Tonight, over dinner at a restaurant expensive enough that we felt guilty looking at our phones, Axel and I started talking about the couples we know, comparing some of them to us, some of them to Thumper and Belle, and a few of them to, oddly enough, my mom and dad who have been married 56 years and still light up when the other walks into the room.
Regarding my parents, I have always suspected that my father had extramarital adventures at some point when they were in their 40’s and 50’s, but my mother never seemed to either notice and/or care. It’s only now that I have come to realize that my mom may have known all along and, quite possibly, endorsed it given her new openness with questions about my recent “glowing status”. However, while I am curious, it’s certainly not something I am going to open the lid on with them at this stage in life.
Anyway, as we discussed many of the gay couples that we know, we realized that almost all of them are open in some form or fashion, whether it be through open and honest communication or whether it be from hidden Grindr adventures (I didn’t say both parties knew of the open status) that they are just not that discrete about. What hit me was how much of this we do know as a fact because it’s just a known thing that people just, well, know. With our gay couple friends, there is no judgement of the “players” unless one is being an incredible whore or doing unsafe things that bring risk to the other partner.
In our case, most of our closer friends know that we have given each other permission to explore should one of us choose to, but we are pretty down low about the real activities and only two or three of our very very close friends know that I have a bisexual boyfriend on the side. However, given the high number of nights I am away and Axel is alone, I would suspect that many people think we are far more whore like than we actually are and that we are just being cagey about it.
So, what all of this boils down to is that we wondered if male/female couples know this much about other male/female couples and if openness is something that is discussed among couple friends or if it’s still a Desperate Housewives type world where it’s all happening but everyone pretends that it is not?
I ask because, personally, I do not believe that same sex couples engage in non-monogamy at vastly higher rates than opposite sex couples, but I do think that we are just more comfortable talking about it (note: I am sure I could find actual stats out if I took the time to google, but, well)
So, for those of you in a male/female partnership, what’s the inside scoop? do you talk? Axel and I want to know.
NOTE: Here is an interesting article from Andrew Sullivan on this subject here
Oh-oh-oh! I love discussions like this! 😀
One thing I discuss often with my spouse is the idea of monoganormatives. (That’s my own word, meaning, basically, monogamy as the accepted norm.) And I find it completely baffling that, within this construct, *cheating* is also normative, but open relationships are not.
I know plenty of hetero couples who scoff at the idea of open relationships, or who consider the concept of *openly* courting anyone outside the established twosome, to be morally abhorrent. Those same people will shake their heads sadly when relating another’s moral downfall (things like “he had an affair a few years ago” whispered in forgiving, what-can-you-do? tones with a sad smile and a shrug) and just accept cheating as a natural course of events.
Sometimes with hetero folks this is generational. The older a couple, the more likely it is that this is the attitude.
Am I open with other couples about what my arrangements are with my husband in terms of ancillary partners?
Short answer: No.
My spouse and I do not share friends. He has his; I have mine. We spend very little time together with other couples, and the few couples we count mutually as friends (which are *very* few, as it’s hard enough to get 2 people to like each other enough to voluntarily spend time together for extended periods of time, let alone 4) are more like appreciated acquaintances than actual friends. I am aware that the amount of time we each spend doing our own thing is somewhat outside of the norm for male/female couples. So I’m not the best resource. I can only share what I’ve experienced. But generally, what I’ve experienced is that with my *individual* friends, I am often taken into their confidence when it comes to their sexual and romantic lives. And most think that it’s only okay to explore an attraction to one person at a time. Which is a mindset that leads to serial monogamy, or – in the case of The Marrieds – counseling, separation, exploration during separation, then either (a) reconciliation, or (b) divorce.
I don’t think this is exclusive to male/female couples though. My brother is gay, and he’s gone through the same cycle with both his previous long-term partners. He also tends toward monogamy, and has, rather than “straying” or establishing an open dynamic, shown a tendency – with his partner’s full participation – to take on a Third. And while I definitely defer to your expertise when it comes to normative behaviors in the gay male community, I will also say that I’ve witnessed a good deal of monoganormative behaviors between coupled gay men of my acquaintance. But it tends to go hand in hand with the longevity of the relationships I am privy to. So is it chicken? Or egg?
Interestingly, I have a good friend who identifies as Lesbian (the capital is there for a reason) and she very much has a Til Death Do Us Part mentality. So much so that she basically never dates anymore, because if it’s not Forever, it’s Not Worth It.
I would note that there is one hetero couple who I do not count as friends but who know quite a bit about the intricacies of my non-monogamous marital relationship. It’s sort of complicated, but basically I ran into a colleague at a swing club. So we keep each other’s secrets.
I would also note that I’ve met some wonderful folks through blogging with whom I can just be Me. No secrets required.
