Mel had plenty of boyfriends but had trouble being faithful. She has chosen ethical non-monogamy as a way of meeting her variety of relational and physical attractions and needs.

Mel is a 55-year-old, cisgender female. She describes herself as very petite, polyamorous, and post-menopausal.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and sexual communication coach Leah Carey and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Today, we’ll meet Mel, a 55 year old cisgender female who describes herself as white, bisexual, polyamorous, and post-menopausal. She grew up in United States and France, currently lives with her triad and has one teenage son. Mel and I became good friends while she was developing her one woman musical, Sexology: The Musical. It chronicles her journey from monogamy to polyamory through stories and songs and she’s been touring at different festivals around the country for the last year. To find out if she’s bringing the show to your city, visit melaniemoseley.com and that link will be on the Show Notes.

One of the things I love about Mel is how honest she is with herself and about herself. She’s not afraid to own up to the fact that she cheated on every monogamous partner she’s ever had, which ultimately led her to the discovery that polyamory is a better life choice for her. So, come for the polyamory but stay for her story of declaring her everlasting love to a man in song on their first date. I’m so pleased to introduce Mel!

I’m super excited to have you here. We know each other through Sex Positive Portland, which is the local group that has done so much for me in terms of owning my sexuality and learning about sexuality in general. And you are one of the dear friends that I have gained through this group, so I’m thrilled to be talking with you today.

MEL: I’m thrilled to be talking with you too. SPP has done a lot of that for me as well.

LEAH: So let’s start at the beginning where we start with every interview. What is your first memory of sexual pleasure?

MEL: Oh Lord. I was probably 7 and I realized that if I rubbed up against my pillow that I would get this really warm, nice feeling. And my mom used to put me and my brother down for naps even at 7. She just needed a break, right?

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So she would put us in our bedrooms for an hour or something and that’s what I would spend my hour doing is just rubbing this pillow on me and just going, “Wow that’s a really good feeling.” I don’t know that I knew what it was I was doing until much later.

LEAH: Did you come to something you would now recognize as an orgasm? MEL: Absolutely, oh yeah. Yes, definitely.

LEAH: I hear a lot of people say that they learned to rub up against something but the way that you just described it reminds me of the show Big Mouth.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: With the glow worm.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And her name is Missy I think.

MEL: I didn’t even think of that.

LEAH: I love that show so much.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So you discovered masturbation relatively early. At what point did you connect that up to the idea of doing something with another person?

MEL: Right around the same time, there was this neighborhood boy. I don’t remember his name anymore but he was in my class and he was my age obviously and he had an older sister. And she at one point took us out to her backyard and had a wedding for us. We were going to get married. And then we got married and then we were supposed to lie down against each other and rub up against each other. And I mean we did that clothes on and all. This is innocent kid fun I guess, so we’re just rubbing up against each other and I had that same sensation again and I was like, “Huh, that’s hot.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So did you pursue that sensation with other people?

MEL: Not really, not when I was young like that. I mean I assume that everybody has this but probably they don’t, I don’t know. Sometimes girlfriends and I would sometimes play with each other like that. I mean it was just that one time with that one boy and then later as I got into my tweens, which we did not call it at the time, but now we do. I would play with girlfriends like that like we would rub up against poles together or rub up against each other or that kind of thing.

LEAH: What was sort of the self talk that went along with that? Was it just fun? How did you explain to yourself what you were doing when you were doing that with your girlfriends?

MEL: It was fun but there was also a little guilt. There was some shame around it and I don’t know why. Well, actually that’s not true, I have a memory of my mom walking in on me at one point when I was masturbating in my bedroom during a nap and her telling me, “That is not okay. You should not be doing that.” So it was clearly something that needed to be hidden but something that was really enjoyable.

And so with my girlfriends, it was enjoyable and also there were some shame around it and we never talked about it. It wasn’t like we had a conversation about, “What is this that we are doing or why are we doing this?” It just felt good so we just did it. And we just walked away from it and went and created a play or whatever we would do. Go climb a tree.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So when your mom walked in on you and said, “This is something we don’t do.” Did it give you pause at all? Did you slow down or stop in response to that?

MEL: I didn’t slow down or stop. I just felt bad about it. I was fine about it before and then after that, “Oh well, I guess it’s a bad thing but I sure do enjoy it.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And did that put an idea into your head that you were a bad girl for enjoying it?

MEL: Definitely, yeah.

