamory is not easier than monogamy, not superior, and does not always involve sex. As the commenter earlier said, it is more about relationships.

    For example, if one or more partners of a married couple occasionally went out to bars for one night stands, I would not call them poly. Rather, I’d probably simply label them as having an open marriage.

    Chris and I are poly – we think relationships are more important than sex. We think it’s okay to have friendships that are also physically intimate. He has been seeing a woman for more than a year, and they refer to each other as boyfriend/girlfriend.

    JT and I are close friends. We care deeply for each other, and we’re physically intimate. Call it what you will. =D

    • kosk11348

      Sounds fun, Christina. Sorry for my earlier assumptions and insinuations.

      • Juby

        Hooray for being reasonable and admitting when you were wrong! You also win 10 internets for being a sane, rational, mature human being.

      • blondeintokyo

        Props to you, and apologies from me for my snark. :)

    • Flimsyman

      Hi! Christopher here.

      Yeah, there are poly people who get off on their partners being with other people, either through watching or hearing the detailed story later. Within this category, there is another spectrum; at one end is the cuckolding mentioned previously, at the other end is a dominant or “master” sharing the use of their submissive with others.

      Opposite of that broad category, there are people who know that their partner needs romantic and sexual openness, and so allows them that, but strongly prefers to not hear about it.

      For example, if anyone is curious, Christina thinks it’s really hot to see me with someone else. Me, I’ve watched her with other people, and it doesn’t do anything for me. It doesn’t turn me off, but it doesn’t really turn me on either. As she says, a little boring. I admit, having watched her give another guy a blowjob, my mind drifted to video games.

  • Celeste

    I have some close friends (two couples) that are poly-amorous and have been sad to see them sometimes get treated poorly by other friends because of it. It has been troubling for me because I simply don’t see why anyone not participating in poly-amory would care what another couple does. I equate it to the hostility aimed at gay/lesbian couples by homophobes. My own husband and I both had very bad experiences in our first marriages and because of that we feel extremely strongly about maintaining our own monogamy, but neither of us would ever push our own values on to our friends. Our poly-amorous friends are clearly happy and that is all that matters to us.

  • kaorunegisa

    Welcome to the club. Your t-shirt is in the mail.

    Seriously, I had a lot of the same reservations. When I was younger I was vehemently monogamous. I had my entire sense of honor in a relationship wrapped up in “not cheating” and “being a better guy.” And in the context of some of those relationships, that was the way it had to be.

    As I grew older, though, I stopped seeing the sense in it. Monogamy just didn’t seem to have a purpose other than meaningless platitudes about “If you care about somebody, you don’t want to have sex with anybody else.” This is, of course, insane. No matter how much you love somebody, you’re likely going to at least *want* to have sex with other people.

    Moreover, I started thinking about the paradox of how we view sex and relationships. On one hand, the singular measure for loyalty in a relationship is sexual fidelity. Not compassion, not emotional priority, and certainly not honesty. Only refusing to sleep with other people counts. However, we also say that sex is so unimportant that the idea of breaking up with somebody because you’re sexually incompatible makes you a huge jerk.

    Does that make sense to anybody else?

    Now I view sex as an activity, a pleasant one, but like any other. It’s something two or more people do together because they enjoy it. And I stopped viewing love as a finite resource that could very easily run out if given to too many people.

    Being both poly and bisexual, I’ve had the opportunity to be with a number of people, male and female, and a few couples. I’ve built a number of wonderful relationships, all emotional on one level or another, and I make an effort to observe the campsite rule (leave the person better than how you found them). This is a really huge world to explore and I genuinely wish you the best of luck in it. It’s not always easy, but I think you’ll find it satisfying.

  • tanyahiggins

    JT, as a woman in a polyamorous marriage, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated this peek “from the other side”. I’ve seen that nervousness on the face of a good friend fairly recently (and, thankfully, have also seen it evaporate as my husband high-fived him at the breakfast table), it’s wonderful to see words put to those emotions.

    Really, thank you for being so open. You’re awesome.

