How to Navigate This
Hi, ... so I'm new to this whole thing and I'm wondering ... here's my tale ...
I got married 10 years ago, totally buying into the cultural ideal of one spouse for life, totally committing to this in every way. Even though I always felt bound by the restriction, even though there were men in my life that I felt close to, but stopped myself from exploring relationships, even close friendships, because we're taught that married women just can't do that.
About six months ago, a friend of mine and I started becoming even closer friends. No sex, but just really close intimate talks that deepened our friendship. I decided that I was tired of putting up that wall with friends just because they're men, and let it develop. And he's a great friend, the best I've had in years. Then my husband, out of the blue, starts talking to me about swinging and trying to convince me that this was something we should try. Our marriage is good, we're sexually healthy and adventrous in our sex life, so why not? But I wasn't really comfortable with the casual sex aspect of swinging -- I wasn't good at that when I was single and dating and I'm still not (no judgment, it's just not something I can do). I start trying to wrap my mind around this and in my research I come across the terms polyamory and polyfidelity and I think, "Wow, this is exactly what I'm thinking!" I bring this to my husband, but he's not into building relationships, he just wants the sex. But to encourage me into getting into the swinging idea, he suggests that I find my own partner to enjoy in order to get used to the idea. I broached the issue with my friend, who is recently realized that he's polyamorous, and the three of us sit down, discuss the potential relationship, and my husband gives the go-ahead and it all looks good ...
... until my friend and I had our first sexual experience together. Which took awhile to happen because life kept getting in the way. My husband, in the meantime, took to swinging like it was going out of style, setting up sex dates left and right. My friend and I have had only one night together, and we're still friends and the friendship is even better, we're still close and there's no weirdness. I've actually felt pretty good about my husband's dates because it seemed like he was enjoying them and I felt a measure of freedom in our relationship that I'd been craving. I felt like our values and the reasons we were together were no longer defined by this possessive, ownership understanding of relationships, and I felt like we were on a great path.
My husband, on the other hand, seethes with jealousy any time I even mention my friend's name. Any time he knows that my friend and I are going to be sharing space -- even just lunch like we'd done for years before this -- he texts me nonstop. He demanded nitpicky details of our sexual encounter. After weeks of nearly nonstop sex dates, he quickly burned out on casual sex, decided that the whole experience just isn't for him, and is stopping. He says he's not going to ask me to stop seeing my friend, but I can tell that he wants me to. I haven't even gotten a chance to explore this as fully as I want, but I already know that this is the way I see relationships now, that I don't want to be beholden to one person forever, but to share love and intimacy in a free relationship.
I guess my question is: What do I tell him? I don't want to break up, my friend and I are not romantic, so it's not like there's any threat to my marriage. The only threat, it seems, is what I'm bringing, my understanding of relationships as open and free, and my desire to keep it that way. I realize that it's not just my relationship with my friend, but it would be my relationship with anyone. I'd do this again with another partner, in another free relationship. I feel selfish and greedy. But I also feel a pull to let this go, to maintain the peace in our marriage, even though I know it'll mean squashing a big piece of me.
I think I'm venting more than anything. Anyway, thanks for listening.