Archive for December, 2012

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Deserthooker: More Confident, Self-Assured and Grounded

December 18, 2012  |  essays  |  5 Comments

Deserthooker, @deserthooker

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

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Miranda: Act in Your Own Self-Enlightened Best Interest

December 18, 2012  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Miranda, On Fetlife

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

Reality. The first open relationship I was in wasn’t based in reality, it was based on one partner’s “vision” of what her fantasy world would look like. The reality is that every person’s relationship with someone else is different. Do I love my boyfriend or my cat more? Well… yes? I’d love to see my partners more often, but I know that’s not realistic, so I don’t worry about it. Also, acting in your own self-enlightened best interest. Do you want to be the most important person to all your partners? Of course, not! That would make their partners feel like crap, and the effects would snowball and mess everything up. You want your partners to have strong relationships with other people, because that comes back to benefit you later.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

That’s hard to say, because the relationships I’m currently in have been open from the beginning. Of course there’s jealously, mostly based on lack of self confidence, but with time that fades. Also, lack of teleportation.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

Cookies! I showed up for an event once to find that my boyfriend’s girlfriend had a bag of cookies waiting for me, freshly baked. You know that you’re doing it right when everyone acts like a huge happy family! Don’t get me wrong, this takes a LOT of work, time, understanding and compassion. When it works, however, its amazing.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Being in an open relationship seems so natural to me now. Why wouldn’t I want to share my partner’s love? Why would I want to horde it all to myself and let no one else experience the joy that they have to offer? Also it is sometimes useful to say, “Darling, I’m really looking to be alone tonight, would you mind if I asked you to find someone else to cuddle with?”

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Gina Mink: Jealousy is Normal

December 17, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Gina Mink

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I wish I had any insight at all, honestly. When you are bombarded all your life with a certain standard view of the world/relationships, any drifting outside the “norm” will present new challenges. I ran into it when I came out gay, I ran into it again when I started dating someone that was already in a primary relationship. The biggest hump for me was wrapping my mind around the fact that it wasn’t cheating.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

For me the hardest thing, at least in the beginning, was dealing with jealousy. As time has progressed and our relationship has gotten stronger … Well, I’d like to say that its non-existent, but I think a little jealousy now and again is normal for most people. the most important thing is I don’t let it get to me anymore — I know where I stand and what I have, and I don’t have a fear that someone is going to usurp my position or take that away.

Now, the most difficult thing is simply not having enough of her, but as it is sometimes unavoidable, I cope.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

The best thing is my kitten can be a handful sometimes- I need help ;) But seriously, it has helped me grow I think, as just a person as well as a lover. Though these things could be simply *who* I’m dating, not a specific of the openness of our relationship.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

10 years ago had you told me where I’d be today, who I’d be with, and *how* I’d be with them … I never would have believed you. and then had you told me I’d be completely happy … Wow.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Tuesday: So Much Love

December 17, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Tuesday

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I am one of those people who was born poly, monogamy is such a foreign concept to me. I don’t even understand it at all. What I wish that I had known was that the person I ended up marrying would suddenly expect monogamy with marriage and that we would spend the next 9 years rehashing our boundaries and trying to change fundamental beliefs in each other, it wasn’t pretty.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

The hardest thing was convincing my husband that it is possible to love more than one person, it took years of talk and and fights, and constant disclosure and 100% honesty about feelings and standing up for myself and what I need. But it’s been over 6 years now of happy poly, he is dating one of my very best friends now and I am with a woman who makes me the envy of everyone we meet because of the amount of love we share.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

The best thing is that my kids have a huge support system, there is always an adult available to them, and I am able to get my needs met in the best ways and no matter how bad life gets I always know I have so much love. Love may not be all you need but it sure helps you get through the tough times.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

There is nothing worse than fighting with more than one lover at a time, but besides those rare times, there is nothing more amazing than love multiplied. I often explain it to new friends that just because you have a second or third child it doesn’t mean you love that first baby any less, and it can be the same way with amorous love, you might even love your first even more for accepting you and wanting you to be happy no matter what, which is really what love should be all about.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Dani: Know Yourself & Respect Your Instincts

December 15, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Dani, daninelson.com, okayokayigive.tumblr.com

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I’d want my teenage self to know that it’s really okay – and not weird – to feel happy when your lover and your friend fall in love with each other. That yes, you really can be dating one person, friends-with-benefits with a handful of others, and falling for that blonde chick…because they’re all okay with it too.

