by Ria Bloom.
Sam’s well sculpted muscular back was rounded. I could see each vertebrae of his spine raise to the surface as he mounted Susie. Her legs wrapped around his waist tight with all the might she could muster while he thrusted into her passionately. Their bodies glistened and glowed in the dim light. I stood there watching with awe and shock. My face flushed hot. This is the man I love, with another woman. A married woman. Her husband Jared was on his knees, his face buried between my thighs. Sam and I looked up at each other from across Susie and Jared’s moaning bodies. At first, utter shock, then Sam and I smiled with glee and air high-fived each other.
Four months before this moment, January 2013, something extraordinary happened. My brain broke and I crossed over. It was physically painful, emotionally tormenting, mentally difficult and felt like moving through piranha infested molasses. There was a line. I don’t really know what it was; perhaps I can call it attachment. Somehow, I managed to cross it.
This transformational process sprung from a conversation in December 2012. I was newly in love with Sam, on a road trip to visit his family in Ohio. What do you do when you’re stuck in a snow blizzard for 7 hours with your significant other? Talk about the relationship.
We’d been living together for five months. The love, intimacy and desire felt secure. We were in the thralls of NRE (New Relationship Energy), and I had relaxed into the thought of this is it, this is the one, I found my person!
Sam was driving carefully through the flurries. While looking straight ahead with me in his peripheral vision, he hesitated and said, “I have something to tell you, but you have to promise not to get mad.” My heart raced. My hands felt cold and I gripped the seat belt that was cutting into my chest. What could it be? This is it, I thought. All the relationship self-help books I’d ever read said to stay calm and carry on. I’m a cool girl. I can do this!
A silent encouragement to myself, I took a gulp and graciously (probably awkwardly) responded, “OK, tell me.”
He started, “I love you so much, I love and care about you so much baby.”
Alright, was that even in question? “Mhm?” I encouraged.
He continued, “I know I love and care about you, and I just can’t help but be attracted to other women with small waists and tight athletic asses.” Huh? My breath relaxed.
I thought it was a joke but saw he was dead serious. After a silent pause, “Um, I’m attracted to women with small waists and tight athletic asses, too,” I responded matter-of-factly.
“Really?” He was shocked at my response.
The conversation continued with novelty and excitement at the mutual realization of our love for each other and attraction to others. Albeit comical in dialogue, it was serious in nature.
My understanding of monogamy was when we fall in love we were to stay true by turning our eye away from others. The whole point of dating was to find the one and to forsake all others. I reassured Sam (and myself) that just because we’re in love with each other doesn’t mean we stop being human; stop feeling attracted to other people. This was the start of my exploration into polyamory.
I had heard of open relationships. I assumed it was something other people do when they don’t really care about the person they were sleeping with and wanted to keep things light. It’s not something people who are serious about each other tamper with, right? It was too free and scary.
When Sam and I first met, we were on a roll. For him, I was date number 17 in the month of February (and February is a short month!). I was still dating a 38-year-old wine collector with triathlon medals and a seductive Latin flair. Why would I stop dating Mr. Perfect for a 27-year-old aspiring singer/songwriter/actor bartender? But I did. Sam and I were so relaxed and unconcerned in the beginning. As we grew deeper into each other, so did our attachment. We became more vulnerable as time passed and our connection felt sacred. To protect the bond, we did what we were supposed to do — close the relationship. But something felt odd and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I was terrified to Google it, polyamory, but I did. It led me down an Internet rabbit-hole on the topic for an entire month. I was mortified and had to convince myself that I’m just looking to do research on this topic, I’m not actually going to go through with this! Little did I know that once horizons are expanded, they do not shrink back. Here I was in a secure loving solid relationship and I wanted to put it to the test, on the chopping block.
With many fantasy filled conversations over the next couple of weeks, Sam and I reactivated our OKCupid accounts. That’s how I met Jared Paddington for a drink by a cozy fireplace in an East Village bar. Jared was tall and sophisticated with emerald eyes. A writer. Fuck, I love my cerebral types.
Dating again was exhilarating. I felt relief and was simultaneously conflicted. Ever since I got a phone call from a crying woman asking who I was to her husband (an ex-boyfriend who lied about being married) I swore I’d never date a married man, again. But this guy’s wife knows and supports it? Wow. I’d been on enough dates to know how to flirt, be cute, charming, funny and engaging. What my dates didn’t know was that underneath my bubbly personality, I was carrying scars and a broken heart from previous failed relationships. This was just like all the other numerous first dates I’d been on, yet it felt different.
I wasn’t out on a first date trying to recover from a painful breakup. Here I was enjoying the company of someone refreshing and new. I wanted to see if Jared and I had a connection while still being head-over-heels in love with Sam and my date was happily married. I was exploring more love.
Every time Jared spoke of his wife, Susie Paddington, his face would light up. Enamored by all of this I suggested Sam and Susie go on a date. We had what all good couples living in New York City do — brunch. Sam and Susie hit it off so well that Jared and I just stared at their banter back and forth. We were on their first date!
The next weekend we all went out for drinks. A daytime date is one thing, nighttime dates are much more enticing. I’ll never forget the confused look on the bartender’s face when the four of us were making out with each other. People around us couldn’t figure out who was with whom, especially when 2 out of 4 of us had wedding bands on. As we closed up the tab, Susie invited Sam and I over for “wine.“ Holy fuck, I thought. Shit’s about to go down, SEX! SEX! SEX! I couldn’t turn my active brain off. Then I realized the subtle quiver in Susie’s tone, she was nervous too.
What’s the difference between a poly person and a swinger? Breakfast.
The first time Sam and I spent the night in the Paddington’s spare bedroom, I couldn’t sleep. I was haunted by the idea that we were ruining a perfectly happy married couple with our deviant natures. I couldn’t shake off the fear that they would come to their senses at any moment and rage in to kick us out. After hours of tossing and turning, I started to doze off. In my tired half asleep state, I heard excited bare footsteps against the wooden floor. Susie entered the room, jumped on the bed and said, “Good morning!” There was a trail of fresh brewed coffee starting to waft in behind her. Susie’s brown eyes were wide, her grin ear-to-ear, “We have coffee and bought fresh muffins. Will you stay for breakfast?”
When I look back at all of this today, two years later, it seems so normal. This was so shocking to my system then. As an active self identified poly person, I still don’t fully understand what polyamory is. All I know is that there are more ways to love than just one.