Category Archives: polyamory

Moving Forward, a Slow March

On Monday we had Renee over to our house for a low key pizza night. It was important for me to have her up in our territory, and see how we all interacted together. And it was good. Easygoing. Everything I imagined it would be, minus any of the possible sexiness, since both of our kiddos were hanging out in the living room with us. There was pizza and wine and chocolate. The kiddos played mostly happily together, and it felt like we had known her for 100 years.

It was a little awkward at bedtime, as she forgot that the two of us are almost always needed to put the munchkin to bed. And after she had gone home, Keith and I laid in bed and talked and talked while the little one snuggled in between us. The debrief. Where we both realized that we are so 100% on the same page that it’s not even funny. That the fantasy of open marriage has become a reality, and that we are both very interested in moving forward. Yet, at the same time, we are both surprised and shocked by how it has progressed. In our debrief we talked about where each of us were, and I confessed that I feel a bit like I am trying to play catch up, and that is complicating how I’m feeling. I hadn’t even known that Keith was talking to Renee until a few weeks ago, and their relationship went from 0-60 in their first date. And I don’t work quite that way. With Anne, I felt instant sexual chemistry from the moment we met, but we still didn’t even begin a sexual contact until around date 3. While it’s easy to get me off, it’s sometimes a little more difficult to get me to the place where I’m hot to trot. I’m in the firmly undecided category on whether I want to pursue anything sexual with Renee.

Thought that’s not a knock on her, as I am feeling unmotivated sexually at the moment anyway. Can I be teased out of my head and glumpy thoughts? Sure. Does it take a little work? Sure. As in, if Renee made the first move, and started making out with me, I know I’d thoroughly enjoy it. I’m feeling like I’m going through some weird shift between being highly sexual and asexual. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m just not feeling that sexual in the past couple of weeks. And Keith agreed. That he’s actually felt the same way, too. And maybe that’s why we’re a good match, except when our cycles of sexiness are off.

So I think we’re all on the same page. Moving forward. Slowly. Building a relationship. And I’m (mostly) enjoying myself, though the conversations are difficult and long and necessary.

Living with Strong & Competing Emotions

On Saturday, a few hours before my first date with Renee, I got a message from my ex Anne. I hadn’t heard from her since we broke up in August. She was apologetic for how things ended, and basically said she thinks of me a lot and hopes things are good with me. Talk about punch to the gut. Sure, I think about her, too, but if someone gets so stressed out that they break up over toast, then I can’t really have that person be around.

And yet, I do miss her, miss what we had.

So I mustered up my energy to head down to Renee’s house for some home cooked pepperoni pizza, which I felt was very sweet. We were hanging out with her 8 month old son, and I felt very comfortable with her from the get-go. But not overwhelming passion like I felt with Anne, so in my mind I was conflicted, because this felt like that friendship piece I want, where I could simply hang out and be myself and could see myself wanting to progress sexually.

While sitting at her kitchen table, though, I kept having these overwhelming thoughts. I kept imagining Keith having sex with her, in her house, where I was, just five days earlier. Like in some dissociated state, I had these weird feelings of being totally present and also stepping outside and analyzing, thinking ‘what did he see in her that he would cheat?’ We all decided we wanted to move forward with pursuing one another, despite the hurt, but there was this part of me that was having a really hard time with it, the imagination piece was the worst. So I texted Keith, and said, “I don’t think I can do this, I’m so hurt by what you did,’ and after that I was actually more present and enjoyed myself.

So there’s the conflicting emotions. My experience clouded by the fact that I was sitting with the only other woman who has had sex with Keith. The hurt that the rules and boundaries we had created weren’t lived up to. The whole ‘what does he see in her that he didn’t see in me?’ irrational thoughts. The difference between intellectually being open and emotionally being open.

It ended up being a lovely evening, with no physical exchanges since her son stayed bright eyed and bushy tailed all evening, and I was getting a scratchy throat that turned into a full blown fever by the time I got home. It’s weird being in this place where I’m living with all of these conflicting emotions that bring up strong emotions and fears and insecurities. With Renee it was so easy until it wasn’t, which is part of the reason I enjoyed dating separate from my husband, though I think I would like to know the person/people is having sex with.

