TMI Tuesday: August 22, 2017

After this week’s TMI Tuesday you may say, “Get out of my head!”

We’re back!  As stated on this week’s Sinful Sunday, our blog was down for the first couple weeks of the month.  Additionally answering this week’s questions completely slipped my mind, which is why it’s being posted at 8:30 PM on Tuesday, and why Jill is unable to participate.

1. For you, can sex be separated from love?
Absolutely. I often have sex that doesn’t involve love, and I love people who I may not ever be sexual with, or even for whom I may not have sexual feelings. When I have sex with my wife, it may be an expression of love though it’s usually just sex. (I am pretty good at compartmentalizing.) I don’t even necessarily feel that sex is better when it overlaps with love, though it certainly may be. It’s just that the two don’t have to overlap at all.

2. Can sex be separated from caring?
It can, though this isn’t my preference. For a number of reasons, I would rather never have sex with someone I’m not sure I like. Part of it is that some manner of emotional connection – not even saying feelings, just a connection – makes me feel more secure. Additionally I prefer to know who the other person is and what they’re about. I’m pretty good at sex and tend to put everything I have into making the experience pleasurable; I would hate to find out after I gave my partner a mind-blowing chain of G-spot orgasms (with clit stimulation!) that she voted for Trump.

3. Men:  Does sex seem to be something that you can never get enough of and are constantly seeking or thinking about?
Yes. I’ve written about this extensively on the blog. Sex is my primary motivator for many of the decisions I’ve made throughout my life. Whether to go out on a Friday night? What courses to study in college? What hobbies to cultivate? Which geeky T-shirt to wear? All of these decisions were made along the lines of “Which of these options will get me laid.” As I’ve come to terms with being poly, however, I’ve realized that I’m also motivated by making different kinds of connections, albeit ones that will include sex.

4. Women: Is sex secondary to intimacy, physical closeness, and commitment?
Moving right along…

5. Who is more discriminating in choosing sexual partners–you or your significant other?
My wife seems to be. Certainly in terms of choosing partners outside our relationship. She is more selective than I am, and I suspect she has exacting standards whereas I tend to be attracted to and interested in nearly anyone who is attracted to and interested in me. That is not to say that I will necessarily have sex with anyone who fits that criteria, just that I don’t chase women who seemingly have no interest.

Bonus: Who is more likely to take on additional sexual partners, you or your significant other?
I am. My wife currently has one extracurricular sexual partner of whom I am aware. I, on the other hand, have a small handful of wonderful women who have been so amazing as to consider me worthy of seeing them naked, and yes, I’m always looking for another.

How to play TMI Tuesday: Copy the above TMI Tuesday questions to your webspace (i.e., a blog). Answer the questions there, then leave a comment below, on this blog post, so we’ll all know where to read your responses. Please don’t forget to link to tmituesdayblog from your website!

On Being Open, Part 5: The Outcome You Always Hope For

One weekday in June of last year, I invited my mother to lunch. This is not an unusual occurrence when she’s in town, but on this particular day I had something very important weighing on my mind that had to come out. It wasn’t going to be an easy conversation, I was sure, but for various reasons it had to happen and as far as I was concerned it had to happen right there and then, or it wasn’t going to.

Coming out to one’s family – whether as LGBT, as polyamorous, as atheist, or anything else – is rarely easy. And if coming out proves easy, for most people working up the courage to initiate such a discussion is exponentially more difficult. Understand that I was never one to use the expression “coming out” to describe disclosing my own personal identity. I may be non-monogamous, I may be an atheist, but I am still a cisgender heterosexual white male, and a self-employed one at that. I was barely even in a closet to begin with. And if I came out, the repercussions wouldn’t prove as severe as they would for someone coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in 2000s America, much less in less enlightened times.

The previous December, I had announced to most of my Facebook friends that I was non-monogamous, polyamorous, and an atheist. Though I think I expected more severe repercussions, it went well. It certainly went better than I had expected, though at the time we were rarely practicing any sort of non-monogamy and certainly didn’t consider ourselves poly. We had the occasional threesome and once in a great while we’d have sex with someone else. Well, mostly I did, anyway.

