A puppy pile is perhaps the only thing that rivals my love for monogamy…

I have been thinking a lot recently about polyamorous relationships, so bear with me folks, because this is going to be long and ranty. I’m an XoJane.com addict, and in the past week two articles have surfaced—one from Jessica on not understanding open relationships, and one from Kate (Ladycrush alert! Look at her adorable pixie haircut! Swoon.) on how she is dating a couple.

But the site has a plethora of articles about the topic, including a series from one woman whose boyfriend wanted to open the relationship. Readers watched the couple open it (well, read about it) and saw the relationship fail  “epically” as a result.

I enjoyed reading all of the different takes on monogamy, polyamory and open relationships, and sometimes—especially when reading about people who seem so much more emotionally evolved than I—I worry my passion for monogamy is a bit archaic.

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Baby don't hurt meeeeee

I rant a lot about sex, and I make loads (hah, loads) of lewd remarks, and I am so pro-slut it may seem like I’m all about casual sex. While I think casual sex can be great for those who enjoy it, I actually hate casual sex. Okay, sorry. I dislike casual sex. Hate is for Hitler. I don’t dislike the idea of it, I dislike the physical act of it. It makes me uncomfy, and as a result, I have never really had good casual sex. Sorry if we bumped drunk uglies and you’re reading this and thinking “awww, shit.” I promise, it wasn’t you, it was me. I much prefer stinking up my sheets with a regular, consistent partner. And even more so, I prefer gettin’ it on with someone I love, all Percy Sledge style.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about love. Specifically, I have been thinking about love versus its sneaky doppelganger, attachment.  What is the difference between love and attachment? How can we differentiate between the two feelings, which often become entangled faster than two teens with the lights off.

Love, to me, is a feeling of deep trust and connection. It also produces the type of endorphin induced high that makes me grin like an asshole for no reason at all. (Do assholes grin? There’s a thought.) I love the feeling of love; I want to roll around in it like catnip and then wear it to bed like my boyfriend’s stinky t-shirt.  Love is flexible, and grows with you and around you and even if you have been together forever, love can feel exciting.

Attachment is that angsty feeling you get about someone. Attachment is the feeling of need. Love and attachment are often entangled because they can go hand in hand. You can be in loved and also be attached—most are, which is why we hate being away from those we love. But you don’t have to be in love to be attached. Often we confuse attachment for love, and the easiest way that I can differentiate between the two is this: When you’re in love, you want the other person to be happy. When you’re attached, you want the other person to make YOU happy. Attachment is not really about the other person, but the way that other person makes YOU feel. That’s where that corny saying “If you truly love someone, let them go,” comes from. “But what? I LOVE them. I don’t want to let them go!” says the ego. Echoed behind this is mine mine mine mine.

Defining love is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because it’s a feeling, and how do you define a feeling? Poets have spent centuries trying to define love—some more successfully than others. Whenever I think about trying to put this short-bus-special feeling into words, I am usually reminded of an extremely charged scene in that deliciously dramatic Mike Nichols film, Closer. I love this movie because it only has four cast members—Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and…gasm..gasm…Clive Owen—and I want to bathe each and every one of them with my tongue, all careful and cat-like. The movie is all about sex and love, and yet shows more of the latter and none of the former (aside from an awk cyber-sex scene between Owen and Law). I am completely enamored with this movie, because of its raw characters and sloppy, real life scenarios. Everyone in it is an asshole, and all of them are likable.  Anyway, at one point, Portman’s character says to Law, “Where is this love? I can’t see it, I can’t touch it. I can’t feel it. I can hear it. I can hear some words, but I can’t do anything with your easy words.” Ooooph.

During my last Big Breakup, my ex and I sat arguing about The End. He kept repeating (much like Law’s character in the aforementioned scene) the big L word. Finally, channeling my inner Portman, I asked if he could please specifically pinpoint what this feeling of Love is, and why it is so important to him.

After a long pause, he uttered a word that sent my inner-hopeless romantic screaming out of the room, tearing at her hair and slamming the door—and our relationship—shut behind her.  Comfortable. “You’re comfortable,” was what he said.

