This column will be a documentation of our journey--as a couple--into the realm of polyamory. Since we are in the process of navigating this path right now, this column will detail issues, problems, and roadblocks that we encounter--as we hit them.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Inching Out

Well this month I have some stories to tell. RM and I have been slowly inching "out" both in the sense of joining some online communities, as well as actually getting out more in a social sense. The results of this so far have been mixed—we have had a couple of experiences that—while amusing--seem to be examples of the less successful types of encounters that are possible.

We have learned some lessons from these experiences. These lessons have been helping us figure out what we are looking for in whatever poly relationships come our way. Here’s lesson number one: Many people online are only looking for a hookup.

Our first foray after joining this community here at Polyamorous Percolations was to sign up for our local Yahoo Groups Poly list. We did this partly in recognition that this is how people find and form relationships and communities in the cyber-age, and partly because it seemed to be a way to also actually meet people in "real life" The group in question has regular get-togethers.

We have had many discussions about whether or not it was "safe" to come out in an online forum; especially for RM the idea of being "out" about his sexual orientation involves safety issues. But we took a deep breath and posted a short introduction. A couple of days later we received an email from someone on the list, who seemed interested in us. He mentioned our intro, but volunteered little information about himself. We have had several cyber-conversations with this person. But it seems to us that he is mostly interested in our sexual experience and wants a hookup. RM and I have tried to be clear that we aren’t looking for a casual sexual relationship. We had intended to make an opening to get this person to offer some personal information, start a conversation, establish some common ground, etc. But the responses we’ve gotten from the person seem to indicate a different set of motivations than what we are looking for. Or just someone who doesn’t read their email carefully, which is another set of issues.

It’s weird because on some level we de-lurked on the Yahoo group so that we would “get out” more—in a sense, anyway. We want to find some sense of community, as we have to a degree here at Polyamorous Percolations, but we were hoping to find a less virtual venue also. We truly did not think through the process in terms of becoming the object of someone else’s hunt—I guess because we are still kind of naive about this online stuff.

The second lesson we have learned is also a product of our Yahoo group experience: Just because people are poly doesn’t mean they have anything else in common with you or that you will want to hang out with them.

We went to a Science Fiction convention a few weeks ago. We knew from postings on the Yahoo list that there would be a “Poly Party” at the con. We thought perhaps we’d go. So we did, and it quickly became obvious that whatever sense of community we were looking for we weren’t going to find it there. Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure many of those people there were lovely, wonderful people. But in terms of the kind of group dynamic RM and I tend to look for, a roomful of mostly silent strangers would not be our first choice. It was the kind of gathering where the conversation is dominated by the only person who bothers to talk at all (and who unfortunately is not the most interesting person). We stayed a brief time and then left, without even identifying ourselves. It was an awkward experience. I’m not really sure what we were expecting. RM and I are SciFi fans ourselves, many of our friends are fans and we went to the con for reasons other than connecting with the poly group. We thought that maybe if we met some poly-identified people in the context of Sci-Fi/Fantasy fandom it would be better, in terms of having something to talk about. To put it mildly we did not feel like we had found a home.

The third lesson we are learning, and one which has had its amusing aspects, is that just because a friend is poly and has a certain appeal (to one or the other of us) that doesn’t mean they’re a good choice for a relationship. One of the side effects of the relationship shifting that we have been going through is that I have given myself permission to be open to my own feelings about people. RM is finding his own comfort level with my new openness, and at some point he may also find opportunities to explore this aspect of himself. Recently I found myself enjoying my newfound freedom to feel and express attraction for someone who has been a friend for a while. For some reason, this friend suddenly pushed my buttons, and because of the nature of our relationship, I felt safe in disclosing to him the fact that he had been a catalyst, so to speak for these feelings. This friend is one of many who have been offering advice and assistance to us as we walk this road. However, he is not in a good relationship space himself at the moment, which complicates things. He is also not necessarily the right person to be in a relationship with us in the way we have been envisioning. The fact that this friend is poly and knows some about our struggles and issues and has been offering advice made him look appealing for a moment as a potential partner. There are many reasons why a real poly relationship with this person would be less than perfect. I don’t need to elaborate them here, but RM and I are in agreement on this. While it’s been healthy and fun to allow myself to feel these feelings and play in a flirty way with our friend, it’s also been a learning curve to determine what the real factors are that would make someone a good match for us.

These experiences have been frustrating, as well as amusing, and while RM and I are trying to keep some perspective and see them as being instructive rather than dead ends, they have also pointed out that although we have spent a lot of time working on our own relationship dynamic, we have not done a lot of work on exploring what’s actually out there. We need to get started with that task.

Pegasus & Renaissance Man; March 14, 2006

Pegasus & Renaissance Man are contributing writers as well as members of this online Community. They can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.


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