    • backin15

      Ok. I would like to point out that it was not a high 5, but a fist bump. He made you (my wife) happy, noticeable at the table for breakfast the next morning. I thought it only right to give him kudos. ;)

    • Dan Young

      I am also in a polyamorous relationship, and I agree completely–it really is so nice to hear the perceptions and feelings of someone from “the other side”; especially someone so open minded and thoughtful.

  • Paddy

    Cool. :)

  • martha

    So apparently this interesting experience started at Skepticon (where I am going for the first time). Eeep! I am not sure whether to treat that as an advertisement or a warning. 

  • The Nerd

    Haha! I have much less respect for Christina’s bed, I’ll admit. I’ve had sex with people I just met in it, while she watched. ;)

  • backin15

    Welcome to the world of Poly. Something I have noticed that now all poly get to see is the change of conversation when you say you are both an Atheist and Poly. Either you gave up god to have random sex or your godless ways removed your morals and now you a a sex beast. I really like the bathtub analogy. I shall be using that one more often.

    @Christina… Ha… we got another one. lol

  • Larry

    To what wonky societal myths do you refer JT? responsibility, trust, ethics, fidelity, faithfulness, emotional stability, reliability, etc?

    Those aren’t myths, those are attributes for a harmonious society as well as a harmonious marriage. I wouldn’t dismiss monogamy as having no redeeming value or as mythical. It can appear mythical if out of your grasp. I realize a majority of marriages don’t last, but many do, and those that do, it is because of those attributes.

    I’m not judging your experiences, I’ve had them myself, but they were void of the attributes that I would want in a life partner and any intimate relationships seeming are better seved with monogamy. I think that is inherent respect.

    Polyamory is fine for single people, but can easily be a disaster in marriage and some otherwise lasting loving relationships.

    I’ve never heard of a marriage vow that had ownership in it btw.

    • NotThatPenguin

      Responsibility, trust, ethics, emotional stability, and reliability are all possible and indeed nearly required to be in a healthy poly relationship, not just a monogamous one.

      As for fidelity and faithfulness? As a commenter earlier said, I don’t see ‘cheating’ to mean sleeping with someone who’s not you’re significant other, but as an act that breaks the the trust and or agreement you have with them. If you and your SO have decided that you can sleep with a person only after telling your partner, and you then sleep with a third person without following those ‘rules’, THAT’S cheating.

      I don’t think JT was saying that monogamy has no value or is a fraud. But setting it up as the ONLY way to have a good/strong relationship is not fair to those who want to have a polyamorous relationship.

    • ddr

      To paraphrase Terry Pratchett from his book “Hogfather”:

      Take the universe and grind it to the finest powder and sift it through the finest screen and then show me one particle of responsibility, trust, ethics, fidelity, faithfulness, emotional stability, or reliability.

      Of course they are myths. Like all myths, they do have a place in helping things run smoothly. But that doesn’t mean that they should become dogma and mean exactly the same to all people.

      Poly relationships can have all the things on your list. They just have slightly different definitions than the ones you would seem to except.

    • Flimsyman

      No, the societal myths that he’s talking about are notions like “any intimate relationships seeming are better seved with monogamy,” and that monogamy has some “inherent respect” that polyamory doesn’t have, and that polyamory can “easily be a disaster in marriage.”

      If you have good reasons for these assertions, I’m all ears. Your comment is just a string of condescending claims, though, societal myths, as JT said. You give no evidence or argument to support them, except for the insinuation that monogamy contains “list of positive relationship buzz-words,” while polyamory doesn’t.

      The rebuttal is simple, that’s completely wrong. My polyamorous marriage contains “responsibility, trust, ethics, fidelity, faithfulness, emotional stability, reliability,” and “inherent respect,” in abundance.

  • anthonyallen

    Great post JT, thanks for sharing!

    I think, if given the chance, I would be willing to try, but I don’t think I’d be able to handle it, emotionally. I was raised Catholic, so guilt is second nature to me.

