Nick
Hometown  Wooster, Ohio

Place of Residence Seattle, WA

Occupation Professional poker player until recently.  Now a coordinator at a ride and car sharing program


Celeste
Hometown Madison, Indiana
Place of Residence Seattle, WA
Occupation Technical Program Manager

 

Aaron

Hometown Seattle, WA

Place of Residence Seattle, WA

Occupation Electrical worker

Nick and Celeste met on OkCupid.  Nick’s primary sexual partner is Celeste and he has 2 other partners whom he sees a couple times a month and is actively seeking other partners.

Celeste has a lot of sexual relationships with a lot of people and she has a couple other people in her life who she has deeper relationships as well as shares kink or sex with.  They recently moved in together.  Aaron and Celeste play with ropes together a couple times a week.  Aaron identifies as poly/solopoly.

Nick and Celeste at home.

Nick: I’ve told Celeste I love her occasionally but we both get awkward about it when we do that.

Celeste and Aaron.

Aaron: The awesome thing is that I find out that I can have feelings for this person, and the same feelings with this person.  And it’s like “This is amazing! I can do this with two people?  Hooray!”  So that’s pretty great. As far as my experience with poly, it’s been rough but it’s been pretty good.  A lot of great experiences and a lot of learning.

Aaron, Celeste and Nick after a rope scene.

Celeste: I started dating this guy when I was seventeen. I dated him for eight years and I cheated on him. As far as I know, and to this day I am still in contact occasionally, he was faithful.  After I broke up with him, I dated around a bit and I married the guy I ended up swinging with. We were non-monogamous our whole marriage. Now I’m in the process of divorcing him now after approximately eight years as well. I think I’ll probably always be non-monogamous; I clearly have no interest in monogamy.

Playing board games at home.

Nick:  If you had asked me half a year or a year ago, I would have said I was non-hierarchical solo poly with an interest in kink. I think when we’re on the verge of moving in together that’s hierarchy.

Celeste:  I had a friend who used a phrase that I really like: He has a statistical hierarchical partner because he also does hierarchical partner because you get the most time by default but you’re not the only special one. We usually analyze all of this.

Nick: We analyze it, right, but if you had a problem with someone I as involved with - "

Celeste:  It’s my problem then.

Nick: I disagree.  If you couldn’t make me see your side of it but I saw that it was bothering you, I would say that your overall happiness and emotional stability would, in some cases with some people, outweigh my interest in seeing them."

Celeste:  Oh my gosh, you’re so sweet.

Aaron ties Celeste

Nick:  Aaron and Celeste primarily, or almost exclusively, do rope stuff together. It’s supposed to be twice a week, Sundays and Wednesdays. And so because I know that they are going to be here using the spaces those times, I make an effort to schedule other dates and stuff like that, especially for Wednesdays. I’ve had so many times and so many people flake on first dates on me, specifically on Wednesdays. So I end up in this thing where not only am I bummed out like “Aw this person cancelled on me!” and I feel bad for myself.  But now I have to put on clothes and get out of the house because Celeste’s other partner is coming over here.  .  It’s this funny thing where people, I think that other people hear about getting ‘sexiled’ or ‘ropexiled’ in this case…whatever you want to call it in this context.  And their like, “Oh that sucks! I’m getting kicked out of my own house so my partner can fuck!” And my experience of that is, I don’t care that they’re doing the stuff, I just want to sit here in my pajamas and feel sorry for myself.

Nick and Aaron co-top Celeste

Aaron:  An old partner of mine.  We were monogamous for a good year.  Then we broke up and got back together.  When we got back together she was like, “Hey, so I do this thing.  I get tied up and beaten by people and I enjoy it so much.  And also I can date multiple people at the same time!” So I was like, “Ok, let’s give it a shot.”  I was tip-toey for a good 6 months.  I was tip-toey and I was cautious because I didn’t know.

I’m kind of sensitive but over the past year or so I’ve learned how to be like, “It’s ok”. I’ve learned how to deal with it very quickly.  And she brought me in and exposed me and I was like, “Ok, you know what, it’s kind of worked.” It’s had it’s ups and down and I’m learning with the downs and keeping up with it.

Nick and Celeste practice Jiu Jitsu at home.

Celeste:  So I learned about these [relationship check-ins] from a book called Relationship Agreements. One of the exercises they have is a regular check in with the entity which is the relationship.  So you can imagine with me and Nick, we have me and we have Nick, but then we also have this sort of undefined person which is the relationship between me and Nick.  And you have to sort of like, cherish or make sure that that entity is also taken care of in the same that you would take care of yourself or take care of your partner.  And for Nick and I, what that is, is a month brunch with Fred.  In the book they call the third person Fred.  And so we’re like, “Fred is a cute name, we’ll keep it.

Nicke:  Although unfortunately, it’s also my dad’s first name so I’ve gotten a little bit weird about it.

Celeste:  So we have a monthly brunch where we are like, “Hey, let’s eat breakfast and talk about anything that has been nagging at us, or anything that we’ve thought about but isn’t so high priority that you need to deal with it immediately."

Nick and Celeste at home.

Celeste:  Bringing it back to the monthly check-in, we were talking about things like, when we have a rope scene that doesn’t go well, what happened and what are we expecting? Did we miscommunicate? Are we expecting certain behaviours from one another?

Nick gives Celeste some water.

Nick:  I think I had a bunch of unstated expectations around her behaviours as a rope bottom that I’d sort of picked up watching other rope bottoms. So we spelled out some stuff this morning.  And not just spelled out but wrote down on a phone, made some lists, and put in language that both of us understood.

Celeste:  There were several lists of whatever kind. And they’re things that we can try to work on that make our rope scenes more successful because I feel like we’re really good at communicating in general, but I feel like in rope...it wasn’t as easy as it normally is between the two of us.

Nick and Celeste prepare for a rope scene.

Nick:  Listen, this is the stuff. This is the bumps and whatnot, so, we’re giving you the bumps.  It’s one thing to show, “Hey the world, look at these wonderful poly people and how great they communicate and process and do a great job and are never jealous and blah blah blah!” And another thing is watching the sausage get made.

© Erika Kapin Photography

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