Maybe over time I’ll get used to it, but right now I still feel raw. And yet, I want to proceed, is that crazy?

Death of a Coping Mechanism

One of the best parts of my life is being surrounded by supportive and loving people who also know how to help me process when I am feeling both good and bad…and like this week, feeling both good/excited/happy and bad/frustrated/sad/upset/hurt at the same damn moment. I managed to spend a good thirty minutes with my therapist co-worker talking about my multitude of feelings.

All of this processing has helped me articulate to Keith last night, that the hurt I felt was not because he had sex on Monday night, the first extra marital sex experience (okay, okay, the first sex outside of me period). It’s that, when we were dating, and I tried to have sex with him on our first date, and he denied me that pleasure, I was understandable hurt inside. I knew that he had these moral convictions around sex, and so I convinced myself that it wasn’t really rejection, that it was because of morals, and that maybe I was the one who was wrong. Over the two years we dated and were engaged, I tried often to get him to have sex with me, all to no avail. We could do what he felt comfortable with, but not what I felt most comfortable with, all blamed on these moral/relgious beliefs.

I had all of these high hopes that once we got married we’d go from 0-60 in a short period of time. Instead we went from 0-30, which left me still feeling quite rejected often. His separation of intimacy and sex didn’t just congeal in one fell swoop, and so there were times I initiated and was denied, or longed to be touched and have him initiate with me, and I got radio silence.

And so here we are, 8 years later, and in one fell swoop my coping mechanism was completely shattered, with nothing to replace it. So my brain begins spinning because I revisit all of those times I asked for sex and was denied and think…well, if it wasn’t religious/moral reasoning, then it must have been me. He didn’t want to have sex with me. He’ll do it was some internet honey, but he wouldn’t do it for me. I didn’t even realize that all of this was bubbling inside of me, and he said, “I had no idea you felt rejected all those times. I thought you understood, and now my beliefs have changed, and I know it was hard to make the transition right when we got married, and I thought it would have been easier, and I’m so sorry you felt rejected all of those times. ”

Being able to articulate this crumbling of my coping mechanism made me feel so much freer. I feel like Keith’s ‘popping the seal,’ of extramarital sex is actually a good thing, because it allows me to really live within my belief that sex doesn’t always have to be this thing that has all these crazy intense meaning attached to it. And yet, now I think the hard work comes in working through and revisiting all the hurt from that night 8 years ago when I asked for sex and felt rejected the first time.

Rules are Made to be Broken?

Help me internet land, I’m in a place of cycling between incredible anger and sadness and insecurity. Last night Keith broke our one rule: no sex. It’s a rule I asked for, not because I have anything against sex, but because I have incredible insecurity around the whole sex thing because Keith denied me from having sex in the first two years of our relationship.

He was a virgin, I was not. We got married when he was 29, and the two years prior was filled with me attempting to have sex and being denied…repeatedly. Repeatedly. Under the guise of morality, as he had been raised in a Christian home, and was heading toward the ministry.

And so, when we opened up, I said…no sex…yet. I had almost lifted the sex ban with a woman who was so upfront and honest and kind with him from the get go that after their second date I said, “I feel comfortable if the next time you hang out with Kayla you have sex. She seems like the kind of girl who will stick around.”

So last night he heads over to Renee’s house, a woman he met on Tindr, and one that I’ve actually been chatting with over on OkCupid myself. It has been seemingly this really great start…he likes her, I like her, she seems to like both of us independently. Conversation and all flows well. when she invited him over to her place after the Sounders game I totally encouraged it. She had asked him if it was okay if he come over if nothing happens, which is what he was cool with.

And then they end up having sex.

She didn’t know. She didn’t know that I had that boundary. She didn’t know that he had been a virgin before we were married. Because Keith fucked up and didn’t tell her. He said he hadn’t even thought she’d want to meet him, let alone date him, and one thing led to another. I said that might work if you were a frat boy drunk at a party, but the fact that for 29 years you had a strong boundary even with the woman you were engaged with and then one night you just randomly decide to have sex?

I feel incredibly hurt. And insecure. Because now that ‘one thing’ that I had wanted to approve or share, the one thing I felt like was special between the two of us, isn’t there anymore. And it didn’t happen in a context I would like. It feels like he cheated.

