So You Want to Open Your Relationship

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Here’s my theory: Polyamory is the new butt stuff.

Let me explain. Every so often pop culture stumbles upon something zeitgeisty that’s been around forever and all of a sudden you’re unbearably boring if you haven’t given it a go. It was true when straight people discovered cunnilingus about 20 years ago (poor souls), and it’s been happening in the last few years with analingus. Now, I think, it’s polyamory’s turn. Of course, various kinds of polyamory have been around since the beginning of time, showing up in Ancient Mesopotamia, certain books of the Old Testament, the Mahabharata in India and many modern indigenous communities around the world. I’m being glib when I say polyamory is having a moment; non-monogamy has been around as long as humans have. But still, right now it’s entering the mainstream in a serious way.

Ladies, polyamory is big and scary and a whole other way to love, and I’m not here to say you should immediately tell your girlfriend you want to bang other people. I’m also not here to be your resident poly expert, because, believe me, I have a long way to go. What I am here to do is to tell you how it’s been for me, and maybe start a conversation about different kinds of relationships we could be having.

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My exploration of polyamory started a few years ago when I was about to spend several months apart from my girlfriend at the time. We were madly in love, but we were also both pretty sex-driven people, so we had a frank conversation about what it would mean if we allowed each other to sleep with other people. At first, I was totally psyched. I Tindered like a madwoman, went on a couple dates, flirted with a few girls. And then I went home and sexted my girlfriend all night.

But then it happened. Our open relationship went from being theoretically open to actually open; my girlfriend slept with someone else.

I was completely thrown for a loop. I had given her permission, but I felt betrayed. I knew she loved me, but I panicked that I wasn’t enough for her. It was a rough time for my gay little heart. But we talked about it. I needed reassurance that I still made her smile, that she still wanted to bone me, that I meant just as much to her then as I ever did. It took some time to make sure we were still on the same page. After that, I had a steady hook-up for a while. We closed our relationship when we were in the same city again, and then we opened it up, and then we broke up. But I stayed polyamorous.

Now that I approach polyamory as someone who’s not already in a primary relationship, everything is different. My relationships don’t always look like Hollywood romances, and I’m okay with that. I don’t look for one person to be my everything; instead, I get lots of different joys out of my relationships with different people. Some are deeply loving; others are purely physical; other times it’s something in between. I’m not an expert at this: sometimes I get so jealous I can hardly think. And I’m certainly not opposed to finding someone I love, U-Hauling and celebrating the glories of lesbian bed death until we’re gray and wrinkly. But I have a couple tips for you, from me, your friendly neighborhood poly lesbian.

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Communicate

Cliché, I know, but just like in any relationship, communication is key. Maybe you want your partner to perform oral on you and no one else. Maybe you need to know exactly what goes down when your partner goes on a date with someone else; maybe you want to know nothing at all and she should probably tell you she has a dentist appointment. Are you only opening up the sexual part of your relationship? What if one of you falls in love with someone else? There are no wrong answers, as long as you ask the questions, check in to make sure everything still feels good, and listen to what your partner says.

Trust one another

Just like in a monogamous relationship, you have to trust that your partner is following the rules, and even if she’s spending the night at another girl’s house, it doesn’t mean she loves you any less. Trust means practicing enthusiastic consent. Trust means believing your partner when she says nothing happened, or that something did happen and she’s sorry and can you talk about it. But still, if you’ve had three sleepovers recently, it might be nice to do a little something special for your primary girlfriend.

Celebrate Your Partner’s Happiness                                                                                                                            

This one can get dicey because I’m totally 100% not saying you should sacrifice your own happiness for your girlfriend’s. But one of the beautiful things about open or polyamorous relationships is that you know that your girlfriend is fulfilled and happy and feeling great. Your girlfriend (and you too, you sexy beast) is getting lots of sex, going on great dates and having hot make-out sessions! How great is that?

You guys, poly dating is a whole world to be discovered. There’s relationship anarchy, triads, poly saturation… there are tons of resources out there if you’re really thinking seriously about it. It’s also totally cool if polyamory wigs you out because there’s no wrong way to love, am I right? All types of relationships take work, but with some openness, communication and willingness to do the work, the possibilities are endless.

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