Category Archives: Identity

Answering questions from friends…

At work Russ came up to me this week and asked how my dating life was going. We got on the topic of non-monogamy (something he is personally struggling with, as he enters into a monogamous marriage in the next few months), and the topic of ‘rules’ came up. I divulged that Keith was allowed everything but vaginal penetration at this point, and he made the joke, “oh, so it’s okay for you to get it, but not your man?!” I can see this perspective, and find myself wanting to go down a few different trails of logic.

The first being, it’s not a forever rule. But only a few months in, I’m still adjusting to even being out (somewhat) as bisexual, let alone dating, let alone letting my husband (who has a history of…er…indiscretions be in sexual contact with others physically or via technology) is sort of a big deal. And I don’t want US (yes, US) to rush too quickly and get overwhelmed with the “negative” emotions that might rear their head.

But mostly it’s because of historically how Keith and I have viewed morals around sexuality. At 29, when we got married, he was a “virgin” (to penal-vaginal sex). His reasoning for waiting were due to religious upbringing and an overall desire to make it ‘special’ and have this intimacy not found in other sexual relationships. It was something he set up, something he adhered to, despite many many many failed attempts on my part to pre-maritally break him of the habit (because, clearly, I was not, myself, a virgin).

So forgive me if I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that 6 married years later it’s just cool to dip the stick in any oil tank around, ya know? Because after so many years of ‘dealing with it,’ I finally bought into the myth that his VIRGINITY was what equaled out specialness together, I’m not quite ready to give that up…yet. But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t, especially if he found someone who was more than just a 3 month non-committal honey…ya know?

But also…

I’m struggling as someone who is bisexual.

I have known for YEARS that there’s this part of my personality that has gone unfulfilled in a monogamous relationship with man. But I’m newer to the concept of polyamory being an orientation, and not just “dudes being dudes trying to get laid.” And also, because Keith’s sex drive has historically been WAY WAY lower than mine, I have this thought in the back of my mind like, “um, dude, if you don’t want to put out with ME four, five, six times a week, then why on earth should you get more than one lady to do the dirty with?”

I’m working on it.

But that was my reasoning, and he’s honoring where I am, right now. I know it won’t be a forever thing, but I’m not interested in him losing his second virginity (is that even a thing?) to just a random hookup. Ya know?

Ugh, though. Rules. They sorta suck and put a damper on things.

How do you go about navigating relational boundaries with your partners?

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My Solo Ladydate

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Pre-date: nervously stuffing tortilla chips into my face while simultaneously trying to get my wavy/curly hair to stop doing that thing that makes me look unkempt/unshowered/homeless-or-on-drugs and texting with Keith about how nervous I was for the night. His advice: it’s like dinner with Mari (my platonic bff), and don’t worry about ‘the kiss’ until after dinner.

That was good advice.

Though hard, when you’re sitting across from such a pretty lady.

Dinner: we were both early. I figured that would happen, since we’ve talked about how how we worry about being late places. She stood out front of the restaurant, and we hugged and went in, and waited for our table, and caught up and it was so…

easy.

I mean, seriously easy. The conversation flowed, and flowed. She asked questions. I asked questions. We started conversations and then got sidetracked down rabbit trails and have yet to answer some of those questions fully, but I don’t feel that panicky shit-I-should-have-said-that-in-order-to-convince-her-to-like-me-more feeling. It was relaxed. Comfortable. Like we’ve known each other 100 years.

After dinner: we took a walk along the marina in the sunset. We wanted to hold hands but didn’t. Were we nervous? I think so. I wanted to kiss her all night. And as we sat on the bench looking out over the water, people watching, and talking about life. She said she wanted to kiss me on the bench while we were sitting there, but she felt shy. And I felt shy. And then it got cold, and we walked back to our cars, and then I kissed her.

Before I kissed her, I said “i’m feeling like an awkward 15 year old boy, and I want to kiss you,” and she was so short and soft and smelled so nice. It was so different than kissing Keith, and different than all the drunk makeouts from my younger years.

And then we talked some more.

And kissed some more.

And a little more talking.

And kissing.

And finally it was too late, and she had to go home, so I put her in her car and we both headed our separate ways.

I have so many more thoughts about how the whole date, but today I’m just feeling quietly happy.

 

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage (Book Review)

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After my dismal foray into the FetLife forum, I decided to just continue reading blogs and blooks. And a quick Amazon search led me to this book by Jenny Block, and the description seemed to fit me so well already that I purchased it in one quick click.

It arrived yesterday, and I’m done reading it today, which means A) I had a lot of time on my hands, and B) it was a quick read. It read partly like a memoir-gone-self-help-book, which I appreciated in most parts, but got tired of in others.

