Losing faith in polyamory
I've known that I was poly before I'd even heard of the word. Even before I started dating, monogamy never made sense to me. It seemed like an unnecessary restriction; as though people expected to "own" their partners' bodies like property.
But I'm in my early 30s now and realizing that I've never really been able to make polyamory work for me. Across my relationships, I've found that what often happens is my partner will have multiple partners of her own, but I can't find any additional partners for me.
So I end up in a relationship where I suffer all the drawbacks of polyamory but none of the benefits.
And that's where I'm at right now. I love my girlfriend but my relationship with her feels like it's on a downward slide. We've been together for a year, and when the six month marker hit, her interest in spending time with me waned a lot. She took on her third partner (I'm #2) almost right on the six month anniversary, and ever since then I feel like I've been a low priority in her life.
Meanwhile I've been on a few dates while dating her, but not that many. I have an OKCupid profile, and I see all these women who seem intelligent, attractive, independent... and 9 out of 10 of them say somewhere in their profile something to the effect of "I'm not interested in poly." And the few dates I've gone out with poly girls, we just haven't clicked. They've all been nice people, but no chemistry.
If my lifestyle choice is eliminating 90% of my prospective partners, while the partners who are left are splitting their time between other men and me, is this really a good strategy for finding happiness? Wouldn't I be better off just finding one monogamous girl?
That feels like self-denial. I am polyamorous; I'm never going to believe that monogamy is the "best" or the "healthiest" lifestyle choice, and I'm always going to feel like my "ideal" world is a poly world.
But that's not the world I live in, and I have to accept the world as it is, not as I want it to be.
Circles of reasoning have been hijacking my mind for the last two months. Normally, I'm the clearheaded one, the person other people come to for help. It's hard for me to reach out, especially since most of my friends are monogamous. I need a fresh perspective, so I'm asking for... well, whatever. Advice, thoughts, criticisms, new strategies, or just a kick in the pants.
Thanks in advance.
Ok, here is MY take on it, and you can do what you want to with my opinion.
PERSONALLY, a couple needs to spend time TOGETHER in a monogamous relationship for quite some time BEFORE delving into a poly relationship. This helps to build the trust necissary in a poly relationship. It also helps to build the FRIENDSHIP that the couple needs to be successful. My wife and I had been married for about 7 or 8 years IIRC before we brough anyone else to our household. And even then, it was a good friend that we BOTH new very well.
I can honestly say I don't (with all due respect) agree with the previous post PER SE.
IF one is already IN a monogomous relationship then I agree COMPLETELY with the last post.
However-I know and have been involved in relationships that didn't develop that way that are/were wonderful.
In my experience, if something is a "reoccuring event" in our lives-we are generally the "common denominator". What that means in regards to THIS situation is that somehow you are the pivotal piece that is somehow creating a dynamic that leads to this repetitive breakdown in your relationships.
THE GOOD NEWS about that is that it means YOU can change it!! :)
The bad news is that like much of everything else-it means some DEEP, HONEST soul searching.
People tell me all the time that friendships created in our school years don't last into adulthood.
I'm 35 years old. My 3 closest friends have been in my life 32, 22, 17 years respectively.. the next 3 are 14, 12 and 7 years respectively... so OBVIOUSLY it's not that they DO NOT last-it's that people don't MAKE friendships that last.
My whole life I've always "sensed" when something was deeper between myself and another person. And those people I catered to the relationship. A person has needs, but a RELATIONSHIP has needs also-and the needs aren't always the same for the RELATIONSHIP as for either party in it.
It sounds (you haven't said a lot here so if I'm wrong I apologize) as though you are creating relationships with people who aren't interested in LONG TERM HIGHLY COMMITTED relationships. Of course there are LOTS of those types of people in polyamorous circles, there are LOTS of those types of people in monogomous circles as well.
BUT-there are many of us who REQUIRE the long-term, highly committed relationships IN POLYAMORY as well. Some of us are just not as fast to "jump in" to sexually involved relationships just because the "chemistry" is there because we want more than just the chemistry.
Maybe you are taking offers that don't REALLY fit what you are looking for?
What I have difficulty with is finding other people to date. It shouldn't be difficult in my area to find poly people - I live in the San Francisco bay area for goodness sake - but all of the poly girls have tightly packed schedules already. I hate it when I'm trying to schedule a date with a girl for three weeks and she has no time to see me because she has three other lovers... but all of a sudden she calls me up on a Thursday afternoon and says "Hey, my date tonight canceled on short notice, are you free for coffee?" That makes me feel really unimportant and sends me mixed signals.
There's already a poor male:female ratio in my area, and I feel like being poly magnifies that. If there's one woman to every three men in the poly community, then maybe I should give up on that community?
