Posts Tagged ‘jealousy’

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Katrina: People Are Adventures

January 11, 2013  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Katrina Elisse Caudle, www.kisskissdiary.com

Today’s mini-interview about open relationships with Katrina is in a podcast format! It’s 17 minutes, and Katrina has some great things to say. Check it out.

Download the mp3 file of the Open Relationship Mini Interview with Katrina

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Roxy: In Love With the Whole World

January 4, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Roxy, http://uncommoncuriosity.com/

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

That they exist. I was “younger” at a time (mid-80s to early-90s) when bisexuals were treated with suspicion by just about everyone (my nickname at the local LGBT Center where I volunteered was “straight girl,”) and so I wasn’t hanging out with folks who were exploring anything other than 1) dating a lot of people without commitment or 2) full monogamy. In the suburbs it’s pretty easy to go your whole life just drinking the kool-aid and never knowing there is anything else out there.

Now that my eyes have been opened, I continue to be amazed at all the different ways folks “do” poly. Sometimes it’s easy for me to get stuck in an idea that there’s a wrong way and a right way, and I have to keep reminding myself to keep an open mind along with the open relationship.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

Given that I drank gallons of the kool-aid, it’s been hard to reframe what relationships can be if you’re not following the Princess Bride, one true love, model. Despite all of the wonderful work that’s been written about poly, there still aren’t a lot of role models who are successful and happy in popular culture, either in real life (astonished and scandalized reactions to Tilda Swinton come to mind as one of the few) or fiction. Living in a socially progressive, but still pretty relationship-conservative, area means that I spend a lot of time either trying to explain all of poly in one sentence (“It’s like telling your partner they can cheat, right?” “Oh, I could never do that. I get jealous.”) or just not speaking up and feeling very isolated. It helps to have a strong virtual community of friends who are navigating some of the same issues and challenges.

A lot of other interviewees have mentioned communication, which is very, very key, but also one of the hardest parts for me. I’m constantly amazed that other people know themselves well enough to express it in anything other than questions – I find myself stumbling through sometimes, just trying to work out what’s right for me and what’s not. Frequently something will seem like a great idea in my head and then turn out to be an absolute disaster in practice.

Another issue is that I *am* a romantic, and that can be very scary, because there’s a lot of pressure in the scene to be easy-going and laissez-faire like the cool kids. It’s so dangerously easy to give in to internal pressure to be ok with a lot that I’m not really ok with, afraid of being labeled – *gasp* – clingy or needy, or being rejected altogether. Thankfully, I’ve been involved with two wonderful partners who love me for the person I am, not the person I sometimes wish I were, and I’m learning to ask for what I need, no matter how intimidating it feels. From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that it’s much less messy to admit to having needs up front rather than simply falling apart into a mess when you manage to break your own heart.

Putting that into practice remains an ongoing project for me.

Oh, and jealousy? *Sigh* Still working on it.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

At its best, it’s like you’re in love with the whole world. You feel supported and loved and beautifully fulfilled. For me, NRE lasts as long as the relationship, and I love being in love, and I adore people. Each partner offers precious new surprises and new ways to look at the Universe, and so there’s just that much more to be amazed by.

At its worst, it offers you a real-time education in patience with yourself and everyone around you.

Each extreme has been a gift.

Poly is a crucible that burns away extraneous distractions and demands your presence, attention, and full participation. I’ve learned to use words like “space” and “support” without snickering. I’ve learned to consider and express feelings, and that alone is a miracle. Despite an excellent education in the sciences, I managed to avoid maturing emotionally beyond about 14 years old, and it went unchallenged for decades. The past 4 to 5 years have offered me the (sometimes unwelcome) opportunity to develop skills I never had before, and I am very grateful for that opportunity, despite my occasionally quite pitiful thrashing at the time.

Stepping outside the box affords a view of the world that can be daunting, but liberating, and full of possibility. Having to sit down to negotiate parts of life many take for granted gives you the chance to create something new and wonderful. The price can be high, but the rewards are beyond what I would have imagined.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I am *so* thankful to everyone who contributed to this series. The relationships I’m involved in have been changing recently, and I’ve been struggling with where my future might lie. Reading about all the myriad choices and flavors that others have chosen is opening my mind to new possibilities for myself, and I feel a lifeline of connection to everyone else who’s exploring this brave, new world.