More importantly, though, because I came through that okay, all things considered – I’d tell my 20-something self (and anyone else who asked) that you need to know yourself – and respect your gut instincts – above and beyond anything else. There are different types of poly out there, and so many of them are just not right for you…and can make you as uncomfortable – if not moreso – than a monogamous relationship with a borderline abusive asshole. Be upfront and open and honest about what you really need.

Because that honesty? That leads to great things like rules about gorillas.

Finally, I’d tell my 30-something self that it really is possible to identify as poly and not be actively dating outside your main relationship. It doesn’t make you any less poly, or weird, or broken. It’s just that dating is not a priority, and that’s okay.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

The relationship I’m in now started as open – it was never a question, or a point of negotiation, for either of us. In fact, I think all of the open relationships I’ve been in were like that – open, in one way or another, from the get-go, all cards on the table. I have been in a semi-closed multiple-partner relationship, however, and the hardest thing about that by far is that the rules that we agreed on were not necessarily the right thing for all of us. (See the note to my 20-something self above).

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

The relationship I’m in now – with Meredith, who was interviewed earlier in this series – has been by far the strongest and best relationship I’ve ever been part of. Not because we’re still together or still in love or anything like that, but because we came into it with very specific requirements. We both knew what we wanted, and were strong enough to say “it has to be this way for me”. Fortunately, our needs were well-matched – and that includes a level of communication that I wish everyone could have.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Relationships are hard; that level of hardness goes up as you add people to the mix. Talk to each other. Be open and be honest with yourself and with each other. (With yourself most of all.)

And, to share a lesson that an ex taught me – even if you think you’re just sleeping together, or it’s just casual, there is a relationship there. It might not be a long-term relationship, or a deep relationship, but if you’re interacting with someone else, there is absolutely a relationship there. Relationships take time and energy and nurturing. (And communication.)

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Kyle: It Can All Change

December 14, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Kyle Jones, www.butchtastic.com

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

I assumed that there was ‘a way’ to do poly and that if I learned that method, everything would work out perfectly. What I learned was that there are as many ways to open up a relationship as there people doing it. I’ve also learned that it can all change – people change, their needs and circumstances change. When that happens, your approach to poly may need to change – temporarily or permanently. And, this one has been the hardest, a person can identify as poly at one point in their life and as monogamous at another point in their life. Even though I was strictly monogamous for the first 40 years of my life, it never occurred to me that a person could go the other direction. So I guess in the beginning, it might have helped to hear from someone with more experience that things can change, in all directions, and the best thing to do about that is to have really excellent and honest communication with your partners, and work on those while it’s easy, so you are more capable of communicating well and handling change when it comes.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

When my wife and I opened up our relationship, I knew I’d go through a period where it was hard to deal with her being with others. I was determined to work through that and I was lucky to have good friends to talk things through with. I also had someone I was seeing outside our primary relationship, so the NRE and excitement of that carried me through a lot of the more difficult initial stuff. What I wasn’t prepared for was the differences in how my wife and approach being poly, and how that would effect our relationship. I am truly polyamorous, I am happiest and healthiest when I love, and am loved by, multiple people at the same time. My wife comes from a ‘friends with benefits’ perspective. She is leery of and steers clear of people who are likely to develop a romantic love for her. This has been a source of conflict for us, as she has been very critical of my approach. When things get challenging in my other relationships, she has a tendency toward ‘I told you so’ comments, which I don’t take well. She would be much happier if I’d manage my other relationships the same way she does, but I’m not wired that way. This difference and conflict is not something I was prepared for and remains a source of stress between us, though not as much as in the beginning.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

