I’m a 28-year-old pan-curious married guy from the Midwest about to move to San Francisco. I’ve been with my wife for 10 years (married four), and we’ve started to explore being monogamish. I am also re-exploring my bi attractions. I’ve been thinking a lot about the opportunities for reinvention that our cross-country move might provide. My wife is GGG and fully supportive, but I still feel apprehensive about getting back out there. I’d like to believe that I am not a complete fool at being charming when it comes to dating, but after 10 years of monogamy, I am worried my sex knowledge is the sex that works for my wife and me. And there’s the fact that I am very new to guys, with just one short-term M/M relationship and one terrible hookup under my belt. Any tips for bolstering one’s confidence and making new sexual encounters as fun and unawkward as possible? Is there a resource for dating, hookups, culture? I know the basics of safe-sex practices, but I know little of clubs, kink parties, Growlr/Tinder, etc. I want to slut it up in SF, but I don’t know where to start.
Newbie (New Bi?) Slut
“My first piece of advice for anyone opening up their relationship is to take things slow,” said Polly Superstar, cofounder of Kinky Salon, a pansexual, pan-everything party/institution. “Why jump off a cliff when you can take the stairs? However supportive his wife is, it’s likely to bring some unexpected emotions, so take it one step at a time, communicate clearly and be patient.”
And while your feelings and your wife’s feelings are paramount – you are each other’s primary partners, in poly parlance – the other people you hook up with have limbic systems of their own. Too many people stroll into their first sex club or kink party expecting to find a room full of human Fleshlights at their disposal and are shocked to find a room full of other human beings with desires, preferences and limits of their own.
As for messing around with men …
“After 10 years of monogamy with a woman, it’s not surprising he’s apprehensive about having sex with men,” said Superstar. “That’s totally normal! But I don’t believe that sexual confidence with new partners is the key to great hookups. There are a gazillion books out there teaching people techniques for self-confidence, but most of them just teach you how to be an asshole. He should just be himself and be real. Accepting that new sexual encounters can be awkward is the first step in making them less so.”
Superstar took the words right out of my mouth: Acknowledge and embrace the awkwardness to get past it. You know how a drunk never seems drunker than when he’s trying to pretend he’s not drunk? Pretending you aren’t feeling awkward when you are makes you seem more awkward. So practice saying, “I’m new at this, I’m a little nervous and I’m feeling a little awkward.” Good people will make an effort to put you at ease. Shitty people will do you the favor of wandering off.
But whether you want to explore with men or women, Superstar recommends sex parties. “They’re a great place to explore because there’s no commitment,” said Superstar. “You can meet someone, make out, fool around, and if you’re not feeling it, you can go do something else. I would recommend my event, Kinky Salon, for a newbie bi guy. We are queer-friendly and a great place to meet people. He could bring his wife. It’s a lot safer and more community-driven than a bathhouse, and there are opportunities to flirt, make out and socialize, which are nice baby steps to take.”
My wife and I are in an open relationship. It started because my wife found flirtatious text messages I sent to a coworker. She confronted me calmly and said she knew our sexual relationship hadn’t been great. She was not that interested in sex, as she’d gained about 50 pounds. I was still attracted to her, but I was rejected half the time. The other half, we had good sex, but nothing new or interesting. She said she was willing to try an open relationship. I offered other solutions (porn and toys), but she said she didn’t have the libido for it. We talked it to death before deciding we should move into (open) uncharted waters. I had a yearlong relationship with my coworker that ended when my wife and I moved. During that time, my wife never had an outside sexual experience, but she lost weight and we started having better, more frequent sex. Now I’m not looking for anything on the side. But she has sexual relationships with several people, including threesomes with her best friend and best friend’s husband, a neighbor and a coworker. I know I sound like an asshole, but I am insanely jealous. I feel like she’s getting to know our new city by sleeping with the neighborhood. Four partners in two months seems crazy to me. Do I deal with this by ending our agreement to share information about outside partners? Or do I tell her I don’t want an open relationship anymore, which seems like a dick move considering my past long-term relationship and the newness of her explorations?
Other People Excluded Now
It sounds like you and the wife had different ideas about your relationship. What you had with your former coworker sounds like poly-style openness – you had an ongoing emotional and sexual relationship – while what your wife is doing with her friend, the neighbor and her coworker sounds like fuck-whoever-you-want openness.
It seems that what really bothers you about your wife’s explorations is the potential for gossip. Not everyone in an open relationship is comfortable being out about it; some people who aren’t sexually monogamous nevertheless wish to be socially monogamous, i.e., perceived to be monogamous, because they fear judgment or discrimination. Or perhaps the issue is this: If people know your wife is sleeping around but don’t know about the open relationship, you may look foolish. Those are legitimate concerns, and your wife needs to take your feelings into consideration, and you need to reopen negotiations. The best compromise may be for your wife to dial it back while simultaneously shifting to a DADT arrangement or, as you put it, ending your agreement to share info about your outside partners.