Out & About After Dark

Open Relationships, With David

June 23, 2020 James Grady Season 1 Episode 1
Out & About After Dark
Open Relationships, With David
Chapters
Out & About After Dark
Open Relationships, With David
Jun 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
James Grady

In this episode we talk to “David”, a longtime Nashville resident, about his open relationship, how it developed and what rules have made it work, and how COVID has necessitated a quarantine friend with benefits. Well get some sage insights into open relationships from someone who’s made it work, from the bathroom to the altar… Yeah … you heard that right!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we talk to “David”, a longtime Nashville resident, about his open relationship, how it developed and what rules have made it work, and how COVID has necessitated a quarantine friend with benefits. Well get some sage insights into open relationships from someone who’s made it work, from the bathroom to the altar… Yeah … you heard that right!

James Grady :

welcome to Out and About after dark. This podcast is a project of out and about Nashville supported by a grant for COVID-19 research from the Facebook journalism project. This program is all about relationships, sex, and other adult diversions. And this season at least how we've adapted those in the time of COVID. This episode, we talked to David, a longtime national resident about his open relationship, how it developed and what rules have made it work. And how COVID has necessitated a quarantine friend with benefits. We'll get some sage insights into open relationships from someone who's made it work from the bathroom to the altar. Yeah, you heard that right. So David, can you introduce yourself?

David :

Sure. I have lived in Nashville since 2011. I am originally from West Tennessee, from a very rural part of Northwest Tennessee. I work in the nonprofit sector. My partner now he and I've been together for five and a half years and we actually recently got engaged. Congratulate. Thank you. Thank you exciting stuff.

James Grady :

So you know, we're here to talk today about the about the after dark, the nitty gritty. So tell us a little bit about how did your relationship with with Joe get started?

David :

Yeah. So it's a great story, and I will tell you the stories that not everyone gets to know. So we met our official story is that we met online, as a lot of relationships do these days. However, there is a backstory to it. We actually met on campus we went we went to the same university and we met on campus, a bathroom hookup. And, but and it was a one and done one time encounter. Yeah, that was it. And then I saw him walking around campus a couple months later and I was like, Oh yeah, that's that dude, you know, but then you didn't interact with him at all. And then he found me on line on an app called squirt. And we met to hook up. And the minute I walked into his apartment, I recognized him from that guy in the bathroom all those months ago. But he did, but he did not recognize me. So and I didn't bring it up. So we picked up that night we afterwards we were just talking ended up spending the night because we just we chatted a whole lot. And it was the day before the Supreme Court is going to be ruling on the religious freedom Hobby Lobby case whenever that was back in 2014. And we're both political and policy nerds. And so we were really geeking out on that we were anticipating it being released the next day. So that's kind of what actually a lot of the conversations were having that night. And so we stayed in touch after that. We just texted a lot. And then before you know it, we were dating and here we are five and a half years later, now engaged.

James Grady :

So at that time, you were away from Nashville, and you had since moved back. Is that right?

David :

Yes,, we we met while I was in grad school.

James Grady :

And so does Joe live in Nashville as well?

David :

He doesn't. He has lived her on and off. But he his work takes him around the country quite a bit. So I actually only lived in the same zip code for about 25 to 30% of our relationship. So you know, we met at school when I was up there and then I moved back here and he moved here in 2016 after he finished but then His work has kind of kept him in and out of Nashville for the past four years. So he's currently in Denver, Colorado.

James Grady :

Gotcha. So when you guys started dating, did you always have an open relationship? Or did it start off? Close that some do and then open up?

David :

Yes, it started out closed. And it opened up after I moved to Nashville. So we at that point, we've been dating for a little less than a year, and didn't even so even the separation didn't, you know, cause the open conversation to happen. We kind of both assumed that would be monogamous, and that would just be a thing, but then a couple months into it. We really both have a conversation about is this sustainable? monogamy in a long distance relationship is it sustainable, knowing both of our personalities, and so we froze the conversation and we and we had had an we had had one experience as An open experience back when we lived together before I moved to Nashville.

James Grady :

And was that together?

