Hey friends! Every few months we like to do an open relationship Q&A where we reach out to our peers (both monogamous and ethically non-monogamous) via social media and give them the opportunity to ask questions about our relationship dynamic. We truly feel like society is on the verge of a sexual revolution and an overhaul is happening to the standard narrative that’s been written on relationships and marriage. We certainly aren’t here to bash on monogamy, it works for many. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t work for just as many. With almost half of all marriages ending in divorce in 2019, would it really hurt to look at alternatives to what we’ve been taught is “normal”?
Society has become more accepting of many relationships that have previously been considered taboo, which is wonderful and we love to see that happening. However, open relationships are still primarily done in secrecy and hidden from the public scrutiny and judgment. People in our community feel they need to hide it from work, friends, and family or bear the wrath of judgment. As we’ve mentioned before, we’re really proud of our partnership and the hurdles we’ve overcome to arrive in the happy space we’re in now. It’s refreshing to see how many people feel the same way we do and the continued support is inspiring. We hope that by giving people an outlet to ask questions and view our perspective it also gives them something to pause and consider. The takeaway being, not every relationship needs to look the same! We are completely capable of pioneering our own relationship dynamics and doing what works best for our lives, regardless of public judgment.
We love these exercises for a plethora of reasons. For one, it gives us the chance to answer questions people have but don’t know who to ask. When we began our journey into ethical non-monogamy (ENM), we had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t know if others were doing things the same way, what resources to use, or who to turn to with our hard questions. We’ve been fortunate enough to work out many of the kinks (no pun intended) and find a pace and stride that works for us. We’d like to help others avoid some of the common pitfalls and have a safe space to talk.
Another reason we enjoy doing this is because it sharpens our resolve. We enjoy having our beliefs challenged, second guessed, and tested. We are so happy in our chosen way of life together, we feel unstoppable. We have never been stumped by a question or had opposing views on a topic related to ENM. It really brings us together and we get excited when someone asks something we haven’t heard before.
Lastly, it’s our goal to normalize ENM relationships. People shouldn’t have to hide their sexual preferences from anyone. These questions and answers give those living a more traditional lifestyle some context about a world they may be ignorant to. People have preconceived notions about the way the lifestyle (LS) operates and many of the biases, rumors, and beliefs are rooted in fallacy. It doesn’t help that there are couples out there giving it a bad name, give some grace though, all walks of life deal with bad seeds. ENM relationships thrive on compersion and strengthen the bond between the nuclear pair when done properly.
I think it’s humorous when people warn me about our dynamic. Suggesting that, in their experience, these things typically “end poorly”. What do they know?! What does anyone know for that matter?! Your relationship is your own, nobody knows it the way you do, so nobody has any business telling you how to manage it. I’m certainly no guru on the subject and can only offer my humble two cents as it relates to my own perspective, but one thing I am certain of, I sure as hell wouldn’t trade places with anyone. So long as nobody is getting hurt, boundaries aren’t overstepped, and consent is maintained, who we choose to be romantic with, hang out with, or have sex with is our own damn business. If anyone doesn’t like that, they aren’t worth our time anyway and we’re better off without them poisoning our well.
Ok, let’s get into it shall we?
- “Don’t you worry about another partner being better than you in bed? Dick sizes etc.?”
- “You had a third before?”
- “What would you say is the main difference between an open relationship and polyamory? Also, when do you
consider that swinging ends and poly starts? The line is really blurry for me.”
- “How do you cope with feelings of jealousy?”
- “What do you tell your kids about the other relationships?”
- “How many couples have you been in a relationship with at a time?
- “When and why you guys thought you need another partner for an open relationship?”
- “What are your rules?
- “Do you consider it cheating if you lie about hooking up with another person?”
- “How do you guys deal with envy towards another connection when separated?”
- “My wife and I have a stag and vixen relationship. Is reconnect part of your dynamic?”
- “How many other men has she dated?”
- “What boundaries have you set with your nuclear relationship vs. polyamory”
- “Do you ever have bi male experiences?”
- “Do you have any suggestions for someone looking for a community like this in SoCal?”
- “Other than the book The Ethical Slut, what have been some of your best resources for growth?”
- “What are some of the things you two do to let the other person know they are #1?”
- “What’s your typical balance of playing together vs playing/dating separately?”
- “My hubs wants to know if ya’ll have had to “break up” with anyone? And if so, how?”
- “Whose idea was it to open up the relationship? Have there been any issues with jealousy?”
- “Are the relationships you form most often separately or together with one another?”
- “Did you both know you were poly/open before you started dating, or is it something you learned over time?”
- “What would you guys do if one person wanted out?”
- “What resources do you recommend on ENM to someone new?”
- “Are either of you bi? How do you approach your relationships with the same gender?”
