Not long ago I wrote a couple of articles about sexual safety. Those of you who read the articles, and provided some great comments by the way, know that safety is something I consider on many levels and take somewhat seriously. Let's be real for a second here. Not being safe could mean your life, but probably not. I'd venture a guess that most people will probably never even encounter a serious STD in their lifetime. Still, I worry about it a bit because, well, that's just the way I am.
But something else that came out of those articles and the contemplation of those who prompted their writing, along with some other random conversations, was that maybe I had been missing some opportunities. Opportunities for relationships maybe, but opportunities for physical encounters yes. There was a festival with a few options, acquaintances with some possibilities, and the endless new people I seem to meet being active in my local poly community.
Now, were some possibilities not explored due to concerns other than sexual safety? Of course. And there were definitely some missed out of safety concerns. But looking back the bulk of those opportunities were dismissed simply because I didn't have confidence they would result in any kind of relationship beyond casual. And FWB's isn't something that interests me much.
But in looking back I began to wonder if I was being overly restrictive in exploring both physical and emotional relationships. That led me to think that maybe I needed to relax both my safety rules and my emotional rules. I chewed on things a bit before initiating a conversation with a partner about opening up our rules regarding safety.
At first my partner was a bit shocked, thinking I was talking about relaxing my rules to allow for us both to engage in casual sex at will. As we talked a bit she understood what I was suggesting was not that we remove our agreements around safety, but that maybe we could temper them a bit. Instead of insisting that there be relationship potential with someone, and starting to define relationships before engaging physically, maybe we could allow for sex if we felt a connection with someone. Before any relationship definitions had been established. We would still maintain our agreements about fluid bonding, condom usage, and vetting new partners sexual history among other agreements. And where we both had believed in the past that sex as recreation wasn't for us, maybe that would be allowable assuming our safety concerns had been satisfied.
After a fairly extensive, and at times intense, conversation we came to understand each others feelings on the subject. With a new agreement in place that would relax our safety constraints a bit, while maintaining our respect and consideration for each other in the process, the conversation moved on. My partners first question was; who was I interested in at the moment that I could pursue under our new agreement? To her surprise there was nobody. In fact, that conversation was more than a month ago and I have had no new partners since.
What I want to relate to you is that this process with my partner was almost painless, even enjoyable, and extremely satisfying for us both. We reaffirmed our trust and faith in each other while finding ways to enjoy our freedoms and continue to respect one another. I think a big reason for this is because we had the conversation before there was a problem or someone else was becoming involved. I didn't have an agenda like trying to renegotiate a rule to specifically allow for an opportunity with someone new. It was simply an evaluation of agreements and our beliefs to see how we both felt, ensure we were on the same page, and maybe adjust things a bit.
I strongly encourage those of you reading this to think about your agreements and how they are working. Don't focus on specific situations or people, but rather the overall intent and reason behind any agreements you may have. If you think they could be adjusted, bring it up with your partner. Now. Before there is a problem or an agreement is broken. Consider it relationship maintenance. By talking when you are both calm and can evaluate things without outside influences there is a much better chance for compromise and you will both likely understand each others feelings more easily.
As always, love well.