ENM: The Ethics of Polyamory

The world is filled with acronyms and the dating scene is not immune. I frequently find myself heading over to the Urban Dictionary to decode people’s profiles. It’s a good thing I do because I recently thought that a duo who described themselves as a VGL couple might be vegan lovers, but it turns out that VGL stands for Very Good Looking (although if you have to state that you are very good looking …).

Anyway, another important acronym is ENM: Ethical Non-Monogamy. These three letters tell an important story because it is essentially the difference between being honest with your partner and being a cheater (yes, this is an oversimplification, but you get the idea).

When I meet people on the dating app, Viktor and I have a joint profile, so it should be clear to potential partners that we are practicing ethical non-monogamy. Moreover, when I have met people at play parties or elsewhere, I am quick to let them know that I am married and am happy to explain our situation. I don’t want anyone to be accidentally misled or be surprised. If they are not interested in pursuing me further as a result, no worries.

Moreover, from the very beginning of this journey, Viktor and I have shared everything. I have told him every minute detail and, even when there were times that I was afraid to tell him what had happened, I spoke the truth. So, I was thrown by a recent run-in with Dash and Dahlia.

As previously reported, I met Dash and Dahlia at one of the play parties this past spring. I was introduced to them by a mutual friend who confirmed my status and I met them together, so it was obvious that they were married and in the lifestyle, although they admitted to being very new to it. We all had a great time playing together at the party and I then enjoyed meeting up with Dash again a few weeks later.

After my date with Dash, I didn’t hear from him for a few weeks, so I sent a simply hello. He responded relatively quickly, and we traded a few texts. Eventually he expressed interest in getting together again and offered up a date for the three of us to connect.

Our plan was for me to meet with them at their hotel (they were staying in NYC overnight), head somewhere for a nice dinner and/or drinks and then I was invited to join them in their room. Dash emphasized that the evening was to be about both of us; in his words, “two very beautiful, fun women.” I was very much looking forward to our evening and was especially eager to see Dahlia again.

About two hours before we were supposed to meet up, Dash texted to confirm our timing and then dropped a bit of a bombshell…. He confessed that he had never shared our sexual liaison with Dahlia! What? Not cool, dude!!!

I seriously contemplated cancelling, but, 1) as I said, I was very excited about seeing Dahlia again and 2) I’m human. I simply expressed my displeasure at the situation and assured him of my silence. Throughout the evening, I felt uncomfortable and had to watch what I said so as not to reveal Dash’s secret.

After dinner and drinks at the hotel’s rooftop bar, we headed to their room. I mostly focused my attention on Dahlia and enjoyed kissing her and then slowly undressing her. Things proceeded well enough. I was having a pleasurable time with the two of them, however, when it was clear that I was about to go down on Dahlia, Dash immediately stopped me, saying, “She’s not ready for that. “

Well, I admit that I should be have been more explicit in asking for her enthusiastic consent before I did, but I felt very weird at being stopped, not by Dahlia but, by Dash. Why couldn’t she tell me what she did or didn’t want herself? Then, a little later, while listening to the music that Dahlia had put on earlier, a song came on that apparently had meaning for them and Dahlia requested silence from all of us as it played.

So, three strikes (lies, creepy control and misty music) and I was out of there. I got dressed, politely said goodbye and headed home. They texted me the next day expressing their pleasure at having had their first threesome, which I appreciated, but I am not going to see them again. I just can’t continue to perpetuate the lie, nor am I comfortable with their dynamic.

Meanwhile, as a counterpoint to all of this, I recently started seeing Matt, whom I met on the dating app in early June. I was drawn to his profile because he clearly stated his desire for ongoing contact and just genuinely seemed like a really nice guy.

After some sweet text exchanges, we met in person at a speakeasy in the Gramercy Park area for light bites and drinks. We connected and enjoyed open, honest conversations right from the beginning. We then left the speakeasy and walked around for a bit before having a final drink at a hotel lobby bar near Madison Park and then hopping on the subway and eventually heading to our respective homes. Overall, we had a really great time and I looked forward to meeting up again.

During this first date, Matt shared that he and his wife, Terry, had been in an open relationship for almost their entire 15 years of marriage. Consequently, they have a lot of experience and comfort with navigating polyamorous relationships.

Along these lines, for our second date, Matt invited me to visit his home in Queens, which included the opportunity to meet Terry. I was admittedly nervous to meet her, but I was equally excited at the prospect. I also got to meet Terry’s boyfriend. It was such a stark contrast to the secretive nature of what had happened with Dash and Dahlia and I am thankful for the experience.

While polyamorous relationships can be a bit complicated, honesty is easy (and always the best policy)!

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While happily married to my soulmate for 20+ years, after years of body shame and sexual shutdown, I am ready to step into my sexual power as we open up our relationship and explore the possibilities.

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