Monday, February 27, 2012

Consensual Friend F*cking (as opposed to not asking first)

Consensual Friend F*cking

Johnny (not his real name) was a pretty good friend of Marc’s when I (Mimi) met him for the first time.  The plan was for a group of friends to go see a band.  I was especially looking forward to meeting and going out with Johnny because Marc told me that he was pretty attractive and predicted I’d be hot for him.

Marc knows my taste in men—he was right about Johnny.  The chemistry between us was palpable.  After a few drinks, and a lot of flirtation, I leaned into Johnny’s ear and whispered, “I think we should have a torrid affair.” 

Not yet knowing the ins and outs of my and Marc’s relationship, Johnny pulled away and looked at me with surprise. I smile and, after a moment, Johnny smiled back.  “With you, I would.”

The next time the three of us hung out together, my desire for Johnny and our flirtation was in full throttle with lots of lingering eye contact, knees touching, and sexual innuendo.  Marc enjoyed the flirtation, but, except for a few suggestive comments, he generally played spectator.  

I knew I wanted to be Johnny’s lover and had a pretty good idea that Johnny was game.  Before really making a move, I asked Marc what he would think about me having sex with Johnny.  Marc was ambivalent about the idea.  He expressed some concern over how it might affect his friendship with Johnny, but also said that he wouldn’t mind watching.  He didn’t say “no”, but he didn’t say, “yes,” either.

When Johnny invited us to spend a night at his beach house on Grande Isle, Marc and I discussed it again in the car.  I told Marc that I really wanted to have a threesome with Johnny.  Marc said that he doubted Johnny would be into it but that I could have sex with him one-on-one if I want and the opportunity arose. 

The first night, the three of us went to a dive bar on the main strip.  I sat between Johnny and Marc, and as the conversation and drinks began to flow, I found my hands on both of them and their hands all over me.  We didn’t quite make a spectacle of ourselves, but there was no doubt what was going to happen when we got back to the beach house. 

And it did…happen.  It started as a group grope, but Marc eventually extricated himself from the action.  The next day, things were a bit uncomfortable between the three of us, but no one broached the subject.  Marc and I had planned to stay only one night, so when we left that afternoon, we hadn’t discussed any of it.

The next time we saw Johnny, he ended up sleeping over.  We’ve traveled with him and he has visited us, and all three of us often sleep in the same bed.  Johnny and Marc are still close friends and, though we see Johnny infrequently, I would say that he and I are, on occasion, lovers. 

What are your ethics around sleeping with each other's or mutual friends?

It was a big step for me.  I had been good friends with Johnny for a while, and I was definitely concerned about how this would affect our friendship outside of Mimi.  I hung out with Johnny more often and had more in common with him than did Mimi, so I was concerned that our time without Mimi around would be awkward, or that Johnny wouldn’t want to hang out with me because he felt like he had somehow betrayed me, and we’d never be able to get over that. 

I was relieved to find that it really didn’t affect things.  We had a good talk soon after the first time, and he had physical intimacy with Mimi a few times where I was in another city or another room, and each time, we just discussed it, and I let him know that I was ok with it, and as long as he was ok, there was no problem. 

I think Johnny will be a long time friend, and if anything, due to the experiences we’ve had and he has had independently WITH Mimi, there is a bond between us that I don’t have with other male friends.  I don’t necessarily think this bond will make or has made us BETTER friends, but it hasn’t hurt (as far as I can tell) our friendship, and that is refreshing. 

If you’re seeing a consistent thread through much of our narrative, it’s the openness and honesty we engage in when it comes to these potentially divisive issues.  Had I not given Johnny a call after that first interaction that involved Mimi, it would have been easy to drift apart, each of us making assumptions about what was wrong with us and our friendships.  Instead, we all talked about it, and agreed that it can work.

The more people who have read our blog open up to me, and contact me to open a dialogue about these issues, the more common this whole “sleeping with a friend” ends up being in THEIR stories.  I think that especially for couples who are just beginning to try this open relationship stuff on for size, having a first or relatively new experience with a friend can either be an easier transition into all of this because there’s a level of trust that doesn’t usually exist with a stranger, OR it can become sticky (which may not be such a good thing).  Again, the more communication, and the more honesty, the more likely it is that this can work out and possibly even strengthen friendships.