David :

Yeah, it was a threesome that we Had together And neither one of us really enjoyed it. And lo and behold, it was just the wrong person, wrong time, it was just everything was bad about it. But so we, we just burst that topic very carefully, especially in with him. So he's also younger than I am, which you might think would make him a little more open in terms of his philosophies with things and a little more flexible. But that's that's not the case when it came to our open relationship. He had very strong feelings about it. And he knew that we needed to open it up but in terms of like the boundaries and the quote unquote, rules that we put around it, he was not as flexible as I kind of wanted him to be or needed him to be really bored. For me to be president in that relationship, so we both kind of had different ideals of what the openness should look like. And since his was more conservative than mine, I defer to him. And I, and I just said, you know, that's great. I will respect your wishes, and I will, you know, do what I used to do. And that has shifted so much since then. And we have completely different boundaries and quote unquote, rules now.

James Grady :

Right, when that makes sense, you know, thinking back though, you know, some people might be surprised, given how you met that you started off with a closed model in your relationship. Did his conservative stance come from family history or prior relationships? Or was it just sort of a societal ingrained, ideal?

David :

You know, it's probably a combination of all the above To be honest, but probably more so. Just kidding.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, the ingrained, monogamous framework that we're all given and handed out through society through our family dynamics absolutely played a role, because he didn't have an idea of what that could look like, in a healthy way. And he, like I said, so he's, we have a bit of a bit of an age difference. So he's actually 11 years younger than me. So he didn't have a lot of experience in relationships before we got together. Whereas I, you know, I've got 11 years on him. So I've had quite a bit of relation relational experience under my belt. And so I had different experiences to draw from, you know, so, yeah, it had to be built and we, yeah. So he kind of set the initial boundaries as the as the less experienced partner.

David :

Yeah.

James Grady :

How did that go in the early months, trying to respect those boundaries.

Unknown Speaker :

So I will be real with you and say that they did not go fantastic. I am by nature, pretty wired to push boundaries and to stir the pot. I am a professional agitator. And I bring that into my personal life as well. So, I did not respect a lot of boundaries at the beginning, I'll just be upfront about it. And our relationship suffered quite a bit because because I can't lie either, you know, and I'm terrible poker face and I can't just be dishonest. As hard as I might want to try. I just can't. So I would always end up coming clean to him and that I had stepped out of this boundary or this boundary. And, and it was very, very hard on us. And I'll admit that we actually broke up for about 30 seconds actually, what De over FaceTime, we were just having a really hard time communicating and being honest with each other about our needs. And I mean, he was being honest with me about, about respecting his needs, and I just wasn't being honest with him about what my needs actually were, and respecting his. And so he just decided that you know what, we'll just won't do it anymore. Screw it, forget it. Well, we're done. And we broke up for like, 30 seconds on FaceTime. And then we stayed on the phone. And they were like, No, we don't want to do it. Nevermind, let's take it back. So ever since then, we have been incredibly intentional about checking in and about, about respect, especially on my respecting all the boundaries and, and bringing him along the journey in a way that's respectful of where he is and not where I want him to be. Right. So did he ever have trouble staying within the boundaries or has he pretty much kept...?

David :

He's the Rule follower. I mean, he's, you know, he's, he's very open. And I mean, he loves our open relationship now, trust and believe. Back in the day, it was a real struggle for him to even engage in it because he just didn't know what it could or should look like. And but he's not using the real real world follower. So he, I don't remember any moment of him stepping out.

Unknown Speaker :

So he has kind of moved a lot since then. Do you feel like you pushed him forward? Or do you feel like you let him develop over time? I think it's a little bit of both and actually, I know that I definitely pushed him and sometimes I pushed him too much. And I also know that he's done his own work in that area. To be them to be more open and perceiving of the openness, if you will. Yeah. So yeah, it's it's definitely that though.

James Grady :

So can you give us a better idea of like, what the what the negotiated rules were at the beginning and how they've evolved?

