Question: I am currently interested in exploring polyamory as a single female, not interested in finding a primary partner. I posted an ad online the other day and was bombarded by emails from amazing sounding guys who were also interested in a more serious FWB situation. I am looking for someone who is interested in being friends first, who wants to connect in an affectionate, sensual, and sexual way on a semi-frequent basis. At first I thought I wanted just one or two FWBs to start my journey with, but I have met three in the past week and have connected with all of them, and amazingly enough each one of them brings out strikingly different aspects of my personality, and I am very interested in pursuing all three relationships to not only explore how different I am with each of them, but also because I am very attracted to all of them mentally and physically, and we share great chemistry so far.
I am still in the early stages of figuring things out with these guys but was curious:
1) Do you have any advice on how to develop and maintain each relationship?
2) How I should approach discussing my position to them each(should I disclose that I have other FWBs, even though we are agreed to be non-monogamous FWBs?)
3) What kinds of boundaries are good to have? I know that each relationship is different and have read the Ethical Slut but I am curious if you have any specific advice for this particular situation, or what works for you with your lovers.
4) How do I explain these new visitors to the relative that I live with? They are obviously romantic encounters(meeting at night, sharing wine, sleepovers at times) and there are 3 different guys(at the moment, I may explore more but I’m not sure). How can I make the idea of polyamory seem normal and acceptable to someone who is older and has not been exposed to the new poly/sexual revolution?
Answer: Thank you so much for your question! Let’s take these one at a time. In terms of the first question, that will be totally up to you and the other person. In my experience, once you become intimate with someone, you may develop deeper feelings than you originally thought you would. Also, depending on the frequency you see them, you will probably feel closer to them over time. You may like this or you may decide to pull back a bit. As long as you have open communication with your FWB, you should be fine. That’s the emotional side of it.
On the physical side, I would recommend you get tested for STIs before embarking on this journey. I would also encourage your FWBs to do the same. I would want to make sure everyone is clean before you begin developing the relationships. You may find that if you are having sex with 3 people, again depending on the frequency, you may get a bit worn out. If you’re having sex with each of them once or twice a week and some amount of penetration is involved, that’s quite a lot of stimulation for your vagina. Start off slowly and see how you do. I had a 2 month period where I was involved with 3 guys and it was wearing physically.
Question #2: I would definitely encourage you to tell each FWB about the other FWBs. If not for anything else, you can see how committed they are to you and to the idea of non-monogamy. Let them know that you really appreciate what they give you and that you value what you have together. I think they will definitely like the fact that they are being kept in the loop; if they don’t want to know about the others, I might stop seeing them because they might become more possessive. You should also let them know that you are committed to non-monogamy in general and specifically, polyamory. Tell them that you are open to seeing where things go with them; if something serious comes of it, that’s fine, and if not, that’s fine too.
Question #3: For myself, I tend to keep my boundaries lower because I am open to a lot of things. Most people however aren’t like me, so I would talk to people who have more experience with FWBs. Boundaries can be for the protection of your emotions or your body. If you, for example, want to explore things like BDSM, having boundaries is very important. You can include things like safe words. You might want to write down what you want to try and what you don’t want to try and share those with your FWBs. Even if you’re not doing anything like BDSM, I would encourage you to write down things you’re open to and things you’re not. This will be a good exercise to think about what your boundaries are. You can also just try different things and see if you like them or don’t. One thing you may want to think about is fluid bonding – if you find, in the future, that one or more of the relationships becomes serious, you may want to have unprotected intercourse with one of your FWBs.
Question #4: This can be a tricky situation because you are living with them. There are many cases where, for example, one partner wants to try polyamory and will give their partner The Ethical Slut and/or the book Opening Up and then they can have a conversation about how to open their relationship. I don’t know what your relative is like – they may be more progressive or more conservative. If you think they would appreciate reading those books, you can give one or both to them. You can also just sit down with them and tell them what your intentions are with the FWBs; if you don’t tell them, they will figure out eventually what you are doing and/or they will formulate their own ideas about what you’re doing, which is probably not what you’re going for. Fairly early on in my polyamory journey, I told my parents what I was doing. I’m pretty lucky because my parents are pretty progressive and though they don’t necessarily like what I’m doing, they accept it. Of course, all of this can also depend on your relative’s schedule; if they’re home when you’re home, it becomes more important. If they’re not home when you have FWBs over, it becomes less important. Some people decide to tell their families about their polyamory only when relationships become more established. In my opinion, the earlier you tell your relative, the better. As with your FWBs, they will probably appreciate being kept in the loop.
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