This time, however, things were different. My emotional investment in W had grown, and while Jill was very into H, she was dating others locally as well. I wasn’t ready to label what we were – I wouldn’t even have called us poly – but things had developed considerably since the day I outed myself on Facebook. Non-monogamy wasn’t an abstract concept, nor just a means of identifying myself for my own peace of mind. For all intents and purposes, Jill and I had a completely open relationship now.

Still, I wasn’t looking to unburden myself to my mom. She’s long known that I do not believe in monogamy, though I have spent much of my life practicing it. Still, I’ve never made her privy to why I feel this way, how I’ve coped with being monogamous, the negotiations in which Jill and I engaged as we navigated non-monogamy, nor any specifics of what we’d actually done. The last thing I’d ever want to do is share details of my sex life or my romantic life with my parents; this is as much to protect them as it is to protect me.

I had two very pressing reasons for inviting my mother to this discussion over lunch. The relatively least-pressing reason was because, a couple weeks earlier, we’d been at my parents’ house for Memorial Day Weekend. On Sunday we barbecued, drank, and laid out by my parents’ pool. Jill’s sister and a couple of her kids came to swim and play with our daughter. Throughout, while grilling meat, resting in a lounge chair, and supervising the little swimmers, I was sending W all manner of sexy messages. Standard long-distance relationship stuff, I guess.

My father was present, frequently walking behind me; while I didn’t notice him reading my phone over my shoulder or anything, it occurred to me that he might. He’s not the sort who’d understand non-monogamy; to a person like him, stuck in a four-decade-long marriage without much excitement, enthusiasm, or hope, it’s all cheating. At least, that’s how I assume he views things, and had he noticed the name of a woman that isn’t my wife at the top of a messenger window, he might have jumped to the conclusion that I was having an affair. Doesn’t matter that I could have just been innocently messaging a friend; after all, most of my close friends are women. At any rate, my wife is identified in the same messaging app by a fake name, so had I been messaging her he could conceivably have jumped to the wrong conclusion.

I don’t really care if my father thinks I’m having an affair, or if he confronted me with that knowledge. I just couldn’t have him doing so when my wife’s sister was present. We couldn’t have any of that potentially getting back to Jill’s family. And while the sister in question is one of the few members of my wife’s extended family who we believe wouldn’t judge us or even care about our open relationship, that information is something from which Jill would like her family (and her friends, and her coworkers) insulated. And with good reason, because those who would judge us would probably do so harshly. Ultimately it didn’t matter; my father probably didn’t have a clue what I was doing on my phone that day. If he’d seen anything he didn’t mention it, though I must state for the record that he’s probably not the sort to snoop on someone’s phone. (Okay, maybe my mom’s.)

The more pressing reason was that by this point Rye’s visit to California had been scheduled. It was happening. We’d already talked to my mom about coming to watch our daughter; this is nothing new or unusual. But because we were planning to host Rye in our home (as opposed to at a hotel), it was imperative that she and our daughter stay elsewhere. Our house lacks anything remotely resembling a guest room; it’s rare that sexy guests sleep over, while non-sexy ones crash on the couch or an air mattress in the living room. It’s too small a house to disguise the sleeping arrangements, and while my mother might not be traumatized to know someone is sleeping in our bedroom with us, we’d rather not force our daughter to be okay with knowing it.

Which begs the question: How do you ask your mom to get a hotel room for a couple days because you and your wife are going to be engaging in noisy sex with another woman, likely in various parts of the house? I mean, how do you even begin to bring that up? My mother isn’t conservative – far from it, actually – but sex and relationships were never discussed by any of us as I was growing up. Actually, my mother probably was a bit more conservative back then. Perhaps not these days, but that doesn’t mean I take pleasure in dangling this aspect of myself in front of her face. Or dangling anything, for that matter.