- “How’s the sex before and after a meetup? Do you anticipate then bask in the sex?”
- “Do you have a favorite LS club?”
- “What is your relationship hierarchy and will it ever change?”
- “Do you keep the emotional aspect out?”
- “What would you tell newly opened relationships?”
1. “Don’t you worry about another partner being better than you in bed? Dick size etc.?”
This is a REALLY good question and surprisingly, not one many guys are secure enough to even ask. This topic affects everyone differently and ultimately it comes right down to your own ego and the battles you’ve waged there.
Personally, I had an issue with this in my past. My ego was as big as a boat and easily bruised. I don’t think I ever would have conquered this demon if it wasn’t for the lifestyle. Let’s face it; this is something most men, monogamous or otherwise consider. Many guys are insecure about their partner’s previous experiences, and would rather not hear about an ex’s dick size or sexual prowess. But why not? How does that negatively impact the current relationship? If anything, with an attitude of understanding and a desire to please, a man may learn a few things about his woman’s preferences if he tables his pride long enough to hear what turned her on in other experiences. If a man has a hard time hearing about those things, he should ask himself, “why?” The answer is obvious, insecurity was triggered by jealousy and the ego was bruised. His problem, not hers. Yet how often do we see relationships with controlling men, creating rules for their wives simply because they are too lazy to do some introspection and find the source of their own personal discomfort? Get over yourself fellas, you probably weren’t her first, she’s probably had great sex before you, and just like you get turned on by that sexy brunette in the yoga pants at the gym… she also get’s turned on by men THAT AREN’T YOU. Crazy right?
So what’s the solution? How do men engaging in ENM as well as the monogamous man relinquish themselves of the angst of wondering if he will be replaced by a bigger stronger guy wielding a giant meat stick? It’s quite simple actually, identify and acknowledge the source of the insecurity. Take ownership and responsibility for it, then you can choose to heal it. I was insecure that a man with a bigger dick, more money, better skills, more muscles etc. would swoop in and put me out of a job. Once I identified that I was controlling my own negative feelings and I could simply shut them off when I stopped feeding them, life became more simple. It took having some some experiences before it really began to melt away. Having a partner you trust is also instrumental in finding confidence. Aubrey always did an amazing job of making sure I knew I was her everything. She’s played with some really attractive men, some with big muscles, dicks, and bank accounts… and through it all, she always made me feel like the most important person in her life. I learned that by extending my trust in her to always make good decisions for our relationship; she in turn became even more appreciative, trustworthy and powerful in her femininity. I also became secure in who I am and my position in our relationship. I’m confident Aubrey is aware that nobody could possibly love her more, nobody would be a better father to our daughter, and frankly… nobody will ever fuck her better than me.
Our sex is cosmic and it’s still getting better and better. I’m no sex god with a golden rod, I’ve just spent the last 12 years learning every beautiful inch of her body, every perfect curve, every place she likes to be touched, and the things she likes to have whispered in her ear while I pin her to the bed. I know what fantasies are bouncing around her head, when to trigger them, what turns her on, her favorite positions, and the way she likes me to look at her when she’s deep in ecstasy. There’s no man or woman out there that could fill my position or do what I do better, knowing that fills me to the brim with confidence.
2. “You had a third before?”
Of course, sometimes with long-time friends, other times with a new fling, just depends on what everyone is in the mood for. We also enjoy realizing fantasies for people we have a connection with. You’d be surprised how many people place a threesome at the top of their sexual bucket list. We’ve heard some real horror stories for first time experiences and it always bums us out. We’ve had enough experience in these endeavors that we can approach them without all the expectation and anxiety that’s typical. We keep it fun, easy, light, and communication transparent and free flowing with everyone involved. It’s fun and rewarding to give someone their first experience. We like to make sure it’s a good one and to show them there’s nothing wrong with acting on naughty desires and living out their wildest dreams. We’re both pleasers and are happiest when we’re making someone else feel good or realizing a fantasy they’ve had. It’s actually a pretty big turn on for us both when we’re propositioned by people for a threesome.
3. “What would you say is the main difference between an open relationship and polyamory? Also, when do you consider that swinging ends and poly starts? The line is really blurry for me.”
Depending on the source, I’ve seen different meanings. Some, and I agree, would say that polyamory is encompassed inside “open” but not vice versa. In other words, “open marriage” and “open relationship” are broader terms that acknowledge a relationship is not sexually monogamous. It doesn’t necessarily mean those relationships are also romantic and emotional where love is also a possible component. That would fall more into the realm of the sub-category, polyamory, where connections are not just non-monogamous but also more romantic and loving in nature where people open themselves up for connecting beyond the physical realm.
