You get to date and have sex with other people, but you do it together
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When Drake and I began thinking about dating other couples, it was exciting ? after dating separately for a few months, it seemed like a nice way to connect in our new polyamorous identities. I wondered what it might be like to see him with another woman. Plus, I was kind of interested in seeing what it was like to be intimate with a woman myself.
One of the top reasons I hear for couples dating other couples together is because one or both of the people involved want to explore their bisexuality.
The first couple Drake and I were with, Dale and Leslie, gave this reason for seeking other couples to sleep with.
Leslie identified as bisexual but had never been with a woman. Now she was in a relationship leading towards marriage with a man? but she still wanted to experience being with a woman.
My sexual feelings for women are a little more ambiguous. When Drake and I first set up a dating profile on Feeld, a dating app for meeting couples, there was the option for ?heteroflexible.? That sounded right at the time.
I was attracted to Leslie. I found her beautiful and I admired her. I felt a desire to be close to her.
But for me ?close? meant emotionally and mentally as well as physically. The two of them, however, made it clear from the beginning they were interested in a purely sexual relationship, not romantic.
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Dale and my relationship started as a swinger dynamic, my partner, Drake and Dale?s wife, Leslie, included. At some?
In bed, she felt cold. She asked me before she touched me every time, which I appreciated, but her touch felt reserved.
Intimacy is scary ? there?s no doubt about that. Touch can go so many places and there?s only so much our verbal language can translate from the body.
I felt more with Dale.
While Leslie asked before touching me in the most basic ways (?Can I touch your breast?? ?Would it be okay if I kissed you??), Dale and I would touch without thought or words.
When having sex with him, I became aware of my hand clasping his. That was intimacy, that was a connection, and that said what his words never did: I want to hold you here. I want to feel you squeeze my hand as you feel the way I move inside of you.
Throughout the two years we were seeing them, I learned that to enjoy sex, I need to feel my partners are willing to explore intimacy.
With Leslie, it meant feeling more. But the touch between us never became sensual and so never felt sexual for me either. Maybe it was a lack of chemistry or maybe she just didn?t want to go there.
With Dale, intimacy meant I needed to acknowledge what we did feel with words.
Maybe simply naming it would have made all the difference in the world, but since we couldn?t name it due to their boundaries, I stopped feeling. I stopped enjoying sex with him, and so I stopped seeing him.
Dale and I reconnected briefly, but without Leslie there to communicate verbally, Dale?s limitation with words led me to put a hard end to our relationship.
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After things ended with them, it was a long time before Drake and I got back into dating couples, but we eventually decided to do it again.
Though we only really hit it off with Dale and Leslie, there were other dates and a shared excitement between us when getting ready to go out and meet new people.
We decided we wanted to tap into that again, and maybe actually meet another couple we?d feel like moving things forward with.
Our most recent experience would end up being the closest I?ve had to a girlfriend.
I?ve always been attracted to women in a way that?s difficult to articulate. I rarely feel it, but I think part of that is just that I don?t acknowledge feelings I have for women the same way I do when I have them for men.
In some ways, my feelings for women can be similar to those I get for men I?m attracted to ? the butterflies, craving for touch and to be near the person, and a desire to share deeper parts of myself ? but minus the sexual craving.
With Kate though, I found I began to crave her sexually, though it still felt unclear how I wanted to express it.
Sex with men is easy. I?d go so far as to argue it?s because of rape culture.
Men are socialized to be sexually aggressive, and so I first learned about sex through being pushed to do it by an older man.
I didn?t have a chance to figure out and identify how I felt about sex when it happened for the first time, and I eventually just learned that it felt good ? despite the fact I hadn?t wanted it to happen.
So I began to associate being pushed with arousal. Maybe I always had a violent streak, but I may never know my true sexual identity, who I might be if I didn?t have this first experience.
I Don?t Trust My Body During Sex
I don?t fully trust my body during sex. My first boyfriend pushed me to have unprotected sex despite the fact I told?
At seventeen, I didn?t have a chance to experience the subtleties of sex at my own pace, and I?m fairly certain there are more women out there who can relate to this experience than who can?t.
Being with women though, it?s like I got to go back in time to my pre-sex days and I could feel my way through the sensations ? physical and mental.
There?s an intimacy in this that I have shared with very few men.
With Kate, this meant a lot of flirting, kissing, looking into each other?s eyes and then, later, being mesmerized with each other?s bodies; seeing what touching one part felt like, and what being touched felt like. Slowly, gently, listening and responding.
This relationship didn?t last long. Because there was more intimacy and willingness to explore it, Drake and I began developing more individual relationships with this couple.
Kate and I had a relationship. Kate and Drake had a relationship. Jack and I began to develop our own dynamic too, slowly. And though it wasn?t sexual, there was an intimacy that Jack and Drake were developing between them too.
It was beautiful and amazing while it lasted.
But the thing about such dynamics is that there are four people involved and deeply interconnected. How rare is it to meet someone you want to have a long romantic relationship with when it?s just one person? Now imagine trying to meet two people you want that with, and whom your partner wants that with too.
Now imagine finding that and setting boundaries and expectations around everything that everyone agrees and is happy with.
It?s not easy. But it can be an incredible growing experience.
When so many people are involved in such a close relationship, your boundaries are challenged and need to be strengthened. Your communication skills are tested and need to be improved. Your ability to trust is challenged and you expand and grow.
If you don?t have the skills, you learn on the job.
And if you don?t learn fast enough for the rate of the intimacy and emotions that come up, the relationship won?t last.
But that?s okay.
It?s always been worth it, as ephemeral as group relationships can be.
Maybe it?s the sense of community you experience, something you don?t find with just one other person. Maybe it?s all the personal growth that happens. Either way, this is the sentiment I hear from most people who talk about group relationships they?ve had.
Even if it doesn?t last long, it?s worth it.