learning the ropes.

While I haven’t previously considered myself all that kinky (my husband, Graham, disagrees with this assessment), my girlfriend, Rowan, definitely is. And perhaps it’s just natural for someone to want to explore and learn more about what their partner(s) are into. 

So on a Thursday, when I heard that our group meetup location for the evening got changed from a favorite cocktail bar to a rope class…. I decided to be a yes man — err — yes woman, and sign up! I think Rowan was quite surprised by my interest, but she happily agreed to go as a couple. Our guys (her husband, Jax, my boyfriend, Ethan, and my husband, Graham) were all busy with other plans… so we were guilt-free in not inviting them along, and were kind of excited to have some girl time doing an activity just the two of us. I was actually quite enlivened to be trying something new so spur of the moment. Perhaps that’s one on a list of reasons Rowan says that, in addition to the title of girlfriend, I hold the title of her “go to adventure girl”. 

So off to my impromptu Thursday night adventure with Rowan. We met at her place before heading to the class together. I had no idea what to expect, to be honest, but I really enjoyed the vibe of the whole class. It felt very low key, and I found that, while the word “dungeon” may be off-putting to some, it really wasn’t scary in the least. It looked more like… well, a previously large office / study in a 1.5 million dollar home now turned “adult jungle-gym”, to be exact. {Side note: Apparently this was either a side job for the instructor, or I’ve chosen the wrong profession and need to learn how to become a rope / bondage instructor.}

Rope tying (or “rigging”) itself was quite fun. I mean, there we were… like sexy girl scouts earning our knot tying badge. I couldn’t help but grin watching Rowan slowly, gracefully tying a long rope around my waist… with just enough forcefulness. Then she sensually worked her way down my right thigh with a ladder knot…. periodically piercing me with her intensely blue eyes looking directly into mine as she worked her way… carefully, methodically… down to my ankle. It was evident she’d done this before. I tried not to grin too big. Rowan relishes being in control, so already being the rope top (the one doing the tying) at this point… If I gave her too much of a reaction and let her be fully aware of the effect she was having on me it would go straight to her gorgeous red head.

Have I mentioned she’s stunning? Strong, intelligent, bold, vivacious… with a gentle, soft side she doesn’t let many see. I feel honored that she trusts me with that space, actually. She thinks I don’t know how rare it is that she lets her guard down, but I do, and I plan to continue being worthy of that trust. 

She’s my first girlfriend, so I’m definitely learning. I really love that we were friends first, and that things have just grown organically over time. We really bonded on a trip to Mexico together; I feel like we barely just knew each other when she asked me to join her on an international excursion last minute. {A story for another day} To be honest, I really don’t know how I got so lucky… again. Jax and Rowan are so respectful of not only me, but also of my other partners. They’re kind… thoughtful, uniquely intentional and responsible in how they conduct themselves in their relationships… and they’re impeccable communicators. 

While it might appear difficult to be in a relationship with four other people {I believe on average, it’s probably QUITE challenging}, I can say I’m blessed not to have the sole responsibility of considering and protecting the needs of all my partners… because they’re all beautiful, kind, amazing people who are all considering and looking out for each other as well. It’s hard to describe that feeling… when you recognize your partners showing love and consideration to each other… and you love them all even more as a result. It’s nothing short of beautiful.

Rowan and Jax have both have made it clear they value my friendship first and foremost, as well as their friendship with my partners, Graham and Ethan. They’re truly amazing people. We just click. And we’ve all acknowledged we have the potential to be lifelong friends, if not the “more than friends” relationship we’re currently exploring. I think that makes it easier… learning as you go and not fearing the possibility of it not working as a specific form of romantic relationship. That’s one of the joys of polyamory. There’s a much broader definition of success. Poly relationships have a unique ability to adapt over time, change and grow with the people in them. There’s no one size fits all. Instead you get something beautifully tailored, just for you and yours. 

So for now we’re taking things slow… savoring the journey as we learn the ropes… together ♡


It was a sunny July 4th. My husband, Graham, was working that day, and I agreed to go to a friend’s 4th of July party. I put on a fun festive outfit… I mean, it doesn’t get much more American than cut off jean shorts and a crop top, right? Graham helped pick out my outfit actually. Looking quite proud of himself he grinned, bit his lip and said “hot” before giving me a kiss and telling me to “have some fun today”.

Arriving at the party, I was greeted by my friends who told me to grab a cold beer out back. There he was… equipped with a spatula and a boyish smile, manning the barbecue. With an outstretched hand, “Hi, my name’s Ethan. What’s yours?”

He later sought me out and asked some solid get to know you questions. We discovered we both love hiking. He mentioned he didn’t have any friends that enjoyed hiking enough to join him. It all started out innocently enough. No one planned on falling in love… just maybe going for a hike sometime.

