The uncertainty and frustration that had been building under the surface of our relationship finally erupted. What seemed like an innocuous decision threw Brad and Amy into a battle of emotional safety. Without warning, my husband and I fell from a place of privilege to a place of being shut out. I reached out to Brad to find him scared, wounded, and angry. It was as though all four of us had been hiking on the cliffs of swingerdom. Initially the climb was easy and relatively smooth. We were thrilled to meet each other on the cliffs and excited to have friends join the journey. As we ascended, we saw an adjoining mountain that we thought we could cross. Myself, my husband, and Amy were carefully traversing the tight precipice between swinger and poly, but as we got closer Brad became more unsure of his footing. When I looked back, I could see he was struggling so I slowed down for him. In contrast Amy and my husband blazed the trail with great speed. Because my husband and I had been communicating so much, I was reassured that he would not leave me behind. This helped ease my fears anytime he got out of sight. However, Brad and Amy had no assurances so when there was a slight slip of the foot, Brad demanded to return to safer ground.
This began the long and arduous process of Brad figuring out where on the cliff he felt safe. We tried being platonic friends but that immediately failed when the sexual tension pulled us back into each other’s arms. We next attempted to pull back emotions but still be physical. However, that failed too when we all went on a weekend trip to the country and slipped emotionally deeper into each other. As a salve they went back to the swinging lifestyle to help dilute their feelings for us. This was not realistic for us because my husband and I found the lifestyle empty in comparison to our relationship with Brad and Amy. The thought of being with random people to help us forget them was starkly unappealing. Over time, we felt like hostages to Brad’s emotional state because we agreed to let him dictate the pace. In theory this was a great idea but his idea of safety changed on a daily basis. It became a constant struggle for me to remain patient while he cycled through hot and cold. Each unanswered text or mixed signal felt like a stab to my heart. I began to wonder how much I could take before my own frustration boiled over.