The Dirt: A Free Lovin’ Man

This is a story about a man with an open heart, a free mind, and a high libido. We decided not to identify him because we wanted him not to censure himself for the sake of a job, and a society that may not condone his life choices. He is no Don Juan, he’s just a man who makes compost and love.

He’s lived in a shack in the backyard of a share house in Sydney for the last three years. It’s comprised of a curved bamboo frame and some plastic over the top. It looks like a home-made greenhouse and has been called many things from a love cocoon, a love tunnel and a bower. He just calls it his room.

We explore his backyard together; the leopard print doona on his bed, pumpkins twining around the swimming pool fence, the chickens hungry for afternoon tea, and the two outdoor bathtubs in preparation for an upcoming house party. My reason for visiting is to talk about sex, so I bring it up rather awkwardly. He says he is nervous but is much more eloquent than I. Here is what he said:

“I don’t have any particular philosophy I subscribe to with sex or relationships. I’ve had a range of relationships; long, short, monogamous, committed, some long polyamorous relationships, and other undefined things that have come and gone over many years. I’ve experienced all sorts of things.

For me, connection is much more important that the physical act of sex. But not always. Sometimes it’s simple and physical, and that’s a kind of connection too.

I like to be open to what comes up between different people. With different combinations of people at different times, different things are suitable. I’ve gotten a lot of delight from being flexible and open about that.

Where do you think this openness came from? Were you born with it, or is it something you cultivated?

“I worked on it. When I was younger I had always been fairly social and had a lot of connections, including sexual ones, but not any more than normal. But in my early 20’s something happened. It wasn’t about sex specifically. I was doing resource economics at university. I thought it was the best way to save the world because economics drives everything. I just didn’t enjoy it, even though I thought it was important. I quit and did science and arts and all the subjects I wanted to do.

Once I stopped doing things I thought I should do, I started doing things I loved. I figured if I did things I loved then I would get better at them, and be closer to the person I wanted to be. That decision, and the liberation it brought me in my mid twenties was a big thing for me. I blossomed. I had lots of sex, and became more open to seeing where things went with different people. It was like a snowball.

I fell for someone who had a boyfriend overseas in my mid 20s. We had an undefined relationship. That was the start of polyamory for me. It was quite influential. She wasn’t actually that radical in terms of philosophy but she just didn’t do well in normal relationships. Through loving someone like that I learnt to be more flexible. I found a whole lot of stuff I really liked and let go of a lot of social conceptions about sex, like ‘if you’re having sex with someone there must be all this other stuff happening as well’, or, ‘if you do this, thou shalt not do that’. I found it very liberating to let go of all that.

It was very hard for me, that relationship. But then since then I’ve had far less difficulties, and have been often surprised how easy things can be in polyamorous relationships. I’ve learnt to communicate really clearly, and to drop expectations. If there’s no default social contract both people are signing without reading, then you need to actually talk a lot more.

I imagine communication would have to be one of the most important aspects of a polyamorous relationship. But what about jealousy?

“I often surprise myself by not getting jealous. But I am definitely not without jealousy. Sometimes I’m hit with unexpected, and slightly random but intense jealousy, but the rest of the time, not much. It’s hard to gauge.

If I’m having regular sex with someone, and if the parts of my body or full self that want to make babies are not being touched, I don’t usually get jealous. But every now and again there’s someone who I just want to have babies with. That’s usually when I get jealous. It’s really interesting.

I think a lot of our social constructs are based on things that are both socially created and reinforced, sometimes without any base beyond the social. But there’s also aspects that are very biological. Sometimes those biological tendencies form the basis of our social parameters. So, stepping outside of the social parameters, you actually come up against the biological stuff. I’ve found it really interesting to learn about myself and my boundaries.

I get the sense that love flows very freely from you?

“I’ve always been really open hearted. I deliberately cultivate that. Sex can be really awesome and animalistic as well as transcendental. I do a lot of meditation and one of the practices I do the most is metta bhavana. It’s a heart opening meditation about love, empathy, and compassion for all beings. Meditation is a whole other thread of my life, which is very much intertwined with sex and relationships.

Sex can be a really good way to come into parts of myself that are far less conscious and really work with where I’m at. The nitty gritty, the base, the animalistic. Stuff that’s almost beyond concept. People can have deep mystical experiences in sex. That Nine Inch Nails song illustrates this quite well ‘ I wanna fuck you like an animal, you bring me closer to god’. Sex inhabits both ends of the spectrum.”

Where are you at currently in terms of relationships?

“Hmm. Perhaps single? I’ve just had three months of falling for someone more deeply than I’ve ever fallen for someone before. It’s been amazing. The complication is that she has a life partner in an open relationship.

I’ve known her for about four years and I didn’t know her relationship was open. She told me at a party, and it was a matter of hours until we were together. It was way more of a connection than we thought it would be. Her partner was overseas. At first he was OK with it. Which is good, ethics are very important to me. He is now not fine with it.

I don’t know what’s going on with it. I’ve been having a really hard time, dealing with feelings for someone I’ve never felt before in a completely unknown situation. I’ve never been so sure of wanting to spend my life with someone. I’ve never been sure before, I’ve always had some doubts. It’s really full on.

It’s affected me physiologically too. She saw someone else and I couldn’t eat. I got cold and shivering and shaking. I’ve never had something like that before. It’s been really traumatic but also really beautiful.”

I’m also seeing a very lovely woman who’s in town just a short time. We’re going hiking for a few days tomorrow”

Is your heart sore?

“My heart is ecstatic and sore. It’s like when you’re on ecstasy with a sore jaw. All of my body feels like I’m peaking but my heart feel’s like those clenched jaw muscles. I’m really glad for the experience. I’ve learnt to feel uncomfortable feelings better than I’ve ever done before.”

Oh! We haven’t really talked about plants. Just sex. Any thoughts on plants and sex?

“There are so many metaphors I could come up with. Gardening is about the nitty-gritty, the dirty, and the transformational. So is sex. My sex life as a supportive part of my greater self is nurtured and gardened. That is important to me.”

This is a story of openness, of growth, and love. It’s not as focused on plants as our usual offerings, but as our subject suggests above, the metaphors are everywhere. Plants, sex, love –  all these things require nurturing, hard work, and patience, but when they reach their peak there’s nothing on this earth more beautiful, rich, and enlightening. That’s that.