Being in a relationship is hard. Communication, vulnerability and sensitivity are all necessary—and even a healthy balance of the three doesn't promise success. Well, there is a drug that could help partners everywhere in making their dreams of being in-tune with their significant others more likely. And the plausible antidote to an unhealthy romance is something humans have had available to them for centuries too—psychedelics. More and more couples are turning to hallucinogens like LSD, magic mushrooms, MDMA and even ayahuasca, to help strengthen their bonds and connect on a new, deeper level.
Tripping with your partner can be a profound experience. It’s possible to learn things about yourself and your significant other that might never come up in the sober light of day. For many “psychonauts,” it’s the dissolution of ego that helps them empathize with their lover like never before. “These psychedelics dissolve boundaries, they open up kind of inter-dimensional thought and experience. When you have this together, it kind of erases the borders, where you begin and where I end,” says Chris Kilham, “Medicine Hunter,” author, and regular psychonaut. “You're just in the same energy and that total bleeding together and kind of leaning together and no real sense of separateness - that's really the gift of them [psychedelics] as far as togetherness is concerned.”
Playboy caught up with Kilham and his wife Zoe Helene, cultural activist, psychedelic feminist, and Founder of Cosmic Sister, before they flew down to Peru to participate in one of their favorite rituals as a couple: an ayahuasca ceremony. “What we do with ayahuasca is stop looking at our external self and [start] working on the things inside that you don't have access to in another way,” says Helene. “Being able to do that with your life partner and sharing those visions with him… that degree of sharing what's really deep inside you, is really bonding.”
Tripping together will not only help you and your partner share your deepest, darkest secrets, but it can also put relationship issues into perspective. When thinking back on a fight or other disagreement while tripping, it can seem stupid, petty or selfish, especially in comparison to the “grand scheme of things” that will become much clearer on a drug-fueled journey. There is a significant chance it can take relationships to the next level, or make you realize how lucky you are to have found someone you want to spend every day with. When Helene and Kilham tripped on ayahuasca for their first anniversary, it was just that. “The very first thing I got [when the ayahuasca kicked in] was about how safe and happy I was there with my husband,” says Helene. “I recall seeing his face and that ayahuasca vision type…grin on his face, all shiny and bright and it was really loving and happy. So that was my very, very first psychedelic vision.”
“That just wound up being a remarkable bonding experience for us,” adds Kilham.
Of course, results may very, but whatever may be concluded should never be discounted. Whether you and your partner are tripping on ayahuasca in the jungle or on acid in your apartment on a Saturday night, unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. If you or she had any doubts about your relationship before the trip, you can bet they’ll come up during. There’s the possibility you might realize you’ve been lying to yourself and that this relationship isn’t working. The important part about tripping mindfully is to listen to all of these thoughts and feelings. “Don’t be judgmental towards yourself,” Helene advises. “If something comes up for you and you see something real about yourself that maybe you hide from yourself in normal waking life, don't judge yourself harshly, just go through it. Just listen, observe, understand. Try to get something out of that. And then there's the same thing when you're with someone else towards them, not being judgmental about what they're sharing with you, just hear it.”
While tripping can bring up difficult stuff, remember that’s part of the bonding experience. The increased openness and vulnerability can improve communication between you and your partner beyond the “journey” and continue into your everyday lives. “The next day or afterwards when everything's worn down a little bit, if you share these AHA moments with yourself, these kinds of things just bring a couple closer and you just know each other better,” explains Helene.
Engaging in any type of sexual experience will also differ from person to person and based on the type of psychedelic you've taken. For instance, while it’ll be hard not to have sex on MDMA, many people find sex too intense or even violent while on mushrooms or LSD. Some couples love sex on acid, so it’s best to just have an honest conversation with your partner before and during the journey before getting it on. If you're into the idea of getting frisky, ayahuasca shouldn't be your drug of choose. Although, Kilham explains how the days after an ayahuasca ceremony are some of his horniest. “Anything that enhances our energy is going to enhance our sexual energy as well,” Kilham says. “One of the big things about psychedelics for me has been that I get energized by them. I may get temporarily fatigued the next morning or something like, whoa that was an intense night. But overall, there's a sense of the channels of my body being swept clean and I feel more infused with energy and inspiration.”
Kilham brings up a good point about the post-trip experience: it’s definitely known to cleanse and even change people. That’s one of the main reasons researchers are calling for the decriminalization of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Shrooms’ ability to make a lasting impact on people’s state of mind has made them a viable option for treating depression, anxiety, and even addiction.
If you decide to partake, here are a few final words of wisdom before your journey: Communicate with your partner before the trip. Discuss any doubts or anxieties you might have and be sure to keep communication open during the psychedelic experience as well. As far the actual trip goes, make sure to turn off your cell phones and close your laptops. This is about connecting on a deeper level with each other, not live-tweeting your trip. Plus, what seems cool when you’re sober may seem disturbing when you’re tripping, so it’s best to avoid the internet altogether.
It's imperative to be present during your trip and to approach the experience with an open heart. “You definitely want to bring openhearted, open-mindedness to any kind of experience,” Helene advises. “But I would also say courage, humility, a sense of humor because it can be pretty funny.” You and your partner might even want to set an “intention” before eating those mushrooms. Intentions should be really simple on your first trip, and can get more advanced if this becomes a regular date night. “It [intentions] can be to explore something in our lives that we want to understand better, it can be to open our minds to something we’re considering doing. That doesn’t mean the ceremony goes that way,” Kilham advises.
Finally, a crucial element to consider before embarking on your special date night is the setting. If you can afford to make a weekend out of it, get out of the city and go somewhere in nature. “It really is all about setting,” says Kilham. “These psychedelics are very different. I think with mushrooms you can actually spend the day raging around on the beach if you want, it doesn't have to be in a ceremonial hut at night with a shaman singing.”