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Mo’ people, mo’ problems: more from PM on ENM, part 2

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Mo' people, mo' problems. Finally, finally, I'm going to get you, dear reader, to the finish line. 😉

In my fantasies, I imagine PM and I discovering a mutual attraction with a couple with whom we're already friends. We experiment. Have fun. Connect in a hot, primal way with people that we trust and can simply be with. No responsibility. No expectations. No past. No future. Just the present. The dirty, sweaty present. And we're all whatever the result, no harm no foul. I want it so bad I can friggin' taste it.

PM and I just watched this charming Czech film on Tubi called "4some" about two middle-aged couples -- friends for decades who live next door to one another, whose children are dating each other -- who decide to sexually experiment together. It was a delightful and sweet story, something that I can't say about many of the films we've watched featuring partner-swapping or polyamory. And the couples look like normal people of that age, by which I mean, they don't look like supermodels. Again,charming. At 42, I really appreciate this. And it has a happy ending of sorts. Check it out and let me know what you think! But I digress...

My point is: if only the concept of an ethical non-monogomous romp was so simple.

First of all, our compulsive monogamous culture being what it is, I know that I need to recognize how unrealistic it is to think that an attraction to someone who's in a conventional relationship would work out somehow in this way. The harsh reaction my friend's crush's fiancé (wow, that's a mouth-full) had to their flirty friendship that I shared in Part 1 illustrates how threatened many, if not most, people are with the thought that their partner may feel attraction for someone else.

Second of all, I see that I need to acknowledge that trying to incorporate sex into an existing friendship — at least, a friendship that you wish to maintain — is tantamount to shitting where you eat. At best, PM and I would have an amazing sexual adventure together with a couple we already like and connect with, and we’re able to remain friends afterwards (albeit with a more intimate knowledge of one another).

At worst, it could mean blowing up our social circle.

And so as charmed as I was by the Czech film, I don't believe for a second that it could be so easy.

PM and I have been settled in our current location for 6 years now. Over the years we’ve found an amazing group of friends, most of whom are married couples with children who are roughly the same age as ours. It’s a quirky group, but it’s one in which we can be ourselves, without feeling any need for pretenses. They are a group of people that I truly love and appreciate and with whom I feel loved and appreciated.

When it comes down to it, would I really put our social life at risk for a little sexual experimentation? Within a social circle, you’re all connected, in a way. When something goes awry with one of the connections, the whole thing can go wonky. If things get awkward with even just one couple, it can throw a wrench into the whole damn machine.

And I don’t know that’s a risk that I would ever want to take, even if it were on the table. Which it's not, just to be clear.

PM and I have already experienced this proverbial wrench in our social circle as a result of my blog. Back in March of this year I had to deal with a series of angry texts from a former-friend about my blog. And it was ugly. And painful. And confusing. And I still feel the reverberations of this fallout within our friends group a year later.

In an effort to get my blog off the ground, early in 2022 I had shared it among friends and trusted acquaintances with the hope that they'd not only find it entertaining but that they would perhaps share it with others who might also appreciate it. My first, small step in promoting my project, I suppose.

It was also a bold, creative endeavor for me, putting something out there that I had made. I felt a lot of personal pride in my work. I've been a full-time, stay at home parent for almost eight years now. And while I do feel a certain amount of excitement when one of my kiddo's rocks an awesome, hand-made Halloween costume, it's not quite the same, is it? This blog has been something wholly my own. About my journey of self-discovery, as well as intrinsically part of that journey. And I feel like I've done a pretty good job, and I'm proud of that. That, and I'm proud of it as an act of bravery on my part. It's scary as fuck letting folks see my private thoughts, frustrations, desires and fantasies.

But, if I'm honest, it was also about putting my authentic self out there for the first time to a larger circle of people in my life who I trust and care about. From very early on, my essays have been about connecting with other people through sharing my own unfiltered thoughts and experiences. I lay myself bare here. And given that the subject matter isn't benign like a crochet blog or something, I obviously knew that I had to be somewhat careful about whom I shared it with. I didn't want to be getting the stink eye from mothers at their children's birthday parties.