Open Relationships Mini Interview with Ashley: Love is Infinite

January 3, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Ashley Young, http://indigostheory.wordpress.com.

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

I would definitely tell myself not to be so cynical and that love is real, no matter how confusing it might be. Oh and I’d also tell myself ‘you aren’t going to end up a lonely spinster in the woods writing books like you planned’. When I first started to attempt poly, I didn’t even know it was possible until I had a loving partner to encourage me. I think if I could go back, I would give myself permission to explore love, sex and relationships, despite how overwhelming and scary it might be.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

There have been a few things that have been hard about being poly. At first it was jealousy. Seeing my partner with other people was hard but when I started to see the benefits of sharing her with others – these benefits being my partner’s happy and poly being a full expression of herself – I got over it. Once I realized jealously had nothing to do with my partner and had everything to do with my own insecurities, I started to deal with my relationship shit instead of dumping it on my partner.

The next challenge was stepping up my communication with my partner. I used to be so afraid to say what was on my mind but when I realized sharing doesn’t actually make me explode or expire, I started talking. My partner and I both worked very hard on our communication early on in the relationship before becoming poly so I trust her. I learned earlier on that trust is key in polyamory. To maintain the trust, we in a sense created an intimate poly language that works for us and talk constantly and openly about our issues with each other first.

After I got over my jealousy and learned how to communicate, I started dealing with my own shit. Dating others has made me continue to confront fears of intimacy and acceptance and discover the power and beauty of my evolving sexuality. The biggest challenge has been accepting my poly, queer, kinky self and creating relationships that work for me. I’m still working on that one!

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

I discovered I’m not a misanthropic and jaded as I used to pretend to be. I love people, I love bodies and I love sex. I love conversation and connections and being in a poly relationship has reaffirmed that for me. Plus, the more people I love, the more in love I am with my partner.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Love is infinite, not finite. Spread it.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Hawkin47: Freedom is Worth the Pain & Pangs of Jealousy

January 2, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Hawkin47, http://hawkin47-randomactsofawesome.blogspot.com, http://promiscuouspersonsguidetoportland.blogspot.com

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

I wish I hadn’t had the equation of monogamy = true love so deeply ingrained in my head that I couldn’t define an open relationship as a loving one. The relationship I’m in now started as a completely open, Friends with Benefits who happen to live together and sleep next to each other every night sort of deal. The FwB part, which precluded the idea of monogamous, romantic love, made it easier to accept the knowledge that I was sexually attracted to other people, and so was he. And over the 3 years we’ve been together, we still consider ourselves close friends more than lovers. But over these years, I’ve learned that open relationships, when they’re done right and when they’re right for YOU, surpass any level of monogamous love I’ve ever seen. The freedom you give yourself and your partner creates this incredibly open, non-judgmental sort of love that is immensely satisfying.

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

Jealousy, bar none. I’m a jealous goddess, and you shall serve none above me or below me. My primary partner is also an intensely jealous sort, and being ex-military hasn’t helped control that part of himself. The green goblin has reared its ugly head multiple times over the years we’ve been together, and each time has been traumatic.

We still haven’t completely expunged jealousy from our relationship, and I doubt we ever will. I doubt I’ll ever be capable of being in an open relationship without a level of jealousy on my part.

However, we have developed very effective workarounds for both of us, that I think will work in most any relationship.

First, embracing the knowledge that freedom is worth the pain and pangs of jealousy, for both of us. That part was really important, because it put jealousy in its proper place, well below a number of other things.

Second, though we are completely honest with each other, we are NOT completely open with each other. I tell him every time I’m going on a date, generally where, and generally with who. But I don’t discuss my dates when I get home unless they’ve been particularly traumatic and I need some advice or a sympathetic ear. But if they were stellar? He doesn’t need to know. And I’m ok with that. He doesn’t date nearly as often as I do, but he doesn’t tell me the intimate details of the conversations he has with other women. I’m peripherally aware of his interactions with other women, and I give advice and commiserate when needed. But that’s it. And this has helped keep the peace more than anything else we do. I have never felt the need to lie to my partner, and as far as I know he has never felt the need to lie to me. And I kind of love that :).

