My second marriage wasn’t what anyone would call traditional. There was never a time, throughout our entire relationship, where one or both of us weren’t also involved with other people. This may sound like a recipe for disaster, and it would be, except we were polyamorous.
When we first met, my soon-to-be husband made it abundantly clear he was seeing two other women already and had no intention of stopping. I’ll admit, I was taken aback, but intrigued. I appreciated his blunt honesty about his relationship status and wondered, where would that leave me?
He was looking for someone who was interested in attending swinger’s parties with him, as neither of his lady friends were interested in those events. They knew he was seeing other people, they were as well, but they didn’t desire to do it in a group setting.
What he wanted was a primary relationship with someone who was interested in the swinging lifestyle, with a lean toward a polyamorous household.
The idea fascinated me.
I’ve always been bisexual and found it difficult to be in a monogamous relationship without dampening my desire to be with a woman. My first marriage didn’t allow me to explore my bisexual side alone — my husband wanted to be involved or it wasn’t happening.
The type of relationship this man was proposing would allow me to freely be myself and explore my sexuality without fear of repercussion.
We dated for a year and married, agreeing to be in an open relationship with few limitations.
Communication is the cornerstone for any open relationship, even more so than in a traditional monogamous one. Both parties must be on board for it to work and it will not save your relationship or marriage. It’s a partnership in the truest sense of the word. You have to work together in order for it to flourish and grow.
We identified as swingers more so than a polyamorous household for the first part of our marriage, although we did have a live-in girlfriend for part of that time. However, my husband accepted a job which required him to work out of town for the majority of the time and that changed our dynamic drastically.
It was at this time we truly became a polyamorous household and began dating as such.
When you’re a polyamorous household and dating, things can get tricky. Traditional online dating sites have changed in the past few years, but 10 years ago, there wasn’t a choice for ‘polyamorous’ under ‘relationship status’.
If you selected ‘married’, people assumed you were cheating on your spouse.
I found if I was honest and chose married, the majority of the responses I received were from other married people. This would be okay, were they not in supposedly monogamous relationships. It was important to us, as an open polyamorous couple, that we were not knowingly help others cheat on their spouses.
Being in a polyamorous relationship is not code for being a marriage counselor, nor does it mean we were available as personal sex toys for cheating spouses.
FetLife can be a wonderful resource for polyamorous families. Don’t let the alternative nature of the site deter you, it’s not all whips and chains, though of course, those can be fun. FetLife offers a safe space for those who identify as almost anything other than monogamous, though there’s space for that as well.
I created a profile there and on more traditional dating sites. I also placed ads on Craig’s List under the personal’s section, when that was still a thing.
The most important thing was being honest and upfront.
Even if the sites I used didn’t have an option for my particular situation, I made sure to state my intentions in the first conversation.
My husband and I stayed in contact with one another, even when apart. We let each other know when we were seeing someone new, even if that person was just someone we were dating, not a potential partner to add to our household.
Our household composition was such that we could casually date or potentially add someone we cared deeply for to our core household. Over the course of our marriage, I had different long-term girlfriends, one of which was also my husband’s girlfriend. I had two different boyfriends, who my husband was not involved with sexually, but who he was friends with. One lived in our household.
My husband had numerous casual girlfriends who were out of state and never lived in our household, who I also never met in person. He also had one serious long-term girlfriend out of state, who he lived with and eventually married, when we divorced. He had a long-term live-in girlfriend in the state where we lived, who was a member of our poly household. She and I were not involved sexually, we were more like sister wives.
She and I shared male friends on occasion, and my husband.
The polyamorous lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it’s one I have lived in two different iterations and would do so again. The world can be a cold place, and choosing to live with more love is never a bad thing.