    Plus, it’s hard enough finding just one. ;)


  • David Durant

    A lovely story – although in my poly experience having a metamour in the house at the same time is a bit… Odd… But, YMMV. :-)

    If any readers are based in the UK and would like an invite to a poly mailing list (where I will most definitely be posting a link to this post) comment on this.

  • pajamapaati

    I’ve recently identified myself as poly and am coming out about it.
    I want to highly recommend The Ethical Slut as a great manual not just for Poly101-ers like me but, I think, for honest and ethical relationships of all kinds.


    Sex At Dawn is good on the evolutionary and anthropological background, too.


    And when I hear people saying “it sounds ok but it’s not for me: I’m a one [wo]man [wo]man” I want to point out a distinction we can make between:

    a) Monogamy with a capital M as a dogma, “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Wife”-style (yes, basically derived from the Biblical idea of women as men’s property, extended now to men as women’s property – or at least men’s and women’s sexuality as each other’s property

    b) monogamy with a small ‘m’ as a description of how many sexual partners one actually has.

    It’s quite possible to reject capital-M Monogamy but to choose to have no more than one sexual partner concurrently. And one can choose a partner who also chooses to agree to have only yourself as a sexual partner. That’s choice; choice is Good!

    Burying someone in the ground and throwing rocks at them, or throwing them out of the house and throwing law suits at them, because they did something they did not voluntarily agree not to do in the first place, is Bad.

  • julian

    I’m going to tell you about having sex with a married woman.

    Someone knows how to grab an audience’s attention…

  • Serene

    Thanks for this. I’ve been poly (and out about it) my whole adult life, but I still like reading about people’s first experiences with that “Aha, you don’t HAVE to be monogamous if you don’t want to be!” moment.

  • Kendra Holliday

    This story and the comments make me sooo happy!

    Christina/Ziztur is a friend of mine and it was so much fun reading your description of your experience at her house (aka the Skeptipalace.) (A lot of my friends have commented here – hi friends! Hi Shelley Andy Flimsy!)

    So excited for Christina to host Sex Positive St Louis’s next clothing optional party – FLESHTIVUS!

    Being open and honest is so liberating and one of the best side effects is that you get to make your wildest dreams come true!

    Sex is natural, fun. Naked bodies are natural, fun.

    Shed the shame and guilt! Read Sex at Dawn!

    - A message from yet another happy, well-adjusted and extremely satisfied poly person

  • Ana

    You know, I actually found out polyamory about the same time I found atheism and skepticism, and it was one of those things that really opened my mind and shattered prejudices. Although I’m not in a polyamorous relationship, I find it a totally awesome way of looking at love and life.
    Some food for thought: I find the coming-out stories of polyamorous people extremely similar to those of atheists, specially in the discrimination and family lashback they receive. I read a lot of personal blogs, and sometimes I just think “Gosh, I wish I could introduce this poly-person to this atheist-person!”

  • Brock


    I’m going to quibble with your definition of polyamory – “both Christina and her husband had sex with other people.”

    That definition would just mean they’re in an open relationship. (Of course, you should add “by mutual consent” to that. If a husband and wife both cheated on each other, that would not make their relationship open.)

    Polyamory implies that one or both partners have *relationships* with other people (again, by mutual consent). The sex is not necessarily just casual sex.

  • Sam

    A question. Why include marriage in a polyamorous relationship?

    • Brock

      The polys I know generally have one primary, and one or more secondary relationships, and those in the primary relationship may be married, for the same reasons that people in exclusive relationships get married.

    • Ben

      Marriage, for me, is about creating a binding commitment to another person with regards to spending a life together. It is about raising children together, about caring for each other when we hurt, about sharing joys. It is, however, not about limiting the extent to which my wife (or I) are permitted to experience our own lives. To be trite, marriage is a foundation, not a fence.

      • Sam

        Fair enough. Thanks, you two.

      • Robert

        Nicely worded. To open up instead of closing in.

  • Susara

    As someone from outside the ‘club’ I feel there is a huge white elephant in the room that, except for a passing reference by one commenter, has simply been ignored in this discussion: children.