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

For me, I’d have to say freedom. I feel like I’ve been unchained from years of repressive, unhappy, unrealistic ideals of love and sexuality. I have given myself permission to realistically and honestly explore parts of myself that I have never been able to express or understand. I have a primary partner who understands my needs and meets most of them, and then I have as many other partners as I need who help me explore facets of my sexuality and ability to love that my primary can’t. It’s taken the pressure away from having to be everything to one person, and wanting that person to be everything to me. When I was a young girl, and all my other friends were fantasizing about the man they’d marry and the type of wedding they’d have, I fantasized about marrying a sea captain. It took me a long time to realize that the reason a sea captain was my ideal was because he was gone 6 months out of every year, and I loved the idea of that freedom. I wanted to love someone desperately for 6 months, and then have the freedom to take lovers for the next 6 months. Being in an open relationship has helped me realize that ideal for myself, year round.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Something I’ve noticed, and thought about quite a bit, is that the truly successful open relationships I’ve seen (and been a part of) all follow a very similar model. It seems to me (and this may very well NOT be true for everyone) that people in a successful open relationship often sacrifice a level of depth in their relationship in order to gain a level of breadth in their relationships.

That is not to say that primary partners don’t love each other deeply and passionately. But… but it seems like the role of lover is often less appropriate than the role of friend amongst primary partners. Acknowledging that sacrifice, if that’s how you see it, has been important to me. It’s helped me figure out what I really need from my lovers and my life, what’s truly important to me. The satisfying breadth of experience I’m given and allowed to take has more than made up for the inherent lack of depth that non-monogamy has meant to me. That may not always be the case, and it may just be my own lack of experience and knowledge talking. But it’s been a helpful sort of idea.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Becca Bee: Identify Needs vs Wants

January 1, 2013  |  essays  |  2 Comments

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

That you need a support system of people who understand when you are just having a feeling that needs to be heard, but not necessarily by your partner. That they can listen and validate the feeling without worrying that your other relationship(s) are in jeopardy because you’re having a feeling. Crisis mode/intervention is not needed every time you have envy or even *gasp* jealousy.

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

That I’m awfully good at introducing my primary partners to their new primary partner. I’m currently working on this by not having a primary partner, and acting as in independent owner/operator. Which is very different for me.

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

Beefing up my communication skills with the world. Each relationship exponentially adds to the communication load of every other relationship. Updated calendars are a must.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Identifying your actual needs vs your actual wants. Sometimes they look an awful lot like each other, and the identification can be difficult. Also, letting your relationships know what things they provide for you that is unique and important to you.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with EK: I Wish I’d Had A Manual

January 1, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

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

Before I started an open relationship, it would have been nice for someone to tell me just how hard it was going to be. Hard in a sense that my oh so creative imagination was gonna death grip my balls and have me thinking and over thinking just about any possible scenario when came to my girl fucking someone else. I wish there would have been a manual to give me step by step guides on how to deal with the jealousy, the nights alone and the reconnection part that is oh so necessary once you have returned home and showered after a night out with someone else. But most of all, I wish someone would have told me that being in an open relationship is like walking a tightrope. One false move and you’ve disrupted the balance and you’re falling… falling fast.

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

I thought that the hardest thing going into the open relationship would have been controlling my jealousy and my possessiveness. I thought it would be hard to let my girl know that it was ok. That I was ok with it. In the end I overcompensated by suggesting people… like.. hey, so and so, they’re cute. I would totally be ok with you banging them. In the end I think I suggested the wrong person, and she ended up falling in love with him… which, disrupted the balance and I am now currently laying face flat on the ground.

But in general we knew it was going to be a trial… so we made rules. No sleep overs, no feelings, no breakfasts, no fancy dinners, no dating. This was not a dating game. This was a sex game and we lay down boundaries to help each other feel safe and secure.

