I figured I better post this pretty quickly after my first entry to clear up any confusion it may have caused.
I’ll start by saying that Brad and I were a totally normal, typical couple up until recently. We’d both moved to Raleigh for jobs, after college. We lived in a high-rise apartment building near downtown. I was on the fourth floor – he was on the fifth.
We met at Third Thursday – an event our apartment managers put on once a month in the courtyard for the tenants with free live music, food and beer. I’d written it off as a corny single’s mingling night, but my sister Katie – who was staying with me for the summer – convinced me we couldn’t pass up free beer and wine. Although Brad initially asked for Katie’s number – she was the drunker and friendlier sister – by the end of the summer, he ended up falling for me.
The rest is history. By winter, I was pregnant. We were totally unprepared and freaked out. For me, abortion was not an option. Brad, although terrified, was supportive and started the search for a new job and a proper house to have a baby in.
I finally gave up on my job as a reporter when our daughter was 9 months old. We bought a nice house in the suburbs. And I started my descent into Desperate, Frumpy Housewife of Apex, North Carolina. I had a few good friends through a peaceful parenting group I joined, but for the most part, I was home alone with a toddler, washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning way too many toilets (a family of three does not need three bathrooms). My neighbors were deathly boring with too many cars and too nicely manicured lawns. They were all so uptight from their boring jobs and – I now realize – sexual frustration.
He resented me and I resented him. We blamed each other for our unhappiness. Between his long hours at work and my clingy breast-feeding, co-sleeping baby, we didn’t have as much sex as we wanted, and when we did, it was forced and rushed to coincide with our daughter’s nap or favorite TV show. We didn’t spend enough time with friends, and when we did, we spent it complaining about our spouses.
We were bored, frustrated, and in a rut.
Then, one day, I was reading through my conspiracy theory websites – a pastime to keep the boredom at bay – and came across this article about the “conspiracy” of monogamy. The basic message was that monogamy is not natural or healthy and that it’s been pushed on us since the advent of agriculture, private property and patriarchy, to keep things streamlined and simple for our overlords.
I dug into the work of Dr. James Prescott. His articles “The Truth About Sexual Monogamy” and “Sexual Monogamy and Violence Against Women” and “Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence” intrigued and amazed me. He studied cultures around the world and found that the ones with the most sexual freedom were the most peaceful and happy, while those that pushed monogamy and punished extramarital sex were the most violent and warlike.
It was the first time I’d ever seen the word polyamory. I didn’t know how it worked or what it looked like, having no examples of it. I started googling it and found examples of it in other parts of the world, youtube documentaries and the mini-series – The Ethical Slut.
I told Brad about my discovery.
“What?!” He was shocked and curious. “Wait a minute… Are you saying you’d be into this? You’d be ok with me having sex with other women?!?” Suddenly, the idea started sounding appealing to him.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I just want to know more. I think this could be the solution to all of our problems, to everybody’s problems!”
Over the next couple of weeks, Brad revealed so many secret feelings, he’d been repressing since the day he found out I was pregnant.
He’d felt like the noose had been tightened around his neck that day. His days of adventure and exploration were over. I was his first girlfriend of any significant amount of time, the first one he’d trusted and had depth of emotional and physical intimacy with. I imagined he’d been a real playboy before me. All these years, I had no idea that he’d had few, if any, really satisfying connections with women before me.
He’d been secretly dying for a new experience for nearly four years, and denying himself for the sake of duty and family obligations.
“I still love you and never want to lose you,” he said. “I just want both.”
But neither he nor I ever knew – until then – that “both” was an option. Both the excitement and butterflies in your stomach that come along with new romances and multiple intimacies, and the stability, security and comfort of long-term, stable partners.
He seemed thrilled to learn he didn’t have to choose anymore – he could have his secretly longed for adventures without fear of losing me. And so could I… although – because of the social conditioning of women – my desire for adventure, new romance and multiple sexual intimacies had been repressed much deeper.
At the same time we were learning about polyamory, we were making plans to sell our house, quit Brad’s job, buy a food truck, and start a new life in a new town. I admit, part of the reason we chose Asheville was because of its apparently friendliness to polyamorists. We figured it’d be a safer and more socially acceptable environment for us to explore the possibilities.
When we arrived, five months ago, I immediately signed us up the local polyamory meet-up group. The people in it seemed like some of the happiest I’d ever met. Soon, we started to discover that some of the friends we were making in other circles were also polyamorous. We asked way too many personal questions of our new friends, trying to glean all of the experience they could share, to understand how the whole thing worked.
I started reading Sex At Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships” and joined a book club that was reading “More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory.” I became obsessed with the Showtime reality show Polyamory: Married and Dating.
I created accounts for us on polyamorous dating websites, pushed Brad to date one of our polyamorous friends, and encouraged him to go on a date with a girl he’s had a crush on since before we met. I even had lunch once with an older man from the Polyamory meet-up group. Even though Brad said he was ok with me dating, I wanted him to “go first” to convince him I didn’t cook this whole idea up solely for my sake.
I wasn’t having much luck matching him up with a decent girl who met all of the necessary criteria – polyamorous, whose life wasn’t “too full” already, attractive, not too close of a friend, comfortable with the fact that he was in a pretty serious partnership already with a child, not halfway across the country, and, again, not monogamous.
“Maybe we need to find an easier, no-strings-attached kind of a girl to break the ice,” I finally suggested. And that, my friends, was the inspiration of my first blog post.