In my little world of polyamory, none of us went into this knowing exactly what kind of secondary or tertiary relationship we wanted. But we knew we felt the ability to connect with multiple people. We are all looking for something in our personal relationships that enhances ourselves while not detracting from each other. For us, this is one of the biggest parts of navigating polyamory.
”Dating is dating whether you’re poly or not, and it sucks.”
Allan, my husband, and I are sitting outside for a moment discussing our chosen lifestyle and where it’s going for us. While my journey started with my feelings for Jim, my boyfriend, and subsequent discussions with Allan, his started with agreeing, and then my friend Jane.
Jane is another woman in an open relationship I could turn to and confide in, and when she heard Allan was dating she asked for his number. Part of being poly means such a situation is not strange or weird and doesn’t strike jealousy into the hearts of women or men. I set them up, and they connected — but casually. Jane was Allan’s first foray into the dating world since he and I had hooked up at the nubile age of eighteen. Allan had not dated at all, never mind had other lovers before me. While they parted ways as friends, Allan figured out that casual sex isn’t his thing. Like me, he would prefer a deeper connection with additional partners. Thus, his sojourn began.
Shortly after we decided to be poly, Allan set up a profile on the popular dating site OKCupid and started looking for women. He got plenty of feedback for being good looking and charming but struggled to make a real connection. First, there was a woman who was interested in learning more about our lifestyle but couldn’t get past the common questions:
”You’re wife really doesn’t mind?” Nope, she’s with her boyfriend right now.
”You’re really ok with her sleeping with other men?” Maybe not at first, but uh…yup, I know she’s still with me.
I won’t say he didn’t get frustrated, like Allan said himself dating is dating whether you’re poly or not. He met one woman he thought he was doing well with until their date was flat out boring for them, and that fizzled. Another was a married poly woman who, after some intense conversation and flirtatious courtship, Allan learned that her husband was only comfortable with her dating other women and not men. Love is a battlefield and all, but when dedicated to having more than one love, you put yourself through it with an eye on the eventual outcome. That outcome can be like what Jim and I have and what Allan is searching for.
On another occasion, I was attracted to a friend Allan and I had just met, and I ran the idea by him of my hooking up with this guy.
”Bill?” he said, a little incredulously.
I got sheepish, ”Well yeah”¦I like the tattoos”¦and the beard”
”He’s a dirtbag,” Allan replied.
I got a little indignant. ”I’m not asking YOU to date him.”
Here is a point of conflict in poly dating. Do you have to like, approve of, meet, your partners new partners? What kind of answers are you looking for? In this case, Allan told me that he was ok with my considering a third casual partner, or friend with benefits, but he also turned out to be right. Bill kind of is a dirt bag. We went out for drinks and by the time he tried to kiss me all I wanted to do was go home to Allan and Jim. I longed for them like a monogamous person might when they have just one love and try to date another. I knew that kind of connection wasn’t for me, and my heart and life are full with Allan and Jim.
While the topic of jealousy deserves its own article all together, there is one piece to go into here. The obvious point of contention is that right now, Allan and I are raising a family and discovering poly while only I have a long term partner. Allan feels jealousy, but not in the terms people often think of when they consider a wife being with another man. Allan is fine with Jim and I because he gets the same love, attention, and intimacy I get with Jim. I am not outside our marriage fulfilling needs I could get from Allan, but fulfilling more of my own happiness. Also, Allan and Jim have made a friendship that I feel only enhances the rest of our lives.
What does grate on Allan at times is that he wants to also have what Jim and I already share. While I like that I can share music, food, outings and even sexual nuances with Jim that Allan is not into, he wants to be able to do the same with someone else.
Allan likes horror movies. For the last 10 years he has tried to get me to watch “The Thing” while I flat out refuse. I’ll have nightmares. I’d rather settle down with a romantic comedy or something raunchy. He is into politics and cerebral topics I might roll my eyes at or nod and go back to my knitting. Allan deserves a partner he can enjoy a good scary movie with or discuss universal healthcare and the state of the nation. He deserves to explore and grow and discover knew people and ideas that enrich him as a person. I am happy to let him do so without my being a part of it because I know at the end of the day, we have our own union.
This is easier for me to pontificate about because I already have my other partner to embrace the benefits of being polyamorous . Allan has to temper the frustration with the knowledge that a fulfilling and enticing secondary relationship is still out there.