    What does a polyamorous couple do when the woman falls pregnant? Is it assumed that she will abort? Will she do DNA tests before the abortion to first consult with the appropriate man on the course of action? Does the ‘official’ husband assume parentage regardless of the biological reality?

    What did people do before DNA tests, when parentage based on blood groups couldn’t identify a particular person as the biological father?

    An honest discussion of open/poly relationships has to address these issues. To you sex may just be another fun way to spend time (better than checkers) but for someone else those moments are the reason for them being in existence.

    • pajamapaati

      As someone from outside the ‘club’ I feel there is a huge white elephant in the room that, except for a passing reference by one commenter, has simply been ignored in this discussion: children.

      What does a polyamorous couple do when the woman falls pregnant? Is it assumed that she will abort? Will she do DNA tests before the abortion to first consult with the appropriate man on the course of action? Does the ‘official’ husband assume parentage regardless of the biological reality?

      That’s an interesting question. Interesting because it presupposes that, as per institutional Monogamy, there’s a Polyamory dogma which determines what one should do. Whereas in poly it’s pretty much up to the people concerned to work out for themselves, honestly and openly (the only ‘rules’ of polyamory).

      I’ve met and talked with a few poly parents, proxy-parents and wannabe-parents at Poly Day in London this summer, and particularly at the workshop on poly parenting there; and there are also parents on the uk poly mailing lists who talk about their experiences. I gather that biological parents as ‘primary’ couple is a popular model, with other partners sharing the parenting to various degrees. This is not so different from conventional families where the biological parents have split up and have new partners.

      What did people do before DNA tests, when parentage based on blood groups couldn’t identify a particular person as the biological father?

      “Sex At Dawn” talks about this at length. TL;DR version: in human societies before agriculture and patriarchy (and still in forager societies today) the concept of biological paternity was absent or unimportant and children were/are brought up by the community as a whole.

      An honest discussion of open/poly relationships has to address these issues. To you sex may just be another fun way to spend time (better than checkers) but for someone else those moments are the reason for them being in existence.

      Some poly relationships may be “sex for fun” (as the one described in this blog post seems to be), others may be loving and emotional but not sexual (poly is about love, not just sex) and some may be (and are) sexual, emotional, long-lasting live-in and raising children relationships.

      • Susara

        Thanks for the toughtful reply. I did not assume that there would be a single dogma within the poly community, but I am intersted in how people actually practically solve these problems. Society has built up an entire set of conventions around the assumtion that marriage is monogamous; something else has to replace those convensions to ensure that eveyone’s on the same page.

        Do poly people really sit down and sort this out on a per-couple basis? How common is it really to do so? Or do most people just carry on and then handle the situation only when someone does fall pregnant?

        As for your comment on pre-agricultural societies; I think you may be generalising a bit. I am not an anthropologist and there may well be societies where the identity of the father is really a non-issue and all males contribute to the upbringing of all children equally, but I’d be surprised if this is a true statement in general.

        All societies, from what I know, have marriage as an institution. I know the Southern African San does. I also know that Southern African Blacks like the Zulu and Sotho and Xhosa are most definitely aware of who the fathers of their children are and they were so before Western cultural influence. Ok these cultures practiced some agrigulture but they were still very much nomadic pastoralists.

        • JaydeRaven

          On the pregnancy topic, I also have to mention that I, like the other poly people I know personally, practice “safe” sex – especially outside of the primary relationship. Now, I have had secondary relationships that have lasted over twenty years, but we have both had other relationships (obviously) and while I may trust him intimately, there is *always* the chance that somewhere along the line he has been exposed to an STD and I prefer not to take that risk personally and prefer to use condoms. I also made the choice to use a permanent birth control method prior to moving into the poly lifestyle – not that I made that choice because of being poly – I made that choice because I was finished having children. :)

          I guess I just wanted to point out that simply because we choose not to be monogamous does not mean that we do not practice safe sex. However, I know there are poly people who do prefer to have unprotected sex and even enjoy the possibility of children with multiple partners, but I do not have any experience with this. Hopefully someone who does have experience with this can shed more light on it!

