Some astrologists believe that December 21st, 2020 marks the beginning of the long-anticipated “Age of Aquarius.”
In the song with the same name (“Aquarius“) from the musical Hair, this new era should usher in a time of “free love” where:
“Peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars…
[with] Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding.”
From my perspective, however, as a woman in a committed, 12-year relationship, “harmony and understanding” can be hard to come by, and the sexual revolution of the 60s is far from over.
In fact, sexual dogma is still going strong—but not the kind you might imagine. (At least on the curious planet I’m on.)
It’s a planet where a mutual friend might ask your partner to impregnate her without including you in the ask—because she’d want to see if there was a “hard no” from him first. (She’d be okay with a turkey-baster, but she’d prefer it the old-fashioned way.)
After riding an intense wave of grief, perhaps in large part from not having children of your own, you’d decline her invitation and wish her well.
Here’s another hypothetical situation:
(Same planet. Different woman.)
Suppose a newly single friend comes over for dinner and, within a few minutes of walking through the door, asks your partner for a massage.
Despite feeling a bit discombobulated (and finding a private moment to tell her so), before she leaves, perhaps you encourage your partner to give her a rub because, apparently, she really needs it. By then, you might be fine with it (and your partner really does have healing hands).
In the days following that otherwise lovely evening, you might check in with your friend: “We all sometimes step on each other’s toes. It’s part of being human.”
You’d think a simple misstep would end there, but no. Not on this planet. Here, it turns out, you’ve broken a sacred tenet of this “New Age.” You’re coming from a place of scarcity.
It’s a planet where getting high or taking psychedelics at a party might make anything and everyone fair game. And if you’re not game, best prepare for some faux-spiritual shade because, remember, scarcity.
Once upon a time, a guy I had met just a few hours earlier scolded me, saying, “If only you were more present, we’d be having sex right now.”
Actually, no. Not even on his imaginary planet.
So, I’m calling out this new dogma.
Knee-jerk expectations of sexual-openness feel just as coercive to me as old-school monogamy. Tossing sexual energy around like glitter because it garners attention or feels powerful isn’t my higher evolutionary calling.
Don’t get me wrong; I love “cuddle puddles” and yummy affection between friends. Occasionally, my partner and I have engaged sexually with others, but that doesn’t mean anyone should assume it will happen (or get judgmental if it doesn’t).
And I get it. It took me decades to see how I was using my sex-energy to get attention or to feel more powerful, instead of actually being powerful and using my attention to create the life I wanted (a work in progress, for sure).
I’ve had to learn to be more conscious of others—especially women—both energetically and in word and deed (whether or not I was attracted to their partners).
I am by no means perfect, and I have made mistakes and hurt people, including myself.
The big lesson for me is this:
Love is not free; it’s inestimably valuable.
It’s not easy making relationships flower in the loamy soil of habits, pushing tender roots through compacted unconsciousness.
That’s why I see love-relationships as the ultimate “Human PhD Program”: cultivating true love and sustained bliss takes concerted, consistent effort. It’s not for the faint of heart or those easily distracted by shiny objects.
I also get that it’s more than a bit bewildering to be alive right now (especially during a pandemic) with so many institutions crumbling all around us.
I am aware of our disastrous divorce rates, and I also shudder at what appears to be a kind of “polyagony”—the protracted, painful processing that can come with a complex web of sexual relationships.
As one friend puts it, “I’d rather be on the dance floor at a party, not huddled in a back room talking about our relationships for hours.”
On the other hand, some of our friends have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement (which seems to work well for them). Others have given up on sex entirely (I have a handful of friends who remain, year after year, in largely sexless marriages).
So to be fair, my partner and I are on the lookout for sexually-satisfied, enduring couples of either the monogamous or polyamorous “types” to emulate. One dear friend suggests it may be that we simply have to become one.
I don’t know about that, but I do know this: I am here to learn how to love my one and only precious life.
That’s why I don’t think variety is necessarily the spice of life. Nor am I afraid of the “inevitable boredom that comes from having the same meal every night for dinner,” which is how I’ve heard dogmatic polyamorists define monogamy.
It seems to me that if I can—and must—fall in love with my own singular and miraculous body, then I can be in love with one other miraculous body.
That doesn’t mean I’m anti-polyamory. In fact, as a young girl, I was ingrained with a poly-philosophy when I lived on a commune in the 70s.
I don’t remember exactly who, but I’ll never forget what they said. At about nine years old, I was told that, as a “child of Aquarius,” I wouldn’t have to get married when I grew up, and I could enjoy my body with whomever I wanted.
Despite a fairly tumultuous early sex life, I still hold that as true. I also agree with another tenet of polyamory: that humans can love more than one person at the same time.
It takes immense courage and self-awareness to know what you desire and to dare to live by it, no matter what our society tries to convince us is “right.”
I am all for everyone having the freedom to make sexually sovereign choices—to each her own.
But don’t pretend that I’m beneath you.
I believe there are infinite ways to make love when we are committed to waking up together. I told my partner the first night I met him that I wanted to make love in a way that prepares me for my death. (Although he claims I actually said I wanted to make love in a way that prepares him for his death).
I have glimpsed new galaxies unfurling in my lover’s eyes in the throes of passion on a Monday night. We willingly dive into the alchemical cauldron of our relationship, over and over again—surrendering to the exquisite pain and ecstasy that comes from not running away in search of the next hit.
As a postmenopausal woman, I’ve discovered that my desire’s depth and resilience are not dependent on getting off on “N.R.E.” (it’s a thing on this planet: new relationship energy).
It’s not dependent on my partner, either. My desire is ultimately up to me and the depth of my devotion to God (call Her what you will).
I am here to tend to that mysterious flame flickering in my body-temple, to truly love myself and my chosen partner.
So if you’re here for a hit or a carefree quickie, I might play with you for a while in the sparkly, interplanetary dust, but my soul is calling me home.
And I’m listening.
As to the “Age of Aquarius,” if we’re lucky, we may have a few thousand more years to rise to the occasion.