LEAH: You mentioned that before you started taping that you spent time in the Baptist church as a child. What kind of messages were you hearing within the church about sex and female sexuality if anything?

MEL: I don’t know that I really got a whole lot of messages about sexuality from the Baptist church other than that you get married and you have kids and that kind of monogamous message but sex wasn’t really a thing that came into it. And not to say that my parents were not open about sex, they were. I mean we knew where babies came from. Nobody told us that a stork delivers them in a cabbage patch

but still it was like this kind of distinct thing so I don’t have any religious doctoring that I remember around sexuality specifically.

LEAH: So you mentioned that as you got into your tween years, you started playing around with other little girls. But that sounds like primarily a friendship thing, at what point did it progress to a more romantic/sexual thing for you?

MEL: Well, the first time that I had literal penis and vagina sex was at 14 so that was really when it escalated into something like that. That’s when I had a boyfriend. We had a relationship. We had sex. I loved it. It was awesome. I did not have that first time horrible bleeding whatever traumatic, that just didn’t happen to me. It was just instantly, “This is awesome. I want to keep doing this!”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So as someone who had a good experience and I know it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of an experience you didn’t have but so many of us did have really difficult painful experiences, do you have any idea what it was that allowed you to have a good experience?

MEL: I would think that probably some of it was the guy that I was with was just a sweetheart. We were really good friends. He was super careful and gentle and worried about me and I didn’t even know that I needed to be worried about me. I didn’t even have the predisposition that this might be a hard bad thing, which I think sometimes you hear that story and you’re like, “Shit, I’m going to have a hard bad thing when I have sex for the first time.” But I never heard that story so it was just like, “All right.” And I had no expectations of things being bad. I was with someone I loved and trusted. It was really easy.

LEAH: That’s really interesting that this idea of having heard this story that it will be hard, we then potentially create that experience for ourselves.

MEL: Yeah, I don’t know that.

LEAH: I don’t either. Yeah, in my own story because I waited until I was 25, in the end I was with an

asshole.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And I had all sorts of trauma. [LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I was like I don’t know if that’s the thing that made it hard and bad but I can definitely see that partially one of the many reasons that I waited was so long is that I have heard the story that it was

going to be hard and painful and I wanted to wait until I was with someone I trusted and felt safe with. And then at 25, I was like, “I just don’t want to be the oldest living virgin anymore.”

MEL: Nice.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So how long were you with that boyfriend?

MEL: Well, it was one of those little summer flings at summer theater camp and so we were together over the summer and then into the fall, and then pretty much after that. I was 14. He was older so he was starting college, I was 14 years old. So he went off to college and I went back to school and then he obviously is in college so he finds another girlfriend in college and moves on from this 14 year old girl who lives in Chicago while he’s off in Oregon. So that was it. But we are still friends. I still today at 55 know him, see him frequently.

LEAH: That’s lovely. Have you ever slept with him again?

MEL: No.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So what happened next? You have your summer fling at 14, what happens next?

MEL: So then I’m back in high school. I’m in Chicago and this is when I have my first lesbian encounter with an older woman oddly enough. I don’t know what that’s about.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: But yeah and that was really confusing and odd for me like this was a friend of a friend and we had ended up making out at some party at some point. And then she asked me to her apartment. She was super rich. Her family was really rich and she had her own apartment in Chicago. So she’s like, “Do you want to stay overnight at my apartment?” And I did that. And I really had no flipping idea what I was doing. I didn’t have an idea what a vagina looked like.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: I had never seen one of those before. In spite of the fact that I own one, I had no idea. It’s hard to see.

LEAH: Yeah. Amen to that.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Had you been interested in women prior to meeting this woman?

MEL: Yeah. Well, I had my thing with girls when I was younger.

LEAH: But a lot of girls had that, who end up being heterosexual, so I don’t necessarily think that that’s an indicator.

MEL: I guess that’s probably true but yeah, I definitely did and I don’t know. Kissing women, I love that. Women are just the best kissers and kissing is my favorite thing and yeah, I did. But I know that I don’t have that kind of romantic feeling around connections with women that I do with men. It’s more like for example with my partner, Charity, it is a really close loving friendship .She’s the closest person in my life and it’s not really a romantic thing but it’s also a sexual thing. So I really enjoy sex with her. And now I’m 55 now, I’m not 15 anymore so I’ve learned a lot.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: But that particular one yeah, it was the very first time and it was awkward and unlike what happened with my first boyfriend. It was just like, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here and I don’t know what to do with that.”

