Posts Tagged ‘open relationships’

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Aida: Exercise the Love Muscle

February 7, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Aida Manduley, www.smutandsensibility.com, @neuronbomb

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

Don’t assume that because someone you are dating is poly and one of their partners gets tested regularly, that your partner in common ALSO gets tested (or is STI-free for that matter). Do not make ANY assumptions about people’s sexual health; bring it up! If someone doesn’t want to talk about that with you, run far away! And if it’s you that feels nervous because you’re a n00b and you don’t know what poly etiquette is because you’re not the primary/spouse/etc., BRING IT UP ANYWAY. This will help you take care of yourself and your future partners PLUS it will show that you are a mature, responsible individual. In a relationship, unless explicitly negotiated otherwise or something, you can and should ask questions (albeit respectfully).

Even if boundaries make sense, make sure to ask and/or be explicit about the reasoning behind them, so when someone makes decisions on the spot and needs an educated guess to proceed, they have all the information they need.

Also, remember that poly is something you need to work on and think about even when you’re not “actively” pursuing/seeing other people. Think of it as exercising the love muscle.

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

When it’s me juggling multiple partners, it has come down to time-management and making everyone feel valuable while not being able to give everyone equal time. My calendar is busy as is, and when trying to stick in multiple romantic/sexual relationships, it can get pretty wild. The only way it works is because I have BusyCal/iCal/GoogleCal and I’m not afraid to use it.

When it’s a primary partner expanding their relationships, it has been confronting seemingly irrational, sudden feelings of sadness and jealousy. This actually happened recently, when my long-term primary partner began to explore outside our relationship after a long time of not doing so. I felt this intense possessiveness and it was deeply uncomfortable for everyone involved. It’s easy for me to say “heck yeah!” to partners dating others when I LIKE and know the people they’re dating, but when it’s a random person I’ve never met or someone I don’t particularly like? I get uneasy and nervous about it. The reasons could be different depending on the relationship, but in this case, it wasn’t a fear of being abandoned or replaced or anything … it was a fear that the “outsider” wasn’t good enough; it was about not wanting to feel out of control, like the outside stuff would progress regardless of how I felt about it; and it was the discomfort with having to “share” my partner with someone I didn’t necessarily like when I ALREADY was only able to see them one or two days a week.

I consider myself a level-headed and logical person capable of compersion, so in the instances when I reacted very negatively or surprisingly, it really shook me. I have high standards for myself in every way, and not being able to be the partner I want to be (or that my partners deserve) is upsetting. Add that guilt/feelings of temporary weakness/failure to the feelings of jealousy/sadness over whatever the situation is and it’s a pretty shitty situation. The way I’ve dealt with it has been to WRITE MY HEART OUT; have lots of honest, open, and difficult conversations; and cry. Part of it has also been re-reading things I’ve written about polyamory in the past, revisiting blogs I consulted when I was first getting into this, talking to other people going through some rough times, and just immersing myself in the issue instead of trying to avoid it. It’s also been about trusting my partner.

Speaking in general, though, part of it has been unlearning some of the more ingrained ideas about what love, commitment, and relationships are “supposed” to be like. There was a LOT of unlearning and deconstructing when I embarked in my first relationship with a poly (and married) man, but I still find myself unlearning things to this day–things I didn’t even realize were part of those “packaged” notions. I’ve found it’s also about being able to come to terms with those things I DO want and feeling no (or little!) shame about them, since there are ideas floating around about what “perfect poly” is like and how “evolved” some models are, and there’s pressure to conform to those ideals.

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

Aside from the obvious “being able to let relationships take their own individual courses without having to fit into a perfect mold” and “fulfilling more needs in multiple places,” I think another super cool piece of it is being able to feel New Relationship Energy and those exciting sparky feelings of flirting with (and/or crushing on) people many times throughout my life (while still maintaing steady relationships). Furthermore, being able to share that with another partner (whether it’s because I’m feeling NRE or they are for someone else that we both like) is fantastic.