I’m not as angry, resentful or depressed as I was before we opened things up. Since I was looking to my wife to meet all my intimate relationship needs, when it became clear that some of my needs were not going to be met by her, I grew angry, resentful and depressed. Having the opportunity for other partners means I’m not angry with her for not being everything for me. As time went on, and I became interested in pursuing my interest in kink, it was really, really good to know I could, even though my wife has no interest in BDSM. Over all, I’ve learned a lot about my capacity to love and hold space for multiple people. I am a much better communicator now, I think I’m more empathetic and slower to judge. As time goes on, I am more gentle with myself, less likely to judge myself for emotions that are generally seen as negative – jealousy, fear of inadequacy, insecurity. Learning to recognize those reactions as valid and honest, learning to express and own them and learning to accept them with less judgement has been a very positive experience. Also, I’ve been learning the lesson that in order to do well in a relationship, to give to your partners, you have to make sure to give to yourself, too.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

When people say that communication is the key to successful polyamory, they are not just saying it because everyone else does. It is absolutely essential to continuously practice honest, open, sincere communication with all you partner with. But not only that, you need to practice it with yourself. Be honest about what you need and what and expect from the relationships you are in. If you find yourself giving up on your needs and wants, that is a warning sign. You need to be very careful about giving up your needs in order to make things easier with a partner. That road leads to resentment, insecurity, depression and a breakdown in the relationship. If you’re not happy and feeling good about the relationship, you’re not going to do a great job in it. Self-sacrifice has its place, but if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not having a relationship based on equality and balance.

The things that make good relationships between primary partners, make good relationships between all partners. Since everyone will naturally have different expectations and assumptions about relationships, discussing those assumptions and expectations — not just once, but regularly — is a core part of healthy poly. Expect change, come up with strategies for handling change, both within yourself and with your partners. Don’t assume you know what’s going on, ask, listen, ask some more. Cultivate friendships with poly knowledgeable people who aren’t partners so you have friends to go to for feedback, or just to safely rant about things. Realize that for most people, jealousy, fear, competitiveness, feelings of insecurity — emotions we tend to judge as negative — don’t just go away when you’re poly, people who are poly aren’t less likely to experience those emotions.

Now, if you want to ask about long distance poly relationships, that’s gonna generate a lot more paragraphs :-)

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Rife: “I Hear You”

December 14, 2012  |  essays  |  5 Comments

Rife, www.thegenderbook.com

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

The guilt is normal, you don’t need to let it hold you back. Stand up for your needs and desires. Be more honest than you’re comfortable with. Learn to not take it personal when you contribute to someone else’s hurt. You are responsible for your feelings, they are responsible for theirs. Be kind. Listen. Wait until they’re done crying to ask what’s wrong. Repeat after me: I hear you. When they ask how the date went, start with the general “Fine, we watched a movie” and slowly ramp up to the particulars, “…the acting sucked so we ended up making out the whole time.” Watch for a glazed look. That’s your cue to shut up. Reassure them every chance you can get. You cannot do this enough.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

I’ve never gone through the process of opening a relationship that was monogamous. I imagine it’s very tricky. The hardest thing about maintaining an open relationship has been keeping an open mind about how it can serve me best, being flexible with what that might look like, and gently shifting structures as needed to accomodate that.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

That same flexibility I talk about being the hardest. A thing can be both. Runners-up include: the freedom to chase and be slutty and explore other aspects of my kinky self, as well as the lovely explicitness and clarity and customizable nature of making your own agreements.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

That same thing everyone says about having babies: it’s hard, but it’s worth it. With a weary sleepless smile.

