No, I’m not bisexual or polyamorous. I’m just me.
When my husband and I opened up our marriage, it was like when I finally came out as a bisexual — it was like coming home.
This is who I am and there is a name for it!
It was amazing to see that I wasn’t broken. I wasn’t an asshole for wanting the things I wanted. It was okay to have desires like mine.
It was okay to be like me.
I think relationships are complicated because people are complicated.
I've felt a little out of step since I was a child.
I was the girl that laughed too loudly or maybe too long — and I thought too much and wanted too much and cared too much. I was too much, and girls are not supposed to be too much.
It’s okay if I make good money, but I shouldn’t make too much or I’ll threaten men.
I’m supposed to enjoy things, but not enjoy them too much.
I’m supposed to want and like sex, but not want it too much.
I was about 14-years-old when I had my first experience with a woman, my junior high school best friend.
We told ourselves we were “practicing for when we had boyfriends.”
(I’m not sure what we imagined boyfriends were like that we thought we would need to be good at cunnilingus. Heh.)
Then I started dating boys and having adventures, and at 16-years-old I had another experience with a girl who was my high-school best friend.
We had a threesome with a guy, and beforehand we made rules about what would happen between the two of us — and I was surprised to find I wanted her.
I remember thinking, "I want her. Oh god. Oh no. I want HER."
We slowly eased our way into a sexual relationship we never owned up to, and over time I accepted that I was attracted to women.
I figured being attracted to women meant I was a lesbian.
I came out at 18 and told everyone I was a lesbian. I've always had long hair and I love makeup, so I was a lipstick or femme lesbian. I went to lesbian variety shows and volunteered at a lesbian ‘zine. I dated women.
Meanwhile I was sneaking around and having mind-blowing sex on occasion with a man named Michael.
Eventually I confessed to my lesbian circle that I was having sex with a man, and that was harder than admitting I was a lesbian. I was ostracized.
It had been nice to be a default heterosexual and then a card-carrying lesbian. Being bisexual seemed to mean I was lost between camps.
I was neither an “us” nor a “them."
In my early dating life I hadn’t been monogamous and had open or casual relationships.
I had a few situations where there were a lot of feelings and sexy adventures. As I grew up though, after a decade or so of friends with benefits and undefined “things” and relationships I didn’t really have a name for and girlfriends and boyfriends with secrets, I figured it was time to grow up and commit, and I did — for 11 years as a monogamous wife.
Opening up our marriage a few years ago was heady, amazing stuff.
I learned there were more options for sexuality — and more boxes.
I had heard of swinging, but figured I didn’t fit into THAT. I wrongly pictured either the old stereotypical skeezy orange 1970’s couple with a house with carpet on the walls, fashionable beautiful people with perfect bodies, and mountains of cocaine.
I learned how wrong I was to limit in my mind the way swingers might be. There are many ways to be a swinger.
Then I learned about polyamory and was absolutely smitten with the idea that people could have respectful caring relationships with more than one person. It was the first time I’d heard of ethical non-monogamy.
I learned later that “poly” had it’s own ridiculous stereotypes too. And “open," well, what did that even mean?
My marriage eventually ended a few years after we opened it up, and that was difficult — beyond difficult in fact — but it really didn’t have as much to do with us loving or having sex with other people as our monogamous friends assumed.
I get why they’d think that, but I hate that I so poorly represent ethical non-monogamy to them.
Like I said, relationships are complex.
People are complex. Right?
Today I am thriving in two long-term, loving, committed, fulfilling relationships — with two amazing men.
They both happen to be in long-term, committed, loving marriages too.
I have a deeply loving but not sexual family-type relationship with one partner’s wife, and I really like my other partner’s wife too. My partners know and like each other. The whole crew hangs out sometimes. It’s just a group of people who have connections with and care about each other and have fun.
It’s not as odd as it sounds when you think about how people usually like the friends of their friends.
My partners cheer on my adventures with kink with my occasional play partners, and they support my sexy adventures and swinging both with and without them.
It is a little complicated, this network of relationships and connections, but it’s simple too.
Some things about relationships and sex and love are simple no matter what you call them. I am lucky to be loved and accepted for who I am.
I belong. I feel cared for and like I am part of something. I have fun and adventure. I have passion and lust and excitement and connection. It’s honest and open.
Simpler still, I love sex. I’m not ashamed of that anymore, and that alone is a revelation.
I also need and appreciate being loved, like any human. Maybe it doesn’t always fit neatly into a super defined box, even the non-monogamous ones, or maybe I just fit into a bunch of them. Whatever.
I say all the time, “It’s as complicated and wonderful as it sounds.”
This article was originally published at Life on the Swingset. Reprinted with permission from the author.