My two cents.
Which is more like two dollars. 😉
And I hope, somewhere in there, I actually addressed the question.
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I think that once you are part of a subculture outside of the narrow ‘hetero-monogamous norm’ (whether it be LGBQT, BDSM, furries, swingers, sex writers etc etc), then people are much more likely to talk about different kinds of relationships because they are already sexual outliers, and much more open to discussing those topics together.
So I’d say it’s less about whether you are hetero and more about who you hang around with and how that changes views of ‘the norm’.
I’m always amused, though, when cheaters come into the BDSM community and are then surprised and outraged that cheating isn’t accepted as some kind of ‘alternative relationship choice’.
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This is an interesting discussion. Hubby and I have talked many times about the openness thing and we both know it’s not for us. Not in the physical sense anyway, because in a way, I do have extracurricular activities with my other subby boys.
Hubby and I do not have any couple friends in real life. The couple’s we know in our vanilla life we do not know in a way that we would ever discuss anything sexual, let alone an open marriage. My best friend of almost 25yrs is aware of our kinkiness but that’s about the extent of it. Throughout my life, gay or straight, my friends have always been “monogamous, cheating is bad” or at least that’s what was ever talked about.
So I have to agree that it comes down to the company people keep. The friends we have met online in the kinky world we are much more into talking about these things with.
Hope that helps.
Thank you for the replies, but I actually AM asking about vanilla life couples and what you know. In my community of friends, it’s like “how are John and John?”, “Oh, they are great, but I saw John on Grindr looking for a hookup and said hi and he told me about their new puppy”.
These are not kink friends, just people we know who have this non-monogamous vibe about them. Now, whether they ever actually do find the hookup or not, who knows, but I suspect it’s way less “dramatic” than if I had said “How are Bill and Cindy?”. “Oh, my assistant tells me they saw Cindy on Tindr, do you think their marriage is failing?”
I guess, as a summary statement, regardless of who does what more, it just seems that if a same sex couple is “outed” as monogamish it just doesn’t send the idea of failure to the world as if a straight couple is. In reality, think of how many people tried to accuse me of breaking up Thumper and Belle in the beginning. I don’t recall anyone really worried about him breaking up me and Axel.
Ok I get what you’re saying and I can see what you mean about the failure our the cheating aspect. With vanilla couples, in my life, it would and probably has always been an if you see something don’t say anything type of thing. And yes, all the while wondering when the divorce would happen – gay or straight.
On the “breaking up of Belle & Thumper” that might have something to do with the fact that a lot of readers in the beginning got to know you through thumper – who some have been reading for years and they already know of Belle and their relationship. Many don’t or, well didn’t, know or hear much of Axel in the beginning.
Think of it as a movie where thumper is the main character and you come along as this guy on the side without much backstory. From that view it could seem like you are a threat but when it comes down to real life we aren’t characters in a movie with a backstory to write, rather we are much more complicated.
Yup, hope I’m making sense as always 🙂
In your community of friends (which, in itself, is an interesting concept) it is, according to your example, an Acceptable Activity to be found – or found out – on Grindr.
For a short time, when we were seeking a third for a threesome, my spouse and I had a profile on AFF. I was all had no worries about being “found out”; my husband was completely freaked out that someone we knew might see us there. It’s a matter of mindset. And the Shame Factor is huge in the hetero-monogamous vanilla (hate that word) world.
Then again, I don’t think anyone is truly “vanilla,” any more than I believe anyone is “normal.”
I’m not likely to inquire as to the perceived well-being of a couple, as in your ‘John and John’ example. If I was to say, “How are Suzy and Jeff?”, my husband would probably look confused, blink a few times, and respond with “Fine.” Which translates to “I dunno. And I don’t really care.” If he were to ask me the same question, I could tell him how Suzy is doing, and what my concerns are, based on what she’s shared, about the state of her relationship… *If* I felt so inclined. Which, typically, I wouldn’t. Do I know she’s sexually unsatisfied? Yes I do. I likely wouldn’t bother passing that along though. To me (and especially to hubby), it’s of no more interest than what she ate for breakfast.
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I really don’t understand why everyone is so casual about this. For the straight couples it’s cheating. Plain and simple. For the gay couples, I guess you could call it a form of cheating but since those marriages are soon to be voided, I suppose it won’t be.
I made a vow when I married my husband to stay with him and only him. This bow was to him but also to God. I like to keep him in chastity to make our sex life stronger, but it’s just for us.
To answer the first question I would say no, normal couples don’t talk about other couples sexually.
Hi Pat. Are you my new Amy? (if you don’t get it you will).
I almost didn’t allow your comment to be posted, but decided to do it so that my friends would never forget that the world is full of bullies and monsters.
I just want to ask, why do you read me? and, what compelled you to try to speak against everything I am?