Comfortable? My bed is comfortable. I look forward to lying down in my bed. I would prefer my bed over the cold floor. If my bed was gone, I would miss it. I enjoy my comfy, comfy bed. But that, my friend, is not love. That is attachment. Attachment is wanting what is comfortable, what is convenient. Love is not always so.

Not that love cannot be comfortable. Love should be comfortable. When we are truly connected to someone else, we should feel comfortable with them. And sometimes, when you have been together  a long, long time, that excited In Love feeling may—after the golden retriever and the kids and the second mortgage—turn into a comfortable partnership. Sure, that happens. There are more important things in a functioning relationship than feeling so excited about someone that the majority of your orifices begin to salivate when they walk into a room. But the sheer feeling of comfort should never ever be mistaken for love.

Personally, I know I am in love when I find myself wanting to share things  that are special to me with that other person. It’s a way of opening myself emotionally, and I often notice it most with places and people that are special to me. My sleepy southern college town nestled in the blue ridge mountains, for instance. I’ve been itching to take my boyfriend there for a reason that is hard to verbalize. This is special to me, this is a part of who I am. Here. You have it.  Or friends who have made a significant impact on my life; I want my partner to meet them. And when something good happens, that other person is the first I want to tell. I have been in non-loving relationships with people that I want to separate from things that are sacred to me. I remember dating a guy and realizing I wasn’t into him when I noticed I never, ever wanted him to come to my house. I liked going to his place so I could leave when I wanted and not feel like he was invading my space. When I love some, I want my space to be their space, too. Get in me!

So what is love to you? How do you differentiate between love and attachment? Have you seen the movie Closer? Do you not want to breathe Natalie Portman’s heavenly pink-wigged stripper scent?

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courtesy of Roland Darby

Recently I discussed how I am a bit of a serial monogamist and don’t enjoy being single for long, as I am really pretty bad at having casual sex. Well, the sex is usually good, but I’m pretty terrible at keeping it casual. Anyway, if you are a rational person you might think that not liking casual sex is akin to not liking to feel slutty! Oh, how you are wrong!

I actually love feeling slutty. You see, most people don’t realize that slutty and “easy” are too very different things. Important note: There is nothing wrong with being “easy!” Sleep with whoever you want, whenever you want! No judgements. But easy and slutty are two different things. One who is easy is, well, bouncing into bed with ease. One who is slutty is uninhibited, a master of their bedroom prowess, playful, creative and confident. Someone who is easy can still insist on the missionary position with the lights off—they just may insist on doing it with the better portion of their college football team and/or the first girl that looks in their direction on any given Friday night. Again, non judgements! Sometimes going home with the first acceptable candidate is a terrific idea… But someone who is slutty may only have slept with a small handful of people, or just one person!—yet is into trying new things, showing off what they’ve got and looks at sex with the same sense of curiosity and gusto they would any other aspect of their life.

So you see, I get to feel super slutty whenever I want, within the comfort of my own relationship, and without the feeling like I may or may not be contracting Chlamydia!

Let me stop my incessant rambling… here are a handful of ways you can be a super slut without being super easy. Or you can be both slutty AND easy. More power to you.

5 ways to release your inner slut:

1. Be Open. A slut is up for just about anything and looks at new experiences as a challenge to be met. Whether you take direction from your partner or come up with your own fresh plan of action—propping a mirror at the foot of the bed for a racy visual, dirty talking in a false british accent (hot or annoying? You tell me!) or playing with a new toy—a slut is unpredictable and spontaneous.

2. Exude Confidence. Sluts don’t hide under the covers—they are comfortable in their skin. Hanging around in the nude or stomping about in lingerie and heels should make you feel super-saucy—even if you’re alone. And don’t forget dudes can be sluts too…maybe no heels, but put on whatever makes you feel hot. Suspenders for a little Magic Mike action? I donno, whatever gets you!

3. Get Verbal.
 Sluts aren’t only having sex, they are talking about it too. Whether that means amping up the dirty talk while in the bedroom, dishing about it with friends or telling your man(or woman!) friend what you want to do to them later—verbalizing your sexuality is a good thing. While sipping coffee at a cafe or having dinner with your friends/lesbian god-mother/parents, quietly telling your man what you plan on doing to him when you get home. Ooh, and I love drunk sexting.