This is also probably a good time to address the term “swinger” since I hear it used incorrectly pretty often. Most people assume that anyone having sex in an open relationship is a swinger, that’s not true. The term swinger typically describes a person that isn’t sexually monogamous but is only interested in connecting sexually with others and not necessarily mentally or emotionally.
As we’ve mentioned in other articles, labels can be tricky because they are all interpreted differently and there are enough “professionals” out there muddying the waters with new terms. It does give a good place to start and a general idea about preferences though so they are definitely helpful. I love what Kitty Chambliss has done on her site Loving Without Boundaries. She created a glossary of terms related to the lifestyle that are good for understanding some of the basics. I’d encourage anyone interested in the LS to take a look: LOVING WITHOUT BOUNDARIES GLOSSARY
4. “How do you cope with feelings of jealousy?”
Hands down the most asked question, and for good reason! I actually wrote an entire article on dealing with jealousy titled SEVEN WAYS TO DEAL WITH JEALOUSY where I dive into it. It’s a topic I could talk for hours on and something people should find a better understanding of whether they are ENM or not. Jealousy is at the root of so many traumas, division, hurt feelings, and can often lead to a separation. It’s an ugly beast and it can do a ton of damage. Fortunately, with the right head space, it’s also has harmless as a fly, you just need to make it so in your own mind.
To overcome jealousy, a person must be brutally honest with him/herself. They must first find the source of the discomfort, then ask the “why?” to find the reason behind it. Once the “why” is identified (usually an individual’s own personal problem) the healing can happen. Perspectives can change, and suddenly the thing that used to be so scary, rarely shows up at all.
5. “What do you tell your kids about the other relationships?”
– “I’m in an open relationship but have lots of poly friends, how do you guys handle this with your kids?”
– “How do you juggle ENM with a child?”
This one is very close to my heart because we have a five year old daughter at home and we have strong feelings about the way our lifestyle influences and affects her life. As a matter of fact, I think this question is worthy of a new article. I’ll begin working on it ASAP!!! Thank you so much for bringing this up, it’s a really important topic.
I don’t want to leave this completely unanswered though, so I’ll say this for now. We’re as transparent and open around our daughter as we are everyone else. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, we’re proud of our relationship and what we’ve accomplished together. As any good parent should, we teach what we feel resonates in our hearts and don’t allow society to dictate those feelings.
6. “How many couples have you been in a relationship with at a time?”
Interesting question, to answer this I think we’d have to take a closer look at the word “relationship”. After all, what does it mean to have a relationship? How is that different from being IN a relationship?
Google defines the word relationship as such:
“The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”
By this definition, we’ve had and still have many relationships. Set aside the sexual aspect of the lifestyle for a moment. Just like most people, we enjoy making friends with people of all walks of life. We find the most individual and unified growth as a couple through our interactions with others. That said, we’re always looking for new friends and people to adventure with.
Those connections, or relationships, have varying degrees if importance. We spent much of 2019 making new friends, many of which lived vastly different lives from our own. That was exciting though; it pushed us out of our comfort zone and exposed us to the way many others live. It created moments of growth that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.
We always say people pop into our lives for a reason, a season, or forever. We acknowledge that not every relationship we make will stand the test of time, and that’s perfectly fine. Truth be told, there’s only so much space in our lives for those deep connections. Some are around for just a moment, some relationships are casual and we only see those people every once in a while, while other relationships are incredibly meaningful and have a huge impact on our daily life.
2020 saw the beginning of the most important relationship we’ve made through the LS with another couple. Our lives intertwined with them in a way we weren’t looking for, and truthfully, didn’t know existed. We’re both very much in love with our best friends and their family, they mean the world to us and we’d do anything for them. We have many relationships with many people, but our connection with our twin-flame couple is unparalleled and we hold them alone as someone we would say we are in a relationship with.
7. “When and why you guys thought you need another partner for an open relationship?”
– “What lead to you thinking of opening your relationship?”
It was October 2017 when we had our first experience, we chatted about it for about six months prior to breaking the seal. We weren’t really considering an open relationship, but rather to check a few boxes off our sexual bucket list. It started with realizing one of Aubrey’s fantasies of being with two men at the same time. Once we cracked the door to this world and saw it wasn’t scary at all, but in fact really exciting, it drew us together in a way we hadn’t yet felt and we knew we were on to something.
One experience led to another, relationships were made, feelings developed and we had to constantly rework our thinking on the subject as things evolved. It was fun, sometimes scary, and not always pain free. We’ve had to overcome some incredible obstacles to get where we are. We’ve had some big battles, ugly fights, hurt feelings, bruised egos, etc. In the end though, we always chose each other and put communication at the forefront of importance.
