And other things I?m learning from dipping my toes into polyamory
Photo by: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock
Polyamory has been on my mind these days, and I?ve really come to identify with it. In fact, lately, I?ve even acted on it.
From the outside, what I?m doing doesn?t look momentous. It probably looks like I?m just taking little baby steps or dipping my toes into it. I?m not on Tinder (or even OkCupid ? is OkCupid still a thing? Do people still use OkCupid?) I?m not having dalliances in hotel rooms. No, I?m not sharing my bed with two people (yet!) But it still feels like a huge step for me.
When I started my newsletter, I was hoping to keep my readers up to date on my writing, and maybe connect with a few of them. But I didn?t realize just how deeply I would be connecting with one of them.
A few months ago, a fan named Rob reached out to me after reading some of my erotica. He had some very kind things to say about my writing and we exchanged a few pleasantries.
Then the pleasantries turned into long email conversations.
Then those long email conversations turned into deep email conversations.
And those conversations turned into full-blown digital hanky panky.
Now, I don?t do this with every fan who emails me (I?m not that desperate for reads!) But there was something really special about Rob, and we built a great connection almost immediately. And honestly, I?m not quite sure what it was about him, but it allowed this to blossom into? Well, I don?t exactly know what to call it yet, but it?s flirty, it?s dirty, and I?m having a whole lot of fun.
Our exchanges are strictly online, and strictly through email. I haven?t met him in person and we don?t have any immediate plans to meet. He doesn?t live in driving distance. We haven?t Skyped or spoken over the phone. I don?t even have any idea what his apartment looks like.
Still, I already feel I can trust him. He?s the only person other than Mr. Austin who knows my real name. He?s seen my face (and then some). And I dare say I?ve developed quite a crush on him.
And I?m not the only one who likes him. I wouldn?t describe Mr. Austin?s feelings toward Rob the same way (it?s certainly not a crush ? unlike me, Mr. Austin is sadly very heterosexual), but he is quite fond of him and loves to see how much fun I?m having. I?m not all that surprised. They have a lot in common (as it turns out, I have a type) and I have a feeling they?d be good friends if they met.
I shouldn?t be caught off guard by how much has changed (for the better!) because of this friendship-with-benefits. But I?ve changed and grown so much more quickly than I would have expected, and it wouldn?t have happened if I hadn?t opened myself up to him.
I?ve only dipped my toes in polyamory, but here are some of the things it?s already done for me.
It?s Teaching Me About Myself
Getting to know Rob has helped me get to know myself. I tap into a different side of me when I?m talking to him, and I get to explore facets of my personality that don?t always get to see the light of day.
Every intimate conversation takes its own unique twists and turns. You really can?t repeat those patterns with others ? they?re created between two people and they happen spontaneously. We hit on subjects that I?ve never had the opportunity to talk about. We hit on things that I would never have thought to even ask. And by asking and answering new questions, I get the chance to discover what I think and how I feel about a lot of things I never really considered carefully before.
And the novelty helps. Mr. Austin and I have been together for about 15 years. We?re deeply familiar with each other. I?m myself with him and he?s used to me being me, so I don?t have to think too hard about it.
But Rob?s not used to me. Rob?s still getting to know me. And that means I have to start explaining myself. I have to explain my opinions, my attitudes, and my thoughts to him, whereas Mr. Austin usually sees me coming a mile away. My husband says things like ?I knew you?d like this show? or ?I had a feeling it really bothered you when she said that? or ?I figured this would make you happy.? And usually, he?s right. I love the comfort that gives me. But I also value the way that I get to explore why I feel the way I do, or what I really truly think about something because I?m having lots of (digital) pillow talk with someone who doesn?t know those things about me yet.
It?s Giving Me Strength
Stepping out of my comfort zone and confronting someone new on such an intimate level has also allowed me to grow. For one thing, I?m becoming more confident than I have been since I was a teenager prone to making bad decisions. I feel bolder, like I?m tapping into some strengths that have been dormant for years.
It?s also been inspiring. Talking to Mr. Austin always sparks my creativity ? it?s how I get most of my blog post ideas and it motivates me to write. But talking with Mr. Austin and Rob? That just multiplies my creative output. I feel like a fountain of ideas, and I?ve got two sounding boards to help me work through them. And since I write about sex a lot, it really, really helps that my sounding boards happen to also be the people who arouse me on a regular basis.
It also helps me overcome some insecurities. I don?t default to feeling beautiful or desirable. That?s just not something that comes naturally to me. And I have constant reassurance from Mr. Austin that I am, in fact, both of those things. But it?s hard for me to believe. Not because I don?t trust him, but because I?m not the same woman he fell in love with 15 years ago. Not physically or emotionally. I always worry that he only believes those things about me because I?m his wife so he feels he has to think I?m pretty. I hope it doesn?t sound terrible, but I kind of discount his compliments ? not because of the way he delivers them but just because of the way my mind works.