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

The best thing about the open relationship was the freedom I felt. I could talk to women, I could flirt with women and I could touch them and not feel one tiny bit bad about it. I knew deep down that they could never match what I had for my girl, so I felt safe, and free to be myself. There was no pressure and a sense that I was in the best relationship in the world. I had it all.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Open relationships really are not for everyone. To me open and polyamorous relationships are a whole different ball game. You need to be sure to build solid foundations, and build up slowly. Reassurance must be applied in the right doses depending on the different participants. So much communication… talk about it to death. Write down rules. Write down all that could happen and what you dont want to happen. And also know… that it could make or break your relationship. Mutual consent all round. Communication to all parties… I can’t stress this enough. Deceit only increases the chances of disrupting the balance. But most of all.. remember who you are going home to. Make sure your sex life is a healthy one before you starting opening up doors to other people. Resentment can build so fast and its so easy to falter…or say the wrong thing. I am no expert at these things, but I know what has gone wrong and I have a good idea why. Timing can mean everything, but mostly it is balance and communication. If I could go back and do it all again, I probably wouldn’t… given the outcome I was met with. But I’m not saying I wont ever do it again.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Katie: Fluidity in Long Term Relationships

December 31, 2012  |  essays  |  3 Comments

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

That no matter how progressive your family might be, they might have a very difficult time accepting plural relationships. In my adulthood, I’ve only had one protracted fight or falling-out with my mother, and it was over my concurrent relationships with two men. Her inability to understand came out as disgust and it hurt me tremendously for quite some time. Also, that you yourself must want that type of love in your life – don’t ever get into it because of someone else’s ultimatum.

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

Initially, when I began, it was pretty much a neverending onslaught upon my sense of security and self worth. Living in a world that upholds monogamy as the ultimate form of love really shapes the way you view loving and being loved — when someone doesn’t approach you and your relationship in the de facto ways, it can be very disorienting and scary. I struggled a great deal with jealousy, but much of that had to do with my (at the time) primary partner’s adherence to the old adage “it’s easier to beg forgiveness than it is to ask permission”. I felt like a lot of stuff happened without consulting me first, and that my concerns about partner selection were not being heard. In the end, I suppose I overcame that by not remaining with that partner. He was a lovely person who was not a good partnership fit for me — acquiring the knowledge that you can love and respect someone a great deal but not “fit” with them was a real eye-opener.

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

It forced a great deal of introspection in my early/mid 20s. I learned myself, my emotional patterns and my weaknesses very, very well. Through a great deal of reading (I’m particularly partial to Tristan Taormino’s “Opening Up”), I learned a tremendous amount about non-violent communication. How to know what I wanted or needed and how to ask for it without resorting to passive aggression (or straight-up aggression) has been a boon to literally every other aspect of my life, too.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m no longer actively nonmonogamous. In short order, I’m marrying the person who was, for several years, my secondary partner. Meeting each other on the terms of an atypical relationship structure forced us to communicate on a different level than if we had met each other as single people. There was a lot of deep discussion that might not otherwise have happened at such early stages. The raw honesty that was required forged an incredibly solid bond between the two of us. We’re certainly keeping ourselves open in theory if not in active practice, as we feel it stops us from lapsing into bored complacency. There’s a bit of a safety valve built in there, too. If we become infatuated with someone else, knowing we can talk to each other about it and possibly negotiate for a very happy conclusion really takes some of the pressure off of a long-term commitment to each other. It’s very unlikely either of us would run off with a sexy coworker or what have you, if we acknowledge the truth fluidity of desire within a long-term relationship.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Colin: Jealousy is a Pain Reaction

December 30, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Colin

Reading your questions, I realize that I may not be the target interviewee for you, since, while I am technically in an open relationship, it’s because I identify as poly and have for way longer than I’ve been in this relationship. My girlfriend is dating someone of equal importance to me and was dating him before I came along. Still, I’ll answer the questions in hopes of being useful!

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

While no two open relationships are the same, there’s some basic stuff that I wish was more common knowledge. ‘Communication is key’ is one that gets taught to all poly people who get taught anything at all, and it’s very true, but ‘No Surprises’ is a solid guideline that makes any open relationship easier. Gonna start dating or fucking somebody? Tell your partners before it’s a sure thing. It may cut down on spontaneity, but it dramatically reduces paranoia and resentment.