        • VJ

          I think I have a good example of how a poly family could function with regards to a child.

          First, the obligatory quick intro. I’m a poly, bi/queer woman in two relationships and dating a third person.

          The person I’m dating, he and his girlfriend (and her husband, her wife, the wife’s husband, and her ex-boyfriend) live in a big household. The people in this house are all poly, each to their own extents. The GF wants to have a baby, sometime within the next year or so. She has two options for the father of her child: her husband or her BF. Her husband has shown some reluctance about the fathering of children, but the BF has not (have heard all this from her). I assume that there have been many discussions about this between the three of them (because I know her fairly well and that’s how she processes things).

          This household is a family. Any child born into this family will be parented to a certain extent by everyone in the household. There are many people outside the household who would be involved, to a lesser extent, in that child’s life, as they are chosen family. There are several people attached to household people (the GF’s husband’s GF, the ex-BF’s girlfriend, and myself), who, if they remain in the progression/path they’re on, might choose to have some sort of role. Or might choose not to.

          In general, the poly people I know are the most safe-sex conscious people I know, mostly because they are hyper-aware of the complications that come from having sex with multiple partners, including issues such as STDs/STIs and pregnancy. I know I have become a lot more picky about this since I started identifying as poly.

  • Evan

    Great Post JT! I love when people are open enough to share about their most intimate experiences, and use those stories to share how they now better understand the world. That sir, is why many of us like to call you a role model :)

  • RD

    I’m reading this with interest because the discrimination against same sex marriage has a rider that polygamous or polyamorous marriage can’t be far behind. The conflation of homosexuality with anything else is dishonest. Discrimination against gay people (obviously in other areas besides marriage), won’t make a hetero person more moral or virtuous than Jim Crow made white people more moral or virtuous.
    However, polygamy does have negative consequences, but in a way I’d have to say polyamory does too.
    Let me explicate that.
    Having multiple partners is a matter of CHOICE. We choose our social connections and networks. In some ways certain forms of familial and social neglect lead to negative networks like gang membership, substance addiction and promiscuity.
    Sexual orientation, and we all have one, obviously ISN’T a matter of choice.
    But sex, is the most intimate and vulnerable aspect of our lives. With it already comes some inherent complications or extensions of basic emotions AND situations. Like falling in love, pregnancy, need of intimacy. Especially in a time of crisis.
    We can have very close and essential relationships that are multiple, without sex.
    The most important foundation that’s necessary in all of them, is trust.
    Monogamous relationships requires trust, and the kind of commitment that represents LOYALTY and SACRIFICE. There’s a kind of emotional maturity and intelligence that adheres to and embraces that function of relationships.
    Polyamorists seem immature and lacking in self sacrifice. Although they think of themselves as honest, and doing what people should be FREE to do, deeper in the issue is SHOULD people behave that way?
    This is where the exercise in staying monogamous is noble and engenders trust.
    The reason why those whose goal is monogamy look askance at polyamorists is wondering at what time their spouses are ripe for seduction by someone with less boundaries? In what way will a pregnancy complicate the time and inheritance of children established in a legal marriage? HOW MANY is enough to include in the network of one’s most intimate lives?
    With work, and just the hustle gainful employment requires, when is the time for DEEP intimacy and closeness going to win the day, instead of competition for the affections of others or one’s children?
    I think polyamorists give LIP SERVICE to honesty in their thoughts, wants, needs and activity…but when it’s all said and done, the most loyal of intimacy gives a quality of purpose to monogamy that is more useful and important to emotional and physical growth and trust.
    Polyamorists, in a different way, are HIGH MAINTENANCE individuals. Spreading themselves over several people, but giving little, actually.
    We might say, to each their own, it’s not hurting anyone. But that’s dishonest too. It hurts the depths of what makes us bond to another human being so strongly, it teaches them what that strength is and means. Perhaps polyamorists just aren’t people who can or are willing to BE that strong.
    Just sayin’

