"How another couple’s open marriage changed the way I look at sex forever"
"This article was from a link on AOL’s home page," Michael Rios wrote this morning. "It doesn’t mention `polyamory’, and is more about open relationships than multiple ones, but the direction this person is heading in seems clear."
It first appeared in the online magazine Purple Clover (for middle-agers "primed for life – still cool, still curious, still a little crazy").
Finally Embracing Desire
How another couple’s open marriage changed the way I look at sex forever
...The older I get and the more my sexual encounters are choice-driven — rather than hormone-driven — the greater my confusion. Add to that religious piety, divorce and attachment syndrome (a belief that I can't live without a particular individual), I often feel like a tangled and twisted knot impossible to unravel.
I felt it begin to loosen the first time I came across Kenya Stevens on Facebook talking about “open-relating” and open marriage. I had recently been divorced. Her idea of “open-relating” really resonated with me — the concept of sharing your whole self and being your most authentic self with your partner felt like magic.
The impact of this idea was obviously appealing because of the conflicts I had never resolved. On the outside, I was conservative in my demeanor. On the inside, I was swinging from the chandelier, sexually assertive and wild. The collision of these two worlds started early in my life. While I felt deeply erotic and uncontrollably sexual, I was also a devout Christian. I felt profoundly spiritual and in love with all things holy, sacred and godly. Would I go to hell? Was I a whore?
Meeting Kenya and her husband Carl in person was the beginning of my journey to explore those feelings.... Kenya embraced me with a big juicy hug. It felt fantastic. After she sat down, her husband Carl walked toward me, enveloping me in his embrace and his energy. I felt myself melt into him and he held me for what seemed like an extraordinary amount of time.
I was nervous because his wife was sitting right there, but she was eating her food and never once lifted her head to see what was happening between her husband and me. In that moment, I fully surrendered into his embrace.
...Several weeks ago, Carl and Kenya were visiting Los Angeles again and I met them for sushi. The evening was relaxed and as it wound down, Kenya decided that she wanted to have company in their hotel room that did not include her husband. I impulsively invited Carl to stay with me, and he agreed.
We drove to my house in separate cars. I was excited and nervous at the same time. There were no secrets, no cheating and no sin. There was also no expectation that I needed to “perform” or “give it to him good,” with the hope that he'd fall in love and choose me. I could just be myself....
For the next few days, I watched myself as many old beliefs dissolved. The first to go was my need to feel like I’m “special.” This need had fogged my desire for love and acceptance, preventing me from offering my true self in relationships. I’d preferred to disguise myself as whatever I thought my partner desired so that he would make me the most special love.
Second, my belief that monogamy is the only and best path has vanished. Today, I’m actually questioning whether I am truly monogamous. This is a big shift for me, and the jury is still out. Finally, I’m feeling freer to accept my erotic nature. My desire and sexual curiosity are becoming something I love and cherish, as opposed to something I hide and am ashamed of.
I never thought I would actually place myself, at forty-five, on a new road to self-discovery that would challenge something so core to my way of being. But I’ve decided that being myself and honoring the call to be sexually expressed as a sensual woman is not only okay, it’s paramount.
Read the whole article (July 11, 2013), and add to the comments; they need help.
A discussion broke out on the Polyamory Leadership Network list. One person wrote, "What struck me when I was reading the article is how I tend to 'see it' in the context of polyamory, whereas the author may not be headed there at all. She may be, but she seems to be focusing on understanding her 'ME' more than connecting and relating with her sexual partners."
To which Michael replied,
"I see this as even better than a poly-focused article. Polyamory may never be mainstream, but if open relationships are accepted as mainstream, then polyamory becomes a footnote. I love it when the open relationship/polyamory aspect is not the theme of an article, but rather just a background point that supports a larger/different story. That is a huge step forward.
"If polyfolk were all just good friends, or extended family, no one would think twice about it, and the social disapproval would not exist. The challenge comes from our rejection of mainstream sexual norms. As open marriage becomes accepted, poly will be seen as just one form of that. I try to keep in mind that we are working for “freedom of choice in romantic, intimate, and sexual relationships”, not to promote any one form of that."