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.
Are we ready for this, or not?
The story so far: RM and I have been doing a lot of hard work on our relationship before we actively seek out other relationships. We have been spending a lot of time trying to understand and fix some communication and understanding issues that have been in place for our entire relationship life. We have been talking in the abstract about adding other people to our relationship, while recognizing that we still have a lot of work to do as a couple. On some level, as wild and impractical as it is, we have been waiting for the perfect moment—the perfect partner, perfect circumstances, etc.
But as is often the case, the universe doesn’t always wait until the perfect moment to send something your way. I mentioned last month that I had felt a strong attraction for this friend of ours—let’s call him “N”--and feeling all poly and communicative I decided to tell him about it. So with RM’s strong encouragement I emailed him and basically said “don’t feel like you need to do anything about this, but I had this reaction and it was fun”. I got a weird response from him, kind of a “wow that’s cool, let me get back to you on that”, which I wrote off to the fact that he is in an awkward place in his own primary relationship right now. But then we started instant messaging fairly regularly and talking about what was going on, what we were feeling, where we were at. I didn’t necessarily think anything was going to come of this, as he was not really looking to start a new relationship, and I also knew that RM and I were not necessarily ready for real relationships with others. To further complicate things, N is not bisexual and not really attractive to RM anyway, which means that any kind of a relationship for me with N will not look like the happy inter-sexual polyfidelitous triad RM and I were dreaming about.
But it turns out that N has been more than happy to explore the parameters of what a relationship with me might look like. I should also mention that RM and I have begun to explore the BDSM desires that I have had my whole life and incorporate some D/s dynamic into our sex life. N is also interested in BDSM (and in fact is more “practiced” than either RM or I) and he and I have been talking about the ways in which we might structure a relationship based at least in part on BDSM play. We are talking—at least in hypotheticals, about how we might be able to make this work.
There are other complications. N lives 4+ hours away, which makes communicating difficult. We can’t all sit down together and talk. He and I instant message almost every day, but I’ve only seen him twice since the big “attraction revelation”, and though we talked that’s as far as we’ve gotten. I don’t want to go into too much detail about N’s issues, but there are limits to the kind of relationship we can have based on where he is at in his own life right now.
But the biggest change that RM and I have been dealing with is the sudden reality of this relationship. It was one thing for RM to entertain the idea of me having feelings for someone else in the abstract. It’s entirely different for him to read my IM transcripts where I am talking, having sexually charged discussions, and expressing feelings for an actual other person. We are being as open and honest as we can about all of this as a way to avoid problems that have come up in the past through omissions and concealment. But it is not easy, for either of us.
I would say that due to the circumstances of this relationship there isn’t a whole lot of NRE flying around, at least at the moment, but there is some and it’s been difficult for RM watch. The conversations I am having with N have also highlighted the differences in the way RM and I construct personal privacy boundaries and what is a safe level of disclosure. I am way more comfortable with more disclosure and details than feels safe to RM. This has been problematic as I end up disclosing things about RM’s & my relationship to N that go past RM’s boundaries.
It’s also been difficult, or maybe a better word is confusing, for me as I try to figure out exactly what I am feeling about all this. I felt a fairly strong physical attraction for N; he is someone I have known and been intrigued by for a long time. But what began as a real emotional draw for me has kind of settled down into more of a simmer. There were some real roller coaster moments for a couple of weeks, as I tried to figure out what I was feeling. I also needed to talk to N and see what he was feeling. RM was not happy about being along for that ride. Fortunately my feelings seem to have settled down somewhat. I am coming to understand that what's going on here could be more sexual than emotional. This is also something RM and I are talking a lot about. I have had some experience in the past with relationships that are constructed more along the lines of “close friends with benefits”, but he has not and trying to communicate what I mean and intend has been challenging.
RM and I have been having many conversations about what he can deal with in terms of my having a relationship with N. He is not yet ready for me to have a full-blown sexual or romantic relationship with anyone yet. Which is hard for me, but I have a lot invested in the idea that we need to do this “right” and for now that means not pushing RM too far too fast. It actually helps a bit that the circumstances of the situation mean that I can’t physically be with N much. Of course that has also moderated my feelings somewhat. Did I mention this is somewhat confusing?
While all this has been going on, RM has also been trying to seek out relationships. The logistics of meeting the kinds of men he would be likely to want to date have been puzzling. Working full time, parenting, being a husband, and all the other normal responsibilities of life don’t leave a lot of time for seeking out potential partners. He has replied to a couple of personal ads in our local alternative paper, and is right now facing the situation of having to decide when to reveal the nature of his circumstances to others. We have been talking a lot about the question of “when do you bring up the word polyamory?”
I am 200 percent supportive of his efforts here. I think it’s necessary for RM to have his own relationships with people. I also recognize that a lot of this is still theoretical for me. While I am excited for him and supportive I might find it more difficult than I think to watch RM in the midst of NRE with someone else.
There is a level of wondering here—for both of us—if we are truly ready for this or not. I am trying to be realistic about the state of our relationship while also recognizing that fear or inertia could cause us to delay doing anything because we aren’t “perfectly” ready. When is our relationship strong—fixed—enough? What set of emotions need to be in place before one or the other of us are “ready”? How do you really know if you are ready—before you actually are? That’s the big question. I don’t know what the answer is. We’re finding out. It’s a process.
Pegasus & Renaissance Man; April 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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