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Sex&Love27: An Open Relationship


I asked my brave and adorable niece if she’d talk with me about her open relationship and she said yes!

The reason I think she’s brave is – if you have a traditional religious upbringing,  choosing a life of non-monogamy (and being open about it!) is a sure-fire way to make some people think badly of you.  (Just sayin’.)

But Bethany is not deterred! and today shares with us about  her love of freedom and her relationships, giving up control, growing past jealousy, dealing with  insecurity, her drive to be independent, and the time it takes to grow up.  She also sings to us at the end. Like I said, our lucky day.


PS: Bethany loves her parents, and if they should happen to listen to this interview (or even if they don’t) she is sorry if it somehow makes them feel uncomfortable.

10 comments to Sex&Love27: An Open Relationship

  • I’m not a fan of polyamory/open relationships, and I don’t think they are very healthy, generally speaking.

    Love is an involuntary response to the values we hold dearest. We can’t love others any more than we love ourselves – the values we love in ourselves, we love in others. So if you find someone you love more than any other person, it’s also safe to assume (or wish for) reciprocity – that the other person loves you more than any other person, as you posses virtues that they also value.

    So why would either person want to share that most precious treasure with anyone else? Especially given that our time is very limited. If I share the love of my life with someone else, that is time that I cannot spend with that deep treasure – and I can never have that time back.

    I just don’t think it is a sign of high self esteem to want to share that treasure with others.

  • Anna

    Speaking as an ex-religious person who is (mostly) out as polyamorous, I also admire Bethany’s bravery and openness!

    I would have to say though, that I’d more accurately call myself a heart-following person, and my heart currently is leading me to want to embrace whatever kind of love/feeling I experience with whatever kind of person. My daughter, my partner, my past lovers (no current ones yet post-baby ;-) ), my partner’s lover – with all of them my mission is to experience the feelings that I experience. Depending on the person this can include deep love and connection, affection, sexual desire, jealousy, anger, scarcity and contraction, playfulness… pretty much anything! And some of those feelings are pretty hard to feel… but like I say, I’m on a mission of heart-expansion which is directing me to feel What is So, even when it hurts a lot. I find that if I close myself off to love that I feel with someone in order to direct that love to someone else, I close myself off from love in general; in the same way, when I try to close myself off to the difficult, painful feelings, I close myself off from feelings in general.

    And that’s my experience! I won’t say it don’t make for a bumpy ride sometimes!

  • Hi,

    Interesting topic, I’m curious to know the first fundamental drive that leads one towards thoughts of polyamory as a solution.

    For example, is it sexual attraction that first leads to the emotional discomfort that incites you to find a fix? Or emotional, you feel a lack of closeness / intimacy with friends / lovers (and quantity becomes important).

    Or any other reason you have?

    Hypothetical question: If you were the last person on with the only 1 person that was quite fitting for you as a mate and it was just you two, would you feel a longing for more lovers in the absence of other people?

    Thanks for your feedback =)

  • Anna

    Coupla other thoughts: 1) Bethany, I really liked what you said about friendship versus romantic relationships. I have pretty much always found friendships to be way more satisfying, desirable and fun than romance – so much so that when I’ve tried to define the perfect romantic relationship, I end up standing back and looking at my description and saying “Hey, that sounds like the definition of a great friendship!”

    2) Having gone from childless to childful while in the same primary partnership (accidentally pregnant by a lover) I’ve come to think that marriage/longterm partnerships are pretty much entirely biologically about perpetuating the human race. Relationships are complex and full of issues and on and on, but when it comes down to it, they’re a great way to ensure that children get provided for. I was squarely living in the world of open relationship, sponteneity and freedom, and then I got pregnant, and immediately I wanted routine, commitment and stability. And godammit, if he sleeps somewhere else than he’s not there in the morning with us and I’m managing on my own *again*! As a semi-single mom (and btw I now firmly assert that parenting is the most important and hardest job in the world) I now find so much appeal in being able to count on my partner to be there for me and my daughter, to bring home the venison while I’ve been busy with the herb-gathering, as it were. I just find the biology of it all fascinating.