Yet, despite having been careful about whom among our friends and acquaintances I shared this with, I was torn to pieces by someone I trusted. And as a result, for a time I wasn't sure whether I should continue writing or just shut the whole thing down and file it under "ill-conceived, half-baked plans that should never have seen the light of day."

This female friend and her male partner had been couple friends of ours for about five years, although we had grown to know them better over the course of the pandemic. They have a child who is the same age as our oldest, and our children had been friends. We also shared quite a few mutual friends, mostly other families with similarly aged children. At the time when I launched my site, they were among a short list of people who I had no doubt would be supportive of this little pet project of mine. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong.

This woman and former-friend apparently felt I was somehow using the blog to try to seduce her partner. Or cause problems for them. Or something along those lines. I don’t even really know what she was afraid of precisely, as her text rants to me (and PM) about the whole thing were nonsensical. (To be honest, we were already on shaky ground with this woman over a he-said-she-said incident between our children. Still, I had hopes that over time, she and I could re-establish some kind of friendship.) But her hurtful comments and accusations about my blog were so out of left-field...I was reeling for weeks over it. As I've said before, my first instinct in cases of conflict or awkwardness is to blame myself, to assume that I've done something wrong. If not for the unmitigated reassurance and support of not only PM but others in our circle of friends (both men and women) over the conflict, I would not have continued writing.

All in all, it was a painful shit show. I'll likely never know why she felt so threatened by my essays. Nevertheless, now it serves as a reminder to me that many people (even women who I had thought of as liberated and forward-thinking) have a problem with women expressing their sexuality. For one reason or another, it scares the shit out of some of them.

And this whole crap-fest I experienced came simply as a result of a blog that I have about my sex life with my husband. (And this happened long before I wrote my essays about my interest in ethical non-monogamy. Goddess only knows what she would have had to say about that...) Seriously. We’re adults! What’s the big deal?! Grow up and get the fuck over it! But, again, clearly not everyone is comfortable with women expressing their erotic side. To some, it’s offensive –– a topic that should be kept private and not openly discussed. To others, it’s threatening. *shrugs and shakes heads*

In the end, in this particular instance, the loss of this couple from our social circle wasn't a nuclear disaster. Yes, it did mean that some of our other friends had to decide how they would handle group parties where both PM and I and the other couple would normally have been invited. I have had to accept that there is a sort of custody-sharing of our friends that happens now with this other couple, which includes rotating visitation. But as it was generally a minor disagreement -- it was fucking petty, really -- there was no taking of sides and losing of any other relationships.

And yet it was incredibly painful for me, just the same. To think that expressing my thoughts and feelings about sex and my marriage could result in lost friendships was downright scary. And as I said, it made me question for a time whether I should continue with my writing.

But ultimately the whole mess serves to highlight the organic nature of social circles. Cut off an appendage, and the rest of the unit is going to be affected in some way. In this case, simply writing about my sex life was enough to shove a wedge into what had been an established friendship and cause ripples in our family's friendships. Anything that happens within our social circle has the real potential to seriously disrupt not just our own social life, but that of our whole family's.

So remember that swingers' podcast that I talked about in Part 1? You know, where they talk about how they needed to create a whole new social life with people from the lifestyle? As much as I had fantasized that we might discover couple friends that we already knew with whom we could experiment, I totally understand why these couples had to do what they did.

To be honest, I don’t even know if I can jettison these unwritten rules of being coupled, when it really comes down to it. It's a big leap from fantasy to reality. It's like visiting a whole new planet. And not everyone wants to really do that.

So in order to explore ENM and not blow up your life, a couple needs to form a whole new crew of friends who are also in the lifestyle. There doesn't seem to be any getting around it.

What more, everything that one might do with conventional couple friends, these swingers do within their new partner-swapping social circle -- except they also fuck one anothers' spouses. They go out to dinner together. They have holiday parties together. They vacation together. They go to sex clubs and sex parties together. (Okay. These last two are not something you do with your regular Jane and Dick couple friends, but you get my drift.)