I’ve heard people dismiss what we’ve accomplished saying things like, “You’re so lucky you aren’t jealous” or “my spouse would never go for that”. Guess what? We are as susceptible to jealousy as everyone else and we definitely have those emotions. We’ve simply taken the time and effort (through hundreds of conversations) to overcome jealousy. Anyone can do it; they just need to have the desire. There was also a time when we both thought there were things we could never safely talk about… until we did. That too was a task though. Learning how to have the freedom to communicate our thoughts, ALL our thoughts, in a safe space is at the root of our strength. The key is finding the courage to communicate. To create a safe environment to talk openly, to listen with grace and understanding, and approach the topic with the driving force being the desire to make your counterpart ultimately happy.
8. “What are your rules?”
This is an area with many different opinions and preferences. Ultimately, the rules a couple puts in place for their relationship is unique to them, because their relationship is also unique to them. What works for some may not work for others.
We have a few very basic rules. Condoms are a required for sex and we don’t tolerate anything disrespectful, degrading, or unsanitary. Beyond that though, we found that rules are unnecessary and inhibit organic chemistry from taking place. We used to only do things with others together. We would only have text chats if we were both included in them, we’d talk to each other before sharing photos with people etc.
As trust grew, we found those types of rules to be more problematic than anything. We found we had adopted some of the rules we saw others doing by default. Once we began asking ourselves why we had certain rules, we discovered we didn’t actually need them at all and the process of finding chemistry is much more fun with the freedom to engage naturally. Now, we both have the individual freedom to do whatever we want so long as we feel it won’t harm our relationship but will feed it instead.
We don’t really have any other sex rules than the ones mentioned above. We’ve encountered all types though. I’ll refrain from passing too much judgment because if a rule works for a couple, who am I to question it? However, that doesn’t mean I’ll turn a blind eye to the source of the rule. For example, we’ve met couples that are fine having sex with others, but they don’t kiss. To us, that’s a deal breaker. Why would it be ok to put your penis in someone but not touch their lips with your own? It’s just sex folks, relax. We’ve also met couples that aren’t ok allowing their spouse to orgasm with someone else. Again, to each their own, but it seems counterproductive say to your partner, go ahead and have sex with someone else, I hope you enjoy it… but don’t cum. When we encounter couples with rules based in ego, we steer clear; we aren’t speaking the same language and they’re easy to spot.
The craziest rules we’ve seen so far was one couple that actually used a point matrix to dictate how much they allowed one another to play. If she gave someone a blow job, that would give him three points on his matrix. Sex may cost five points though so he would have to wait for his points to accrue if he wanted a roll in the hay with someone… or he could spend his three points on oral of course… I can’t make this stuff up folks, if you can think it, people are probably doing it. Wouldn’t work for us, but if it’s working for them, carry on you sexy mathematics freaks.
9. “Do you consider it cheating if you lie about hooking up with another person?”
The strength of our open marriage all comes back to transparent and honest communication. I hear the phrase “radically honest” used often lately, and am probably guilty of using it myself. But let’s cut the crap, honesty is honesty, it’s black and white, and there aren’t shades. Whether you call it radical or not, being honest, communicative, trustworthy, and loyal are the tenants behind any solid relationship, open or not.
If someone is lying about hooking up with others, whether they are in an open relationship or not, a lie is a lie is a lie and it does the same damage. Yes, we would consider this cheating. I can’t fathom that happening in our relationship at this point, but anything is possible if we become complacent and stop showing up for one another.
That being said, we wouldn’t consider it cheating if one of us slept with someone without first notifying each other. In fact, it’s kind of a turn on to think that Aubrey has that freedom and things could happen anytime. In the back of my mind I know that I could get a sexy photo of her getting naughty with someone anytime we aren’t together. It could be someone she just met and instantly hit it off with, or it could be a longtime friend she arranged a meet with. Bottom line, I wouldn’t need to know about it first. Obviously she’d tell me all about it afterwards, she knows that turns me on which is what makes it fun for her. It is fun to hear how things progress as they do, but the occasional surprise can be a huge turn on as well.
Also related to this question, we often hear people use the word “cheat” incorrectly about our own relationship. I can’t tell you how many people say stupid things like, “Oh so you guys are ok cheating on each other?”For those that don’t know, we don’t consider it cheating on each other simply because we are having sex with others. Cheating implies deception and dishonesty for personal gain or advantage. We are very aware of the actions of one another; there is no deceit and no dishonesty. Telling someone in an ENM relationship that what they are doing is cheating only highlights that person’s ignorance and its actually really offensive. You’ll find far more cheating in the monogamous world than you’ll ever hear of in ENM.
10. “How do you guys deal with envy towards another connection when separated?”
We stay very connected and discuss our outside relationships with one another often. We talk about the things that are turning us on and what we want or look forward to out of the connection. This lays the ground work for future understanding. Once we comprehend what the other person is feeling about a relationship, we can begin to get excited for one another.