Polyamory Questionnaire

December 13, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Have you been excited about the open relationship mini-interview series so far? I’m really loving reading all this good stuff, listening to people’s breakthrough moments, having little windows into lives where this works.

I just ran across this Polyamory Questionnaire, too, so I figured I’d pass it on to y’all in case you feel inspired to contribute.

This survey is the beginning of an ongoing research effort to gain information about the community of individuals who engage in consensual, nonexclusive intimate relationships, or who are philosophically open to doing so, regardless of their current relationship configuration. We undertake this effort in order to better understand this community, its beliefs, practices, and desires, as well as its position within the larger mosaic of humanity.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Molly: Boundaries & A Reassurance List

December 13, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Molly Malone, www.naughtymollymalone.com & naughty_molly

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

In the two years that I have had open relationships, my greatest insight has been around *yawn* boundaries. What they are, how they work, what they look like, feel like, what purpose they serve, and so on.

When I first observed open relationships, and started reading up on polyamory, I found that this word ‘boundaries’ was bandied about, and given a kind of importance, that looking back, I just didn’t understand. If I’m honest, I never really got it. Once I began to embark on opening up my own relationship, I would talk about my boundaries and other people’s boundaries, as if I had significant understanding of what that meant. I didn’t have a clue.

I truly wish I did. I wish I hadn’t assumed that I should know. I thought they were somehow supposed to just protect me, and other people, like a shield, just by saying they were there, and promising to respect other people’s. I kind of knew I probably didn’t have that quite right. In reality, I must’ve known that there are no such words in our language that have a special magic ability to protect people, like a spell. But I was too embarrassed to ask, and for a long time, being ignorant didn’t have any adverse effects, so I didn’t think it could be that important. So I never really questioned it, until, of course, everything was in a big messy tangled pile and I thought ‘Oh dear, how did I get here?’

I tried so hard to be the fixer. I felt a massive weight of responsibility for a sticky situation. I denied the people I cared about the responsibility to deal with their stuff by intentionally taking it on. And I did this in my home. My home was the base for a polymess. That was when I had a bolt out of the blue, when my very first boundary came to me, and I knew, that whatever was happening, and however sad I was for all of us involved, it was no longer going to be worked out in my home. That I needed my own safe space to escape to when it all got too much. That it wasn’t my responsibility to create a space for us to all work this out, and that it was ok to stop it. That very moment, I clearly and calmly expressed that boundary, and who knew, from that point on, we didn’t use my home any more for our meetings/arguments/counselling etc.

Since then, I have discovered a few boundaries’, and managed to employ them with varying degrees of success. It’s all a bit of a learning minefield, and you just don’t know about the lesson until it blows up under foot. It’s still a word I have to remind myself the meaning of. And when I discover a new one, or spend time thinking about what other boundaries I have, I often wonder if this thing I have invented really exists, until one is crossed, and I feel like my land has been trespassed. Yup, they really exist. I now know what they are (although they metastasise often), what they feel like when they are working, and when they’re not.

What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

I feel like I haven’t had the ‘proper’ test yet; the person who I was with before I discovered polyamory, I am still with now. We are engaged to be married. This man and I began our relationship under the presumed and customary norms and traditions – one of those of course being “I will not, to the best of my ability, fuck anyone else, or fall in love with anyone else, whilst we are together”. And although we both were already questioning this norm when we met each other, we had not yet gone the whole hog and decided to open up our relationship. That came a year later.

Since then, although there has been a healthy dose of sex and play outside of the relationship, only I have formed a loving, meaningful connection with someone else (and the amazing new-love sex that comes with it). He is yet to fall in love with someone else, and I am yet to know if that will be hard for me or not.

That’s not to say things haven’t been hard.

