Hi from SF
My marriage has been open for 21 years. That is, I asked for an open marriage at the very beginning. In reality, we've had an open marriage for nearly four years.
After many painful discussions with my husband about self/selves, marriage and what an open marriage means, I was ready to embark on my first extramarital "thing". Eyes wide open yet so untutored that I didn't really know what to expect or what I was seeing. I began the process by registering on married/cheating sites because, well, I didn't know any better. Over the course of a couple of years I went on many first dates (20+) but felt connections with only a few men. I fell in love with one of them, which turned out to be a giant mistake, because he had extreme guilt and couldn't continue.
A year ago I finally decided that ethical non-monogamy was the only way to go for me. At first I disdained the term "polyamory", but have come to realize that what I feel and want really is polyamory. I'm not looking for a short-term lover. I want a real relationship with genuine feelings exchanged, where we get to know each other over a longer period of time.
Three times in the past year and a half I have been rejected by men who knew I was polyamorous for another relationship. They decided that they were monogamous. While I accept this (what can I do, right?), it has been a painful learning process.
I have a complication on top of all of this. I found out that I was an HSV2 (genital herpes) carrier, even though I believe I acquired this 25 years ago and haven't had an outbreak in 7-10 years. In the very beginning of any relationship that has potential, I let the man know that I am HSV2 positive and polyamorous. I've learned not to take things personally, although I'm still learning how to slow things down and not leap into sex right away.
Something I have learned about myself, that I instinctively knew when I was 25, is that I am happiest and most fulfilled when I have more than one person to love. I look forward to learning more about others' stories, and providing whatever support I can.