For example: Let’s say Aubrey meets a strapping young lad she’s interested in at the gym. She would keep me abreast of the connection as it was unfolding. We’d talk about how they began chatting, what they talked about, how he made her feel, etc. Those are the details we get excited about and we have fun watching things develop. If the day came that she wanted to have a date with him, I’d be really excited for her because we spent so much time talking about why she’s interested and I’d know she’s doing something that makes her happy. I also get to watch Aubrey step into her feminine power in these endeavors and it’s a huge turn on.
So if she’s been communicative with me, she’s excited about connecting with someone, and then has a date with him, there’s really no place for envy to take hold. I’d only be thankful she is having a good time, hoping he’s good company, and looking forward to being together again when she comes home.
11. “My wife and I have a stag and vixen relationship. Is reconnect part of your dynamic?”
Absolutely! To those unfamiliar, a stag/vixen relationship is one where a man enjoys watching his wife have sex with others. He (the stag) may or may not engage, but ultimately his pleasure comes from seeing his wife (the vixen) pleased. There is no humiliation or degradation associated with this sort of dynamic. Aubrey and I enjoy these experiences as well.
Reconnect is when your spouse has sex with someone else, and then you come back together once again and reconnect. For a stag/vixen couple, this is a huge part of the dynamic. The feeling of reclaiming your mate is extremely powerful, bonding, and insanely sexy for both participants. For me, when I get to experience Aubrey after someone else, I’m flooded with a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for her, for us, and the life we’ve created. Aubrey also feels the same way and is even closer and more in love with me because she sees I would never limit the things she wants in life, I only want to add to it.
I will say however, that when we play with our dearest friends, sometimes we like to bask in that connection for a bit. Sometimes we aren’t in a rush to reconnect with one another because we’re still relishing the experience we had with our friends and riding that “high” a little longer.
12. “How many other men has she dated?”
We haven’t kept track of dates. We do however keep a running list of people we’ve had sex with. Wait… WHAT?!!! You heard me; we keep a list of names and dates of people we’ve slept with. Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, let me explain why. It has nothing to do with keeping track of numbers as trophies. It has everything to do with wanting to remember our experiences and connections. After about a year of being open and having a handful of experiences, we realized some of them weren’t in the forefront of our memory… which is a nice way to say, we forgot them.
We decided that was a careless approach to the people we were connecting with. We’ve had good experiences, awkward experiences, letdowns, and pleasant surprises. We have fun talking about all our experiences, especially some of the very first ones or the ones that we learned the most from (usually the not so great ones). We keep a list because, as I mentioned earlier, people enter our lives for a reason, a season, or forever. We don’t want to forget any of it because we learned lessons from each encounter. Personally, I have the memory of a goldfish so this is almost necessary if I’m going to reminisce on old times.
I’d highly recommend anyone in the LS do something similar. Create a running sex log with your partner, jot some notes down about each encounter. After some time, sit down together one evening and relive some of those moments and the takeaways you had from them. We don’t believe there are any bad experiences, just learning experiences that we wouldn’t repeat.
13. “What boundaries have you set with your nuclear relationship vs. polyamory”
This is similar to the boundary question above, but worth breaking out as separate because the word nuclear was used. A nuclear family is comprised of parents and their children. The question posed is great because the relationship with the nuclear family is vastly different from the polyamory family, yet also very similar.
What the hell does that mean? They are different in the sense that Aubrey and Bryn (our daughter) are my nuclear family and mean everything to me, and I to them. Without getting too far into spirituality or religion here, I believe that when we die, this human experience ends and our essence, spirit, life (or whatever you want to call the thing we have living inside these skin suits) departs this mortal coil, but it goes somewhere. I don’t know where that is (got a hunch I’ll find out someday), but wherever we go, I am going to be there with those two. Sure I’d love to have all my friends and family there, but at the end of the day, if the world was coming to an end, those are the only two people I’d want to be with. No other connection we’ve made can rival that, it’s special and unique to the three of us.
That being said, we also deeply care for those we love in our poly community. We don’t see love as an on and off switch, but rather a dimmer with varying degrees of illumination. While we would do anything for our loved ones, it would never come at the cost of our own relationship, we place that at the pinnacle of importance. Should an outside connection ever begin to compete with our nuclear dynamic, we would hit the pause button and reassess our situation until everyone was happy.
14. “Do you ever have bi male experiences?”
I’m not bi-sexual and haven’t felt the desire to explore it. I am comfortable with male energy though. Being around naked men that are also having sex doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, if another man (or two or three) are joining me for some play time with a woman, it’s a huge turn on. I love overwhelming her with masculine energy, hearing the moans of approval, and feeling the energy rise as the testosterone in the room ramps up. The overall goal of wanting to please her with others is a fun bond and I enjoy having male friends present during those sexual encounters.
