I ran across this website after doing some research into the lifestyle. I identified with your upbringing and story so closely, and my husband of seven years and I have finally come to the realization that we’ve been operating under the constraints of what and how we’re “supposed” to be living, and not living our own truths. We’ve experimented with the idea of a threesome and, most recently, have felt that the lifestyle might be a good fit for us.
Do you have any advice for a new, formerly HIGHLY religious couple that was bound by the standard definition of marriage to go about putting our feet into the water?
My husband is onboard, but he’s still very traditional. I want to make him feel comfortable and secure and reassure him that he’s #1 in my heart, but I also really want to take this adventure. He’s 100% behind supporting me in every way he can, even sexually, but I do worry about his first experience and jealousy being an issue.
Does the transition come naturally?
Did you ever worry about jealousy being an issue?
What are some ways you two, in the beginning, made sure that the other person was okay, say, DURING an interaction meeting a new couple? How do you pull your spouse aside in a public space and say, “Hey, how are you? How do you feel? What do you need?”
Ready to live our truth
First of all, I want to thank you for taking the initiative to reach out. Transforming a relationship from the standard traditional monogamous platform to a consensual non-monogamous union does have its challenges, so kudos to you for wanting to proactively address any and all issues.
Do I have advice? Well, it’s not so much advice as it’s sharing what worked for John and I. I try to keep away from advice, because what worked for me might not work for you, and I would never want anyone to feel as though they’ve done something “wrong” because my approach didn’t work for their relationship. This discovery of what works for a couple is part of the joy of learning and accepting our partner. Besides, what’s important is whether or not the choice brings peace to the partnership…whatever that choice might end up being. With that being said, I will tackle each question you presented.
#1 – Does the transition come naturally?
While I believe non-monogamy to be a natural state of being now, this was not what I was taught growing up, so no, it didn’t come naturally, at least not for me. The transition took a lot of patience and communication between John and I. I knew I wanted to try a more open relationship, but I initially struggled with feeling as though I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I was going against the grain, stepping outside the box, pushing a narrative that went against decades and decades of instruction. For me, part of the answer laid in education. I poured over articles and books, read scientific studies, and asked my husband a ton of questions. I like to think I had an advantage because John owned swinger clubs when we got together, and while this “inside look” into the world of non-monogamy was beneficial and did help, it still boiled down to how I was processing all the information. I kept wanting to compare this new to me lifestyle with the old format. I wanted to have that reassurance that John and I were in this adventure together. What I learned however was that at the end of the day, this relationship transformation was something I wanted to do. Yes, I wanted John to be on board and supportive (which he was), but I also wanted to own this choice. This realization came the very night John and I were driving to our very first swinging experience. I stopped being afraid of what might happen, what might go wrong, all the negatives that could come about as a result of this first threesome, and simply owned it. Regardless of what happened between John and I, the experience was going to be something I was intent on having. I was going to find out for myself if this non-monogamy lifestyle was something I even wanted to pursue. It was during those few moments in the car on our drive over that pushed me over the edge. My courage overtook my fear and I gave myself permission to live a life by my rules.
#2 – Did you ever worry about jealousy being an issue?
Absolutely! Again, the narrative most of us endured growing up was based on a super restrictive relationship. It’s you and your partner against the world. As a matter of fact, most of us are taught that being jealous is a sign of love. I know I was. If my partner was jealous of some guy talking to me, that must mean that my partner really loved me. Of course today the idea of jealousy from this stance seems controlling…not loving at all. This took me quite a few interactions to understand. The first time I got jealous over John spending time with a friend of his is a day I will never forget. Pangs of loss and fear kept running rampant through my mind. I was trying to deal with our new relationship model with old, incorrect information. I had to learn it was okay to talk to my partner, to be honest about how I felt and discuss my fears. These raw and vulnerable conversations were pivotal in transforming my jealous responses to those of love, trust, and compersion. I also learned to walk through my fears. After all, that’s really what jealousy is in a nutshell…a fear. Once I was able to verbalize my fears, those fears become manageable.
#3 – What are some ways you two, in the beginning, made sure that the other person was okay, say, DURING an interaction meeting a new couple?
This has to do with boundaries and rules the two of you will set. Before John and I met up with our first play partner we talked about each of our roles. What was John going to do? What was I going to do? What was our “safe” word? I wanted John right beside me through the whole thing, and John wanted my first swinging experience to take place in an arena of safety. We were both in agreement going in, and on the drive home we talked about the evening. What did we like? Was there anything we didn’t like? How did we feel? Was everyone okay? We also allowed ourselves to soak in the importance of what had just happened. We had opened our relationship to include others. We had been open enough and loving enough with each other to take the relationship to a much more natural and accepting level…how cool was that?! I never felt closer to my husband than in those first few moments we shared together after that monumental experience.
#4 – How do you pull your spouse aside in a public space and say, “Hey, how are you? How do you feel? What do you need?”
You’ll find that the more you interact with others the closer and more parallel your goals will be. The deeper levels of honesty will transform the communication you have with each other. Body language, hand signals, that knowing glance, will all be ways in which you’ll begin relating to one another. Also, it won’t seem at all awkward to simply say, “Is everything okay?”
Just like with anything in life, swinging is a process. Every interaction you and your partner have will be slightly different. Some will be off the charts amazing, while others might find you in a huddled mass of fear. While you might want to shy away from the fears and not so wonderful moments, they’re just as important as the joys. It will be those moments of vulnerability that will form a completely different foundation from which you and your partner can stand. You’ll learn brand new ways to communicate, brand new ways to experience your sexuality, and brand new ways to offer support and unconditional love (compersion) towards one another.
Other AWESOME stuff you should check out:
Disclosure – Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.
John and Jackie Melfi are married swingers and in an open relationship. They were featured in an ABC News Nightline special report “Getting ‘Naughty in N’Awlins’: Inside a New Orleans Swingers Convention” and are the force behind the industry famous colette swingers clubs in Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, and Austin and the award-winning blog Openlove101.com with over 20 years of combined experience in open relationships and coaching thousands of couples.