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On the couch

September 8, 2013

I’m writing this from the couch, where I’m sleeping tonight. My husband has his girlfriend over.

This is among the details of my life that seem to confuse some people, especially—but not always—monogamous people. This practice isn’t as common among poly folks as you might think (or maybe, as I might think). Sometimes I even get reactions of something approaching pity. Which is strange for me, of course, because I’ve consented to all those details, and in fact many of them were my idea. They work for me, and I’m happy. But some of them look really weird to other people.

One of them is that when my husband’s other partners come over, I sleep on the couch while they sleep in our bed with him (and he does the same for me when one of my partners is over). This is a logistical necessity: we have two bedrooms, but a housemate who lives in the second. So either I sleep in the bed with A and his partner, or one of us sleeps in the living room. Sometimes I’ve slept in the same bed as A and one of our other partners, and that can be really nice, actually. But since each of us gets relatively little time with or other partners, neither of us is involved with any of each other’s partners, and we both prefer to keep sex pretty private with whatever partner it’s with, for the most part it’s nice to have bedtime to ourselves.

This arrangement actually originated for my benefit, when I had a boyfriend who lived four hours away, and A had no other partners. It took awhile for A to become comfortable with it, actually–and in the meantime, my boyfriend and I got pretty creative with parks, the back of his car, and (sometimes) being really really quiet in the living room. Which was fun while it lasted, but it was also a relief when we were finally able to start sleeping in the bedroom.

So I remember being really happy the first time A’s out-of-town girlfriend came to visit. I actually gleefully texted my boyfriend, “It’s my turn to sleep on the couch!” I was so happy to be able to give back what had been given me over the preceding months. Now, it’s just the normal way of things.

About the reactions I get: I guess in some way it seems to some like I’m being displaced from my “territory.” The bedroom is usually a private, intimate place, so letting another women have sex and sleep there with my partner may seem more invasive, somehow, than just being okay with her having sex with my partner. (Also, while my partners aren’t mine, my bedroom certainly is.) And being banished to the couch is something that usually happens to a partner who’s on the losing end of a fight, at least in popular culture. But personally, I have no negative associations with it. In fact, I’m grateful to be able to make that little concession to A.

Stella couch

And it is a really comfortable couch.

So, goodnight.

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  1. September 9, 2013 4:25 am

    We’re lucky to have all lived in the same place since 1985 – and yet, now and then we still need the guest room, or to get creative because there is a guest already (not a partner of anyone’s). If you cannot accommodate your partners’ needs, whatever they are, you need to take a tour through your motives. Or at least, that has been my experience. “Because that’s how I feel!” isn’t good enough. Figuring out the why, and then working from there, solves many problems.

    You mentioned giving Turbo time to learn how to allow you and your partner bedroom time. It is this space for sorting out that is key. Pushing someone when he or she needs to figure out the source of feelings is less than helpful. On the flip-side, when no further conversations are had for weeks, the one with the feelings isn’t doing the work to figure out his or her whys, so showing continued interest in why is good.

  2. September 10, 2013 9:25 am

    We made sure that the guest bedroom is good enough that any of us would happily sleep there. Sleeping alone can be a real treat, and we have a mural and books and nice heavy curtains in there.

  3. Shanea permalink
    November 13, 2013 9:06 pm

    Wow, thank you for your words.
    I’m kind of ‘new’ in poly-living and I try to get happy with it. Sometimes it works really good. Sometimes its a big exam for me. I wish I get as comfortable like you…^^

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