15. “Do you have any suggestions for someone looking for a community like this in SoCal?”
Yes! There are a plethora of lifestyle websites and apps out there and we’ve tried many of them. It really depends on what type of experience or connection you’re seeking. We’ve found a lot of success finding singles (men and women) on the apps Tinder, Bumble, Feeld, and 3Fun. For couple connections, we’ve had the most success with the broadest audience on Kasidie. Another option is to check out various lifestyle resources in the area. For example, my friend and peer Coralyn Jewel runs a local SoCal lifestyle group called Hankie Pankie. Groups all have different feels, ages, interests, and operate differently, do some exploring and see what feels best for you. Lastly, feel free to shoot us a DM, we have lots of friends in the area and would be happy to get you plugged in.
16. “Other than the book The Ethical Slut, what have been some of your best resources for growth?”
We own it, but still haven’t got around to reading that one yet. Admittedly, we’ve paved our way without using many of the available resources and in retrospect I wish we would have done some looking sooner because there’s some really great information out there. I did really enjoy reading Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan; I felt like it validated the way I felt about marriage and shed some light on areas I was ignorant to. It’s a great read for everyone, open or monogamous because it forces us to ask ourselves tough questions about the story we’ve created as it pertains to marriage.
17. “What are some of the things you two do to let the other person know they are #1?”
We place one another first, above all others, always. We constantly remind ourselves why we’re still together, how much we love one another, and how much we’ve accomplished. We actively feed positivity into our relationship daily. We brag about one another, flirt with each other, and have the most amazing sex humanly possible. These things probably seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many couples let all of this go and then wonder why they don’t feel important.
18. “What’s your typical balance of playing together vs playing/dating separately?”
Regarding dates, this ebbs and flows and really depends on who we’re seeing or talking to at the time. It’s a rollercoaster of ups and downs; sometimes we go weeks without meeting anyone new, sometimes we have three dates in a week. We are careful with our time and found that if we entertain too many surface level connections, the more meaningful and deeper connections suffer, there’s only so much time and energy to give after all. We’re also parents and spending time with our little peanut trumps all others so it’s a balance. Now we try to focus on the relationships we feel are important to our lives, and only look for new connections when we have the bandwidth for it.
As far as playing with others goes, it really doesn’t matter. Of course we love being together for it but there are times we enjoy doing things separate too. We love spending time with our best friends and getting into some naughty adventures together. I’ve also learned it’s really important to the health my relationship with my girlfriend to spend time alone together. The same goes for Aubrey and her boyfriend, having that alone time together is crucial to nurturing their relationship.
Playing together also has its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to Aubrey’s connections with men. Many times, I’ve stepped out of a situation because my presence was distracting the “other guy”. Often times men are more uncomfortable in the situation than they anticipated, which can ruin the experience for Aubrey. What many don’t realize, is that it’s not always easy for another man to step into our dynamic and feel comfortable enough to perform. Discomfort can very easily lead to a lack luster performance, or usually, no performance at all. Guys have a way of getting in their head when ol’ Mr. Kannish doesn’t “rise” to the occasion. When that happens, I try to make them comfortable by making myself scarce so Aubrey can continue enjoying her experience. It’s not always my preference, I love seeing her in action, but I place more importance on her having a good experience than my participation. She does the same for me.
19. “My hubs wants to know if ya’ll have had to “break up” with anyone? And if so, how?”
We have definitely had our fair share of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, break-ups, and terminated friendships along the way. Much like dating in a monogamous world, connecting with people comes with challenges. Sometimes we grow together through them, other times we grow apart. The hope is that growth was found along the way for all. We’re thankful for all the connections we’ve had, even the ones that didn’t end well, we learned from them all.
2020 has been a year of division; we’ve seen many friendships and connections evaporate into thin air, we know we aren’t alone in that. Some break-ups have been cordial while others have been bitter. What I want to point out is that it really isn’t any different from the relationships we all have. Adding sex to the equation can intensify things, but ultimately, friendships are friendships and people are people. We’ve had our feelings hurt, I’m sure we’ve hurt feelings as well, but none of it can be blamed on the lifestyle like so many try to do. People can be shitty in all walks of life and all beliefs.
20. “Whose idea was it to open up the relationship? Have there been any issues with jealousy?”
– “Do you ever get jealous of who your partner become physical with?”
Aubrey’s fantasy gave life to the idea, and in time, we decided it was something we wanted together. Jealousy has definitely been a factor as we grew. Learning how to communicate our fears and take responsibility for our own feelings was instrumental in correcting this.
21. “Are the relationships you form most often separately or together with one another?”
