I am a firm believer in the power of change. I was raised by studs and masculine of center people that believed being in a relationship was a battle between infidelity and ownership of your partner. Double standards plastered the walls as relationship arguments were often about what is appropriate for a femme to do compared to a stud. I remember being told by my college girlfriend that I couldn’t go to the club because I didn’t know how to behave. I remember calling her a hoe because she was texting someone and I couldn’t control her time when I was away. I turn 32 next month and reflecting back, I can say that relationship was constructed on rules of black lesbian relationships that didn’t fit our complexities.
I’ve always struggled with monogamy. In my Honesty Poem, I wrote, “I’m often attracted to three souls at the same time.” This honestly is how I’ve been my whole life. When I met my current partner we talked about this in the beginning of our relationship. We talked about not wanting to be controlled. We talked about wanting to have the best sex we could have. Sex that was consensual and unbound by society’s stuffy, unrealistic expectations. We discussed inviting others into our sexual journey and what open communication really meant to each of us. This conversation was very new to me.
Most of my past relationships came with a rule book that didn’t include dialogue, but rules that were developed through insecurity and an openness that was given with limitation. I found a woman who was not only willing to have this conversation, but live the journey with me. We both knew how difficult this would be and there have been times during our three years together we have stumbled into past relationship behaviors. While we both can be extremely open, we also have a love, a passion for one another that can cause jealousy. When we make mistakes we find a way back to our foundation and meet each other in this place of comfort. This doesn’t happen overnight, we are a couple who plans to spend a lifetime together (without a limit on what that lifetime looks like). Therefore we choose to be open to not only communication and fun experiences with others, but disagreements, disappointment and a learning curve new for both of us.
Here are 5 tips to having a relationship that is built on open communication, clear boundaries, and prioritizing consent.
- Journal about your sexual and romantic boundaries and share with your partner. If you can't talk about sex then you probably shouldn't be engaging in the activity. Communication is key.
- Notice how it feels for you to say no and set boundaries for yourself. For many of us this can feel hard to do, we may feel like we don’t have the right to ask for what we need or say when we don’t like something-- but this IS your right! Practice open and honest consent. When you don't feel up to things, decline and be honest. Don't build a relationship where you are constantly compromising yourself and ignoring your bodies needs.
- Have fun! Sex shouldn't be a chore. If it is, STOP! Make your experiences fun and ask your partner(s) if they would be up for trying new things you are interested in. Take it outside or build a picnic table inside!
- If you invite someone new into the experience, don't be afraid to feel. It's okay to be jealous and experience insecurities. Be honest about where you are so that you can enjoy the moment and not be so caught up in thought. Transparency and open communication help make this experience even better!
- Make your own rules. Don't let friends influence you. Remember, the majority of us have been taught relationships are about control, performing specific gender roles and being monogamous. Others might not understand your interest in the world outside of this. That’s ok! It is your life and no one else can live it for you.
You can follow me and my partner's journey on Instagram @melaninandroyaltea