1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?
I wish I had understood that relationships can take different courses than the traditional one. I struggled at first with how to navigate levels of intimacy and involvement because I was used to things always tending toward more enmeshment. Being a secondary was a completely new feeling for me, for example. I still seek deeper, more lasting relationships with my partners, but so far I’ve found that each relationship has to develop on it’s own path. Surprise surprise, not everyone wants to be married. And even more surprising, I don’t always want to be either.
The other thing I wish I understood more deeply was the “locus of control” concept when it came to boundaries. The difference between “I want you to do the dishes” and “I want the dishes done” is vast, and delicate, and understanding the difference has helped me through a LOT of difficult moments in poly.
2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?
By far the hardest thing about opening my marriage has been navigating that while also dealing with my partner’s depression. We still struggle with that, sometimes on a daily basis. It is difficult to know what is a “real issue” and what was coming from the depressed place at times, for myself and for my partner. I’m a pleaser by nature, so I had to learn that not every problem can be fixed or even NEEDS to be fixed. I’ve also had to learn that just because someone is temporarily unhappy, that doesn’t mean I should change my plans or feel guilty for being happy myself. I had to learn to separate my partner’s happiness from my own. That remains the biggest challenge I face, both in poly and in life.
I would say the main thing that helps us through the upheaval of depression is our D/s dynamic. I act as anchor in a very stormy sea, and that helps us both stay on course. We have daily rituals, for example, that are said no matter how hurt/upset we are. Keeping my boundaries firm and clear also helps, as well as getting a LOT of down time and support. Also being sure that when things are good, we make the most of it. When a foundation gets rocked, it can always be rebuilt but I had to learn to let go of resentments and hurts and just enjoy the partner I have when I can.
3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?
I would say the best thing is the ability to truly open up to love the way I think I was always supposed to, but didn’t understand how. I always joke that I could fall in love with a lamppost. I love people. I spent a good quantity of time in life being used, my good nature and willingness to be there for others are easy to exploit. Well, they used to be, anyway. Being in an open relationship means I can integrate my natural tendency toward loving relationships into my life without hesitation. I am safe to explore whatever avenue may appear, rather than artificially limiting myself because of convention or societal expectation. At this point I have a network of wonderful, intelligent, loving people that I can count on to treat me with respect and love me as much as I love them.
Right along side that, I have learned how to navigate many relationships with better boundaries and respect for myself in place in a way I might never have if I’d stayed monogamous. I feel I’ve gained a few levels in the game of life since poly, and I feel more confident, self-assured and grounded than ever before.
4. Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that none of that good stuff would be possible without the support of my partners and dear friends who are the backbone of everything I’ve become in the last few years, and I’m so grateful for each of them.
And also that you’re a fantastic writer, and your journal entries have also been a wonderful way to access community for me, so thank you so much :D