We always keep one another abreast of the connections being made when we’re doing it independently. As we meet new people, we are up front with them and explain that in order for a real friendship to be established, they have to be ok knowing and spending time with our spouse. My life is joined with Aubrey’s, it would be impossible for her to carry on a relationship with someone that didn’t want to know me and vice versa; in fact we tried it, and it didn’t work out. It would also be a turn off to us if someone didn’t want to know our counterpart at all.
It’s a lot of fun for the two of us to meet people together as well. We love going out together and “hunting in the wild”. We play well off one another, each person knowing when to “wingman” the other. I love it when Aubrey sees someone out in public she’s attracted to and wants to know. It’s fun for me to swoop in on him and make the connection. I’ll usually start by approaching a guy she’s had eyes on and say something like, “It’s your lucky day brutha!” To which I’m normally given a “WTF are you talking about?” look. Then I point out the beautiful brunette across the room and comment how gorgeous she is. When he agrees (and they always do, have you seen Aubrey?) I tell him she’s my wife and she’s had her eye on him, then I suggest that he should go talk to her. The look I get at this point is priceless, it tickles me silly to watch grown men squirm with confusion, horror, lust, and intrigue all at once.
22. “Did you both know you were poly/open before you started dating, or is it something you learned over time?”
Definitely learned over time, we never dreamed in a million years when we got married that we’d have an open marriage. Even after we opened it up, we thought it would be a passing thing and we’d nip it in the bud before our daughter got old enough to find anything out. We couldn’t have possibly anticipated the revolutionary life changes we both would experience.
23. “What would you guys do if one person wanted out?”
The honest answer is, there’s no way out. Our thinking has forever changed, the filtered lenses society placed in our vision, obscuring what marriage looks like to us, are gone and we see things differently now. Could we take a pause from connecting or having sex with others? Sure that’s no problem at all. Our open relationship doesn’t actually hinge on sex believe it or not. Its foundation is rooted in the honest communication we share, and there’s no abandoning that, not for anything. It would be the same as asking us what would we do if one of us didn’t want to be vegan anymore. It’s literally an impossible hypothetical, once the light bulb is on and you wake up to something, you can’t un-know what you know.
24. “What resources do you recommend on ENM to someone new?”
There are a ton of podcasts related to open relationships now that provide a wealth of information. There are also equally as many websites and apps available. You can also head to our Resources section for a few of our favorites.
A word of caution while doing research, just remember that nobody is an expert in YOUR relationship. Human connections are so diverse and complicated, they are all unique. People can offer you tools, vocabulary, and ideas that may or may not work. Take it all in stride and realize there isn’t a rule book, or a tried and true way to navigate all open relationships successfully. Take what you learn and apply it to your relationship where applicable. I’ve listened to speakers and read articles from “experts” that in my opinion clearly have limited experience and regurgitate the same unhelpful crap that others do.
Bottom line, it’s a good idea to do some homework, gain perspective, and listen to the advice of others. Just be cautious you aren’t letting someone else’s ideas take the wheel of your own relationship. You’re the captain of your ship, sail it wherever you want.
25. “Are either of you bi? How do you approach your relationships with the same gender?”
Bisexual: Sexually attracted, not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.
I am not bisexual and am not physically attracted to men, however, based on the true definition of bisexual, Aubrey is. Again, labels make this confusing because people add their own two cents to a definition. There’s bisexual, bi-comfortable, open-minded, etc. to name a few we encounter. Each label has a slightly different meaning to the person using it.
Aubrey does find women physically attractive and is intimate with some; however, she isn’t interested in having a 1:1 connection with a woman absent me. She enjoys a woman’s beauty and power and does a wonderful job lifting them up and making them feel their worth.
26. “How’s the sex before and after a meetup? Do you anticipate then bask in the sex?”
AMAZING!!! The best sex we ever have is with each other. We love the dance of meeting people, flirting, building things up, and eventually getting physical with them. Then we reconnect with each other afterwards for some mind blowing, toe curling, husband and wife kind of sex.
27. “Do you have a favorite LS club?”
House of Black is a great spot if you’re looking for a fun place to meet others living this taboo way of life. The staff is always incredibly kind, the rooms and play areas are all really awesome, and there’s a big BDSM community that also attends. People are really helpful showing the ropes, teaching new techniques, and assisting you explore your own brand of weird. The head mistress is gorgeous and runs a really awesome business. We don’t attend many clubs, but if we do, this is our preferred home.
28. “What is your relationship hierarchy and will it ever change?”
In our own relationship, we don’t have a hierarchy. Neither Aubrey or I hold any more responsibility or control than the other and we both have an equal voice at the table.
As this relates to relationships outside our nuclear unit, there is a couple (who would like to remain anonymous publicly for now) that we elevate above all others. In fact, I recently drafted our living will and should something ever happen to Aubrey and I, our daughter will be raised by them. I am head over heels in love with the woman, Aubrey is with the husband, and we’re both equally crazy about their kids. We’ve never met a more grounded, loving, genuine couple in our lives and we’re certain we’ll be spinning on this rock together, having cuddle puddles, adventures, and lots of sex until the very end.