To say nothing of the financial issue. We couldn’t afford to drop cash on a hotel room, and if we could, wouldn’t it behoove us to just use the room ourselves? In other words, leave my mom and my daughter to stay in the house none the wiser? The little one would assume we’d just gone on vacation for a couple days, we’d call to say good night every night before we went to bed as we usually did, and her routine wouldn’t be disrupted at all. I didn’t wish to compound my stress, and I figured I’d tackle the logistics of who’s going to stay where and how we’d afford secondary lodgings once I’d gotten the actual discussion out of the way.

We went to my mother’s favorite taqueria, ordered our lunch, and sat down. The place wasn’t packed; it never was. By November, it would go out of business. We ate chips and salsa as we waited for our food; my mother probably had no idea, but the tension I felt as I waited was palpable.

Finally I spoke: “I’ve got something I need to talk to you about.” The look on my mother’s face – “aghast” is the only word to describe it – betrayed a fear as tangible as the tension I’d felt, and even as I looked at her widened eyes I felt my own anxiety slowly ebbing. She would later tell me that she was terrified I was going to tell her I had cancer; to assuage her consternation I immediately told her that the three of us were all fine, all physically healthy and in a good place. I wonder now if the relief provided by this information colored her response at all.

I continued: “You know we’re…” I searched for the right word to use here, eventually settling on “non-monogamous.” My mother indicated that she remembered seeing my Facebook post, so I went on: “Well, we both are. And we’ve got other people in our lives.” I offered no elaboration here, and none was needed. My mother didn’t gasp, didn’t shriek, didn’t make the sign of the cross. She looked surprised, certainly, but it was the kind of pleasant surprise one might exhibit when they learn their offspring is on the road to self-actualization.

As I mentioned above, my mother was aware that I sought non-monogamy, though given the deeply Catholic environment in which Jill was raised, and the high expectations her family – her parents especially – had for her as the eldest daughter of a large family she never expected it to happen. At times, neither did I. I explained why I was telling her this, that we needed her to watch our daughter in October, and to do so off-site. She immediately offered to get a hotel room, and argued when I said we would pay for it. They ultimately spent the days in question staying with my dad’s sister, who is local, thereby saving my mother as well as Jill and I any expenditure.

Even better, my revelation opened up a dialogue that, while certainly not something I ever hoped to experience with my mom, wasn’t that bad and honestly probably improved our relationship. She mentioned that she’d once tested the waters by asking my father how he’d react if he ever found out she’d had an affair. His reaction was typical, disappointing though not surprising: The complete lack of forgiveness he suggested completely shut down the conversation. My father has always been the sort to subscribe to traditional views of relationships and such. I couldn’t detach myself from that sort of thing quickly enough.

Thoughts of my mother’s aborted attempt at such a discussion called to mind the time Jill’s mother told us – not just Jill and I but Jill’s siblings and their significant others who happened to be present – that someone who has an affair and then confesses isn’t doing so in the name of disclosure, but to ease his or her guilt. I’ve got no idea what prompted this; it seemingly came out of nowhere and has since been the subject of much speculation amongst the siblings. Sometimes I imagine how it would have turned out if we needed to disclose our relationship not to my mother but to one of Jill’s parents – or more likely both. While we know there are members of my wife’s family who would be supportive, or at the very least who wouldn’t judge us openly, the fallout from those who would prove less open-minded isn’t something Jill wants to weather. Ever.

I’m relieved that the conversation went as well as it did.

TMI Tuesday: June 13, 2017

Hey folks! Have a great week. Start it off right by playing TMI Tuesday.

Jack’s Answers

1. Would you take a course in advanced sex positions? Why?
Yeah, I would. I would do so because I find sex extremely interesting and want not only to know as much as possible on the subject, but also to be able to achieve as much as possible. To expand my sexual repertoire, if you will. I think such a course would be fascinating, and likely very erotic. So yes. I’m in.

2. “Did you orgasm?”
Men: Do you ask your sex partners this? Women: Have you been asked this?
Men, why do you ask this question? Women, do you mind being asked this question?
I have asked my partners this, though I don’t ask frequently. I find that in most cases I can tell whether my partner has had an orgasm, or wants me to believe she has. Especially if we have an ongoing relationship and/or a good rapport, it’s pretty easy for me to tell. When I have asked my partner if she’s had an orgasm, it’s because I am interested in her pleasure and want to ensure that she is satisfied. I realize not every woman considers orgasm the end-all be-all that it’s made out to be, but I do take it seriously, and if my partner wants to come, I’m going to do my best to make sure she isn’t left wanting. Also, I rarely use “orgasm” as a verb. I’m more likely to ask if she came.