David :

Yeah, yeah. So they were very specific at the beginning. And some of them have stayed true. So trying to wrack my brain go back to the beginning for a minute. First, there was always a, it was permission granted, so he had to ask my permission as I had to ask his permission. And even though we were long distance, there was a little more transparency around who we were going to be hooking up with. And the boundaries that we placed on ourselves were like no spending the night no cuddling. No kissing, cuddling. Kissing might have been and no like dating right? So he wanted me to be very specific about like no you're not going out with people to like meet them for a drink before you come but like it's like there's none of that because that's too close to dating for you, you know? And so a lot of that too like it's just that it's like there's nothing else though of the relationship building right with it with these people. And might have been and so they they've fluctuated over the years and so that the permission shifted into Okay, it's too much we don't need all the permission stuff How about we just have what we just let each other know when we do it. So that went from a very specific Hey, this person just left to we would send each other the peach emoji That was fun because we just knew what that meant. And now it's we don't even tell each other you know if the other one asked yes we can. We're happy to share in fact he actually loves both the details and he loves to share the other like bears have your boundaries have kind of stayed the same. There's no cuddling. That's very special to him and no spending the night unless there you know, one or the other is under some substances and driving or getting home was just an issue right so we want the safety is concerned. I fought him on the no kissing part for a long time. was like, I cannot have sex with someone. That is awkward. If I can't, so I fought him on that one. That one's okay now I was still no coddling and they'll spend me now spending the night which which, beyond kissing which one of those rules Has. Are you most resistant to cuddling? Yeah. Yeah. Because I mean, I think almost everyone loves to get caught. All right. And in particular, since he's not here, I really do struggle with that one, to be honest. And he knows that Yeah. Right. Because it just sometimes you just need that connection. That's not sexual. But it definitely serves a purpose.

James Grady :

So when you guys did open up, was it a struggle to get him to be actively participating? That is, you know, so that it wasn't just you being open while he sat at home?

David :

Yes, it still is sometimes to a degree. He's just a little more reserved in that area than I am despite, you know, our initial meeting being in the bathroom. I think he just ... sex to him is a much more emotional investment than it is For me, and I don't know if you or any of your listeners will subscribe to like astrological conversation but I'm a Gemini he's a Scorpio so I I love a good diversity and in all my all the things particularly as it relates to sex I like opening myself up and being open for other people in lots of different ways. I'm totally versatile as well like I'm 5050 top bottom. He's mostly a bottom like 80 90% bottom. And so he is so as a Scorpio as well, he's just, he's much more emotionally invested in it than I am. And so that's why I don't even see a problem with cuddling for me. You know, I don't invest in a cuddle the way he invest in a cuddle. But I respect his bad investment from him. And that is one that I will absolutely abide by.

Unknown Speaker :

Sure. So once you guys got started down this road, I'm sure there were constant renegotiations. But, you know, I guess the thing that I wonder most about are, were there any funny encounters that resulted from this that were unexpected?

David :

I mean, a funny encounter would be that first time we ever explored a threesome with someone else. That was such an awkward moment. I can't tell you. Like we met this guy at a bar. It was very unexpected. We did not plan on it. We're just hanging out at the bar. And we'd say we'd had these conversations, because I think I was getting ready to move back to Nashville. And so we first the conversation with ourselves, but we hadn't really done anything about it. And then we go out that night, and lo and behold, there's this dude who's like, really like into us. And one of the take us back and so we did and he was just super inebriated. Both of us were super nervous and he was in a super awkward all around and I remember looking at him at some point and like, while we're all all three of us are in the bed together doing our thing. And I look over at him at one point and his he's got this like deer in headlights look on his face. This is like, I don't want to be here right now. I just want to go. And and I was like, Oh my god, what an awkward feeling in such a moment and and I had to be the big, big boy be like okay, that's it. We're just gonna, like pack it up and see you later. It was fine cuz uh, do pass down the bed anyway. We literally snuck out of this dude's house. And which was good because we found out later that his that that dude's husband was upstairs. That Yeah, so that was a really funny moment for sure.

James Grady :

Given Especially given that, you know, you guys have moved away from informing the other about who you're hooking up with. Have you ever accidentally hooked up with a acquaintance or co worker friend of each other's?

