I had a confession to make. To my husband, Alex, and our boyfriend, Jon. I was pretty sure I was having an affair, and I was pretty sure it was outside the rules of our open relationship.
His name is Conor. At first, he was just supposed to be some guy I fucked after one Sunday afternoon beer bust at the Faultline, the gay bar in Los Angeles where I work as a bouncer. I didn't even know at the time that I was attracted to him—I was just impressed by his game.
Out of nowhere, Conor slid in next to me and started speaking, too softly for me to hear at first. I kept moving in closer, saying, "What? I can't hear you." Finally, when I was right up next to him, he said, "Nothing. I just wanted to get you close."
We talked for a few minutes, then I took him into the dressing room. The following Sunday, we were fucking in the bathroom.
It was only meant to be a fuck. That's all.
I didn't need another guy in my life. I already had a husband and a boyfriend. I already had guys I could fuck whenever I wanted. I had enough guys.
Falling in love with Jon taught me that my ability to love other people was endless, and that the more love I experienced, the larger my love for Alex became. Alex is my soulmate, my husband, and my best friend. He is still the sexiest man I've ever seen.
When I first started dating Alex, I wanted to be the only one he loved, the only one he wanted, the center of his world. The problem with that scenario was that I was never able to return the favor. I've cheated in every relationship I had.
Growing up meant being honest about who I am, which in turn meant I had to learn to accept my partners for who they were, even if that was uncomfortable to do. It meant accepting that I was not going to be faithful to just one person, and learning to be honest about that with the people I loved.
Telling Jon about Conor was easy. Jon was in LA, living with me full-time, while Alex was in Spokane, Washington, for six months working on a TV show, subject to a grueling production schedule and often unavailable for necessary conversations. Jon is different than Alex and me: He is easier, has less need to be in control. Alex and I are alpha, territorial.
Jon encouraged me. He enjoyed watching my new relationship develop. And that meant I had someone to share my fears and anxieties with.
I planned on spending a week in Spokane to celebrate Alex's birthday with him. I had rented a large house, so we could be alone. I knew if I let this go any longer without being honest then I was back to being a cheater.
We would probably fight, and our fights can be epic. But we would have endless conversations, too, and I loved our endless conversations. I loved nothing more than staying up all night with Alex, simply talking.
Nothing mattered if I couldn't share my feelings about Conor with Alex, but I was afraid.
Recently, things had been tough between us. I had always thought Alex and I were good at allowing each other to be who we are, to go out and experience the world as individuals and not as people trapped within the confines of a marriage. But we were afraid of being abandoned, of not being loved, of not being good enough. We kept trying to force each other into boxes that didn't fit the reality of our personalities. We kept trying to change each other based on our own needs and insecurities.
I believed that if we could break this pattern then maybe we could love each other for who we were, and not who we wanted each other to be. To encourage each other to be our fullest selves, even if that might scare us.
That is why I wasn't willing to give Conor up. When I finally decided to allow myself to be who I am, it opened a door to allow Alex to be who he is. Marriage no longer meant I had ownership over my husband. It no longer meant I dictated who he was or who he would become. I didn't get to tell him how to live his life. And he didn't get to tell me how to live mine.
On the way to Spokane, my flight got delayed in Salt Lake City. I imagined every possible outcome to the conversation we were about to have. I imagined huge, operatic screaming matches in my head. I would storm out. Alex would throw my luggage through windows. We would end up fucking on the lawn, all of Spokane cheering us on.
When I finally saw Alex at the arrivals curb, I thought I would cry. I always feel this way when I haven't seen him in a long time. All the emptiness of him being gone suddenly filling up with his presence. I suddenly felt home and safe.
We sat at the Satellite Diner in downtown Spokane, surrounded by drunk straight guys and their drunker girlfriends.
"I need to say something," I said. "But I don't want to." The words I finally spoke lacked the poetry I had imagined they would summon. Where were all the things I had practiced saying? All the beautiful one liners that would sum up my love for him? I suddenly began to doubt my conviction.
"Uh oh," Alex said.
I told him everything. I talked for 30 minutes straight.
When I was done, when everything was out there between us, he simply said, "Hmmmm. OK." And took a bite of his biscuits and gravy.
"Baby, are you mad at me?" I asked.
"Maybe. Sure, I'm mad. But not at you. It's just not what I want to hear."
It was then he told me about Greg, who lives in LA. He and Greg had been talking. He had been thinking that he'd like to fly Greg to Spokane for a weekend.
It took Alex four minutes to say everything he had to say. Four minutes to my thirty. The man is succinct.
I imagined Greg and Alex spending a weekend alone together. I allowed myself to feel hurt and then mad, but those emotions only lasted a few seconds. What replaced them was happiness for my husband. And empathy: He was lonely in Spokane. It was hard being away from me and Jon, from his life. I felt happy there was someone else out there to care for him. I want Alex to have all the love in the world. The more people there are to hold him, the safer he will be.
I want that for all of them. For Alex and Jon, and Conor too. I want them to be loved and happy. I no longer needed to be the only one they wanted, the only one they loved. The more people we have, the more love, the more sex, the more friendship and hugs and kisses, the safer we would all be.
"That would be amazing," I said.
Alex was quiet. Our conversation was far from over. It would never really be over. We would have to talk about this again. And again. And again. We would fight and throw things around the house and fuck and fight and fuck again. But whatever we did, we would do it together. This life is our life, and we're in it together.
He reached across the table to hold my hand.
"I'm glad you're here, baby," he said. "I've missed you. I've missed you a lot."