Polyamory starts out so differently for everyone. Whether it’s an individual decision or a couples’ decision, everyone has their own unique story. For couples venturing into the realm of ethical nonmonogamy, opening up is really a journey. It takes time, effort, and patience to work through the many emotions and the new situations that come up.
For my husband and I, it happened after we were married. We both had only ever been in monogamous relationships (though looking back at our histories, there were definitely traces of polyamorous-leaning behavior). For us, we started out by talking a couple months into our marriage/relationship about the excitement of having a threesome with another woman, which I’ve come to learn is quite common for couples that include a straight man and bisexual woman. I say “marriage/relationship” because we got pregnant within one month of meeting and married a month after that. Whenever I think about how quickly we fell for each other and committed, I feel lucky that we were such a good match and that we both ended up identifying as polyamorous.
Anyway, our opening up process started out like many of the stories you read online: talking about wanting a bi-woman to join us for a threesome. However, we never actually got to the point of seeking anyone out. For us, it was just talk to get us in the mood and excited. We would try to think of actual women in our lives that would be interested or that we were interested in, but we would never bring it up with anyone else. Not long after starting talking like that, my husband brought up that he had let his best friend have sex with his previous girlfriend a couple of times. That blew my mind! I immediately had many questions about the situation and especially wanted to know if that was a possibility for me. He said that it was. This led to us branching out away from the topic of only having threesomes together to the idea of watching each other sleep with other people.
After a little over a year of talking, we finally put all our talk into practice. We decided that the ‘safe’ options were to have him mess around with his ex and for me to mess around with his best friend. Like most couples first starting out, we put rules in place. The third party had to know that this was something that we were both into (aka it was not a cheating scenario). This part was easy because we also both wanted to be in the same house, if not the same room (depending on consent of everyone involved), when the messing around happened. Obviously, we had a rule about safe sex as well. The only other rule really was that this was just sex, nothing emotional at all. Otherwise, we didn’t take any physical things off the table. We did discuss everything in depth though (for example, asking whether kissing, oral, breast grabbing, etc. was allowed). After talking for quite a few weeks about all of this, we finally had his ex over for them to play. About a week later, his best friend was in town from out of state and him and I had our own play session.
If you are new to polyamory, you might think that now that we had officially slept with other people that our opening up process was done. Guess again! Like I said in the beginning, opening up is a journey. Those sexual romps were just the very tip of the iceberg.
Our next step in opening up involved branching out onto dating apps a few months later. We established rules, which ended up getting amended every time a new situation came up. It started as just a fun thing to flirt with other people. However, after a few days, I really started to itch to meet up with some of the guys I was talking to. My husband agreed that he was also curious to meet the women he was talking to. Every step of the way, we would discuss everything together. It was exciting and new and really brought us together in a new way. Over the next 6 months, I feel like this is really where we grew the most. We dated separately, and the intent of our new relationships switched from ‘just for sex’ to including the emotional side of things. We usually would meet each other’s partners at some point, but it wasn’t a requirement. The most important thing was just always being upfront and open with each other about what was going on in our lives.
If you are a part of any polyamory Facebook groups or forums, you will see that couples having rules is really frowned upon, which I understand that perspective. However, I feel like for any couple that is opening up from an established monogamous relationship, having rules in place is normal for the beginning stages. But I emphasize ‘beginning stages’ because as you grow and learn and continue to change, the rules should do the same, eventually disappearing. My husband and I started out with minimal rules to begin with, but it was crazy for me to see how much they changed and diminished over time.