Posts Tagged ‘open relationships’

Open Relationship Mini Interview with TP: Dating is Hard

December 21, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

TP

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

First and foremost, I wish I had known how much love I would find and conversely how much hate I would find. It feels so natural but I feel as though we are looked down upon not only by the right, but also among many in the gay community who feel we distract from thier cause. As soon as those on the right attack gay marriage saying the next step is legalizing polyamorous marriages, we say why not? Many gay rights advocates turn on a dime and throw us under the bus.

I always thought we would see some converse support for our cause after theirs however I see this to not be the case. See also the recent statement from Dan Savage. In the way he addressed polyamory initially, it almost seemed to discount the experience entirely. He did recover nicely printing responses from other voices he respected. I must also say that I do appreciate his writing for the most part anyways.

I wish I would have known/remembered how hard dating is.

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

Two Words: Time Management. This is probably not what you were looking for but arranging time with our honeys is hard. Really hard. We have to cover for each other in watching the kids and often times we have to facilitate each others dates, we even sometimes buy each other condoms and other items in preparation for each others dates. Balance can be hard unless we are forcefully intentional about it.

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

The freedom to explore our fantasies with other people that we have not been able to experience for ourselves. I am circumcised. In a monogamous relationship my wife could never honestly experience giving falacio to a man with an uncut penis let alone riding him. But with our open relationship she can experience many different kinds of penises, and the concept follows for me with other people. It opens up a brave new world.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Marie: Keep Loving

December 20, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

Marie

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

That each person is an individual. There are no hard fast rules on polyamory. One must work out the parameters of the relationships based upon their own merits and not on rules given by friends or experts.

I am in a bi-amorous situation myself, and my husband has 2 girlfriends and me. His girlfriends are married to other men.

I am married and about a year ago started dating a friend whom I left over a decade before, for my husband. I was also in a relationship at the time with a third man, which was not working out well, but I did not leave him right away.

I nearly did not have a chance at a relationship with my old friend due to some established polyamory rules I’d heard and read that a secondary partner (and we take issue with the term “secondary”, but I’ll leave it here for clarification purposes) should not have a say in possible tertiary partners. We worked it all out, but the “rules of polyamory”, as I’d heard them, were a major source of trouble in the beginning. To this day, my lover does not consider himself polyamorous, as he is monoamorous with me.

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

The hardest thing has been time management and scheduling. Time is definitely the enemy. I wish to be with both of my men more and also to have a life of my own. It’s my own life that is suffering the most from lack of time attending to it.

My husband has made similar sacrifices for his ladies.

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

I have the man back whom I love so much, from before I met my husband. And I didn’t have to shatter my world apart and leave my wonderful husband to get him back.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Keep communication open. Realize that people need to enjoy their new relationship energy. Keep loving those whom you love and remind them of this always.

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.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with c.: There Are Lots of Ways To Do This

December 19, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

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

I came into poly life in a little queer bubble, where being poly was sort of expected, and sort of the norm, and there were pretty intense social expectations around what that should look like. I wish I had known from the beginning that there are lots of ways to do this thing, and as long as you are honoring your relationships, feelings, partner(s), and self, it’s ok if your rules don’t look like other people’s rules, or you have feelings other people aren’t sharing.

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

My current relationship is with someone who was generally monogamous before we got together, and I feel like the two of us have been generous and brave together in making up a set of rules and scripts to follow. Building your relationship from the ground up is scary and challenging, and there have been lots of times when our needs, expectations, feelings, and desires have bumped up against each other, or not fit together in any neatly arranged way. Pulling apart the mess of feelings that can happen when that comes up, and figuring out where everyone’s responsibility begins and ends can feel like playing cats cradle with spiderwebs. I’m still learning how to be gentle with myself and with him when things are hard. Living with ambiguity is wonderful and hard. Probably none of that is helpful concete advice. Times that have been the hardest for me are when I know that my partner is having some bad or uncomfortable feelings about a date I’m going on, or a person I have crushy feels about. I have to spend quite a bit of energy convincing myself that I’m not being cruel or unfair by pursuing those interactions with knowledge that he could feel badly as a result. Not taking total ownership for other people’s feelings is really hard, and can feel like doing harm to someone I love. It feels like a dangerous amount of trust to place on his word that he is in this with me with full knowledge of possible consequences and avid consent, despite the bumps and bad feels that sometimes come up. That trust is precious and rare and I treasure it.

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

I love having crushes. I love flirting and blushing and and feeling sweet on people. Sharing those exciting feelings with my partner is just about the nicest. That crackly energy is good for me, and good for my relationship.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve been more and more interested recently in playing with other kinky queers (rather than pursuing more traditional “dates” with all sorts of humans), and this has provided really interesting opportunities to engage with other folks in sexy ways that are quite structured. These sorts of dates have been somewhat simpler to navigate with my partner because of the high level of pre-negotiaion that (for me, anyways) is such a fun part of planning a date or scene with someone. I’m excited about growing more connections with perverts!

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Alex: It’s Okay To Have Feelings

December 19, 2012  |  essays  |  1 Comment

Alex Bettencourt

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

I wish I had come into the polyamory arena knowing it was okay for it a) not to work in every relationship, b) that it was okay to have feelings about my polyamory, and c) that it was okay NOT to be okay with my polyamory every single second. I think it’s a big fallacy that, when we are poly or open, we are okay with it one hundred percent of the time–that all our relationships are lined up well, are balanced, are in good working order, and that our feelings fall in line with that. I’ve found that such a delicate balance is usually not in play–someone might be feeling ignored or threatened by a new
partner, the time commitment isn’t there, your relationship is going through difficult changes, etc. I had to learn that it was not perfect all the time.

I wish I had known ahead of time how much work goes into poly arrangements–how much personal work, and how much interpersonal work. No poly arrangement is hatched fully formed without at least a little bit of growing pain somewhere, be it personally or in another relationship or whatever. I think it’s sometimes believed that, somehow, poly arrangements are LESS work than monogamous ones. I think they are equal work, or are work in different ways, with similar goals of having a functional, healthy relationship(s).

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

I think my own insecurities have been the most difficult thing thus far, and I have not overcome them nor do I think I ever will. It’s a matter of managing them and addressing them as necessary, and doing the work on WHY they are insecurities and what I can do about them, with help from my partner(s) as necessary. I think that’s also a big fallacy in open and/or poly arrangements–that insecurities magically disappear and are never dealt with again.

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

The sense of personal freedom and validation. I feel like, being poly, I can bring all of myself to the table in ways I was not able to when I was trying to be monogamous. That’s not to say that monogamous people do not bring their full selves into their relationships–I just couldn’t. I feel like I can be transparent with who I am and with my needs and, if my partner(s) are not into something or can’t meet that need, I am free to go elsewhere to have that need met.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I feel like people believe that polyamory is kind of a better way than monogamy and I don’t think it’s true–I think they are just different animals and some people are suited to one or the other. There shouldn’t be judgement attached to the ways in which we are able to love.

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.)