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So that was weird and I needed al lot of instruction.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Did you enjoy it?

MEL: I enjoyed the attention that she gave to me. I could not figure out how to give her the attention that she needed and so that was frustrating.

LEAH: Frustrating so that you just wanted to put it down and walk away or frustrating intriguing that you wanted to go and learn a lot more?

MEL: Frustrating that in that particular situation I just wanted to leave. And it was really just a one night stand. It was one and done. And following that, I did not have any relationships with women until I was in my mid-40s.

LEAH: Oh wow, okay. So one night stand with the woman and moving on from her, what happened next?

MEL: So I was 15. I was never in high school or college without a boyfriend. I was that girl. Maybe I was for a few months but very rarely.

LEAH: What do you think that was about?

MEL: So my parents got divorced when I was 14 and that meant I moved to Chicago with my mom. And my dad and my brother moved to Eugene, so my family was just split. And my mom, we were living with her boyfriend in Chicago, and she was in a very new relationship energy thing going on with her and so she did not want to be a parent anymore. And I just wanted connection and I really enjoyed sex and so if I had a boyfriend, I would have connection and I would get sex.

LEAH: So what were you doing during this time in terms of safer sex, in terms of protection? Were you concerned about getting pregnant?

MEL: We’re talking pre-82s, pre-AIDS crisis, HIV, I was worried about pregnancy but that was it. I did not think about any other STIs at all or what we would have called STDs at the time. So I got on the pill and I took the pill from then until I was 36.

LEAH: And did you ever have an unintended pregnancy scare? MEL: I did.

LEAH: What was that like for you?

MEL: I ended up having to have an abortion.

LEAH: How old were you?

MEL: 18.

LEAH: What was that like?

MEL: It was rough. I was with a Swedish foreign exchange student. [LAUGHTER]

MEL: He was lovely and we had been together for probably a year before I got pregnant and I was just being lax on my pills. It’s not on him at all. It’s 100% on me just being a slacker in college. And it was hard. It was really hard but I knew that was the only thing that I could do. It was the only choice that I

had. There was not a way at 18 that I was going to be able to go through a pregnancy and have a kid. So that was the decision that we both made. We had a conversation about it of course and we talked through it and that’s what happened and yeah, I would never want to go through that again.

LEAH: Did he go with you?

MEL: Yeah.

LEAH: And did you stay together after that?

MEL: We did for a little while. And then broke up after that and he got married to another woman.

LEAH: So that sounds like it takes us through high school and into college, I’m going to ask you to tell you one story because I happen to know that there’s one story from college that is just the funniest damn thing.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: People need to hear it.

MEL: Oh sure, okay.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.

MEL: I know exactly what you’re talking about and this person I’m going to have to name because anybody can find him.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: I think it was my junior year in college. I met Greg. He was going to the University of Oregon at the time and he was in a band and he was also doing stand up and that kind of stuff. And I just thought he was fucking amazing and beautiful and I was bold Mel, which I usually am and so I will invite boys if I like them and again, we’re talking pre-1982. I’m going to say that that’s a little advanced out there and I’m a tiny little blonde haired girl.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So I went to Greg and I asked him to come over to my apartment for dinner and he accepted my date. And he came over for dinner and I had decided before he came over for dinner I was going to write a song for him that I was going to play for him. I tend to with any of my relationships I will write songs

especially after breakups, I’ll write songs. But now I’m trying to write happy songs instead of depressing songs.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So I decided I’m going to write a song that I’m going to play for Greg after dinner on our very first date. And he comes over, we have dinner, conversation’s great, whatever. We’re having wine and pasta and then I pull out my guitar to play this song that I wrote for Greg on our very first date. And the last line of the song that I play is, “I know I will always love you. You and I will get together somehow.”

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: I totally do that and then he leaves. He’s like, “Oh I’m so out of here.” [LAUGHTER]

MEL: And so he’s gone whatever and then I never ever saw him until l saw him on television. He had a talk show in the 90s and the reason that he had that talk show was because he was the guy that wrote the book He’s Just Not That Into You.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: I read the book. I did not recognize myself in there.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: My God, it’s like, “Fuck yeah, you’re not that into me. I’m a crazy psycho woman like what the hell was I thinking? I don’t know. I just wanted love.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I love that story so much.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So you mentioned while telling your story that you are a tiny blonde woman. [LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So let’s talk a little about your relationship with your body and when you were a teen and early 20s, how did you feel about your body and how did that play into your sexual relationships?

