I recently received a couple letters from readers, seeking advice related to fluid bonding in their polyamorous relationships..
My wife and I are on the older side now, in our fifties, and have been together for twenty-one years. We were both poly when we met and still are, at least officially, but we stopped seeing other people during the quarantine. Since we didn’t have to worry about outside interactions during this time, and Helen has already had The Change, we stopped using condoms.
This was a practical decision and we weren’t expecting anything in particular out of it, so we were surprised at the added feeling of intimacy and connection. I can’t imagine making love to her again with a rubber! I had never heard of “fluid bonding” and that isn’t what we were gunning for, but it’s what has happened. We both feel more pleasure and something profound and ancient and natural in it, and we don’t want to go back.
Should we keep our relationship closed when the pandemic ends? Should we fluid bond with another woman or couple? Are fluid bonding benefits just for monogamous folks, or careless ones?
We aren’t even sure we want to open the doors again. The relaxed schedule and simplicity of our relationship has been really rewarding. We’d never really thought about leaving polyamory, feeling it was the way we were, but now we’re wondering if it might be time for a slower world with fewer complications. What do you think? – Jean-Pierre
I’m in a throuple where we are fluid bonded (MFF). We use condoms and common sense outside of our trilogy but still wonder if we are bringing home any threats medically. The women definitely don’t want to use dental dams for oral—they both say “what’s the point?” Should we be tested for STIs and how often? Is it wrong for us to want to be naked and natural with each other?
I joined these women about three years ago. They were long-term lovers looking for a guy who could accept their relationship and build a new one. It is unusual but wonderful. Thanks for any advice! – Justin
Fluid Bonding: Benefits and Considerations for Poly People
For those of you who don’t know, fluid bonding is just the word of the day for good old fashioned skin-to-skin sex.
For several decades, sex has become automatically linked to condoms or even more barriers (like dental dams). This has been common sense to slow or stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections like HIV or AIDS, as well as unplanned pregnancy. It makes sense in a world where many people have more partners, sometimes in the same time period. It has meant that women can participate more fully in sexuality without the same risks raining on their parade.
Many people have never had sex without a condom, or maybe remember it fondly from a marriage long ago. It’s simply “normal” to cover up, and we see condoms as practical, mature, responsible, and respectful sex.
After a long cultural period where condoms are the norm, regular contact has developed a kind of cult of mystery and longing, and proponents feel that we sacrifice intimacy for safety. Some fluid bonding advocates want a return to one-on-one monogamous sex. Others insist it is best for all sex, including casual sex, consequences be damned. Most fluid bonders feel it is a personal decision to make with one partner that sets that particular relationship apart.
Many proponents of fluid bonding and it’s benefits describe the sex as closer, more intimate, more natural, and more uninhibited. Some believe sex is “incomplete” without the union at the cellular level, and that less is more—better to connect with full bodies and all that entails. Some feel it is almost spiritual, like a ritual participation in the complete act of potentially creating life. Even if they don’t intend that, or can’t procreate, or are same sex, it is, to some, a powerful symbolism.
Someone can therefore be a proponent of fluid bonding without participating in it right now. It is something they “wait” for or wait for the right person and the most intense bond. It isn’t a risk or bond they want to share with everyone.
It’s not symbolic alone—it is pure science. Saliva, sweat, hormone secretions, semen—all of these act to attract or repel at a cellular level. We exchange powerful messages in our scents and fluids. These can be very fulfilling and bonding, and when we don’t have to worry about babies (or want to make them!) or infections, most people ditch the condoms first chance they get.
In more traditional lifestyles, this would often happen naturally. Helen and Jean-Pierre would end up “fluid bonding” if they were monogamous and hoping for kids, for example. Many poly folks have a primary relationship, whether as a couple, or in Justin’s case, as a throuple, and outside of that they use condoms and other safety barriers religiously while feeling free at home.
It is not wrong to want the full monty, and it is indeed natural. It’s simply a matter of risk management.
For example, if a woman’s main risk is getting pregnant, she may use condoms, The Pill, AND ask her guy to pull out. The same woman, during her period, when the risk is far lower may be comfortable with just The Pill. The same woman may not use anything at all after menopause.
It’s normal to want to ditch barriers for any sex, even casual affairs, to get the complete experience, but our concern for our own health, and our partner’s, overrides that desire.
Both of these readers are in a perfect position for fluid bonding. If Jean-Pierre and Helen choose to try a simpler lifestyle, enjoy it! If they decide to open the doors again when Covid settles down, they can continue together “the natural way” and be vigilant about protection with others. This is what Justin and his lovers are doing too.
The only advice I have for all of you is to use common sense, enjoy each other, get occasional tests if you have more lovers even if it’s safe sex, be open and honest with each other and all your lovers, and prioritize the health and safety of all partners, always.
Do you enjoy the benefits of a fluid-bonded relationship? Please share how you make it work with more than two.