We're Seeing Other People
Most of my posts on this blog have been about the “MM” community and the self-publishing industry at large. I’ve covered scandals that impact readers and authors alike, and I’ve tried my hand at terrible humor along the way. However, today’s post is personal. Today I’m going to announce something that follows my very emotional, somewhat self-indulgent Facebook posts.
Today I’m here to tell you that my partner and I are seeing other people, and it’s saving our relationship.
Pete and I have been together a little over five years. We’ve had rough patches; family death, drama, and a three month “break” when we’d driven each other to the brink. However, for the last two years there’s been one area of our relationship that’s been lacking, and it’s slowly seeped into everything else. We’d no longer cuddle on the couch, or laugh at the same jokes, or even eat at the same time. If anything, we’ve felt more like roommates these past two years than lovers—than people who are deeply devoted to one another. And, as I said, it’s because of one thing; the one thing that most of the world spends 90% of the time thinking about—
I am, of course, talking about sex.
There’s been a strong correlation between the decline of our sex life and our overall intimacy. For all of my efforts, Pete has rarely “been in the mood” for the last two years, driving me to resent him for not giving me the sexual satisfaction that usually comes with a relationship of this kind. And on his part, Pete has been silently suffering with his own struggles, resenting me for not being able to give him something he desperately craves.
You see, I’m what the gays call a bottom, and while for some people being a “Bottom” or a “Top” is merely a preference, I consider my “bottom-ness” to be an extension of my sexual identity. The idea of penetrating a man is as unappealing to me as the idea of penetrating a woman. I don’t find sexual arousal in the thought—if anything, it’s kind of a mood killer for me. But the thought of getting taken to pound town? Well, that gets me going.
My boyfriend has been an exclusive “top” for five years, but for the last two he’s had cravings to bottom. He kept these urges hidden from me, knowing that my anxiety would take over and I would head straight for the exit door before any sort of agreement could be made. I guess it got too much for him, because about two weeks ago, he poured out his heart to me.
I did not take it well.
I had a panic attack before he could finish his sentence. I watched our five years together flash before my eyes, and I started to envision a future of living back in the room I grew up in at my mother’s house. I imagined losing my home, my lover, and even Drake, all within a matter of seconds. I was hysterical, and Pete didn’t know what to say.
But he couldn’t roll it back. He couldn’t say it didn’t matter. He couldn’t tell me he was joking, or that he’d get over it. This is how he felt, and it’d gotten to the point we could no longer ignore it.
“The thought of going my entire life without this again is what’s making me miserable” – that’s what got to me. Of course, I want my partner to be happy, and of course I want to be the only lover that makes him so, but sometimes those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
In a perfect world love wins. But reality is different. Love doesn’t give you a great orgasm. Cuddles on the couch don’t satisfy wanting a dick inside you. And being with someone who you have a lot in common with doesn’t always fulfill sexual fantasies.
It’s my belief that there are two types of love when it comes to romance. There’s selfish love: What a partner means to YOU. What they give YOU. What they make YOU feel. What they bring to YOUR life. This is the love that makes us latch onto people, and drives us to consider our feelings above theirs when it comes to things like comfort and sexual satisfaction. For the five years we’ve been together, my love has been tipped to this side of the scale; I’ve been putting my own happiness above my partner’s, and only taking into account what this relationship provides me.
But then there’s the second kind, the selfless love. A love that makes you want to throw yourself in front of a bullet for your partner. A love that makes you consider them above all else. It’s a love that can see you destroy yourself just to bring a smile to their face, but in moderation, it’s the love everyone craves is given to them, and it’s the love anyone you say you “Love” deserves.
Finding the balance is key.
Pete loves me. He says he loves me. He means he loves me. That love won’t get him what he wants, but my love for him will. My love for him—my selfless love—is willing to accept that I can’t make him happy in every way possible. I don’t want him to live a life he’ll one day regret. I don’t want him on his deathbed, resenting me for denying him something he desperately craves. Sure, it’s just sex, but I’ve broken up with people for less than a bad sex life before. We have this one life, and it’s not long at all, and we should enjoy it. I want Pete to enjoy his life. I want to enjoy mine.
