In Screw The Fairytale: A Modern Guide to Sex and Love, Helen Croydon looks at modern models of relationships to the conventional marriage and kids. The idea of a 24-7 relationship is her idea of hell. Co-ordinated supermarket shops and weekends – no thanks! So she goes on a journey to find a more realistic approach to romance to fit with today’s independent lifestyles. Her missions, often undercover, include a meeting for sex addicts, a wife-finding tour to Ukraine and interviews with anthropologists, psychologists, swingers, sperm donor mothers and more. The following is an extract from a two-day stay at a polyamorous commune in a remote corner of Scotland, where 15 people are all in one relationship.
Neither their landlord nor their neighbours knew the dynamic, believing the four-bedroom property housed four couples. ‘We do have some friends outside of our relationship, but mainly people we’ve known a long time who accept us. Most people can’t understand how we live, so it’s easier to keep it to ourselves,’ said a girl called Bettina. She too had long, mousy, straggly hair – it was hard to tell them apart.
They were defensive about Dan being the only male, going to great lengths to put paid to any assumptions that the household was a male-controlled harem. ‘When people come into the commune, they presume that I must be the alpha male who has the pick of sexual favours. They think I must be controlling the women, or they must be drugged or something. But it couldn’t be more different. It’s the girls who are the most sexual, with each other. I’m usually too tired to join in!’ Dan insisted.
The women agreed with giggles. They were clearly keen to paint themselves as a highly sexed bunch, regularly telling me about their sexual trysts and group orgies. Dan repeated his point about the girls being sexual with each other so many times that I couldn’t help but question whether their sexual appetites stemmed from their own libidos or because they view liberal sexual attitudes as a non-conformist act of rebellion.
‘Sometimes it gets really full-on in here. It’s not uncommon for someone to start licking someone out here on the kitchen table while someone else is cooking,’ said Amanda, one of the naked ones. They then started to drop in comments about their individual sexual preferences and eccentricities.
‘Fran over there is probably the most sexual out of everyone,’ said Rachel. ‘She can bring herself to orgasm just by thinking about sex. Isn’t that true, darl’?’ She turned to Fran, who was still stuck like glue to Suzy. But Fran just nodded and continued to stare at me. She hadn’t said a word all evening and didn’t for the remainder of my stay. Instead, she fixated her eyes on me – huge, startled, suspicious eyes.
‘Women are amazing,’ Lillie inputted. ‘We are all so different. When I came into this commune 10 years ago, it was a gorgeous learning process, getting to know what makes each person come. Some of us need rubbing, others licking. Some of us come very easily, for others it takes time.’
‘We know ourselves much better than most women because with women you take more time and get to discover yourself,’ said Rachel. ‘Being sexual with women is a totally different experience than with men. It’s about experiencing pleasure, not pleasing the man. I learned recently that I come very differently if someone rubs the left side of my clit to my right side of my clit. Women don’t get to know these things with men.’
All the girls said they were bisexual except for Amanda and Rachel. They declared themselves strict lesbians and were legally married to each other and the only two who did not share the master bedroom.
The master bedroom! Yes, let me tell you about that. It was a huge room with five double mattresses on the floor, pushed up together on the back wall to form one big bed – a makeshift super-duper-double-emperor-
(May I add at this point that the ‘privacy room’ was where I stayed – thank goodness for my thick, woolly pyjamas, which provided some degree of body shield – eugh!)
‘We don’t use the main bedroom for sex – sleep is too important! If one of us is horny, we will say, “I feel like a wank, does anyone want to join me?”’ one of the mousy blondes clarified. It could have been Chrissie or Suzy. Maybe Bettina. I could only distinguish the naked ones, and Rachel, because she was funny. ‘Sometimes one of us will follow, or sometimes we’ll all descend there like mad, crazy, sex- starved animals!’
‘The spare room is also where we go if we need some time on our own,’ added another.
‘But that rarely happens,’ interjected Lillie. ‘When monogamous couples say they want time on their own, it’s usually because their partners aren’t giving them the freedom to be themselves. We accept and love each other so deeply that we don’t have that need.’
At that point Tania made her debut appearance. She opened the door slowly, ceremoniously, relishing its theatrical effect. ‘Hello, my love. Are they looking after you?’ she bellowed in her deep, husky, slow voice.
Tania was a big, powerful girl, who commanded attention. ‘Oh, my back!’ she wailed with an accompanying dramatic swipe to her forehead. She then proceeded to lie face down on the kitchen table, pointing out that frontways was the only position in which she could remain stationary. Thankfully the plates had already been cleared by Lillie. And there we stayed for the next three hours, sitting round the wooden table, discussing love and sex, with Tania lying face down in the middle of it like a sacrificial creature.