After I slam the car door, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window. “What are you doing?” I ask myself, before making my way through the hotel lobby. I haven’t seen Max in over a month, but still, I know that neither of us will feel the need to make awkward small talk. His eager hands undress me, and before I know it, I’m reaching for a condom.
“Don’t forget, I need a few photos and a short video or two,” I say. Then, in the midst of changing positions, I tell him to take a photo. We ravish each other the way new lovers do… except that we aren’t really lovers. We might text a few times in the next week or two, but only to schedule more sex.
After all, Max knows I’m happily married.
When I first met the man who is now my husband, neither of us expected anything beyond friendship and fun, despite our obvious attraction to each other. But we quickly developed a deep connection, and I fell hard and fast for him… which meant letting go of all (seven) of my sexual partners.
Even though it never felt natural to me, we defaulted to monogamy because I thought that building a life with someone required it. Besides, we had a great sex life: We watched porn and openly discussed our fantasies, and our sexual history was never a taboo subject. My husband even seemed indifferent to the fact that I had been with more than 100 partners.
Early on, he’d brought up the possibility of non-monogamy, but I quickly squashed the idea. Being loved by someone while enjoying other partners seemed unrealistic. After all, every other boyfriend I’d ever had balked at the mere implication that I might have had great sex with other partners, whether past or present. Love required rigorous monogamy, I thought, and if we wanted love, we’d have to forgo the possibility of sex with anyone else.
But after seven years as a monogamous couple, the subject of swinging came up again at brunch one morning. This time, we discussed the possibilities for a few weeks, and decided to try something. We created profiles on Swingtowns and SLS, and started chatting.
Meeting a couple wasn’t as easy as we’d assumed. Trying to find two other people with similar desires, mutual attraction, and good chemistry takes a lot of effort—it’s not unlike dating that way. But we were both eager to make something happen, so we found a single male instead. Screening the prospects was a time-consuming project, and when we finally found someone, that first experience turned out to be more awkward than enjoyable.
Like any other couple, we don’t have our sex life down to a precise science.
But after that, it got better. We both learned to quiet the tiny pangs of jealousy that sometimes appear in the heat of the moment. To our delight, these bits of jealousy ended up being obliterated by overwhelming arousal. Since we’ve always delighted in one another’s pleasure, we found that it didn’t seem to matter that pleasure was coming from another person. We discovered that watching one another yielded a consuming joy and strong desire for each other—often referred to as “erotic compersion.”
We were perplexed by this development at first, but eventually realized that it makes perfect sense because our commitment to one another was never threatened by interactions with others. Attractive friends, co-workers, and workout partners never affected our feelings for or desire for each other. Enjoying different interests apart from one another didn’t weaken the foundation of our marriage—he likes rock climbing, art, and baseball; I like CrossFit, hiking, and happy hour—so if our many other pleasures in life could be experienced with others, why should sexual pleasure be any different?
Like any other couple, we don’t have our sex life down to a precise science. The first time he met a woman at a hotel without me, I couldn’t relax. I watched every minute tick by on the clock. When I went to a couple’s home for the first time, he was annoyed because he didn’t expect me to spend an entire day with them. We learned from these experiences that setting a fair time limit and checking in with one another (before and after the fun) were essential to making this work. We also learned that sex with others will never take precedence over making each other feel valued and cared for.
Sometimes, our usual topics of conversation get totally replaced with questions like, “Are you sure you’re OK with this?” and “Why do I like this?” We’ve both had doubts, and have questioned our morals and sanity. And we both still have second thoughts when we have to lie to our teenage kids when they ask where we’re going. Sometimes I think I should really stop asking myself that perpetual question, “What am I doing?”
But like most Americans, I was raised in a culture that demands monogamy from a woman in a relationship. I’ve always resented my high libido… but ultimately, I’m trying every day to accept and enjoy it.
This is one of those days where I feel like I could spend the whole day cycling through orgasms with Max. As we roll in and out of different positions, I imagine what my night at home will be like, and this excites me even more.
I think about the things my husband whispered to me last night. He told me I should get everything I wanted… and he said to send him photos right away, but to save the videos for later. I think about what he’ll say when he sees them, and I can’t wait for the evening to arrive. Every time we have sex apart from each other, coming back is an overwhelming experience of reconnection. For me, reclaiming one another while celebrating our freedom to indulge in sexual pleasure without fear has always been the best thing about our open relationship.
Eva Giunto is a writer, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend who happens to have a high sex drive. She enjoys many things besides sex, but sex is by far her favorite thing. Eva hopes to be one of many women who share a positive and realistic perspective on women who love sex. Follow her on Twitter @forevagiunto.