Naturally there was some trepidation, for it wasn’t the idea of him giving his body to someone else that frightened me, but the thought of his mind wandering elsewhere. For 72+ hours I was obsessed with the idea that Pete might strike up some conversation with one of his hookups and realize that what we have is nothing in comparison. I feared him growing detached from me and becoming emotionally invested in someone else.
This was a weird and nonsensical train of thought to follow, as he wouldn’t need to have sex with someone to do this. In the five years we’ve been together, he’s shown no interest in making that kind of connection with anyone else, and what I had to remind myself during that time is that Pete brought this to me. He didn’t cheat, he didn’t secretly get some apps and look for someone on the side, and he didn’t discuss it with his friends beforehand. He came directly to me. He was honest, he was open, and he left me with a choice. He was willing to close this door and keep trying, but I knew that, despite his best efforts, this door could never fully be closed.
Not to mention, he was willing to grant me the same benefits in this new arrangement.
“I want you to be happy. I want you to make friends and have fun.” – For the last five years, I’ve lacked sorely in the in-person friend department. I have Pete’s friends, who are nice enough, but his friends nonetheless. Pete saw this “openness” as a way for me to make more connections in the world, and was perfectly fine keeping his side of the arrangement purely sexual, while allowing me to befriend and grow close with anyone I wanted to sleep with. He’s been more than accommodating, and his utter willingness to let me write the rules on this has been what’s made the transition from monogamy to open-relationship so easy.
As for rules, we have quite a few:
1) Pete can only “bottom” with his hookups, seeing as that’s the sole reason he wanted this in the first place. I get exclusive Pete-topping rights.
2) We have a designated spare bedroom for hookups. Nowhere else in the house can be used.
3) If he leaves to go for a hookup, there’s a hard 2-hour time limit in place. This is so I know he isn’t dying in a ditch somewhere and can appropriately panic if he should go over that timeframe.
4) He can’t spend a night at a hookups place, which is an extension to rule 3.
5) Our relationship always comes first. (a given, but something I needed to put down in writing just to ease my mind)
As for my rules? Well, Pete didn’t really give me any. Like I said before, we’re both after different things. His desires are sexual, whereas mine are more about intimacy. He actively wants and encourages me to befriend people and not just “hookup” with them like he is doing. Though he did get a little jealous at the idea of a me spending a night with another guy, which was kind of nice to see given the circumstances. (Sometimes its just good to see someone jealous to know they still care)
And so, with rules in place we both downloaded a variety of apps, and we spent the next few days cuddled on the couch together (which we haven’t done in years) trading dick pics and laughing at the dirty talk we were getting sent. We grew closer in a matter of days, and having all of our dirty laundry on the table gave way for dialogue we’ve never been able to have before. We suddenly found ourselves sharing sexual fantasies that we tiptoed around, and saying what we like/dislike about each other in bed with a laughter in our throats. We talked about other men we’ve wanted to have sex with for the longest time, and even found ourselves getting worked up enough to have sex with one another—which we hadn’t done in a while either.
Sleeping with other people, or the mere idea of it, brought us closer together in ways that monogamy never had.
Speaking of which, as it stands right now, we’ve both had 1 encounter each, but many, many, MANY conversations about possible future encounters. I had a guy on Friday who did things to me that probably upgraded my seat in Hell to first class, and Pete had one today (he started as I started this piece, but finished about 3 paragraphs ago) that’s left him with a smile on his face.
There’s no weirdness. I’m not hurt. We’re currently trading stories, laughing, and planning our weekend together. We haven’t been this close in years.
Suddenly I find all my fears about this erased, and I’m wondering why I reacted so negatively to begin with. Sure, I was scared of “losing” Pete, but he isn’t really mine to lose. He’s his own person, and if he didn’t want to be with me, he wouldn’t be with me. Plus, I’m enjoying having more “friends” that also want to dick me—it works wonders for one’s ego—and although I haven’t really gotten myself out there too much yet, just the amount of interest I’ve had has helped me with some severe body dysmorphia issues.
As it stands, going “Open” with our relationship has been the best thing we could’ve done. Its early days yet, but it’s brought fun back into our lives in a way being monogamous never could. For us, I know this was the right move; it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, or don’t care anymore, in fact, it means we love each other enough to want to see the other happy above all else.
And (bar my own mental health demons that aren’t related to this) I think we’re getting there.