“Exploring What I Wanted In Life, Sex, And Love": People In Non-Traditional, Poly, And Open Relationships Are Sharing What They Think Everyone Should Know

    "I wish people knew that one of the most amazing things about polyamory is seeing someone else love a human as much as you love a human."

    It's time to kill the misconception and pass the mic to folks in polyamorous, non-monogamous, kink, swinging, and other alternative sexual relationships — to provide a little insight.

    I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share what they want people to know about their non-monogamous, polyamorous, or open relationships because there are too many assumptions about this taboo lifestyle. Here are all the anonymous responses:

    1. "My girlfriend and I are non-monogamous. I wish people understood that non-monogamy isn’t something people do because they don’t 'love their partner enough.' We chose to have this aspect to our relationship because we’re both people who tend to have feelings for more than one person at a time, and we’re long-distance. We love and trust each other and choose to come back to each other even if we see other people. We communicate about it regularly; we get excited to hear about each other’s intimate/dating endeavors, and it brings us closer. Neither of us feels ashamed of crushes or anything like that. We don’t expect each other to fulfill every need. It works out great if you communicate about it and make sure you appreciate and respect your partner."

    —anonymous

    2. "I wish people knew that one of the most amazing things about polyamory is seeing someone else love a human as much as you love a human. Seeing my partner through their partner's eyes has shown me things about them I would never have seen otherwise."

    —anonymous

    Screenshot from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    3. "I was in a long-distance, open relationship for a short period before I fell head over heels for someone. My open relationship wasn’t about getting feelings, it was about finding myself. I was exploring what I wanted in life, sex, and love. I was seeing multiple people, mostly platonic. It was a great way to be no strings attached but still get to enjoy my young adult life. I admit I wasn’t very attached to my partner at the time, and I had just gotten out of a long-distance relationship, so when they moved, we sat down and decided to be open because I didn’t want to be in the same situation I had just left. I'm a committed person, for sure. I get attached easily, but it was nice to have that time when I wasn’t getting attached because I had a prior attachment — no matter how toxic."

    —anonymous

    4. "We are a polyamorous, monogamous throuple. My wife of 20 years and I opened up our relationship to one person five years ago. None of us, even our girlfriend, wanted to date anyone else, so we haven't. By that definition, we have been a poly-monogamous throuple."

    —anonymous

    Screenshot from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    5. "We're not judging you for being monogamous. 'If that works for you, great!' This works for us. I think many monogamous people can be judgmental of ENM/open/poly people because they feel defensive — as if everyone non-monogamous thinks monogamy is traditional, old-fashioned, and uncool. I'm sure some narrow-minded jerks think that monogamy is irredeemable, but mostly, we want to love people in a way that feels authentic to us, and we respect that you want that, too. One is not better than the other. We're not trying to make monogamy extinct. We don't think everyone should be open as a default. We don't want you to feel you need to defend your relationship because it looks different from ours. We want there to be a greater spectrum for the form relationships take. Please treat us respectfully, even if you don't think you could ever be open and don't understand how people can live this way."

    —anonymous

    6. "Just because I have a girlfriend and a boyfriend doesn't mean I want to get in your pants, too."

    —anonymous

    7. "Instead of feeling shame for being attracted to someone other than my primary partner (spouse), I can explore other people in a comfortable environment. I still can have that exciting first-time thrill. Consent and open communication is everything!"

    —anonymous

    Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    8. "After only having been with each other, my husband and I realized we had needs that weren't fair to impose on the other, so we had a conversation and decided to explore. We weren't looking for a throuple, but here we are!"

    "Admittedly, it was challenging for some of our family at first, and for others, it still is, but we're happy as a unit and have been for over three years. Surprisingly, most people's response is 'oh, okay,' but we occasionally get questions, which we answer honestly."

    —anonymous

    Screenshot from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    9. "My partner is polyamorous, and I'm fine with that. I can't meet all of his needs. One person shouldn't be expected to meet all of the needs of another. I think the whole concept of monogamy is a setup for disappointment. Hopefully, the disappointment is minor, but if he can find someone else to meet that need, why not?"

    —anonymous

    10. "There is no 'right' way to be polyamorous. You have to find what works for you and your potential partners. Sometimes, it's group sex; sometimes, it's a long-distance arrangement. You have to disconnect from the idea that there is a 'relationship escalator.'"

    —anonymous

    11. "I have been kinky for as long as I can remember. I have been a practicing Domme for at least a decade. I met my partner on a swingers website five years ago. He is an exhibitionist and gets a lot of attention from the ladies and men. We have an open relationship. We don't need to tell each other what we are doing with others. We have trust and respect. We always choose each other. We also practice safe sex. Our life plans don't include others. This works for us."

    —anonymous

    12. "There are more of us out there than you think. I 'came out' to a best friend at a Christmas party to little more than a slightly awkward acknowledgment followed up 15 minutes later by a 'yeah, me and the wife, too!'"

    —anonymous

    Screenshot from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    13. "Emotions speak louder than words when you want people to understand. I've made mistakes rationalizing why my lifestyle is okay. It's at its best when others can see and relate to feelings rather than logic."

    —anonymous

    14. "Removing romantic boundaries helps you question other boundaries outside of romance."

    —anonymous

    15. "There is no one right and only format for a non-mono relationship."

    —anonymous

    Screenshot from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    16. "Sometimes, the relationship happens between all participants, or a couple might have their unique partners. Sometimes, those partners know each other. Sometimes, they don't. Sometimes, a partner might not have any other partners, and only one partner acts outside the couple-type relationship. Or, you have individuals who have time and experiences with others but are not attached to anyone in particular."

    —anonymous

    17. "Opening a relationship is unlikely to fix the problems you are trying to address. Your relationship has to be secure for it to work for all participants. Communication, trust, and respect are key to success."

    —anonymous

    18. "Most of us are trying to balance other people's feelings and expectations and not trying to create more drama."

    —anonymous

    19. "People come and go. Sometimes, it can be a lifetime, but successful relationships are just amazing times together, being thankful for those times, and leaving someone in a better place than you met them."

    —anonymous

    Screenshot from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    20. "People in non-traditional relationships aren't fucking all the time."

    —anonymous

    Do you have any thoughts on being in a non-traditional relationship? Share them in the comments or use this lovely Google form to remain anonymous.

    Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.