For me, there have been two areas of difficulty. The first has been negotiating the new relationship. In this instance, the person I wanted a relationship with was in a relationship with my friend, formed under the same conditions as my primary relationship – with all the presumed wisdom of monogamy. The new relationship was formed slowly, over a twelve month period, and was done, for want of a better phrase, by the book. As our new relationship blossomed, their pre-existing relationship crumbled. Their relationship has since ended.

Traversing the many challenges that brought was exhausting and most definitely hard. Initially I tried to fix everything, to take responsibility for their relationship and the problems they were facing as a couple. All the while taking on guilt and shame. It was, and still sometimes is, very difficult to learn how to distinguish between what was my responsibility, and what wasn’t. Being able and willing to hold my friend, in her pain, whilst not taking on guilt or resentment, was exceptionally hard.

Subsequently, having the courage of my convictions can feel hard. I sometimes feel like I have to defend myself, my choices and my actions. When this situation is viewed from a normative context, it looks like this: You fancied your mates girlfriend, they broke up, and you started going out with your mate’s bird… some friend you are! So I think what is hard about this is not having a group of supportive peers. Choosing an ‘alternative’ relationship paradigm sometimes feels isolating because of that. It can be hard to ask for support from friends and family, when first you have to have that conversation. There is fear and vulnerability mixed up in there somewhere – that I won’t be heard, that my feelings will be discounted or invalidated by my peers because I’m being ‘greedy’ choosing more than one lover, that the inevitable question will be “But what about your friend? And what about your fiancé? Aren’t you hurting them?” And I will have to answer “Yes, sometimes they feel hurt, or sad, or jealous. But I’m ok with that, and their pain is not my responsibility, and we talk about this stuff, we have procedures in place to help us through those bits” and it all just sounds like lefty liberalism that is doomed for failure. It’ll be met with the same suspicious eye-roll that my mother gave me when I was a rebellious youth, with that “don’t come crying to me when it all blows up in your face” tone of voice.

A different challenge has been realising, for the first time, that falling in love when you are polyamorous, feels just the same as falling in love when you are monogamous. For some reason I was under the impression that with all these new fancy words, and emotional maturity, and books, that if I fell in love with someone else, I would be somehow immune to all the stupid, crazy, indulgent, ecstatic loonyness that falling in love traditionally inspires.

How foolish of me! It has been quite difficult to come to terms with the fact that I have responsibility to my other relationship. And as great and exciting as new love energy is, and as positive as its effects can be on pre-existing relationships, it is not an excuse, or get out card, for suddenly dropping all your commitments, to your relationship, or anything else for that matter (job, exercise-class, pet, house) and spending every waking minute talking to/fucking/staring at your new love. That’s been hard. We have overcome that by implementing quite a structured framework for seeing each other. We see each other once a week and we see each other somewhere mutual (not in my home, not in hers).

I also spent some time with my fiancé creating a Reassurance List, which is a list of things which I can do to reassure him when he needs it, and vice versa (like taking a bath together, doing some gardening, solving a household DIY problem together etc).

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

Back even before we opened our relationship to others, both my fiancé and I felt that one person could not possibly be all things, to one person, at all times. For me, one of the best things about being able to form meaningful connections with more than one person is just that! I get to explore connections with people without the limit or restriction or fear of developing ‘feelings’ for them. We are multifaceted creatures, different people bring out different sides to our personalities, and we have diverse and changeable requirements. It feels logical, like it makes sense, it enables me to explore the dimensions of myself in a way that I couldn’t with one closed relationship. I remember, way back in adolescence, peers debating over which stage of a relationship was better; the crazy new-love with all its uncertainty and excitement, or the comforting long-haul with it’s predictability and reassurance? I remember thinking, shit! Do I have to choose? I like them both! And the answer was no, I don’t have to choose.