What was refreshing about the whole book was how honest she was about her thought process, while also making some assertions about society at large on the issue of monogamy/non-monogamy. And I appreciated that she hasn’t been doing it for years and years and years, so it read more like the blogs, here, that are still continually exploring their relationship with open marriage and/or polyamory (or both? definition?).

I think the reason I liked it so much is because, deep down, I really want what happened to her: married to a man, in love and long term commitment with a woman, and with a husband who is open to open marriage but doesn’t act on it that often. Just writing that made me have a twinge of ick in my belly, in thinking that I could possibly ever want Keith to not explore, but still sometimes thinking I have more of a right to explore because I’m bisexual and he knew going in that I was attracted to both men and women (though, while married I’ve been attracted to some men, though rarely).

I know that just the little insecurity creeping in, and is more of a head thing than a heart thing, because when I see how connected we’ve been lately, and how much more free he feels (like it looks like he’s lost weight from the decision), I can’t help but want him to keep exploring and relating to others, both in a sexual or in a non-sexual context, whatever feels right for him (and us). But there are certainly those moments where I feel this disgusting entitlement  feeling, and I don’t like it!

Overall I would recommend the book, though it’s probably one you could borrow from the library, and not necessarily one that you NEED to own. Though I thought it was vanilla enough that I could happily order it for my sister or close friends to read to give them an idea of how our open marriage is working, that might dispel some stereotypes/myths that they might have about open marriage = orgies or swinging or things that it certainly could  contain, but don’t necessarily need to.

The last few chapters seemed redundant, though, which is why I feel like it could be a book borrowed and not bought. I overall really like it, and am so glad I purchased it. I underlined a few little gems, and am excited to discuss the overall message with Keith tonight!

What books would YOU recommend on the subject of open marriage or polyamory?

FetLife? Or where to find other supportive peeps…

This week Keith told me that he had joined FetLife, to try and gain some advice from other people “in our situation.” I had heard of FetLife through OffbeatHome, in one of their posts that suggested the supportive environment for people of all kinky walks of life, including polyamory. While I’m not typically drawn to online forums (with the exception of one that I moderate, lol), I decided to give it a try and see if I could find anything useful (or anyone cool to provide advice) in our area.

Um. . .

I feel like I should have stuck with blogging. And reading books off Amazon. Because I don’t know about you, but the website navigation is terrible. And because of their security (which I appreciate) policy, you can’t just search for people in your area. You sorta have to stumble upon them, and with over 21,000 people listed in the Seattle area, and no discernible way to connect without reading hundreds of profiles or joining random groups, I got internet social-anxiety and left. Not to mention, I’m not super excited about clicking around and seeing surprise dicks in my face. Yes, I know, it’s a kink website, what was I expecting?

Lots of dicks, tho.

Keith agreed, though he has managed to connect with a couple and has a good vibe going with them, getting some questions answered, and building a friendship (they’re not looking for more boyfriends, and neither is Keith). But when we chatted about it, he too felt it was hard to engage with the material because clearly there’s a lot, but navigating is hard. And I have no idea what to even classify myself with all the titles they have going on over there.

So my question to ya’ll is, how do you go about connecting with other like-minded people? I know about munches, and maybe someday we’ll go out in person and socialize outside our little budding poly experiment?, but for now I’m inclined to simply meet and chat online. I’m not really into kinky, at least I don’t think I am (I would know, right?), and so that part of the website doesn’t necessarily fit. I’m fine with meeting kinky people, but preferably would like to meet other people who’ve turned monogamy into successful polyamory. Ya know?

How I’m Planning to Spend the Night of My Husband’s First Date

Tomorrow Keith ventures out on his first official date with the lovely Jen. Sure he’s hung out with her in person before, but while they were tentatively re-establishing a friendship and before she felt that the open marriage ‘situation’ was totally legit. And so tomorrow’s the day, where they meet up for some beers at the pub before the soccer match and then head on out to the stadium. I have no idea what to expect as far as what might happen at the game, and think he’s being cautious since we’ve had season tickets for several years, knowing all the people who sit around us, as well as knowing his sister’s in attendance at the game, too. In my mind they’ll appear like platonic friends (which he often brings to the game instead of me) and that the making out, or physicality will happen in the privacy of alleys or bathroom stalls or the backseat of his car…

At any rate, I haven’t given much thought to the imaginings of what will go on, knowing he’ll give me the update when he’s home. I’m excited for him, and am having  hard time explaining that feeling to friends who know of our situation, and a hard time not telling those who don’t. But at risk of sitting at home and suddenly freaking out I thought that it’d be good to spend some time with a friend. So I’ve scheduled a mama/son and friend happy hour date at the local family friendly brewery. I figure that doing something fun and social with a good friend will help me if I have any of the poor me I am stuck at boring home being a mommy while he gets to have fun feelings come up. Because those feelings surface when I get into that parenting-is-fucking-hard and we have to go tit-for-tat in time away. I don’t think it’ll be a concern about him necking another woman, more that he’s not here parenting when my kid refuses anything but chocolate chips or wants to watch 53 episodes of Curious George 🙂

It feels like tomorrow is the crossing of a threshold, entering a way of being in our openness experiment, and I’m really excited that he’s we’re getting go through that door, together, even if we are actually apart.

