What is “Free Sexuality”?

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Questions to Tamera founders Dieter Duhm and Sabine Lichtenfels around the issues of  free sexuality and free love

esterFor 36 years, the psychoanalyst Dr. Dieter Duhm, and the theologian Sabine Lichtenfels have been living together, but are free to go with others. In 1978 these two founded the community, which is today located in Tamera in southern Portugal, where about 160 people live in an experiment of free sexuality. In the following they share their experiences.

Dieter Duhm:

How is the idea of free sexuality practiced in Tamera?
All the people in Tamera, including the stable couples, are practicing free sexuality. I personally have always been practicing free sexuality. I realized early on that I would otherwise have to lie because I desire many women and not just one. I have always told this to my partners right away, for it was my guideline to never lie in love. I would also like to say this to everybody else: Please never lie in the area of sexuality and love. We can only end the secret gender war if we stop lying. Through this trust arises, and when there is trust long-lasting partnerships can arise. These are central correlations in the relationship between man and woman. We can only end war in the world if we end the war between the genders. End it completely, here and now.
These were the principles for the foundation of our project in 1978. They gave rise to the culture of free sexuality. Most people newly entering our project are happy about the possibility of new sexual contacts. Also married couples now have the opportunity to go to bed with new partners and to later speak about within the protection of the group. Therefore they do not have to lie to each other. This is an important principle for building a functioning community – that it makes the important things transparent, this applies to questions of sexuality as well as issues of money, authority etc. The key to the success of a group is the transparency among its members. We are all subject to the law of creation and of love. There is no commandment against free love, but there is a commandment against lying.
How the practice of free sexuality in Tamera actually appears cannot be described in a few words, because it is associated with a communitarian way of life that we have developed over thirty years. There is no recipe; there is only the imperative not to lie. If you would like to know more, come to Tamera and study the matter. We are building a Healing Biotope, where not only sexuality is to be healed, but everything, for example also sick animals or a sick landscape. You can read about it on the Tamera website.

What are the advantages of free sexuality?
Mostly men and women usually have many more sexual impulses than to only one single partner. This is part of our nature. It does not serve peace to suppress sexual attraction. Too many horrible things have happened in the world due to wrong sexual taboos and moral hypocrisy. This creates mistrust; mistrust leads to hatred and hatred leads to violence. Sexuality and violence is a core topic of history to this day. No other area has been beaten so horribly by violence and hatred as in the relationship between the genders. To overcome the mistrust, we need the basis of free sexuality. This is the absolute foundation, without which it does not work.
One advantage of free sexuality is for the genders to get to know each other. If one then chooses a partner, it then happens with knowledge and experience, and not just with the projection of a current state of happiness. Many marriages are made much too early. It often takes very long until you discover what real love is.

What are the main difficulties that new people of Tamera have in the area of free love? What problems occur most commonly?
At some point most people want a real partnership. So far, they believed that a solid partnership must be connected to monogamy, and that monogamy is a sign of loyalty. This is not true; the opposite is the case. You can only be faithful if you are also allowed love others. This is the precondition for real faithfulness. True love does not break at the point of so-called “infidelity” because erotic escapades belong to human nature. Free sexuality and partnership are not mutually exclusive, but complementary. It is well established in the creation plan of God. Jealousy does not belong to love. Nevertheless it was again and again a topic in our group work. There is unfortunately no pill against jealousy, but the more trust grows among the people, the less space there is for separation anxiety and jealousy. This is a basic experience in a functioning community.
We have observed an interesting pattern concerning the sexual behavior of our guests: usually it is the men that start with free sexuality. However they believe that they cannot demand this “burden” for their girlfriend or wife, and therefore need our encouragement. After a short time the women also dare to open sexually and now comes the surprise: they do it with such joy that it is often too much for their partner. Not the woman, but the man is more prone to jealousy when the old barriers fall.
I must say something to free sexuality, which is often forgotten: It only works in a humane manner on the basis of CONTACT and TRUST. It is not about indiscriminate polygamy, but is a mutual agreement on the basis of trust between partners who respect each other. This results in an ethic, which is gradually respected by all – it is mainly the ethics of truth, solidarity and mutual support. These ethics are the basis for a functioning community. In addition what is required is the development of erotic sensibility. When a woman sexually reveals herself to a man, then he should not immediately run to the next because he has just received a gift, which he should respond to. Free sexuality is pleasure and joy, but it is also a commitment. In a sexual encounter between a man and a woman, the two halves of humanity always encounter one another. Who acts in the right way here provides a service to humanity.

DD mit S-LichtenfelsWhat experiences have you personally had with free love in Tamera? Were you ever jealous?
I live and work with my partner, Sabine Lichtenfels, for 36 years. We both lived in free sexuality from the beginning. Twice she was in love with other men. I was not jealous, because I also liked both men. Sabine is a beautiful woman and as many men naturally like her, it would be crazy if she would “belong” only to me. But we are completely faithful to each other, and always keep together now and forever. Thank you and Amen.
It is important to understand the law of love. It is not the sexual exclusion of others that we need for a lasting partnership, but truth, trust, compassion and total solidarity.