When Marc and I opened our relationship, I had two stipulations that limited his “dating pool”.  Never, ever could he pursue or jump in bed with one of my students, and 2) if he were ever interested in someone who I work with or is my colleague, he has to check with me first. 

Outside of that, I do not have an issue with Marc pursuing or having sex my friends.  To be honest, Marc usually isn’t interested in my friends, so this doesn’t come up often.  However, it has been the case that he has been and is currently lovers with women who are mutual friends. 

I have a very strong preference to be acquainted, if not friends with the women Marc is sleeping with.  With very few exceptions, I always like them (Marc has great taste in women!), and I like being “real” to them—for them to get to know me a bit and to see Marc and me together.  I suppose you could call it being territorial, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t trust a woman or man whom I’m dating and who isn’t willing to get to know Marc, and I feel the same way about the women Marc dates.  If someone is uncomfortable with our situation, then that person isn’t right, and I believe more capable of being a “cowboy” (a sexist term used by some poly folks to refer to individuals who come into a poly situation and try to “cut the filly from the herd”—though, I do enjoy thinking of Marc as a spirited filly).  If everybody knows each other, then his relationships with other women and mine with others is more a part of our life, not a step out of our life.

I’m not talking about being best friends; I’m talking about being acquainted enough so that things feel comfortable and copacetic if they come to a party at our house or if we run into them when we’re out.  One of the things that will immediately turn me off to one of Marc’s lovers is if she ignores me when we’re in the same room or in the same social situation.  And if one of my lovers does the same thing when Marc is in the room, I’m turned off to that person.

Marc having sex with people I consider “friends” is actually, the best-case scenario from my perspective.  I’m deeply polyamorous, and Marc dating and getting to know other people who could become a friend is one of the perks of doing an open relationship.

Now, when it comes to me sleeping with Marc’s friends, let me say I have a thing (that’s an understatement) for spending time with Marc and another man—the three of us as a triad.  We have travelled many, many times with one of many, many other men—rock climbing, cycling, mountaineering, and I absolutely love it.  There is something about the close intimacy between Marc and his friends that just feels like home to me.  I grew up with five brothers so I am pretty comfortable and can hold my own with masculine banter about sex, flatulence, work, climbing, and all the other things men talk with each other about (at least in my presence). I just love situations like the ones described above about Johnny--whether it's in a bar, taking turns belaying while rock climbing, or snuggled between them in bed--I love spending time with Marc and a good friend.

It’s also true that, if you think Marc has great taste in women, you should see the sort of men he chooses as close friends!  They’re really fine men—in every sense of the word.  I've travelled with many of them and, unilaterally, they are really fantastic guys. 

I have developed crushes on some and not others and I’ve slept with some and not others.  With only one exception, I have always asked Marc first (and trust me, asking is key here…perhaps we’ll blog about the one time I did sleep with one of Marc’s friends without asking first—talk about fuck-up!). 

But I digress…

For as much as I prefer to get to know Marc’s lovers, as much as I love spending time with Marc and his close friends, and as much as I love when there is sexual energy coupled with that sort of friendship intimacy, I would love nothing more than for Marc and my lover Scott to become close friends. 

This is a whole other dynamic--Marc becoming friends with my lovers without already being friends with them.  Marc just doesn’t seem to feel the same way I do when it comes to being acquainted with each other’s sexual partners.  I wrote a novel and am currently writing an academic book about this dynamic—love triangles that include one woman and two men--and I’m thinking it has a lot to do with masculinity and possessiveness.  Despite the stereotypes of women being competitive with each other over the attentions of men, my experience tells me that women who choose non-monogamy and polyamory are much better at being friends with their partners’ lovers than are men when it comes to being friends with men who are shtooping their partner(s).  However, it’s also true that it takes a special kind of man for Marc to really let him in and consider him a close friend no matter the situation.

I know that Scott is that kind of man, and when the three of us are together, Marc and Scott are relatively open to each other, and I can’t express how grateful I am that both of them are so good to and with each other.  But deep down, I crave to be part of the friendship intimacy I’ve experienced with Marc and his close friends, only with Scott and Marc.

