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-   -   How many? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11436)

River 06-25-2011 10:51 PM

How many?
I'm curious to know how people here think about the question ... How many "serious" partners are workable? And by "serious," I mean deeply involved loving ("romantic") relationships that involve long-term commitment, akin to marriage (or inclusive of marriage).

I realize this question depends enormously on how much "free time" one has, which may be a vague concept (free time), so that's open to discussion as well.

Lately, I've been thinking that two is plenty, while three could--would likely-- push beyond my capacities. At the same time, perhaps three would be possible, as the upper limit, sometime well into the experience of having two such partners.

I could see myself having a larger chosen family, however. Cuddly, but not sexual friends. Committed, intimate companions who are not also lovers. In fact, I'd really like that!:)

BrigidsDaughter 06-25-2011 11:26 PM

For me the magic number is 3. I could have extra cuddly friends or possibly FWB, I suppose, but I wouldn't want to commit to more than the 3 wonderful people in my life right now. Though how I feel in no way reflects how they feel or restricts them to the same.

nycindie 06-26-2011 01:46 AM

My ideal is three or four partners to whom I would be equally committed in my heart, although some of them may not be able to engage with me as frequently as others, such as in the case of a long distance love. But they would all be of equal importance and standing to me -- three or four "primaries," for lack of a better term (not my preferred word).

That's my fantasy. Time will tell if I can really juggle that many in reality. I know I can love that many, but can I give to all of them and manage the mundane details of multiple loves in a way that they feel their needs are met and I am not emotionally (or physically!) depleted?

I have no desire to cohabit with anyone for now, so my dream means I would be living independently while nurturing these relationships, all of equal importance to me. Maybe when I'm much older, there would be one (or two) who could be more of a live-in companion (or companions).

opalescent 06-26-2011 04:43 AM

I've been wondering about this question on a more basic level. I don't even know if I could have two primary - however one defines that - relationships. In fact, I wonder about my capacity to handle a primary relationship and a significant secondary one.

I don't have an answer right now. I think it's going to depend on my willingness to be open and take emotional risks.

rory 06-26-2011 07:25 AM

This is a hard question. I think this evolves with time. Right now I have two partners, which feels plenty and I have no desire for more. But I do not think I could have started a second relationship some years ago, because I doubt either me or my husband, or our relationship, would have been ready for it at that point. Thus, there was fullness with one relationship. I can't say precisely when it is that the situation changed, but when I met my girlfriend we were lucky enough that both of our marriages were in a place that made poly possible.

At the moment, making this situation work is taking all my energy and concentration, and I definitely am full. Also, it would be way too soon for my girlfriend, and our relationship, for me (or her) to have a third partner. And, me having a girlfriend is a big adjustment for my husband, which is why it would be too soon for him as well, and to the relationship between us.

So, right now there are many reasons why I'm full, both within me and in my relationships. But the relationships will evolve and settle and so the situation might allow for a third partner at some point. I had been with my husband for about 7 years before our relationship became poly. So, maybe another 7 years until the relationships are ready for it; and then we'll still have to see if I have time/energy etc. :p

redpepper 06-26-2011 07:27 AM

Damn! This came up before in a thread called "how many is to many" or something like that, but I can't remember the tag or who started it! Maybe someone will remember.

Time gets way to thin at two, but three is doable depending on the arrangement. Even four in some cases. I have four, but I see one only once a month and another every two weeks or so. The other two I live with. Its busy, but we worked out a balance. It helped to be up front about how much I could offer and refraining from feeling guilty and sorry I can't give more.

Anneintherain 06-26-2011 07:39 AM

I haven't ever had more than two "serious" partners at a time. I once had two who were serious emotionally, now I have two where one is deeply emotional (aka my husband), and the other isn't, but I spend the amount of time with that I'd spend with somebody one on one if it did happen to be deeply romantic.

I do have free time, as well as a desire for another relationship that has more of a really good friend aspect to it. I think it should be easily doable, but I wonder if I am fooling myself, and I'd end up not having enough time for my husband, chores, and personal time. I have found I want to be good friends with a partner if I don't see them often, to communicate regularly with them about life and other mundane crap.

Now I don't think of relationships that are inclusive or akin to marriage too much. I am more interested in dating people already in committed relationships for a variety of reasons, and while I could see myself even perhaps for a lifetime, with a second "primary" (live in) partner, my husband isn't particularly interested in this. I do think of lifetime best friends with romantic and sexual connections though.

I think I could handle two romantic relationships and one casual (heart-wise) but regular relationship. I don't happen to think really casual sex would work for me, but do wonder if I could even fit a fourth occasional thing in there if it was a friend with benefits with the stress on FRIENDS. Now I just have to wait for the right friend to come along to test that theory. ;)

I figure there are a some ways to fit this into life if my current second relationship stays somewhat constant, which I don't know about yet.
1. I spend time with my partner's spouse/family friends and vice versa, so they can be a part of my life but I don't have to worry about having 1-2 days every week to spend alone time with them to feel close. If lucky my husband wants to hang out with them too. I get social time with two or more people who are important to me. Everybody profits. A bit problematic because my husband doesn't tend to be buddies with people I like & the person I'm dating regularly now doesn't do the "family poly everybody hangs out" thing. I still keep my fingers crossed this happens in the future though. If super lucky somehow this involves one of my husband's partners and their families too, and board games and zombie killings and good food and wine!
2. See hypothetical 3rd partner once a week or less but have regular email/chat conversation with them to catch up on friendship maintenance.
3. Find somebody who is free weekdays, so I can still spend plenty of time on the other two relationships.
4. See my other two partners 1.68 times a week, have my husband involved in two similarly intensive relationships with schedules that can all be coordinated to make this work, and make sure the 3.64 days of a week I spend with him always ends up being quality time....

Yep, I spend a lot of time thinking about this :rolleyes:

Tonberry 06-26-2011 12:19 PM

I don't have a lot of experience with poly, but when I think about it, I can think of the following situation (not the only situation possible of course):

- Two live-in primaries.
- one secondary (with their own primary(ies), possibly married to someone involved with one of my primaries, or something like that) that I don't live with and don't have serious life plans revolving around but who is a regular part of my life.
- a bunch of tertiaries, either friends with benefits or people I just can't see very often. The exact number could vary, but since I'm likely to be able to see them only something like once or twice a year at conventions or the like, the only important thing would be that I can see them at different conventions, or at a con that as more days than I have tertiaries there. I'd want to have one night for each of them at least.

Each of these people could have other partners, and ideally they probably would (or have the potential to at some point), as I think a mono/poly relationship would be more challenging.
Of course, I'll take what actually happens. I have no clue what that will be, and it's unlikely to match this scenario. However, this is the kind of thing I think I would be able to deal with. Three primaries seems too much to me, and (possibly weirdly) so does two secondaries. I guess it seems easier for me to have two primaries because I'd be living with them and therefore not "sharing" my time between them as much, or a bunch of tertiaries because I'd see them so little that it wouldn't affect our relationship much if I have like five of them or something, but a secondary is at that mid-point where I think I'd deal better with only one of them.

Ariakas 06-26-2011 06:32 PM

It depends on the people. Imho.. It depends on the depth of each relationship and the time requirements.

I was asked this recently.. I think.. for me there is a very real possibility of maintaining

primary, secondary and tertiary..

How that looks, or the logistics, to many variables to really narrow it down. I know I couldn't do two primaries. I don't have enough time in my day between work and life, to maintain that strong a time requirement with two people.

River 06-26-2011 06:59 PM

Whenever I think about the whole matter of primary and secondary and tertiary..., I end up thinking that either I'm all in it, or I'm not. And if I'm not all in it, how is it a loving relationship? I don't want to love any of my partners any less and I don't want to rank them in any way. So I guess that means I can only have primary relationships, whether I live with each of them or not, or howevermuch time I spend with either.

I realize that the primary/secondary/tertiary thing is necessary and workable for some people, and my words here are not meant to be offensive or judgemental toward anyone. But that's how it think-feels when I think and feel about it.

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