Can the “third way,” the combination of free sexuality and marriage, be practiced even in a city like São Paulo or Berlin?
Yes, it is possible, but it’s difficult. A big city sends so many crazy signals that there is very seldom real contact between real people, everything remains anonymous. Jealousy arises very quickly under these conditions. But even in a big city, a good community can be created. This is a condition for the success of the global revolution. The principles of building community are more or less the same everywhere. If you have a common goal with a high will for manifestation, and if you can agree on free sexuality – always in connection with the ethics of truth and trust – if you bring that about, then the “third way” will arise almost by itself. I wish you good luck on this path.
I would like to emphasize again: The basis of free sexuality is trust. It is an easy word, but it holds the key for the success of the worldwide revolution. Trust is not simply there; it must be created. After several thousands of years of war history, the structure of mistrust has become deeply anchored in human relationships. We need new social and ethical structures, which no longer force individuals to lie. We were all forced to lie – lying in marriage, lying in one’s profession, lying in public life – everywhere. Lies and deceit have become survival conditions of today’s civilization. Therefore there is hardly any real trust left. The idea to build a new culture based on trust is new, radical, and revolutionary. Trust is not a private problem; trust is the most revolutionary political term that exists today. If we want to generate trust, we must turn all societal structures upside down, all the way into the bedrooms of married couples. This is what we call revolution. The word comes from the Latin word “revolvere,” which means turning something upside down. That’s what we want to do.


Sabine Lichtenfels:

How is the idea of free sexuality put into practice in Tamera?
There is a love school. Here we learn and study what it means to be truthful in the areas of love and sexuality. There are ethical guidelines connected to this work – truth in love, no betrayal in relationships, transparency and mutual support. Above all, we create spaces of trust, where we learn to understand the sexual reality at all. There is no other area of life where people are so silent and lie so much as in the area of sexuality. These are the issues we are working with. Truth in love is a revolution. I lived in an open partnership for 35 years and the most important experience was that truth in love gives Eros wings.

What are the advantages of free sexuality?
The question of free sexuality isn’t a question of advantage or disadvantage. It is more a question of exploring sexuality in its essence and creating the living conditions where it can no longer act destructively. Eros is anarchistic by its very nature. No human being can be possessed by another human being. Just because we are so deeply shaped by fear of loss, we want to possess another human being, but this doesn’t correspond to the being of love; it can only destroy it.
They’ve done the same to Eros as they’ve done to the rivers. They have straightened it into channeled, forced it into cages. Eros must be able to move freely, to move according to its nature. When the water is dammed up, it results in devastating destruction; it is handled wrongly, and there are huge floods. It is similar with Eros. It is only “allowed” in marriage, but since this doesn’t suit its nature, it dies out after some time. Since it is suppressed and prohibited outside of wedlock, this whole societal underground develops and shows itself in the form of violence, torture, depression, disease, murder, suicide, etc. More people die today from unresolved conflicts in love than in car accidents. Abuse, marital violence, lies and deception are the results of a love system that does not correspond to humanity’s true nature. If we want to create systems for love, then we must ensure that our society is designed in a way that truth and trust are possible. In this sense, we always emphasize that partnership and free Eros are not mutually exclusive; they complement each other.

What are the main difficulties around free love for the people that have just arrived in Tamera? What kind of conflicts are most common?
Many people do not understand the political dimension of this issue. They are looking for private therapy; they think that they can find quick sex in Tamera, which they can’t get at home. But this is not what Tamera offers. Tamera shows that we need completely new social structures, new societal systems in which love can be lived free of fear. We are a research center for the development of a new culture where peace is possible. We show how the war in love can be healed by creating communities of trust. One can study the nature of love; it has its own functional logic, and if you start understanding this, you can begin a new life practice. Because we ourselves are the “objects” of our research, it is necessary that we are ready to work on ourselves, to work toward self-change. The only person we can really change is ourselves. This means that we must be ready to look at our dark sides. This of course triggers a lot of turbulences in the people that come to Tamera for the first time,. They come in touch with issues that they had put aside for a long time. They start questioning the lives they’re living in many aspects, and recognize the importance of community. To really freely live Eros, we need vibrant communities where our love is embedded.

Of the 160 people that live in Tamera, what proportion of people are married and monogamous? How many are only polygamous? And how many are married AND practice free sexuality (the third way)?
There are all forms of relationship in Tamera. However, usually lovers that choose monogamy only do so for a certain time, and then they often open for others. Many also discover that they are not looking for a partner and would rather live more polygamous. Free love does not know these old laws: as long as monogamy is a fulfilling form for you, then live it. It only becomes a problem when it is demanded, if it is accompanied with blackmail, with stealth, deception and falsehood. Free Eros is not a question whether you want to live in monogamy, celibacy, polygamy, homosexuality or heterosexuality… The question is are you ready for truth and transparency? This is given much attention in Tamera. Only after some years, most people decide for a deeper partnership; many then live for a while in monogamy and then gradually open their relationships to others. I live for 35 years in an open relationship and we both love to go for adventures with others. It is wonderful to be able to come home and really share what you have experienced with another. It is an experience that deepens partnership, if it is no longer connected with fear of loss. It is quite a way until you get there. This experience has greatly enriched our Eros. If one has once experienced this, they know that real partnership is a model case in love, from which many people can benefit. Eros is an endless spring that does not dry up so long as it is treated properly. It wants to move and meander, but also rest and deepen.
Many people yearn for this kind of faithfulness in love and we, in the Love School, are working so that clear and truthful partnerships are possible.

