I was sitting in a hotel conference room with a bunch of other sex researchers, one of whom was presenting photos that their research participants needed to match to the right categories. On the left “Monogamy” side of the slide were two people cuddling. The right “Non-Monogamy” side were four people having drinks in a bar.
Another slide. Two people kissing on the left. Three people in bed on the right.
I wanted to raise my hand and say “That doesn’t match my experience of non-monogamy. My experience matches both the photos on the left and the photos on the right.”
But of course, then I would have to out myself as being non-monogamous.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t blogged for a while. It is not for lack of new stories. I have plenty of new stories I have learned a lot from and been wanting to share. But many occurred within a less than ordinary context. And I have been debating whether I wanted to start that conversation, and if I did, how I would do it.
On the one hand, it would be exceedingly nice to not have to hide something that has strengthened my marriage and help me grow as an individual. On the other hand, would I be willing to trade off being more open for potentially becoming less relatable to the people I still feel like I relate to most… those who struggle with desire and sex in their everyday life?
If I wanted to tell the story of how I became non-monogamous, I’m not even sure where I’d begin.
Did my non-monogamy journey start when I proclaimed to my husband that I could never imagine opening our relationship, only to realize later that might have been the first step to considering opening our relationship?
Perhaps it began when after two decades of being exceedingly self-reliant even in marriage, I finally understood it might be okay, in fact, even healthy to depend on my husband. Maybe depending on him enabled me to feel secure enough in our relationship to feel less threatened by other relationships.
Oh! Maybe it was the time in sex therapy when it dawned on me that we had gotten so good at expressing our sexual needs and desires without being attached to getting them met that I realized how incredible it could be to get more of them met, even if that didn’t happen 100% of the time together.
It could have been the years of (monogamously) exploring sex parties together and in the process, learning from others in non-traditional relationships what worked and didn’t work for them that got me thinking about what could work for me.
Maybe my non-monogamy journey officially started when my husband asked whether we should open our relationship and I responded back “I’ve got a list of rules drafted in my email, let’s talk through why we might want to do it and what it might look like” and he looked back at me with complete and utter shock.
As I reflect on all of these moments, I realize each one of those moments is a blog in and of itself, and I am smiling. I am free from my writer’s block. There is no roadmap for where we have been and where we are headed. I can’t tell you where this story began, and I definitely can’t tell you where it’s going to lead next, but I am looking forward to sharing the story as it unfolds.
When I came out to my parents earlier this year, my father told me that he didn’t want me to get hurt. It was a beautiful response, coming from such a deep place of protection and love. And it helped me realize that even though I’m a cautious and thoughtful person, “not getting hurt” is not one of my core values.
My life these days seems driven by loving myself and others bigger and more boldly than I have dared to love before. And that has created a life and marriage that is more fulfilling than I ever expected or knew life or marriage could be.
Like all of the rest of the stories that I’ve shared over the years, my hope is that even if that path I’ve chosen is not the path you would choose for yourself, that there still might be something in my story for you. And that my experiences might expand your capacity for big and bold love in your relationship(s).
New to this blog and want to start at the beginning? Check out this post about why I started a blog about sex.
This blog reflects real-life experiences. I'd love to hear about your experiences, so let’s continue the conversation in the comments section below.
You can also check out these resources or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in classes or coaching to explore your own sexuality. I am a sex and relationship coach and if I can't personally help you, I'd be very happy to connect you with other wonderful sex educators, coaches and therapists.
© Pam Costa, 2017