A Polyamorous Formula That Works

By Kendra Holliday | January 5, 2022

I love to explore.

I love to explore.

(For some background on polyamory, please read my article Love Like An Ocean: Diving Deep Into Polyamory.)

My partner and I have been together for thirteen years.

We first met July 2007, at a friend’s wedding. We are in a long-term, committed open relationship. We started our relationship open. We don’t live together – we keep our families, homes, and finances separate. We see each other about 2 or 3 times a week. We are open to countless possibilities when it comes to sharing intimacy with other people. We deeply enjoy and appreciate our non-traditional relationship.

But it certainly isn’t a reckless free-for-all. In order to keep it healthy and drama-free, we constantly communicate with each other to ensure ways we can exercise our freedom while operating on mutual respect.

Outlined below is an arrangement that works for us.

It can be difficult balancing everything, but this is how we prioritize:

1. Kids/family

2. Careers

3. Our relationship

4. The people we are dating/close relationships

5. Social/volunteer/misc.

Sometimes we will date a person or couple once or twice, or just for a weekend when they come visit. Sometimes we will date a person or couple for a few months or longer. Usually lives change and shift so much that we ebb and flow into things naturally. It feels very fluid. We can date other people solo, or together.


Anyone we date must respect both of us.

Condoms with vaginal penetration

We’re ok with being fluid bonded with others on a limited basis, as long as everyone knows their STI status and is on the same page.

No BDSM play with others without discussion (he considers BDSM to be even more intimate than sex, especially when I’m in the submissive role)

Wednesday night is our sacred date night.


We try and keep each other informed of events before they happen, but if something feels right in the moment, it’s acceptable to act on it, as long as we notify the other person as soon as possible.

Sleepovers are okay.

Out of town visits are fine.

Meeting the people the other person is dating is preferred, but not mandatory.

We do our best not to preclude time we could be spending with each other. This usually works out fine due to our kid and travel schedules.

The two most important things we’ve learned for ourselves when it comes to polyamorous dating:

1. Be patient.

2. Don’t be greedy.

For instance, a couple recently asked me out on a date. A few days later, another couple asked me out on a date. I’ve been very interested in both of these couples for a long time, but I knew better than to quickly schedule two dates. That would have been too much new energy for my partner to handle at once. So, I booked one date for a couple weeks out so we would have time to discuss and mentally prepare with the new development. I let the other couple know I would need to wait a bit for us to process before scheduling a date with them. They were totally cool and understanding.

It’s good to take it slow. We space out our other partners so that we don’t get overwhelmed.  But what about our other partners? Are they just sitting in a closet until we get around to spending time with them again in a few weeks? No. Fortunately, they all have busy lives and other relationships as well.

Right now, I’m dating a couple, we’re dating a couple, he’s dating another woman on a regular basis and another woman sporadically, and I’m interested in dating a couple of men. It’s frustrating how quickly the calendar fills up – I’m not trying to be coy, I swear!

Just trying to be responsible and thoughtful to everyone involved.


WD 2013-06-09 19:44:56

Rules sound fair, workable and mutually arrived at. And one word that comes to mind is “civilized”. But in re-thinking this–it also seems a little one sided, perhaps. Are you allowing him to do anal with others but you can’t? He can shoot cum into another’s mouth but you can’t allow any cum but his in yours? You didn’t specify what he could not do–except must use a condom for PIV sex. Why the double standard? Of course its entirely your call, its your body and your desires. But I’m curious.


    Kendra Holliday 2013-06-09 21:27:28

    Very good point, I understand why you are curious. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a double standard.

    When we sat down and discussed our relationship rules, I told him I did not want to swallow the cum of other men or have other men in my ass.

    He respected that, and asked if I wanted to make that a blanket rule. I thought about it for a moment, then said no.

    I don’t care if he cums down a woman’s throat (actually, I care a lot, it turns me ON) or fucks her ass (although I don’t think he’s ever done that since we’ve been together). I DO care if a man cums down my throat or fucks my ass. So there you have it.

    Besides it being a safety issue for me, I also appreciate the BDSM aspect of it. It goes along with the collar/necklace I always wear, whereas he doesn’t wear a matching piece.

    For me personally, these particular acts are sacred and a sign of submission. As his submissive, I am submitting to him to allow him to use me in those ways – in all ways. Since I share my pussy, body, and energy with many others, it is my way of honoring him.

    He cums in my pussy often, on my body often (I love for others to do that, too!), in my mouth seldom, and in my ass, even less. We match up well with our cum fetish. (If we are fluid bonded with others, I love nothing more than for him to cum inside another woman. He is fine fucking me after I’ve been with another man. One of these days, we’ll do some cream pie play with Sissy Maid!)