3. “Was it good for you?”
Have you ever asked this question after having sex? Were you ever told “No, it was not good.” If yes, what did you do?
I have never asked this question to a partner after sex. Part of the reason why is that it seems like the most cliché thing to say. I’m more likely, as we’re lying together, catching our breath, getting ready to shower, or what have you, to remark about what a great time I had. If my partner did as well, she’ll say as much; if not I assume she won’t lie. However, a larger part of the reason why I refrain from saying this is that, much like my answer to #2, if I have a rapport with the other person I can probably tell whether she’s enjoyed herself.

4. When was the last time you had a simple, sexy “make out” session? Do you wish you had more purely “make out” sessions?
It’s been far too long. I like making out, but I hesitate to say that I want more makeout sessions for their own sake. In my mind it sounds like I’m saying I’d be content with just making out. While I would in theory, I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I would somehow be against the makeout session leading to sex.

5. When is that last time you had a “quickie”– sex lasting 5 minutes or less? How often do you engage in “quickies”?
Not for awhile, I don’t think. A few months, if memory serves. Jill and I do have quickies from time to time, and we enjoy them. But generally speaking if we’re able to engage in sex it’s when we’ve got more than just a few minutes. Usually this is when our daughter is asleep, in school, or otherwise not about to knock on our bedroom door. That being said, we recently had a very hot session in the kitchen while she was watching television in the next room. There was some fingering and such, but no penetration or orgasm for either of us. It was less than five minutes long, but I’m not entirely sure whether this counts as a quickie.

Bonus: Think about the person that is/was your favorite sex partner? Why were they your favorite?
An open mind and lack of restraint or inhibition. Attentiveness to my needs and interest in my pleasure, and her own as well. Willingness to express what she wants. A considerable physical connection between us, and an emotional one as well. Reliable sexual rhythm, and significant overlap in needs, turn-ons, etc. I’m not saying that there needs to be an emotional connection for someone to be my favorite sex partner, but there’s no way I can think it doesn’t make the sex better than it would be without it.

Jill’s Answers

1. Would you take a course in advanced sex positions? Why?
I would definitely take a course in advanced sexual positions. I’m always up for learning and trying new things, and interested in adding more excitement to the bedroom.

2. “Did you orgasm?”
Men: Do you ask your sex partners this? Women: Have you been asked this?
Men, why do you ask this question? Women, do you mind being asked this question?
Yes, I’ve been asked if I orgasm. It usually doesn’t bother me, although most of the time I’m very vocal so it’s not a question that needs to be asked. Usually they’re just asking to make sure I’m satisfied, so I don’t mind being asked.

3. “Was it good for you?”
Have you ever asked this question after having sex? Were you ever told “No, it was not good.” If yes, what did you do?
I don’t think I’ve ever asked the question myself, though occasionally I’ll ask if there’s something my partner wants me to do differently, or if there’s anything they are wanting to try.

4. When was the last time you had a simple, sexy “make out” session? Do you wish you had more purely “make out” sessions?
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a simple make out session, although I do enjoy them very much. Especially if there happens to be lots of touching, squeezing, rubbing, etc. while we make out. Yes, I would like to have more make out sessions. Hey Jack: Let’s make it happen soon!

5. When is that last time you had a “quickie”– sex lasting 5 minutes or less? How often do you engage in “quickies”?
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a quickie as well. Those usually only happen when we sneak away for a few minutes while our daughter is still awake. We are more likely to wait until she’s asleep or out of the house and take our time. I still enjoy quickies, of course. What’s not to enjoy? It’s just that Jack and I are both greedy and always want more than what a five-minute session will give us.

