HER: We had a party at our house recently where, in a haze of whisky-laced apple cider and white wine, I told my siblings that we had tried sex clubs and vacationed at Hedonism. They all had the same conservative, religious upbringing I did, but, like me, they’re all very sexual and pretty liberal in their views. At least that’s what I told myself as these secrets came tumbling out and their jaws dropped further open. They wouldn’t judge me, would they? When I woke up the next morning, though, tired and hung-over, I felt a sharp pang of regret that I had opened my stupid mouth. What if they told my parents or my kids? What if they knew people I worked with and told them? We all know how tempting juicy bits of gossip are. UGH!
HIM: That would never have happened to me. I’m instinctively more cautious than you when it comes to talking about sex. It’s always been that way for me. In my childhood home, the subject was never, ever mentioned. And then, at 21, I married a very religious woman who was not into sex. The silence more or less continued. I never truly had ‘permission to speak freely’. There was one close friend I talked to about sexual matters, but that was mainly a tale of woe.
That all changed when I met you. I promised myself from the beginning that I would discuss everything with you, and that if I had a desire or fantasy (no matter how crazy), you would know about it. As a result, I’m enjoying a sexual adventure that I would never have dreamt possible. I want to shout it from the rooftops, which is part of the motivation for this blog. Yet for all this sense of emancipation, we still feel constrained. We write anonymously. We avoid using our real names, hiding behind the pronouns ‘HIM’ and ‘HER’.
HER: I know. It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what we do. We love and respect each other at all times, and there’s nothing dirty or shameful about the places we go or the way we conduct ourselves with others. So why are we so afraid of telling people the truth?
HIM: Obviously we’re afraid of judgment, of being labeled by those who don’t grasp the subtleties of the path we’re exploring. Besides that, there’s a certain finality to telling people. As long as it’s a secret, we can always choose to disclose later. But once it’s out there, we can’t choose to un-disclose. While we keep quiet about it we still have options, but as soon as we don’t…
HER: I know. If we were outed to the wrong people, our whole world could change. On our last trip to Hedo (or Sandals, as far as my parents are concerned), we met a lovely woman who I instantly connected with both sexually and interpersonally. She was attractive, intelligent, a mother, and a former elementary school teacher. It wasn’t until the end of the week that I discovered her shocking secret: she had a gang bang fantasy that she and her husband arranged to live out … and they filmed it. Somehow, it got online, someone found it, and she was forced to leave teaching — the 10-man gang bang her sad legacy. Wanting to fuck multiple men did not make her a deviant, a danger to children, or a less effective teacher, but our society is not that open-minded. I can only imagine the way her former colleagues and students rewrote everything they knew about her in light of this revelation. I felt awful at the injustice for her, and afraid of facing the same kind of judgement if my adventures ever became public.
This is the kind of cautionary tale I have to keep in the back of my mind as we set out to be authentic but also protect the life we’ve built for ourselves. It’s for this reason that another couple we met at Hedo insist on going out of state when they attend sex parties. They won’t even share their last name or let their picture be taken at the resort.
People are rightfully nervous. Recently we met a friend of a friend at a party, and she later confided that she had seen us during one of our few sex club visits more than a year earlier. I hadn’t noticed her there, but she certainly noticed us. That unnerved me. It made me wonder how many other people who know us from other aspects of our lives — work, church, kids’ soccer — had seen us fucking. Is it just a matter of time before someone who can afford to be open reveals what we’ve been up to?
The more time we spend in this world, though, both in real life and online, the more I realize the movement away from traditional monogamy is a significant one. And it’s growing, which means that everyday more people are coming out of the closet.
HIM: I think borrowing that term from the gay rights movement is not out of place. I am sometimes concerned that our desire for secrecy is cowardly. At some point, gay and lesbian people decided that hiding their true identities wasn’t just a disservice to themselves, but also to broader society. Their silence was reinforcing a system of intolerance and making it harder for future generations to express their true nature. Now I’m not trying to say our struggle is remotely as daunting as those of gay and lesbian people over the last 50 years, but there are parallels. I believe that our explorations beyond traditional monogamy are healthy, though often misunderstood. I believe that if more people did the same, romantic relationships, and the institution of marriage itself, would be better off. But that can’t happen if people like us keep it a secret.
HER: Of course, like all prejudice, the judgements people make from outside the lifestyle are largely based on misconceptions and ignorance. I know that, before I ever went to a sex club or lifestyle resort, I imagined seedy places where people indiscriminately fucked strangers on sticky sheets. That’s certainly how I’ve seen them portrayed in movies. I also believed people who entered the lifestyle did it as a desperate attempt to save their failing relationships. But that hasn’t been our experience, and I feel a burden to correct the misconception. The club we visited was decidedly upscale and spotlessly clean and we’ve never had sex with anyone else. Studies show that people who have a flexible view of monogamy “are very happy in their marriages and have strong emotional bonds with their spouses, strong family units, and aren’t looking for additional emotional connections or trying to replace the ones they currently have” (Edward Fernandes, Ph.D).
There are some people we’ve felt comfortable enough to be transparent with, and on those occasions, our honesty has opened avenues of conversation that reveal we are not alone. There are so many people who are either curious about sexual alternatives or who have their own stories about their explorations. And when we are courageous enough to be real with them, it allows them to do the same. I told my ex-husband’s wife about our love of exhibitionistic sex (again, when we were drinking), and that opened the door for her to ask questions — lots of questions. Eventually they tried a club themselves. They loved it. My honesty brought us closer together and made their sex lives a little better.
Maybe I need to be willing to risk shocking those who know me more often to demystify this world that is still on the fringes of ‘better society’, but has turned out to be such an exciting part of our sexual adventure. That’s a big part of why we started this blog, but now I feel I need to do more. As a first step, after three months of writing, we decided to finally reach out to our more open-minded friends and tell them about this site. We aren’t quite ready to disclose our identities to the world, but we do want to be real about who we are and what we’ve discovered with those who can handle it. (Just don’t tell my mom!)
Liam & Kate are a married couple, very much in love, writing honestly and insightfully about their adventures in the world of non-monogamy.