Also? It was AWESOME having a loving support system (in the form of my primary partner) when I went through a rough breakup. Having him around as I grieved/dealt with the debacle of that other relationship and its roller-coaster ride helped immensely. It was nice to know someone still loved and supported me in that situation! In fact, my partner even helped me process and think through a lot of what happened, giving me perspective and reassurance when my morale was low.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Read up on the Love Languages. Figure out what your style is, and think about what ways you like to communicate. Make sure your partners are aware of their own style, and that you all communicate about this.

Finally, it’s okay to want a label for yourself and your relationships. So much focus gets placed on exploding binaries and breaking categories down that sometimes we forget how labels can be HELPFUL and comforting, how they can help people carve a space for others in their lives and vice-versa. The trick is to figure out what those labels actually MEAN on your own terms and to be intentional about those definitions.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Sassafras Lowrey: “I live the queer life I’ve always dreamed of”

February 1, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Sinclair’s note: This concludes the open relationship mini interview series! I’m debating if I should do more of these mini-interviews, and I might. I’m thinking one about breakups or transitioning relationships, one about healing, one about long term relationships, one about D/s and protocol … Alright so I’ve got plenty of ideas.

Sassafras Lowrey, pomofreakshow.com

Note: I personally use the term “poly” to talk about my relationship(s) not “open.” Additionally possibly useful information – I’ve been in a primary partnership with my partner for coming up on 9 years. Our relationship has always been poly. I came out into a community where poly relationships were very much the norm. Every “serious” relationship I’ve ever been in has involved 24/7 D/s, and my partner and I were already very poly experienced when we got together.

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

I think the biggest piece of advice I could ever give my younger self would be to spend less time worrying about what other people think, or trying to create what I thought I should want, as apposed to what actually felt good to me. What I mean here is I have at times felt pressure to enact being poly in certain ways (dating, sex etc.) because of queer cultural pressures that normalized or privileged certain kinds of interactions or relationship dynamics when the reality is I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled than I have in my D/s leather focused relationships which is at this time as a general rule non-sexual.

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

I suppose I’ve already talked about this a little bit above. I think the biggest challenge for me has actually had very little to do with my relationship(s) and everything to do with the queer culture relationship norms that I found privileged sex, and specific dating focused types of romantic connection. I consider myself Leather oriented as apposed to sexually oriented. My primary partner/Daddy and I have been together for nearly 9 years. Ze has a wonderful girlfriend (a “good egg” I call her) and they have been together for upcoming 2 years. Previously ze has dated other people, and I have been involved with others as well. My partner and I live in a 24/7 Daddy/boy D/s dynamic and are (at this point and for quite some time) happily non-sexual with one another – a fact which shocks/horrifies/confuses many queer folk.

On top of that, I have a complicated relationship to sex/dating/relationships. As a general rule I am fairly uninterested in that type of connection to other people though I have dated and/or hooked up with folks in the past. Generally I find it particularly rewarding to date the books that I am writing, and very intimate though entirely non-sexual relationships with my leather/queer family.

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

One of the best things about being poly and having non-normative relationship structures has been the ability to live the kind of queer life I’ve always dreamed of. We create the rules for our life, building the kind of relationship(s) that are fulfilling and engaging for us, knowing that for each person that will take a different form. My partner and I are better together as a couple/family because of the connection we have to others in our lives – for my partner that looks like romantic “grown-up” relationships, and for me that primarily looks like the way I engage with my queer/leather family. Because we are poly and don’t expect the other to meet all of our needs be they emotional/intellectual/creative/sexual/etc. We are able to hone and focus our relationship on what is best about who we are to each other. In our case, that means that we create a beautiful home together sharing the ups and downs of daily life, we support one another creatively, and at the core of our relationship is the playful, whimsical magic of our Daddy/boy dynamic.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Nayland: “I finally am having the sorts of relationships that I’ve wanted all my life”

January 23, 2013  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Nayland Blake, naylandblake.net

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

That it’s entirely alright to discard the terms boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse. I’ve found that when I start thinking about someone in those terms that I screw things up, usually by letting my fear lead me into dishonesty. That it is indeed possible to set the terms of a relationship to reflect what I actually want, so long as I have the courage to do that from the beginning, and understand that rejection, when it happens in a context of honesty, is not failure.