MEL: Oh, wow. So because I’m 4’11 but my weight fluctuates quite a bit and so I mean I guess now, I’m kind of settled where I am. But I was always the cute one so I wasn’t taken seriously a lot. But also being the cute little waifish thing was important to me. There was value in that. “Oh, look at that cute little Mel doing that cute little thing.”

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So that was really nice, but then I got pregnant at 36. I had my kid at 37 and my body changed completely. So before that time, yeah, I had some weight fluctuations but mostly I was relatively fit and reasonably small in my mind. And also my extended family had a huge thing about weight gain. If you showed up at a family reunion and you had gained a little weight, people would say something about it or ignore you.

It’s a Southern family. If you lost weight, they would just say, “Oh, you look so great! You better not gain any more weight sweetie!” So that dynamic certainly existed in all the women and my mom was very thin and small and my grandmother was very thin. Tall but thin, so that’s sort of the ideal. That’s what you’re supposed to be.

In fact, one of my cousins and I, this is horrible, at one point I think we were teenagers, maybe we were in college, my grandmother said something about our weight or something. And I was like, “We will have to get cancer in order to be thin enough for you.” Yeah, so that existed.

And then at 36, I got pregnant. 37, I had my kid and all of a sudden I had boobs. I never had boobs before this like maybe an A cup and I’ve got a C cup now. And so I have hips that I didn’t really have before and so that transition of having to go, “All right, my body was like this and I knew how to address it, how do I address it now and then how do I even embrace this?” And I’ve got this belly now that I didn’t have before.

So in my 30s and early 40s, that was a real struggle for me. How do I embrace this new body that I have? There’s nothing I can do to change. I’m never going to get back to an A cup unless I have surgery which I’m not going to do. And so I just have to learn how to like what I’m in. And also aging, here I am 55 and aging happens. I am not the cute little 21 year old bubbly girl. I mean I’m bubbly still. I’m still me.

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: But looks on the outside is a little different and I’m also really learning to love that but part of that is I have partners that really embrace me physically. They love all of this stuff that I’m just like, “Ugh.” And that makes me feel beautiful.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: At this point in the conversation, I reflected back to Mel that almost every time I asked her, “So how was the sex was in that relationship?”, her response was, “It was great!” So I wondered, were there times where she did not have not so great or even nonconsensual interactions? That led us to a conversation about her experience of being assaulted and how she’s used sex to keep herself grounded throughout her life. You’ll find all that plus the full Lowdown Q and A at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

Audio extras are now free for everyone at Patreon regardless of whether you’re a patron. If you have a few dollars or maybe even more to pledge support for my work each month, I will gratefully accept. But if you don’t, I totally understand and I honor you for taking care of yourself and knowing your limits. Remember you can access the audio extras at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

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And remember, if your finances are tight and you still want to support the show, please tell a friend to listen. Or even gather a few friends to listen on a Zoom call, choose your favorite episode and you can all listen to it together while sipping martinis and pausing it to talk about your favorite bits. Use this show as a jumping off point to deepen your own conversations around intimacy and sex. Now, let’s get back to the conversation with Mel.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: You had your baby inside of a heterosexual monogamous marriage, is that correct? MEL: Yeah, I had a heterosexual monogamous relationship.

LEAH: And what was that relationship like for you sexually?

MEL: It was really good initially. So we met in graduate school, I went back to graduate school late. I went back to graduate school in my 30s and he was in his mid-20s. And we were great friends and we ran a theater company together. And sex was really great with him and also very vanilla. I hate to use that term. It’s not a really great term to use but it was. I think the most dangerous thing that we would do is he would fuck me from behind.

But in any case, in any monogamous relationship that I had been in, I have always cheated on the person I was with. And I didn’t like the secrecy around it. I didn’t like the fact that I was going behind someone that I love’s backs to get sex from someone else and I was really just compelled to do it. I needed some

variety in my life in terms of sexuality, in terms of sex in general and so I always cheated. And so I certainly cheated on my kid’s dad. I’m not proud at all of that. I think it’s horrible.

And yet I did it. And at one point, his dad handed me The Ethical Slut, which is a book about polyamory and how to open up relationships and be ethical be about it. So he gave me that book and I was like, “Wow that would be awesome!” And then my jealously comes up so then it’s like, “I want to be able to do what I wanted to do but I don’t want him sleeping with other people.”

