We have interviewed many polyamorous kinky individuals. We recently interviewed a kinkster who shared her story with us about how she and her husband discovered that they are not sexually aligned. Let’s call her “L” She is kinky and he just isn’t. They tried to incorporate kink into their lifestyle and while she discovered that her sexuality is wrapped up in kink, he discovered that his is not. So how they dealt with it, because they are life partners, was to venture into the world of polyamory, (what I like to call “ethical non-monogamy”). They went poly.
Polyamory means many (from English) loves (from the Latin “amore”). Polyamory, the word, is in much more use in modern times, beginning in about 1988 and being much more prevalent and in use today. The notion of many loves led to the more accurate descriptor, that being “Ethical Non-Monogamy”. The ethics in play implies that there is agreement between the parties to have multiple partners. Not all non monogamy involves loving relationships, whereas polyamory implies that there are indeed multiple loving relationships. In this case, our protagonist, L, and her husband B are in a polyamorous relationship. L’s lover does not have a relationship with B and B’s lover does not have a relationship (beyond friendship) with L. In polyamory, the partner’s partners are called “metamours.”
L searched for and found a Dom with whom she developed a long-distance relationship, they met and agreed to a D/s dynamic. She calls her Dom her “Sir”. She and he engage with daily communication, tasks, etc, in an attempt to “normalize” the physical distance between them, while at the same time, her husband, “B”, has found a local girlfriend and so they are now happily in this poly dynamic where she gets her kink fix when she can, and he gets to explore his vanilla relationship with his girlfriend when he can. It’s a very elegant solution. They love each other and they set out to create workability in their relationship by creating an ethical non-monogamous solution, and they are both happier as a result.
So, lets talk about this elegant solution to their relationship dynamic and all the ways it could have gone pear-shaped.
First, when a couple discovers that they are not sexually compatible, its often the end of the relationship. This couple did the adult thing. They talked. If polyamory is about anything, its about communication. She had longings for kink and B did not, so he encouraged her to seek out a Dom and she began that process online. They talked about what she discovered and what was pulling her toward the kink dynamic and being confident in her love for him, he was able to say that he would be ok with her scratching that kink itch with another man. Eventually, the time came for her to meet her Dom in person. She realized that she had formed an emotional connection with him and she wanted to experience herself as a sexual submissive. She craved it. They agreed to meet for a weekend in a central location being that they live in different states.
This is the point that most relationships that are attempting to open up simply fail. Most men cannot stand the idea of their mate being sexually satisfied by another man. It has the potential of being very emasculating. And yet, they agreed that she should indeed meet her Dom to see if this idea of polyamory was or could be workable. It took a lot of courage on both of their parts to take this decision. But their relationship was solid and the stepped into the wilderness. At this point, in the world of ethical non-monogamy, what you have here is a 3-person conversation where there is agreement all around as to what is important. The Dom was not willing to meet unless the marriage itself was stable and secure. The marriage being stable and secure allowed the couple to have confidence in and certainty about their relationship as L went off to experience her first kink experience with this new Dom. They met for dinner first and got to know each other in person beyond their phone calls, skype and chats. Only then did they agree to play (in kink, scenes are called “play”) that she would submit to being used by him. They had their first scene, and then she went back to her husband to debrief.
This began a process of self-assessment for both him and her, and as L became more emotionally involved with her Sir, talking on the phone every day, being tasked by him and so on, B began to feel space developing, and by coincidence, he met a local woman with whom he had much in common and with L’s agreement, B started to date his new gal, let’s call her “J”.
So now you have a 4-way conversation that looks like this Sir-L- B – J. The secret to this polycule is that B and L are in good communication, have a great relationship, and love each other as life partners. B and J have a loving relationship that is going on 2 years now and Sir and L have a loving relationship that while being long distance, allows Sir and L to explore kink to each of their personal satisfactions.
The key to this dynamic is that L and B are deeply connected, in communication, and love each other as life partners. This allows both B and L to explore sexuality and relationship outside of their committed marriage in a true polyamorous manner that lives up to the idea of ethical non-monogamy.
The secret to polyamory is communication. In a world where there is space between the couple, polyamory is a path to relationship destruction. It’s only where there is no space and the couple speaks openly and honestly about what they want and what’s missing that allows them to even discuss opening their marriage and put polyamory on the table.
Consider that there can be poly dynamics that do not involve sex. There are kink relationships that do not involve sex either. In fact, among asexuals, polyamory is often the relationship model of choice with many of the same challenges that sexual relationships have, especially where there is a partner who wishes to have a sexual relationship. Polyamory is a natural and quite popular solution. In non-sexual relationships, non-monogamy requires communication to the same extent as in sexual relationships.
Where non-monogamy and kink intersect often is that there are multiple opportunities in play spaces (pre-covid and soon to be post covid) where in a dungeon, a couple might invite an expert to play with a partner. For example, sounding him while his partner watches. These are ethical non-monogamy interludes that do not rise to the level of polyamory.
All non-monogamy requires that precautions be taken to avoid transmission of STD’s when sex is involved. Fluid bonding is a thing that really should be agreed to by all the parties. There should also be a regular testing paradigm so everyone involved can be confident that they are not engaging in excessively risky behavior. This is especially true in non-poly open relationships where sex is the point. Swinging for example. Swinging is naturally an ethical-nonmonogamy construct and like much of consensual play in kink, swinging can be risky and safety agreements should govern fluid bonding. This goes for sharing of toys for instance and using clean condoms before sharing toys with a non-fluid bonded partner.
Kink and non-monogamy go together often. Ethical non-monogamy means that there are agreements in place and that the ethics of non-monogamy are governed by those agreements. Can a couple exist where one member of the couple is kinky and one is not? Absolutely. Can a couple exist where one member of the couple wants to do things that are “hard limits” for her partner? Absolutely. Can a couple exist where one member is asexual and the other deeply kinky? Absolutely. All of these scenarios can and do exist and they exist inside of agreements which in turn requires communication. It comes down to this. If you do not ask for what you want, you will never know if your partner would agree. He might, and if he does not, at least you are in communication and there is a chance you can negotiate to an agreement. Kinksters are used to negotiation. That is the essence of the D/s dynamic. Having an ethical non-monogamous relationship is a natural outcome of a conversation where you ask your partner to do things to you that they are not comfortable with.
As long as there is trust and love is present, anything is possible.
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quite helpful! Do you find that most kinksters are also poly?
That is a great question. There is a high tolerance for ethical non-monogamy among kinksters, but polyamory and non-monogamy are not the same thing. I think that there is about the same desire for polyamory among kinksters as the population in general, while there is a much higher acceptance of ethical non-monogamy among kinksters than the population as a whole.