Several years ago I was in an open relationship with a chap called Richard. The relationship was open at my insistence and probably for the wrong reasons. My reasons being I wasn’t really interested enough to tie myself down to one person. I’m fairly certain his reasons were because it was the only option I gave and he decided he’d rather have that then remain Just Good Friends.

This variably happy state of affairs persisted for a few months until a planned move across the country pushed me to make the decision I’d been putting off for some time and end it.

Unsurprisingly it went badly, we fell out, several years of friendship ended rather abruptly.

A little while later I met my current partner, David. After a few false starts, we got together and as he didn’t seem willing to consider anything else, we agreed it would be monogamous. I’m aware some of you will think “how can you agree when he only gave you one option?” – simple, I could have said no and gone on my merry way, continued being single and presumably found someone else eventually. However I liked him enough to think that that was reasonable and that I could be happy with it.

We plodded along like this for about three years with no real hiccoughs. Apart from the time we had some fun with a couple we’re friends with and another girl who was staying with them at the time. But that’s ok right? because we were both there, and it’s a lot easier to trust someone when you can see what they’re doing.

Coming up to two years ago we were at a party and I kissed a girl and I liked it. (No surprise for me there :D) David was a little uncomfortable but after a little shouting and a lot of talking it turned out he was fine. We agreed that I could do what I liked with other women, whether he was there or not and he seemed genuinely cool with this. About a year ago we had a threesome with the same girl and again all was fine.

And then I read an article on unicorn hunting. If you haven’t heard a the turn, it’s used in polyamorous circles to describe a couple where he is straight and she is bi who are looking for a bisexual woman who wants to sleep with both of them. The article discussed how unrealistic this is and how it places so many demands on the mythical third person and is generally unfair, unrealistic and is only pretending to be an open relationship. A “one penis policy”.

Monogamy is a funny thing. So many people place so much importance in it, but I’m not I’ve ever really believed that it was the sole route to happiness and the only legitimate way for people to have an adult relationship. Any relationship involves compromise, however the amount of compromise varies and I’ve always found it slightly odd that so many straight men (including several I’ve dated) are happy for their bisexual girlfriends to fuck other women. I’ve taken advantage of the situation and have slept with women while in a “closed” relationship and my partner was happy. I just turned a blind eye to the inconsistency.

I imagine that as a man with a bisexual girlfriend, it’s so much less threatening for her to have sex with a woman. There’s no sense of your her getting something you can’t give her, it’s understandable that if she’s attracted to both genders, she wants to scratch that itch sometimes. I gather there are quite a few relationships out there like this.

I think this goes straight to many of the fears that people have about an open relationship. That your partner will be better satisfied elsewhere, or will just meet someone they like more. My response is does this ever stop people in monogamous relationships from cheating? From meeting someone else if they’re unhappy? No, of course it doesn’t, it just means that it’s all done behind their partner’s back and everyone feels so much more hurt when the relationship breaks down.

So back to me and David.

The article led me to thinking that really I had a problem with our “one penis policy”. It contains the implicit belief that one kind of sexual expression is less threatening than another, it led to the worry that this might mean “less valid” and really that I was tired of compromising my views on sexuality, feeling resentful about it but getting the vague feeling that I was in the wrong.

So I did what I usually do in a difficult situation and I blurted out precisely what I was thinking without really pausing to consider the consequences. There were arguments, there were tears, and, very suddenly, David said that I was right. I was so shocked by this sudden shift that I struggled to believe it was real. We agreed are relationship would be open, but then we both left the subject alone. On my part for fear of more extremely upsetting conversations.

This was a few months ago and two weeks ago we were away with some friends. I was flirting quite a bit with Lee and this was apparently making David uncomfortable. I realised because he was grumpy and surly with me until I correctly guessed what had upset him. Talking about things has never been one of David’s strong points and I’ve joked more than once about situations where he is in a foul mood, I ask him what’s wrong, he says nothing and then a few hours later admits there is something wrong and then we actually talk about it. The amount of time it takes him to come round to telling me has improved over our relationship but it still happens.

So we talked. Again. About how there’s nothing to fear and no reason to be jealous, it changes nothing in terms of how I feel for David and that I passionately believe that it can work.

I was left with this horrendous helpless feeling that I believed in the things I was saying but that I was creating a rift between us which couldn’t be fixed. That eventually David would decide he couldn’t handle the things I was asking of him and he’d leave. Or I’d get so sick of the rows and the tears and pain that I’d leave. I began to resign myself to it ending.

And then David told me that he’d contacted some polyamorous friends for advice and bought a copy of The Ethical Slut. It didn’t change how I felt overnight but over this weekend it’s been sinking in and I started feeling really hopeful. I read the first chapter of the ethical slut today and we’ve agreed we’re gong to read through it and discuss the things it suggests discussing. David’s also going to write down the thoughts he has that he finds too difficult to initiate discussion about and let me read them. It feels like a start.