29. “Do you keep the emotional aspect out?”
Initially we did, that wasn’t something we were interested in. In time we saw that having sex where there wasn’t an emotional or mental connection felt boring and mechanical. We met people along the way and feelings just sort of happened. We had to pause, re-evaluate, and decide if including an emotional attachment to people was what we wanted, and it was.
30. “What would you tell newly opened relationships?”
First I’d ask why they were considering it, whose idea it was, and what they hope to get out of it. In my experience, I’ve observed several different “categories” (for lack of a better word) of couples that engage in ENM.
There’s the overbearing husband with a timid wife that’s afraid to tell him no and goes along for the ride regrettably. These are toxic relationships and very easy to spot, typically the guy uses his wife as bait to obtain whatever it is he’s after and cares very little for the well-being of his own partner. These are the couples that tarnish the reputation of the LS and scare people away. My recommendation here would be for the couple to pause their LS endeavors and seek counseling.
Then there are the couples that are divided and there’s clearly trouble in the water. They are using the lifestyle as a means to satisfy their own desires, to fill a void they are missing in their own relationship, and don’t really care what the other person is doing. We don’t have any voids that need filled in our relationship, so this is hard to identify with. To this couple, my advice depends on whether or not they are happy in their arrangement. Sometimes people in a relationship are great friends and prefer to cohabitate while seeking sexual pleasure elsewhere, acknowledging that maybe that ship sailed for them and they are ok with that. If that works for them, great, carry on I have nothing further to say. However, for those that have an unhealthy relationship and are trying to fill a void, adding the LS to the dynamic is like pouring gas on a flame. The resulting breakup that would have likely happened anyway will still probably happen, adding the LS just might make it happen faster. That doesn’t mean it’s the lifestyle’s fault for the termination of a relationship, the LS just has a way of bringing problems to the surface where you have to deal with them.
There are couples where one person is interested and the other is a slower burn and wasn’t necessarily interested but is open to exploring. I’d say this is the most common scenario I see. To them I’d say, take your time, there’s no rush. Whoever is leading this charge needs to have ultimate patience with his/her partner. Remember that they didn’t have the same naughty idea you had, and this lifestyle might not have been calling to them the way it did to you. It doesn’t mean they can’t learn to want it too, but it takes grace, effort, and patience. Give the more timid person the ability to dictate the way things transpire initially. Make them comfortable, give them control, and place their pleasure above your own. Allow them to gain perspective by having experiences they desire first. By the same token, it can feel extremely inhibiting to the motivated person when it feels like your partner is holding you back. To the person that didn’t show the first interest, hear your partner’s words and try to understand the reason they want this. They aren’t cheating on you, they are telling you about something that turns them on and they want you to be part of it. It may be difficult for them to bring this conversation up, it requires courage. They chose to have a hard conversation rather than taking the easy way out and seeking to fulfill their desires behind your back. Rather than taking offence or feeling inadequate, try understanding your partners perspective and see how it resonates with you. Also, applaud them for bringing up a challenging conversation. It should take a ton of discussion to get there, but that’s good, conversation is where the growth happens. If you’re patient, understanding, and both desire to see one another happy, you’ll be just fine.
Lastly, and our favorite, are couples that are clearly in love. Their bond is palpable and we find that sort of energy magnetic. Often times these couples are really turned on at the thought of seeing one another pleased and place the happiness of each other before their own. The idea of having an experience is exciting for them because it will strengthen their bond. To these couples, my advice is to continue choosing one another the way you always have. Your relationship will be tested, it won’t always be easy, and something unforeseen and unfortunate will happen where feelings get hurt. When (not if) that happens, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t blame the LS for whatever happened, realize it was only a breakdown in communication and you can fix anything. Pause and reflect on the growth you’ve made and realize none of that would have happened if you hadn’t traveled the road you have. Trust in each other to make good choices, put each other first, and most importantly have fun!
I hope you’ve found these helpful and that they instigate some conversation in your homes. Even for those uninterested in ENM, having an open mind to it and supporting those that do is really important. Far too many people in our community feel it needs to be hidden for fear of the judgment of others. It’s a very valid fear, after our “coming out of the closet” there were those that showed us love and support, and those that villainized us, said horrible things to us, and ended our relationship. (yes even family members) How people choose to love one another is their own business, nobody should be made to feel less because of it. ENM is a lifestyle and is much more complicated than just having sex with people. Give those that engage in it some credit, they are tackling some relationship obstacles and putting their connection to a very real test, one that many are too insecure or jealous to ever explore.