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

This question doesn’t quite apply to me. I identify as polyamorous, which means that I only go into relationships with the understanding that they will be open. The relationship that I had that went from closed to open didn’t work out and is now in the distant past.

When it was still pertinent, jealousy was an issue and I’ve seen it be an issue for a lot of people. It can still be one now for me, but I approach it far differently than I used to. I see jealousy as a pain reaction — it’s your psyche reacting to something uncomfortable. Sometimes you feel uncertain that your partner values you as much as you need, sometimes you feel like you’re not on the same page, sometimes you don’t feel like you know your partner’s partner well enough. In all cases, letting the jealousy dictate your actions is a bad idea; you want to get to the root cause of the jealousy and explore what might alleviate it.

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

Being polyamorous has allowed me to explore a lot of different kinds of love, sex, affection, and intimacy. If I were monogamous, I never could have maintained an asexual relationship, but I have since come to have a few and feel deep love for the people I had them with.

I’m not interested in having a power or kink dynamic with my ‘primary’ partner; I need an equitable partnership. But since I’m poly, I am free to explore kink that my partner and I aren’t interested in doing with each other! (‘course, I have run into problems with my local kink scene, but it has nothing to do with polyamory.)

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

‘Open relationships’ creates a very wide umbrella. It covers people who love only each other but can fuck others individually, it covers people who love only each other and will only fuck others together, and it can cover people who love each other and are free to love others.

It doesn’t necessarily cover people who consider themselves to be polyamorous by identity but aren’t currently partnered. When I am single, I’ll only date someone who is willing to enter into an open relationship. ‘Open’ also doesn’t necessarily cover polyfidelity, where a member of a relationship is dating more than one person, but not open to any new relationships.

There are more types of multi-person relationship than there are terms to cover it, but I’m still glad to see the concept getting more attention!

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Dire: Relationship Resilience (and Sexual Variety)

December 26, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

Don’t give more of yourself than you’re capable of giving. There have been a number of situations in my open relationship which have made me very uncomfortable, but I felt as though I shouldn’t feel that way for one reason or another, and so I would say I was okay with whatever the issue was and hoped that I would eventually become comfortable. I didn’t, and, in fact, it only got worse until it reached the point where I would consistently be reduced to tears and laden with anxiety. Both individuals have to develop and evolve together, and expanding the open aspects of the relationship need to be guided by the least open/comfortable person, not the most.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

The hurting. It is inevitable that at some point both individuals in the open relationship will get hurt. Whether it’s jealousy, misunderstandings, insecurities, STD scare, or any number of other issues, being part of an open relationship exposes you to a plethora of tribulations and pain that will need overcoming. Overcoming being hurt isn’t possible — which is important to remember when considering your ROI vs cost — but you can address each issue as it arises (or before, if you can foresee it) to minimize future hurting.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

I won’t lie, the sexual variety has been pretty fantastic, but I suspect that’s the more obvious benefit, so instead I would say the resilience of our relationship. My mate’s brother once asked him, after discovering that we were open, if he was worried that I might leave him for someone I was having sex with. His answer was, “No, because if our relationship is so bad that it can be ended by good sex, then it wasn’t good in the first place.” Because we’ve expanded our sexual experiences as a couple to involve other people, we’ve removed an emotional weak point that is often exploited in traditional couples.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

  • Don’t sleep with your roommate(s).
  • Never compromise your morals, convictions, or safe practices for anyone.
  • Remember that the health and emotional wellbeing of you and your mate is paramount.
  • Don’t use an open relationship to fill the gaps in your current relationship, or to transition to a new person.
  • Don’t have sex with a lot of people just because you can. An open relationship isn’t an invitation or an obligation to be promiscuous.
  • Don’t use an open relationship as a way to compete with your mate sexually. If you’re having vindictive or equalizing sex, you’re gone astray.
  • Always be completely open with your mate. This will save you so much strife.
  • Always play safe.
  • Remember to put your relationship first, and playing with others somewhere down the list.
  • Be mindful of playing with people who are, for one reason or another, emotionally vulnerable. Don’t play will people who will get attached, or angry for one reason or another, or jealous, or otherwise be unable to handle being part of your open relationship. This will take some practice, but trust your gut and learn from your mistakes.
  • An open relationship isn’t accountable to anyone but those in it with regards to what you’re comfortable with. Just because other couples or individuals are comfortable with something, that doesn’t mean you need to, or that your open relationship is somehow inferior to theirs, even if you never become comfortable with a given practice. Whatever you and your mate are comfortable with in any given moment is what’s right for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that moving more or less open.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Cricket: Support

December 20, 2012  |  essays  |  1 Comment

Cricket; general reference points: I identify as a butch genderqueer boi and I’m a student at a liberal arts college.