But I can’t choose Marc’s (or Scott’s) friends for him.  I do think Marc could be more open to Scott in terms of building friendship, but hey, you can lead a coupla horses to water, but you can’t make them drink.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Special Mardi Gras Edition!

It’s carnival time in New Orleans, which means the whole city is steeped in sultry debauchery.   It’s the time of masking, costuming, and getting your freak on in the streets, bars, and music clubs.  This week, we thought it best to write about doing an open relationship during this, the most wonderful time of the year.


It’s amazing to live in a city where pretty much anything goes as long as you’re charitable and open to others and you don’t rain on anyone’s parade.  This is also a city with a long history of non-monogamy--from Storyville (the first American district with legal prostitution), to the practice of placage, to thousands choosing New Orleans as their swinging vacation destination—especially during Mardi Gras, to people of all genders flashing their naughty bits for worthless plastic beads.   Though no one has written about it, I do believe that New Orleans is the American urban center of non-monogamy.  During carnival, erotic openness and a sense of togetherness come together in an amazingly beautiful way.

My lover Scott was in town for Krewe du Vieux, the basest and raunchiest of Mardi Gras parades.  I costumed for the parade with a wig, false eyelashes, a tutu, colorful thigh high stockings, and the obligatory cowboy boots.  Marc and Scott decided to wait for the Krewe du Vieux Ball to costume.  While waiting for the parade to arrive on Royal Street in the French Quarter, we strolled down the middle of the street checking out the crowd and greeting friends.  As we made our way, I took both of their hands and “paraded” our poly arrangement.  Though some people stared and pointed, we chalked it up to the spectacle of my costume.   

When the parade ended, we biked back to the house to really costume for the Ball.  We went as the characters from Three’s Company.  I, of course, was Jack Tripper.  Though Marc and Scott both wanted to be Chrissy (gotta love that my boys wanted to be the ditsy, blonde sex object), Marc won out in the end, so Scott dressed as Janet.  With large water balloon boobs, tight t-shirts, and showing a lot of leg, Marc and Scott proudly rode their bikes across town to the party in the Bywater.  They drew a lot of attention, but it was all playful and appreciative.  In what other city can men dress as sexy women, ride through the streets, and be fluffed by people of every gender, race, and age? 

At the ball, people couldn’t keep their hands off Marc’s balloon breasts, and I, dressed as Jack Tripper, could pinch, and spank, and ogle “my ladies”.  At one point, a friend decided to give us an incredibly skillful and sexy strip tease. We ran into a couple that we dated a few times, greeted them with hugs and suggestive kisses, and then moved on to meet and greet others.

Friday night we went to the Not So Super Hero Party.  I was dressed as Slut Sequitur.  My not so super Superpower was that I could turn any conversation into an embarrassingly perverted affair.  At one point, I was dancing and a beautiful woman came up on me and we started moving together.  Not long after, I found myself in a lip lock with her.  After making out for a moment or two, she pulled away, gave me a flirty smile, and then disappeared into the crowd of undulating bodies. 

At the Muses Parade, we ran into one of Marc’s lovers, and the following night, Marc had a “date” with someone with whom he hooks up when she’s in town. 

Yesterday, Mardi Gras Day, we attended the greatest street party in the world.  Everyone was costumed--some with elaborate, well-constructed and clever ensembles, others with as little as pasties and g-string or just body paint.  It’s the day I most get my flirt on, and just love the erotic and playful energy that is the distinctive collective effervescence of Mardi Gras.  From exchanges of spankings with strangers and good friends, to very public three-way kisses with Marc and a very cute boy we celebrated a collective exchange of erotic energy that is, in my opinion, the opposite of monogamy.  Truly a group experience and not one ounce of possessiveness expressed by anyone about anything (from their mates to their cigarettes to their ass for spanking). 

All day, I was thinking about what was happening in every other city in the U.S.  While we were in the sunlit street partying with abandon, I reminded myself that pretty much everybody else in most of the world was having a ho-hum Tuesday like every other Tuesday of the year. 

