Moving from just extra-pair sex to a world of atypical love and connection
When my husband James and I opened up our long-term monogamous marriage to other lovers several years ago, we made the decision to only see other people together. We were in the midst of a very connected and sexually exploratory phase and we wanted to see what adding in other partners might bring to the mix. We weren’t trying to “spice up our love life” and we certainly weren’t bored with each other, so it made perfect sense to date only as a couple. We were looking to explore together and to enhance what we already had, so that’s what we did.
The fantasy of mine that had sparked the discussion around opening up in the first place was about being with James and another man — not about going off with someone other than James. We really wanted to explore together and so that’s how we started off. We began looking for that other man to play with, but it turns out that finding a guy who is willing to engage in an MFM threesome with a married couple can be somewhat challenging. We found that they were either too uncomfortable to be naked with another guy, or they are too worried about the husband getting territorial. In either case, it took us a long time to find a guy to play with, with several prospective dates backing out at the last minute. In the meantime, James and I got together with couples and sometimes with women.
Although we had never put a name to what we were doing, we were essentially swingers. Our commitment was to each other only, and we intended the connections that we made with other people to be sexual in nature. In fact, when we were talking things through beforehand, we had specifically agreed that we weren’t looking for emotional relationships with anyone else. However, this all got disrupted when we finally found a man to play with.
In retrospect, I can see that this entire impulse to open up came from the subtle but insistent call that I’d been getting for some time to go find Nat, even though I didn’t realize at the time that’s what was going on. Nat is now my other life partner but I didn’t realize back then that I was looking for him specifically. I thought I just wanted to find a man for an MFM threesome. But, when I first saw Nat’s ad, I just knew right away that he was the guy. When James and I first met Nat for lunch to see if we wanted to take things to the next level, there was a sort of instant recognition between him and me — something that we only really talked about later on.
It wasn’t at the forefront of our conscious minds at the time, but in deconstructing that first meeting later on, we both agreed that it was definitely there. I felt the immediate urge to hug him when we met, but got shy and ended up just shaking hands. Nat told me that when he sat down next to me in the booth of the restaurant, he got a sort of electric charge and the sense of “Oh, there you are.”
For me, that sense of “Oh, there you are” didn’t show up until later on when we began kissing. It was like unexpectedly coming across someone that you’d been missing for years, only I didn’t know that I’d been missing him until those first kisses. He actually bruised my lip with the force of his kisses and I couldn’t get enough of them, but our connection went way beyond the physical.
Nat and I didn’t so much fall in love as reconnect with someone that we’d always loved. This doesn’t make any sense by conventional metrics. Believe me, I am so very aware of that, but what he and I have is not a conventional connection. Nat is my Twin Flame, a kind of metaphysical relationship that has a particular set of parameters. I’d never heard of Twin Flames until several years into my relationship with Nat, but once I learned of it, everything finally made sense.
Meeting your Twin Flame will feel magical. You will feel drawn to them, and in many cases, you will feel like there’s nothing you want more than to be surrounded by their presence. And you don’t know why. They are not your type. Even if you don’t have a type, they are still not your type. There is no explanation to why you are drawn to them of all people.
The most important thing to note, when you do meet your Twin Flame for the first time. You will just know them. You know who they are even though you have never met.
This is exactly what happened for me, and although we continued to get together with Nat, and James was largely supportive of the relationship, it did go well beyond what we had envisioned when we decided to allow other people into our bed. This meant that we did have to go through an adjustment period. James and I were still going to the swinger’s club and playing with a couple that we’d been seeing, but increasingly I was becoming more deeply involved with Nat. We only ever got together with James there also, but Nat and I talked every day and began to develop a very deep independent relationship.
This wasn’t always easy for James, who had been the romantic focus of my world for more than 20 years at that point. I didn’t love him any less, but it still took time and a fair amount of soul searching for James to really get comfortable with it. During this time, I was beginning to realize how natural it felt to me to love more than one person at a time. It actually made a kind of visceral sense to me that had nothing to do with Nat as an individual.
Embracing polyamory wasn’t really about him so much as it was about discovering a relationship style that allowed me a greater sense of self and individual identity than I had ever felt before, and I revelled in that. I was no longer just one half of a couple; I was a person in my own right who was intimately connected to a variety of other people, and to two of them in a very committed and deep way. As right as it felt, there was still a lot that we were all figuring out.
