Even though I already had experience with open relationships, it still came as a huge surprise when my monogamous boyfriend announced he’d developed feelings for someone else. It was a whirlwind of emotions but it eventually prompted us to open our relationship and I’m so happy it did.
At first, I was an emotional wreck. This information came out of nowhere and my knee-jerk reaction was a mixture of fear and anger. I felt totally out of control and subsequently freaked out on him. When we met, I was polyamorous but we closed our relationship because he wasn’t comfortable with multiple relationships. I felt totally blindsided and betrayed and it took me a long time to calm down enough to have a real conversation about it.
We’d fallen into a possessive relationship without even realizing it. Throughout the course of our relationship, we’d slowly but surely fallen into the trap of possessiveness that I’d been trying to escape through my exploration of polyamory. Both of us had begun to subconsciously hold some ownership over the other and all this was challenged when it suddenly became clear that emotions can develop independently of relationship agreements. It was a huge wakeup call to us both, reminding us of how we actually wanted to treat each other.
It wasn’t my first rodeo. Having experience with multiple relationships really helped to ground me, even in the midst of the emotional turmoil. I’d already had a lot of exposure to the ideas of compersion, autonomy, and free love, so even though my emotions were telling me to fight against this new challenge, my principles were still firmly in the open relationship camp. I knew it could be a struggle but I also knew it was worth it.
He wasn’t just trying to get laid. More than developing feelings for another woman, my partner was developing a whole new way of looking at the world. He talked about being truly honest with himself and others rather than repressing ‘inappropriate’ thoughts and smothering them with guilt and shame. The way he talked about it was more like a spiritual philosophy than just looking for a new sexual experience. It was like the veil had been lifted and we were seeing what was possible when jealousy and possessiveness were left behind.
It reminded me of all the reasons I’d been drawn to polyamory in the first place. The philosophy underlying free love is something I truly believe in—that more love is always better and all beings are inherently free. Having those principles reflected back to me from my newly-converted partner was a reminder of how strongly those beliefs were ingrained in me and how much I wanted my life to reflect those ideas.
He never pushed to open our relationship. Even though he’d developed feelings for someone else, my partner never suggested following those emotions. He had total respect for the agreements we’d made and was more interested in practicing total honesty than pursuing another relationship. Instead of it being a heavy confession, he actually approached the whole conversation with the lightness of self-acceptance and compassionate love. Knowing that he wasn’t trying to coerce me into anything allowed me the freedom to explore the topic of opening our relationship with much more ease and safety. Eventually, I decided that polyamory made total sense and I wanted to try it again.
I felt really respected by the other woman. From the way my partner talked about her and from the conversations he recounted, I was totally convinced that she had the utmost respect for our relationship. Far from being a homewrecker, she made sure the boundaries of our relationship were acknowledged from the very beginning. When she and I spoke for the first time, it was from a place of mutual love and respect and that made it so much easier for me to trust in the whole situation.
Open and honest communication was what held it all together. The three of us were really invested in practicing fully transparent communication. That meant being totally honest with each other about our desires, fears, misgivings, and excitements. It was one of the most vulnerable experiences I’ve ever had and only possible because it was threaded through with love, trust, and compassion. Without that level of communication, I would have struggled so much more with the thought of opening our relationship.
We’re madly in love and nothing was going to change that. Throughout the whole experience, I was reminded time and time again of how strong my connection with my partner is. We were tested in many ways, sometimes stretched to our limits, but we always came back to our love for each other. I was also so grateful for my partner’s honesty, knowing that I would rather see and love him for who he is than try to love him for who I think he should be. The challenges we faced have only made us stronger, both individually and together.
I’ve rediscovered the joy of free love. Of course, one of the unexpected side effects from this whole adventure was that I now had the freedom to explore other connections too. In the beginning, I was adamant that I didn’t want anybody else, but as I’ve acclimatized to the idea, I’ve been lucky to share some beautiful connections with people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. My best friend and I explored long-buried attractions for each other—something that was totally off-limits before. I’ve really gained more clarity and empathy for my partner from being on both sides of the polyamory equation.
We’re learning as we go. This is, in some ways, all an experiment and we’re definitely still learning every step of the way. There are lots of things I still struggle with, but throughout it all, I’m trying to hold on to love, honesty, and compassion as the foundations of this whole lifestyle. It’s been a wild ride, but from where I’m standing now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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