David :

Oh, yeah. Well, that's been a real fun. So, you know, he does live here in Nashville, as I do. And I've lived here before we met. So I had kind of an established network, and I know some people. So I've done some things. And he has one time he hooked up with my best friend and I did not know it. And then another time, we were on campus, and we came across somebody that I that I know and then and then he ended up knowing them as well. And I was like, Oh, hey, y'all know each other. Cool. Absolutely. And then I was like, How do I know each other? And they both gave me this look. I was like, Oh, I know that look. So that that actually has been fun because See, he's just on Grindr, or scrap or whatever, you know. And he's not really like checking with me on who is hooking up with or asking me questions. And he has, he started doing that a little bit after we had a couple of those encounters, where he was like, Oh, well, you just found me out. So let me just tell you anyway. So every now bait hook, don't be like, Hey, you know this person? But for the most part, no, we've just found out by happenstance, and that's good, really funny.

James Grady :

Have you ever had any? Maybe not so funny versions of that encounter? Mm hmm.

David :

I don't think so. You know, cuz we're very open and light hearted with with with everything and yeah, where how on, hold on without him. I'll take it back to somebody hooking up with someone that did not. I did not cosign that that encounter, but I don't think that was his mother. That was somebody else. Yeah. That was the So now that we've taken it all in stride, it's been kind of humorous. Gotcha.

James Grady :

So, you know, you mentioned that you're engaged now, how did that come about? And did that involve any renegotiation about your rules?

David :

So I get your second question. A lot quicker. No, no, no, no go. No read negotiations. And mostly because we're still apart right now, you know, I won't be, we won't be in the same place for nine or 10 months or so. So, while the long distance remains, the rules kind of say the same. became sort of happened. You know, like I said, we've been together five and a half years. I have been very resistant to marriage for a very, very long time. Just the idea of the institution, the concept, you know, it's not him. It's just the idea of it.

James Grady :

Right?

David :

I mean, When you're part of a community that gets denied certain things, you really start to examine those things, those institutions or systems, whatever it is, and and I've done a lot of work and in our community related to quality and how we are able to be accepted and navigate the world and thrive. And I just didn't like the idea of marriage as a concept as a tradition. And I understand all the legal things that come along with that, and that's fabulous. But I just still I've been holding on to a lot of perhaps anger and resistance and resistance and maybe a little resentment, honestly, to just the tradition of it. So and also didn't want to, so well, I'll back up to that. So he knew that that was always in the corners of my mind and that marriage was always like an optional thing for me, but I may or may not ever subscribe. To him, on the other hand, has been looking forward to his wedding day since he was like 11 is that a Pinterest board forehead, he talks about it all the time. He's he knows exactly the music that's gonna be played and the color scheme like he's, he's all about it. So he knew that if there was ever going to be an engagement ever to be a proposal that it needed to come from me that there would never be something that he could kind of put me into. So, but you know, I have done so much work like personal growth, development kind of work in this relationship. And I cannot imagine not spending the rest of my life with this man. Like, he, he helps me grow and he supports me and sustains me and fulfills me in a way that no other relationship ever has. And I just can't I just can't imagine going through life without him, especially like, in a legal sense, right? Knowing knowing all the things with my immediate family who would actually be decision makers, and in the case of that and, and also really wanted to make him happy, you know, it brings me so much joy to see him joyful and and I know that there's a lot that he really really wants and and I'm actually really open to it I'm we're super excited about it. I don't I don't care anything about the actual marriage, but I'm here for a big party. So yeah, I started playing this back in January I thinking, you know, as I was planning my year BC before COVID and thinking what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I thought, No, I think so I'd already thought you know, I think this is going to be the year that I proposed because things are kind of settling down for him. He's promised me no more campaign life after this. So he's gonna he's gonna gonna settle down a lot this year. And I think that's just a good indicator for us to kind of settle down settle into ourselves as well. And so I've made a decision, I'm gonna propose this chair and then I just make the decision. I'm gonna do it on my birthday, because he's never gonna see it coming. So there was.

James Grady :

So you mentioned COVID. So, while we're on that topic, you know, you're here. He's there. You guys are hooking up, open relationship. How has COVID impacted or altered your experience in your open relationship?

