EPISODE 11: Monogamy with Guest Stars
Originally Aired: April 25, 2017
MY NAME IS ANDY HORNING, AND THIS IS ELEPHANT TALK. IT’S ABOUT ALL THINGS RELATIONSHIP – THE SOULFUL, THE SILLY AND THE SEXY.
WHEN ROBERT AND MORGAN MET, HE HAD BEEN PRACTICING NON-MONOGAMY FOR YEARS, BUT MORGAN WAS WASN’T SURE IT WAS SOMETHING SHE WANTED. THEIR RELATIONSHIP DEMONSTRATES THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH COMMUNICATION.
Morgan: I think that the biggest piece of it was that we didn’t try to move out of the feelings. We didn’t try to put a band-aid on it and pretend that there wasn’t a riff between us and that we weren’t steeping in a lot of emotions and a lot of hurts happening between the two of us.
AS THEY PUT THEIR DESIRES INTO PRACTICE, THERE HAVE BEEN OCCASIONAL MISSTEPS AND MISCUES. FOR THEM, PUSHING OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF MONOGAMY ALSO MEANS EXPLORING THEIR OWN EMOTIONS MORE DEEPLY.
IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SHOW I TALK WITH ORPHEUS BLACK, AN EROTIC EDUCATOR WHO SPECIALIZES IN NON-MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIPS AND EXTREME SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS. WE TALK ABOUT BUILDING SAFETY AND TRUST BETWEEN PARTNERS WANTING TO EXPLORE KINK, BDSM AND MEDITATIVE BONDAGE.
Orpheus: If I let go the pre-conceived ideas of why I thought BDSM was and what sexuality was, I was able to start freeing myself and look at the space, look at the people, and look at the instruments as a method of self-expression. I was able to take this instrument, say a piece of rope, and it became like a paintbrush.
Morgan I was leaving and I said, ‘I’m really attracted to you, and I’m not sure how you feel about me, and if you don’t reciprocate feelings that’s absolutely fine’ and I started to walk out the door because I was so nervous you wouldn’t reciprocate [Laugher].
Robert And then I lost my mind and pranced over…
Morgan No, you sauntered over.
Robert Sauntered! I sauntered over, sauntered over.
Morgan Much better
Robert And then grabbed you and kissed you.
Morgan That was amazing.
Robert That was our first kiss and I still remember the way that felt…
Morgan That’s so against your character.
Morgan I did that because I made the decision to live from desire instead of fear and if I would have not said anything from- about it to you, I would’ve been ruminating about the thoughts ‘Does he like me? Does he not like me? Why didn’t I say anything?’ and I didn’t want to live that way, I lived that way my entire life. When I had the thought ‘I need to say something to him’ it was because you hadn’t made a move on me [Laughter].
Robert I was that roaming, rogue warrior, you know, who just basically said ‘listen, I’m not a monogamous person and if you’re looking for monogamy, look elsewhere’ you know, I was kind of snide, I was a little cold, a little protective. How did you feel when I said that?
Morgan It broke my heart.
Morgan To be truthful, I was not sure if I was wanting monogamy. So when you said that, that monogamy was off the table, it kind of felt freeing? And it also felt scary because I know that I wanted to explore with you and in that moment, again, I said as long as I’m enjoying this, I’m going to keep doing it, if it starts to be hurting to much I’m not going to continue.
Robert There was something about you that made me say ‘ok, I can explore this one and I knew pretty quickly,
Robert We started dating, we saw each other, you know, once a week, twice a week, texting non-stop, getting to know each other. I had trips planned, I had two trips to New York. I was non-monogamous in New York city and I remember- I remember like telling you beforehand and then going, having experiences with other women and then looking at my phone and saying ‘I have to tell her the truth’.
Morgan You did, yeah.
Robert I had-
Morgan I was glad that you did.
Robert I did.
Morgan You told me every experience you had with other women, you texted me right before and right after.
Robert This was such a requirement for me to be free. It was sometime around summer and I was going up to San Francisco, and I had a date with a woman I had a crush on for six years. And then all the sudden I met for the first time Morgan’s ice storm princess.