DDlinks_SLrechts_1983How is your personal experience with free love in Tamera? Did you ever feel jealous about your partner? How did you deal with it?
I was married before I came to Tamera… so I knew the pitfalls of marriage. I was consciously searching for very new forms. When I first met my life partner Dieter Duhm, I wasn’t looking for partnership. I had the dream to found a village, to live in community. He was looking for people who wanted to create a community with him. It was a great gift to be able to discover each other so freely. I got to know the “essence” of man through him. I met the man’s sexual nature, without wanting to bind him to me. We could go through the city, and he could freely tell me which women he’s attracted to. It was wonderful to be able to communicate so freely. At the same time we had amazing sex with each other. Only over the years have we discovered each other as “partner” in all depth. When one enters into a partnership, they of course also encounter the dark spots of the other. Whether you can stay together is thus decided by the question of if you start working on yourself and each other. I again discovered the jealousy that I believed I’d already overcome. But I’ve not blackmailed my partner with this. But he also would not have been blackmailed. We have focused on the question of healing together – how can real trust develop between each other? It is a long path, a path that is never finished. We carry all the wounds of humankind within us – our trauma. It takes a long time until you stop projecting. I often projected the punishing father in my beloved. The man is then helplessly at the mercy of the raging monster in us women, which tries to defend itself against the “patriarch,” against the punishing father. This will continue until we see this film as a film, until we recognize our anger and not to direct it against our partner. My partner is the father of my daughter Vera, and he is also the father of her half-sister Mara. We women had to go through many processes with each other which gave rise to a deep friendship. The two girls are now in completely different trust with the world, than they would be if they had experienced the usual separation pain of the parents that divorce when a new lover steps into their life. I am very grateful for all these experiences and learned a lot from them.

Do you personally prefer monogamy or polygamy? Why?
There were times that we discovered each other so deeply that it was important to stay together. However, we were actually never fully monogamous but always in this moving flow. But in the times where I only had erotic desire for him, I also didn’t go with others. It was somehow self-evident. But most of the time our experiences were so rewarding that we wanted to share it with others. If we had lived somewhere alone in a house in the city, I don’t think that we would still be together today. We are both very creative people; we need art, sharing, community, to completely unfold.

Can this “third way” – partnership with free sexuality – be practically applied in a big city like Sao Paulo or Berlin? If so, how?
This is a hot question. I know more and more couples that want this and also give it a try. Sure it’s possible, but there is no simple recipe. Personally, I think free Eros needs community in order to unfold, because free sexuality is only possible on the basis of trust. People often tell us, ‘Yes, you’ve got it easy here; you have community.’ But we were only three when we started. Community is a natural consequence of trying to live free Eros. Truth, transparency, no revenge, spaces to share our experiences with each other – all these things are important elements to venture into the anarchist nature of Eros. Many people in the 1968 student movement wrote “free sex” on their banners without knowing how it works. As a result, there was a lot of people unnecessarily hurting each other, separation, jealousy, anger and disappointment. I cannot stress enough that it is not about the quick adventure, but about building completely new social structures where love can really be lived in trust and without fear. If a couple would like to open for free sexuality, I would go about it carefully and only with mutual consent. How many times men cheat with the secret justification, ‘My wife doesn’t understand.’ Later the story blows up; hatred and separation are the result. I can only say that we must learn to reveal ourselves to each other so that truth can be possible. The vessel of marriage is usually way too small for this, because old fears and wounds are washed to the surface. Friends that can help are needed so that we are able to communicate the full truth to each other. Our entire society is structurally designed in such a way that truth in love is impossible from the outset. We are all forced to play roles. It is a long way together to get to the truth. Community is the vessel that makes this way possible.


For more information please read the article “Free Sexuality and Partnership” by Dieter Duhm.


2 thoughts on “What is “Free Sexuality”?

  1. Seit ich in TAMERA war folge ich der Entwicklung mit Anteilnahme und liebender Bewunderung, auch was die großartige Zusammenarbeit mit sepp Holzer angeht.
    Leider hat sich meine Beweglichkeit durch einen Schenkelhalsbruch stark reduziert, so dass ich nur wieder kommen könnte, wenn Menschen mich unterstützen z.B. beim Fahren im Rollstuhl.- Meine gezeichneten Tamera-Brtiefe würde ich bei solcher Gelegenheit gern auf eine Tamera-Organisationübertragen, damit sie nicht in meinen Nachlass fallen (Alter jetztt 89). Empfehle wunderbaren Film: “O AMOR NATUREL”
    Love and respect!

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