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-   -   Is it appropriate to ask... (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22739)

PolyCurious4 03-30-2012 03:42 PM

Is it appropriate to ask...
Is it appropriate to ask if the people you are seeing have other sexual partners? In the lifestyle I think it's more assumed you may have other patners. Or better I should say I've known a great deal who have played the field so to speak.

Even in the lifestyle I never had more than one interest at a time (whether that be a couple or single female) That's just my cup of tea. I generally wanted to see where that road led & wasnt interested in throwing out a wide net. For me I have to like you & have some sort of connection to enjoy the sexual aspect. It never felt like to me I could develop a connection if I was talking to an array of people. In addition life is just too hectic for me to juggle people.

The gentleman of the couple we are seeing had originally discussed they'd like to at some point be exclusive & discuss discarding condoms. Safety is such a huge issue so while it's appealing will take a HUGE amount of trust.

Recently he let let me know he & wife were getting tested again (last test was 6 months ago) and inquired if I might at that point have any interest in discarding condoms. I responded that I would be open to the discussion only if there was an agreement of exclusivity to which he said he understood. I guess I read into that to mean they were considering taking to the next step of only seeing one another (which is my personal preference)

However a conversation Hubby had with her has me doubting. She had expressed that she wasn't so great with compliments. Hubby likes to compliment. He's southern & it's part of his DNA. But he's also selective whom he compliments because he is genuine. He wanted her to understand he's not like a cheesy car salesman. So, he shared with her that he's not complimenting anyone other than she & I. Her first response was that she didn't ask him to not talk to other people & she's ok if he does. He then explained that it's just how we prefer to do things. My first thought, because she's this free spirit who doesn't want to be tied down, that she didn't want us to assume exclusivity until she offers it.

I had taken for granted based upon things he said that they weren't seeing anyone else. But if she said not to stop talking to others because they're seeing others it gives me reason for pause based upon his request to stop condoms. If they ARE involved with others (which is totally their perogative) and he's suggesting we play without condoms I find if disrespectful to me. It also makes me question his integrity because whom else might he be asking the same. Condoms are never a question & I've always been selective in playmates that were as steadfast about safety. This is the first I've ever considered the possibility of discarding them because I felt we were building a relationship (though I still had reservations to agree considering how new this relationship is).

After giving this some thought I realized there have been a lot of assumptions made on our part & reading into things they've said. Since there are no agreements to see only each other is it acceptable to ask if they are seeing other people?

CherryBlossomGirl 03-30-2012 04:06 PM

Totally Reasonable Requests.
Great post - you've really laid out your situation well. You seem like a really respectful, thoughtful person, and it sounds like you're having some uncertainty in the midst of a really fun situation.

If the four of you are going to be fluid bonded, I would definitely say that it's beyond acceptable - it's imperative that y'all sit down and talk about sexual safetly/possibly sexual exclusivity as a group. It sounds to me like you're looking for a way to do this that is respectful and non-assumptive.

In my opinion, I feel that it's completely appropriate to ask if they're seeing other people. When we are fluid bonded with someone outside of our relationship, I ask for the courtesy of a heads up if they are sexually active with anyone else. I let them know that we will do the same. I also state my intent to be exclusive when/if it's there, and ask where they are at with the same issues. If you want to do this without being assumptive, I would say, "It's important to me that you know that we're not making assumptions." Be honest about that integrity inside of yourself; it's a great quality!

To me it sounds like your challenge is HOW you're going to ask this question. Given that you're a thoughtful person, you want to deal with your own concerns, but be respectful of their autonomy as people too.

So, my question for you is how are you going to ask this question, and how are you going to ask for the security that you need? Practice here! It's a great sounding board.

PolyCurious4 03-30-2012 04:32 PM

Thank you for your response. You hit the nail on the head - I want to ask but don't want to sound presumptive.

I had contemplated saying something along the lines of... "At the risk of sounding presumptive... You has inquired about discarding condoms after your most recent testing... I know we discussed my comfort level in that regard. But it brought forth a question for me... I completely understand that at this point we're all free to see others - are you seeing someone else right now?"

CherryBlossomGirl 03-30-2012 05:59 PM

Respectful Questioning
I like that you've led with your intention (that you don't want to sound presumptuous) and then you check in with your own needs (my own comfort level) as well as their autonomy (free to see other people) and then you have your question (are they seeing other people?)

Do you also have a question that would cover future desires for other partners/changes in fluid bonding? ie - they're not seeing anyone else, and so you feel safe fluid bonding with them, but that you'd want the courtesy of a heads up if they were going to be involved with someone else down the line so you could introduce protection again?