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

Capitulating to other people’s (those being people outside of the relationship) definitions, even if those are coming from “poly” people. I don’t have primaries, secondaries etc; I have co-conspirators who all know about each other and in most cases know each other independently of me. It works for us, but we still feel pressure from other folks to come up with a more regular model.

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

Sharing the tales of our mutual adventures, and helping each other to have more of them.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m now in my 50’s and it’s only been recently that I feel like I finally am having the sorts of relationships that I’ve wanted all my life. I have more sex and a richer emotional life than I’ve ever had before. I think I’m proof that it is possible for things to get better, if you are willing to keep exploring.

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 Charlie Glickman: “Being poly doesn’t make you more evolved”

January 10, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Charlie Glickman, www.charlieglickman.com, www.facebook.com/charlie.glickman, gplus.to/CharlieGlickman, @charlieglickman

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

My partner and I have been together for over 20 years and we’ve been poly the entire time. There have been a few times that we stepped back from having other lovers because we needed some space to focus on each other. I’ve had lovers & playmates, as well a few ongoing secondary relationships. So one thing I’d tell my younger self is that things will change, and then they’ll change again. Don’t expect otherwise- there will come times when you struggle against changes that will happen anyway, and fighting them only made it harder.

Something else I’ve learned from being poly is that it requires the ability to talk about and process feelings quickly and efficiently. Of course, that skill will benefit any relationship, but when there are multiple people, each with their own needs and desires, as well as their feelings about each other, there are a lot of moving parts. If I could, I’d tell my younger self that the best way to learn how to process well would be to build social networks full of people who are dedicated to open-hearted, honest communication. Yes, therapy helped. Yes, workshops and books helped. But getting to see how other people do it and getting to practice it with lots of friends made it much easier to develop those skills in sexual/romantic relationships.

It’s also really easy to get smug about it. Being poly doesn’t make you more evolved or better than anyone else. If you think it does, you’re being a jerk. Don’t let it happen.

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

Well, scheduling used to be one of the hardest, though google calendar is a big help. :-)

Sometimes, the New Relationship Energy I feel with a new partner can make things tricky for my partner. Fortunately, I’ve gotten better at managing that initial crush phase, in part because I know that it doesn’t last more than a few months. Sometimes, it deepens into a new dynamic and other times, the connection ends when the NRE does. I’ve learned how to let it take its own shape and be present with it, without letting it spill out into my partner. Usually. And when it doesn’t, she knows that she can tell me to take a break from talking about it, which makes it easier to manage.

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

At this point in my life, I rarely have sex with people I don’t have a heart connection with. Having said that, I have a lot of people in my life who I love. Some of those people are lovers and some aren’t. Each of those relationships is unique and each offers different gifts, pleasures, and delights. For me, whether we have sex or not is really less important than whether we can be open with each other about what we think, feel, and want. Being poly has been a lifelong practice in how to love each of these wonderful people in the way that works for that dynamic. It’s like I get to have all of these different flavors of love, some of which have been in my life for years and others are more fleeting. And the more I practice it, the more kinds of love come my way. It’s really quite delightful.

Being poly is also a really great way to make room for different desires and interests. I don’t expect to be able to give my partner everything she might want, so I like to create the space for her to get it elsewhere, and vice versa. That has given us much more freedom to enjoy the many things we do offer each other because there’s no resentment forming as the result of unmet needs.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

There isn’t any one way to be poly. That can be challenging because you have to figure out what works for you, which means making mistakes along the way. You’ll feel hurt sometimes, and you’ll hurt others. Learning how to apologize and reconnect with people is essential. Don’t expect perfection- plan for bobbles.