LEAH: Was he giving you the book because he knew that you were cheating?

MEL: I really don’t know. I mean as I look at it, probably but that’s also not a conversation that we’ve had and we probably should but we’re still friends. So we did end up divorcing later after that. My kid was 9 at that point and yeah, so then I kind of moved on from there and I just cannot be in a monogamous relationship. I can’t start a relationship out in a monogamous way because I know that I am going to end up cheating on the person that I’m with because that is my pattern of behavior the entire time. And I have to stop that. I need to be able to honestly have more than one partner.

LEAH: What is it that you feel is missing when you’re with a single partner?

MEL: I find that what I do is I start losing parts of myself so for example, I am a musician. I love to play guitar. When I was with Ethan’s father, he didn’t like that kind of noise in the house so I stopped playing guitar just for this particular relationship.

I’m a skier. I stopped skiing maybe went with parents from time to time to go skiing but I didn’t go do the things that I really wanted to do on my own because I mean my relationship with this person. At least that’s how I understood it and so all of the stuff that we were doing, we needed to be doing together.

LEAH: That’s interesting because a lot of people would hear that and think, “Well, those are just the adjustments that you make for the sake of having a harmonious relationship.” And I’m not saying that I think that’s true. I think it’s really important that we have our own individual lives, but I’m trying to hear this from the point of view of somebody who is not familiar with polyamory as a lifestyle who might say, “Those are just the things that I have to do in order to have a happy relationship. How does that give you the okay to just go sleep with somebody else?”

MEL: Oh, it 100% doesn’t. I’m not saying it gives me the okay and I’m not saying it’s okay what I did. What I am saying is that I really was compelled. I am a creature that needs variety and also as a bisexual woman, how am I really going to be in a monogamous relationship with a man if I can’t also sleep with a woman when there already I’m cheating? And not to say again, having romantic relationships with women but I am having close friendship and sexual relationships with women. That’s important to me.

LEAH: As part of your bisexuality, it’s important that you be expressing both the sexual relationship with vaginas and the sexual relationship with penises because not every bisexual will say that.

MEL: No.

LEAH: That’s not necessarily true for everybody.

MEL: Well, that’s true for me. And also I like a wide variety of penises and vaginas.

LEAH: So you get out of your marriage and then you decide you’re going to pursue ethical non- monogamy as opposed to cheating non-monogamy.

MEL: As opposed to being a serial cheater, yeah. Let’s not do that. [LAUGHTER]

MEL: Yeah, I just decided every relationship that I was going to have moving forward, I was going to have to just be like, “I have been a serial cheater. I can’t do that anymore. I need to be non- monogamous.” And that was just new. I had read The Ethical Slut. That was it. Oh and Sex at Dawn, I have read those two books.

LEAH: And I’ll put those titles onto the Show Notes for people.

MEL: Yeah, those are great resources. So I had read those two and I was like, “Okay. I need to just recognize that monogamy does not work for me or at least it hasn’t and I need to jump into this world of non-monogamy and figure out what it looks like.”

LEAH: And how was that transition for you?

MEL: Hard and interesting so all of the words. I got into a relationship with a guy who had been in a poly relationship and he was also like, “I got to let you know. I’m never going to be monogamous.” And I was like, “Ah, you’re my perfect person!”

And so then we started dating, he moved in with me. At the time my kid was spending a week on, week off with each parent and he knew my son and those guys got along really great and so we had this non- monogamous relationship. But in our case, when you first get into a relationship and you’re not like hunkering down, new relationship energy thing and you just want to spend all your time with that person, ugh. So we did that, but then he preferred sex in groups and sex wasn’t one person. That was his deal and so most of what we did was swinging. So we would go to the swing clubs and it was not about relationships. It was about sex. And poly is about relationships.

LEAH: So let me just clarify. Do you feel like the two of you had a relationship and then you’re going and having sex with other people or was what was going on between you was just about sex?

MEL: No, we had a relationship. We definitely had a relationship and then we had sex but we didn’t have a whole lot of dyadic sex. I mean we did it from time to time and then it kind of teetered off. We did it at the beginning a lot and then it teetered off because really his thing is, is group sex. And so we still had a relationship that we would go to sex clubs or we would have couples that we would play with. We had a few individual women that we would play with from time to time but none of those were really like relationships in the way that I would think about how relationships needed to be. It was really just about fucking.

