I was attached to polyamory out of fear. I never saw monogamy work out before.


An interview with Tamara.


Artwork by Katy Howe.

Tamara | Age: 37 | Location: London, UK | Born: Moscow, Russia | Occupation: Interior designer | No. of sexual partners: 110

Why did you take part?

It was super informative to read about everyone's else’s sex lives and to realise how different and yet similar we are. We need to demystify sex. 


What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?

I grew up in a pretty liberal family. Not sure they think they are liberal, but compared to the grandparents, they certainly were. My mother was very beautiful and popular with men. At 16 I realised that over a course of 7 years she had a lover. I also caught my dad having sex with another woman on a holiday. I noticed a lot of cheating going on in my parents’ circles so it felt like everyone was at it. None of that made a huge impression but I was like ‘ah, this is how it works.’ Coupled with my parents never being dogmatic about virginity or sexuality I grew up feeling quite liberal about the whole men women encounter. 

I lost my virginity when I was about 16 to a man I was desperately in love with. We continued to be lovers for about 10 years after that and we are even now good friends. I had a very positive foundation. I also somehow equated female power to sex. I was a very horny teenager. I was trying to find all I could about sex - I was trying to be good at it. I read a number of books and one of them made a good impression on me. It talked about women who were so empowered they made men do whatever they wanted. This idea what we don’t have direct access to power but sex gives us power over men. In my 20sIi spent time going from one men to another, seducing them. Every day was a performance. Every day was something new. I had these things, performances. I’d do striptease. I’d massage them with candles and oil. I’d do something different all the time. Nothing was off limit. I had this idea you had to satisfy a man. I thought that I had to keep a benchmark. The second a man would fall for me I’d run out of my repertoire and move on to the next target! It was a real power trip. I just wanted them to fall in love with me and do what I told them to do and then I’d generally move on. Except for when I was 23 I fell in love with this guy and then it didn’t work out and he broke my heart. I was traveling at the time. 11 months out of the year. I was really unsettled. I guess I gave him the impression I was never going to settle down. Not wife material. He found himself another girl while I was away.

Moving into my 30s i started to realise that I don’t get a lot of satisfaction with sex because it’s never about my needs. I find it very difficult to climax and I realised that I’m wasting my time trying to power trip men into falling in love with me. Once they fell in love with me i wouldn't respect them anymore since they fell for my tricks. I got into a relationship with one guy and I lived with him for 2.5 years. We were fucking like rabbits for the first 6 months and then I didn’t want to have anything to do with him sexually even though I loved him. The interesting thing in my life is that I always get to experience the other side. I then left him and couple of years down the line I got involved with a man who I really fell in love with. We were also very sexual for the first 9 months and then he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore because of a couple of things that happened. 

Having seen my parents be frivolous and cheating and lying to each other, I decided it wasn’t going to be me. They were fighting like dog and cat all the time. So i decided I wasn’t going to commit to monogamy. I was very confronted by the fact that the men I chose wanted to have monogamy. We fell in love with each other and we couldn’t deal with each other - him with my polyamory and me with his monogamy. We discussed it at the beginning but the relationship was so good. We were in a honeymoon phase. We didn’t want to approach the subject. To him I guess it meant I agreed to monogamy and for me it was something that we would talk about down the line when it became an issue. And invariably it became an issue. I told him I was going to a festival and that if I wanted to have a sexual liaison with someone that that’s what I was going to do. I have this thing where no one tells me what to do. 

Most of my life I spent not having romantic relationships with people. I had loads of sex but no relationships. I kind of didn’t realise you had to take the other person's opinion into consideration. I just thought we’d figure it out somehow. I went to the festival and I realised that I really loved him and didn’t want to be with anyone else. I came back and told him that but the notion of me leaving and not taking his view into consideration made me very unsafe for him. It really affected our sex life. I felt that he shut down and I just didn’t know how to get access to him. I tried different things from tears to anger, to waiting, to pleading, to not doing anything. I felt really unhappy and isolated in the relationship. I just didn’t know what to do how to fix it, how to make it work. I also felt like I was held hostage in the relationship. We lived together but we weren’t having sex. I felt like I had to do what I didn’t want to do, to lie. So eventually I moved out. Eventually we have become friends. We spent time together, even went on holidays. I started to have other lovers but I was still clear that he was the one I really gave my heart to. For a while it worked and then one day we went out and I kept waiting to confront the situation. I told him that I had other lovers. He seemed hurt and surprised. That broke the camel’s back. Ever since then I’ve been trying to get back with him even though I’m not convinced it would work. It’s been an interesting year. I realised I was attached to polyamory out of fear. It was a way to survive the risk of my partner or me cheating on each other and that killing the relationship. I didn’t want polyamory really, I just wanted it to calm my fear around monogamy and the fact I never saw it work out before. I realised that if I could go back and have monogamy with him at least now it wouldn’t have been a problem. 


