These writings contain my experiences and opinions. The opinions are personal in nature, not professional. I am not a professional; I have no degree. These are the insights I have gleaned from living four years in a polyamorous relationship.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
When Theory Meets Practice
Today I’m here to offer the very trite and clichéd advice “never say never.” I’ve recently discovered that if one says “never”, then Murphy ’s Law will sooner or later make “never” into an eventuality. Perhaps I should start at the beginning…
I’m a member of a polyfidelitous female, male, female triad. We used to be a female, male, female, male quad. Wife has been known to date from time to time, and we’re all okay with that. We’ve been together nigh on five years now, and we’re functioning quite well as a family. This means that I know how to live as a poly person, right? Well, maybe not. Quite technically, I’ve been living monogamously in a polyamorous relationship. Hubby is our hinge, and I’m only sexually involved with him. I do not date. I’ve never wanted to date. Until now.
It’s not like I didn’t realize the fact that I was living as a monogamous person in a poly relationship. I just never thought much of it, so it’s not like it was something always in the forefront of my mind. It was just a fact; I assumed it would always be a fact, so I never bothered to process what would happen if I eventually decided I didn’t want it to be that way. I am only in a poly relationship because when I found the love of my life, he happened to be married to my best friend. It’s not something that I actively pursued; it’s something that just happened. I’m pretty laid back and very open-minded, so the lifestyle suits me well. I entered into this relationship in order to be with the man I love. I had no desire to take it beyond that point or to involve any other people on my end of the equation. Until I did.
So, theoretically, I am a poly person. In practice, as yet, I am not. I don’t suppose I thought it would ever matter, because I was one of those people who said “never,” and because I said never, when I met someone that I actually did want to date, I wasn’t really sure what to do with that. We’d never discussed what would happen if I wanted to date, because when the subject came up, oh so long ago, I said, “That will never happen. I’m not looking for anyone else. I’m perfectly happy with the way things are.” Hubby stated that two women were plenty, and he didn’t want to date either. Wife was the only one who expressed interest in having relationships outside of our family, so we talked about that, we processed that, and when it happened, we all knew what to do and how to act. There’s a very important lesson there; she, along with us, her family, processed what would happen before it happened. This made everything infinitely easier to deal with for everyone, including her.
When I came across a person that I wanted to get to know much better, I was completely flabbergasted. I kept asking myself, “How exactly did this happen? I said never.” So all of the sudden, I was not only dealing with a rather profound mental-emotional attraction, I was also in the midst of processing just exactly what I was supposed to do about that. I had no clue what my next move should be, because I hadn’t bothered to think about it before it actually happened. One would think that someone in a poly relationship would know what to do/how to act when s/he meets someone with whom s/he’d like to develop a relationship. This is why it’s very beneficial to consider these things beforehand.
Of course, I’m not the only one this affects; it has an impact on my entire family. This morning I had the following conversation with my Hubby.
Anna: “I think I would like to date.”
Hubby: “Are you serious? Who? Why? Are you mad at me?”
Anna: “Yeah I’m serious. It’s not someone you know. Because I’m attracted to him on several different levels, and why on earth would you think I’m mad at you?”
Hubby: “Well, you’ve done some irrational things before when you were mad at me.”
Anna: “Are you saying that me wanting to date is irrational?”
Hubby: “Yes. No. Well, maybe. Listen Anna, it’s just that you don’t always make the best decisions, and besides, you said that you didn’t want to date anyone else.”
Anna: “I know I said that. That was almost five years ago, and I meant it when I said it. I wasn’t looking for anyone else. I didn’t go out and try to find anyone else. It just happened. I met this person. I talked to this person. It never occurred to me to get involved with this person. The more we talked, the more I felt feelings developing. I’d just like to see where they go, and I plan on going very slowly.”
Hubby: “What if I’m not comfortable with you dating?”
Ummm, I had no idea how to address that question. I was completely at a loss for an answer. What if he’s not comfortable with me dating? Well, what if he’s not? He does have two wives after all. That’s how I answered the question, actually.
Anna: “Why wouldn’t you be comfortable? You’ve got two wives after all.”
Hubby: (after a prolonged silence) “I know I do, and I’m okay with Wife dating, but I’m not sure how I feel about you dating, because we’ve never really talked about it. I didn’t think it would happen.”
The conversation continued along those lines for quite some time. We did talk about it. We talked about it a lot, and then we talked about it some more. I’m still not sure how comfortable he is with the idea; though, he’s certainly more comfortable than when I first brought it up. It turns out that he has some insecurities that I never would have imagined in him. I had no idea, because we had never discussed it before. We never discussed it before, because I said never. I was kind of hurt and kind of pissed when he informed me that he was totally okay with Wife dating, but not me. The more I think about it though, the more strange sense it makes. He, and we as a family, addressed this with Wife a long time ago. She didn’t say never. She said “maybe;” she said “what if;” we all processed it and talked about it. It was out there, and we all knew that eventually it would happen, so when it did, it was a much easier thing with which to deal.
Hubby and I have a lot more talking to do, and we will do it. The fact is, however, that we should have done it a long time ago That brings me full circle back to my original advice. Never say never. It will come back around to bite you if you do. It’s better to say, “Not freaking likely, but just in case I ever change my mind, let’s talk about it now. Let’s talk about what to do and how to act and what the ‘rules’ are.” This allows everyone some breathing room. It allows one to enjoy the ride. It makes it straight in your own head just what to do if/when you start developing feelings for someone outside of your family. It makes it possible to fulfill your needs without stepping over anyone else’s boundaries. Most importantly, it makes it possible to have a good time when theory meets practice.
PolyAnna; February 02, 2006
PolyAnna is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.
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