Bonus: Think about the person that is/was your favorite sex partner? Why were they your favorite?
This question makes me think of what the definition of a good sex partner might be. For me, it’s someone who makes love to every inch of me. Someone who can read my whole body. Someone who caresses and squeezes me, someone who holds me in their arms and kisses me all over. Someone who seems to know what I need before I even know it. Someone with whom I am completely comfortable. Someone who can turn me on without even touching me, engage me mentally, and satisfy me completely because it’s what he or she wants most. Someone who enjoys my company, who enjoys holding my hand or incidentally touching my leg while we’re sitting together at a restaurant. Someone whose touch sets my body on fire, and who after satisfying me fully, wants to cuddle and fall asleep intertwined.

How to play TMI Tuesday: Copy the above TMI Tuesday questions to your webspace (i.e., a blog). Answer the questions there, then leave a comment below, on this blog post, so we’ll all know where to read your responses. Please don’t forget to link to tmituesdayblog from your website!

On Being Open, Part 4: Breaking Boundaries

When we set off on our journey into non-monogamy, back before we’d even considered playing separately, or forming romantic relationships with others, back when I would have at least in theory been satisfied just seeing another woman naked without even touching her, when the occasional threesome was presumably as good as it was ever going to be, Jill laid out a set of rules. We’d heard of couples negotiating boundaries and instituting such rules prior to opening their relationships, or more often prior to making a one-time sortie into the realm of the non-monogamous, such as a threesome. Talking extensively about such an event, something we had no reason to believe would ever actually happen, seemed a sensible course of action. Much like taking a firearm safety course, learning to spot a tail, and mastering long division, being prepared for a situation before you need to be is vital. Jill’s rules were put into place for her peace of mind, to ensure that while we were stepping away from long-standing preconceived notions of love and sex, my wife wouldn’t feel threatened.

While somewhat inconvenient and not necessarily conducive to free expression of sexuality, I couldn’t possibly find fault with the rules themselves, or with my wife’s need to have them in place. They were a safety net, after all, and much like my own all-encompassing need for openness, these rules were what she needed to feel whole and secure. Though some of them seemed arbitrary, I readily agreed to all of them, and wouldn’t have dreamed of purposely violating them. We’ve heard of first-time threesomes where the guy ignores or pretends to forget the fact that his primary partner has forbidden vaginal penetration, for example; I don’t want to be that guy, if only because I can’t keep myself from caring about my wife’s hurt feelings when I’m not the cause, and I don’t want to feel like an asshole on top of it because I am the cause. What follows is a list of nine rules upon which Jill insisted initially, with details and my thoughts on each.

1. No penetrative non-oral sex without a condom. In other words, if I ever put my dick in anything that wasn’t a mouth (or presumably if my wife ever took a dick in something other than her mouth), protection had to be used. This seems like the most common-sense rule in all of non-monogamy, and it is, but at the time this rule was instituted, there was no intention (on Jill’s part, at least) to allow such a thing to occur. She had no intention of letting me fuck someone else, nor was she planning to get fucked by someone else; this rule was basically a hypothetical. Like, “Don’t even think about putting it in someone else without bagging it up.” Still, it’s pretty cool that my wife thought it through that far, presumably pushing herself well outside of her comfort zone in the process. Be aware that, of the entire list of rules you are reading, this is the only one that still stands, and with good reason.

2. No penetrative non-oral sex, period. This one seems a common rule among couples just starting out in non-monogamy. It’s one thing for another woman to suck your husband or boyfriend’s cock, but having them fuck is past the point of no return. The final frontier, if you will. From Jill’s perspective, oral sex isn’t as big a deal. It’s perhaps not as intimate as actually fucking, plus there’s no chance the act will result in pregnancy. To me, though, oral sex has always been a favorite part of sex, presumably because my first girlfriend wouldn’t give head; ergo, I place perhaps a little too much importance on it. More than penetration? Probably not. But it’s definitely a big deal to me. So even with this rule in place, I was generally happy. As stated above, I probably would have been happy just getting to see another woman naked. Touching her, being touched by her – all of that was a bonus. Still, I was pretty pleased when this rule was eventually lifted. Though it didn’t benefit her right away, I imagine Jill was too.

