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Some thoughts on bringing down barriers

On another forum I read, a person had asked for help with a poly situation he was confronting.

Seems that his wife of many years had just started exploring the notion of having a partner outside their marriage (with his knowledge and blessing), and her new lover had managed to do some things with her sexually that totally blew her out of the water and circumvented some barriers that had always been present in their marriage.

The person posting about this was very distressed and upset about it, to the point where he was considering asking his wife to cut things off with her new lover.

And I think that's really interesting. Because upon reading his post, my first thought was "Dude! ROCK! You just hit the poly lotto jackpot! This is exactly one of the best things that can happen in a poly relationship!"




See, here's the deal. If one of my partners has an amazing, mind-blowing, life-altering sexual experience with some other guy, particularly an mind-blowing, life-altering sexual experience that brings down some barrier or opens some new door (and yes, this has happened), I'm all like, awesome!

For me, one of the many (many!) benefits to polyamory is that it improves my sex life.

And I don't mean "improves my sex life" in the sense of "lets me sleep with a bunch of women," but rather "improves my sex life" in the sense of "offers new avenues of exploration and new ways to find intimacy with my lover."

See, no matter how many things you can think of to do sexually (and as a seasoned, veteran pervert, I can think of quite a few), and no matter what you explore with your lover, the fact is that there will always be things that didn't occur to you and there will always be things that you don't explore. That's the way it goes; as human beings, we can not possibly ever do it all--not even if we live to be a thousand years old.

Because of that, there will always be doorways that we don't see.

This is especially true in relationships where some kind of barrier exists between the people involved. These barriers might take many forms--perhaps issues with relaxing and letting go during sex, perhaps problems with sexual communication or expectations, whatever.

When some new lover arrives on the scene, and explores something new or finds some way to bypass those boundaries, everyone wins. If one of my partners has a lover who gives her this awesome experience, then she has something she can take back into her relationship with me--"Hey Franklin! Check this out! If you do this, and then this and then this over here, then my body does this amazing thing! Isn't that cool?"

But more importantly, if someone is able to communicate with one of my lovers on a level that I never have, or finds a way around some kind of barrier that's always existed between us, then that person has just offered a gift of incalculable value. He's just created a roadmap to greater intimacy with my partner, by showing both of us that this barrier can be circumvented, and showing us how.

Now, it's true that some issues between people might be specific and unique to them. Even so, sometimes all it takes to begin to work on them anew is the feeling that it is possible to have a sexual relationship in which this whatever-it-is problem doesn't exist; funny thing about people is that when you show them something's possible, often that's all it takes for them to find a way to do it.

Plus, y'know, I really dig my partners, and I like when they're happy.

So to me, when a lover has some amazing, mind-blowing experience with someone else, that's a cause for celebration, rather than fear and angst. That seems to be a minority opinion, though--and that's a damn shame. Seems to me life is just a whole lot better when you're not all like "I have to be the best lover my partner has ever had or OMFG FAIL and I'm now worthless as a human being and she doesn't need me any more and brain weasel brain weasel brain weasel."

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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
mseuphrates
Mar. 18th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
So to me, when a lover has some amazing, mind-blowing experience with someone else, that's a cause for celebration, rather than fear and angst. That seems to be a minority opinion, though--and that's a damn shame. Seems to me life is just a whole lot better when you're not all like "I have to be the best lover my partner has ever had or OMFG FAIL and I'm now worthless as a human being and she doesn't need me any more and brain weasel brain weasel brain weasel."

I still have to remind the brain hamsters of this on a fairly regular basis. *sigh* With each new venture, it seems. I *think* it's getting better. But you are SO totally right - that's definitely the better way to approach things.

You probably saw my response (as I'm pretty sure I know the post you're talking about).