In some ways, I feel like you feel almost apologetic for your needs around safety, and desiring exclusivity to feel comfortable fluid bonding. I think that it's very important for you to know that these needs/desires are very valid and worthwhile, and that you don't need to feel like you have to be so careful when it comes to their feelings when it is your health and safety that you are concerned about. Fluid bonding ups the intimacy in a relationship, brings up STI and pregnancy risks and is another step in equalizing sex that you share with your partner. Take these steps slowly, at your own pace, and on your own terms.

A large part of great sex is feeling safe, respected, and comfortable being yourself. I think this is a great opportunity to create open communication about your needs, wants and desires.

In context - I am a lot less subtle when it comes to my own safety. We were in a quad last year, and fluid bonding came up as an option. We were all tested, and had both stated that we were not seeking out other partners and were exclusive to our quad. My partner has a vasectomy, so I'm not on any form of birth control. I was using condoms with my new male partner as the risk of pregnancy was still a factor even though STI risks had been negated. I let him know that I was unwilling to go on the pill - he suggested the morning after pill and I literally laughed at him and said that I loved my body way too much to put myself through that for his pleasure - he ended up getting a vasectomy because I wouldn't budge. His wife was THRILLED as she's been trying to get him to have one for over a decade. Ended up being a happy ending for everyone LOL. He sent me paperwork to prove that he had the operation, and that he was officially shooting blanks, and I sent him a "Enjoy Your Vasectomy" e-card that had him howling with laughter. Thought I'd share my experience with you :)

nycindie 03-30-2012 07:43 PM

What lifestyle? Why wouldn't you ask someone in whom you are interested if they are sexually involved with others? I guess I am not understanding the dilemma here, or what would prevent someone from asking questions. :confused:

PolyCurious4 03-30-2012 08:48 PM


Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 130841)
What lifestyle? Why wouldn't you ask someone in whom you are interested if they are sexually involved with others? I guess I am not understanding the dilemma here, or what would prevent someone from asking questions. :confused:

When I say lifestyle I mean mean the swinger lifestyle. In my experience it's often time assumed couples & singles may have multiple partners because it's about the sex & variety outside your marriage without romantic ties. Forgive me if my questions sound bizarre; I'm basing them upon past experience within the swinger culture.

Now maybe I have always been off base to not have asked this question of previous partners. However because of the swinger culture including multiple partners its always been for me that condoms are required always and fluid bonding and exclusivity has never been on the table. For this reason it feels odd to ask.

km34 03-30-2012 09:00 PM


Originally Posted by PolyCurious4 (Post 130850)
However because of the swinger culture including multiple partners its always been for me that condoms are required always and fluid bonding and exclusivity has never been on the table. For this reason it feels odd to ask.

This is where the transition from swinging to poly comes in. :)

I think it is something that just takes practice to talk about... With a couple hubby and I used to play with (and then I started dating her and all kinds of complexity in the relationship came and went lol) - we went from condoms always, to no condoms, to condoms (I went off birth control for a while), and back to no condoms (return of birth control) in the span of just over a year. We had to have the awkward talk every time. By the time we decided to go condom-less the second time, it was no big deal at all to bring it up.

This is about your health, so you kind of just have to bite the bullet and talk about it. I don't think you're being presumptive at all if he is the one that brought up not using condoms. Having a complete, informed discussion about it is imperative to make sure you're all maintaining safe(r) practices.

nycindie 03-31-2012 02:46 AM

Oh, I just re-read your first post. It just sounds like you all need to sit down and talk together, instead of relaying conversations back and forth to each other and guessing what this one means or that one means. Seeing other people, talking to other people, condoms, no condoms, not wanting to sound presumptuous - oh boy. Let me just put it bluntly. If you're comfortable enough to get naked with these people and fuck them, you should be able to ask them whether or not they're fucking anyone else.

AnnabelMore 03-31-2012 03:38 PM

It's definitely, definitely ok to ask. If you can't share even that basic level of info with someone, why would you share your body with them?

redpepper 03-31-2012 06:54 PM


Originally Posted by AnnabelMore (Post 130917)
It's definitely, definitely ok to ask. If you can't share even that basic level of info with someone, why would you share your body with them?


I was confused also by this post. Open and honest communication is standard in poly. In swinging it isn't I guess because its not an arrangement of connection in terms of commitment and emotion.

I would say to both of them next time all of you together, "so, he says you want to fluid bond because you aren't interested in others right now and she says stuff that makes me feel like that isn't the case. I think we need to talk more about what's going on here so we can come to a decsion one way or the other. Now seems like a good time. Who wants to talk first :)"

It seems to me that its not a big deal to just start talking. It takes practice I guess, but really, straight forward talk that's honest mixed with empathy for those that you are in communication with works. Its quite simple once you get used to it.

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