My husband and I have been together for over 17 years. Put most of those years under a microscope and they would look like all the other “normal”, happy marriages out there. That is until you hit 2008. That’s when things started getting interesting.
In January of 2008 I “came out” to my husband, Todd, as gay. (Well, I certainly did not use *that* word. But, in essence, this was my revelation and, in the years since, I have come to the point where I can proudly say “I am gay”)
Everyone fears coming out. To friends, to family, to coworkers. It is scary, scary stuff! Now imagine coming out to your husband. Telling him that your basic and strongest sexual attraction is toward something he is not and can never be. Would he believe my assertion that I *wanted* him? That I always had and always would? That this confession did not change who I had been for the last 14 years or the fact that he would continue to be who I wanted to grow old with?
I can safely say, I could not have dreamed of a better reaction. He never questioned my commitment to him and never questioned my love. He, instead, said he did not want me to go through life without experiencing something I had always wanted… a relationship with another woman. He gave me his blessing to seek this out in any way I needed. I was touched, in awe, dumbfounded, and immensely thankful. What I wasn’t was ready to seek out a relationship without him….
Here, we stumble upon a grand discovery: The world of Polyamory!
POLYAMORY: DO IT YOUR WAY
I truly believe that polyamory means something a little different for every person who practices it.
For us, Poly isn’t something we do, it’s who we are. We are not swingers (not that there’s anything wrong with swinging). We are not in this for sex (the sex is just a super fun bonus!) We want love. We want bonded relationships. We have hearts that would love nothing more than to commit and be loved.
NON-MONOGAMY DOES NOT EQUAL BEING UNFAITHFUL
We have had other sexual partners outside our marriage bed (hell, IN our marriage bed) but we have not been unfaithful. I have *seen* my husband with other women, yet it is still 100% possible for him to cheat on me and I would divorce him tomorrow if he did.
Non-monogamy is not the same as being unfaithful. (yes, I had to say it again!) Polyamory and non-monogamy require honesty and transparency, and your partner’s TOTAL approval and consent.
(And, on that note, we are also faithful to the women we date. We date one person at a time. We are not players. This isn’t a game.)
YOUR BASIC SELF
Is your basic makeup poly-like or the opposite?
When your loved one looks at another person do you immediately bristle? When you’re at a restaurant and your mate flirts with the server does your jealousy flair?
I believe there are basic personality traits that lend themselves to polyamory. I love watching Todd flirt. I love the little groaning sound he makes when he sees a beautiful woman. I love watching the smile that lingers on his lips as he’s texting with a special friend. I love sharing him and sharing the joys non-monogamy has brought to our lives. Me… at a basic level, I work well in the poly landscape.
That green-eyed devil…. Jealousy. So much has been written on this topic. I doubt I will add anything new to it. But, as I see it, jealousy comes down to one simple thing… fear of loss. As much as, since day one, I wanted a relationship with a third, I still had a hard time with jealousy. I truly believe it all stemmed from a fear of losing Todd.
Our first attempt at a long-term, committed, loving relationship ended horribly. ALL because of my jealousy and the fact that I had not yet addressed those fears. I was not yet on the solid emotional ground I needed to make it work.
I thank the Powers-That-Be everyday that this woman was strong enough, and cared for me enough, to forgive me for the way my jealousy made me withdraw… made things end. She was my learning curve. She showed me what we could have had.
This prompted many a tearful night with Todd and I. I had to break apart my fears and see what each stemmed from. I needed certain reassurances from him. We talked and talked and talked. And, in the end, I came away KNOWING that, no matter what, he and I were FOREVER. We would never stop being US.
(It took a long, long time after that first relationship attempt for me to be ready to try again. I feared hurting. But even more, I feared causing hurt again.)
If you don’t trust your mate, don’t even think about venturing into non-monogamy. You will drive yourself crazy with distrust and things will not end well.
We are in this as a team. We date together. And each of us has total veto power.
There has only been once when I’ve said “I need you to end communication with her.” There was no questioning, no trying to change my mind, no “But hunny…!”
If your partner is not comfortable with a situation, it ends. End of story.
If your partner is not attracted to someone or doesn’t want a relationship with someone, you have no right to question them or pressure them.
Some Polys date on their own. Hubby has girlfriends that know about wife but are not involved with wife and vice-versa. This is a possible solution to this issue, but this is not the road we have taken.
VOICE YOUR NEEDS
This has been another lesson I was slow to learn. If you need something, ASK FOR IT!
There is nothing better than sharing your bed with two people you care about.
When sleeping arrangements first came up in our last relationship, Todd wanted the middle. He wanted to physically be close to both his girls. I got that. Totally understood that. The problem came when it was time to sleep.
I am not a cuddler. I cannot cuddle and sleep. I can’t even be touched when it comes time to sleep. So, naturally, Todd would turn toward the one he could cuddle. (Todd is a total cuddler!) This would leave me laying next to his BACK, not seeing him, not seeing her…..and this left me feeling “left out” even though I understood the reason and KNEW they did not mean to “exclude” me.
I tried to deal with this for about three nights, knowing that Todd wanted the middle to be close to each of us. But I quickly came to realize it wasn’t going to work.
I needed her to be in the middle. With her in the middle, he turned toward her to cuddle and, by default, faced me. I could see his face, see her, feel like I was part of the cuddle even if I wasn’t. My emotional needs could be met this way. Even though I was physically farther away from him, emotionally I was *way* more connected.
Had I kept silent about my need for this change to occur, my feelings of being “left out” would have snowballed and caused a big problem. Saying I needed that change kept this from happening and kept us all happy. (although I think Todd kinda missed the middle ;))
OUT AND HAPPY
We are out as Poly. (I’ve had enough years of hiding.)
There is no one in my world I would not admit our way of life to. I will happily say “We are seeking our Third. We want the committed love of another!”
And, if we are ever in another relationship, we want to be able to walk down the street holding hands with our third.
There are too many things wrong with the world to hide love.
Might we have people who have a problem with all this? Sure. But, dealing with those people is a whole lot less stressful than hiding your true self. If you hide, you feel shame. I have no shame for the way Todd and I love. I will not hide.
Big UPs. Also poly.