Robert I remember leaving your house and just feeling so down. I was deeply in love with you and I was also… really important for me not to compromise and not- to not have that experience just because of fear, I didn’t want to leave my life from fear either.
Morgan What’s your idea around ‘no compromise’?
Robert I don’t believe in compromise; I have a no-compromise rule with people I care about.
Morgan So what does that mean?
Robert And I- I just think that compromise is the ending- the ending of a relationship, it’s the- it’s the road to end relationships and I refused to do that with you, you’re too important, and so my- my agreement with myself and my agreement with you is that we will talk something out so we are not compromising. There’s always a solution, there’s always a way to find- to find connection and maybe that just means not doing something for a while or letting go of something but it’s not from this fear, it’s from desire I’m letting go of this because I desire to be close to you, not because I’m worried. It’s a decision.
Morgan I remember what happened was we were talking and you said ‘Do you want me to not see this woman?’
I had a really hard time saying ‘No, I don’t want you to see this woman’ or ‘yes it’s ok’ because I wasn’t really in touch with what I wanted and so I remember I said to you ‘I don’t want to talk for the weekend and I need to figure out what’s right for me.
Robert Right. You were even a little colder, you were like ‘I’m not sure this relationship is right for me’
Morgan What I realized during those few days of no talking, I really went into myself, and I did a ton of really self-reflection, what I realized was I was afraid of asking for what I wanted because I was afraid I would lose you.
I realized that no matter what I have in my life, I am perfect, just me and if I have this relationship or not I will be ok. And from that place of being ok on my own, I was able to say to you, ‘I want us to have experiences together, I don’t want you to have experiences by yourself.’ Do you remember when I wrote you that email?
Robert Yeah. Yeah,
Robert I was so excited because I felt like I’m going to get you and I’m going to get all this- you know, the experiences with other women are so wonderful and so beautiful, and yet it was not worth this disconnection I felt with you, like you’re the love of my life.
– BREAK –
Robert So now our rules are monogamy with guess stars. And what that means is we play together but you’re free to do whatever you want, that’s important to me because I want you to be free, you’re a free human being.
Robert How do you feel about that?
Morgan Well, I have a hard time because I want you to be free.
Morgan And it’s hard for me to have – I’m not ready for you to have experiences without me yet.
Morgan Not quite there.
Robert I don’t have a problem with that.
Morgan So… it’s hard for me to- here- because I want to be able to offer you the same.
Morgan – arrangement.
Robert Back when I was a baby, a baby non-monogamist, I didn’t really know how to handle, you know, this whole sensation, this jealousy, this rage, really rage and self-defeating rage too. So I’ve been doing this for eighteen years, I’ve really have extensive experience and two, you know. I know that women need a sense of security that men don’t, like we’re just used to jumping out of planes with knives in our teeth and, you know, attacking tigers, it’s like part of our DNA and women just biologically need a sense of security and so it doesn’t have to be the same, it doesn’t have to be the same thing just because our history and our biologies are different.
Morgan I appreciate that.
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Host SO, THESE GUYS ARE ROCKSTARS WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNICATION AND STILL THEY EXPERIENCE HURT AND SADNESS. BUT, THEIR ABILITY TO LISTEN AND FEEL ENABLES THEM TO REPAIR MORE QUICKLY.
Morgan My favorite part about our sex is… us telling each other the truth without filter, so if I get turned on by a certain thing while we’re having sex I will talk about it. If I’m turned on to a person or if I have a fantasy I bring it up with you while we’re having sex and it turns me on even more for us to be dialoguing about it while we’re having sex.
Robert You couldn’t do that with your previous partners?
Morgan No, definitely not, no way, absolutely not.
Robert Really? You couldn’t talk dirty?
Morgan No dirty talk.
Robert Oh! I love when you talk, it shows what’s on your mind because you are so creative, you are so creative in your sexual thoughts,
Robert The cool thing is it’s not like I want to have all those experiences in real life but having the permission to share with you and be honest with you allows me to be free.
