The First Time I Had Sex After Opening Up My Relationship

Losing your virginity isn’t necessarily the biggest first in your life. Here, one woman shares her most significant sexual first

(Art: Leo Tapel)
(Art: Leo Tapel)

“I don’t have an extraordinarily strong record of maintaining monogamy. It was a difficult standard for me to adhere to, prior to my current relationship, and so I wasn’t really enacting any ethics. I was cheating, is what I’m saying. That’s me. And so with my current relationship of seven years, it’s not that there was a risk of falling back into old habits—I didn’t meet someone new or see something coming—but I knew I had an appetite for extra-curricular activity. And I was also interested in maintaining a higher ethical standard than I had before. My partner was open to the possibility of us being open, but he wasn’t sure what that would mean.

We had been talking about it, what we wanted our arrangement to involve, for six or eight months. But there wasn’t really an ‘Okay, let’s go.’ What happened is that I slept with someone else. It’s not an approach that I think is advisable, but it’s what happened. It was with someone I knew, and I certainly didn’t leave the house knowing that this was a thing that was going to happen, but I think it felt a lot safer. There was a novelty about sleeping with someone new, and about it being someone I knew, and it was a good one in the context of sexual experiences. It felt terrific.

I didn’t feel great going home—I cannot emphasize enough that this is not the best way to start an open relationship. It did feel different than the times I cheated in the past, though, because we’d had conversations about this being a possibility, and I leaned on the fact that at some point, the trigger was going to be pulled. But this definitely should have been something we shook hands on. My partner wasn’t pleased about it, but it became pretty apparent I wanted an open relationship quite pointedly and urgently, so we determined that it was something we were both going to explore mutually.

When we started sleeping with other people, the goal was more about sexual exploration and bringing home something new in that regard. But if you’re going to engage in intimacy with people outside your relationship, you need to make sure there’s a solid baseline of trust. We maintain the sanctity of our shared space—so people don’t come over—and we don’t stay the night. With some couples, the less the other person knows, the better. But for us, it became apparent that to avoid any inkling of doubt or jealousy or fear of the unknown, we were going to have to talk about almost literally everything. We talk about our relationship more frequently, more openly, and with more vulnerability than we have since we started dating. It’s definitely brought a completely different flavour of communication to our relationship, more than it’s brought anything sexual to it. That wasn’t expected, but it’s pretty f-cking cool.”—As told to Danielle Groen

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