Don’t keep secrets. That doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone everything, but if you’re withholding something that you know someone would want to know about or that they deserve to know about, lean into the fear and do tell them. Withholding leads to secrecy and resentment, both of which kill relationships. There’s plenty of room for privacy within a relationship, but not for secrets. So if you can’t be honest about what you want or what you’re doing, either stop doing it or learn how to be honest.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Alphafemme: I Create My Own Sense of Security and Safety

January 7, 2013  |  essays  |  1 Comment

Alphafemme, alphafemme.net

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

The way I ended up in an open relationship (and we haven’t agreed on it being an “open relationship” per se, but rather we have an intimate/romantic/sexual relationship that is completely undefined and has no specific rules or boundaries and we haven’t really ever had specific rules or boundaries) was catastrophically messy. I won’t get into the details here, I’ll do that on my own blog soon, but there are many things I wish I had done differently or insights I wish I’d had earlier on. I think the main one is that however uncomfortable and scary honesty is, it is critically important. I have always been someone who only ever wants to please others, accommodate others, make others feel happy and loved, and I had to learn how to come to terms with letting go of the need to please everyone. I can’t both take on everyone else’s happiness as my own responsibility and have integrity at the same time. I think that open relationships require real gut honesty and real commitment to hashing things out, and it is scary as fuck but also worth it. I was so scared of my own emotions that I ended up needlessly hurting one person (my ex-partner) and losing the trust of another one (my lover’s ex-partner) in a way that could have been avoided had I been more emotionally honest with myself (and, then, with others). Now, my commitment is to always be candid and intentional, and take the time with myself to understand my own emotions in order to be able to state them clearly.

I also wish I’d had more faith in myself to be okay, no matter what. That no matter what, no matter how hard things are, no matter how messy they become, no matter how impossible they may feel, I will be okay.

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

My current relationship has never been a closed, partner relationship. It has always been a flying-high-in-the-sky-fuck-the-parachutes-are-broken-shit-we’re-gonna-die-omgomgomg-ok-no-actually-we’re-ok kind of relationship. It is an intense relationship with a lot of processing and a lot of emotions and a ton of trust-building work. I think the hardest part for me is sometimes feeling like there are no walls and ceilings that are protecting me from the elements. I think I’m forced to confront scary emotions (fear of abandonment, fear of hurt, fear of pain, jealousy, etc.) a lot more than in my prior monogamous relationships, and work through them on my own. What I mean is, in my monogamous relationships, I have relied on the safety of the relationship and the boundaries of the relationship to take care of the scariness of being vulnerable and intimate. I have avoided working through the sources of those fears because the monogamy was the safety net. In this open relationship, it can feel as though that safety net isn’t there and so instead I have to just let those emotions and fears in and sit with them, become acquainted with them, make peace with them, and even send them on their merry way – and I can do that with my lover’s support and understanding, but she doesn’t do it for me and she doesn’t fix it for me by eliminating the source of the fear for me. And that part is hard and takes a lot of emotional energy. Buuuut the flip side of the coin…

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

…is that the hardest thing is also the best thing. I feel like this relationship has helped me become so much more aware of my resilience and my capacity to get through difficult emotions and land on my own two feet. And this in turn has meant that my ability to trust – to trust her but also trust myself – has deepened immensely. It’s really gratifying to know that I can create my own sense of security and safety and don’t need to make rules for the relationship that are based on fear. And I have learned a LOT about how to communicate my emotions responsibly and when is a good time to stop and take space. It’s not easy, and I can imagine at some point not wanting an open relationship anymore, but for now I have no desire to change anything.

It’s funny – a lot of people in response to this question I noticed said that the best thing was being able to have sex or play or be involved with other people, and the bounty of love that invites. And that’s just not where I’m at with it right now. Maybe someday I will appreciate that but for now I’m not even really interested in that. For now it’s all about the emotional work and trust-building.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Someone I look up to recently said to me that she thinks we should all take the “ship” out of “relationship” and just focus on relating to one another. Relationships are not one size fits all and often when we enter into capital-R-Relationships we enforce an agenda on them that just doesn’t work for every relationship. That really resonated with me and that’s my M.O. with my lover right now. For us, we go day by day and make decisions that work for us based on what we want, and we arrive at those decisions based on working things through on our own and together and trusting each other a lot, and trusting ourselves. Easier said than done (see my answer to number 2!) but ultimately I feel like I’m growing in really important ways right now.

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.