The Three Musketeers: Your Heart, Mind, and Genitals
Ever since my book on open relationships came out in 2017, I’ve had a steady stream of Queer and heterosexual couples asking me for advice on how to make an open/non-monogamous relationship work.
In every open relationship — legally married or not — we determine how to balance the love and sexual energy we give to our beloved with how much emotion we allow ourselves to feel for our sexual partners. For my clients Tomas and Lisa, their love for each other was very strong, but the amount of emotional energy they were willing to invest in their sex partners was quite different.
Tomas: “I only have so much time, energy and love to give. I choose to give it to Lisa; she’s my first priority. This isn’t a problem because I enjoy my time with my male sex partners — I call them my ‘Grindr Guys’ — but I don’t love them. I like them, I enjoy their company. I only feel love for people I’m really close to, like Lisa and a few of my relatives and close friends.”
Lisa: “I feel like I have lots of love to give to everyone. With the people I have sex with, I have plenty of love to give them, too. It’s not the same kind of love that I give Tomas, but it’s still love! I love each of these people in my own way and they love me too.”
Tomas and Lisa have each found their own balance of emotional connection (love) and physical expression (sex). Susan and Eva, a happily-married Lesbian couple, explain how they’ve found their own balance:
Susan: “I need to have an emotional connection with women I have sex with. I can’t just do it with someone I barely know. For me to be aroused, I need to know the woman, like her and be attracted to her.”
Eva: “I don’t want to have an emotional connection with the women I have sex with. It would make my life too complicated. I already have strong emotional bonds with Susan, my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, and my good friends. For me, having sex with another woman is fun, playful — an adventure. I don’t want it all clogged up with emotions.”
Susan and Eva are very clear on what works for them. Susan wants her mind, heart, and genitals all “activated” and working together with the people she has sex with, while Eva wants to keep them totally separate.
Do you remember “The Three Musketeers”? To me, the heart, mind, and genitals are the “three musketeers” of a successful relationship. Your heart is all about your feelings for someone, your mind is what you think about them and your genitals symbolize your sexual attraction to them. When you have all three engaged in a relationship with someone, your relationship has the maximum potential for a deep connection and awesome sex!
While most of us want the three musketeers in our relationship with our partners, we may not want all three musketeers “involved” with every person we have sex with.
Your heart is all about emotions and feelings. We get to decide how much we want to open our heart to people we have sex with. In an open relationship, if it’s hard for you to separate love from sex, it‘s important to decide how much “love” you allow yourself to feel for your sex partners.
Your head is the rational, linear, logical part of your brain. This is where most of us live the vast majority of the time — thinking, judging and analyzing.
As for our libido: watching porn, you’d think that orgasms are all that count in sex. Few porn videos show more than genitals in charge; where is the intelligence, the emotion? Heart and mind have been left behind: libido rules! Sure, there’s kissing in some of them, but do they ever have intelligent conversations? Heart-to-heart talks? Any real emotional connection?
Really good sex — and any successful ongoing relationship — requires the simultaneous involvement of your thoughts, emotions, and libido. Why not let your genitals become good friends with your thoughts and feelings? They really are like the three musketeers: “All for one and one for all.”
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.