I’ve been doing a lot of thought the idea of honest and open. I recently listened to a podcast “life on the swing set” Where the hosts were talking about some of the benefits of monogamy and benefits of polyamory, and one of the poly benefits they touched on was that of honest and open communication. I related to the host’s statement that her experience with monogamy have been stifling, that she had to lie about some aspects of herself, to not be honest or open about some feelings are some thoughts because they don’t fit well with monogamy, and how refreshing it had been in polyamory to have the freedom to be completely upfront. Granted, there are I am sure monogamous couples out there who are 100% completely honest. I just don’t know any of them. It wasn’t MY experience. In my experience in monogamy you had to pretend that this person was suddenly the only person on earth for you and were your 100% soulmate that met every single need and you never had another attraction. I know that this is a simplification, bear with me.
My husband and I had always been very honest with each other, but in polyamory we found that we were we reached an even greater level of honesty. And I don’t just mean in sexual matters. I’ve also found that we can be honest in tiny things to a greater degree. If nobody is expected to meet every single need that you have or understand every single thing about you then it’s perfectly okay if something about you is really really different from them. They don’t have to go there with you.
I also find a lot of joy in this honesty. It’s a new level of friendship. We’ve had really enjoyable talks about other relationships, helped each other when we felt insecure with others and celebrated each others successes. When my husband had a moment of self-doubt about his relationship I was able to help and see it from his girlfriend’s perspective and to look at things a little differently and to really be a true friend to him. That’s amazing!
I am exactly who I am and I am loved for that. I am not a bad person because I have attraction. I am not evil because I’m open to new experiences and new aspects that intimate relationships bring. That kind of freedom is wonderful. My husband knows accepts and supports me, and i do for him as well. I’m not saying that we never feel uncomfortable feelings or that it’s always easy, because it isn’t but it is lovely.
So there I was grooving about how I related to the host’s comments and how great all this openness is, and I realized I’m actually not that open and in all of my relationships. Some of this is natural because relationships are just different from each other. I have been with Hubby for 12 1/2 years. My other relationships are much newer. I don’t tell Traveler absolutely everything and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so because I don’t know him THAT well. I am much closer with Great Date but of course we are still a fairly new relationship too. We’re getting there and I’m amazed at where we are already.
But here’s the part that kind of bothered me. Well, maybe not bothered me, but made me think. There’s actually another hesitation to honesty there, and that is that I’m afraid. It’s natural to be less sure in a new relationship that everything you say will be okay and that the relationship will survive it. The fact is you haven’t survived that much yet. The only way to really have solid trust is to have time and experience.
But there’s also an internal pressure to be less open and honest because I don’t want to get in trouble and I don’t want to say things that might make someone I care about uncomfortable. My partners and I have certain understandings; that we will tell each other when we are heading to or going on a date, other dates, when we have sexual activity for the first time with a new partner, and when we have fallen or are falling in love. To be clear -these are good but they feel more like minimum standards.
Okay, so honest and open communication might include more than just the minimums. Where does it stop? Does it? To be honest and open do we have to share every thought in our heads? Should we be concerned that every time we enter a public arena we will hear commentary of how hot everyone is in graphic detail? “Oh my god person X is so attractive. I just want to bend them over-the-counter and blah blah blah”? If we ask for basic tact, is that asking a person to be less than honest?
If I heard an unending litany of how hot every single person is, frankly it would make me feel pretty insecure. But isn’t that unfair? Am I really dating people whose every single thought is how much they want to fuck every single person they see? I hope not. That’s ridiculous. If it were I’m not sure I should be in a relationship with them. I’d like to think I can hold my partners’ attention sometimes. Okay. So would it be alright if they told me how attractive they found people sometimes? Yes. I enjoy talking about that with Hubby. He has the cutest attraction to the waitress at a local coffee shop. It’s fun to enjoy that fun energy with him.
I suppose to me it matters how they phrase it too. I suppose you could argue that a person is being less than honest if they have to use tactful language, but I think that’s a ridiculous extreme argument. There are differences between telling someone “you look like shit in that outfit”, “that’s not an attractive outfit”, or saying nothing because you don’t want to give them or yourself a moment of discomfort. I think you can be honest and kind. I think the level of honesty that is kind can also increase with time and with understanding. I think you can get to a place where it’s perfectly okay to say “oh my god is so attractive I just want to just them right now!!” You probably want to start a little smaller though.
So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking maybe it’s a process. Maybe it’s not a quick right-now black-and-white right-this-instant kind of thing. Maybe you discuss it and you decide what you want to build. If you want a really honest and open relationship, maybe you start telling each other things and build upon it. And maybe part of that is that it’s okay to be honest about how you feel about this stuff too. Maybe it’s okay if at times, as you’re learning, to be uncomfortable, and maybe you give each other feedback. “Ooh a little less detail sweetie” or “Come on…is that all you want to do” sorts of things. Maybe you support each other as you process this stuff and offer a little reassurance as needed. Maybe some days you’re just honestly more blunt than others, and maybe you figure that out as you go.
Hubby and I do a little of this and I’d like to in my other relationships as well. When Hubby comes home from a date and I ask him, “how did it go?”. If he can’t tell he’ll ask “what you want to know?” I’ll generally think for a second about where I’m at and tell him something like “‘Im just asking in general how the date went” or I’ll let him know to dish by asking “Did you get lucky?” (eyebrow waggle). If he knows it’s cool, he can then decide if he wants to share a fun little tidbit or not. Over time he has shared more and more and there’s very little that is off-limits today. It’s certainly not that we invade our partners privacy by sharing each and every detail, but we do let each other into our lives and thoughts. It’s comfortable there because I feel informed and included, and I love that I can offer him that love and that friendship, and I want to offer that to Great Date and Traveler and future partners too. I like that closeness. I’m okay with the idea that it will take time and effort and energy, but I think it’s a good goal. I’ve talked with my partners about this and I suppose we’ll probably have more conversations as we go along. I will never be perfect. I will never do everything perfectly all the time. I will never be perfectly honest. I will never be perfectly open. But I really d
o want to try. There is something beautiful about having the freedom to be exactly who you are and being loved for that. It’s a gift I want for myself and something I want to give my partners.