Questions about how 2 couples dating works?!
Okay so my title probably isn't the most appropriate but I didn't know what else to call it. I understand that everyone does things differently and that's one of the things I both love and hate about poly LOL!
So start out, here's the dynamic:
Me (F, pansexual)
My partner: Bear (M, heterosexual)
Viking (M, heteroflexible)
Lady M (F, bisexual)
Viking and Lady M are a couple. Bear and I are a couple.
So, Bear and I met Viking and Lady M. Well, an interest has formed between all 4 of us and we're talking about dating...ALL of us. My head is spinning at how this would work and I'm both excited and have some trepidation's as well. We really like them and they really like us...one of my fears though is that it's going to take on a "swinging" quality which I do NOT want. I love the emotional aspect of relationships and I just don't know how that works with 4 people...4 people will not necessarily have feelings that move at the same pace of course. I don't want it to turn into this thing where it's Lady M and Viking only with Bear and I, as opposed to:
Me and Lady M
Me and Viking
Bear and Lady M
Bear and Me WITH Viking and Lady M
Am I just completely overthinking this? When we've hung out, it's very natural, we have a lot of fun and laugh a lot and there is attraction there for sure. I could see caring about them quite a bit. I don't want to overthink this..but I want to think about it enough. Did that make any sense?!
You can't control it. You can set aside time specifically for all of the different relationships within the quad to happen, but if you set out with that as a goal, and then it doesn't happen in that way, you will feel like you've failed. Don't let yourself be so afraid of the possibility that this will be a setup where it mostly looks like swapping -- YOU guys know that you're not swingers, because you're not just in it for sex, so don't worry about how it looks. Worry about letting the relationships form naturally. Not only will they form at different paces, they might not form at all -- some people might just stay friends. That has to be ok, or else, like I said above, you will feel like you've failed, and that's a sort of pressure that will make everything seem gross and forced over time.
Sorry, I know you were probably seeking a different sort of advice, but that's the best I have! Take time to hang out socially, in various combinations of couples, or as a quad, or even as a group of three now and then if one member is busy. That'll be the best way to ensure that each potential relationship has a place where it can form. But don't focus on it too much.
I think that if you each individually go on dates in all the combinations possible (if all of you want that), and get to know each other just like you would date anyone, BEFORE having sex with them, it will not feel like swinging. Take your time, woo each person separately as well as do things socially as a group, before getting sexual. And then make sure everyone is on the same page about how sex will happen. If they only want sex to happen with everyone all in the same room, would you be comfortable with that? Group sex isn't required for quads, you know! Swinging is very couple-centric, so if you don't want it to feel swingerish, then make sure you're not approaching it like you're joined at the hip with your established partner in order to do anything with either one or both of them.
And be sure to talk about what you want! In the discussions you've already had about dating, have Viking and Lady M expressed the same ideas that you have - that they don't want it to feel swingerish? Or do they only want to do things with you and Bear as a couple? You may need to get clear on that. if they are open to exploring things with you and Bear separately as individuals and letting each dyad develop at its own pace, I'd say you're in good shape to start with.
I'm with Nycindie. Don't be in a hurry to jump into sex with these folks.
Spend some time dating and getting to know them as people, them as a couple, what their individual/couple wants, needs, limits and expectations are. That's part of the unfolding in dating and part of the fun. Don't skimp out on it.
In short, get to know your polymath tiers well. Because inside every greater polyship there are the little "mini relationships" inside it that need TLC. The people could be lovers, metamours, spouses AND lovers, whatever. But there is a still a relationship of some kind in there between them.
Talk about how you want this polyconfiguration to be like. Also talk about how you want to be when this configurations of polyship breaks up -- good exes and friends? Or what? Note I say WHEN. Not IF. Even if you all shoot for "til death to us part" that is still an ending that will eventually come becaues then it is no longer a 4 people polyship any more.
GHOST LAYER (When polyship breaks up...we want to be...)
Just because you guys at the starting gate are all OPEN to possibly everyone being involved with everyone else doesn't mean the feelings will naturally grow there. Talk that out -- in case you date and it turns out not all of you do feel same. How will that be handled?
I'm not trying to be a wet blanket -- I'm glad for you that all of you are willing and excited to be together. Just go there slowly and sanely -- that is all.
My advise comes from my experience, which is brand new. I've been in a poly quad (2 long term couples) for just over 3 months and we're definitely still changing. We've been sexual from very early on. As with most advise, this is solving the problems that I've encountered, not necessarily those you will encounter.
Our typical pattern is that we're together for clothes on activities and mostly separate when clothes are off. We've done some separate clothed/casual activities but not yet anything resembling "dating" (i.e. the cliched movie-and-dinner). Separate activities don't feel threatening (currently), possibly because we haven't rushed them. We just haven't paid attention to it -- I suspect we will in the near future.
From my experience, I suggest heavy doses of reassurance (love, affection, words -- whatever their love language might be) for your existing partner -- NRE is awesome but it can be unsettling to see your love acting so much happier with them than with you, and lavishing that love on your existing partner is a reminder both to them *and* to you about how much you love each other. My own feeling is that when that NRE happiness spills over on me I'm sharing in her life and love even if not in the activities. It's awesome to see my love so happy, not so awesome when she's grumpy with me because she's missing him.
I also suggest everyone really considering the concept of "move at the speed of the slowest person". It's easy to get frustrated when you really want something that someone else finds challenging. It's particularly frustrating when they've stated either that they want it eventually or that they're willing to explore it and you don't see the moving towards what you want as fast as you want. It's also a learning experience -- even if someone says "I want X", as they get close to "X" they might have different ideas -- perhaps they don't actually want "X" or want to approach it differently. I've been on both sides of this issue.
Remember that when you respect the speed at which someone else wants to move, you're taking care of them and giving them a gift (both of these are things I want to do with those I love). If you take on observing their boundaries as your own goals not only does it make them more comfortable but also allows them to more freely move their boundaries rather than fighting to maintain them.
I suggest making a place where everyone can share their feelings and desires and be heard and no one feels attacked for where they are. It seems that "I'm not sure I want that" for something that you really want is harder to take than "I really want that" for something that you don't. Separate the sharing of the feelings from the solving of problems and making agreements -- and put some time in between them. Whenever something new comes up that you haven't talked about, remember everyone's feelings and work towards making them safe. Be honest with your feelings and remember that things can change -- both for you and for others. Respect where everyone is -- including yourself -- but don't get attached to it.
It's much, much nicer to be interrupted when you're in the middle of something (even making love) with someone checking in on "is it OK if..." than it is to deal later with "we weren't sure but...". This is true for both directions -- "we weren't sure, so we didn't" can be upsetting for you to hear when you're feeling compersion. It's also much nicer for yourself to *know* you've got the go ahead. Yes, even if you've talked about it before. Make space for someone to tell you "yes".
Do things to create joy and encourage love. And, yes, every polycule seems to be different, and it's a bit frustrating. GalaGirl spelled out the combinations -- is it any wonder that it's so much more complex than a duo?
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