Consensual non-monogamous relationships have made it into the news a lot over the last few years due to Vice and their documentary Inside London’s Hedonistic, Polyamorous Unicorn Movement and Louis Theroux’s first episode of his new series, Altered States: Love Without Limits.
From the start of my relationship with my partner, I was interested in an inclusive kind of love. I began by showing an interest in threesomes. We have always been quite emotionally open with one another, so I would tell him about my current Pornhub fix and he would suggest ways of further exploring our fetishes in the bedroom.
There are a number of different ways of dating more than one person at once: polyamory, polygamy, open relationship, to name a few. But I have realised that honesty is fundamental for this to work.
There must be a strong trust between a couple to even talk about attractions to other people. Concerns broaching this subject are often about resentment and jealousy. Therefore, if you have managed to start a dialogue, then you’re probably one step ahead of most of us.
Before you have voiced your interest, it is important to make sure your partner knows that the fact you are interested in other people does not have a bearing on the love you have for your partner. Poly relationships require a genuine effort from both parties and some serious soul searching. They should not be invoked to excuse one’s own hedonistic impulses scot-free. If you are not sexually or emotionally fulfilled in your relationship, polygamy could be a dangerous road to go down.
I have been in a relationship for four years and for about a year we tried being in an open relationship. My desire to experiment was because he was my first boyfriend and I had lost my virginity to him. I knew that I wanted to be with him forever, but I was worried that a few years down the line, of our possible marriage or even family, I would wonder: what if? What if I lived my entire life having only ever experienced sex with one man? For many people, having sexual relations with one partner is incredibly passionate and liberating and they wouldn’t have it any other way. But I was curious.
I have always been quite sexually charged and fascinated in kinks. For most couples, the sexual dimension is usually a private affair – but does it have to be? The mystery was tantalising.
So, my boyfriend agreed to try an open relationship with me.
We first had to set ground rules. Firstly, always wear a condom. Secondly, be honest about everything because deception – even if done with good intention – spells disaster. Lastly, and most importantly, the experiments had to be only sexual. So, if either of us met someone and became emotionally attached to them, we would have to stop seeing them.
But, alas, I met someone, we slept together a few times, I got emotionally attached, and my boyfriend was distraught. I had to choose between the new man and the boyfriend I was in love with. My relationship with my boyfriend nearly ended.
Of course, I chose my boyfriend. But it wasn’t easy. I fell pretty hard for the new guy. We got to know each other, and I kept convincing myself we were friends with benefits. But that wasn’t part of the deal. Emotions and physicality could not collide. It was my fault. I was given an inch and I took a mile. I knew I couldn’t have my cake and eat it.
My boyfriend, while all of this was happening, kept hearing from me that I loved him and what was happening with this other man was simply experimental. He always tried to see the best in my actions, but he knew that something wasn’t right in this case. He became incredibly anxious and felt emasculated because of the way I was using the trust he had given me. He tried to conceal these worries, but he had to tell me eventually and I felt awful.
With hindsight, new relationship energy (NRE) had become my drug. I allowed myself to forget the incredible connection and journey I had been on with my boyfriend. When I stopped seeking NRE, I realised that it had been warping my vision from the offset.
I have now realised that being in an open relationship had been about seeking instant gratification. It had been about being told by a man I had only just met that I was beautiful. It was being given attention I hadn’t usually got because I was putting myself out there as a ‘single woman’.
Relationships are more than just compliments and the spark of a first kiss. They are about knowing when your partner is having a quiet panic attack in the middle of a posh wine bar and hugging them because you know that’s all they need. It is about hearing your partner sneezing in the night and waking up early to make them a honey and lemon tea because you know that’s all they want. It is about unashamedly admitting that you do not want to try anal again because it honestly feels like you’re doing a massive poo and you know they’ll understand. I would definitely not admit that last one to a one-night stand.
Me and my partner are now repairing things. It will take time to rebuild the incredible trust we once had, but we stand hopeful.