Friday, March 20, 2009

The beginning...

It wouldn't work.

That idea ran through my head as my wife of 8 years, May, and I discussed opening up our relationship to other lovers. Like many new ideas that I have entertained, my mind has tended to default to a negative outcome, assuming catastrophe, despair, doom. This was no different.

There was some precedent to my skepticism. Our relationship began when I joined May and her then-partner in forming a triad. For the briefest of moments, it seemed like a good idea and that it could work. The three of us were great friends, there was good communication and openness, and there seemed to be potential. But May and her partner's relationship was on shaky ground, and after a short time, our threesome exploded apart spectacularly. The experience had been heartwrenching, and although for the brief period that it seemed to work showed me the possibilities, its demise showed me the potential.

Needless to say, I was hesitant to open myself, and our relationship, up to the perils of an open relationship.

But after many years of monogamous marriage there were unresolved needs we both recognized. Both May and myself are bisexual, and in the beginning of our relationship we agreed that neither of us wanted to give up being with people of the same sex permanently. To do so seemed like disowning a part of ourselves. Unlike May, who had been in lesbian relationships for many years prior to us meeting, I had just started exploring my attraction to men when we began our relationship. I knew that one day, I would have to continue my explorations.

As well, I was really influenced by a series of conferences on sexuality and specifically bisexuality that May and I attended. It was my first exposure to non-traditional relationship structures. At the conferences I met and listened to presentations by groups in three-way and four-way relationships, and pretty much every other conceivable arrangement. It blew my mind. Here I was grappling with how to live my life in such a way that I could honour my attraction to both men and women, and all of these people were living examples of possible ways forward for me. And it seemed to work for them. And they seemed happy. And they didn't seem crazy.

So it was in these circumstances that May and I married, put the idea of having other lovers on the backburner, and became monogamous. We spent the next 8 years building our lives together, bought a house, brought a son into the world, and established careers for ourselves.

May was the initiator. I can't remember the exact conversation we had that started us down this path, but I remember thinking as we discussed this possibility that, despite theoretically believing that this is something we should try, it is scary as hell.

I was pretty sure it wouldn't work. But reality has turned out far different than I expected.

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