It was incredibly intense at times, and although sometimes that intensity was beautiful, it was also hard to fit into everyday life at times, particularly since we three were each individually going through other life challenges at the same time. It got to be too much at one point and Nat and I broke it off. A few months later, James and I moved across the country. Nat and I had started talking again when I let him know we were moving out of the area, but we didn’t truly get back together for another year or so.
While Nat and I were figuring out what was next for us, James and I were figuring out what we wanted to do about other extra-pair encounters. Despite the disruption of me finding myself in love with Nat contrary to what we had originally planned, James had begun to realize how right continuing to be non-monogamous felt to him as well.
Despite the very real bumps, going through all of that together brought us even closer together because we had to be real, honest, and vulnerable with each other in ways that we never had before. Despite a pretty open and connected marriage all along, we really had to step up our transparency with each other in new ways, and that sort of intimacy really benefitted our relationship.
Once we moved, we had a lot going on in our lives, what with getting our adult son who is on the autism spectrum settled in, as well as all the other things that come with a big move on short notice. In addition, my mom was having health issues that I was trying to manage from afar and James’ mom literally had a psychotic break. I had been trying to help her cope, but finally just had to drive her to the emergency room one day. She ended up spending 30 days in a psychiatric facility and then we had to figure out what next for her. In the midst of all this, we didn’t have the time or the bandwidth to go on bad dates.
We’d had some good experiences in our swinging days, but had also had plenty of bad ones, where other people didn’t bother to be fully honest or to communicate well, and we were a bit gun shy. All the men who had backed out at the last minute were still fresh in our minds. I had hired an escort for James’ birthday once before and we’d seen her a couple of times, so we decided to do the same again. We both picked Tamara out from a website featuring several escorts in the area, and joked that it was a good thing we had the same taste in women.
On our first date with Tamara, we all hit it off amazingly, and we’ve continued to see her for the past 4 years. Although it is still in many important ways, a professional relationship, we’ve all grown to truly love each other also. We sometimes see each other outside of compensated dates and she’s hung out with us and our son. We’ve met Tam’s mother, and we really consider her to have an important place in our lives. Tamara is our lover, and maybe even our girlfriend. She’s joked to friends about our little polyamorous thing that we’ve got going on. Frankly, there really aren’t any good words for what we have because it doesn’t fit into any normal paradigms. But one thing we do know is that James and I both fell for Tamara emotionally at about the same time, and that she fell for us too.
One of the best things about Tamara, besides how fun, and beautiful, and sexy she is, is that she’s very authentic. She doesn’t wear any masks or play any games, and so when we talked about falling in love with her, we were able to have a very honest, very short conversation that went something like this:
“I’m in love with you Tamara. She is too. We just wanted to tell you, but also to let you know that it doesn’t change anything. We don’t want to control you in any way or infringe on your independence. We just want to keep spending time together and just let it be what it is.”
“I love you guys too. I really do.”
James falling in love with Tamara really helped him to understand my relationship with Nat more fully and to no longer feel threatened by it at all. He now completely gets how it’s possible to love more than one person at a time with it having no bearing on any other existing love connections because he’s experienced it for himself. We still see other people from time to time, but mostly we are content to have the deeper relationships we have with Nat and Tamara.
I don’t get to see Nat in person any longer because of the distance, but he’s still my other life partner none-the-less. Tam may be an escort, but our relationship goes way beyond the typical. Sometimes James and I simply have sex with people, but for the most part, we’re more interested in relationships that have a bit more to them than just that aspect.
And we discovered along the way that we still enjoy seeing other people together. We’ve felt no real desire to stop doing that and go on separate dates, because we’re still in a place where these extra-pair connections also bring something to the relationship that we have with each other. That’s not really the norm for polyamorous relationships, although it is more common in swinging, but as you’ve seen, we don’t really do any of this the “regular” way.
Polyamory is having different types of intimate connections with more than one person, and ours are certainly different, but that’s just the way we roll. Fortunately, another aspect of polyamory is that there are no set rules. We co-create the parameters together with the other people who are involved and so it works just fine.
James and I joined a local polyamory group right about the time that things were shutting down due to COVID, so we haven’t had the opportunity yet to see if that’s really a good fit for us or not, but who knows what the future might bring. We never would have guessed that we’d end up where we are now when we decided to become swingers, but although it hasn’t always been a smooth path, it has been a very rewarding one that makes us both very happy.
© Copyright Elle Beau 2021
Elle Beau writes on Medium about sex, life, relationships, society, anthropology, spirituality, and love. If this story is appearing anywhere other than Medium.com, it appears without my consent and has been stolen.
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