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Sex Lives: A Poly, Pansexual Guy Who Knew He’d Marry His Wife the Night They Met

Michael Houtz

Sex Lives chronicles the evolution of one person's sexual history. This week: Ricky, 39, in Philadelphia.

I'd be shopping with my mom in a department store, wander off on my own, and end up in the underwear section. I felt like I was seeing something I wasn't ready or supposed to see. And then, I realized that I was looking at the men's underwear models just as much as the women's. When I got into my twenties, I was like, Oh… that was there from the beginning.

My dad had a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition one year, that I still remember the cover of. I was like, Holy hell, yeah, I'd like to fuck that. There were multiple people in that magazine, but Kathy Ireland was definitely on the cover. It wasn't a feeling that she turned me on unambiguously. Instead, I was like, That's a beautiful human being that I would like to do things to.

I guess I started masturbating by accident. I was a stomach sleeper, and as I began to get a little bit older, I would start to hump the bed—like rub against the sheets or something. It just felt really good. And then I was like, I'll keep doing that because it feels really good. So, it was accidental at first. And then there was a local news story like, "You won't believe how kids are using this new thing called the Internet—there's porn on it!" And I was like, "There's porn on it?!" I immediately went to sit down at our computer. This was back before smartphones, so you had to find it and be patient with download speeds. There wasn't just porn, there were masturbation how-to guides, and I was in like second or third grade, and I was like: Oh, there's multiple ways to do it, I guess. But I was like, that sounds like a lot of work; wouldn't your arms get tired?

I have a weird first-time story. I was 17. I'd gone to a midnight showing of a movie with my friends, and we were leaving—my buddy and I—and we were in his car, and we pulled up at a red light next to a car with two girls in it, and they were looking at us, and we were looking at them. Then we stopped again at the next red light, kept making eyes, and pulled into a parking lot; we just wanted to talk to them. I got my first blowjob that night in the backseat of my friend's car, and we exchanged numbers. But we met up in that parking lot a week later, and I lost my virginity to that girl in the back of that car. I never saw them again after that—I don't even know her last name.

Right before then, I had been in a serious relationship with someone I thought would be "The One." I felt like that was kind of it. A lot happened, but basically, she experienced a huge tragedy, and we broke up because she didn't have time for anything to happen. And then I felt like, Wait a minute! I was supposed to have sex, and I didn't! The next opportunity—in that parking lot a month later—I was like, well, screw waiting for the right thing.

I had a lot more sex in high school after that. I ended up with a girlfriend who I was having regular sex with. That was the first time I was with the same partner multiple times, learning it and trying to figure out how it all works in a relationship instead of just like with a random hookup where you never see the person again. Totally different dynamic, right? That relationship ended up being important because that's like the classic high school thing of falling in love with that person just because you're having sex with them regularly. But I ended up having sex with four or five people before college. Once I had my first time, it was like, all right, let's go—like a dam broke.

Backing up to being on the Internet and porn, there was a website (no idea which website) that had straight porn next to gay porn. You could sort it and look for whatever you wanted. I was interested in gay porn; I don't know why. I mean, I guess I understand why now, but I don't know what made me go down that path. I watched it, and it was undeniably hot. Of course, you can be into something in porn but not have it be a thing you actually ever want to try. For me, it was hot, but I was like, Oh, I don't know that I'd ever actually be with a guy. And then in college, I was online, and this is the dawn of that. I was a freshman, and he was a freshman, and we realized our dorms were close together, and he was like, "Well, would you want to come over?" and I said yes. And I hooked up with a guy for the first time.

It was fantastic. It was honestly fantastic. I was conflicted because I didn't really want to be gay. I didn't really know how to feel about that. But I was also like, Holy shit, that was really good. Particularly, guys are just better at sucking dick than girls are. It's just a fact. So I had this guilt about being raised how I was; you know, you're "supposed" to be straight. And I was like a big sports fan, typical hyper-masculine stuff. And then I had that experience, and I told myself, You can think whatever you want and internalize whatever you want, but you enjoyed the hell out of that, and you'd do it again. And I did.

That guy and I hooked up a couple of times over our freshman year, and then he transferred. We've actually stayed in touch a little bit. I'm weird; I talk to basically everyone I've hooked up with. But that guy and I actually ended up hooking up one more time; no one in the world knows this story. I was the best man at my college roommate's wedding, and it happened to be in the same town where this guy lives, and I was like, "Hey, I'm gonna be in town, and I have a day before I need to be anywhere." I went to his apartment, and we hooked up again way later in life—that was cool. When we were freshmen, he was out, and I was not, so that was a big part of the dynamic, like he could be patient with me. He was a really good first guy for me.

After college, I was always secretly hooking up with guys on the side. It wasn't something I told people about. I found throughout all this dating that I was romantically and sexually attracted to women, but I'm only sexually attracted to men. I would never date a man, I don't think. I don't think I'd be in a relationship with a man. I didn't know where that left me. Eventually, I stopped worrying about what word would fit, and then I learned about pansexuality, where gender doesn't really matter; you're just attracted to the person. That reframed the whole thing for me.

I'm a dom by nature. I'm like a sort of pure dom guy, particularly with women. There's occasionally some role reversal, but I'm a take-control kind of partner for the most part. With guys, there's more of a feeling-out process because some guys think of themselves as really dominant, and you gotta leave space for that. I leave space for that with women, too. But I was with a woman who was an actual dominatrix, and as we played, she would say, "Can I try some stuff that I do for a living?" And I said yes. So she wanted to peg me, and I'm a terrible bottom. I was willing to try it; I always thought it'd be hot. I'm told that I squirm too much to make it fun for the top. I'm just a terrible bottom. She was like, “I thought it would be really fun to be able to dominate you. And I can't. I'd have to train you. We can't ever do this again because you are so bad at being a bottom.”

My wife knows that I am polyamorous. My wife knows that I am pansexual. My wife is very supportive of it and is great about it. We've had a lot of really wonderful talks about it. I think her main thing is that she gets polyamory; I don't think she's into the idea of kitchen table polyamory. I don't think she wants me to have a partner we hang out with and have dinner with. I think that was a big roadblock for her, thinking that that was what I wanted. For me, it's really not. I don't know that that would be my type of polyamory.

To me, there's a huge difference between not wanting to be with someone anymore and starting to look around and realizing you want to be with someone else versus very much loving somebody and wanting to be with someone and then also finding yourself interested in someone else at the same time in a way that doesn't detract from your primary partner. I guess I want a side piece for the right reasons. But I want to do it right. I don't want to—and I'm not going to—cheat on my wife.

We've been together for ten years, and the sex has always been really good. I think we eased into some of the more adventurous stuff. I think we knew early on, though, that this relationship was it. I like to tell the story that I knew I was gonna marry this woman 30 seconds into our first date, and I didn't think I would ever get married. We ordered our first drink at the bar, and we sat down, and I went, Well, this is it. That's it. We're done. We're done here. This is it. I think we both felt it was serious and sometimes serious is bad for sex because you're not supposed to take it that seriously. It's supposed to be fun. So I think we eased into it and got comfortable with each other, and I think we both realized we were a little freakier than we thought the other one was.

Originally Appeared on GQ