Canoodling in the time of covid
So, here we are almost 7 months into the Covid 19 Pandemic. and like many we are antsy, bored, horny, and I hate to omit, over it. Not to diminish the profound loss of life so many of our neighbors have experienced with this post. As of this writing we are well over the 200,000 count for lives lost and who knows how many neighbors are struggling financially and out of work or working in essential jobs and putting their own health at risk to keep things going. My heart hurts daily for those losses that are hard to imagine and hard to make sense of. But, disruption to your life and lifestyle can also take a big toll mentally and emotionally and I think talking about that is okay and needs to be said and heard. I feel like sometimes we struggle to admit we are having a hard time when so many others are having far more difficulties than ourselves. So what's a swinger to do in these strange times of isolation we find ourselves in? Many swingers seem to get and stay in the lifestyle not just for the fun, sexy adventures but for the amazing friendships and connections we feel with those who are living their lives openly and joyfully. Everytime we attempted to even look at SDC or Kasidie, we just got depressed thinking, "What's the point? We aren't going to actually meet them any time soon." I dare say, this was just one of the stressful triggers of melancholy for both of us and Wade in particular as Wade is a very outgoing, extroverted guy. We both struggled with the Groundhog Day (the movie, not the holiday) way each day felt. Wade and I are both lucky and cursed to work from home together during most of this past year. But prior to March, we had so many outside activities that we rarely got sick of the sight of each other. We were super busy when the world put up the closed sign and got so many house projects done in the first few weeks of quarantine. Then the malaise set in. I would say by a couple months in we were both pretty sick of each other just being around all the time. We have struggled in quarantine mentally. There have been so many days where we cannot find the motivation to do much of anything. When we finally started seeing a small group of friends again it helped but still we struggled to not fall into a state of depression and sadness. For our mental health, we booked and went on a trip to Desire in September. It was a wonderful week of really reconnecting with each other. We took lots of precautions but, we still couldn't avoid Covid. Let me just pause and say that this was in no way a fault of Desire Resort. The staff was going above and beyond to create a safe environment for the guests and I never was concerned about the resort. I think this virus is just really hard to avoid unless you do stay pretty isolated. A few days after returning, we both started to get sick and stayed sick for a bit over a week. We both had "mild" cases but it was a really shitty week! Several friends asked "Was it worth it?" I found it hard to find a response that didn't seem callous or cavalier but, for me, yes, it was worth it. Our mental state and disconnect had reached a not great place and the magic of a Desire vacation brought that connection and love back into focus. We didn't have any playtime with others at Desire because we just couldn't lose the anxiety of the situation. In hindsight, the cute couple from North Dakota that we chatted with a good bit, we really wish we had thrown caution to the wind. So, we are excited to carefully be around people again and are going to work on balancing safety and caution with also the real need to live our lives in a way that fuels our spirits. We are headed to Naughty in N'awlins again this November in what ever form it is taking. This year has taught us so many lessons about our relationship and ourselves that in many ways I am grateful for this step back from the busy whirlwind to be introspective. This year is also an asshat that I doubt I will look back on super fondly but who knows?
2019 was our first trip to Naughty in N'awlins and oh my did we have so much fun! So much in fact that we have already booked 2020. Actually, Wade surprised me at Christmas with the gift of heading back to NOLA for Naughty! So, since it's January and I'm a bit behind in getting these posts up, let's talk about 2019 and why it was so great we are headed for round two.
We got really lucky with the weather as it wasn't blazing hot for several of the days we were there. Naughty is billed as the largest event of its kind and we have to give kudos to Naughty Events and Bob & Tess for putting on such a well coordinated and fantastic event. We have to admit, we had so much fun meeting new friends that we forgot to go to any of the panels but we heard from others that the ones they attended were fantastic. Naughty has numerous panels, two daytime parties a day, and a theme night party every night. My silly cosplay self sometimes forgets these are theme parties, not cosplay, and for Intergalactic Night went a little overboard with Wade and I's outfits (they're not outfits, they're interstellar jumpsuits...). I probably spent a good 25 hours of maker time on those darn costumes...Wade pitched in by bedazzling his shiny silver codpiece with rhinestones so we did learn that crafting together can be pretty darn fun.
We actually went down a couple days early to New Orleans to connect with each other and play tourist before all the shenanigans of Naughty. I highly recommend the Movie Tour if you are ever there and love movies like we do. On a geeky side note, we got to see the set of the new Bill & Ted and the iconic phone booth. That gave Wade a pop culture high all day! Shout out to New Orleans as well for being such an amazing food city. We had some amazing eats while we were there. Go out of your way for Red's Chinese and Saffron.
On Wednesday we checked into our hotel and the convention. There is this nervous, kinetic energy in the air is everyone is scoping out everyone else and trying to figure out what's next. You can see that a lot of people are returning as they find old friends and have those beautiful reunion moments in the lobby. We were nervous and not really our outgoing selves until we got to the first party that happened to be at the Hustler club. A little liquid courage and meeting people 2 on 2 helped ease us into that first day. The Wednesday at Naughty was a bit of a whirlwind as we hit two parties, got dressed in our white duds and had a blast walking in the parade, found some dinner and then hot the evening parties. To be fair, I barely remember that first day as it just went by so fast! Thankfully, some new friends we met on Wednesday invited us to lunch with a group on Thursday. It was awesome to just linger over a great lunch and really chat with people who were just a tipsy blur the day before. Long lunches with groups of people became one of my favorite parts of each day at NIN because both Wade and I really love to get to know people (in and out of the lifestyle). Those daily leisurely lunches is why we skipped most panels! Our favorite daytime party proved to be the Beach Party. Most likely because we had a three couple makeout swapski going for most of it that was super fun with new friends! The parties every night were great as well. Every day we got to meet new people, get to know those we had already met a bit better and form real connections. We expanded our horizons and played in new ways. We made lifelong friends in NOLA last summer and I know it might be lightening in a bottle, but, we are hoping to make new friends this year as well! Give the podcast episode a listen for more details...