When my mate and I first started dating our ladylove, I came up with a mantra: "Different doesn't mean deficient." Then his best friend gave me a priceless gift - she reminded me that a negative mantra just reinforces negative thinking, and suggested I reword it to "Different is good." Which totally rewired my thinking on the subject - and has made a world of difference. I still get scared (right now I'm holding an entire herd of brain hamsters at bay as we navigate the waters of the first time he's been involved with someone who isn't also involved with me - totally good, I'm totally happy he's happy, and trying NOT to let the hamsters convince me to be scared shitless...which I have varying success with depending on the day and how much sleep I've managed to get). But I have better tools to fight with than I used to. :)

Thanks for being another voice of reason (and another baseball bat in my arsenal against the evil critters).
missmiyani
Mar. 18th, 2009 05:33 am (UTC)
I agree with this completely. If my husband discovers something with his other lover that really blows his mind, I feel that she's given him a gift, and one that I'm lucky enough to be able to share in afterwards.

One of the things that this person didn't seem to understand, also, was that by allowing his insecurities to get the better of him and affect his relationship with his wife, he was negating all the good that the breaking down of the barrier could have done. In order to make him feel better about himself, his wife, now, -must- have the same orgasmic experience with him. That places untold amounts of pressure on her, which essentially makes when he wants impossible. It's self defeating.
__rubyslippers
Mar. 18th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)
I totally agree with you, and maybe this guy has some other issue about the new polyamory aspect to his marriage, and doesn't see this an opportunity to broaden his horizons, sex-wise :D
tacit
Mar. 18th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
My suspicion is that he's still hanging on to some vestige of "If she finds someone better than me, she'll leave me!" Which, of course, misses the whole point--it's not necessary to leave one partner for another.
masterhyde
Mar. 18th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
It's actually much worse than that. If his wife's experience was really that amazing, and his response is "you have to stop" then he's going to end up with a very unhappy, very frustrated, and very oppressed wife. Seem to me that only INCREASES the chance that she'll leave him. And even if it doesn't, it's bound to be a sore point that's going to interrupt the harmony of his relationship with her.
joreth
Mar. 19th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
Yep, when we react out of fear, often it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That which we try hardest to avoid instead becomes that which we make happen.
noidea72
Mar. 18th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
I totally agree. It does not apply to just sex as well, it applies to all aspects of life. I am always learning things from my partners as they grow emotionally and socially from loving and being with others.
indywind
Mar. 18th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC)
Brain weasel!!!
LOL
awfulhorrid
Mar. 18th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
Wow. I don't know if it's because I'm wired differently or what, but I really can't wrap my brain around being upset that my partner is getting something great - something they need - that I can't give them. (Rather it's something I just haven't learned to do or something that doesn't mesh with my personality.)

Until I came along my boyfriend was never able to reach orgasm from a blowjob. His wife (one of my other girlfriends) had the reaction: "Wow! You'll have to show me how you're doing that!"

I've also learned important lessons about one partner from playing with another. One of my sweeties is a sub to me and had been asking me to collar her for some time now. It wasn't that I didn't want to do it, I just didn't understand what it meant to her. When my new sweetie collared me for the weekend I came away with a new understanding ... and apologized to my sub sweetie for having denyed that to her! (Actually I'm finding that the more completely I get to let out my sub side with my Top, the more comfortable I am Topping my own lovely pet.)
alumiere
Mar. 19th, 2009 11:19 am (UTC)
i agree totally regarding being wired differently - but i've never really been able to wrap my head around jealousy with or about a lover (although i am sometimes jealous of artistic talent and things like that)

and it sounds like the husband in this situation is likely to destroy his relationship if he doesn't figure out how to work past this and quickly (and i'm speaking as someone who's open marriage came apart precisely because he met someone he wanted more than me, and i left with good feelings and wishes for both of them)
kindredsgirl
Mar. 18th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Yes. This.

Recently, I had a short lived relationship, which was confusing and sad for me, and I grieved a lot about it ending. The other day, though, I realized that that partner and I had figured out a really wonderful new position to fuck in. . .. and it has made sex with my other partners more fun and satisfying. It made me feel a little better about having been through the heartbreak to know that some joy had come from it as well.

*hugs*

L
joreth
Mar. 18th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Similar thing happened to me. I have always had trouble orgasming during penetration. With most partners, it never happened at all, and those it did, it was not every time, even if we did all the same things.

