Free-range poly

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this yet, but I intend to be nonmonogamous from now on.  If I start hardcore falling for someone, I’m willing to focus only on them for a while, but always with the intent of getting our relationship secure and established and then opening up in the future (like Minx and I did).

This is presenting me with some dilemmas, though.

Right now, I’m functionally single (The Pedant not being a boyfriend per se) so it’s harder to work polyamory into the conversation.  I mean if I had a dating profile that specified that I’m in an open relationship, or if I could approach people saying that I was, it might be easier to broach the subject.  I suppose I could still tell people upfront “Oh btw I’m kind of poly…or something…I don’t need to be dating or fucking a million people at a time, but I like having the freedom to explore opportunities if a good one comes up…so please don’t go assuming that monogamy is the default mode here.”  That’s quite a speech to make to someone I’m not even dating yet, though.  On the other hand, springing it on someone after they already like me (and probably assume things are headed toward exclusivity) is kind of mean.

I actually told The Hedonist about The Doll (whose profile says nothing about polyamory, therefore I assume he abides by the standard date-around-until-you-narrow-it-down-to-one-person model) and asked how to broach things; The Hedonist suggested I ask how “so, how many other people are you seeing right now?”  I find this approach perhaps a bit too blunt, but I like how the phrasing assumes there are others.

I also asked a friend of mine how to broach things with The Doll and he reminded me that “I’m not really looking for anything serious right now” is the universal code for “I’m totally fucking other people.”  Fair enough; now I know how to speak to the monogamous people in their own language.  And I’m not looking for anything serious right now, anyway.  When I eventually want another relationship, though, that catchphrase won’t work anymore.

My hope is that The Doll and I will get to talking about our life philosophies or past relationships and I can just bring up my ideas about monogamy organically.

On a related note, I’ve noticed an interesting thing: I can go on a date with a poly guy and not feel weird or insecure at all.  I briefly discussed other boys with The Hedonist and wished him luck in a situation he’s going through with his girlfriend; I give The Pedant dating advice (for other girls) all the time.   But if I’m hanging out with a monogamous type – even one who’s currently in a “dating around” phase – I get jealous.  I can barely bring myself to ask if he’s seeing anyone else, and freeze up when I try to mention that I’m seeing someone else.  At first I thought this was because I was defaulting to old habits, like my nonmonogamy stance is just a thin veneer and underneath it I’m still monogamous and it doesn’t take much to make me show my true colours.  But no, that’s not it at all.  There’s a practical reason for my jealousy: a monogamous guy is actively looking to replace me.  A poly guy is not.  And of course the monogamous guy is going to assume I’m looking to narrow the playing field eventually, too, and therefore anyone else I’m seeing is his opponent, which is why I try to say “Oh, Tuesday?  I can’t, I’m meeting a guy” but what comes out is “Oh, Tuesday?  I can’t, I’m…busy.”  It feels like openly mentioning any other entanglements would be an obscure threat to him, like “you’d better behave because I have a backup plan in place.”

My other dilemma is that this is the first time I’ve been poly without a preassumed pecking order.  With Minx, he was my primary relationship and anyone else was secondary.  A few years before him, I dated a guy in an open marriage who only wanted one other girlfriend; I knew exactly where I fit in.

But now it’s a free-for-all.  Statuses are more likely to flow and shift.  Someone I really like might add an exciting new person to their roster and spend less time with me; I might meet a new person who captures most of my attention and causes me to spend less time with others.  Potential for awkward conversations and hurtful situations abounds.  Eeek.

Still better than constantly asking myself whether the latest guy is suitable to be my one and only forever, though.


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7 responses to “Free-range poly

  1. Fnord

    Yeah, the “I’m poly but not in any relationships right now” can be an awkward thing to say. The topic comes up among polyamorous people from time to time. And I know jealousy is something that many polyamorous people deal with. So know that you’re not alone in your feelings.

  2. Eek, indeed. I really love the way your head is spinnign right now though. I think that was the single most insightful thing I’ve read in a blog post for a long time. They are openly looking to replace me.