3. No anal play. At first glance, this one seems arbitrary, just another limitation imposed by a person eager to maintain some semblance of control over a situation that likely seems to be snowballing into something enormous and unwieldy. But I believe this rule stemmed, more than anything, from Jill’s desire to have something that was exclusive to the two of us. Something that was special, or as she put it, that was just for her. Something she got to enjoy that no one else did. I understood her need for this kind of boundary, though I’d long maintained that no matter what I shared physically with another woman, the one thing that was just for Jill was the love. Emotion and feelings were solely for her. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but this wasn’t true. Or perhaps I did realize it and just wanted to pretend, to hope that feelings wouldn’t get in the way, in the hopes that my wife would be sufficiently satisfied that she’d allow me the physical extracurriculars that I needed. I suppose I should point out that Jill was the first to break this rule.

4. No emotion. An out-of-town friend with whom I’d built a fairly close online connection and eventually met for sex sought to maintain a long-distance relationship after she’d gone back home. This proved problematic for my wife, who indicated she was not okay with this; I eventually let the relationship go. If you’re not aware, I’m polyamorous. I’ve probably always been, certainly since long before I was able to identify polyamory as a thing. That is not to say that I need to have feelings for someone in order to be sexual with them. I don’t. But I do prefer to know someone on a level deeper than the superficial. I want to know who they are, what they’re about, what they value, and now more than ever, how they are likely to vote in a major election. With all of that said, however, I do find myself open to emotional connections, if only because there’s far too much negativity and hatred in this world. In the face of all that, why wouldn’t someone choose to experience love instead? For the longest time, love – or even a connection beyond sex – was Jill’s hardest limit. Over time, she was able to feel comfortable with the idea of me having sex with other women, as well as her having sex with other men, and other women. But either of us forging an emotional connection was the one thing she just wasn’t okay with. Until the day she was.

5. No playing separately. Much like my wife’s fear of and discomfort with emotion, her rule that we never play separately was born of the same basic concern: That we would not be doing all we can to strengthen our own relationship. After all, if we are having threesomes, or even same-room full swap, it can be argued that we are doing it for the good of the connection we – Jill and I – share. One may theorize that such play, with all parties present in the same room, is good for our marriage and our sex life. One may also theorize that when we start playing separately, we are no longer doing it for us, but for ourselves, individually, and that might turn out bad for our relationship. This was certainly Jill’s theory, and who was I to argue? As with any generalization, none of this is true across the board. Fortunately Jill abandoned this rule relatively early, as with our differing schedules and scarcity of childcare it proved difficult if not impossible to arrange a threesome when a twosome was simply more logistically feasible. On top of that, not every woman with whom I had sex was interested in my wife joining us, and she was gracious enough to allow me the freedom I needed. I can’t say I would have done the same if I was her. As of this writing, for reasons outside of my control, we have not played together in any non-monogamous scenario in almost eight months.

6. No lengthy makeout sessions with anyone other than Jill. This rule was instituted to prevent Jill from feeling left out or bored during a threesome. It is understandable that, given the novelty of having a guest present in a sexual context, one partner might be more focused on the newcomer. Because we weren’t likely at the time to invite another man into our bedroom, there was no “with anyone other than Jack” equivalent, though personally I wouldn’t have cared if Jill did engage in such behavior while I watched. This is a rule I confess to occasionally breaking, though inadvertently; as stated above, I never would have purposely endeavored to hurt my wife. However, when your third is not privy to this rule, it’s understandable that she might want a lengthy makeout session, and in the heat of the moment it can be very hard to broach the fact that you and your wife are still feeling things out, and currently she’s not really down with long bouts of tongue-wrestling while she watches. Which is not to say that she wouldn’t have felt less awkward if she was, say, performing oral sex on one of us while it was happening. Anyway, this rule fell away around the time we started playing separately; I believe Jill felt that if it was happening when she wasn’t present to see it, it shouldn’t be an issue when she was.

7. No sleeping over. Another fairly sensible rule, especially prior to our acknowledging that we’re poly. In fact, this one seems to be advice column 101 when it comes to threesomes. It makes sense that your guest leaves afterward rather than sticking around to soak up any of the intimacy you and your partner are sharing. A threesome is a pretty big deal the first time it happens (and probably the second and third as well); when it’s all finished it’s normal to want to reconnect with one’s primary partner. I can admit to hoping this rule was eventually lifted, if only because I’m greedy and I liked the idea of sleeping not only with my wife but with another woman. We have no guest room, so when Rye came to visit we really had no other option than to crowd into our way-too-small bed. Not that I think we would have dismissed her to the guest room if we had one.

8. No fucking anyone else in our bed, or any bed Jill would be sleeping in. This is another rule that was instituted at a time when fucking was off the table; it was more of a hypothetical. Essentially, Jill was telling me that if I ever fucked anyone on the bed we share, she would have to buy a new bed, and I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep on it, or anywhere in the house. Once penetrative non-oral sex fell within my wife’s boundaries, however, the rule was enforced: Unless I was able to rendezvous with the other person at her place, I’d have to get a hotel. In one instance, Jill booked a hotel room for the weekend because a Twitter friend was coming to visit from out of town, coincidentally over my birthday weekend. As I would be with the friend all day Friday (while Jill was at work), and Jill would stay with me the rest of the weekend, she made sure to book a room with two beds. I was told to keep any antics with the friend confined to one bed, as she and I would be sleeping (and fucking) in the other. I agreed wholeheartedly, and followed her instruction to the letter. However, shortly before checking out of the hotel on Sunday morning Jill decided she wanted to fuck in the other bed. I was proud of her for conquering her fear, and happy to think that perhaps the “no fucking anyone else in our bed” rule was on its way out. Ultimately a large part of what killed this rule was the fact that getting a hotel room any time I wanted to have sex with another woman proved financially unsustainable.

9. No coming inside another woman, even when wearing a condom. This was a rule that was quickly put into place once Jill decided she was okay with penetrative non-oral sex. Her rationale was that condoms can fail, and it would suck if she had to go without the second child she had long wished for while having to endure the knowledge that I had a secret child somewhere that I was paying to support. I understood her concerns; such a thing would be life-changing, and would not only strain our finances but also Jill’s and my marriage, and potentially our ability to hide the nature of our relationship from Jill’s family and friends. Ultimately, while I found the rule inconvenient, it wasn’t a big deal because most of the women I slept with preferred to swallow anyway. In the end, it was Jill who broke this rule during our foursome. I found myself wondering if she would be as diligent about telling H of our rule as I had been; while fucking W face down on the futon, I guessed she wasn’t going to interrupt their rhythm to say, “You know, I have this rule about Jack not coming inside another person, and what’s good for the goose…” I knew that wasn’t going to happen, and it didn’t. But I didn’t care; I was far too excited that my wife was happy, enjoying physical pleasure and some degree of deeper connection. Still, as we processed everything on the long drive home, I did say, “See? I told you it wasn’t easy to bring up.” Which is why I generally brought it up well before the festivities began.

The nine items listed above represent, for all intents and purposes, our journey from monogamy to total openness and more or less practicing polyamory. Your mileage may vary.

On Being Open, Part 3: The First Time (Chapter 2)

If you missed Chapter 1, it’s here.

Both W and I were impressed by the intensity of the physical connection between us. As she rode me, we locked eyes and maintained each other’s gaze the entire time, even as my hands explored her bare flesh. The only time we weren’t looking deeply into each other’s eyes was when we kissed, and as soon as we stopped we found each other’s eyes again. It was much the same when she went down on me earlier; her eyes were piercing, penetrating, and I loved every second of it.

Before long, we walked over to the futon and joined Jill and her beau, a glorious pile of naked bodies writhing, thrusting, sucking, and fucking its way to ecstasy. I found myself as turned on by the sight of my wife interacting with H as I was by W, and that’s really saying something. To some extent, what I was witnessing were the pillow-talk fantasies Jill and I had long discussed finally made real. Seeing my wife – the woman I love most in this world – being pleasured, and for that matter giving pleasure, was the hottest thing ever. I was aware that H felt much as I did; such voyeurism has always been one of his biggest turn-ons. Our new friends may not have been poly, but they were no strangers to compersion.

As the day wore on, I became aware of jealousy. No, I wasn’t feeling jealous at all. But I suddenly found myself aware for the first time in awhile that jealousy was a thing. I considered the possibility that Jill may feel jealous, that after this fun episode there might be repercussions for our relationship. It didn’t seem likely, and in fact the opposite outcome is what actually occurred over the next few weeks: Jill grew more supportive and indeed compersive in the face of my budding relationship.

I also acknowledged the notion that I should somehow feel jealous myself. The social programming I’d grown up with – the relationships I saw as a child and a teenager, every movie and television show I’d ever watched, every advice column I’d ever read (other than Savage Love) – it all told me that monogamy was the way to go and if my wife ever touched another man I should be furious, that I should feel inadequate and lash out with violent rage to compensate. But as I said, I didn’t feel anything even slightly negative while it was happening, and I didn’t expect to afterwards. But what if I did? What if I wanted non-monogamy, specifically watching my wife having sex with another man, to remain a fantasy and I just didn’t know it yet? What if I couldn’t live with it once reality set in?

It was about four o’clock when we wrapped it up for the day. After we got dressed we sat around our friends’ living room making small talk, none of us wanting the day to end. We made tentative plans to meet again during the summer, which actually did happen, several times. Still, at that moment as we prepared to part company, we were just amazed to have made it happen once. In addition to taking the day off of work, our friends had arranged after-school care for their children, and would need to pick them up soon. Additionally, our drive home that day was just shy of 800 miles, and though we’d gotten on the road almost twelve hours earlier we still had almost 700 to go. While we certainly enjoyed the thought of staying much longer, perhaps having dinner or even just drinks with H and W – not that we would have dared to propose it the first time out, even if the kids were away overnight – we needed to resume our drive.

As it was, we’d left our daughter with my mom during our road trip; both expected us to be home in the afternoon. We weren’t about to tell her or anyone why we’d gotten sidetracked for several hours, so once we were on the road we called and explained we’d spent the day hanging out with friends. Technically this wasn’t a lie, though the innocuous details we offered up – going to lunch, visiting a museum, etc. – were complete bullshit. Luckily no one asked any questions, and why would they? Chances are, after sending ignored texts for several hours, my mother was just relieved we weren’t dead.

We got on the freeway at the height of rush hour; it was a Friday and as our day wore on I knew this was going to be the consequence we had to pay.  Still, there was no way in hell I would have made a show of looking at the clock and suggesting we wrap things up before any of the four of us were satisfied.  As we came to a dead stop less than two miles from the onramp, I felt my eyes grow weary. It was a familiar sensation, that razor-blades-in-the-eyeballs feeling that comes from wearing my contact lenses too long. Earlier that week, while out having drinks with my cousin, I’d experienced a major allergic fit and had to take one of my contacts out. Of course, I lacked both my lens case, and my glasses. That was inconvenient.

That morning, though, expecting more of the same, and a very long drive on top of it, I’d made sure both my case and my glasses were handy in the front seat of the car. Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I managed to take out my contacts and replace them with my glasses. In retrospect, the heavy traffic was serendipitous; without it I would’ve had to exit the freeway in order to relieve my tired eyes. Still, as I gazed out into the sea of bright red break lights and the waning sunlight of dusk, I knew it was going to be a long day night.

That ultimately proved a good thing. We had lots of processing to do, and with hours of drive time ahead of us, we talked extensively about what we’d just experienced. The dozens of podcasts we’d planned to listen to all but forgotten, we discussed our thoughts and feelings, communicating with an openness and honesty we’d experienced rarely. Don’t misunderstand, we are both honest to a fault. But this! Maybe it was the shock of what had occurred that day, and more specifically that my wife and jumped in without looking back, without reservation, seemingly without any concern for how she might feel afterwards, but this was new.

We’d read multiple books on non-monogamy.  Spent years talking about the subject. Negotiating it. Discussing the logistics, the pros and cons of opening up versus staying closed.  But in the end all we had to do was jump in.