Then I had a partner who seemed to be able to do it effortlessly. He found a position and we found a rhythm, and within a few minutes every time ... bam!

When we broke up, one of the things I was sad about was losing such an amazing lover because I dispaired of ever being able to count on the regularity of the orgasm. Obviously, I already knew how to enjoy sex without it, but now that I finally got to experience what other people do (regular orgasm during penetration), it was sad to have to let it go.

But, I also started thinking that I'd read somewhere that when women reach a certain age, their sex drive increases. And I also started analyzing *what*, exactly, made me orgasm with him? I discovered, to my absolute delight, that I could repeat the performance with others after him. All I needed was someone to show me that it was *possible* for me to try to repeat it.
musicman
Mar. 18th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
I've encountered this more than once with partners, and I know others have asked my current partner what she gets out of me being open. Your post expresses that better than anything I could write.
polywolf
Mar. 18th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
I don't understand why anyone would be upset when someone heals/helps another person overcome something.

I consider it a great honour if i can help someone overcome something in their life.



joreth
Mar. 18th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
The idea that we are special because of what we do, not who we are, is very deeply engrained in our society, and some people just cannot let go of that idea. If my partner finds someone who is better in bed than I am, ultimately, that means she does not need me because she can get her needs met elsewhere, therefore I can't let her experience something "better" than me.

*shakes head*

I've had partners who were less-than-thrilling-but-still-enjoyable in bed. That's not why I loved them. I've had partners who were less than stellar at housework and cooking too, and I have only had one partner *ever* who was a decent ballroom dancer (and we almost never danced).

The whole reason I'm poly is so that I do not *have* to leave my partner to experience something with someone else. In fact, for some activities, I hope the new guy *is* better at it than the existing guy, so that maybe I can finally experience something that my existing guy isn't into but that I am, without having to leave my existing partner just to get that experience. I do not want to have to sacrifice living and experiencing in favor of a loving relationship, nor do I want to prevent my partners from life and experience as a compromise to being with me.

I might be envious that my partner has experienced something with him that he hasn't with me, but the solution to that is to try and experience it with him too, not instead of.
joreth
Mar. 18th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
Just the other day, polyamory came up at work with a supervisor. He was shocked to hear that I have two boyfriends and that they are both OK with it. So I made his head spin by saying that they had to be because I was OK with their other girlfriends.

He asked the inevitable "doesn't anyone get jealous?" Not being the kind of environment where I could launch into a lecture about jealousy and how to deal with it, I simply said "We have no reason to get jealous. I am never afraid my partners will leave me for someone else because they never *have* to".

He clearly never looked at it from this perspective because he paused, and said "huh!" in that "well, I never thought of it that way before" manner, and fell silent for a long time.

I love those long pauses. It means I've challenged someone's assumptions and made them think.
petite_lambda
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
Wow, cool! Ployamory indeed requires a lecture to be exlpained properly... but your sentence just ROCKS - best content/length ratio among all I heard! Thanks, I'll remember that one... :-)
pretendpeterpan
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
The whole reason I'm poly is so that I do not *have* to leave my partner to experience something with someone else. In fact, for some activities, I hope the new guy *is* better at it than the existing guy, so that maybe I can finally experience something that my existing guy isn't into but that I am, without having to leave my existing partner just to get that experience. I do not want to have to sacrifice living and experiencing in favor of a loving relationship, nor do I want to prevent my partners from life and experience as a compromise to being with me."

Wow. That was so well put. Lightbulb moment for me!
petite_lambda
Mar. 18th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
You know, one thing is a shame - although it is to be expected. I mean the fact that here you are, expressing some very uncommon opinion -- and everyone wholeheartedly agrees with you! No learning, no dialog, no dispute, you see? It's a problem that you have such a poly flist :-)
tacit
Mar. 18th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
Heh. Actually, there is a certain amount of truth to that--one of the problems with being seen as a poly activist is that it sometimes feels like I'm preaching to the choir.
roguebaby
Mar. 18th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
I actually totally agree as well.
But to play the devils advocate so there can be a debate.. :)
What if the person who has experienced 'something new' is then reluctant to bring that back in to the original relationship?
There could be any number of reasons for this, a problem in the original relationship, sure, but also, a shyness to bring up 'something new' with the old partner, a fear that the 'something new' will be rejected , a fear that the old partner will see the new thing as threatening in some way or as strange and weird.