 

Dating is about more than the good times…

I’m incredibly bummed.

Yesterday I had a wickedly amazing texting conversation with Anne, about life, and family, and school, and looking forward to our date on Friday. And she wanted advice on contacting her instructors about a possible schedule conflict for class, because she learned her grandma wasn’t doing well and she wanted to fly there to say goodbye one last time. We were really connected, and it was sweet to share bits of our life together, and I started getting really excited to hang out with her again in person in just a few days.

But this morning I got a text, at 6am, that she was on a plane already heading ‘home,’ because her grandma had passed away. And in the second sentence she said she would have to cancel our date. The thoughtfulness of telling me that in the middle of her sad time put a lump in my throat. While I’m bummed we’ll have to push back our hangout time, I have this quiet confidence that she’ll be in my life for a long time, and what’s one or two more weeks in the grand scheme of things?

And it really put into perspective for me, that dating isn’t just about the good times. It’s not just about the sexy thoughts and the romance of first dates and wine and making out under the stars. It’s about real moments, like sharing childhood memories, and dealing with deaths in the family, and experiencing conflict or hurts, too.

Keitht’s reaction was sweet, when he texted me, “is it weird that I’m sad my wife doesn’t get to go on a date with her girlfriend this week?” and I knew how he felt. Because if Jen were to have something happen where she couldn’t make their date next week, I’d be bummed for him, too. And it sparked a great conversation betweent he two of us, about jealousies and potential jealousies, and the care we have in wanting each other to be happy with our other partners.

I think relationships can be messy, not just because of hurt feelings and conflict, but because life is full of really beautiful and hard experiences that we get to share with each other.

My Experience Coming Out (Part 5)

I have a bestie, Ruth, who I’ve known since college. We’ve talked every day on the phone for the past NINE years, and that’s saying a lot because I HATE THE PHONE! She’s seen me through amazing and hard times. She’s seen me go from fundamentalist Christian, to practicing Agnostic, and has loved me through every phase in between. She had read my recent coming-out-as-NotStraight article, and so she has been aware of my sexuality for a bit. And honestly, she wasn’t surprised at all. And she was supportive in every way possible.

So I knew that telling her about Anne wasn’t going to be an issue, but since she lived 300 miles away from me, our relationship is reduced to stealing phonecalls whilst driving home from work. Or, in this case, home from her dad’s wedding. It was a long car trip she had, and I was a part of the passing-of-the-miles. I find phonecalls to be awkward for sensitive subjects that haven’t had a segue, but I needed to just confess, so after I listened to her experience at the wedding, I just launched into my coming out speech. And, of course, her response was amazing, like I knew it would be!

We talked about sexuality, and polyamory, and how straight-as-a-board she is, and how she wished Keith and I well in our venture. And since then has followed up in a non-forced way, letting me gush about Anne’s love of literature, and even crack the joke that she’s basically a bisexual Ruth (something my friend Mari might feel uncomfortable about me saying).

I’m now out to all the people closest to me, and it feels really good. I’m waiting on second date, and now that I’m home from my weekend trip to Vegas, I can schedule something with her. But our texting relationship is going really well! I am excited to hopefully someday soon introduce her to Ruth, so she can see just how cool she really is!

My Experience Coming Out (Part 2)

Monday night ritual, for the past few months, has been pizza and beer/wine/champagne with my bestest in-town girl friend. She totes her two sons over here, or I tote my son their direction, and we eat dinner and gossip and watch our boys grab toys from each other and cry play with each other. It’s kept us sane while our husbands are in class, or working late hours, and has allowed us to connect quite deeply. And so, that Monday night, while our kids ran around in my backyard, I turned to her and said:

“Mari, I have something to tell you, but I’m afraid you’ll be judgey.”

My word-choice was poor, as she had taken my coming out blog post SO WELL, and was SO SUPPORTIVE, and I hated that I had used judgey in a sentence with her. But I was afraid. Because while we are besties, our sex lives and even spirituality/morals/ethics vary wildly. To use a label to sum her up with a broad brush stroke, she is my most conservative friend. But there I was, on our wooden backyard bench, saying:

“I am going on a date on Friday. With a woman. And I am really excited, and nervous, and I really like her. And Keith will be there. And I’ve never felt feelings like this toward a woman, and she’s in the same life experience as me, and I’m really nervous and thought you should know because you are the closest person to me, and I’m not going to tell many people yet (or at all) and I just thought you should know.”

