When Love Is Not a Pie With Limited Slices
Contrary to ageist tropes about sexuality in midlife, as she approaches 54, Abbe Aronson is having the best sex of her life—polyamorously.
According to everything I’ve been told about sex and aging, as a Gen-X woman, I’m supposedly now past my sexual prime. So imagine my surprise when I realized that, approaching 54, I’m having the best sex of my life.
How is this possible? I suppose it’s partially the luck of the genetic draw, keeping me free—so far—of the hormone imbalances and other menopause-related sexual dysfunction with which many of my peers struggle. But I also believe it has much to do with the way I’m enjoying my sex life today.
What’s my secret? Not so much a secret but I guess I’m shouting it out loud here for the first time: I’m polyamorous.
At the time I met B., I had also just started a fairly serious flirtation with M., whom I’d known as a friend for a few years.
I was introduced to polyamory by my very sweet, beautiful, sexy partner, B., when we started dating in early March 2021. Certainly, I knew what polyamory was, but as a former serial monogamist, with two marriages now behind me and several long-term relationships in addition to those, I’d never considered it an option for me—funny because in almost every other sense, I have always been drawn to unorthodox lifestyles. However, with regard to love, I had walked a very traditional path.
At the time I met B., I had also just started a fairly serious flirtation with M., whom I’d known as a friend for a few years. So when B. told me just before our first date that he was ENM (ethically non-monogamous), and, in fact, truth be told, polyamorous (involved in multiple relationships, some very casual, another more serious), I said, “Hmmm, ok, well, if we’re in full disclosure mode, I’m sort of exploring something with another man, so I’m fine with just seeing where we go from here.”
Where we went was—is—fucking glorious.
I had incredible chemistry with B. from our first date, and although we were rounding out that first year in COVIDville, he and I kissed with pretty wild abandon that night after our drinks and dinner. Being a middle-aged woman and happily aware that there were no more “rules” when it came to dating (remember waiting three dates to have sex, etc.?), I met up with B. for our second date with a hot, juicy sense of desire for him and, Dear Readers, he did not disappoint.
The intoxicating combination of having two fantastic lovers (who were so very different from each other, although funnily enough, both the same age—about 8 years younger than me —and both chefs) was an enormous sexual poke in the ribs (or maybe a kick in the pants?).
From there, all of it—the intimacy, the laughs, the long honest conversations about our lives—just kept upping the ante for me. This man was delicious, I proclaimed to my close pals. And the poly thing? I would shrug and say, “Not really for me, per se, but I like the honesty, the freedom to do whatever you want, safely and with care and consideration for others. There are no lies, no reasons to cheat. It’s all above board. And it’s so hot.”
Meanwhile, I started sleeping with M, too. He and I were pretty sure we would also have incredible chemistry in bed. Yup. It was off the charts.
The intoxicating combination of having two fantastic lovers (who were so very different from each other, although funnily enough, both the same age—about 8 years younger than me —and both chefs) was an enormous sexual poke in the ribs (or maybe a kick in the pants?). I was on fire. There was A. LOT. of new lingerie purchased, and a nude photoshoot that I reveled in because I was feeling so alive in my skin. People in my larger circle started remarking on how happy I seemed, but also how “well rested” and “relaxed” I was. Funny, because I was the opposite. I was vibrating.
While M. and I were seeing each other only sporadically because of scheduling and distance, I was seeing more and more of B. I met his other partners; one of whom felt like the proverbial “sister from another mister” from the moment we laid eyes on each other. Somehow this all felt so…normal. Was this one of those weirdo moments that you hear about? Some epiphany in the middle years when something you’d never ever considered suddenly seemed so correct, so easy, so natural?
I met his other partners; one of whom felt like the proverbial “sister from another mister” from the moment we laid eyes on each other. Somehow this all felt so…normal.
I had to think, YES. Because other surprises were happening, and it all seemed to swirl around this newfound world that I was exploring. I lost 20 pounds, effortlessly, even though that was not a goal I was working towards; it seems this body—and mind—are just destined to be “lighter.” I found some real inner peace regarding the skeletons of a few past difficult relationships and put them to rest for good. I started listening more, talking less. I found myself thinking and talking about the idea of “grace,” and while I despise the pollyannaish concept of “daily gratitude,” that was how I was waking up—so grateful, so thankful, so fortunate for this abundance of love that was seemingly pouring over me, like a warm honey bath.
(-Whispers - and all the sex continued to be just red hot.)
Pretty quickly, I realized that there was a lot in polyamory that appealed to my greater sense of abundant love, of “cup runneth over” desire and companionship and real honest talk among various people with whom I was sharing body and soul. I lapped it up like a cat would cream.
Similarly, I was reminded, again and again, of an incredible short story by Amy Bloom, in her collection, “Come To Me.” The story is called “Love Is Not A Pie” and in it, a central character, now facing death, tells her skeptical grown daughter (and I’m quoting the story here directly), “Love is not a pie, honey. I love you and Ellen [her other daughter] differently, because you are different people, wonderful people, but not at all the same. I don’t choose between you. And it’s the same with Daddy and Bolivar [her husband and her lover]. People think it can’t be that way, but it can. You just have the find the right people.” As I knew Amy a little bit, I asked her to sign copies of her book to B. and his other partner and husband, so deeply was I feeling this.
Jump ahead to today, about 11 months later. B. and I are deeply in love and he is my primary partner. We live together. He is my heart. His other partner and her spouse are immeasurable supports in our relationship and I adore them both. We spent the holidays together this year. In polyamory, the opposite of jealousy is called “compersion”—the joy you feel when you see/feel/know your partner is getting love from another. With B.’s other partner, the compersion is endless.
B. and I are deeply in love and he is my primary partner. We live together. He is my heart. His other partner and her spouse are immeasurable supports in our relationship and I adore them both.
M. and I burned hot for most of the year, at times, burning out. I’ve started to see another man from another chapter in my life, a great guy who was a terrible boyfriend but is an enthusiastic and creative lover, so that’s fun, and he’s not remotely bothered by what B. and I share. B. has other lovers with whom he shares fun sexy times.
Yes, there are things to navigate in this new life. These more casual lovers can be jumping off points of discussion: How does this feel for you? Is there anything we need to work out before you go on a date? And then there’s the ongoing and slightly humorous situation with Google Calendar, which seems to be the default organization tool for lots of poly folks, putting dates on it so there is no miscommunication and balancing all of that with work, kids, other social obligations, etc. (hard enough to manage on a good day; with other sex partners, sort of exhaustingly ridiculous sometimes).
Finally, while your head is (possibly) spinning imagining all of this, B. and I are also stepping out together—meeting up with others with whom we might want to “play” although Covid tempers this, and besides the prerequisite chat about health and safety that one has before one gets into bed with a new person, now we get to talk about vaccines and boosters as part of the prelim. That aside, it still feels pretty sexy. The other night, we sat across from a couple, on a first date to see if the four of us had chemistry, and B. looked at me, winked and took my hand as if to say, “Here we are Lover; feels good, huh?” And it did. It felt really good.