    • exnihilio

      Gay polyamorist here. You’re welcome to believe that those negative ALL CAPS aspersions are broadly applicable to poly people, but I certainly don’t. Gay marriage leading to legalized polyamory is obviously a non-sequitur, as much as I wish that were true. Why not rail against those who make that absurd claim rather than actual polyamorists? Given your broad generalizations I don’t get the sense that you know many poly people in real life. Cheerleading for monogamy is like cheerleading for asparagus. It’s for you or it isn’t at the end of the day and given the right to free association there is effectively nothing you can do about it. We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it? Remember? You come off sounding like the very homophobes that you oppose, sniping at imagined group character weaknesses from a smug position of monogamist privilege. If you want to, as I do, advocate for gay marriage there is no need to start trouble with a group of people that, with few exceptions, support you wholeheartedly in your endeavors.

    • MoreToAdore

      RD said: “Monogamous relationships requires trust, and the kind of commitment that represents LOYALTY and SACRIFICE.”

      Poly relationships require trust, commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice as well – maybe more so than any monogamous relationship requires. When my partner’s spouse is ill or needs more time and attention for any reason, I sacrifice what would usually be my time with my partner knowing that his spouse needs it more. My husband’s girlfriend does the same for me. When my husband and I have family obligations, our partners understand and sacrifice their usual time with us. We do the same for them. Even if we didn’t care for our partner’s spouses/other partners (which we do), we sacrifice out of loyalty to the ones we love, and because we are committed to their well being and happiness.

      Beyond the emotional, we sometimes have to sacrifice beginning a new relationship with someone due to that person’s health status, or simply because of time commitments to our existing partners. Contrary to popular belief, polyamorists do not run around having indiscriminate sex simply because we can. We are acutely aware that we have a commitment to those we care about, and trust each other to be responsible and safe. Our own and others health is at stake.

      RD said: “The reason why those whose goal is monogamy look askance at polyamorists is wondering at what time their spouses are ripe for seduction by someone with less boundaries?”

      This a common misconception about poly people – that we just run around having sex with anyone we can. Um, no. Most poly people I know have more respect for the commitment between a monogamous couple than many of the individuals in those couples. We hold ourselves to a very high standard of ethics. The last thing we want to do is help some moral degenerate betray the love and trust of their partner. Perhaps this is a good time to include the most common and accepted definition of polyamory: Having a loving, intimate relationship with more than one person at a time with the knowledge and consent of EVERYONE involved. I and most of the poly folks I know want to meet and speak with the partner of someone we’re interested in being involved with to make sure we are all on the same page. One of the points of being poly is being able to be open and honest about our desires and not having to lie and sneak around to satisfy them. To be frank, that behavior is more in the realm of monogamists who cheat on their partners.

      RD said: “I think polyamorists give LIP SERVICE to honesty in their thoughts, wants, needs and activity…but when it’s all said and done, the most loyal of intimacy gives a quality of purpose to monogamy that is more useful and important to emotional and physical growth and trust.”

      This made me chuckle a little. If there’s one thing polyamory REQUIRES, it’s honesty about our thoughts, wants, needs, and activities. More than anything else, polyamory has taught me to communicate honestly, clearly, and often. How else could I get my needs met and have any idea what my partner’s needs and expectations are? I learned the beginnings of this when my husband and I were newly married and monogamous. I received a crash course on a much more intense level when we became polyamorus. The most consistent cause of failure in poly relationships I’ve seen is a lack of consistent, clear, communication.

      When you have more than two individuals joined in/by multiple relationships, you have to work harder to make sure everyone’s needs are being met and nobody is feeling left out or neglected. It’s a synergistic way of life – if one person is unhappy, the people who care about that person are unhappy, the people who care about them are unhappy, and so on. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure all involved are happy. Just like a monogamous relationship, we are happiest when the ones we love are happy. I have grown more emotionally as a polyamorists than I was ever inspired and/or required to as a monogamist. It’s taught me true compassion for others, and generosity of spirit to care about another person simply because someone I love cares for them.

      RD said: “Polyamorists, in a different way, are HIGH MAINTENANCE individuals. Spreading themselves over several people, but giving little, actually.”