What were the aha moments in your sexual journey?

Sometimes I feel like I’m following a script - he kisses, I kiss him. I can be not very present in sex and it’s been an issue. I try to ground myself in the sensation as much as I can these days. It’s normally mixed with a gazillion other things such as ‘how long has it been since this ceiling has been painted?’ or anything that happened during the day. 

I have this thing in sex where I have to please the other. And often at my own cost. If I don’t want to have sex anymore but my partner does I’ll wait till he comes. I always feel like a man has to climax because he’ll get blue balls. 

I think the most important aha moment was about performance and power. I realise that’s a very stupid way to self-affirm.

What does sex mean to you?

It used to mean power and now it means two things. In some cases it’s about intimacy and connection and in other cases it’s a way to satisfy a physical urge and feel desired. 

Really, it’s been 20 years of not finding that much pleasure in it. It’s been mostly empty and meaningless. Never found it for a continuous length of time with anyone. Even when I find it, it goes away.  


What’s difficult about sex?

Jesus. Wow. What’s not difficult about sex? Communication is probably the most difficult thing. Communicating my needs. For me. Knowing my needs is also difficult for me. Being present to touch. And to be in the moment. And being able to surrender. And not having to follow the scripts. And for it not to be performance. Climaxing is difficult, so difficult. It’s like, working. It’s hard work. All the stars have to align. The tempo has to be right. We have to do it for hours. Or I have to be in the mood. You know. Only perfect conditions allow it to happen. 

What do you most enjoy about sex?

I enjoy seduction. Seducing him and being seduced. I enjoy the raw male energy. Seeing him very excited and being swallowed by my sex appeal. Sometimes I even enjoy the actual sex! 

Do you orgasm?

I have been able to orgasm since 8. I discovered it in the shower. I’ve been very used to strong clitoral stimulation. The only way I can come now is if i have a very strong vibration. I mean we’re talking chainsaw power. I wonder if i’ve made myself less sensitive because of vibrator and shower abuse. 

Also when I get horny I mistreat it. I watch some porn and climax in 2 minutes instead of making passionate love. I wonder if all of that makes me not a very good candidate for natural love making. In love making I have to be in the doggie position and I’d use the vibrator on my clit and the man have sex with me. Winning formula. 


How often do you have sex?

Maybe once a month. I have a lot of lovers, I just don’t sleep with them very often. 


Do you masturbate?

Yeah, with porn and vibrator. When I’m ovulating every day. Otherwise 1-2 per week probably. 


What specific things (e.g. techniques) have you found, alone and with partners, that have led to more pleasure in your sex life? 

Well. What I found out. If I have somebody who has time for my needs then it greatly escalates the pleasure. He comes. He plays with me. It’s not full on and there’s plenty of time to warm up. We talk. We watch a movie. He goes down on me. Goes away. When it happens over a long time and then when we have sex I’m really gagging for it. And then if he can also last and go slow. I get easily overwhelmed and numb out and can’t come if it’s too fast. If he goes first slow and then he builds up and then we take a break, he comes back. There has to be time and variety of intensity. Then it can work really well. 


How do you see female sexuality portrayed in the society and how does it make you feel?

I don’t have this whole feminist rage. Perhaps I’ve been so brainwashed that I’m ok being a sexual object. I’ve been sexually harassed since I was a child. Men would remove their pants and show their genitals in the kindergarten. When I was 14 my father’s friend started to harass me. He kissed me in a lift and tried to fondle me all the time. In my 30s I found myself with a violent lover who pressed me for about an hour on the bed until I agreed to have sex with him. Police got involved. They wanted me to push rape but I didn’t feel like a victim. He was charged and I got threats over email from his friends and from him. The police really wanted to charge him with rape but I didn’t want to. In the end I said yes even though it was under pressure. He has a restraining order. 


What’s your advice to women?

Not to use sex as a gambling chip. Really try to learn what pleasures you and try to communicate it effectively. 


What’s your advice to men?

Take your time. Learn everything you need to learn. How to seduce, how to make love. Get that here is no scarcity around sex. Don’t go for any pussy just because it’s there. 


Is there anything you want to explore?

A committed monogamous relationship. I’d like to explore a long term committed relationship and sex within that context. Doesn't have to be monogamous.