So we’ve been crying. And talking. And yelling (me) and listening (him, and me). Texting her, and feeling validated, and supported, and all around soothed of my terrible insecurities.

But…how do I go forward? I’m basically asking…how do I prevent getting hurt, and I know that’s not possible.

I love this post by SoloPoly about deciding goals for yourself in open relationships. I know what my goals are, but it’s getting Keith to articulate what his goals are, ya know? Or maybe that’s not how it works. I don’t want to be the one to put a rule on to him, I want us to mutually decide what we’re goaling for, and then live into that with integrity.

Mindful Choice

Keith’s recent FriendZone came back to him, asking for things to ‘go back to how they were,’ and while I encouraged not rushing quickly into deciding one way or the other (because simply acting out of hurt isn’t good). So he hung out with FriendZone, and realized that the friendzone is right where they should be right now. And he was able to articulate that to her in a (hopefully) non hurtful way.

And as he and I processed through the last 8 whirlwind months in this whole openness thing, he was able to be insightful about many things that I appreciated. Namely, he saw FriendZone as a friend/co-worker who was cute and he was attracted to her sexually. But as their relationship progressed he realized that, much like many patterns with women in his life, he was giving much more than he was receiving. He was this girl’s emotional stability, the counselor she turned to at 2 am when she needed a shoulder to cry on, and while he enjoys that role in a relationship, he would like something that fulfills him in an equal way, and that is not in the amount of BJ’s he’s receiving. He was able to say that he was infatuated with the NRE and the simple newness of being ‘open’ that he went for the first fish on the line thinking ‘maybe Polly will want this closed soon, better jump!’ or ‘maybe this is the only one I could get to relate to me, I better just go for it.’

When she friendzoned him, it gave him pause and time over the past two months, to provide that emotional support without the sexual reciprocation. Initially I was surprised, but as he talked more about his desires, his patterns, how he’s enjoyed talking to people on OKCupid who are seeking non-monogamy and have a similar worldview as the two of us, it made perfect sense. No harm no foul in this whole experiment of living life to our open fullest.

And that’s what I appreciate most about our journey. He didn’t just start going to seedy bars to get his bang on. He’s been the mindful thoughtful guy I’ve known our whole relationship. Today as I laid intertwined with Anne and we were talking about our orientations, and how I believe that my husband is at heart polyamorous, she said, “I could see that. I could see him having 6 wives. And giving each one 100%. Treating each one with the individual respect and love that they need. And sure jealousies would come up, but not because he would be comparing you to someone else.” Because his personality is bent toward being relational, sex included.

And that summed it up for me. And to have my sweetness able to already see that about Keith, who she’s only met a handful of times, made my heart happy. Sunshine in Seattle happy.

Poly Dating & Band Camp

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A few weeks ago, after the friendzoned incident, Keith and I batted around the idea of joining OK Cupid. I finally got around to helping him set up his profile, and away he went, off into the land of non-monogamous dating in  serious and methodical way.

Not long after, I joined with my own profile. My intentions were FAR LESS pure than Keith’s, as he is really looking for an in-town girlfriend. I was…acting out because of hurt that Anne had to cancel one date (and then had to reschedule another). While we’ve patched it all up and are clearly moving in a beautiful direction, that hurt and insecurity over my lady love caused me to put my line in the water and see just who is out there in online dating land.

And honestly…

I’ve been sorta surprised. It feels a lot like band camp in this poly dating world.

Let me explain.

I come across a few different types of profiles. Gay or bi girls who are married/partnered and looking for another, or single gay/bi girls looking for casual/FWB/long term girlfriend (and they’re open to me being married or single).

And then…

Then there are these couples, with couple profiles, and it reminds me of all my years in marching band. While I was in band all through high school, I was also involved in sports (as a 6’1 girl, it was basically mandatory!! haha). As a part of the band I noticed this trend toward (what I deemed, then, to be) promiscuity. It was surprising to me, because band kids were NOT popular in school. And often I felt like I didn’t quite fit in. Yes I played sports, but I wasn’t popular. Yes I played an instrument, but I had a different set of social skills than most of my band peers. And thus I was sort of a floater. In my four years of high school band, it acted like one big poly community. Many of the people I knew were on the kinkier side of vanilla, and often they switched partners after a few months. While I wouldn’t say it was sophisticated poly (because often the girls felt heartbroken to be ‘traded in’ or ‘traded up’ by the guys in the band), there was definitely this openness to dating all within the community.