When I first moved to New Orleans, I immediately felt like it was home.  My ancestral roots run deep into the past here, and I felt their presence right away.  The more time I spend here, however, the more I realize that New Orleans is the perfect place for a polyqueer gal such as myself.  Non-monogamy hangs in the heavy, humid air all year long. But during carnival, it gets stirred up and falls like mist to gently envelope our joyous bodies as we get our party on.  I still can’t believe I get to live here, and though I thank my lucky stars on a daily basis, my gratitude is especially poignant during carnival.  Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

Mardi Gras is pretty magical here in New Orleans.  The traditions, the culture, the music, the food, and the drink are all uniquely New Orleans and they all get magnified about 1000 times on Mardi Gras Day. 

I was feeling a bit awkward at the Krewe du Vieux Ball in my big fake books, and I must  have looked a bit frightful as Three’s Company’s “Chrissy”.  I knew that it was making Mimi very happy to have her lover in town, and to have the three of us go to the Ball together dressed in a “team” costume, so I put aside my shyness a bit, and get on with it.  

Much of Mardi Gras, for me, is about getting good photographs, and this year was no different.  At the parades, I tend to not be as social as Mimi as I am shooting on my own for much of the evening.  On Mardi Gras day, I do love our traditions and routines (if any aspect of the chaos and debauchery Mardi Gras in New Orleans can be deemed “routine”), but it generally does not involve sexuality for me.  I can’t wear an elaborate costume, as it would interfere with me camera a lighting gear, so I’m never showing much skin on Mardi Gras day, even when it’s a warm one like 2012 was.

I see so many gorgeous women on Mardi Gras day, dressed often in very sexy costumes, but it doesn’t really turn me on as I am focused more on getting “the shot” than in being flirtatious.  I generally prefer flirtation in a one-on-one setting, rather than as part of a larger group (or crowd).  I am finding that more and more, a large party or big crowd setting is not where I prefer to be.  I loved the costumes of the Ball and the Not So Super Hero Party, but I’m finding that I am Not So Social these days.  My fondest memories from this year’s Carnival were moment when I was talking to just one person, rather then being part of a group.  I think this is another reason that non-monogamy and being “open” helps me get out of my comfort zone and develop my self.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Home Alone

This past weekend, Mimi’s boyfriend was in town.  During his visit, she had two “date nights” with him, which included spending the evening together—just the two of them —and staying with him at his hotel over night. 

Recently, Marc had a “date night” with one of his lovers, which included getting a hotel room and spending the night with her.

In both instances, the other didn’t have any plans and spent the evening and night alone. 

For this week and next, our focus is on negotiating the imbalance of one person going on a date to diddle another while the other stays home to twiddle the thumbs.  This week we’ll write about what it’s like to be the twiddler (at home alone) and next week the diddler (person on a date while the other is home alone).

What is it like to be home alone when your primary partner is out for the night with a lover?  How does it feel and what do you do to deal with those feelings?

It can be rough if I don’t have any other plans.  I specifically try to MAKE plans with friends when Mimi is out on a date, so that I’m not at home, tempted to think “what are they doing right now?”  The last two overnights she had with her lover, I was at home alone.   About 6 weeks ago, when she was out of town, visiting her lover for a long weekend, I didn’t have any dates, but I managed to do a good job of occupying my time in the company of friends.   

When Mimi leaves the house, she looks gorgeous, and there’s a little of the “she looks so good for him” feeling, but then I remember that she looks so good for her and for me, too, so it’s not just because she’s going on a date, she just looks gorgeous period.  During these two most recent nights, I found myself alone, focusing on work, avoiding any temptation to numb myself to the feelings of jealousy or insecurity by drinking, or conversely, avoiding soothing myself with late night food.  I did, however, give in to the pleading looks of Stevie and Ansel, our dogs, who were possibly missing Mimi, but more likely engaging in some opportunism.  “Let’s see if we can spend the night in bed with Marc since he’s feeling lonely”, was, I’m sure, what they would have said to each other if they had the ability to talk (and yes, I realize that they CAN actually talk, it’s just that we never hear it because they are very careful not to speak when we are around).

So the dogs and I went to sleep in a Mimi-less bed.  I can do the whole “put it out of your mind” thing pretty well, as I ALWAYS have work to do, but once Mimi comes home the following morning, there she is…in the flesh.  It’s hard to avoid thinking about what went on the night before…the intimacies, the sex, the cuddling…the things that, in most dyadic couples, are reserved for just each other. 