Then would not the original partner start to feel like their lover was sharing something with the new partner that they were not willing to share with the old, even tho that was not the intent?
Sure, It all boils down to the old communication nut, but still, there could definatly be the potential for jealousy in a situation like this, IMHO
joreth
Mar. 19th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
As you said, it comes down to communication. If you create an atmosphere with your partner that encourages sharing stuff from the new partner with the existing partner, that eliminates that cycle before it even begins, unless the shared partner has her own issues with polyamory ... in which case, that's the kind of thing I want to know about early on.

That's why I, personally, am against DADT relationships - it blocks that sharing, which blocks the paths to intimacy between the existing partners. If the shared partner isn't afraid to confide in and share with the existing partner out of her own issues, but because the existing partner has made it difficult for her to share without negative repurcussions, then it comes back to the existing partner's insecurities, which are probably the same ones in the original post that have to do with not being "good enough", and we're right back at Tacit's original point.
suzmonster
Mar. 19th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm not alone. I'm not entirely crazy. There is now at least 1 other person on the planet that feels the way I do. Go figure. Damn, that means I'm less unique though, doesn't it? ;D (A mutual friend pointed me to your blog and she was right, I like it.)
tacit
Mar. 19th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, and welcome aboard! :)
datan0de
Mar. 20th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
I agree completely, and can cite specific ways in which the sex between me and femetal is better as a direct result of experiences with others (zensidhe in particular, since he and I are very different in that regard). At the same time, I do have to admit that the whole thing can be quite scary. Worth it, but scary. Kind of like an awesome roller coaster, except that going three times in a row doesn't make you want to vomit. :-)

(I am teh silly tonight.)
mosthings1z
Mar. 21st, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Awesome... and so very true.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 6th, 2009 07:40 am (UTC)
Well, this comment is late, but I'll leave a comment anyway as the lone mono voice crying in the wilderness :P (This is monomama, I just forgot my login password and got temporarily banned from logging in for trying too many wrong guesses)

I think it's very understandable why the husband is unhappy and unnerved. Sure, in a poly relationship you might not have to worry about being pushed out of the relationship altogether. But that doesn't mean that your partner won't replace you as Most Favored Lover, or whatever you want to call the Top Dog position. And to those who say, but a lot of poly people don't HAVE a Top Dog position! I'd say, well, that's exactly the problem, because what a lot of mono people understand by love and commitment is precisely that: making me their Top Dog. If you don't make me your Top Dog, you might feel warm fuzzies for me in your heart, but it isn't being expressed in a way that I value and interpret as love. I am guessing that Mr Husband agreed to generously allow his wife to share herself with someone else on the assumption that if he did that, he'd still be Top Dog, and now that Mr Lover has proven better in bed, he's very, very worried that he's about to be displaced as Top Dog and become Mr Boring Second-Priority Beta Dog. Maybe Mrs Wife is reassuring him that this isn't going to happen, but realistically, I think it's not unlikely that if Mr Lover is really so fantastic a lover, Mr Husband may very well become a secondary. Depends on how important sex is to Mrs Wife. Maybe a poly person wouldn't mind being relegated to secondary status; a mono person most certainly would, not only because it would mean no longer being loved, by (mono) definition, but also because the mono person doesn't have any other romantic relationships to fall back on. So if they lose Top Dog status with their one partner, they're left with only half a relationship, in terms of time and attention, and zero relationship in terms of being the number one priority. Hardly something to look forward to. I can well understand why Mr Husband is shitting his pants. Unfortunately, he already agreed that Mr Lover is in, so it's a little late to be thinking about these things now. Poor guy. He may be acting like a jerk, but it's very understandable why. There is indeed quite some risk that he's about to lose the relationship as a mono would define it.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )