sex diaries

The Journalist Who Hasn’t Been Monogamous Since College

Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher

This week, an American woman enjoying a polyamorous relationship abroad: 34, in a relationship, Europe.


6:45 a.m. The alarm goes off, and Nick heads for the shower. He and I have been together 2.5 years. I’m a journalist, living in Europe.

I spend 45 minutes answering email and checking Twitter and don’t let myself check any non-work messages, even though I can see that Max has sent me something. I’ve been seeing Max for a year or so; he sent me a few messages overnight. He’s a night owl so we usually text a bit before I go to sleep and he sends me his random musings overnight.

Nick and I have been open since the beginning — we met online and knew we’d both previously been in open relationships. I haven’t been in a monogamous relationship since university, and he never has. Our rules are pretty straightforward: We have a loose “no drama” rule, meaning don’t date anyone who could cause issues down the line (co-workers, family, etc.). We officially reserve the right to reject each other’s partners, though that’s never actually happened. And, otherwise, don’t be an asshole.

7:30 a.m. Out of bed. Thirty minutes of yoga, shower, walk our crazy dog. Nick suggests that rather than going to Max’s place tonight I invite him over for dinner. “Then you can cook for both of us,” he tells me. I tell him he just wants to get out of his turn to cook.

Max and I also met online, though coincidentally, he and Nick actually knew each other. He is very involved in the anarchists anti-capitalist activist movement and is generally a bit of a character. He’s extremely smart, very capable, a really, really good listener and doesn’t take himself very seriously. He’s also easily distracted and not so great at fitting into “normal” life. He just refuses to live his life on terms other than his own.

10 a.m. I’m meeting with my intern. She’s a very talented writer with a lot of potential but worries about her job prospects, and she wants me to explain how I ended up in my current role.

Originally, I moved here for a job with a magazine. After four years, the magazine went through a reorganization and I accepted a position in the Middle East. Six days after my first date with Nick, I flew to the Middle East ostensibly to apartment hunt and straighten out some visa issues. Instead, I told my would-be boss that I had met someone and was going to stay in Europe. Pretty much everyone thought I was crazy, but I went through with it and found a part-time job at another magazine and a part-time job in a communications role.

The decision not to move was basically entirely me. Nick had said he wouldn’t move and that he didn’t want to do long distance, but he never pressured me to stay. Beyond that, we didn’t really talk much about it. He was clearly happy I wasn’t leaving but was always very clear that I should do what’s best for me. I don’t know that I “knew” in the first few days that he was my soulmate or something, but I definitely knew that this relationship had a lot of potentials and I wanted to see that out.

Anyway: Two years later the agency in the Middle East called to tell me that their correspondent where I was living was leaving and that I was welcome to the position if I wanted it. The intern seems impressed with my backstory.

2 p.m. The rest of the day is a mess of email, phone calls, and administration. Max texts me and asks what the plan is for tonight. I ask him if he wants to come to dinner, and he says he’ll be there at 7.

7 p.m. I’m still at work, but that’s okay because Max is always late. I text him and he hasn’t left his house yet. I stop by the grocery store, then head home to start dinner.

8:15 p.m Max finally arrives. We have dinner together and Nick and Max argue, pleasantly, about politics. After dinner, Max and I head upstairs to watch a movie. We cuddle but both of us are too tired from the week to do anything else.


6 a.m. The magazine I work for produces a podcast and I have to be in the studio early, so I leave Max in bed. (Nick slept in the other bedroom. Generally whoever has the guest sleeps in the guest room.) I get in my half an hour of yoga. I make coffee for Nick to take with him to work, make tea for myself, and get out the door by 7.

11 a.m. Done recording. I really love my colleagues, the work is always interesting and I feel good.

11:15 a.m. Nick and I are having a group over for cocktails before we all go to an annual kink/fetish party. I post details about the event in a group chat I’m in for kink/poly people. As far as my relationship with kink, I did some experimenting in high school/early college. Then I started dating someone in college who was very involved already and the rest was history.

11:30 a.m. Home and the house is empty. There’s a person coming to look at my roof in an hour because we have a leak. Nick and I bought a nearly 100-year-old house over the summer and we’ve been restoring it. It seems like something is always going wrong but, overall, it’s been a lot of fun.

1 p.m. Roofer arrives. I spend an hour with him, discussing all of our various roof issues. There’s some work to be done but it’s not as bad as we thought!

2:30 p.m. Ash texts me to complain about a paper they’re working on. Ash is the other person I’m seeing. We’ve hooked up a few times, though it’s not serious. Plus, I don’t have the time. Still, they, along with Max and Nick, will be attending the party.

5 p.m. Nick is home early — he works as an engineer. We take the dog for a long walk and discuss our days and the upcoming weekend. Nick wants to know how my evening with Max went. He’s not surprised we both crashed and tells me I work too much.

6:30 p.m. Our neighbor comes by to discuss the roof (our houses are attached and some of the issues are on both sides). We have some beers and talk about work. She’s really lovely, but unfortunately we have to kick her out because friends of ours are coming over to play board games.

7 p.m. Ash texts to ask if they can bring their primary partner to tomorrow’s party. I tell them it’s fine, the more the merrier!

8:30 p.m. Our friends arrive, about 15 of us in total. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen them. We play games until very late.


7:45 a.m. Roof guy returns early and my neighbor makes me tea, since we both have to be up to deal with it.

8:30 a.m. Nick has a work event during the day so he heads out. I tackle the usual errands and pick up some things we need for the party that evening.