David :

Yeah. So we did have to negotiate some things then. And those kind of relationships are still being navigated very carefully, I guess is the word. So we decided we needed to have a conversation. So we when I when I say Like a successful relationship is communication. I don't, I don't use that lightly. We are only successful because we communicate all the time. Like we have regular check ins about how we're doing, and like how our relationship is doing, and how we're doing it. And so this was we knew that COVID was going to be a moment where we would need to check in, particularly because we're long distance, and it would mean like, we didn't know how long quarantine was gonna last. And if we're going to be able to see each other and if my trip to go see him for the proposal was even going to still happen, you know, all that was just in flux for so long. So we decided very early on, since we needed to quarantine that we would stop all the hookups that we would not be able to anyone, and then we would stay true and faithful to that. So we both did. And then of course that was supposed to be expected. I knew that I was about to bounce out of that agreement. And which is always surprising to me because he's really like physical touches his love language and and mine is not. So he's he's much more of a sexual person that I am, honestly, but I'm always surprised that I'm the one kind of stepping into new things here. So I had to have a conversation with him like, yo, yo, look, this is probably gonna happen, because Okay, a little bit of context here too. I have what I call a Rolodex. I don't like going on the hunt. When I am when I'm hungry for it. I don't you know, I'm getting on Grindr and scruff and whatever, but I, I hate that process. So I like good, reliable fuck buddies that I can depend on. And that I can just text at a moment's notice be like, Yo, what's up tonight or what are planted out for the you know, whatever. So that's generally how I hook up I have pretty consistent fuck buddies that I hook up with. And they also have a very particular very specific and very good purpose. Every now and then they come together that's, that's fairly rare. So I was being I was getting hit up by a couple of my regulars and, and I was like, well Sorry, dude like we're all bunker down, you know, like I'm I'm not ready to risk that just yet. And but then I started getting ready for it. So that's what I had to go to have and have the conversation because I had people who were hitting me up and so we agreed that this was my proposal to him that if I could choose maybe one person who I've been hooking up with for quite some time, like at least a couple when I said quite some time, I mean a couple of years like he's been a steady presence, right? And so I know him. We actually chat you know, it's not just sex like we chat for a little bit before and after. And so I know what I know his work I know what he does, you know and I trust him. So I said I've got this one dude who wants to come back into my life and I want to let him back into my life specifically in the one particular place and I need to note that that's okay if he can be what I have deemed my quarantine fuck buddy my cue FB and so we both agreed so he and I actually put the fuck buddy and I we chatted about that too. And so we both agreed that we would step out of quarantine just for and with each other. And that would be it. And then I took that my fiance and said, this is who I've got, this is what I've got to do. Give me your thoughts and reactions to it, but also know that I'm open to not doing this That's that that will make you more comfortable and he was he agreed that we should we can do at least one person that would be safe, safer than anything else. So that's that's what we're doing now. I don't know about him I don't think he's hooked up but maybe one time during this whole mess but it's been about a month or so for me, and I ... I had to get some dick!

James Grady :

So it brings up two follow ups for me. One is given that he you know has stated as a sticking point the idea of cuddling. Kissing was an issue, relationship obviously is an issue. Did the idea of fuck buddies rub him the wrong way, people that you had a long standing thing with and how did how did this concept... How did he struggle with that over the idea that it might look like a relationship?

David :

that never came up, that it might look like a relationship. Because I mean, even though my q FB in all my regulars are those people that I know and trust, you know that we don't have any relationship outside of that sexual moment that we have. I'm thinking back to to another moment that we had that did cause a little bit of tension. So and I don't know if this might help this context might help to your question but there was one person that I was working with on a fairly regular basis, who was also a friend who kind of, I am just, I just had to be real caught feelings. You know, like, there was there became a moment when when we both realized that there was an emotional investment there. I realized that I was catching feelings, but not I was I loved him, but I wasn't in love with them, you know, like, I could quickly make that distinction. But I loved him a lot as a human being. And I and I, and I, and I still do, we don't actually talk anymore because it just, it was too much for him. But he couldn't be emotionally invested in me. So we just had to let it go completely. But that I had to be honest with with my partner about that as well like during the moment. And, and so because we had that experience, and you know, this was a regular who became a little emotionally invested, and this is how we handle that. That's how I handled it. And he trusted me to handle that in the way that I did and which was really helpful. So, I think because we have that background, and he knows that I'm going to be honest with him about, you know, all the things you just there's just a level of trust there that that is required. And doesn't get in the way of COVID nest now, what we have to set up now with COVID.