LEAH: So when you say what relationships need to be, what does that mean to you?

MEL: So the people that I’m in a relationship now, so my triad and I have two other men that I am in a relationship with as well. It’s not just about sex. I don’t see them just to go and have sex. We’re not constantly having sex. It is about supporting each other, knowing each other’s stories, being there for each other when we need to, being aware of what’s going on with each other’s lives, spending dinner together, just going on vacation together. And having that kind of head and heart connection that is really different from just sex so being able to have a really earnest deep conversation, having someone know stuff about you that nobody else knows about you, that stuff.

LEAH: So you are currently in a triad plus you are in a one on one relationship with a man and then another one on one relationship with another man, correct?

MEL: Yes.

LEAH: So in total, you have four partners in three relationships.

MEL: Four partners in three relationships but in the triad we really call that actually as four relationships, right?

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So there’s the relationship between me and Charity. There’s a relationship between Charity and Cliff. There’s a relationship between Cliff and me. And then there’s the relationship between the three of us so four separate relationships.

LEAH: And so how does the triad feed you in ways that one on one relationship don’t?

MEL: Oh my God! This is like the family that I never knew I needed. This is family to me. We have this house together. Someone is available to do whatever needs to happen. Charity’s working late, okay I’m going to be the one to make dinner tonight. We sit around the dinner table together or have coffee in

the morning together and we’re just kind of exchanging ideas like, “What’s your day going to be like and what are you doing?”

It’s just home. And our kids will come together and we’ll have family game nights and so this is exactly as a kid, the kind of thing that I would imagine that I would have. I always imagined that I would have a house where people would be in and out and we would be having games and having parties which we always do. In fact we’re having a big party tomorrow night!

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: But just having events and also being available to share your pain. I have a brother who has bipolar disorder and he has been in a manic phase for a year and a half at this point to the point where he has spent all his money and he’s homeless on the street. He’s also very threatening to me and it’s been really hard and challenging for me to deal with that.

And my family of origin is not able to do it because that’s their kid too. So they don’t know how to handle the fact that my brother is sending me these crazy messages and threatening me and how to reconcile that with the fact that they have a kid who has a mental illness. But I can sit at the dinner table with Charity and Cliff or in the couch or somewhere with coffee or whatever with Charity and Cliff and they can hear me and they can hold that space for me and they can continue to love me and give me the support that I need to be able to get through something that’s pretty fucking hard. And my family can’t do that but those guys can. Not only can they, they want to. And I’d do the same for them. We all hold each other in spaces like that where we’re going through stuff like that. So that’s what a relationship is to me.

LEAH: So I’m listening to what you’re saying and because I know you, I feel comfortable with all the things you’re talking about. I’m also trying to hear this from the perspective of someone who is completely new to these ideas around polyamory and triads and all of that. And so what I’m hearing is the way that you describe a relationship, knowing each other really well and sitting down and supporting each other and having coffee and all of those things and loving each other through those hard times, I can imagine someone saying, “But why do you need three people, why can’t you just do that with two people?”

MEL: Oh, well because Charity and Cliff are two completely different people. So they’re giving me different input, different ideas, different kinds of support and when someone’s not available, someone else is. When one of us is overwhelmed and can’t take care of everything else, there’s two of us, there’s four hands total to take care of whatever need to happen.

We frequently would do things like there will be a situation like that where someone is just like, “Okay, I have to take on some extra work. I’ll be working from here to here. I cannot deal with XYZ thing.” That’s a big deal that we have to deal with and there’s two of us to deal with it and we always go, “Problem solved by poly!”

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Remember how fun it was to have teenage sleepovers where we’d do each other’s nails and braid each other’s hair and gossip about kissing and relationships? I’m lucky because I still get to have those fun juicy conversations on a regular basis. But I know that a lot of you may find it hard to make the time and space to have these intimate connecting conversations with your girlfriends. So, I’ve created a space where you get to have that same fun again. It’s an adult PJ party!

It’s a whole luxurious evening of girl talk. I’ll lead you in a no holds barred conversation with your girlfriends talking about sex, relationships, toys, kink, orgasms, anything you can think of, we can talk about it! Even better, we’ll do it in a way that preserves social distancing and gives you a night of connection and intimacy with your favorite people.

