Get to know the duo behind The Open and Honest Challenge, a series dedicated to exploring ways to communicate as a couple in the world of non-monogamy.
By Chris and Dani for ASN Lifestyle Magazine
We had created a non-monogamous life together from early on in our relationship and this is how and why.
Our names are Chris and Dani, and we help give others a reason to talk about their sexual desires. We are the creators of The Open and Honest Challenge, a video series in which we complete and discuss specific erotic situations in hopes of being a catalyst for open communication between partners.
We both had very religious upbringings in two small conservative towns located in south Texas. In our households, sex was “bad” and was rarely, if ever, talked about in a positive manner. If questions were asked, the answers given were based on intercourse being sinful and something to fear. In Dani’s case, her grandmother was the person she could be the most honest with. Although she was traditional, she was more realistic in her views on sexuality. In Chris’s home, things were slightly different. He was kept out of sex education in school and told almost nothing by his parents. When he was given information, it was from his mother, who was very negative about sexual activity in any regard.
As we both progressed into college, we began to create our own views on relationships and sex. We realized that being sexually active is okay as long as it’s done safely, of course. Looking back, we can remember some foolish mistakes were made. However, we learned from them and moved on with more knowledge than before. Both of us began several relationships during our college experience.
Dani had desires to be with and date women and at times, was in relationships solely with women. She knew fairly early that her love for women was real and not just a college experiment.
Chris was just a few weeks shy of 21 before he had sex for the first time, and it was eye-opening for him. All of the pressure and stigma seemed to go away after his first encounter, and he was able to relax and enjoy female company on a whole new level. Just one-year shy of finishing at Texas A&M, Chris enlisted in the military. He was in a very serious relationship at the time and they decided to continue this despite the long distance and extended time apart. Just two years later, he was married. Chris served five years in the Army and once discharged was able to move back to Texas with his wife. While there, he finished his college degree and started working right away. Unfortunately, this is when things came to light. Chris discovered his wife was cheating on him with multiple men. He tried to salvage the marriage despite the infidelity, but it continued, and they filed for divorce a year later.
Dani was graduating from college around the same time and had been in a long-term committed relationship with a man. They had lived together for a year when Dani decided to ask if she could bring women into their partnership. She was answered with an “I guess” and ran with it. It was just a few short months later when she realized she was doing this solely for herself. Because of this, she broke things off with him and began an entirely new chapter of her life.
The Early Days of Our Relationship
As for us, we like to say we met in church, but the real story all started in a local bar on a Wednesday night. Dani was on a date and walked to the counter to grab a drink. Chris, who was eyeing her from the second she walked in, decided this was his chance! They stood at the bar for a solid 45 minutes with nonstop banter. Dani’s date left angry, but she didn’t notice. As cliché as it sounds, it was love at first sight! The feelings they had in that moment were so different than what either of them had ever felt. Chris still claims that the best thing he has ever done in his life was to walk up to Dani and tell her “you are this most beautiful woman in this place.” We scheduled a date for the next night and have been together ever since. Last year we married at Hedonism in Jamaica with the most nontraditional “us” wedding ceremony. It felt so good to be ourselves and show our commitment the way that felt right to us!
Early in our relationship, we were going out to drink, dance, or party multiple nights a week. The relationship moved very fast and at times we struggled to keep up with each other. We didn’t see it at the time, but we were filling a void with all the wrong things. During one of the rougher periods, Dani decided to be forward and finally asked what she knew all along. “Could her partner be with only one woman (sexually) for the rest of his life”? Thankfully, Chris was truthful and said “no.” Although it was hard to hear, it was exactly the honesty we needed.
Entering the World of Non-Monogamy
We quickly began doing as much research as we could. Surely there aren’t such things as “Sex Clubs” but let’s google it. About a month later, we had been to Players in Austin three times, put on a show upstairs, soft swapped with strangers, and went on a naked party boat knowing no one.
Needless to say, we hit the ground running, but were able to keep up with each other this time. Don’t think there weren’t hiccups. We, just like any couple, had our flaws, but the key through this entire process was communication. Even though there were mixed experiences during those first few months, we were able to talk about each and every one and decide our boundaries and feelings at the time. What’s helping us? What could potentially hurt us? These were the questions we would ask each other. Is this what we want right now? Are we ready to try this yet? Are we both in a good mindset to do this right now? It is all about checking in and being on the same page. A lot of what we learned, we found out by trial and error. We would begin a night with a list of “rules” and subsequently end up breaking them together and trying something new. We realized that each experience is fluid and for us did not work with strict boundaries. “Open and Honest” became our motto while discussing our thoughts and desires. This phrase stuck with us and was a great reminder that we could truly be open and honest with each other and it would be ok. If sex is not a taboo topic to be honest about in a relationship, many other categories become much easier to talk about.
We noticed early on that there are not any great catalysts available to help start open and honest conversations between couples and wanting to know more about open relationships. In the beginning, we received some guidance and lessons learned from friends on how they navigated their LS journey, but nothing was consistent or easily accessible to everyone. There also seemed to be a lack of help regarding how to bring up new ideas to your partner. Even in such an open environment, new desires can be tricky to bring up initially. This is why we created our brand, The Open and Honest (OH) Challenge. On our website, we post bi-monthly episodes, and in these videos, we complete viewer submitted challenges both together and separate. It is our hope that you watch and discuss the feelings our episodes gives you and what you think you and your partner are capable of. We, as a couple and brand, want to give you opportunities to begin to express your desires and act upon them when ready!
Soon we will also have coaching and podcasts available, explaining in-depth our views and feelings on these challenge videos! Check back to www.theohchallenge.com for updates!
This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.