I was an adventurous teenager. I was lucky to have sought out good information about sex and to have connected with some great communities of people. At 17 years old I was already involved with the queer, kinky, and polyamorous communities in Los Angeles. But even given the nature of my open relationship, I wasn't doing much beyond fooling around with other people, not even when I went off to college.
I started dating someone who knew I was in an open relationship, but he endured it more than celebrated it. When the other relationship ended, my new partner requested we be monogamous for a while. Young and in love, I agreed. So despite my proclivities, I ended up falling into a vanilla, monogamous relationship that stayed that way for a decade. Not quite what I’d had in mind as “a while.”
So, 10 years later, when my (now ex) husband and I opened up our marriage, I’d only had sex with two men. My husband and one man before him. And due to rules imposed on the open nature of our relationship, my husband started getting laid before I did. And I was starting to feeling a little discouraged. I’d never really done what could properly be called dating, and at 30 years old I was afraid maybe I wouldn’t be viable in the dating world.
I found myself thrust into a kind of self-consciousness I hadn’t felt since a I was a teenager. I began thinking about my weight, the cut of my clothes, even the way I did— or didn’t— shave my pubic hair.
As soon as my husband got his dating legs, I was free to date or sleep with anyone I pleased. So I returned to the OK Cupid profile I’d started and used briefly before the dating hiatus was imposed.
I sent a message to someone I’d been talking to— someone I’d had to cancel on— and told him that now I was available, if he was still interested. And it turned out he was.
We agreed to meet for tea and a walk in the park one weekday afternoon. Exactly the kind of low-key date I enjoy. I’d rather not feel stuck for the length of a meal, or trapped in a loud bar where conversation is almost impossible. So we met, and we walked, and before an hour was up he invited me to his place which was conveniently nearby.
Have you seen the movie Shame? His apartment reminded me of that. Everything was white, and it was starkly furnished. A jarring change from my own cluttered and brightly painted home.
We sat next to each other on the couch and he asked if I’d like to kiss a bit. I appreciated being asked. It set me at ease and eliminated the awkwardness of wondering what would happen next. After a bit of kissing he suggested we head to the bedroom. He took my hand to lead me there and at the time that seemed incredibly sweet.
Kyle was handsome. He was tall, and slender, and had model-worthy cheekbones. His attention felt good— and surprising. And yet my mind was full of unsexy thoughts. I hadn’t expected a first date— a tea date— to lead to sex. I hadn’t worn clothes that lent themselves to easy undressing.
You know what I mean, right? A flirty little dress you can just whip off? No. This was winter and I was wearing boots and tall socks and layer upon layer. I felt hopelessly awkward trying to slip out of my boots while crouching in the hallway— and trying to spare the white carpets. I had mundane thoughts like would my feet stink after our walk, and had I worn sexy underwear?
But none of that mattered. Kyle turned out to be exactly what I needed. He was enthusiastic and filthy. He was unabashedly sexual and seemed to enjoy every part of my body. Even the parts I wasn’t yet comfortable with, like my soft belly.
We worked our way through a respectable number of the things two bodies can do to each other, and when I thought we were done he said, “I want to fuck you again.” He had impressively quick refractory time and it felt good to think I’d inspired it.
I didn’t see my husband that night because he was on an overnighter, but I remember texting with him the next day about how my date had gone. He was enthusiastic and supportive. It felt good.
And although I had to wait longer than I would have liked to embrace my sexual freedom, it was well worth the wait. I’m quite sure I enjoy things more in my 30’s than I would have in my 20’s, and having some experience and perspective served me well.
Now I’m several years into having open relationships again, and every day is a learning experience and an adventure.
Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who focuses on sex, kink, and intimacy. Through her writing and teaching she explores the complex world of love and lust and strives to help people explore their sexuality safely and free of shame. You can learn more about Stella on her website, www.stellaharris.net or follow her on Twitter @stellaerotica
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