My boyfriend and I are swingers, so we date and have sex with other people. I love watching him flirt with women.
- Karine Bedard was deeply religious but then became interested in open relationships.
- She ended her marriage and got into a relationship that's more open.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Karine Bedard, a sex-positive relationship coach. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I grew up as an evangelical Christian and went to Bible school, where I met my husband. When I got married in 1997 at the age of 22, all I knew was monogamy.
But 15 years into my marriage, I started questioning my faith. I was taught there was no love and joy outside Christ, so I put that theory to the test. I decided to check out the worst of the worst: the "heathen sex people." I put on the Playboy radio station and started listening to it all the time.
I came across a show on Playboy radio called "Swingtime With Holli and Michael," which was hosted by two swingers. They were exploring their sexuality within their marriage, and I could not believe what I was hearing. They were very happy with each other and shared each other's joy and excitement. I got curious about the whole concept of sexual openness and decided that I wanted a relationship like that.
I started to dip my toes into the nonmonogamy world by going on a nude vacation
In August 2012, I went on a nude vacation at a resort in Jamaica with my husband where there were swingers. That was my first experience with breaking away from the "vanilla world."
When I went there, I felt instantly comfortable. The warmth and love were just so uninhibited, and there was zero judgment. I was still very much monogamous at that point, but I liked the idea of nonmonogamy.
That trip was also around the time I discovered that I had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. A lot of the people that I was running into in this nonmonogamous space were also neurodivergent. I realized that I was connecting so easily with these people and they were so much like me.
When I got back from that vacation, I started to look more into open relationships and what that would entail.
I separated from my husband after 22 years together and started a nonmonogamous relationship with someone new
My husband and I decided that we had different values and desires of what we wanted our futures to look like, so we separated amicably three years ago. At this point, even though we were both comfortable with who we were, I struggled with the idea that my marriage had failed and needed to work through those emotions.
That process was very difficult, but at the same time, I was excited to continue with this nonmonogamous journey because I could fully be myself in that space. After separating from my husband, I got together with my current boyfriend, and we've been each other's primary partners for three years. He's neurodivergent like me, and we have an incredibly open relationship. We are both swingers and polyamorous.
Swinging is a form of ethical nonmonogamy where couples or, sometimes, singles consensually engage in sexual activity outside their marriages or partnerships. On the other hand, polyamory means having more than one sexual or romantic partner to share your life with.
Since my partner and I live away from each other, we practice the swinging aspect of our relationship whenever we get together. Usually, this means that we go to the club where we play with each other sexually in a private room, and sometimes we fully swap with other swinger couples, so usually it's a foursome situation.
When we are not together — mostly during the week — that's when we practice the polyamorous aspect of our relationship. We go on our own separate dates, which can be either sexual or nonsexual.
My boyfriend is comfortable with me going on dates with other men when he's not around as long as I keep him in the loop. I also don't dictate whom he can or can't see. Because of this boundary, we have been able to keep our communication very open and share when we feel uncomfortable about something.
I feel a lot of joy from my nonmonogamous relationship
Many neurodivergent people — such as myself, with ADHD — often don't fit in with the world. But in the world of nonmonogamy, my partner and I get to be ourselves and connect with a group of people who don't judge us.
Being able to connect on a deep level with other people meets an important need for me, as I don't like surface-level connections and prefer to go all in.
When we go to swingers clubs or house parties, I love watching my partner get attention from other people and flirt with them. We have developed stronger feelings for each other by seeing others show interest in one of us. Knowing that a person finds him just as attractive as I do is amazing. It has helped to build our sexual energy with each other, too.
When we're in more of a polyamorous situation, I love watching him be himself and love other people. To me, it's beautiful that he has that freedom to do that yet still comes back to me.
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