  • amychilds

    Richard, I think there are probably as many reasons as there are polyamorists!
    But I am thinking about a more full answer to your question (as well as to other topics brought up from this episode) so I think I’ll do a follow-up show about polyamory next week.

    Stay tuned… And thanks for your interest!

  • kara tennis

    I found bethany’s words so refreshing and relaxing! Being who you are is a difficult, courageous task, and not only for people who were raised religious. I appreciate the calm, sane, honest articulation of her experiences/learning in an area that seems to be very triggering for lots of people.

  • Paul Westfall

    Hey all,
    I’m going to try posting this again, since it didn’t work the first time….

    My heart has seating room for more than one. It’s just the way I’m wired.
    I love.
    I feel no desire to limit my feeling of Love, nor do I wish to hold my partner’s Love for ransom or keep it all for myself. My partner’s Love is a gift to the world, and I think the world needs more of it.

    We are the infinite encapsulated within the finite – the divine perfection housed within a mundane and perfectly imperfect human earth suit. You can see this so easily in Babies. They are clear, unadulterated pathways straight to God. They Love so perfectly – just live it moment to moment and Love whomever is there to be Loved.

    We each still have this power, too – though as we become conscious of our selves, we learn that we are somehow not enough, somehow lacking. We begin to feel that we have to cover up our lack or put on some kind of show to distract people from our flaws. Like magicians we weave our spells and do our sleight of hand shuffle dance to keep the audience entertained enough so they won’t see the cheap trick happening just out of sight. We put a lot of energy into this show. Why? Because admiration is the coin of the realm. We each of us want so badly to be accepted, respected, admired. As if that somehow will heal the rift within us. We each of us want so badly to know once again that we are enough – though somehow we are convinced that we never, ever will be. We have fallen prey to our own trick – we’ve put so much between our selves and God within us, put so much energy into the distraction, that most of the time we no longer feel that divine spark.

    Except, every once in a while, maybe for just a moment, we meet someone and something about how they be with us or something that we see in them triggers a sense of acceptance. In that moment, when we perceive that we are accepted, without knowing it we let down our guard. We stop the show. We give up the game. And in that moment we are with God. We are in Heaven, because in that moment we are, once again, as babies – we feel our oneness with the divine.

    Love is acceptance. And in my opinion, it’s sacred.

    So, no, I don’t wish to limit my acceptance. This is one reason why I choose polyamory.

    It is not always an easy choice. I’m wired for Love – but I’m also wired for lots of other things, too, like Fear, Anger, Hate, Jealousy. My experience of Polyamory can sometimes feel like a painful extrusion of my smallness into the bigger self I feel myself to be. I would rather have my pain and own it then submit to my smallness and have it own me. I do this not because I think that’s the right path or the best path or the path that people should be on – but because it’s my path, and I accept it. That’s Choice.

    Love is Acceptance. The greatest Love I know is when I accept myself. When I start there, Love just flows and flows. Acceptance just flows and flows.

    So, maybe not much practical or pragmatic to say here today. Maybe I’ll have something more down-to-earth to contribute after I actually listen to this podcast – something I’m very much looking forward to doing. But I read the conversation and wanted to weigh in.

    I wish you peace and acceptance of yourself and others, whatever path you are on.

    -Paul (Partner of Anna who commented above)

  • I was so excited to listen to my friend Bethany talk openly about her open relationship. I can imagine it is very intimidating to post something on the internet like this for everyone to view and have their opinions about and I think it is awesome that you choose to do that Bethany.

    I find it is really useful to hear Bethany’s critiques of monogamous relationships. I do see insecurities/codependency in my self with my marriage but it is something I have been aware and have been working on for the 6 years that I have been in this relationship. I have become more confident and independent and know there is a lot more to learn but feel really good about the changes that I have made happen for myself. I think it is important to recognize that you can be codependent in any kind of relationship.

    Anyway, I love that I can totally support other people’s relationships (open, poly, etc) while still loving my commitment to my marriage.

    That’s all, thanks for sharing Bethany!

  • Steven Schnarr

    Bethany is my hero… scratch that – superhero.

  • Wade

    Yay for all of you people and for me to get to listen and read.