We have a rule that we shower before, or immediately upon coming home, after a date.  As for sex with Mimi, I can’t just jump right back into that after she’s with another.  I don’t want to be in an A/B comparison, so I need there to be a little space between “him” or “her” and “me”.

As far as those intense feelings go, one can just repress it all (cue the John Candy line in the movie “Stripes” about swallowing a lot of anger…along with a lot of cheeseburgers), or one can deal with it in a productive manner, talking the feelings through, hopefully with a partner who is motivated to reassure, and accommodate.  Again, I’m not a masochist. I don’t take on these challenges because I enjoy it.  I deal with the discomfort, and ideally, the end result is growth.

It’s an interesting experience to watch Marc get dolled up for a date.  Believe it or not, I actually like it.  I enjoy it for two reasons. 

First, it feels like doing non-monogamy and I like non-monogamy.  It requires us to be particularly focused on each other and do what is necessary to make it all go smoothly.  My job, in this situation (Marc is getting ready for a date) is to fluff his ego and be open to his efforts to take care of me.  Our agreement is that whoever is heading out show an extra bit of love before departing.  As the one staying home, I have to make sure I am open and accept his attentiveness.  When I manage to do this, I get lots of love and attention.  Who doesn’t like that?

The second reason I enjoy it is because, while he’s getting ready, sometimes he asks for my advice on his clothes or shoes.  I love playing dress-up with Marc.  He’s there and focused on me, we’re joking with each other, and, because I’m imagining him in the eyes of his date, I’m reminded of just how sexy and good looking he is. 

When he leaves the house, however, it’s a different story.  It is a lot harder to manage my feelings when Marc is actually out on the date and I’m home alone. 

For me, I get into trouble if 1) I start imagining what is happening, and 2) I start comparing myself to what I’m imagining.

This might not come as a surprise to some of you, but I have a very vivid and detailed erotic imagination.  As someone who writes erotica, I find the hot factor in the little details, and I am prone to telling myself really detailed, sexy stories.  As you can imagine, this can create a bit of a problem when I start imagining the incredibly fantastic, mind-blowing, never seen before sort of scenario going down between Marc and another woman. 

I say it “can” create a problem because sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.  It only causes a problem if I really let my imagination go and enter the rabbit hole of an elaborate narrative AND I place the cherry on that sundae by masochistically comparing myself to the imagined erotic savant Marc has happened to find himself with on this occasion. 

It’s better!  She’s sexier!  Just look at how perfect she is and what they’re doing in my imagination!!  This is a one-way ticket into a mind fuck that I, for one, find difficult to get out of.  It becomes, for me, a zero sum game.  When I start comparing, I tell myself that a wonderful experience for Marc with someone else means that I have become the worst lay in town.  If she’s really sexy, I’m chopped liver. 

This, of course, is ludicrous--Marc’s experience with another lover, no matter how good, does not change who I am or the sex life I have with Marc, and my attractiveness does not hinge on anyone else’s sexiness, including Marc’s lovers.  So when my mind goes there, I consciously tell myself I’m the same person I was when he left, and he will be the same person when he gets home.  

I also tell myself that Marc has had sex with other people before and since we’ve gotten together, and surely he’s had mind-blowing sex with amazingly sexy women. Why is this any different?   He’s not going to leave me for a(nother!) sexual savant because he doesn’t have to choose

Finally, I remember that when I have sex with other people, I don’t make comparisons and it doesn’t change anything I feel about Marc and about our erotic life together.  If it’s true for me, I assume it is true for him.

When I can avoid the imaginary comparisons, I usually can put pictures in my mind and like what I see.  Really.  Marc is sexy and he usually spends time with women that I find attractive, if not sexy in their own right, and so the pictures can be kind of pleasurable.  I remind myself that if he’s happy, that makes me happy.  His pleasure and experiences with others takes nothing away from me or from us.  Some poly folks call this compersion—taking pleasure in the pleasure your partner(s) experience with others.  For me, the key to compersion is to avoid a whole lot of detail, imagine his lover as a human being rather than a sexual super hero, and above all else, don’t compare. 

Of course, this is much easier said than done.  Sometimes it’s the specific partner, sometimes it’s about having a bad or low self-esteem day, and sometimes it’s about not feeling connected to Marc when he leaves the house.  All of these things, among others, can make that mental and emotional work more difficult. 