Or if you’d prefer, join a group where nobody knows each other in advance so you can be completely open and honest without worrying about revealing too much to people you see every day. So let me help you create a space where the conversation can be easy, sexy, and fun. Visit leahcarey.com/pjparty for all the information and to book a party for you and your friends. Again, that link is leahcarey.com/pjparty and it’s in the app you’re listening on right now.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Before we started taping, you told me that you have recently officially entered menopause so how has your experience of sex changed as you’ve gone through the menopause process?

MEL: Not at all. And I hear that’s not true for everybody and there’s fear that you’re going to lose desire, I have not lost desire. But also I did not go through a lot of the hormonal stuff. Okay, occasionally, I will have those hot flashes but all right, I’ll sit down, just sweat a little, who cares?

[LAUGHTER]

MEL: So for me, that has not been a big deal. The emotional rollercoaster that I’ve heard about, I really haven’t experienced. And I know that people do, these are hormonal changes but my sex drive and my desire has not changed and my functioning has not changed.

But also don’t rely on your own freaking juices, get some lube. I think that’s what happens with some older women, “Oh no, I can’t. I’m not lubricating the same way despite the fact that I’m feeling in my brain sexually aroused, I’m not lubricating in any way.” Just because your body isn’t doing that doesn’t mean you’re not aroused. You’re aroused, grab some freaking lube, figure it out, go from there. It’s not hard.

LEAH: Mel, we have done it. I want to mention the fact that you have an absolutely delightful one woman show about your sexual history, so can you give people the very quick rundown?

MEL: Yeah, so I have a show it’s called Sexology: The Musical and I toured it over the summer from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, spreading the gospel of sex positivity.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: That was in 2019.

MEL: That was in 2019, yes. And so it’s basically my journey from monogamy to polyamory, which is how I identify now.

LEAH: Mel, this has been such a delightful conversation. Thank you so much for being here. I know a lot of your stories but it’s been fun to hear even more of them so thank you.

MEL: Thank you so much, Leah. It was really great to chat with you as well. And I’m so pleased with what you’re doing. This is amazing.

LEAH: Thank you. [MUSIC]

LEAH: Thanks for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at leah@goodgirlstalkaboutsex.com . You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at GoodGirlsTalk.

I was only able to step outside my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible to do it. If you’d like to step outside a box that’s no longer working for you, I’m here to tell you it’s possible and I’d love to work with you. Join my mailing list to receive tools that help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. Sign up at leahcarey.com. I’m Leah Carey and I look forward to talking with you again next time! Here’s to your better sex life!

[MUSIC]

Public Service Announcement:

If you think monogamy is the vanilla prison for which there is no safe word, or find yourself cheating yet again to get your needs met, it may be time to think outside the box. Relationships—both romantic and play—can accommodate a variety of numbers, shapes, and parameters. For anything from regular group sex to family game night households, consider polyamory.

Bookmark moments:

  • 3:03 – Mel’s first memory of sexual pleasure is of rubbing against her pillow at age 7 when sent to her room for a “nap.”
  • 8:55 – She started having sex at 14 with a boyfriend and had a great first experience.
  • 12:31 – Mel talks about her first lesbian encounter with an older mystery rich woman.
  • 14:13 – She describes how she is attracted to and attaches to women differently.
  • 17:37 – Mel opens up about an abortion at 18. She got pregnant with a Swedish foreign exchange student.
  • 19:02 – Mel tells “the story” from college, about the time she wrote a song for a disastrous first date with the future author of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
  • 22:18 – She talks about how her height (very petite) has affected her body image and confidence, the pressure to be thin growing up in the south, and about her shape fluctuations after motherhood.
  • 28:35 – During grad school Mel was in a “friendly” relationship with good-but-boring sex and accidentally became a mother.
  • 29:22 – She opens up about the fact that she has cheated in every past relationship, and what drove her. She talks about exploring the relationship model of ethical non-monogamy.
  • 31:35 – Mel explains that she loses part of herself when she’s only with one person because she over-adjusts to the dedicated partnership.
  • 37:35 – She talks about her current “triad” with a man and woman and two separate relationships with men.
  • 45:32 – Menopause has been non-catastrophic for Mel!

Resources mentioned:

The Patreon extras for this episode are:

  • Mel talks about how she responded to her parent’s divorce and to being anally raped
  • The extended Q&A

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Host – Leah Carey (website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, email)

Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby

Music – Nazar Rybak