Editor’s Note: For privacy reasons, the author of this article has chosen to remain anonymous.
I had reached a point in my life when I thought I was destined to be single forever. Then, I met someone…
We just ‘got’ each other, you know?
One of the many things my new girlfriend and I agreed on was having an open relationship. We talked and talked and agreed on parameters that suited us both. This arrangement might mean different things to different people, so let me explain what it means to us. Basically, we can enjoy the company of others – yes, I mean intimately – as long as it doesn’t affect our relationship.
This situation may sound bizarre to some, but hear me out. Let me give you a little more background. First of all, I’m a Transman. I don’t typically do labels, but I was Assigned Female at Birth or AFAB.
In addition, I consider myself to be bisexual. I’m attracted to both men and women. My wife, a fine, cisgender woman, is – to the best of my knowledge – heteroflexible. I think she’s been with cis-women, but she won’t share the details. Damnit, I want details!
I should also clarify that our relationship progressed at warp speed. We met at work and traveled together across America and around the world for 5 years. From the moment we started dating, we were with each other 24/7. We lived in hotels and since we were sleeping together, it made sense to just bunk up. I proposed 11 months after we “officially” started dating.
Until this point, I had always thought I subscribed to monogamy, but being bisexual and trans made that sort of difficult. Not difficult in the sense that I couldn’t have been monogamous, but more so in that I just craved more. I wanted things my then-girlfriend couldn’t give me and vice versa. To be clear, we’re talking physically, not emotionally. Instead of denying those urges or pursuing them and lying about it, we decided to be honest and let ourselves explore. No casual thing ever took priority over each other and we were always, always careful.
Fast Forward >> 6 Years
We got married, bought a house, adopted an adorable dog (who identifies as a cat.) I took a boring office job, but the missus still wanted to travel. I got it. I traveled for 7 years before we met.
I was over it, but she kept getting great offers. Once you find a job like that – pays really well and they cover all your travel and housing – it’s very hard to stop. Golden handcuffs, they call it; when you’ve got something that’s just too good to give up, but you know it’s not healthy for you in one way or another. I digress…
Far be it from me to deny my wife the adventure she craved. She accepted an assignment that took her away from home for 2.5 years. Yeah, that’s a long time to be apart. We never went longer than 2 months without seeing each other, but it was still difficult. You tend to rediscover and embrace independence when you’re basically on your own for that long. While she was traveling, I had flings and she had flings. Harmless.
That is, until one of her flings turned into more.
I discovered she was seeing someone seriously by accident. We had never discussed an emotional entanglement, but here was this guy – younger than me, cute, and posting pics of them together on his Instagram with the hashtag #bestgirlfriendever.
What in the actual eff was happening? Was my wife… Polyamorous? And she didn’t tell me!?
Now, here we are, 2 years later and they’re still together. She has sleepovers at his place and my dog loves him because he brings treats when he comes over here. Yes, my wife’s boyfriend comes to my house – while I’m home – and hangs out. He brings me bubble tea and he uses my garage for projects because he doesn’t have one. It’s bizarre, but it’s my life and I am constantly perplexed as to how exactly we got here.
Thinking About Exploring Polyamory?
Here are some things I have learned, but remember: What’s true in my relationship may not be the case in yours. Proceed with cautious optimism.
1) The New Person Is Not Better/Smarter/Sexier Than You
This is a big one. You will constantly be comparing yourself and wondering what she sees in him. Some people will try to convince you that there’s nothing special about this other person (called your “meta” or “metamour” which simply means: your partner’s partner), but that’s not true. Of course, they are special in some way. Why else would your partner want to be with them? My wife has good taste. She picked me, didn’t she? Ergo, if she likes this other dude, he must be cool.
Give him the benefit of the doubt. You might even end up being friends. OR, in some cases, the two of you might start dating, too! That would be a ”triad” instead of a “V.” This is not my situation, sadly.
2) Your Partner Is Not Unhappy in Your Relationship
It is not fair to expect one single, solitary person to be the end-all, be-all. I am not perfect and I cannot possibly fulfill every need my wife has. So, when she wants to go hiking when it’s 30 degrees outside, she can go with him! She needs someone to be excited about Halloween? I am not that guy. The BF can dress up with her.
I benefit some, too. I need a load of junk hauled to the dump, but I only have a car? Well, guess who has a truck? Sure, you can date my wife, as long as you help with the landscaping!
3) Your Partner Doesn’t Love You Any Less
I think about it like this: Imagine you and your meta are hanging outside on a clear day. The sun is shining. You can feel 100% of the warmth and see 100% of the light coming from it. Your meta is next to you. They can also feel all of that warmth and see all of the light.
Now, imagine the sun is the love of your common partner. Just because they are shining their light upon both of you doesn’t mean that brightness is diminished at all. To be clear, not everyone has the capacity to love like this. It just so happens that my wife does. She can love him without loving me any less.
How can I be so sure? I trust her.
4) You Can Still Trust Them
Poly is not the same as cheating. Some people refer to the poly lifestyle as ‘ethical nonmonogamy‘. It’s not about breaking a trust. In fact, you MUST trust each other if this has any hope of not resulting in the end of your relationship.
I trusted my wife before she found a boyfriend and I trust her now. I have to trust her when she says she loves me and wants to be married to me and will never leave me. Could she have left by now? Absolutely. She could have ditched me years ago to run off with this other guy, but she didn’t. She chooses to share a home and animals and a life with me.
Is a Poly Relationship Right For You?
Some relationships can’t handle this level of honesty. When someone wants more but feels like they can’t express those desires, much less pursue them, that’s when people cheat. It is certainly not easy to just be cool with this situation all the time.
We have had a lot of heated conversations, some therapy, and even divorce has come up in conversation. Why are we still together? Because we love each other and we want to see the other happy. Her boyfriend is one of the aspects of her life that makes her happy. Why would I want to get in the way of that?
You may be wondering if I have thought about getting into another relationship and the answer is – yes. I have dated a little, hooked up a little, and I’ve even gotten back in touch with an old flame just to see if there’s something still there. Honestly, I don’t know if I have it in me to be in love with more than one person and that’s OK.
You may know deep down, right now, that you cannot handle a poly relationship and that’s perfectly acceptable. What’s not cool is not communicating that to your partner. You need to first be honest with yourself and then be honest with them.
What’s the long-term prognosis for my situation? I wish I knew. I take it as it comes and I make sure to tell my wife when I’m thrilled for her and when I’m royally pissed about something. That’s how we manage. We are totally open and brutally honest and – for now – it works for all three of us.