Morgan This is interesting because my previous boyfriends, when they would look at other women, it was like a dagger in my heart. I felt diminished, I felt less than, I felt not enough, all those things might be the same thing but I felt horrible and I hated it when they would look at other women, then I read this book Sex At Dawn. It changed my life.
Robert What about it?
Morgan Because I started to understand that there is a biological reason that men and women are and can be attracted and desiring more than one partner. I had no idea there was anything other than monogamy. When we first started dating and you would talk to other women, at first it was kind of a sore spot for me.
Morgan But inside I was kind of thinking ‘oh, Gosh! He likes so many women, how am I- where am I on the scale? Does he even- do I even register? If he likes all these other women, it must be that I’m not fulfilling something for him, I’m not enough’ I kind of did go to that but after a while I started to learn that you just have an appetite for a lot of women and it doesn’t mean that I’m any less than, it doesn’t mean that I’m not enough, it’s an ‘and’.
Robert Exactly, I mean I think that’s what most people are; I think most people are liars and withholders, that’s what I think, I think so many people- and that’s why there’s so much cheating going on. Not just physical infidelity, it’s emotional infidelity. I mean the text message alone when there’s so much intimacy being passed through electronic medium and not many people feel truthful enough to say ‘hey, I flirted with this friend of mine today, do you want to hear about it?’
Morgan Well, because their partner doesn’t make it safe for them to say that.
Robert Right, right.
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Morgan In the beginning of our relationship, remember you were flirting with that woman and there was…
Robert Yes. Well, there were so many women but I know exactly who you’re talking about.
Morgan Well, you know what I’m talking about.
Robert I know what you’re talking about.
Morgan And you were texting with her, and I was- it was really- felt to me like it was behind my back
Robert I mean I met this woman I liked and we flirted and then I said, you know ‘I’m in a monogamy with guest stars relationship.’ You know ‘we play together or we don’t play at all’ and she’s like ‘I’m not interested in that’ and I was like ‘that’s cool, let’s just be friends!’
But then we were flirting, we were like sneak flirting, we were friends-sneak-flirters and there was definitely an edge where I knew we’d crossed some line and I thought we were just, you know, on the surface looked like friends but inside I was really getting off on the flirting and you sensed it. And then you said can I read your text messages?’ and I just handed over my phone and then I’m watching your face as you read the flirting, the sneak flirting, and I knew uh oh! I’m in trouble!’ so yeah, I remember that moment.
Morgan But did you- did you know before that it was crossing a line?
Morgan That there was… Did you ever talk to me about it? Did you ever come to me and kind of have that truth moment with me and this is kind of crossing the line?
Robert No, no, I didn’t really do it, I didn’t do it enough. If I did do it I didn’t really give the way to get your attention to say ‘This is happening.’ And I learned my lesson because I thought it was like no big deal, it was just going to be in the background and then you asked me to read my text messages and I was just like ok, the jig is up, the truth is going to come out, and so…
Morgan You really did tell me everything at that point.
Robert Even in moments where I think I’m being clean and clear, there’s more truth. It’s good to over communicate, it’s always good to say ‘oh! You know, I’m not sure this is important but I’m noticing this’ and bring your attention to it. Because I’d much rather you be upset for a moment than to hide something from you.
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Host THE THING IS, NO MATTER HOW SKILLED WE ARE IN COMMUNICATION, THE UNIVERSE WILL ALWAYS GIVE US ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE THAT SKILL AGAIN…
Robert We got invited to this party – a theme based party and there were customs and it was like a lot of intentionality behind it, and there was a lot of people I had thought about making out with.
Then there’s so much energy in the house. And then you ended up in the middle of the room talking to someone and I was standing by you, waiting for you to be finished, and this old lover of mine walked up. And then I could tell that she wanted to kiss me and she wanted to kiss me right there.
Robert And I really wanted to kiss her. That animalistic took over, and then I leaned in and we just started making out. In my mind, in my miss queued, animalistic mind I thought ‘Oh! Morgan’s right here! I’m involving her, this isn’t breaking the rules.’ And then about seven seconds into it I’m like ‘oh! This is mistake, I’m breaking the rules. And then- so then we kissed for another fifteen to twenty seconds, thirty seconds, stopped and then looked at you and said ‘Oh! I fucked that up’.
