For about four years I lived in a Poly-Open-Triad with my then husband, Alex, and our boyfriend Jon. And while our relationship grew and changed into something else, these two men continued to be my family, my brothers and my best friends.
That sense of family, and of a continuing and evolving love, is one of the biggest pros I have for polyamorous relationships.
But none of it came naturally to us. I didn’t know many people who were doing what we were doing, and many of the ones I met didn’t seem to share my fears or jealousies, fears and jealousies I’ve come to think of as being totally normal.
Watching my husband, Alex, fall in love with Jon while I too was falling in love with Jon was a beautiful and excruciating experience. We had no language for what we were doing, no way of knowing how to express what we were feeling, so we often made mistakes, we fought, we got jealous, but we always found a way to talk to each other, and to walk each other through our fears and insecurities, and once through them we always found ourselves at the same place: this amazing love.
I think I was always afraid that I wouldn’t be able to love Jon as much as I loved Alex, and if I did, did that mean I didn’t love Alex as much as I thought? What I learned was that love was infinite, it was not limited to just one person. I learned that I was capable of loving Alex with all my heart and soul, and that I was also capable of loving Jon with the same intensity.
We are always told that we can hate as many people as we want, we can hate whole nations, whole groups of people, but we can only love one person. That’s bullshit. The more I opened myself up to love, the more love I had.
But I also don’t think that non-monogamy is the more “enlightened” path. I think that however we choose to express our love, whether it’s monogamy, monogamy-ish, open or poly, it is all valid.
We have the freedom to be and love who we want, in whatever way we want.
I also think relationship styles can change from relationship to relationship, depending on who we are with and where we are at in our lives. I also like to think we can be fluid in our relationships, opening them and closing them as we need. It’s just about communicating.
Everything comes down to talking.
Here are five of the most common questions I get asked on my website about Poly-monogamous-open relationships, with five more to continue in Part 2.
1. What are Monogamy, Monogamy-ish, Open and Poly relationships?
In many ways these words are open-ended, kind of meaning whatever you want them to mean, but I will provide you with my basic understanding of each one.
Monogamous usually means that we are only with each other, sexually and romantically. In my definition of monogamous this also means that we aren’t having three-ways.
Alex and I started out monogamous. We spent a year focusing on each other and getting to know each other. I tend to like to start all my relationships this way because it allows me to build up a sense of intimacy as well as security and safety with my partner.
A lot of people don’t need that and will start out non-monogamous. Some people will just spend a few months, or maybe their whole relationships monogamous. Like I said, in the end, it’s all up to you and your partner (s) to find what works best for you.
Monogamy-ish expands on monogamy to include three-ways, or group play, or outings and adventures to spas or sex clubs or sex parties, but usually together. I know some couples who would say monogamy-ish includes some independent play as well, but for my purposes that would fall more into an open relationship.
When Alex and I decided to be Monogamy-ish what we were really saying is we wanted to explore three-ways and group play, but it was always something we did as a couple. A shared adventure.
Open relationships tend to deal with sex and not love. I’ve always defined my open relationships as we can go out and fuck other people together or independently as long as we follow whatever rules we’ve set up.
As I’ve gotten older I find that I tend to like regular fuck-buds over anonymous sex so that is something I’ve had to express to my partners.
I need a little bit of intimacy for my dick to get hard, but if the rules state that we don’t date or fall in love with other people, and if we do we stop meeting them, then I do everything I can to safe guard my primary relationship from my breaking the rules. And I am honest about that with all my partners.
It doesn’t always work, that’s the risk of bringing more people into your relationship, but if you are honest, and willing to grow and evolve with your relationship, I have found your relationship can survive (and usually joyfully) almost anything.
I think being clear about what we expect and what we need is the most important thing in any relationship, but it becomes even more important as we begin to explore opening things up.
Poly opens the door to allow love and dating and extra-relationships and multiple partners into your primary relationship. When Alex and I decided to ask Jon on a date, and not just over to our place to fuck, we had made the decision, after literally hours of talking about it, to invite Jon into our relationship.
This decision changed, I believe for the good, everything for us. It opened us up to more love, more sex, and more support: to an amazing family.
2. How do I know if it’s time to start talking to my partner about opening our relationship up?
There’s no one answer for this. The time to have that conversation is whenever you are feeling like you want to explore new things with your partner. Remember: you are doing this together. It’s both of your adventure and can be full of joy and fun and love…and potentially lots of amazing and new kinds of sex. The most important thing here is that you talk honestly with each other about your needs.
3. How do you deal with jealousy?
Jealousy is no joke. I can be a seriously jealous guy. I remember reading in one of the books on polyamory something about how jealousy was a sign of someone who wasn’t enlightened and therefore probably not cut out for a poly-relationship.
I thought I was fucked.
But here’s the thing, jealousy is normal. Sometimes we get crazy. Sometimes we say stupid things and do stupid things and just act like total dicks. If you can accept that, in regards to yourself and to your partner (s) then you’ve mostly dealt with jealousy.
Feeling jealous does not mean you are a bad or unenlightened human being. It’s just means you’re human, and you have something you are afraid of losing. And that’s the most important thing: I have found that when I am jealous it’s because I’m feeling threatened: afraid that something valuable to me might be taken from me.
So I express that. I talk to my partner (s) about what I am feeling. I try to get really honest with them and with myself and usually this helps. A lot. Just talking with the men I love has helped me to calm the fuck down.
But sometimes it doesn’t. And I act like a dick. And I have to apologize later. And that usually sucks for everyone.
4. How do we tell our friends and family that we’ve decided to open our relationship up, or to bring in a 3rd or 4th or a 10th?
Disclosure is totally up to you but not necessary. When Alex and I decided to start fucking other guys and having group play, we didn’t feel the need to run out and tell our moms. I talked about it with my close friends, people I knew would be supportive but I didn’t see the need to go running around announcing our decision to the public.
It’s really important to be selective. Not everyone will support the choices you’ve made. I find, at least initially, it’s best to go where the support and love is.
That being said, when we decided to bring Jon into our lives, our relationship and our home, we decided it was important to tell our friends and families. Jon was a full part of our relationship and it was important to us that he felt that way.
We decided to introduce Jon to everyone at our wedding. I think maybe we could have been less dramatic, but it did have a kind of flare we enjoyed, and we are lucky, our friends and family are all pretty liberal and open.
Like I said, choose carefully, and look for the love. And the more comfortable you are with your situation the more comfortable other people will be.
And if they aren’t, well, fuck them. It’s your life. You deserve all the love and happiness.
5. What are the most important skills to practice in a non-monogamous relationship?
Communication. Honesty. Listening. Clarity. These four words will be your best chance at having a successful, loving and sexy adventure through non-monogamy. The fifth skill, and sometimes the hardest, is really respecting your partner (s) and their needs. Really hearing them and approaching them with love. Remember who they are: that you are in this together.
Like I said earlier, there is no one way to do any of this, and whatever you choose, you get to change your mind, and you get to explore and try out anything and everything you and your partner (s) want. Have fun with it. And if you choose non-monogamy be playful with each other. I loved watching Alex and Jon as they were fucking another guy. I loved watching the two of them make out while I gave them blowjobs. It made them incredibly sexy to me. And it made me love them even more.
And really, that’s the whole point, right?
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