We Opened the Relationship, and It Epic-Failed

Sorry There's Not a Nicer Way to Say That

Jul 18, 2011 at 3:02pm | Leave a comment

I saw no reason to bury the lede with this post.

Optional accompaniment: The greatest breakup song ever, by god-on-Earth Bob Mould.

High-level synopsis: My dude of three years, who lived with me, asked if we could open up the relationship. In a not very direct way, which was Strike #1.

I said, OK, let’s open the floor for proposals. He wanted a thing on the side with his ex-girlfriend. Strike #2. I said that was outside of my comfort zone. He said OK. The floor remained opened for proposals. We sat in silence for a couple of weeks, then almost simultaneously turned to one another and suggested relations with a mutually agreed-upon third party.

It went without saying that this third party would be a woman. There is often a one-penis policy in these types of situations. More to the point, I remembered something I’d forgotten in my previous relationship, a marriage of nine years: I’m a Kinsey 2! I am more than incidentally attracted to women. So…lady action for me? OK, sure.

And I was OK with sharing. At least I thought I was. I couldn’t be certain, as I’d never tried before. I was speculating. I was speculating kind of a lot, actually, considering we were on Strike #2. It wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but I figured if it went bust, at least I could say I made a good-faith effort to try something new with someone I cared about. Everybody plays the fool sometimes.

I get the appeal of polyamory if the relationships are all functional. We had seasons in the sun. The snuggling was euphoric. We shared resources efficiently, which is a huge turn-on for me. I made an awesome new friend, and we got happily acquainted in what was practically a montage of crafting, cheese-shopping and Buffy-watching before everyone got in a pile. It’s really too bad about the failure rate. Then again, I guess monogamy has a failure rate, too. And indeed, there was a failure.

My boyfriend, whom I call Tuffy because he reminds me of the dog from "Out of Sight,” and I made a common error: We attempted to solve a problem in the primary relationship by branching out. Kids, don’t do that.

I was in denial at first about what was happening. It became clear when he told me he was moving out but wanted to keep his visiting privileges. Strike #3. Pro tip: If you attempt complicated eleventh-level relationship-fu, make sure your shit is tight going in. Otherwise, you’re going to end up going through the wringer. I’m pretty sure I stopped making serotonin for a while.

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It’s been a week now since we called it off. While he moved out, I packed two bags and delivered myself and my kid to my parents for the family vacation we had planned.

As vacations go, it was fine. Suitably enough, we spent two days in Galveston, which shows the pain of hurricane recovery but is also still scrappy and awesome. I watched a dolphin race a boat in the harbor. I drank something green called a Bayside Cooler. I ate seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, and it tasted fine. I swam in the waves and got burnt on my nose. My mom helped me deal, and I spent lots of time with my real favorite dudes. I already have my ritual post-breakup haircut.

I have a new lady friend, too, but we’re strictly platonic henceforth.