Graham made it to the party around 9 pm. I was pretty excited that he hadn’t missed the fireworks and we would get to watch them together. Having been together for so long, and despite my usual excitement to see him, we tend to be fairly independent in social situations… We both take pleasure in making our rounds at a party, enjoying a variety of good conversations. I later learned, for those who don’t already know us, it’s not always evident we’re together.

A few beers, watching fireworks from a second story rooftop, several late night rounds of Cards Against Humanity and a lot of laughs later we finally called it a night.

Ethan and I added each other on Snapchat, and it wasn’t long before he asked me to go on a hike. So over a quick few messages we planned a hike for later that week… but he proceeded to ask if I happened to be free for dinner that night. I told him I was meeting Graham after work, and Ethan responded by asking if Graham and I were dating… I froze. I was caught quite off guard by the question. Snapchat showed Ethan was still typing… I waited. He said he hoped I didn’t mind him asking. He’d wondered if Graham and I were together after the 4th of July party, but couldn’t be sure. I began remembering just how un-clingy Graham and I had been the night we all met… not exactly emitting typical “couple vibes”.

I, of course, had to set things straight. I told Ethan that Graham and I were actually married… happily, for 6 years. I said I hoped I hadn’t given him the wrong impression, but that I’d still love to go for a hike as friends. If memory serves me, he responded with a cute joke about how he was still in need of a hiking buddy after all…. so he supposed we could keep our hiking plans. I was relieved. Perhaps I anticipated he might be angry or unkind in some way. It wouldn’t have been the first time I was berated after telling a man, whom I’d gotten caught up in friendly conversation with, that I’m happily married. He told me I hadn’t given him the wrong impression at all, that he thought I seemed like a genuinely great person, and he’d love to get to know me better as friends.


We were fast friends. We could laugh at nothing, go for long hikes or just a walk around the park, grab a bite to eat, watch the sunset, talk, not talk. It was just… easy. Ethan was kind, compassionate, thoughtful in a way I found few people to be, and he made me smile till my face hurt. We could just be ourselves, no facades necessary. I loved that he was respectful of my marriage, yet still treated me as an individual. We went to several concerts and festivals that summer with Graham and our mutual friends, and we began seeing each other more and more often. Ethan and I hiked through the summer right into fall. And then came the fall…

While humans are quite capable of controlling their physical actions, we’re not nearly as adept at controlling our hearts as we’d like to be. Ethan and I began to realize we cared for each other more deeply than we’d anticipated. While I hardly knew what to do about it, I did know this — I valued my marriage with Graham and wouldn’t do anything to damage it. I also valued my friendship with Ethan. So believing that if my relationship with Ethan was more (whatever “more” meant) it would end our friendship… I was determined to keep it in a box that was sustainable. I didn’t want to lose the relationship we had. Ethan told me that more than anything he just wanted to be my friend. He said he didn’t know what it meant or what it would look like, he just knew he wanted us to be in each others lives forever. We agreed we could be forever best friends…. weird best friends, that people raised eyebrows at because I was married. But in my heart I didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong.

I had already started down a path of self discovery, not remotely aware of where it would eventually lead. I hadn’t fully acknowledged my polyamorous tendencies at that point. However, I had begun to recognize my bisexuality more that year, and I think that self discovery prompted me to realize something more… that, whether I was connecting with someone male or female, I didn’t agree with people’s rigid guidelines. Why couldn’t we just live, breathe, connect with who we connect with, maintain meaningful relationships when we find them, feel love for those we love… ? Why do we deprive ourselves of love, connection, happiness? It seemed so simple in my mind. Meaningful connections bring people joy…. and it just didn’t make sense to me that, in a world with over 7 billion people, we should allow ourselves to connect with only one human being in a meaningful way in our lifetime. Or is it that we’re just expected to only connect in such a way with one person AT A TIME? Either way, we’re truly terrible at monogamy as a species. We’re serial monogamists, at best, believing we’ll be with one person forever… until we breakup or get divorced. Then we believe we’ll be with the next person forever… until we’re not for some reason. Yet somehow so many people are at peace with the tragedy and the heartbreak of people’s lives and love breaking apart because of cast-iron rules and unbending expectations of one another, but they’re outraged at the idea of people having meaningful connections with multiple people simultaneously and people being adaptable, open, honest, and…. well… happy. This lack of logic was astounding to me. Wherever I happened to be in that particular line of thought or mental inquiry at the time, I quickly decided people could keep raising their eyebrows at me until they needed Botox — I just didn’t care anymore.

Ethan and I continued going on short hikes after work… some weeks, more days than not. If I got caught up at work and had to reschedule a hike or dinner plans he’d tell me not to worry and say, “We have forever.”

I did worry now and then that with him spending so much time with me, I may be keeping him from finding someone who could make him happier than I could. I cared for him deeply and that’s all I really wanted for him… to be truly happy. Knowing he wants a family and kids someday, and believing we could only be friends, I was pretty determined to set him up. We would joke that we just needed to find him a girl who wasn’t the jealous type and would be okay with our friendship. I actually tried quite hard to find him a girlfriend.