      I’m very curious as to what you are basing your assertion on? So far most of the things you’ve said about polyamorists have been incredibly inaccurate. You sound like someone who has no actual experience with polyamory or those who practice it. Assumptions without actual experiences are worth little. By the same logic, no one is capable of being a truly good friend if they have more than one.

      Our society condones, and even encourages individuals to have more than one friend. People are often judged in fact, by the number of friends they have. Being popular is often seen as a positive thing that reflects how likable an individual is.

      Having a large group of supportive friends is considered a very healthy thing. In this way we can enjoy a wide variety of interests and satisfy a range of needs that having only one friendship could rarely accomplish. It’s extraordinarily rare that one person can be and give everything another person wants and needs. We as human beings are complex with multifaceted personalities. Each friend trains a light on a different combination of those facets. If we are very fortunate, the combination of friends we’ve chosen allows us to shine fully as an individual, and we in turn do our parts to help our friends do the same. This is viewed as a positive, healthy thing in our society.

      Unfortunately the majority of our society immediately frowns on any sex that isn’t heterosexual and within the confines of a committed, monogamous relationship. When you add sex to those supportive, loving friendships described above, you have polyamory. Just as with friends, some relationships are deep and lifelong, while others are somewhat more casual, but genuine all the same. To say polyamorists are high maintenance and give little to their relationships simply because they have more than one is tantamount to saying people with more than one friend are incapable of being loving, supportive, quality friends. Adding sex only deepens the intimacy of those relationships. As RD said, we can have very close and essential relationships that are multiple, without sex. Obviously we can and I do. I also have multiple close and essential relationships that do include sex, and my life is richer and more fulfilling because of it.

      RD said: “We might say, to each their own, it’s not hurting anyone. But that’s dishonest too. It hurts the depths of what makes us bond to another human being so strongly, it teaches them what that strength is and means. Perhaps polyamorists just aren’t people who can or are willing to BE that strong.”

      Wow. This final assumption is truly rooted in years of monogamous dogma. Just as you can have a deep, strong bond with more than one friend, sibling, or child, and just as adding another friend, sibling, or child to ones life takes no love away from those you already had, the same is true of multiple love relationships. Love is not a limited resource. It can’t be diluted by sharing it with more than one person. The more love you give, the more you receive in return. There’s no need for competition – there’s always enough for everyone.

      In conclusion, the most important thing being polyamorus has taught me is that we do not own our partners. They are not possessions we can choose to share or not with others. My partner’s intimacy with me and mine with them is a gift freely given, not something “owed” to me or them by virtue of simply having a relationship. In every relationship, monogamous or poly, our partners own themselves and choose with whom they share themselves. The only difference is the kind of relationship you and your partner agree to have.

  • Pseudonymous

    I was watching you lead the “congregation” at Skepticon in one window and surfing to your blog in the other, and then suddenly I had to stop the video and read read read.

    I’m glad you had such a good experience! Maybe it was my Catholic upbringing, but I’ve been surprised to find over the past couple years that I had a lot of strong feelings about relationships and sex that just kind of fell away when I started having relationships and sex. I “knew” I needed some magical deep level of commitment and quite a bit of waiting time before I could have sex with someone — it absolutely didn’t turn out that way, but then I realized that nothing had gone wrong, either. I thought that, at least when I was in a relationship, I could only be physical with that person — and then realized that wasn’t what was happening, either.

    My girlfriend had boggled my mind by saying she didn’t see a great need for monogamy, and didn’t see how not-being-monogamous spelled death to our own commitment. She simply said, “I love *you*,” and it started to make sense to me. Granted, we’re in an open relationship but currently only *romantically* committed to each other; and while I’ve been physical with other people, there hasn’t yet been a situation where I’ve had to confront my own feelings about her being with other people, which is probably the true test. But I’ve shed a lot of my own insecurity as I’ve found it to be irrelevant; monogamy doesn’t necessarily equal “true love” and nonmonogamy itself doesn’t endanger the love I cherish.

    The most surprising thing is…how normal it all is (at least for us). And “normal” is exactly how you make it sound. I want to say both “congratulations,” and “thank you!”