The worst thing that can happen is for Marc and I to have a spat or some kind of conflict before he leaves for a date.  This will really throw me off and it takes a whole lot of (sometimes futile) work to not go down the rabbit hole.  If and when I do go down the rabbit hole, I try the strategies above and, if that doesn’t work, I distract myself with work or a movie or a bottle of wine and a pack of cigarettes. I find work to be the best distraction because I feel good when I do it and I can get completely lost in the world I’m creating in fiction or in the analytic world of academia.  But sometimes, it’s just gotta be the wine and cigarettes. 

Finally, when he comes home, it is his job to resume being attentive and I have to be open to reconnecting.  For me, this is much easier to accomplish if I don’t know anything about the sex.  I learned to never ask him for details and I’ve requested that he avoid telling me any information about the actual sexual experience.  “Don’t ask; Don’t tell” is the way I prefer things. 

When it all works out, I feel closer to Marc and I look forward to his love and extra attention because, when it works out, it’s always real good!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Being Open about Being Open

Being Open about Being Open

Since Marc and I started this blog, we’ve gotten a surprising amount of support and interest.   The only halfway “negative” response--if you can call it that--was, apparently, a group of “acquaintances” exchanged a series of group FB messages about how “shocking” it was that Marc and I are in an open relationship, have had (GASP!) threesomes and (VAPORS!) group gropes, and that we’re currently negotiating polyamory for the first time with each other.  We chalked it up to a toxic brew of homophobia, mono-normativity, and envy, and had a chuckle together about it.  Hey, if whispering about our sex lives like insecure kids in high school pointing to the geeks frosts your cake, we’re glad to provide the sugar. 

But other than that, neither one of us has gotten an overtly negative reaction from anyone.  That is not to say that some people aren’t shocked and appalled.  As of now, however, none of them have expressed those feelings to Marc or to me. 

One of the things that has struck both of us is how people are kind of “coming out” to tell us about the various ways they’ve opened their relationships.  To be honest, this is kind of a pleasant surprise. When we decided to do this, and especially when we post links to the blog on our Facebook walls, the blog was definitely a sort of “coming out” especially for Marc.  Neither one of us filter our “friends”, so we’re pretty much letting most of our friends and family who care to pay attention the nature of our “open relationship” status.

Because each of us is uniquely situated in this process, we thought we might talk about what it’s been like for each us to go “public” through the blog.

What’s been your experience of going “public” through the blog?

Unlike Mimi, I don’t talk about sex and sexuality for a living.  I’m generally “shy” about this stuff, except with my closest of friends, so publically discussing our open relationship is very new for me.  It took me a couple of months to even set my Facebook status as “in an open relationship”.  So far, the response has been interesting,  albeit slightly intimidating. 

I have indeed gotten the “hey…I read your blog…you know, I, too, had an experience like that…”  It’s nice that the blog opens up space for a dialogue about things that people might not have otherwise brought up – things that might have been taboo in the past.  It’s a convenient icebreaker for that kind of dialogue, and I like to hear about others’ experiences as well.

I’ve never talked in depth about this stuff to my family, save one sister, so if you’re reading this...HI!  Most of my friends know that Mimi and I are not “exclusive”, but since I’m generally not as forward as Mimi when it comes to desire, many probably do not know what being “open” means to me, so this blog is a nice way for me to explain all of that.

There is indeed the assumption that “open relationship” means promiscuous and also means anyone is fair game for a sexual romp.  Not so.  Simply knowing that I can ask a woman out on a date doesn’t equal doing it often, with anyone who smiles at me.  Since I am partnered with someone and in a committed relationship, much negotiation occurs between Mimi and I before and after I go on a date with someone else, so, if anything, I’m even more picky than if I were single.  Someone needs to be compelling enough to make it worth doing the work. 

There is also the possibility that whomever I’m interested in may be initially interested as well, but may change her mind once she understands our situation.  Being open about being open starts on the first date (if the woman is not already a friend who knows about Mimi and I), and some women find that to be either too messy to deal with, or just plain old weird.

Being open about being open also brings out the “dude…you get to f@&k two women at the same time!!!” guys who idealize any multiple partner combos in sex.  It’s always interesting to explain the reality of threesomes and foursomes on a human level – yes it can be a lot of fun, but it’s not as easily negotiated as it is on the porn you just watched on your computer.  Sometimes their response is, “yeah, but you get to f*&k two women at the same time”, not really processing the complexities of it, and others “get it”.