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I don’t know why I read yours, but I do like it despite the nature because I like your style and you remind me of and/or balance thumpers blog. I’ve recently started reading his again now that it’s back to more he and belle and chastity versus the gay fantasies and his feelings for sex with you.
I felt like I should comment because I want to see other sides represented.
That’s all and meant you no harm. As for Amy, I read that then and I am not like that.
I would be very pleased if you stopped reading mine. Can’t stop you, of course, but keep in mind as you read me that I find people like you deplorable.
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Well said, Bunny.
I am just curious as to why you think gay marriages are soon to be voided, Pat? I hope you realize that the legality of it is spreading not only nationally, but globally. That is an antonym of voided.
Also, what is normal anyway? Ask a hundred people and you’ll likely get a hundred different responses.
I’m just curious why Pat only seems to think it’s cheating in a hetero marriage… so if you’re dating and fucking everyone on the planet, that’s ok because that relationship will just be voided.
And I’m with you… what others do that isn’t hurting someone else is fine and dandy with me. If it’s all ok with all parties involved what should it matter to God or the rest of the world?
I want to see my friends happy and when they find something that makes them happy, I’m happy for them.
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I really don’t understand why everyone is so casual about this. For the straight couples it’s cheating. Plain and simple.
Pat, there’s cheating, and then there’s cheating. Personally, I think that motive and intent have as much to do with it as the act.
Years ago (when I was younger and more idealistic) I was fixing a computer for a friend of my parents and I discovered that he had been having an affair with a co-worker. I’m not giving the details, but I came to discover that when his wife hit menopause, she decided that she was no longer interested in sex, and subsequently stopped. She wouldn’t go to counseling, and refused to compromise.
In the meantime, the guy was in a relationship with three children, a house, and she did not work. Neither of them wanted a divorce, but he still wanted sex and intimacy. He ended up finding someone in a similar situation, and that’s how he managed to get by. They had an otherwise great marriage, and he decided that this option kept the rest of the family together.
I was in my late 20s when I found this out, and since then, I’ve taken a less idealistic mindset toward “cheating” spouses.
My hubby and I do talk about other couples we know, and of their sex lives… But not with them and usually in a humourous situation rather than a straight forward direct conversation. I would be willing to have more openness between us, but he “wont share” so i dont push it!
Girls from straight relationships talk openly with each other about sexual relations when the fellas are not around. Not sure if that helps!
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My husband and I are in an open relationship. I initially approached him about a threesome which led to further questioning from him. I do want a threesome, but I really also just wanted to have sex with another woman. Initially, he was fine with me being with people of both genders, but then he started up on his testosterone injections and became a little more territorial, so then it was just ladies. I haven’t actually had “relations” with anyone else yet, but I am oddly having a lot of fun hanging out on AFF (adult friend finder) and talking with different people. I have made some really awesome friends and pissed off more than a few jackasses/creepers, haha.
My husband is not interested in seeking out other companionship at this time, but I think that is likely due to the low T. However, I wouldn’t mind if he did as long as he was safe and open about it. For us, sex is sex. It is an enjoyable, physical activity that doesn’t mean more than you let it. The true infidelity would be if one of us fell in love with someone else, sex or not.
As for the openness of discussing sex, in general, the people I know are pretty open about such things. Hell, as women, we get to have Pure Romance Parties. My friends and I have always talked about sex and sex partners and my family dinners are an incredibly awkward bout of sex jokes. However, as far as my recent “change” in status, only a select few know about that. One close friend in which I have met during nursing school and two friends that I have known since middle school.
The friend from nursing school was pretty unfazed about it and even signed up on AFF himself for a while, haha. My friends from middle school were shocked at first, but only because I was always known as the “prude” and/or “maternal figure” of the group. It was a little weird for them just because of how they viewed me, but they were very accepting of it.
I am also in a secret facebook group for bisexual women and there are about 60 of there. Many are married or attached with “permission” to sleep with women. Several of them women in the group are actively involved or interested in the swinger lifestyle.
I do not discuss it openly much though for fear of other people’s reactions. While my parents are pretty open about some things, I don’t think they would be very accepting or understanding of the concept. I was raised to think certain things about people in lifestyles such as this. I realize that being in an open or swinger relationship doesn’t make people bad or weird, but I don’t want people to have negative thoughts or actions towards me. I have struggled a little bit to get over the biases that I had faced. Since I have started nursing school though, I have actually become a lot more analytical of other people’s motivations, cultures, etc.. in an attempt to be more understanding and provide better care. (One of the jokes with my class mates is “Make sure you don’t put penises in the stoma.” I feel bad for the non-nursing people in the cafeteria with us.)