  • chrishawthorne

    I don’t really have anything profound to say, other than for whatever reason I think the idea of multiple partners is disgusting. I was involved with two girls at one point, and consider that the lowest point of my life. I don’t see what the point of marriage is if you still want to experience intimacy or a relationship with someone else. Hopefully, I won’t get e-stabbed for going against the trend in the comments. I appreciate you sharing your experience, JT.. just wouldn’t be for me.

    • JaydeRaven

      Well, as it has been said before – poly isn’t for everyone. However, I would love to know what else was going on in your life at that time that made it such a traumatizing time. Did your partners know about each other? Were you honest with them about your relationship with the other? If you were not completely honest with them, then you have no experience with poly, to be quite honest, and cannot compare what you experienced with polyamory.

      As for marriage, I suppose I am not the best person to address that, as I tend to view marriage as a religious/political tool of control. Now, if you are speaking of an emotional marriage – a commitment to another- then that IS the point. As has been noted here several times, often a poly person has a “primary” relationship (not always!), in which they have a home with someone else and raise children, etc. That *is* the point – there is no reason why a poly person cannot make a commitment to love someone and share his/her life with someone while being actively poly. I’ve been in a committed relationship for five years – we share a home, we raise a child, pay bills, go grocery shopping, share a bed and so on… when I am sick, he takes care of me and visa versa (though he’s better at that than I am… :) ). Do my other relationships take away from that? Nope. If anything, they add to it. I mentioned above that I have an intimate relationship/friendship that has gone on for twenty years – he is NOT my primary partner, simply because we do not mesh well that way. He is a dear and loving friend and I do love him, but while I cherish our friendship, we know each other well enough to know that sharing a household/raising children/etc together would not work.

      • chrishawthorne

        It was two females, simultaneously. They knew about each other, obviously, as they were both taking part in it — but never in my life have I done something I regret so much.

        Just reading this post from JT has made me question all of my morals and just what I think makes a person good, because my first instinct is to say, “Oh, well JT is not as good a person as I thought.”

        I would never be with someone who had been in a poly amorous relationship and I would never consider it for myself. I just think that sex is something between two people, and I could never accept someone who was physically non-exclusive.

  • Icy Cantu

    The Wiles of the Harlot

    My son, keep my words
    And treasure my commandments within you.
    Keep my commandments and live,
    And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
    Bind them on your fingers;
    Write them on the tablet of your heart.
    Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
    And call understanding your intimate friend;
    That they may keep you from an adulteress,
    From the foreigner who flatters with her words.
    For at the window of my house
    I looked out through my lattice,
    And I saw among the naive,
    And discerned among the youths
    A young man lacking sense,
    Passing through the street near her corner;
    And he takes the way to her house,
    In the twilight, in the evening,
    In the middle of the night and in the darkness.
    And behold, a woman comes to meet him,
    Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.
    She is boisterous and rebellious,
    Her feet do not remain at home;
    She is now in the streets, now in the squares,
    And lurks by every corner.
    So she seizes him and kisses him
    And with a brazen face she says to him:
    “I was due to offer peace offerings;
    Today I have paid my vows.
    “Therefore I have come out to meet you,
    To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you.
    “I have spread my couch with coverings,
    With colored linens of Egypt.
    “I have sprinkled my bed
    With myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
    “Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning;
    Let us delight ourselves with caresses.
    “For my husband is not at home,
    He has gone on a long journey;
    He has taken a bag of money with him,
    At the full moon he will come home.”
    With her many persuasions she entices him;
    With her flattering lips she seduces him.
    Suddenly he follows her
    As an ox goes to the slaughter,
    Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool,
    Until an arrow pierces through his liver;
    As a bird hastens to the snare,
    So he does not know that it will cost him his life.
    Now therefore, my sons, listen to me,
    And pay attention to the words of my mouth.
    Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
    Do not stray into her paths.
    For many are the victims she has cast down,
    And numerous are all her slain.
    Her house is the way to Sheol,
    Descending to the chambers of death.
    -Proverbs 7