I just don't want to feel like I'm begging at the table for emotional scraps.
perhaps you should try out a monogamous woman. There are monogamous women out there who don't want to be possessed or owned and don't want to possess and own you. Just because they are mono doesn't make it so... look at me and Mono, he doesn't own me... (I own him :D but that is another story! and I am joking about that btw) or possess me. I have a perfectly healthy poly life and he has agreed to be in it... there is no reason you can't try that out for yourself. It would be a matter of complete honesty when you meet her and I'm sure a few would be completely uninterested, but it may be worth seeing how it goes.
In my experience it may be a good idea to move very slowly through your poly life style for a good long time so as to not freak them out too much. We do things and see things very differently and that can be incredibly scary for someone who is mono. You may just find that being with just her is all you need and there is really nothing wrong with that at all. You can still design your own way of doing things in a mono relationship. There is nothing to say that you have to follow the norm. Monogamy can be as diverse as it wants to be, just as diverse as we all are from each other. Keep the faith, you'll figure it out. Enjoy the journey while you do so!
Yes - I believe your perception is accurate - everywhere in the US - not just your area. There are far fewer women INITIALLY (as advertised) willing to seriously consider poly relationships. No point in getting into the "whys" of that. It is what it is as you say.
However, it may be that labels here are part of the problem. In establishing a relationship I feel it's important to first focus on the connection. The details can come later. I think you might want to consider just meeting (dating?) PEOPLE - not labels - first and see where things lead.
First off, for a TRULY polyamorous person (someone who has put sufficient time into learning, understanding and soul searching) it will likely be the case that there will be such a philosophical gap between you and someone with classic, rigid views that no real level of compatibility will exist anyway.
But you can't know that depth until you really get to know a "person" better.
Labels are funny things. People cling to them for a variety of reasons and sometimes only out of what is most convenient and/or society generally approves. Down deep, if you get there, you may find something different. But you'll never find out unless you look.
I say - go forward - discard labels - assume nothing. Part of finding open minded, insightful people is to be/have one yourself :)
I feel for you, OP.
I'm going through a lot of the pitfalls of poly right now. It's become hugely stressful for me, and after a lot of discussion we've come to the conclusion that there needs to be a serious overhaul in Alex and Jenny's relationship so that the three of us can work it out. As for me, the only thing I could do to alleviate stress is get a primary relationship. My problem is that all the guys I meet say they're not into poly. The people in the poly community here are reluctant to get with me because Alex is bi, and most men around here (and some of the women, even) are very homophobic about it... a double standard that hurts Alex and makes things harder for me.
I'd like to think poly works, and in theory it does, but in practice, it's a whole different story altogether.
Bawdysattva, I am coming to the same conclusions as you and Korindino. I need someone besides my married girlfriend to fill my life, but the number of women interested in poly in my area appears to be quite small.
Yes, it's possible for me to attract interest from monogamous women. I have a big problem with that.
These women are looking for an exclusive relationship. I am lying to them about something very important if I start dating them. They assume that finding that monogamous relationship is the mutual goal, and I know damned well that for me it's not.
Wanna start a dating relationship based on a lie? Not really.
If it's assumed by both parties that the relationship is platonic friendship or just activity partners, that's possible. And it's possible that such a friendship would eventually open doors to an intimate non-exclusive relationship. But entering the mono dating arena without acknowledging that you're not mono seems to me dishonest.
This is something I've talked about with my married friend. Despite her years of poly, when I told her I needed to date other women she felt at first that I was trying to "move on" and "turn away from her." I think she understands now that in order for my relationship with her to be sustainable long-term I have to find additional women friends.
But of course that puts me in the same dilemma as Bawdysattva. It's ironic, of course, and for me it's amusing. But I'm lucky in that I really like living alone. I can laugh because for me the need is not immediate.
You ASSUME they are looking for an "exclusive" relationship.
They ADVERTISE that fact (for any number of reasons)
But what I've found over the years is that down deep everyone is looking for a "quality" relationship. They need/want that connection with another human.
Nobody (usually) is signing marriage contracts in the first 3-4 "dates". And if a relationship is only at that stage then the whole concept of exclusivity does not apply - in a lot of cases doesn't even come up ! And if it does it's usually brushed over with a "well, I have been seeing someone else off & on but it doesn't seem to be totally what I'm looking for. Nuff said.
This may lead to deeper discussions about perceptions of what love, relationships really mean to different people. Fertile ground for really getting to know someone at a deeper level.
And as I mentioned, if at that point you discover that they are rigid minded and unable or unwilling to even explore new concepts, this is a mindset that will affect their whole life. Is this someone you could see yourself really connecting with long term ? Not likely.
But you have to give people the opportunity to slip off their mask they wear because sometimes, underneath it, you find surprises.
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