“So what have you been up to?”
“Oh, you know. Work, the usual…”
I had dinner scheduled with a close vanilla friend and the thought of having to have this conversation yet again filled me with dread. I couldn’t do it anymore and after much agonizing decided I had to come out to her about the change in Flick’s and my relationship.
Flick and I have been keeping our non-monogamous status mostly to ourselves over the past year, but I hate keeping a piece of me locked away from people I really care about. It drove our conversations to a superficial place we could never break through.
I would have been comfortable sharing our new relationship status from the get go. I'm an open book (TMI, who me?) and my exhibitionism comes through my words as well as my willingness to share my body. I'm also nosy as hell, but almost never ask people questions, which can come across as disinterest because I think that people, like me, will volunteer any information I should know. This has never (read: this has totally) caused confusion/problems in relationships. Flick was much more concerned with keeping things to ourselves, worried about the judgements of our friends and family (then in a fun twist, began telling people much sooner than I did).
Thus began my year of, “You know, the usual…,” which really meant pulling away from our social circle.
Pulling away had been made easier by our closest friends having a baby then moving to Scandinavia just as Flick and I had our gateway threesome. Several other friends were also in baby-mode or had new jobs so it was a natural time for our relationships to shift.
As I dug into the completely new-to-me world of online dating (didn't really exist pre-1994, the last time I was dating) my time was consumed by profiles and photos, figuring out what Flick and I wanted, considering rules and guidelines, and messaging with strangers who wanted to have sex with me. Oh, and having lots and lots of sex. Wheeee!
Something I didn't consider during this maelstrom of new was the cost of my closet to the people on the other side of the door. I'd been in my bubble of New Lifestyle Energy and hadn't thought about what it might be like for someone watching the snapshots of my life on social media shift so dramatically, showing my life was anything but “the usual” I was describing.
Most of the close friends that I've told about our non-monogamy have been surprised, but then immediately jumped to how it wasn't for them–I barely have the energy for one relationship–or asked the usual questions about jealousy or falling in love.
When I finally decided to ovary up and tell my dear friend over dinner recently, her response was tears. But they were tears of relief for me letting her back into my life.
“I saw you had all these new friends and were going on vacations with them and had this whole new life and I thought I was losing you. I love you both and if this is what makes you happy, I'm happy for you.” We held hands and wept together over our dinners.
I'd been so nervous to tell her since she's been single for a long time and I felt like she'd think I was selfish for having a loving husband AND dating. Like I was stealing all the menfolk, even though I only date open people and she only dates single guys. Plus I knew she'd had a lot of creepers contacting her for threesomes online just because she’s a single woman and I worried she'd lump us in with the people I’ve heard her complaining about.
Basically, I locked her out of my life so she couldn't lock me out of hers.
Turns out, she wasn’t surprised or upset by my revelation, and it was such a relief for both of us to chat openly about what has really been going on in my life. I got to tell her about some of my relationships and have her gush over giddy feelings for new people in my life and commiserate over the very real challenges of non-monogamy. I felt so much lighter when we left the restaurant and so did she. We had a real friendship back.
It was a great lesson to learn as Flick and I enter the 2nd year of our adventure. The closet appears to offer protection (and is essential for people who live in places where their jobs or kids could be put at risk if they were out) but that protection comes with costs.There is risk in being open about being open, but the reward is a return to authentic connection with long-term friends. I need that and I’m so glad to have it back in my life.