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Missing the butterflies: or how we opened up our marriage

Updated: Oct 30, 2018

Dance performance

It was our 8th marriage anniversary. We left the kids with the babysitter and went out for dinner at a nice restaurant on University - a cute street in downtown Palo Alto. Mid-way through appetizers my husband says: "How do you think they do it?" I knew immediately who he was talking about - a few days earlier we had gone to a party at our friends' house where they'd announced they were polyamorous and shared some fun stories about their non-monogamous life.

This was not the first time non-monogamy came up in our conversations. We had broached the subject before, when I realized I was missing the excitement of developing a connection with someone new, missing the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. Hubby and I have been together since about 2004, so generating this new relationship energy and cultivating the butterflies while maintaining the deep trusting and secure relationship we've built over the years was virtually impossible. We both agreed to having a wide range of needs, some of which conflicted with each other - like the need for having this secure and trusting connection that can only form over many years, kids, and mortgages, and at the same time the need for the excitement of getting to know someone new. Seeing people close to us living the lifestyle was the ultimate nudge my husband needed to actually try it. By the end of that dinner we were both excited and in agreement to giving open marriage a shot.

A week later my husband went on his first date - with his ex from about 15 years ago, who randomly pinged him only a couple days after our anniversary dinner. When he was on that date I was closely monitoring my thoughts and feelings - to my surprise I was not feeling jealous at all - more excited about what he would tell me when he got home...

It's been over a year now since that dinner and this past year has been the most exciting, challenging, inspirational, and interesting year I've had in a while. After my husband started dating his ex I developed a crush on a coworker (who was in a monogamous marriage), went on a few dates with people I knew, and eventually decided to give online dating a shot and started seeing a very special guy on a regular basis. Meanwhile, my husband added another long-distance girlfriend to the mix and now seems to be content with his situation as well.

The best thing about opening up our marriage to polyamory was the feeling of freedom to explore connections with new people we met without feeling guilty - whether they ended up becoming friendships or more than that. Before accepting non-monogamy, we had to constantly control how we expressed our feelings around others. If, let's say, I met someone that I felt attracted to, I had to curb that attraction, constrain it within the box of what I thought was "the norm", and kick it aside. Now if I meet someone that I feel attracted to, not only I am excited to see where the relationship might go, but I also enjoy discussing these feelings with my husband, talking about it with some of my poly girlfriends, and bathing in that new relationship energy (NRE).

So far, being in an open marriage and admitting that I am indeed polyamorous has resulted in better communication with my husband, more excitement, new friends, and new connections. And I'm excited to see where the rest of this journey will lead.

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Polyamory (Greek πολύ poly, "many, several", Latin amor, "love") is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.

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