      WD 2013-06-10 00:43:56

      Awesome answer. I’m completely satisfied. (With the answer)


      Rules 2013-06-10 15:22:07

      Seems like the anal and swallow “rules” are not rules for your relationship, but rather your own personal boundaries.
      This is because these two issues do not seem to be issues he needs to be constrained, they are all about you.
      If you violated either of these “rules”, it would be your concern, not so much his?


        Kendra Holliday 2013-06-10 15:33:33

        I think they are related. I came up with those rules, we agreed on them, and then, one time a couple years ago, I violated one of them. It was not pretty. We worked through the bulk of it that very night, but to this day, it still carries a faint stain. It is forgiven, but not forgotten.


          Matthew 2013-06-10 20:43:04

          Forgiven for sure. It was all due to an ill communication. Not a big deal now, but that night it was huge!
          The stain that remains (for me at least) with this particular man has nothing to do with the “rule breaking”. It has everything to do with how he conducts himself.

Max 2013-06-10 12:52:41

I’m glad it works for you. Personally I don’t like primary/secondary approaches. Why do the other relationships have less rights, or less meaning than your primary relationships.

Is your primary relationship important and the others just fun/toys on the side? IMHO that’s not really fair to the secondary relationships.

Except for things like fluid bonding, which is a safety reason and requires planning like STi testing,I she no reason why secondary relationships should have less rights than primary relationships.

But that’s the beauty of poly. Everything is agreed upon and everyone does poly differently.


    The Bee's Kness 2013-06-11 00:46:12

    I agree the beauty of relationships is being able to have them the way that fits you best.

    Kendra mentioned their other partners have their own fulfilling lives… No one feels less important because they treat not just their partners but also their friends with tremendous respect and loyalty.

    You can tell by the way they explain their formula their rules don’t come from a place of control or insecurity but is their own way to stay connected. Motivation for rules (or boundaries) is the important factor not that they have them.


      Matthew 2013-06-11 08:42:56

      Thank you, T B’s K!!! Much Love as always!


CrazyCockAcres 2013-06-10 13:26:55

How do you “find” these other couples or people? We are a very private and discrete couple so the idea of approaching a third person for fun in a non lifestyle environment would be tough.


    Kendra Holliday 2013-06-10 14:26:47

    We’ve spent the past five years cultivating this community of quality, like-minded people through my blog and a local group we created called Sex Positive St. Louis. It’s much easier to find like-minded people when you can be out about your interests or at least have a safe space to express yourself. We find it’s more successful to develop friendships first and let them grow as opposed to placing online ads.


      Marie 2015-08-19 08:13:04

      My husband and I are very interested in meeting people too, but just don’t know where to start to look for like-minded folks in our area. We live in the suburbs of Washington DC. Also still grappling with the notion of bringing a third person into our lives. We’ve been happily married for 25 years and find this all very exciting, but where to start is the big question. Would be great to just meet and talk to folks who have already made the leap!


        Kendra Holliday 2015-08-19 10:15:24

        Surely there are some great groups in your area! There’s also a great sex-positive conference held in DC every spring http://catalystcon.com/ and on West coast every fall… you definitely want to find groups that are sex-positive, lifestyle friendly, polyamorous… do some internet searches and try out a few! OKcupid is a great free dating site that is poly-friendly


          Marie 2015-08-19 22:27:32

          Thank you Kendra for your response. There are so many websites. It’s hard to choose which is legit. My husband and I have talked and talked about EVERYTHING regarding exploring our sexuality. We’ve also often discussed rules or guidelines. It’s really nice to read your posts and that of others who are either polyamorous or just seeking something a little extra for their loving relationships. Would you consider wanting a bisexual friend to join us as being polyamory though? We’re not interested in dating other people on our own. We only envision doing everything as a couple.

          Kendra Holliday 2015-08-20 07:46:53

          Sure, it counts as poly to have a closed triad. It is challenging to find someone who will accept you as a package deal. Another good book to read is “More Than Two.” We’ve learned the best way to fulfill all our fantasies is to be open to flexibility. So you can try doing everything as a couple at first, but may have better results if you explore other options. Take it slow, and keep the lines of communication open. Replace the fear with love!

Ra 2013-06-10 13:52:27

I like that you identify – this is what works for you, and that you didn’t come up with random rules – you thought about what would work specifically to make your relationship special and what you’re into.

One of the things i dig about poly are the options. While I wouldn’t be into specific sex act restrictions, I can respect that each relationship works this kinda stuff out for their own unique reasons. And with clear communication, everyone can honestly, openly and frankly discuss individual boundaries and limits.


Matthew 2013-06-10 20:57:11

Somebody on Twitter also took issue with these rules of ours. I honestly don’t see what the issue is….
If a woman tells me she isn’t going to swallow my cum, and her ass is off limits, I respect that completely; no questions asked. Here’s why:
1. She has ultimate control as to what goes in her body.
2. If I am going to cum, I don’t care where it ends up. Sure I have preferences that turn me on in various ways/situations, but they are simply preferences..not needs.