    I think that’s the way I feel whether they’re poly or not. I loved how you helped me through the poly conversation with Wonderboy and made me feel okay about not being able to do it. Like I have a right to feel threatened too, it’s not just that I’m too immature to feel the right feelings. *kiss*

    I’ve also noticed that when I flirt, and I tend to flirt *quite* effectively sometimes, I always flirt with people who are players or in a monogamous relationship. I guess I’m trying to make sure that they don’t take it seriously and that nothing can really happen. Because monogamy. 🙂 And players recognise other players and aren’t interested. I think…

  3. You seem to be meeting these people primarily on fetlife so.. put it on your fetlife profile that you’re poly. Even if you’re not involved with a specific person, you can still have “polyamorous” in the relationship section at the top of your profile, without a name beside it. Or just put a sentence in your “about me” section that you’re currently single but that you consider yourself polyamorous, or however you want to phrase it. That way you don’t necessarily have to have the conversation unless/until it comes up naturally, and everyone is still informed.

    Just out of curiosity, are you on OkCupid? I’ve had a profile there for years, and it’s apparently a very good place for skinny people to find cool folks to date.

    • Heh. It only occurred to me to list myself as poly on FetLife after that first date with The Doll, and because I overthink fucking EVERYTHING I wondered whether he’d notice me adding it and take it as some kind of pointed message aimed at him, so I didn’t do it.

      But I’m gonna go do it now.

      I disabled my OKC account because I had a sudden rash of messages and most of them were from people who seemed nice but uninteresting and I was mid-breakup and didn’t need that extra pressure of wondering how or if I should reply. 😛 But yeah, lots of skinny and/or poly people there. It’s where I met Minx. 🙂

  4. Vy

    I made the decision you’ve just made (officially no more monogamy, no seriously, not ever) a few years ago and so a) congratulations! if it’s for you, it’s absolutely awesome. b) i find that bluntness solves your problems the fastest, and also, becomes ways less awkward with practice. you might be a bit over thinking things in terms of how to broach the issue on the first date (and i definitely agree that before anyone’s attached > after attachment happens). i usually just say “i’m really not into monogamy”–if i feel like a little more explanation is required, i’ll say something about also not being into casual sex, but frankly, part of the appeal of broaching the subject so early is that, on a first date, it’s not the other person’s BUSINESS who else you’re dating/shtupping/making googly eyes at. and if this is really the decision that is best for you (eg, if you met someone who was otherwise perfect but wanted monogamy you would either not date them, or not be happy about the monogamy), then sooner is always better than later, because you’d just be putting off the inevitable (this is an adaptation of the advice i give to fellow sex workers about telling their partners–if you wouldn’t quit your job for him, then tell him right the fuck away, cause why bother otherwise?), but i don’t think it has to be a big speech unless you want it to be. if you don’t treat it like a big deal, then that is part of the reality. c) i think it’s interesting that you haven’t been experiencing jealousy or anxiety around guys who are avowedly non-monogamous. it suggests that the (popular) model of getting to know one another monogamously and “opening up” later might not work as well for you. that makes sense to me personally, because i think a lot of relationship anxiety comes from how expectations and patterns are built into a relationship–if you go from the point of “dating around” to “now we’re serious, so let’s be exclusive” to “now we’re serious-ER, so let’s not be exclusive”, it seems to me like you’re setting each other up for hurt feelings as the parameters of your relationship change.

    But then again, i’m a bit of a sociopath who doesn’t seem to get jealous feelings, so my opinion on the subject might not be worth so much. 🙂

    • i think it’s interesting that you haven’t been experiencing jealousy or anxiety around guys who are avowedly non-monogamous. it suggests that the (popular) model of getting to know one another monogamously and “opening up” later might not work as well for you.

      I think it means I’m not attached to these guys yet so there’s no reason to worry. If I started to actually fall for someone, I think I’d want us to take a break from other people for a while – both to build trust and because that hardcore NRE tends to make me forget about everyone else, anyway. This is exactly what happened with Minx and I…in the beginning the plan was to be poly, but when I started developing real feelings for him I freaked out and asked to be his only one for a while. Then we opened up later. It worked very well.

      Thank you for your voice of experience! I’ll work on my bluntness. I kinda figured that was the way to go and now you’ve confirmed it. 😀

      • Vy

        That’s a good point–while that model doesn’t work for a lot of people, it really wasn’t a big problem with you and Minx in the end, was it? Best of luck!

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