Morgan Well you kind of skipped over that whole part in the car in the way to the party.
Robert Oh, okay.
Morgan I said ‘I need you to go slow for me, I need you to include me, I need you to check in with me before anything happens’ that was on the way to the party and then all the sudden, I- you know, we’re in the party and I look over and I see you kissing a woman, like really kissing her, deep, lots of tongue happening and I kind of lost my stomach like [Gasping] ‘Oh, my Gosh! What’s happening, we’ve just talked about this, how can this be happening?’ And I got really hurt, like daggers in my heart hurt, It was awful.
Robert Yeah, that was awful. It was dumb.
Morgan I think that the biggest piece of it was that we didn’t try to move out of the feelings. We didn’t try to put a band-aid on it and pretend that there wasn’t a riff between us and that we weren’t’ steeping in a lot of emotions and a lot of hurts and things happening between the two of us.
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Morgan One of the things I love about each other- us, our relationship, is that pretty much everything on the table, it’s totally safe. And if it does create a hurt, we go towards each other and we process it and we don’t run away from each other.
Robert I’m totally cool with us making out together and, I’m totally cool with you making out by yourself because I want you to be free, you know, I just- I had so many experiences so, so many experiences and you weren’t in a situation where you could so I want you to feel totally free and you haven’t yet, right?
Morgan I’m flirting with men, I talk to you about it but I haven’t being ready to have an experience on my own. We’ve played with other couples, we’ve played with single women and, we’ve been to a lot of play parties.
Robert At the play parties, you play by yourself briefly.
Morgan Briefly, very briefly, yeah.
Morgan So I just enjoy us playing together with other people and looking for it too, I really like that so for right now that’s the thing for me.
FOR SOME, NON-MONOGAMY MAY SEEM LIKE A WORLD OF HOOKUPS AND SEXUAL FREEDOM. AND THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUCCESS WITH THAT LIFESTYLE. YET, AS ROBERT AND MORGAN’S STORY SHOWS, RULES PROVIDE A SAFE PLACE FROM WHICH TO EXPLORE SEXUALITY DEEPLY WITHIN A RELATIONSHIP.
ORPHEUS BLACK IS AN AUTHOR AND SEX EDUCATOR WHO SPECIALIZES IN NON-MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIPS AND EXTREME SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS. HE IS ALSO THE FOUNDER OF CIRQUE DE SADE WHOSE MISSION IS TO ADVANCE THE ART OF BDSM THROUGH COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION, EXCELLENCE, AND ACTIVE LEADERSHIP IN THE DOMINANCE-SUBMISSION, MASTER-SLAVE, AND FETISH COMMUNITIES.
AH How are you supporting and what’s the end game that you’re doing to help people out in the world?
Orpheus A lot of times people have been told who they’re supposed to be both sexually, intimately, and even socially. And what we do is get a person to a point where they’re ready to let go of all those pre-conceived ideas and start forming real narratives around who they want to become and who they feel they are at their core.
Orpheus If I let go the pre-conceived ideas of why I thought BDSM was and what sexuality was, I was able to start freeing myself and look at the space, look at the people, and look at the instruments as a method of self-expression. And in that, I was able to take this instrument, say, flog or a piece of rope and it became like a paintbrush and I got access to use it and express myself.
AH Say a couple came to you and wanted to learn about bondage, how do you work with them? What is that look like?
Orpheus What usually happens is one partner has an idea about kink, fetish, BDSM, or some kind of alternate loving style and then they find you, and what I’ll have to do is have the other partner reconcile what is going to happen and their role in it. And the best way to do that is to talk about mutual fantasies that both people. So the benefit of coming in as a couple is that you have some sexual overlap. You have some things that you’re into, they have some things they’re into, and then there’s an overlap. So if a person says that they want to be tied or they want to tie others, I talk to the other person and say, “In any of your fantasy scenarios, in any of your dirtiest, wildest dreams that you can be, is being tied a part of that? And most people say yes, whether being tied or tying others or they had a fantasy or dream. And then we start with both people tying and untying each other so that they get comfortable with the space. So they can see that loss of control in a safe loving environment. We shake up all the means and all the stereotypes and all the programming that people have received and then we start with deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and we give them a simple tie to do, something very simple, maybe the wrist, maybe the hands, and then once the person is tied, they’re held for a little while, and then we do what’s called anticipatory touch. And we allow them to sit, eyes closed, still breathing, still relaxing, and what happens is they stop focusing on the time. They stop focusing on the space. They stop focusing on being watched. They’re waiting to be touched, anticipating the touch. When they do, they completely let go.
