Shannon Boodram (Interview)

Illustration by Mia Coleman.
Illustration by Mia Coleman.

What’s the most frustrating conversation you’ve had in a relationship?
Oh my God. I had a million with my past partner. What’s the most frustrating one though? The most frustrating is when you’re trying to express what bothers you, and that person is unwilling to listen because they’re focused on their own pain and hurt. If I’m telling you the way that you said this to me earlier really bothered me, and you’re like “Well, how do you think I feel? Because last week when you said…” I’m like “Okay, but we talked about last week last week. Right now, I want to focus on what bothers me.” In a good partnership, you’re supposed to give a fuck. When you throw what your problem on top or when you try to sidestep towards what you are feeling, you’re telling me you don’t give a fuck how I feel or it’s not validated or I deserve to feel bad since I made you feel bad. You deal with one thing at a time when you genuinely care about somebody.

What’s most frustrating is when you’re trying to express what bothers you, and that person is unwilling to listen because they’re focused on their own pain and hurt.

How did you know when it was time to let go?
Oh I knew a long, long time ago. Again, love is addictive. You know that you’re supposed to quit cigarettes long before you stop smoking cigarettes. You’re aware of the time to quit well before you do. I would say the same for my past relationship. I knew off the top that it was incompatibility, but my stubbornness, my desire to make it work, and that person’s manipulation–and tie in family and how love could be addicting–dragged it out for four years. If I’m honest with myself, I knew before I said yes to the relationship that it wasn’t really the right fit. I knew and I gave myself the strength to remove myself from it when it was final. The relationship ended dramatically and it had to–I’m really grateful for that because there was no room for any kind of relationship between us after that. It allowed me to remove the addiction and cut ties because I almost didn’t have a choice.

What was your mindset when telling the stories that you did in the “Truth About My Love Life” and “Truth About My Sex Life” videos?
We’re all in this together. We have this impression that we go through a lot of things alone. My goal is to show people that a lot of us are going through the same shit. A lot of us have been in the same kind of repeat relationships. The positive thing about patterns is that it’s not personal. For example, a lot of women go through these great betrayals of cheating. But cheating is constant in society. So why are you personalizing it so much? That’s like getting mad at a fly for flying; that’s what it does. Infidelity has been alive for as long as marriage has. You shouldn’t blame yourself or think, how could this happen to me? because it happens to everybody and it happens so often. Knowing you’re not the only one going through this is a very profound experience to have, especially in a space where we rarely talk honestly.

Tell us about your upcoming partnerships.
Honestly, it’s a really, really exciting time for me. I’m working on this social experiment, “Shan Boody Is Your Perfect Date,” that will show if I can I make 10 people fall in love with me across 10 dates. The premise is: We spend so much time on our hair, makeup, figuring out what to wear on a first date, figuring out where to go, but what we’re not doing is learning the principles of intimacy and connection. I want to show people that even when wearing the same clothes, with my hair pulled back, and with no makeup on, I’m able to connect with people by using what I’ve learned in school and by listening to people and understanding the principles of intimacy. Can I, in theory, without the help of makeup, hair, clothing, and all that jazz, make a true connection with 10 people from 10 different backgrounds across 10 dates?

There seems to always be a conversation online about how many partners a person has. Do you think it’s an appropriate conversation to have? How tied is that conversation to how you move forward in a relationship?
I don’t mind talking about my partner count because I want to give people the “me too!” experience. The thing with the count is that you decide. You decide who you count. You decide how many numbers you want to share. Nobody is gonna go into your vagina and take a test to prove all the different partners you’ve had or vice versa for men. I don’t think it should be a stressful thing. I do think that rather than lying, you can say “I don’t feel comfortable sharing that. I do, however, feel comfortable going to the clinic with you, getting tested, and sharing my results with you. I do feel comfortable divulging if any of your friends were involved or if there’s a personal connection that would put you in jeopardy. But, I don’t feel like this would help our relationship in any positive way.” People make it a stressful thing when in reality you have total control over it. You have absolute control. Don’t feel like it’s something that defines you. You decide what you share, who you share it with, who you count, and who you don’t count. You completely control the situation. It’s interesting; I ask people how many partners they’ve had, not because I want to judge them or it’ll determine how I feel about them, but I think it’s an interesting thing. I ask, “How many relationships have you had?” “How many people have you been in love with before?” I ask because I want to know that person and get to know them.

I would also analyze why someone is asking you that question. If it’s coming from a place of genuine curiosity, and it’s like we’re both two humans trying to share a space in time and I want to know who you were before you met me and how that’s shaped you to who you are today then great. If you’re asking because you want to figure out whether this person is pure or holy enough or this person’s experienced enough, then I would detour from that conversation.

Pay attention to not only how you love somebody, but how you love yourself when you’re with them and how they make you feel about yourself.

What does love mean to you?
I think of love in four parts, which is agape (love for self), philo (love of friends), storge (love for family), and eros (romantic love). I believe that when you’re in a healthy eros-type of love, it’s not just a matter of who that person is and how much you love them, but how much you love yourself in that relationship. We can be with somebody who we think is awesome, but for whatever reason they bring out the worst in us. They bring out our insecurities. They bring out our fear. They don’t make us productive. They make us feel minimized. You have to pay attention to not only how you love somebody, but how you love yourself when you’re with them and how they make you feel about yourself. Love in science is a neurological condition. I look at love like that. I’m very clear that I’m addicted to my current partner, but it’s a good addiction because it’s a beautiful love. There are times where instead of saying “I love you,” I’ll say “I’m addicted to you,” and he knows what that means. We’re deeply bonded, and sometimes I call it love and sometimes I call it an addiction but it’s still a beautiful, positive thing. Love is an important function of life. Love is necessary, and with anything that exists in that playing field, it can be very dangerous or it can be very fulfilling. How much you decide to work on that area determines whether it’s dangerous or fulfilling.