Quick background-- I am already in multiple relationships, and I live alone. I date. And I'm queer, bi-ish (more than 2 genders on my dance card, so an awkward word).
I spent my late teens and twenties as totally lesbian, and I will confess to some tendencies towards U-Haul insta-relationship behavior in my sordid past. I try to avoid moving so fast and easy with my heart now, and the relationships I'm in have all been slow-burners.
But there's a woman I'm dating, who I've been seeing for a few months. She is an artist, and high energy. She inspires all my lesbian falling-fast-and-hard romanticism, and she have spent hours staring into each other's eyes.
In the poly context, she has a primary. I have a primary-ish relationship (within a triad). I have about one night a week available for her. Her schedule is busy, so we see each other maybe once every two or three weeks. But the night we spend together is intense. Hot sex. Hot romance. My heart is aflutter.
Last week, out of the blue, she told me that with some issues she is dealing with, she needs to pull away, needs space. I felt heart-broken. I felt like a teenager. All the stable steady hot relationships I already have did nothing to ease the burn of that rejection and loss. I processed and processed, and my boyfriend had to deal with my moods around it. I thought she wanted to break up (only, we'd just started dating really, so can you break up when you haven't even defined the relationship?), so I prepared for her to tell me that she didn't want to see me any more, when we finally could get together to talk tonight.
Of course, it's not that simple. She does want to date me. She just articulated, very clearly, that she doesn't know what she can promise, what she can commit to. Her availability is going to be limited. She didn't think I would want to take that on, and maybe I shouldn't have but... I'm weak. (And, I really like her, and want to be her friend, and want to be her sometimes lover, and want her company in my life, which is typically total sunshine.)
So. I have an abundance of love and commitment in my life already. I think I can handle a casual dating affair. I envision being affectionate, and developing a real friendship, but not falling in love. Not expecting more than she can give. (I have limited availability too, in terms of time and energy, so I really think this is something that can work.)
But how do you do that? I don't need to keep my heart out of it, but how do you stay anchored to reality, when you are in a relationship that has some limits? How do you keep your inner teenager from scrawling somebody's name on your inner notebooks? How do you keep your head?
A casual relationship -- meaning one in which contact is limited or sporadic and there is not enormous emotional reliance on each other like there would be for an everyday, entangled partner -- need not be less meaningful than other relationships. Think of it as something that sits in a casual container - the structure is loose but the contents can be very rich indeed. It is challenging and will require balancing many things, especially your old, established notions and conditioning on how relationships "should" go, and what truly brings you happiness in this moment of now.
You can handle it. There are a few of us here who maintain more casual relationships than the expected committed partnership and are very happy to do it this way, even if it gets confusing. Read my blog, in the Blogs and Life Stories section for my story if you're interested. I have a casual relationship that began in July of 2011 and it has had its ups and downs but mostly been wonderful.
Some other threads in which you may find good stuff:
not-quite-poly: lovers & friends w/ benefits
Friends with "benefits"...how did you do it?
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