But in online dating, and now this might seem pretty judgey, I am coming across these very…band-camp couple profiles, where I am left scratching my head thinking ‘wow, they managed to find a partner, and now are wanting more?”

Oh God, I can’t believe I just admitted that online. But yes, I judge them. Not only based on their grainy or overly posed pictures, but also on how their profiles are written. And what they’re wanting from the theoretical ‘me’ that would be their third. I don’t feel super judgmental of people in person, so why am I reacting so viscerally to these online couple profiles? Maybe I should create a business helping people write their profiles so they don’t come across as so…creepy? Desperate? Borderline creepy?

But things like having Juggs&Gunns in your name, or ” hit me up right now if you are a liberal, non-religious crafty gal with a toddler or baby with a lot of free time on your hands and a reliable way to visit on a regular basis!” I I had heard the term unicorn hunter before, but..um…seriously? Isn’t that list a little bit specific?

I don’t really have a point to all of this, except that the whole thing fascinates me. There are quite a few really attractive and really interesting INDIVIDUALS on there, and some where they link their profiles to each other and seem super cool and down to earth, but the people who have couple profiles just come across as weird.

So far I haven’t actually done anything active, except upload pictures and fill out my profile/answer questions. I love that my situation with Anne has happened organically because Keith introduced us. I’m not quite ready to yet take the step and seek out/message people to try and get a relationship started. Plus, now that the hurt with Anne has smoothed over, and we’ve hung out again in person, and it was fabulous, I really want to focus on where she and I are going, rather than jump into the pool.

Anybody else have strange experiences with the couple profiles on OKC or another dating site? Am I the only one?

Coming Out Among Strangers

 

My one piece...a bathing suit :)
My one piece…a bathing suit 🙂

My bestie, Ruth, lives a few hours away, and invited me down for the night while her husband was bachelor partyin’ it up in Vegas. It was SO NICE to get away, even just one night, and have some good girl talk. She and I met in college and have somehow managed to push through our phone-anxiety and talk weekly for something ridiculous like NINE YEARS. Whoa.

While visiting, we headed to one of her friend’s houses, for an awesome One Piece Party (where all you could wear was a one-piece outfit plus undergarments. SO FUN!) with a bunch of other lovely introverts. There was ping pong, and a backyard fire, and dancing to Soul Train in the living room. So lovely.

And while I was there, the talk about relationships came up. There was this lovely single girl there, also wearing a bathing suit + tights combo, and my bestie was trying to set her up with this single dude friend of hers. But all night I just got this vibe that she actually was interested in ladies. We were all sitting on the couch, talking to another single girl about the perils of being single vs having a relationships. My bestie said that it was really nice to have the house to herself for the weekend, even though she missed her man. I processed aloud that I was in a strange situation because I hate feeling caged in, and yet here I am getting into this situation where commitment is happening. The one girl asked what I meant, and I explained that I had a husband and a girlfriend, and that if  my husband were out of town I’d be wanting to see her. And her response was “wow, I don’t think I could do that.”

What I loved is that she was just so not judgey about saying that. Seemed interested in knowing it worked for me, but generally musing she didn’t think it’d work for her. Cool. My first stranger coming out.

Soon followed, in part by the copious amounts of yummy vodka spiked juice, the vibe girl sitting down on the couch entering the conversation about being single and not. And she casually asked me what my deal was, and I explained the situation. And she perked up, saying “I’m a unicorn! And I’m so into the whole poly thing, so cool. I’m trying to meet this lady right now, who seems really cool, but she has kids like your girlfriend, and is having all these hesitations.”

Wow.

I met a poly gal in person all for just being open and out. And I loved that my initial gut read was spot on when I had just felt that she might have been less into the dudes and more into the ladies at the party. Yay for gut instinct.

And yay for more positive coming out experiences. With the exception of the first online outing that was ‘negative at worst, neutral at best’ I am at so many positive ones. And feeling more confident and secure in myself and my ability to trust those around me.

 

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?

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?