4. Be Mistake-Free.
A true slut will never look at a past sexual experience as a mistake; it was something that seemed fun at the time, and you learned from it—or at least had a really awesome time. No regrets for you!

5. Love Being Slutty. Unlike someone who feels embarrassed or insecure about their sexuality, a slut is proud of who they are and what they want. They enjoy taking chances, exploring new outlets and being free to do what (and whom) they choose. For instance, a slut never feels obligated to perform any sexual favor… They either don’t do it, or they do it with a naughty grin on their face.  However, and this is key, a slut knows their limits. If there is something you truly are against doing—anal sex or that threesome with your college room mate your boyfriend keeps suggesting—put your slutty little foot down. No means no!

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Aww. Vomit.

I am always in a relationship. I’m a serial monogamist. Seriously, when it comes to partners, I’m a bit like a hermit crab. As soon as I’ve shed one shell (read: significant other) I scuttle around all naked feeling and awkward looking in search of the next suitable shell. I’ve done this for a decade now—never spending more than a 6 month period not in a monogamous relationship.

While I admit this is probably not the healthiest behavior, I have come to terms with it. Someone (probably a therapist) once pointed out that my hermit crab analogy implies that I need a significant other for protection, and to feel whole. Blah blah blah,  psycho babble. I LIKE being in a relationship. Plus, I  have tried to change it, getting out of a bad relationship and saying to myself (and the rest of my friends/drunken bar patrons) “That’s it! No more relationships! I am going to enjoy being single!”

But the truth is I don’t enjoy being single. I like having someone to come home to, someone to call when I need help, someone to take care of if I feel the need to nurture, and someone who can take care of me when I need it! And of course, don’t forget the cuddling!

And then there is the real reason I don’t enjoy being single: I really like sex. What? Single people have tons of sex! When I am single, and I want to have sex, that means having at least somewhat casual sex. From totally casual one-night stand deals to laid back friends-with-benefits situations, casual sex makes me down-right anxious. I have been in situations where I sleep with someone who I am attracted to but whom I would never ever actually consider dating, and then all of a sudden I am running around wringing my hands and wondering why they aren’t calling me! I go from collected and self-assured to spazz status. I fight an inner battle with myself going “but you don’t even like them!” and responding with “but..they should be calling! Or texting! Facebook chat!” I end up hyperventilating while resisting all urges to contact the sexer for fear of coming off as clingy.

Or worse, I end up dating someone who I only planned on sleeping with once or twice. Perfect example is the guy I dated for an entire year during college. Aside from the fact he was adorable, I slept with him because I had just gotten out of a relationship, and this dude was a total stoner, did nothing but play video games all day and had his mother help him with his class assignments. I am still not totally sure if he showered regularly. Totally un-datable. The perfect candidate for a short-nothing-type fling. Except then I got involved, and then we were dating, and then I spent 9 out of the 12 months we were together trying to break up with him only to change my mind every time when he burst into tears. Damn you, sensitive side.

One of my room mates in college was convinced that my inability to enjoy singlehood would be solved if I only had an array of sex toys ala the Dresden Dolls ‘Coin Operated Boy’. Her self-proclaimed ingenious method was that she would go to parties and flirt with whoever she wanted to, knowing she wouldn’t take them home because her vibrator would do a better job anyways. To further ensure she would go home alone she would stop shaving. (She was Italian.) She was often found at 2 p.m. yelling down the stairs “do you have any AA batteries?!” as I cozied on the couch with my mancandy, allowing her the room to herself and…herself.

I revel in not only the satisfaction but also the feeling of connection that goes along with sex, something that cannot be quenched via an orgasm from a piece of buzzing plastic. Not that I am bashing masturbation, not at all! But I imagine after a handful of weeks playing solely with myself, well I would get a bit lonely! But I could be wrong. The next time I find myself naked and shell-less (read:single), perhaps I will order a plethora of new sex toys instead of finding someone new to date. Pfft…who am I kidding?

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