We’ve been in one form of a lockdown or another for more than four months. I live in Medellin, Colombia and the numbers look great in comparison to many parts of the world, but that’s due in part to the strictness of our quarantines. We can only leave the apartment on certain days and only do certain errands. This month we are in the middle of a 3/4 lockdown- three weekend days of total lockdown and four days of restricted/limited errands and outdoor exercise. All of this means that, while I have another partner in Germany, we have been effectively monogamous since I moved here in January.
It’s been tough. There have been weeks when I was sure we weren’t going to make it. I even booked (and later canceled) a humanitarian flight back to the USA, thinking I really just needed to go! We recently realized that part of the problem is how difficult it’s been to keep our goal of having a “different kind of relationship” in mind. During these months, we have had only had each other to meet all of our needs, and that is definitely not a tenant of our relationship belief system and definitely not what we want for our relationship.
I personally have found so many of my “old” relationship values coming into my head. When we have any kind of disagreement, I am not good at remembering our end game, because that’s new and different, but the old norms are comforting and easy to slide back into. Recently we had a discussion about sex and I was so upset because it was obvious while our sex life is HOT and we connect sexually like no one I’ve ever dated, there are some areas where I just don’t meet his needs. For a few days, I was actually distraught. How can this be? How can he even say our sex life is good if I am not meeting these needs? (SUCH OLD PROGRAMMING!)
Things start to change…
Then one day I was out walking during one of my permitted two hours of outdoor exercise a day- and listening to an Esther Perel podcast, and I realized, wait! We’re polyamorous. Even though our relationship is “effectively” monogamous, we ARE in an intentionally polyamorous, open non-monogamous relationship and I don’t HAVE to meet ALL his needs. He can (once lockdown and quarantine allow) have those needs met by another person and we can keep having the uninhibited amazing sex that WE have. It’s part of our agreement, how we intentionally designed this relationship.
We talked about it a few days later and he agreed it’s been hard to focus on the goal, to stay focused on who we want to be as a couple. But just the talking about it freed up so many of my feelings of inadequacy and stress, that our sex life has been even hotter and I’ve felt more confident to try new things that I was hung up about when I was feeling the pressure to “get it right” and meet those other needs!
The most interesting thing started to happen after that conversation. After we reminded each other what we want from this relationship, how we wanted to intentionally create something different from “normal monogamy.” We began to remember the freedom and autonomy that is the foundation of all of our relationship agreements. Even though we’re in the middle of lockdown and it’s difficult to get out and meet people, we remembered that we ARE polyamorous and started to act like it again.
All of a sudden, we were talking again, I mean really communicating. One of the things we noticed was being together 24/7 meant that we had the illusion that we were talking, when in reality, we may have been spending time together and using words, but we hadn’t been communicating, not really. Now, all of a sudden that part of our relationship was reviving.
And change some more…
Lockdown started to ease for a while, we had more freedom and frequency to leave, so I decided to go on Tinder. I haven’t been on Tinder since last year when I met Said*. I didn’t tell him, because I don’t need to. That alone felt amazing and free. We have an open, polyamorous, non-monogamous relationship that is full of trust. Using Tinder is simply a tool, a means to an end, and it’s not a dirty little secret. (Though at first, I’ll admit, it felt weird and I wondered if I was doing the right thing, I mean old relationship values can be tough to overcome! But once I reminded myself and brought myself back to who WE are, it was such a great feeling of freedom.)
When I was ready to tell him, about a week later, he laughed, kissed me and then proceeded to tell me how he was thinking, I should go back on Tinder so I can meet people and get out of the house. (We are so often on the same wavelength, it’s kind of scary!) After that, our lunchtime chats (we stay apart during the day as much as possible, to simulate a “normal” workday, but he usually makes lunch and we eat together and chat before heading back to our separate corners) started to involve who I might be interested in on my Tinder, and me asking him if he was meeting anyone.
He’s never been a big Tinder guy, we met on Tinder but he still feels like that is a fluke. He was on for a week or two but wasn’t really feeling it. But what did start to happen, now that we were actively remembering that we are polyamorous and what that means to us, and with lockdown easing a bit, he started to feel more comfortable opening up with some of his friends about our relationship and our agreements, etc. Well, one thing led to another and he and a woman he’s been friends with for a while now, Marciana, started to realize that if they wanted to (they do!) they could pursue a relationship and see how things go.
Again, just having the freedom to talk about his new crush and my potential crushes, brought us back to and gave us more than ever, an openness that we had been missing. Missing like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. And now that this openness is back, I can’t believe the good feeling we have for each other again. We used to always say we can talk about anything, but we weren’t and we were bottling things up and holding onto them until one of us exploded with it. Now, we don’t have so many complaints because we’re just better together, but when we do, we talk, we bring things up long before they become issues.
Being in a nesting relationship* while polyamorous is new for me and being polyamorous, not a swinger only, is new to him, so together we are in some uncharted territory. (Though I have been polyamorous for about 4 years now.) But every minute of it is fun and interesting. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, there are plenty of awkward moments. Moments where we have to remind ourselves, his/her happiness is MY happiness and look how happy they are! But the overall feeling in our home these days is happiness and peace.
And… we’re back and Polyamorous!
I have never really felt like my love for or from someone was unconditional until I was polyamorous. But if you can love someone and rejoice in their happiness with someone else, you realize how much more freedom you have in that relationship. If you can have the confidence that your relationship doesn’t diminish because they love someone else or have sex with someone else, but instead it can bring closer ties, more peace, deeper love, that is incredibly freeing.
Quarantine clearly limits our physical ability to have that freedom, but by rejuvenating this part of our relationship, first with acknowledging it, and second with some level of the pursuit of other people, our relationship has completely shifted again. We’re back! Polyamory is probably never going to fix a relationship that is falling apart. But remembering who we are; a polyamorous, open, non-monogamous couple, sure has changed our relationship 500% for the better.
I am looking forward to our city re-opening (we’re back in total lockdown this week, all that loosening of restrictions tightened back up…) so I can finally meet a guy or two with whom I’ve been chatting. Said has decided he is good, he’s not going to pursue any other relationships, he is enjoying the one he has with Marciana, and I am too! (That’s a whole other blog post- and when I am motivated to write again, hopefully, I’ll get to it!)
*Nesting Relationship/ Nesting Partner- The partner relationship one lives with. We prefer this language to primary/secondary. We prefer to practice as much as possible non-hierarchical polyamory. It’s not always easy when one lives together, but using different language helps keep us on track as much as we can.
*Said– Formally known as DJDM. He asked me to use his real name. As we begin to identify again with our polyamorous selves, he felt like he could best be free that way by using his real name in my writings.
***Photo Unsplash- Justin Follis
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