I may be presumptuous here, but perhaps the reason that same sex couples are more open about it is because a lot of people already assume that you are horrible, awful sexual deviants and trying to spread your “agenda” to the world and corrupt the innocence? Oh, and sacrifice a goat or two while you’re at it. 😉
In addition, during our wedding, I made no such vows to my husband or any gos not to be with anyone else. I do however vaguely recall quoting the Green Lantern at one point though… Although, we were married by a justice of the peace and not “a man of god,” so technically it is a civil union, I suppose, and plenty of people will discount the validity of our marriage.
Great comment and thank you. We thought about the goats, but do you know how messy that would get? Not to mention expensive.
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Well clearly you aren’t devoted enough to the homosexual agenda, Drew.
Because, goat. And rabbit. 🙂
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I’m straying from the original topic Drew presented at this point, but I just wanted to comment on a few things yoy brought up. 🙂
My husband and I dud not use any “forsaking all others” language in our marriage vows either. And, for reasons I’ll not elaborate on here, we had an agreement from the start of our relationship that, when the time came, I would be seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere. I won’t pretend it’s been easy to navigate, but neither has it been overly difficult. We started as friends, and friends we remain. Neither of us is into the idea of owning the other, which is part of what makes What We Do work for us.
Your definition of “true” infidelity (as stated above and agreed upon by you and your spouse) is one I’ve heatd often. It seems to be one of the primary differences between the swing set and the poly people. I don’t belong to either community; I have experienced bith though, and I ride the line in between. 🙂
I like what you said about trying to understand other people’s motivations, especially culturally. The world would be a lot better place if more people did that.
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Sorry, I’m typing from my phone. 😉
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I mentioned the vow part because of Pat’s comment. However, I am a godless heathen, so of course I wouldn’t make such claims. 😉
We never intended for our relationship to go this way. In fact, I would have never even imagined it, largely due to the shame factor that you mentioned. As I get older though, I find that I really don’t care as much. As long as my actions don’t hurt me professionally, then why should I anyway? My real friends will stick by me and my family will continue to love me.
As far as the cultural thing, nursing school has helped a lot with that. I have always been the kind of person that didn’t really care about what others were doing or worshiping as long as they weren’t hurting others and anyone potentially involved was a consenting adult. However, in nursing it is important to understand people’s motivations in order to provide competent care for them. Religion and culture affect a lot of things from simple dietary needs to serious medical procedures. Understanding their motivations and backgrounds also helps in cases where they may be labeled as “non-compliant.” Most people want to live healthy lives. Some people may be lazy or not realize how sick they are, but many try the best they can or know how. It is up to us to educate them in a way that they can learn and find resources to help them. This really stuck with me in class (we learned it on day one) and naturally, I extended it into the rest of my life. Much easier to implement it professionally if it is already a habit in my daily life. 🙂
On behalf of all involved, go fuck yourself Pat. I tuned in when Thumper started talking about the “gay guy” because it’s fascinating and I for one am jealous of these 4 people who so seem to have their shit together. The friendship these 2 have is so fucking unique that I hope they keep telling us more. I am actually dying to hear more about what the actual feelings are, especially from Thumper (I’m a bi married guy too) since it’s clearly not romantic but not just a fuck friend either. They are braking new ground with every post.
In addition, do your research, nothing is going to unwed the gays. You are so wrong and just putting shit out to scare people.
This is not your business and, as a good Christian, aren’t you violating God’s law by reading a blog with pornagraphic intentions? Keep it going guys.
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Drew, there’s a lot of population variance on this. Years ago, my old friends form college were pretty open about discussing sexual stuff. But the friends I have now? I’m barely convinced that they *do* have sex. I don’t even hear them telling dirty jokes. Around the parties, I’ll make off-color double entendres, and all I get are groans, and nobody takes the bait.
I’m sure that they think I’m a bit wild, but they have no idea how much.
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Today, Mrs Edge told me she had lunch with a few of the lady friends. She mentioned that she got a good 9 hours sleep last night, and they both told her that they were envious. I laughed and said that they might be even more envious if they knew *why* she got 9 hours of sleep.
Then we looked at each other, and I told her that I was pretty sure that our friends weren’t even having sex anymore. She thought for maybe 3 seconds and agreed.
I’m not sure we’ve answered Drew’s original question. I’m almost 60, have lived in Southern California and Texas, and now live in rural South Carolina. I’ve known a lot of hetero couples. In my experience, non-kinky hetero couples who are having sex outside their marriages are secretive about it.
I’ve only ever known a spouse was having sex outside the marriage when it became a public scandal. I’ve never known of a hetero couple with an open marriage. The kinky hetero polys I know don’t seem to do well in their poly relationships which seem always to end, fairly quickly and unhappily. I’ve known a couple of single women who were having affairs with married men, and those were very secretive.
That’s my anecdotal experience.