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

I can be a very controlling person at times – I am drawn to “help” or “fix” people even when that isn’t something they really want or need, and I depend on the people close to me to be bluntly honest and call me out when I try to take on responsibilities that aren’t mine to take or treat people like projects I need to get an A on. As a result, I’ve learned that it’s a very bad idea for me to commit to a person who has very few other support systems in their life, because I will attempt to guide and support them in everything, which is stressful for me and generally both emotionally uncomfortable and enabling for them, because then they don’t have to look for other sources of support or work on self care, and the stress I feel in trying to give too much support mainly serves to put stress onto them.

When I first got involved in an open relationship, I thought the fact that I was dating multiple people who were themselves also with other people would keep me from being anyone’s “one and only” and attempting to intensely overmanage their life. It turns out that is absolutely not the case. Regardless of the number of people I’m with or the level of commitment I have to them, I need to watch myself and work to manage my controlling tendencies. Don’t expect a shifted relationship model to turn you into a new person or magically erase unwanted traits or habits you display in monogamous contexts. Being someone’s lover/partner/term of your choice is a conscious process of interaction. Assuming you know what’s best for your partners without communicating and evaluating your own thoughts is a bad idea, whether you’re with one person or a dozen.

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

Everyone I’ve been with has exercised the dynamic of openness in a different way. We each have different degrees of comfort with being sexually or romantically close to other people, an different activities we’re generally drawn to. A fear of imbalance has definitely been present at times. When I’m close to people other than my primary partner, I sometimes worry that she’ll be jealous – not that other people are close to me, but that opportunities haven’t arisen for her to do the same kinds of things with others. This goes both ways – she’s expressed some jealousy that I’ve found a Dom friend who’s a willing play partner, while I’m jealous of her warmth and social acumen, and her resulting ability to initiate casual kisses and cuddles with friends in a way I seldom have the nerve to suggest. We aren’t jealous out of a sense that we own or possess each other, but when one of us has a positive experience outside our relationship dyad that the other desires, we are jealous from our own lack of access to the experience.

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

I am intensely grateful for the lack of shame. I know I’m capable of having monogamous relationships – I was in one for over three years – but when in it I felt a deep sense of shame around my own sexual and romantic feelings. I was attracted to and had crushes on other people. Even though I didn’t have any particular need or even an intense desire to act on those feelings, I felt ashamed. The simple act of finding other people attractive made me feel like a failure in my relationship, perverse and unable to control my desires. In my current relationship, which started out relatively monogamous, I was extremely clear and upfront about the fact that I would be attracted to other people while in the relationship. I wouldn’t act on those feelings without some serious pre-negotiation, but I would still feel them. As a result, even when the open elements of my relationship are not directly in practice, I feel far more secure in myself because I know I will never be vilified for finding others attractive. Knowing that not only my feelings but even actions associated with them are permissible is beautifully freeing. It is so good to have affirmation that I can care about someone, even love them deeply, without pledging exclusivity, and that having feelings for others does nothing to lessen the romantic commitments I have already established.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Not seeing the relationships you practice or desire represented in the media can seriously mess with your head. It gives you a sense that you aren’t meant to exist, and that you will never find community and acceptance. Without a group of close and caring friends, many of whom also practice various forms of non-monogamy, my relationship would feel far less comfortable and possible. I am also deeply lucky in that my parents don’t have a problem with the way I run relationships. I’m not out as poly/open to all of my extended family, but being able to tell my mom how awful I’m feeling after a breakup with someone other than my primary partner without facing judgment for simply attempting to run multiple relationships is something I am hugely grateful for.