James Grady :

Getting beyond COVID and back to the juicy stuff. In recent years have you guys revisited the three sub concept? And has that gone better for you subsequently?

David :

Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, we've had quite a few threes and even fours. Let me say I think the largest one we've we were in a group project. That was probably seven, six or seven people strong.

James Grady :

Professional strength.

David :

Oh, yes, absolutely. I always bring my A game. If it's me, I'm going big or going home. So yeah, we've we've navigated those situations a lot more. Better now. And we're much more comfortable in that. Yeah.

James Grady :

So you know, you brought us back to communication and the importance of that a couple of times and I assume that you guys communicate about not only the serious stuff but about the fun stuff. So do you guys have any fantasies that you've yet to encounter or accomplish that you're looking forward to in your married life?

David :

Yeah, I'll say this he is as though we both kind of subscribed to I guess what might one might call like the piggy side of gay sex. If I could be a little real I guess with with Yeah, your listeners. So we are not ashamed to get a little dirty get a little filthy and have some really risque cannot escape it like fetish type stuff, you know, like pits and piss play and water, sports and public being in public and outdoor sex and things like that. So We've explored quite a bit together and separately, I think the one area that I think he really wants us to explore further is he he really wants like a game bang situation. Like he wants to be THE bottom for a bunch of tops and we've never done that before. We've shared a top before, which was a lot of fun. We've actually shared a couple of tops a couple of times, but he definitely wants to be rigging bangs. And I would love to make that happen for our anniversary actually.

James Grady :

That would make an anniversary gift for sure.

David :

Yes. So let's, let's close with one last question: if you had any advice to give to couples that are struggling with monogamy, what would you advise? Talk about it like this, I just I can't You can't over communicate with something like this, talk about it and be and remain open. Always. There's just a level of unlearning, that has to be done as much as there is learning. And that I think people discount the learning part of it more than they should. Or they don't even consider it right. Like it's the deconstructing of the models that we've been taught that we've been given. And that we automatically subscribe to. And so really unpacking that for ourselves is super important. And I think the other piece is to do your work and don't do your work. Don't work to shit on other people. Does that make sense? You know, so If being in a monogamous relationship, is that close to you, in terms of your values, that's okay. And if you're struggling with that, just struggle with that and work through it, rather than working it out on your partner.

James Grady :

Right? Do you have any thoughts for our listeners who might be a little less able to communicate directly about sex? I know a lot of people struggle with expressing their needs and wants.

David :

Oh, gosh, yeah, that's so deep. And I would say start small. Don't, don't feel like you need to sort of like stay being some sexual needs as as a is a difficult as a challenge for you. That I would start smaller, like, what other needs do you have that you're not expressing and try practicing those and maybe those are just more emotional needs and not physical needs, but you just want to be a little more closer to your partner in this way. FYI fill in the blank. And that's an emotional need that you need to have Matt. Even that opens us up to a lot of barter ability and stuff. So I get that, you know, it's very difficult to have these kind of conversations. And it just takes a lot of practice and we just have to be willing to practice that. Naming needs and and having difficult, crunchy critical conversations are just muscles that we it's their skills and skills are like muscles, they just need to be worked out. Because we perfect those over time. So just practice having the conversation, but have it with yourself first.

James Grady :

Right. All right. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time and really appreciate it. It was really interesting to hear about the beginning of your relationship especially I think and our you've come.

David :

I know from the bathroom to the wedding hall. Just

James Grady :

And it seems like with the occasional return to the bathrooms...

David :

yes, actually, yeah... we have actually, true story. We have revisited that scene of the crime multiple times...

James Grady :

Oh!

David :

absolutely. It's important to keep that kind of spark going!

James Grady :

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, there you have it, friends, David, thank you for that great insight into the work that goes into an open relationship. And for that saucy look into how you guys keep your spark alive. Thank you listeners. And thank you to the Facebook journalism project, which supports this and many other projects that out and about Nashville, as well as small media outlets across the country through grants. Transcribed by https://otter.ai