Overall, being open about being open has thus far been a positive experience and I’m glad we took the plunge.

Right after Hurricane Katrina, I was visiting Chicago and hanging out with my four sisters.  We were doing what we usually do when we get together--drinking copious amounts of wine, chain smoking cigarettes, and shootin’ the shit—when I made some reference to one of my “hurricane lovers”.  This is a term that some New Orleanians use to refer to the temporary lover(s) we jumped into bed with and f@$ked like mad to deal with the destruction and trauma in the wake of the flood. 

So I mentioned my hurricane lover and the conversation came to a screeching halt.  “Your what?” My sisters said almost in unison. 

One of them asked, “Are you and Marc still together?”

At the time, I was post-Katrina Mimi--shell-shocked, homeless, and throwing caution to the wind.  I really didn’t care about what anybody thought of me, and I was taking all sorts of crazy risks at the time.  Hey, what do you have to lose when you feel like you’ve lost everything?  “What the f@#k,” I thought, “I’m not hiding this stuff any more.”

I told them that I was still together with Marc (though we were separated at the time), and that I was also seeing another man on a regular basis—in fact, I had evacuated with him—and a woman less frequently but pretty regularly.

I have no idea what they were thinking when I told them this, but the way they responded to me couldn’t have been better.

One of my sisters exclaimed, “I knew you were bisexual!”

I said, “I’m not bisexual.”  This required a bit of explanation, but they listened with interest and acceptance.  In fact, they conveyed to me that they thought it was down right fascinating.  One sister (not mentioning any names) was particularly interested in the idea of a threesome with two men.

There’s six years between my next older sister and me, so I was always too young to participate in the sort of girl talk that only sisters can have with one another.  I now had the opportunity, and it was fun--a perfect sort of test run on the decision to stop concealing or changing information to maintain the fiction that Marc and I are monogamous. 

I’ve been completely open about being open ever since.

One of the greatest benefits of being “out” is that it opens space for others to be curious and express interest in us.

One of the biggest drawbacks about being “out” is that it opens space for others to be curious and express interest in us.

No, that’s not a typo.  It’s the flip side of the same coin. 

You know that new fad on You Tube, “Shit ________ say to _____________?”  Marc and I joke about creating “Shit monogs say to poly’s” 

“Why won’t you f@^k me?  Don’t you want to f@&k everyone?”  Followed by  “You’re not gonna want to f#&k me, are you?”

Most people assume that 1) We’re perverts…which we are, and 2) That we’re indiscriminately promiscuous…which we’re not.  So, while it opens the possibility for people to express an interest--and that’s a wonderful benefit to being “out”--it also scares some people because they assume we’re going to hit on them.  It’s the old, “You’re gay?  You’re not going to hit on me, are you?”  To which the appropriate response is, “Don’t flatter yourself.”  We’re finding ourselves thinking or saying, “Don’t flatter yourself,” a bit more frequently.

For others, it is interpreted as an open invitation, and it can get uncomfortable when someone assumes we’ll be down with a romp and we have to gently convey to them, “Thanks, but no thanks.” 

Creating the 2plus website is a whole different sort of being “open”, however.  I did have a little pang of concern when I thought about my employer and colleagues reading about my and Marc’s sex life. 

When I really considered this possibility, however, I realized that I’ve always been about taking sex out of the closet and making it a normal part of life rather than something shameful and a topic you don’t discuss in polite company.  The erotic is one of the most beautiful parts of being human. Why pretend like we don’t have desire and don’t have sex? 

It doesn’t hurt that I have an occupation that is more open to difference and non-conformity, I teach about sexuality and the politics of sex, and I have tenure.  I see this blog as part of my work as a professor of gender and sexuality studies and as an activist challenging mono-normativity.  I’m fortunate to have the sort of economic and job security that allows me to be open about being open, and I realize not everybody has that privilege.

Finally, I have really enjoyed seeing the other open and open-curious people “come out” to me and/or to Marc.  That’s probably the best part about being open about being open--seeing that we’re not alone.

Come out come out, wherever you are!