I would also say that the extraordinary level of self-development, of turning yourself inside out, examining the contents, and putting it all back together, is an invaluable process of embarking on non-monogamy. But also, the sex. I have always been attracted to boys and girls. I like having heteronormative sex, with a boy, with his penis in my vagina, but I also like having girlie lesbian sex, I also enjoy genderless sex, and gender reversed sex, I like submissive sex, and dominant sex, and switchy sex. I like having sex with my cock, I like sex with men who identify as gay, I like sex with myself, I like group sex. My fiancé is a heterosexual, cis gendered male. Thus he cannot fulfil all my sexual wants and needs. Although it’s a bit of a carnal and sexually obsessed answer, that’s probably the best thing about our open relationship. Not having to choose or value one type of sex over another and stick with it for life.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Sara Eileen: They Shouldn’t Be This Hard All the Time

December 13, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Sara Eileen, @saraeileen

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

My first few open relationships were, in retrospect, fairly awful. In one (my very first) a husband and wife team had the very bad habit of communicating different rules to me about the same interaction, without talking to one another first. In another my partner was monogamous, and had a guilt complex about being monogamous. In a third (by far the worst, and also my longest relationship to date) we dealt constantly with passionate, rage-filled jealousy, almost all from his side.

At no point in any of these relationships did I question identifying as polyamorous; it’s a part of my identity that has always felt extremely stable and sensible. But when I was starting out I heard frequently that poly relationships “take more work” and “are just harder and that’s the way it is” and to some degree I’d internalized that. I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her that yes, relationships are absolutely hard work, but they shouldn’t be this hard all the time. My more recent experiences with open relationships have been easier, more loving, and much happier, and have taught me that while it’s critically important to work with my partner and communicate well together, those past relationships had problems that extended far beyond our failing aspirations toward healthy polyamory.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

The hardest thing about being open in my current relationship has been trying to find new individual partners while sharing much of the same dating space and opportunities. I would call that less hard and more confusing; we are both interested in pursuing new partners, both a little (or a lot) awkward about dating and approaching new people, and tend to stick together in social situations within our shared community. I think that when one of us decides to date with more dedication we will probably solve this problem by literally separating ourselves into different dating spaces, but at the moment we’re very entwined with one another and we’re trying to navigate that in all of its lovely and sometimes incredibly awkward glory.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

The best thing about my relationship is that my partner is amazing for me, and I’m fairly certain that the feeling is mutual. The best part about my relationship being open, and capably open, is that it feels like a good, healthy space to occupy with someone I love. It is literally the only way I could see myself in a primary relationship with another person, so perhaps the best thing about being in an open relationship is simply that we are. We found one another, we’re happy, this makes sense for us. That’s pretty great.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

If you’ll forgive the extended metaphor, I’ll share something I wrote to a friend recently when trying to explain my ideas of a poly partners bill of rights:

Imagine that having a relationship with a person is like taking a walk with them. In poly, you’re agreeing to take multiple walks with different people at the same time; some of them are short, sweet walks that only last a night, while others are long, committed walks that could last your entire life.

Now imagine that communication is the material that makes your road wider. People who communicate clearly and honestly with one another about everything that’s important to them, and who use that communication to make agreements about how they will each take other walks as well as the one they share, have laid out a nice, wide road to walk on. It lets them run around and be playful and try new things, all on the security of that wide open, solid space. The width of your road is not measured by the number of words you exchange; it’s measured by the confidence, trust and clarity provided by those words.

People who don’t communicate with one another about their expectations, feelings and roles are walking a narrow path; it’s possible to walk it, but the littlest breeze can come along and tip one or both of them over into a ditch. Our roads change size as we go through each relationship; something wide and solid at the beginning can become increasingly narrower until both people fall off, or vice versa.

These walks cross over one another as different people in one’s life meet one another. Narrow paths can be widened by meeting wide roads. Narrow paths that cross often leave room for no one to get by. Wide roads that meet one another have plenty of space for everyone to get what they need. And, most critically, everyone has the right to decide how wide of a road they need.

Also thanks for doing these interviews; they’ve been fascinating so far!