And along the way, they're always looking to meet new people in the lifestyle to experiment with and to possibly integrate into their ever-evolving social circle of swingers. Sound exhausting yet? I personally find the thought a little overwhelming, never mind my introverted husband.

And here is perhaps the real kicker. These couples have not replaced one social group with another. That is, they maintain their "normal" relationships with conventionally monogamous friends -- old school friends, work friends, family-friends etc. -- but have simply added into their lives a second social circle of couples who swing. And never the twain shall meet. (Actually, in one episode they discuss a party where they invited both their regular friends and their swinger friends, and no big surprise, it didn't go smoothly. As in, some-couples-whipping-off-their-clothes-and-going-skinny-dipping-in-the-pool not smoothly. I mean, sounds like an interesting party to me... but I imagine I'd find it terrifying if I were the host trying to play it cool with the normies.)

So these couples who swing have two very separate, active social lives. Which makes sense, as it seems to me a little unhealthy if one simply did away with old friendships in favor of couples with whom you can boff. They've got their friends who have nothing to do with the lifestyle –– and also know nothing about their alternative lifestyle –– and their friends who do.

PM and I already have a busy social calendar. While separate social scenes sounds very sensical to me -- and necessary -- it also sounds utterly exhausting. And that's saying a lot, as I'm an extrovert by nature. But that's a lot of friends. A lot of event juggling. A lot of secret-keeping (which is a whole other can of worms, if you ask me). And these podcasting folks don't even have children, which adds a shit ton of other stuff that one has to do and keep track of.

I want this to be easy. I want to already know and like this person, these persons. Both PM and I agree that the idea of having to build and then maintain a whole new set of friendships with people already in the scene (in addition to the conventional friendships we have with the folks we already know and love) sounds untenable. Well, to my introverted PM it all sounds physically and mentally draining. For extroverted-yet-socially-anxious-me, it sounds terrifying. It takes me time to become comfortable with people. And if I’m not comfortable — if I don’t yet trust someone — I’m too self-conscious to be myself. And that’s a total arousal crusher for me.

For PM, interacting with other people is exhausting already, and when you add on top of that the necessity of having a whole additional social group to engage in the lifestyle, to him the whole thing is just too much work. In PM's mind, that's two more strikes against ENM.

So basically, neither of us can imagine actively looking to meet new people already in the lifestyle in order to pursue the possibility of sexually experimenting. *cues the anti-climax sound effect*

And I haven't even touched on the complicated issue of PM's profession. Apart from having a career in politics, his vocation is probably the only other one where what he does in his private life could utterly blow up his career. Even if we had the will and the energy to form that new social circle in which to experiment, we live in a small city. Sometimes it feels like everyone knows everyone else. All you need is one pissed off person who wants to cause trouble... I don't like that my spouse's job weighs in our decisions about our sex life, but the reality is that it does.

But all of these considerations don't negate the feelings of restlessness that I've been experiencing. And I find that I’m grieving a bit over the whole thing. I've had an attachment to a fantasy — that we’ll discover a couple who is already part of our social circle in some way that we could play and explore with — and I need to let go of it.

Right now I feel a bit like my erotic self is languishing. I'm having trouble finding the inspiration to write. I'm not even in the mood to read smut. Of course, it doesn't help that it's winter and that, as a stay at home parent, I'm cooped up most of the day with my 4-year-old and piles of laundry. *frowns* I've yet to find a crush replacement, and I don't see any on the horizons. And I'm finding it all rather difficult. *sighs*

Don't get me wrong –– PM and I are still at it. Everyday. We've got our lovely routine of weed-fueled Netflix and Chill. We're still making the beast with two backs every night... and sometimes before we get up for the day. But I can't deny that I'm feeling a bit off.

For me and the issue of ENM, I will ultimately have to answer the question of what it is that I really am looking for. What is it that I feel is missing or lacking in my current relationship, or just within myself even, that an arrangement like partner-swapping might provide. And are the potential difficulties that may arise in exploring this type of dynamic worth what I think I/we might possibly gain from it? *sighs*

I don't know where our journey will take us, but thank you for joining me.

Until next time, stay kinky 😉

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