I love telling the story of how my partner, Xander, and I got into the lifestyle because it was my suggestion and he was against the idea from the start. I actually had to convince him it was a good idea. I am not under any illusions that our story is different from any of 100 other couples starting out in the lifestyle. But I just get tickled by the fact that Xander was hesitant because, once we tried it, he took to it like a duck to water as the saying goes. You have to understand, dear reader. We were already in an open relationship at this time.
When we started “dating,” he was married and had another girlfriend. Then his wife and he divorced, we moved in together a year later and continued dating other women. So sex with people outside of our relationship was not a new concept. Xander identified as polyamorous at the time so our partners tended to be people he was in love with and who I was fond of as well. Xander’s concerns about exploring the lifestyle were centered on the belief that polyamory is about love and swinging is about sex, and he was uncertain he wanted to engage in something that was counter-intuitive of polyamory and worried he wasn’t wired that way.
My interest in swinging began when the topic came up in my previous marriage. My now ex-husband was interested for himself but was disgusted when I said I would be open to the idea. The seed was sown in my mind though. Once I found out about open relationships and polyamory, it seemed natural to express an interest in swinging as well. Xander and I share a love of the unknown and a willingness to explore. Once I broached the subject and we talked through his concerns, Xander was willing to do the research and found a local swingers group planning a hotel takeover/Pajama Party one weekend night. We went and ended up playing, full swap, with two other fun couples who were long time swingers and friends.
So right off the bat, our very first foray into swinging was at a hotel orgy, which culminated in a six-some… a very awesome six-some. We aren’t the type of couple who tiptoe into new situations or experiences. Being highly adventurous, we feed off each other when it comes to trying new things. We did have moments of intense discussion after the party, however. The next day was spent together in our home, cuddling in bed, reliving specific moments while he stroked my back and calmed my fears. I needed plenty of reassurances from Xander because he had connected intensely and sexually with one of the ladies. This full swap was the first time I’d truly witnessed the way he connects with other women and it was right in my face – which was intensely hot and confusing all at the same time.
In hindsight, I see now how well and how poorly we worked through the need for discussion after our first time. I hadn’t yet learned the skills I needed to accurately convey my feelings to Xander without projecting and putting it on him. He hadn’t learned how not to take it personally because most of us can’t help but take it personally when our partners react differently than we expected to a shared goal. We both held back in communicating, with subjects and feelings left unspoken, fearing the creation of problems in our relationship. We each maneuvered through the mine field of emotions between angst and elation, carefully choosing our words for fear of ruining what was truly an awesome night. Yet, we did not shy away from having a discussion, he did reassure me and we forged ahead in our open relationship, which now included both polyamory and swinging.
Over the years, we have had many moments which tested our open relationship – from our first real shared girlfriend, to clandestine Craigslist “dates,” to swinger’s events, lifestyle parties and swingers getaway vacations. Even the experience of having both swinger and polyamorous people express individual interest in only one of us at a time. Our open relationship has shifted and morphed as we each experienced the excitement and the anxiety this type of relating adds to the mix. We have danced a tango through a slightly exotic and exasperating mix of emotions; Deliberating stepping together as the music shifted from a soft, romantic pace as we basked in our love, and then just as deliberately parting as the music sharply changed and our emotions shifted to anger, hurt, confusion. We have swayed between polyamory and swinging – all of it wildly passionate, agonizing, exciting and maddening. We are never one more than the other but not really both either, but always together.
Somewhere along the way, we both learned the art of communication, the ability to stop and listen, really listen, to what our partner is saying with more than just words. We learned to stop baiting each other and really talk when one of us was hurt or confused. Just the other day, we were driving to meet one of his lovers for happy hour, and we got on the topic of our more swinging than polyamorous relationship as it currently exists today. Xander made the comment he wasn’t sure poly was in our cards, and I said I wasn’t so sure – once again swapping positions on the topic as easily we swap our partners. Our open relationship keeps moving forward because of our insatiable curiosity, our need for newness and our willingness to try just about anything once. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.