If a man takes issue with a potential partner telling him their wants/needs, he is the issue; and certainly not worthy to be with, My Queen.


    ra 2013-06-11 09:59:50

    Maybe that’s what they’re not getting? This is about Kendra’s choices? Her agency? And you say, “Hey, sure! I like that, I’ll agree and here are my things, do you agree?” and you guys work it out for the reasons that you agree to!

    It’s not about you guys putting limits on each other for unexplored or unexplained stuff.


Gene 2013-06-10 21:49:44

I don’t see why it has to be a rule if that is already a personal boundary of yours. I tend to go more with http://www.morethantwo.com/polyamorywithoutrules.html


    Matthew 2013-06-11 00:00:57

    Okay…..poof! It’s a boundary!


Doc 2013-06-12 20:09:52

What I found interesting was the sexual focus. The “rules” and “guidelines” are almost completely sexually focused. No mention of emotional security or rules to ensure such, or any of the other myriad of facets which make up a relationship. Just lots of talk about cum, anal sex, and how many people you are each trying to date which to be honest looks like more than could be realistically handled, particularly with kids in the mix. Oh, and a sexy picture as the cherry on top.

As a poly-activist in my community, and someone who has been poly for 30+ years, I believe articles like this are exactly why the “vanilla” world still looks upon polyamory as nothing more than a new term for casual sex. If this is the message we polyamorists are sending with our writing and conversations it is no wonder social acceptance is slow to materialize.

Admittedly, I haven’t read other articles on your blog/site and may have picked the exception to read rather than the rule. I sincerely hope this isn’t the only message you are capable of, or interested in, sending. When you talk to your children about relationships will you focus intently on the topics of anal sex and cum, or will you give them a more rounded education about relationships?


    Dragon 2013-06-13 04:03:32

    I see your point, but that’s not how I read the article at all. So I had to go back and re-read it, and no, I don’t think the focus of it is on sex, and definitely does not contain “lots of talk about cum and anal”.


    Kendra Holliday 2013-06-13 04:59:47

    Yes Doc, this is the only message I am capable of sending. Never mind the 350 other posts that preceded this one.


Julian Gordon 2013-06-13 08:24:30

Thank you for your lucid and mature expose of your lifestyle. I appreciate it, and it is heartwarming to see others expressing themselves in such an open and appreciative manner.


mahmoud 2015-08-08 05:58:22

you are very beautiful and sexy


Brent 2015-10-28 13:54:36

Thank-you for sharing your formula, it is helpful.
We have been strict about always using condoms, but it would be very nice to occasionally be fluid bonded, especially with guys we get together on a regular basis (she is a “Hot Wife”). We were wondering how often you
get tested, what specific tests you have done, and if there is a lab you can recommend. Also, what tests, etc. you require of the guys you are fluid bonded with, and do you require the guys to show you their test results?


    Kendra Holliday 2015-10-28 14:24:26

    Look under “sexual health” on this page http://sexstl.com/links – I get tested just about every season, so I just got a clean bill of health a couple weeks ago. They test for a set of STI’s, but not all of them. We will be fluid bonded with select people we trust. Right now I am fluid bonded with Matthew, and a friend who has never been with anyone else but me. Matthew is fluid bonded with his regular gf of three years. I don’t require people show me their test results – one of my sex worker friends advises to treat everyone as if they have HIV. I do oral without condoms. Many details to share, I should write a post about it, or people can schedule a consult for a more in-depth talk about it. ALSO THIS!


Sally 2019-07-31 13:37:34

I’m a bi woman about to turn 40.
My libido has skyrocketed. I want everything all the time. I’m ashamed of my body, but want to appreciate it, and have my spouse be ok with it. Mask on. Total anominitoy. Can you help with that?


Erika 2021-01-18 06:10:52

OMG Girl, I’m getting an allergic reaction just reading this. I’m currently involved with a couple right now and it’s MORE work than I can for. I’m constantly getting caught up in their marital drama, drama with their kids, drama with their neighbors, and drama with their friends. BUT I will say it’s SO much better than the drama that I’m having with my boyfriend. I just need to get back to my hooker life. It’s so much easier just to get paid and laid!


    Kendra Holliday 2021-01-18 07:16:33

    You are so funny, Erika! I always love your take on things. It’s unfortunate when a couple brings drama into the situation, but pretty common. I have many female friends, aka “unicorns”, who have tried to be in a triad with a couple and they just end up being yanked around, used, and discarded. Oftentimes, couples find out the fantasy is better than the reality of dating a third!


Gary 2022-03-27 08:22:05

Always nice reading your blog. I’m really glad you are feeling better. Looking forward to seeing you again when you are ready.


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