It?s harder for me to believe compliments from Rob. Yes, the insecure part of me still thinks that maybe he?s just saying those things even if he doesn?t mean them. But it?s validating to know that someone who doesn?t owe me anything is telling me I?m hot and sexy.
It?s Lessening My Anxiety
I?m sort of codependent with Mr. Austin. And I don?t mean like, cute couple codependent. I mean quite possibly DSM-V codependent.
A lot of it has to do with anxiety issues. I?m prone to feeling anxiety, especially in social situations, and clinging to my husband has been a way for me to avoid having to face those things alone.
But speaking with Rob has helped me overcome that a little bit.
See, I?m a planner. I don?t like uncertainties and I like to mentally prepare myself for any possible outcome. So, basically as soon as I started crushing on this guy, I was working out the logistics in my mind.
Would I fly down there to meet him?
Would I fly him up here so he could meet Mr. Austin at the same time?
Would I go on legit, traditional dates if he was around?
How would I divide my time between two partners? Would I need to stick a schedule up on the refrigerator door next to my kids? chore charts?
All of these questions are purely hypothetical, of course. They could apply to anyone. I might even start asking them if a cute girl looks at me at the library.
I?m not sure if things will ever get to that point with him, or with anyone, but it made me realize that I?d want to do a lot of those things alone. I can?t have my husband holding my hand when I first meet someone I?m interested in. I can?t make every date a double date with my primary. And not every (or possibly even any) sexual encounter needs to be a threesome.
And yeah, those are scary thoughts. And my first instinct whenever I face anything scary is to bring my husband along with me for support. But this is making me realize that I don?t need to do that, that I could do this alone. And if I could do something major like this by myself, then I know I can handle a lot of other things without needing to have my hand held (metaphorically or physically).
It?s Improving My Primary Relationship
Mr. Austin is my rock and has been since I met him. But now, our bond is stronger and our relationship is flourishing as a direct result of opening myself up to Rob.
One of the main reasons for that is improved communication. We?re opening up our relationship and that?s not something we could do without communication ? lots and lots of communication. There?s a lot to work out and sort out, and that?s a big part of what makes this comfortable. While Mr. Austin does respect my privacy (and Rob?s), I?m open about the whole thing, and that?s what keeps it from feeling like an affair instead of some extra hanky-panky and endless late-night email chains.
We?ve also been checking in on each other more. Since I?m the one getting involved with someone else, I?ve been making sure my husband is feeling okay with what?s going on. I?m keeping closer tabs on how he?s doing and paying more attention to his emotional needs.
And he?s been checking in with me, too. He wants to know how it?s going and to make sure this experience is a positive one for me. He?s there for me when I need him, when things feel uncertain, or even to give me the extra boost of confidence I need before hitting ?send? on an email that reveals more than the previous ones.
And as I mentioned earlier, Rob and I talk about a lot of things that I?ve never touched on with my husband. But it doesn?t always stay that way for long. When Rob asks me a new question or I ask him one I?ve never thought of asking anyone before, it makes me curious what Mr. Austin thinks about it. I?ve been asking him to share his opinion a lot more, and we?re bonding more because of it.
It?s Reigniting Me
I know, I know. Polyamory isn?t all about sex. But I also really can?t ignore the sex. That?s a huge factor in all of this.
And having someone I can flirt with, can get intimate and a bit emotionally vulnerable with, has been making me pretty fucking horny.
I?m thinking about sex more (yes, even more than usual). I?m talking about sex more (ditto). And I?m wanting sex a whole lot more.
What I have with Rob is only happening online, but that still is improving my sex life. I?ll admit that sometimes, it?s just getting me more acquainted with my vibrator or the fingertips on my index and middle fingers. But a lot of times, it has me keeping Mr. Austin up late so I can push his head down between my legs and then I ride him until I forget my name.
In some ways, Emma Austin isn?t a real person. She?s a pen name, obviously, but she?s also a specific part of me. Emma is the person I am with my husband. She?s the person I want to be with the rest of the world but I?m often too scared to express that side of me outside the confines of my safe, loving, married life.
With Rob, I get to be Emma with someone else. We?ve built trust, he?s broken down my barriers, and we?re creating sexual intimacy. And being Emma feels right. It?s who I am under the hot mess that are all my emotional issues, irrational fears, and anxieties. (Okay, so I still have those as Emma, but they?re getting better!)
I?ve only just started exploring polyamory in a real way, but I?m already getting a lot out of this experience. And not just horny (though that?s certainly a big, fun part of it), and not just a friend (with benefits). I?m getting to be Emma outside of just my bedroom and my blog. And even though I might not legally change my name to Emma Austin, getting to be her outside of my immediate comfort zone is teaching me how to be myself.
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