AH It’s an odd and somewhat compelling, slightly confusing contrast to on one hand be tied up, which limits so many things. And yet on the other hand, what you’re saying is that they’re free, there’s a freedom in a letting go that wouldn’t happen if they weren’t tied up.
Orpheus That’s true. There are no freedoms without boundaries because boundaries are the way that you measure your freedom. There has to be some kind of limiting factor, some kind of restriction. And at some point in time, during the bondage process, the actual thing that’s restricting you becomes the thing that’s holding you. It’s the thing that’s embracing you. I’m not going for a restraint, I’m going for a containment.
AH I love that. When you say containment I think of safety. There’s a level of safety that’s provided.
Orpheus I’m acting as a facilitator when I’m tying. My only job is to care for that individual and what we don’t see a lot in our day and age is this idea where a person can just be cared for, just be tended to, just be held, and they don’t have to worry about doing anything. And that to me is the key to meditation. It’s not something you do. It’s a state you find yourself in. You allow yourself to be in this moment, in this space, and you let go. And when you have a person that you trust and that trust is built and formed and you create this space where you can be held and contained, it’s easier to just drop in.
AH Is the couple talking to one another while this is going on sort of checking in or is it more of a silent space?
Orpheus What I don’t want to do is unnecessary dialogue that can pull a person out of that negative space once they fell into it. The dialogue about breathing, reminding a person to breathe, co-breathing, all that stuff happens prior to the rope. Other than that, it’s a very silent space.
AH And is that the practice you developed of a bondage meditation?
Orpheus That is correct.
AH How do you know that it’s working?
Orpheus I leave that up to each individual. It takes a lot of work and a lot of practice where we do the same tie over and over again. So I can find the unique place where I’m not over thinking the process. Because it’s about the partner that you’re facilitating, it’s about their journey, and this is what they want, and it’s absolutely fine. Then it becomes a great thing, but they have to let go of that ego-driven aspect of it.
AH But it sounds like you are very deliberate and slow in terms of how you introduce the step by step by step.
Orpheus Definitely. We always do an hour and a half to two hours especially in the very beginning because I want to make sure that everything is a safe practice and I want people to remember too that this is actual bondage. So we do have to do a little bit of safety checking to make sure that we’re not going over the arteries to make sure it’s not up around the neck or they’d be ropes aren’t sliding into a place that’s not been official. We’re making sure that their safety is paramount.
AH Would you describe a few bondage variations or acts of play just to get a sense of what that looks like?
Orpheus A bondage scene a person will stand with their back to me. I’ll hold them, talk to them, just make sure that they’re in a safe space, and remind them to breathe. Breathing is essential to bondage and I just want to make sure that that’s imperative because the more air you breathe, the more oxygen you’re putting in your blood so that you are not… your hands aren’t falling asleep and your muscles aren’t being cramped. It’s all about the individual. It’s a completely non-sexual state when they’re bonded to meditation.
But let’s say we’re doing a flogging scene and I’m bringing it down on to your body, it’s about this deep, visceral impact. It’s got a repetition, a steady pace, and it’s pounding deep into your being. I liken it to a drum. So let’s say the body is like a drum because it has the ribs and skin pulled over. Every time I strike it, there’s a vibration that goes through it. And what I’m trying to find is that body’s resonance, the total resonance that resonates with that individual. And once I find it, that pitch, that tone, that speed, that repetition, that vibration that goes to the body just puts them in that altered state that’s unbelievable. They drop in, in a deep space that we like to call subspace. Almost nirvanic kind of a space where a person just free to exist because you have that tempo.