She suspected something was up.  While out to dinner the previous week, her husband was teasing me about some phone numbers I had gotten a few weeks prior out drinking after a soccer match. When I said we had plans on Friday he was all like, “oh, you meeting up with one of those girls?” and apparently my shocked expression and lame excuse had left her suspecting that something was up. But she didn’t want to press the subject, especially since there was a mutual friend present and he isn’t aware of my newly exposed identity. So there we were, sitting together, and me nervous about rejection, and her response:

“You are my friend. I may be more conservative sexually, and I may not understand it, but I will not judge you. I am not judgey about it. I think it sounds cool, and you seem happy. The hardest part I have is that I knew Keith in middle school and it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is who he is, in comparison to who he was back then.”

Phew.

My biggest obstacle was hurdled. The one person I felt NEEDED to know because of the amount of time we spend together had handled the news like a pro. I knew in my gut she would be supportive, but based on that last out-on-a-limb experience that didn’t go so well, I wondered if my gut feeling was way off. But it wasn’t. I was out, and supported, and it felt really good.

 

My Experiences Coming Out (Part 1)

The last few months have been a blur of gradual coming outness. I had written a coming out response to a recent news article, and it made the circulation to some select friends and family that I felt comfortable in sharing. In that blog I wrote that I was NotStraight, which was my catchall description, because I wasn’t yet comfortable saying bisexual (because of all the various meanings associated with that word. And the reaction in my life was AMAZING. I felt like most people had probably sensed my NotStraightness, but had not labelled it as such. Nobody was surprised. Everyone was amazingly supportive. It felt so good to be out, at least in name only, and accepted.

And then, a few weeks later, my world was rocked by meeting this girl who was like WHOA ya’ll. I mean, whoa. Having never dated a woman before, I never imagined meeting someone who fit me so well in terms of personality AND was looking for the same thing. Being a married bisexual woman, with a child, I am not looking to date someone who

wants me to leave my family and ‘run away’ with them Thelma & Louise style. And there she was, this beautiful, intelligent, well-read woman with a husband and kids of her own, and no intention of running away with a woman. In fact, she had ended her previous relationship because that woman had expected her to leave her family, and that was something she just wasn’t going to do.

Whoa.

Suddenly I am thrust into this experience, leading up to our first date, where I was having all the feelings  and wanted nothing more than select friends to be in on this knowledge with me. So I took the plunge. At first I reached out online, to a fellow blogger (from my other anonymous family blog) who I had met off a website geared toward non-traditional families. Knowing she had dated women in college, and has a high sex drive, I was excited to share with her my new found feelings toward this woman, and the fact that Keith and I are exploring open marriage or polyamory (still such a newbie I’m not quite sure what term we fit into?). And her response shocked me.

She said: I would never… I’m pretty bound into those marriage vows. I guess this is one thing we don’t have in common. . . I’m kind of at a loss for words here. . . I just can’t relate to wanting to go outside of my marriage, so I don’t really know how to respond/support. I can listen I guess, but that’s pretty far out of my wheelhouse. It seems like those things are really hard to pull off without someone getting hurt/confused. But I wish you the best!”

Talk about being dismissed. I, in one fell swoop, I felt like I was lumped into slutty cheating sex-fiend who can’t “totally be into my husband” like she had said in another part of her message. Because that is NOT what is happening here. I didn’t seek it out, and while I’m grabbing life by the horns, it is not without the blessing and encouragement of my husband. I was shocked. I figured that my IRL friends might be shocked on my acting on my bisexuality by dating a woman while married to my husband, but I was so shocked that  supposedly such an open minded blogging friend could project so strongly onto my own experience. And I am not so naive to think that all of this is going to be easy  or without it’s challenges (and possible heartaches), because I’m not just starting an office affair and fucking someone in the janitor’s closet risking getting caught. We are on the same page, communicating extensively, and still very much in love.

Based on this experience, where I had mustered up the courage to share, and risked (and got) rejection and judgment. But, I couldn’t live in the closet forever…it felt too important to keep to myself…

Getting Poetry from your Lover

While I’ve only gone on one date in person, our texting relationship has blossomed into something really magical. We connect on so many different topics, but especially over our love of literature. She is an elementary teacher, and today she sent me this:

“Each month I teach my class a poem. We recite it every day for the entire month. I picked an Emily Dickinson poem for May in honor of you. It’s one of my favorites.”

SWOON.

I mean, come on! How could a girl not get all twitterpated at that? She then included the poem, which goes a little something like this:

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Yeah, still swooning.