4:30 p.m. Max is at my house, but I’m still out. He was supposed to be there at 4, but, as he’s always late, I assumed he’d text me when he left his house. I head home to meet him.

5 p.m. I set Max up with what he needs to make cocktails for the party that evening. Cocktail-making is his thing and he has a whole kit he’s brought with him. I take a shower.

6:30 p.m. Nick arrives home. Both of us are exhausted so we take a quick nap.

8 p.m. Other folks start to arrive. I text Ash to see when they’re arriving but they don’t respond. A former partner of Nick’s is in attendance and the two of them are flirting a lot. I wonder if they’ll hook up later …

10 p.m. Cocktails are a success. Everyone’s outfits look great. A group decides to head to the main event while some of us hang out at the house, finishing our drinks.

11:30 p.m. We arrive. Ash still hasn’t responded. Max disappears to talk to some old friends. Nick and I get a drink and gossip about folks at the party. Nick wants to dance, but I don’t. He heads off to the dance floor and I go to get another drink.

1 a.m. Max finds me and clearly, he’s taken MDMA. He can’t keep his hands off me, but I’m not bothered. I know he’s used drugs at parties but this is the first time he’s ever done them around me. It’s just obvious because neither of us tends to be very touchy-feely in public.

2 a.m. I leave Max making out with an ex of his and go to see where Nick is. He’s on the dance floor, in between a girl and a guy, and seems to be enjoying himself. I get another drink. Ash still hasn’t responded and doesn’t seem to be here. I hope they’re okay …

3 a.m. Nick has disappeared from the dance floor so I wander around until I find him, hooking up with the guy he was just dancing with. They are very into each other and I like watching — it’s very hot.

5 a.m. Nick has come up for air and is ready to go. I ask Max if he’s coming home with me or is making his own plans. He joins us.

5:30 a.m. Nick takes the dog out and I get into the shower. Max makes me tea and brings it to me in the shower. We talk for awhile. He wants to catch the first bus, at 7 a.m., so I join him on the couch until he leaves.


Noon Oops. All of us fell asleep and slept until noon. I make everyone pancakes and then Max heads home.

2 p.m. One of my best friends, Phoebe, texts to see if we want to get lunch. Nick and I take our exhausted selves and the dog to a restaurant where we sit in the sun and discuss the evening. Phoebe knows pretty much everything about me and my relationships. I have two very close friends, her and another, who know pretty much everything. Most of the rest of our social circle know that Nick and I are open but maybe not what our individual other relationships are like. Generally, she thinks it’s not for her, but understands that it works for me. I would say this is about how 90 percent of our social circle feels about it.

8 p.m. I’m getting ready for bed when Nick comes up behind me and kisses the back of my neck and then bends me over the sink. I love him.

9:30 p.m. I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to describe this quite correctly but I’ll try to explain why I love Nick so much. He’s very responsible and stable, easily one of the nicest and kindest people I’ve ever met. He makes the most eye-rolling puns. He’s also super hot — the sex is still incredible after two and a half years. He basically moved in on our second date and we officially got a place together six weeks later and it never once felt too fast. Being with him is incredibly easy.


6:45 a.m. I’m still tired from the weekend. I can’t handle staying up until 5 anymore.

3 p.m. I’m covering a big legal verdict for work today, so I spend most of my afternoon in the press room at the court.

4 p.m. Ash texts me. Apparently they and their other partner had a bit of a row on Saturday and decided not to come. I’m glad they’re okay but slightly annoyed at the disappearance.

8:30 p.m. Finally home and done. I shower and get into bed. Max texts to see how I’m doing. We talk about Saturday night and he suggests I try MDMA with him sometime. “It’s a good club drug but also a good couch drug.” The conversation turns to sex and I fall asleep discussing what we’d like to do to each other.


6:45 a.m. I’m feeling much less exhausted after nearly ten hours of sleep. Nick and I have time to have breakfast together and we discuss our upcoming vacation. Every year, we go skiing with his family and always have a great time. His family knows we are open. Mine doesn’t. He dated a woman who was married to someone else several years ago and when he introduced her to his parents, he basically had to tell them. They don’t ask about it, but it weirdly came up at dinner the other night with his extended family and everyone was just like “Yup” and moved on.

4 p.m. Ash texts me to see if I want to hang out this weekend. I already have plans but I suggest a later alternative. I wasn’t so much mad at Ash for missing the party as I was for them basically going offline and not replying. It made me a little worried about them.

7 p.m. Filed my last story for the day and head home, finally.

10 p.m. In bed with Nick. We cuddle up with the dog and watch some videos on YouTube until we fall asleep.


6:45 a.m. I slept on my shoulder wrong and now it’s killing me. I focus my morning yoga on neck and shoulders, but it only helps a little bit.

12 p.m. I’m only working for a half day today because the last two weeks have been so busy. I head home and get some chores done around the house and then go to a café and read for a few hours.

10 p.m. I head home. Nick is there and I asked him to rub my shoulder, which is still so sore. He does for awhile and the massage ends up being foreplay.

11 p.m. We fall asleep curled up together. I think I’m as settled as I will ever be. Neither Nick nor I — nor Max for that matter — want to have children. Both Nick and Max are dealing with their own set of issues that aren’t mine to talk about, but If I could change something going forward, it would be for those two situations to have some resolution. Otherwise, I am really enjoying what I have now and hope it continues.

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The Journalist Who Hasn’t Been Monogamous Since College