How Polyamory Helped Me Recover From PTSD After I Was Raped

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Love, Self

Expecting one person to fulfill your every need is a fantasy that can kill any relationship.

"Without me, you would be homeless."

He'd said it in the casual, dismissive way that it'd be taken as a joke. But by then I'd come to know better. He wasn't joking. It was a threat.

That night, my boyfriend of two years raped me. Those words have since been burned into my memory and our entire relationship distilled into a single, frightening whisper.

That was seven years ago. It's taken that long to come even remotely close to anything resembling stability and healing. I've woken up late at night shaking and screaming from nightmares of the exact moment he raped me. It's called Post-traumatic stress disorder  and it's affected every single aspect of my life, including my sex life.

My current boyfriend and I have been together for three years now and we've never had sex — and not for lack of trying. It all gets to a certain point, and then the flashbacks begin.

I hear his words, and the hell begins anew. My PTSD and trauma are as fresh as the day it was made. It matters little how safe my new partner makes me feel in every other moment, how good and kind and protective he — the ghost of my abuser still lingers.

It's my firm belief that no one owes you sex of any kind. It is not a duty you perform for your partner. It should be something that's consensually given and received, whether out of love or pleasure. That being said, it hurt knowing sex was something I could never give the man who'd brought me out of the darkest period of my life. I could never meet his physical desires.

At some point in our relationship, we'd had a long discussion about becoming a polyamorous couple, dating and flirting with other guys, and even bringing them home for sexual shenanigans. It seemed like a natural progression to our relationship, one with clear boundaries and rules of consent.

Some think of polyamory as this wild and crazy wibbly-wobbly sex stuff where there are no rules and absolute anarchy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to have a successful and happy non-monogamous relationship, clear borders and rules must be made. Consent is just as vital here as it is anywhere else — doubly so when multiple partners are involved.

Words cannot express what a relief it is to know the rules after surviving a relationship where they changed daily, like a violent game of Calvin-ball. My abusive ex would lie, shift blame, keep me on the defensive, and threaten me as a means of keeping me unsure and vulnerable. He treated me like his personal possession and isolated me so I wouldn't have any escape. My confidence and identity were shattered through a lengthy campaign of verbal abuse and manipulation.

My confidence has slowly begun to return, no doubt thanks to the love and safety provided by my current relationship. The other day my partner remarked  that I laugh more now than when we first met. Previously, I had been broken and withdrawn, fearful of being used again. Our strong foundation built on honest and open communication has given me an avenue to which I can repair some of the damage that was done.

Having multiple partners has also freed me from the anxiety of not being able to meet my boyfriend's sexual desires. There was never any pressure on me to do so, and it's certainly not why we pursued such a relationship in the first place, but I love knowing that his needs are being met. There is no guilt or shame or feelings of inadequacy — only his happiness and mine.

Expecting one person to fulfill your every need is a fantasy that can kill any relationship. It's an impossible strain, and when one person's desire to control another's comes in, it quickly turns the relationship toxic. Perhaps it's a side effect of my experiences with this manipulative behavior, but I've come to love the act of letting go.

Since engaging in our non-monogamous relationship, my boyfriend and I have shared a few different partners, and I've enjoyed and cared for each of them in their own way. I'm always sad when they're gone, of course, but for me, the beauty of those relationships lies within their fleeting nature. We connect briefly, then move on from each other to pursue our separate journeys.

Things are not always easy. I still struggle with any sort of assertiveness and fail to always make my feelings known. Communication is a two-way street, and it's on me to speak up when I have a concern or a pressing need. We're still working out the kinks through patience and understanding.

We've recently fallen in love with another. Dates are usually a three-way affair, sometimes dinner and a movie, and nerding out over shared interests. Once we're home, my boyfriend is a master of seduction, having carefully learned what it is his partner wants and then blowing their mind with passionate sex. He is a skillful and attentive lover.

Afterward is my favorite part, especially lately. When all is said and done, and the three of us are baskinging in the afterglow, I nestle in between them. They reach out with affectionate arms to wrap me in a tight cocoon of love and safety. I am never happier anywhere else than I am in these moments.

 

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