I tell y'all this to say that Naughty is what you want it to be. Where else can you go and meet over 2,000 people who are in and adjacent to the lifestyle?
What the heck are the rules when you decide to open up your relationship? How on Earth do you even start to figure out those rules? What if you want to change the rules? The very first thing you and your partner may have to do is develop some new skills...communication skills. If you cannot even talk about the fun, sexy stuff you want to do with others, how the hell will you ever actually do anything with those as yet met others? For Wade and I, one of the best ongoing lessons of opening up our marriage has been the communication! This more open, honest communication has permeated all aspects of our relationship, not just the sexy talk.
So where does one begin? You obviously must begin by talking to your partner about fantasies. Does every fantasy have to be acted upon? Not if you both don't want it to be! But, I can almost guarantee, that some of those fantasies you both would find intriguing enough to want to explore. So, here is the point where the rule setting comes into play. You have to be completely honest with each other about your own boundaries. One word of caution though, you also need to assess your own insecurities and jealousies to see if any of these initial rules are being fueled by your own personal fears. It's okay to need and want to guard your heart and your relationship. The important thing is understanding where those feelings are rooted. Open relationships are also not a panacea to fix what is broken in your relationship. It will only crack wide open that fissure.
So, how do you start? Figuring out your rules and boundaries is like learning to tango. You slowly feel your way through some basic steps to begin. As you keep building on the basics, you find you can handle more complexity in the dance. You won't be the master of the ballroom when you are first learning the tango and the same will happen as your learn how to be ethically non-monogamous. You will trip a bit, sometimes look awkward, and bump a nose or step on a toe. With lots of honest communication and a sense of humor you will find that rules and boundaries and the ongoing communication about yours are your allies in being successful in your Lifestyle journey.
Here are a few questions to start the dance:
1. Why are you interested in getting frisky with other people? Do you want to explore fantasies, another aspect of your sexuality, like bisexuality or are you interested in kink?
2. What scares you the most when thinking of sharing yourself and/or your partner with others?
3. Where are you at RIGHT NOW?
So ask your partner to "dance" and start talking. I remember when Wade and I first started having those conversations that lead us to the lifestyle, it amped up our own sex life way before we even got around to playing with others! And please know this, wherever you are in what is comfortable to you, that is fantastic! You are the captain of this love boat and only the two of you can decide what is right and when. Check out our Podcast Episode #5, The Joy of Wade, to hear us wax poetic about our rules and boundaries and how they have evolved.
Enjoy the Adventure!
Thoughts from Wade:
First of all, let me begin by saying that I did not know what “The Lifestyle” was whenever I mentioned to Vanessa about going to Desire for the first time. I had never listened to one podcast, read one book or blog, or had done any research… All I knew was that the pictures and stories from Desire were more aligned with my fantasies than with reality but for the price of a trip to Mexico, we could experience something like that for ourselves and see if we were intrigued by it. I really didn’t know how we would feel, would we consider it a joke or be embarrassed by it or would we find it arousing and exciting or would it trigger feelings of jealousy and other negative emotions? Happy to say that even though there have been challenges along the way, nothing would have prepared me for how wonderful the outcomes have been through the relationships we’ve developed, the travel experiences that we’ve had, and the deep channels of communication that has opened between Vanessa and me. I would not trade any of it and I am so excited about the journey that we are on. There’s something different and there is a heightened sense of anticipation almost every day when you open yourself to the possibilities that “The Lifestyle” can bring. I have to say that Vanessa and I have gotten far more than we ever bargained for in our relationship through choosing to be open and through communicating with each other on a regular basis how that makes us feel and how excited and happy we are for each other to be on this joyful path together.
Thoughts from Vanessa:
So seriously? Why would I entertain the idea of non-monogamy? What’s in it for me? First, I think for many of us it is a foolish notion to think that one single human can provide everything we will ever need in romantic or sexual fulfillment. That is a lot of pressure to place on one person! Let’s address the notion of part of my sexuality being hidden for the majority of my adult life. I am a bisexual woman who has chosen a life that to the outside world looks like a traditional straight woman in a traditional marriage. The most outwardly controversial part of our lives to most people is that we chose to not have children. From a purely selfish place, opening up allowed me to explore my sapphic side. Wade is an amazing guy but he can’t fulfill my desire to be with women. So why not just be with women outside of my primary relationship? Why open up to men as well? Honestly, I really like being intimate with different people. When I was single in my twenties I loved kissing new people and the thrill of a new lover. When Wade and I committed to each other I knew he was my forever person but I must confess little pangs of sadness thinking that here was the last man I will ever kiss! I honestly didn’t really know ethical non-monogamy was a true thing. My notion of a swinger was a 70’s key party type thing. The only example of polyamory I had seen came in a religious cult context. Wade first brought up Desire for spicing up our already pretty darn good sex life. I would say I drove the train to the full on non-monogamy station! Currently, we are making wonderful new friends who we also get to have insanely sexy experiences. Each of these relationships look different based on the individuals involved. Swinger with a little bit of a poly streak? I believe strongly in the ethical of ethical non-monogamy but it’s a bit of a clinical mouth full! Not really sure where my label exists in this world, in this lifestyle. I am so happy to have the privilege of exploring with the collaboration and support of an amazing life partner. Our relationship has reached new heights of happiness and fulfillment in the last couple of years. This whole journey we have taken with humor, love, respect, and constant communication. We strive to let this process evolve organically and at a speed we both feel fully comfortable traveling. Stick with us as we share our story as it unfolds!