Technically, I succeeded…

A Christmas present from Ethan, 2017.

when the box doesn’t fit.

So here I am living my red, white and blue life in the Pacific Northwest. Just me, my two dogs, my husband, my boyfriend, my girlfriend, and my girlfriend’s husband / also my boyfriend (because they’re kind of a package deal and he’s also amazing, so no complaints). 

My life wasn’t always so free and full of limitless love. Not hardly. So how did I get here? Perhaps it all started when I recognized I’d outgrown the box society handed me to live in. You all know the one, right? The easily defined, therefore easily understood, box of heterosexual monogamy that seems to make people comfortable? 

Growing up in a conservative religious household I had bought into monogamy early on in life. Like many of us, I couldn’t even imagine an alternative. My first kiss was at age 17 with my first boyfriend, whom I was certain would be my last. We dated from high school straight into college, married quite young and planned our life of monogamous bliss. 

Fast forward 6 years. Still happily married, but somehow struggling — hard — with a feeling of claustrophobia in this seemingly infinitesimal box I’d now found myself in. 

It may seem trivial to some, but for a while going out with friends on the weekend was when this invisible box felt the most palpable. While crazy about my husband whom I love, respect, deeply admire actually, and feel quite honored to share this life with — I have this need to be seen as an individual, a person with my own thoughts, dreams, ideas. Being a woman in 21st century USA I didn’t think that was too radical a desire or expectation, but I’ve found I’m not alone in my experience of feeling boxed-in and very much like an object when I go out into the world as a married person and attempt to interact with other humans as an individual. 

Now to preface, I’m someone who finds little value in small talk. I’m the girl who has deep conversations with strangers because on some intrinsic level, perhaps, my being holds the belief that real, raw, honest interactions are the only ones worth having. I’m not interested in sitting at a bar and only hearing about “what you do for a living” or what your favorite drink is. I want to really see you. I want to know who you are, how you think, what brings you joy, how you see the world and what has shaped that perspective. Now that’s a conversation worth having. When I’m engaging with someone I’m looking to learn from a life experience different from my own. I find it to be a great way to broaden one’s mind, grow, and learn.

Unfortunately I’ve found time and time again, in the majority of interactions I’m faced with, it quickly becomes clear the new shiny person across from me isn’t interested in hearing about my unique perspective on life or sharing theirs. At least not without first determining who I belong to. While they may not phrase it exactly like this, in reality they’re asking “Who do you belong to? Do you belong to a partner? Do you belong to children?” And really those questions are just them trying to answer for themselves their real question of “Can you belong to me?” … whether they’re looking for a long term partner, or maybe just to see if you can belong to them for a night. If I was straight forward, which is my preference, and said I was happily married and just enjoying a night out I got quite the mix of responses, ranging from confusion to anger. They often seemed offended in some way. I’ve had people, men in particular, shame me for not being at home on the couch with my man on a Saturday night, tell me antiquated things like “a good woman belongs at home”, and some even berated me and told me it was “f***ed up” that I would go out to a bar or club without my partner. There was often a correlation with the length of time they’d interacted with me and the level of anger in their response. My intention being that of enjoying the present interaction, and not on a desire or expectation of possible future interaction with this person, I didn’t feel as though my time was being wasted. One might surmise from angry responses that some people didn’t feel the same. 

To be fair, I don’t think this is a gendered issue. While I’ve experienced this as a woman, I know there are men who experience the same thing… the “are you single / can you belong to me” type questioning and perhaps get disgusted looks, or worse, if they express that they’re in a relationship and are just looking to go out, meet some new people and maybe have an interesting conversation over a drink or two. Perhaps people don’t believe that stated intention, or perhaps we’ve all just been programmed to look for “the one”. We’re supposed to search high and low for “the one”, get married, buy a house with a white picked fence, have approximately 2.5 children… and if you’re taking up space at the bar and you’ve already found someone, and you’re no longer looking for “the one”, then the answer is “thank you, next”. You’re no longer viewed as a beautiful human being with unique thoughts and valuable perspective to be gleaned from. You’re now just an object that’s “taken”. You belong to someone else, and are therefore a waste of time. Right? Well, maybe not to the estimated 13 to 15 million of us who are polyamorous in the United States, but what do we know… 

What I can say with certainty is that feeling as though I’m viewed as an object that is owned in some way, rather than a lovely individual worth having a conversation with — that feeling weighed unusually heavy on me about 3 years ago. Reflecting and identifying why that feeling ate at the core of my soul became a catalyst for discovering a new life… a new way to connect to the world and the people in it… that now works much better for me.

With the hope that my journey may in some way help you along on your own, I’m really excited to be sharing my story with you. 

Until next time,

A girl gone poly