RE: CoHousing Conference
From: mtracy (
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 94 20:54 CDT
On Mon, 15 Aug 1994 Catherine Kehl wrote:

>Hmmm...  What kinds of hidden sexual agenda have you (or other people) run 
>into?  I mean, I can think of several way this could apply, but...
>Are you talking about conflicting sexual mores, or something more 
>intrusive (the difference being -- in my mind -- between what someone does 
>with someone else, and what someone tried to do with you...)?
>                                               Catherine

Two examples come quickly to mind.  In one community (three adjacent group 
houses, about 8 households total) we tended to take our lovers from within 
the community.  There were a few couples in long-term relationships, but the 
rest of us drifted in and out of relationships every few months, just like 
the entire population of Santa Monica.  Eventually, everyone was an ex-lover 
of someone else, and jealousies and bad feelings about past breakups entered 
the dynamics of the community, which lasted about three years.  Staying in a 
community where you meet your ex-lovers on a daily basis, and see them happy 
in a new relationship, takes an enormous amount of understanding and working 
it out with your former lover.  Sorta like the rule not to take on lovers who 
work in the same office.

In another instance, we tended to take our lovers from outside the community 
(about ten people in a small trailer park).  When one of us fell in love, 
either they would disappear for ten weeks or so, or else we would suddenly 
find ourselves with a relative stranger in our midst who, more often than 
not, did not share our values.  Or worse, who had the hidden agenda of taking 
someone with them and away from the group.

Falling in love almost always diverts energy away from community and into a 
two-person relationship, even if both people live within the same group.  
Many communities recognize this.  The most successful long-term communities 
(monasteries which last hundreds of years) practice celibacy.  Others, like 
Oneida (mid 19th century), encouraged members to take many lovers within the 
community, but weren't permitted to have orgasms.  Kerista (San Francisco) 
practiced sexual rotation (if it's Thursday, you must be Thelma), but 
discouraged falling in love.  ZEGG (about 200 communitarians, many of whom 
have been living together more than five years) freely engage in sexuality, 
but will confront couples who have fallen in love and are ignoring the needs 
of the community.          

In groups like these, the sexual agenda are more or less visible.  In 
cohousing, which recognizes and supports individuals who wish to separate 
themselves from the community from time to time, the sexual agenda may be 
less visible.  It is possible to avoid ex-mates and ex-lovers for a while, 
and for both partners to find support during a difficult separation.  
Nevertheless, at some point, any hard feelings have to be worked out by all 
concerned, which is practically everyone.  

Martin Tracy          mtracy [at]          Los Angeles, CA

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