AH That sounds really painful to me and something I’d want to avoid, but what you’re saying is actually the pain is the doorway into that space?
Orpheus That is correct. Here’s the thing about flogging is it appears to be painful, but it’s usually not. If you want to put a baby asleep, what do you do? You put the baby over your shoulder and you pat them on the back and you have that steady repetition over and over again and that consistency puts them into a state of relaxation and they go to sleep. That’s kind of what we’re reproducing. I start with the light tapping over and over and over and over again and it puts them into this deep state, almost trance like state. Think about deep tissue massage. It’s a tolerable pain, but it’s creating this relief and it’s continuing and perpetuating you into this state of relaxation. So don’t think of it as being whipped. Think about it as being blown into a state of relaxation that’s very tolerable.
AH Yeah, that I can relate to having a message where it’s both painful and yet, it feels so good. Yeah.
AH All right. Well, maybe this stuff is more doable than I thought in the first place. What have you noticed with the couples that you’ve worked with?
Orpheus I think the biggest change in most couple’s experience is in openness to discuss their desires. I know a lot of times when we’re in the beginnings, especially in a new relationship and we get to a point where we want to do something new. It is like, “Hey, why don’t we do a little a slap and tickle, maybe a little role play?” But once we get to a point where we’re tied, once we get to a place where we’re starting to access really, really deep stuff, people are really a lot more open to discussing. “I use to have this fantasy and I thought about this. And what would you think about this?” We create a way for them to discuss that, a format to them to have those deeper discussions without judgment, without ridicule, without teasing.
AH Couples struggle really speaking their truth or even maybe knowing their truth. Part of what you’re saying is this kind of work helps free up a dialogue that’s been yearning to happen in a relationship.
Orpheus And if you can have the hard conversations, everything else is easy. The thing that we’re most worried about is someone judging us based on our desire saying that we’re sick or dirty or that’s nasty or I never want to do that or how could you want this. That’s the thing that we dread. We don’t want anybody to know these deep secrets. Once you can get those deep secrets out, everything else is kind of easy to have those discussions. We have to construct a space where a person can have a discussion without judgment.
AH We’re a pretty judgmental inhibited society especially around sex, aren’t we?
Orpheus Yes, we are. It’s often easier to pin someone else down and so that you feel superior. And if you have a person that’s with you all the time, you can fall into that role where we’re nitpicking and pulling and attacking our partner because they’re right there. I try and get people out of this process right away as I see it.
AH Orpheus, how do people in general, how do they learn more or how can they be encouraged to learn more? Suppose somebody wants to know more about this, how do they do that?
Orpheus If you want to know more about BDSM, kink, fetish, try and learn the terminology. There’s also a website called BDSM Terminology and it’s basically a way of just looking up alphabetically each term. And when you find the word that describes the thing that you like the most, research it.
Orpheus That way, when you come to someone like me and you say, “I want to learn kinbaku and how does that differ from bondage and meditation?” we can have a discussion on it or you want to get into restrictive orgasm or orgasm play, I can give you a better idea as to what you’re looking for. After that, you find the people that are reputed for being the best at it.
AH What are you most known for? What’s your expertise?
Orpheus I’m most known to fire play, but I teach every aspect of it. I’ve been doing it 17 years as a professional and I’ve taught on everything from BDSM 101 to extreme breast play. I’ve talked on every physical aspect of this from flogging to whips. There’s nothing that I don’t teach and I absolutely love every aspect of this lifestyle and it’s everything that I love to do and I love to meet new people and kind of live vicariously through their new journey.
Orpheus If what we do, what I do can fit into your life and enhance who you are. If that’s something that you’re looking for, don’t let anything stop you from coming out and learning more about BDSM, kink, fetish, bondage, discipline. If it’s who you are, embrace it, love it, and someone will love you for it.
THAT WAS ORPHEUS BLACK. YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS WORK AS A SEX EDUCATOR AT ORPHEUSBLACK.COM.
THANK YOU TO ROBERT AND MORGAN FOR SHARING THEIR STORY. PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ABOUT NON-MONOGAMOUS LIFESTYLES, EROTIC PLAY, KINK AND MORE.
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