Old Attitudes and New Developments

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about our poly venture, mostly because there hasn’t been much to report. Our baby is growing (along with my belly) and we have both been too busy with our  businesses to even think about meeting people. Our OKCupid profile has been inactive for a couple of months and we have just been living our lives, spending time with our dogs (who are about to have puppies) and trying to relax when we’re not working.

However, we are still building a great foundation of openness, honesty and trust for that time when we are ready to venture out into other people’s lives (or beds, or both). Not that we have it all down yet. Right before I recently flew home to visit friends and family, I was talking to my ex-boyfriend about meeting up at a drum circle with some other friends, and I had this phone conversation right in front of my current boyfriend since I have nothing to hide and no ulterior motive–visiting with my ex is purely platonic.

However, when I got off the phone, my man asked, “Who was that?” to which I replied, “[Ex’s name].” Then he said, “Oh, that guy you fucked?” I know he does this partly to playfully irk me, but it shows his traditional attitude that anyone who previously put their penis inside his current woman is somehow an enemy. I sighed and said, “Why do you have to say it like that? We dated for two years, so yeah we had sex a couple times.”

And it’s not like this is the first time I’ve seen my ex since my man and I have been together, because I see him every time I go back to Dallas to visit, because he is a close friend of mine–and our relationship was hardly sexual even when we were together so it’s not like we’re hanging out for that reason. I think that most of the time it’s silly to cut ties with exes and have tried to remain friends with most of them when they are willing. That goes for people I’ve had casual sex and/or long-term “fuckbuddy” relationships with. To be honest, if I didn’t stay friends with people I’ve dated or slept with, I wouldn’t have many friends!

Anyhow, spending a few hours with my ex was really a non-issue, and I know his old attitude is slowly changing, but it’s something new and different to get used to. When someone has been taught that jealousy is normal and right their whole life, it’s difficult to think anything else even when presented with a new way of seeing relationships.

But the newest development in our relationship came last weekend, when my boyfriend went dancing downtown with his friends. He has been such a homebody the last few months that his friends miss him a lot and keep asking him to go out, and even still, I have to encourage him to go. He has connections at a few clubs downtown and can always get in big groups without waiting in line, and sometimes get free drinks.

Well, last Saturday he was at the club and started talking to some girls, passing joints and handing out his business cards. A couple days later, he got a text from one of the girls he smoked with, and from the first text he showed me, he has been honest with me about talking to her. They have been texting back and forth a lot over the last several days and would have met up, if she had stayed in town longer. Ironically, she’s from El Paso, Texas, same as where he is from.

He showed me her pictures and I said I thought she was cute, to which he responded sarcastically, “Oh, I’m so glad you approve.” I replied, “Would you rather I didn’t approve?” No, of course not. I asked him what it’s like to be able to talk to me about another girl, and he says he likes it that he doesn’t have to hide and lie anymore, and it’s different than any other experience with girls he’s dated in the past. He actually said, “I’m glad I have you.”

At the same time, he’s had a hard time being honest with her about our relationship. I asked him if he told her about me yet, and he said no, he didn’t want to scare her away. He even told her he doesn’t have a Facebook so she wouldn’t friend request him and see pictures of me and all the talk about our baby. Well, she found him online today and was upset that he lied to her about not having a profile. He said to me, “Most girls aren’t going to understand what you and I are doing.” I said, “Maybe, but some are. And you never know what someone’s gonna be okay with if you don’t tell them. It’s better to just be honest about it, because if you keep lying and she finds out, she will definitely be mad and probably never talk to you again.”

This is happening as I type, so the story is still developing. Hopefully he and this girl will eventually get to hang out again when she comes back to visit in March, and he won’t cause any more problems by continuing to lie about the fact that he has a girlfriend. But that’s up to him. So far they seem to be pretty excited about talking to each other and it excites me that he gets to experience a new kind of relationship that gives both of us the security we need and the freedom that we want.

Holding Hands

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Self-Evaluation from “Opening Up: A Guide To Creating And Sustaining Open Relationships”

Opening Up Cover

Opening Up: A Guide for Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

I pulled this self-evaluation from the book Opening Up: A Guide To Creating And Sustaining Open Relationships because I want to answer some of these questions in subsequent blogs, and also hear what others may have to say about these topics. I know it’s a long list and a lot to think about!

It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking about how I would react to my partner being in love with another person, and imagining how I would feel, but I’m not really going to know how I’m going to feel until it happens. Still, this is a great list of questions to ask yourself, write about, and contemplate before entering into a polyamorous or open relationship.

If you are considering an open relationship, first evaluate yourself thoroughly and honestly to determine whether venturing beyond monogamy is right for you. Here are some questions for you to contemplate, write about in a journal, or talk about with a friend, partner, or therapist:

What are your beliefs about monogamy?

• If you’ve been in monogamous relationships before, how did you feel in those relationships, and how did they work or not work for you?

• Do you believe that someone can love/be in love with more than one person at a time?

• What role does sex play in your relationships? How important is it to you? What does it mean to you?

• Can you have sex without an emotional attachment? How are sex and love related or not related?

• Have you ever had a “fuck buddy” or “friend with benefits”? What worked and didn’t work about the relationship?

If you are currently in a relationship:

• What is the state of the relationship? Does it feel stable and secure?

• What are your most common conflicts with your partner?

• Do both partners want to explore a different structure?

• Do you have sexual needs, desires, and fantasies that aren’t being fulfilled?

Imagine your partner having sex with another person. It’s important to be brutally honest, not censor yourself, and really let yourself feel what that would be like.

• What feelings does that bring up?

• What would be your worst fear?

• What would the best-case scenario for this situation look like?

• What would be an absolute deal breaker?

Imagine your partner having a relationship with another person. It’s important to be brutally honest, not censor yourself, and really let yourself feel what that would be like.

• What feelings does that bring up?

• What would be your worst fear?

• What would the best-case scenario for this situation look like?

• What would be an absolute deal breaker?

How do you handle feelings?

• Do you consider yourself a jealous person? How do you deal with intense feelings like anger, jealousy, and resentment?

• Are you able to determine what your boundaries are and communicate them to others?

• When something is bothering you, do you more often keep it to yourself or share it?

• Do you have the ability to communicate openly and honestly, even about difficult issues?

• When conflict arises, how do you usually handle it?

How available are you?

• Do you have the time to nurture and grow more than one love relationship?

• Do you have the energy to devote to several different people and juggle multiple lovers?

• Do you have access to potential partners who have nonmonogamy experience and strong relationship skills?

• Do you have the self-knowledge and communication skills to be in an open relationship?

Feel free to comment on any of these questions, and like I said, I’ll delve into my answers to them in more detail as we continue on this journey together.