PQ 8.10 — Am I afraid that if my partner has sex with someone else, she will start comparing me whenever we have sex?

A person with short sandy hair viewed from behind. They are sitting at a grand piano playing. There's a dark red curtain in the background
Image by Lowell Hendrix / CC BY

PQ 8.10 — Am I afraid that if my partner has sex with someone else, she will start comparing me whenever we have sex?


I hope she does compare.

I hope when she’s lying there naked in my arms that she can feel his hands there, too. Stroking her back. Feeling the same curves that I’m running my hands over now.

I hope when she kisses me that there’s a split second of the memory of him. Intruding like a strobe light. Catching her breath.

That the memory of him and the sensations of now, with me, blend. And resonate. Like two tones being played together.

We can be this to her in the dark. Two notes sounding at once. Equal in volume. Similar in so many ways. But resonating at very different frequencies. And the difference between them? That comparison, that relationship?

Well, that’s how music is played.

Because these days I don’t look for lovers to pick out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a toy piano.

Or ones who plunk out a soulless rendition of “Chopsticks.” Performed like a party trick.

Instead, I want messiness. Counter melodies. Harmonies. Polyrhythms.

I want lovers who can play chords.


When I was a young musician, there was often a first chair, a second. We were absolutely ranked, in our groups. And that was difficult. Even if you practiced, poured your heart into it, and gave music your all, there was no guarantee that you’d be first chair. Ever.

And being a soloist? Was even rarer.

There were only so many opportunities for people to solo on any given song, even in jazz groups. Concert performances could only run so long.

But I knew (and still know) one thing: Those who cared more about soloing than the music? Were usually the ones who never got really good.

The ones who ended up soloing were obsessed with the music itself. And would have continued to play even if they never had an opportunity to shine. They dug the ensemble work.

And the best soloists didn’t just improvise — but they interacted with the pianist, the bassist, the drummer. Modified what they did to weave in and out. And offered those comparisons and contrasts through playing off the rhythm section.


This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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  1. Wow. Great post. I’ve never been a musician, but I love the analogies you used and the rhythm with which you wrote this. I’ve always felt more along the jealous spectrum, thinking about my partner thinking about his other love while we are together. But you’ve colored such a intense and amazing experience in this post. I get it, now, how both loves can multiply in one experience for a positive outcome as opposed to the competitive nature I’d always perceived where one tries to blare their music louder to drown out the other, rather than just jamming together to compliment the sounds and see what you get when you mix two together. Thank you for all your posts and especially this one!

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