They had good jobs, happy kids, a nice house, and a Volvo in the driveway. I have been writing draft after draft of a story about a polyamorist tribe from New Jersey. There are too many voices, too many strange concepts, and no dominant voice of authority to explain it all for you. Nan was a sexy Jewish earth mother, welcoming and open-hearted.
And I hurt Nan, I hurt the other one; I should have been more courageous. For all these reasons, Nan continues, she felt the need to "balance the equation." She got tired of sleeping alone, but mostly she was looking for a way to make things work.
"You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.")So what happened to Tom and Jen? Both of them tend to be a bit cerebral anyway, forever drawing lessons from their experiences. Nan talks about sinking into a "companionate relationship," a married woman's tendency to go into "sexual retirement," and the excitement of "new-relationship energy." Of course, you're going to get "ramped up in spontaneous desire for your new partner," she says.
They lasted about 18 months, Nan says, but it wasn't "sustainable" because Tom wanted Nan to himself. "Sometimes I definitely took my eye off the ball and bankrupted my marriage because of that.…
Jen never actually moved in, just settled nearby, and moved on around the same time Tom did because she wanted John to herself—the first taste of the polyagony to come. After Jen, they say, John hooked up with another woman he doesn't want to name. Nan marked time with a guy named Steve and then a handsome party boy named Julio. Sometimes it hurt when I saw him taking his attention off me.… Oh, well."A moment later, another text arrives bearing what is, for Nan, perhaps the harshest judgment of all: "She was a monogamist."But these days, she'd really rather discuss all this on a scientific level.
You learn not to identify that as love." Later, when I text Nan a follow-up question about the mystery woman, she gives me another glimpse into her pain. "As a cognitive neuroscientist, I've learned that it's like the way the brain reacts to drugs; the newness and unpredictability intensifies emotions and creates a sense of reward. It's like going to a new country where everything is new. It can be scary."Then she shrugs it off: "The lows were low; the highs were high."And John?