discretion vs. meeting people
Hello, ya'll. I'm new to the forum and (relatively) new to the scene. I looked around a bit to find a thread about this particular situation, but I didn't see anything specifically. I wonder if you folks have any words of wisdom in this scenario. Sorry if this is long, I'm bad at being concise.
My primary and I have been pursuing an open relationship for about a year now. In general, I think we've learned a lot about how it works for us, and we've come to some pretty positive agreements / found a nice flow. There is one thing that has been a problem for me personally, though, and that's discretion and how that effects my ability to meet/interact with people.
She (my primary) considers discretion to be of the utmost importance, while I am not nearly as worried about it. I DO understand the risks, and clearly there are groups of people that probably don't need to know about our personal life. This is particularly true for us; we're touring musicians, event organizers, heavily involved in the local arts, etc. We also work very public, social jobs. We do a ton of networking, and we are often in the public eye - and it's not a very forward-thinking city. She also has some very valid concerns about how she might be viewed by her more traditional friends (married couples who have had problems with infidelity/insecurity that she doesn't want to worry or add stress to), and the rest of the general public. I'm not too concerned with that - feeling proud of myself and open is my best method for feeling secure. I also recognize that as an essentially straight, white male I don't really face the same kind of social stigma as a more fluid, open female might. She's up against the odds, there.
So I keep to a high level of discretion. She's specifically said that her motivations and methods are not mine and don't have to be - she has (sweetly, if occasionally begrudgingly) told me I can tell who I want and pursue it as I see fit. I don't want to put her in an awkward situation or make her feel unsafe, though, and most people don't NEED to know. Unfortunately, that really affects my ability to get out there and meet people as prospective partners. She gets by fine with that, because she rarely does the pursuing in a possible relationship (unfortunate traditional m/f gender roles cropping up), and because she has the means/time to pursue relationships with a bit more distance. I, on the other hand, am a fairly submissive, shy guy, and I feel most comfortable pursuing things with people I can befriend locally and feel more secure with. That makes discretion difficult; I want people to know what's happening pretty much off the bat so that I A) don't look like a creep when my friends see me hitting on someone with no knowledge of my situation and B) so that potential interests are aware of what they may be getting into. I don't want to set a image for people to get comfy with and then scramble that last minute. Unfortunately, that info spreads fast (even with the advent of more anonymous sites like OkCupid). Final note: there isn't much of a local poly community to turn to here, and this whole poly idea is coming as a new thing to most of our friends or partners.
Any suggestions? How do you all deal with discretion? It should be noted that all of this is in good faith, and we're both super supportive and caring - not fighting about it or feeling resentment. Thanks in advance!
Tough questions. I urge you to look through some of the threads on this forum devoted to coming out vs. not coming out. I'm in a somewhat similar situation: We live in a very conservative area, we both agree to keep our poly arrangement very closeted, only a few friends know, and I'm a little shy and introverted. You've already found one of the ways to deal with this: use the internet to find like-minded individuals to converse with.
I enjoy getting together socially with some of our close friends who are in the loop and occassionally inviting others who aren't. The new friends get a gentle, non-threatening look at our lifestyle and can see how fun it can be. So that is one way to handle things.
I've found CL to actually be a good resource for finding people but remaining somewhat anonymous. There's also swingers' parties you can attend in some of the larger cities. Swingers aren't really into polyamory or open relationships normally, but you'd be surprised how many open-minded people you'll meet at these parties.
I hope at least some of this helps.
We also have to be discretionary because of John's job, and until recently, no one here knew. But after a long talk about possible consequences, we decided to be more open to our friends. Now a good portion of the pagan community here knows and all our friends know for the most part.
I don't shout it from the roof tops - yet :) I'm starting a poly group here, so soon I will be :)
Just remember you are talking for both of you, so not telling may be best except to those that you might have an interest in. I think the internet is going to be your best bet for now. Many people who are online at dating sites like OKC are open minded and are generally, in my experience, more discrete.
This is an interesting and challenging problem, for sure.
It's one thing when one partner is more private in general and the other is more open. My girlfriend often blabs details about our sex life to anyone who is listening, whereas I am more private. That's much easier to deal with.
The issue for you guys is that if you can't be more open, it effects your dating potential.
If she's more open, it might affect her work and so forth?
Well, there's the opinion that she shouldn't care what people think or how this effects her. I'm extremely open about my life choices and truly do not care if people don't approve. If I don't get a job, or I lose friends or family, because of this, I see it as a blessing in disguise, because I couldn't be myself in that environment anyway.
But of course, work is money and money is food on the table. So I understand that it's important. In your line of work, is it really a problem? I'm in a creative field and whilst, in England, nobody I know has heard of poly, after a short question and answer session, it's not really an issue with the creative people I am around.
One option, as others have said, is using certain dating sites. I see your problem with OKCupid, because it's not just for poly people. I wish I knew of other poly dating sites, because I could use some myself to be honest!
Do you use FetLife? I know it's not a dating site, per se, but if you are submissive, this is your best bet for finding events and people who are kinky? And, for some reason, poly and kink seem to go hand in hand often. Or at least, those who are kinky are probably not going to blab your poly secret by seeing you on FetLife - because they'll be blabbing their own secret about being kinky!
Another avenue... a half truth? You could display your polyness on OKC and so forth.... but she can pretend that it's only you doing this. She may still get judged, but most likely, their daggers will only be pointed at you ;) And you seem able to deal with daggers.
So maybe it would be an acceptable compromise that you can be open online and keep looking that way for now. Perhaps treating local people as if they are no-go zones, the same way some poly people have a rule about not dating exes, or best friends, or colleagues?
Perhaps eventually it will come to a crossroads - if you've been unable to find someone and you're really needing to find someone, if poly is very important to you and you need that dynamic... well... Something will have to give?
Other than that, are you at home much? Have you considered online play? I used RLC/Utherverse, which is essentially a kinkier version of Second Life. Like you, I am at a slight disadvantage. My girlfriend is seeking guys who like women (plenty of those), who are submissive (plenty of those), in her area of the US (practically the kink and poly capital of the world). I'm seeking women who like women (cuts my numbers down), who are also poly (cuts my numbers down when I'm in the UK), who are kinky (more number slashing), who I actually find *attractive* (that leaves about three women a year). ~grins~ RLC greatly helps me to take the edge off kinky interaction, social and romantic interaction, when i'm struggling to find someone in real life. I have also actually met a good handful of women I would consider meeting in person, who I never would have met in real life, or on a dating site.
It might not work for you if you're touring a lot... but I guess my overall advice is to perhaps think outside the box, think about how strong your poly need is, weigh the risks and go from there?
I'd stick to poly groups or having trusted people set up meetings/gatherings. That way if you meet someone you already know, you have something in common and the need for discretion is well understood by many poly people.
Avoid places like OKC because you WILL run into someone you know there (and that can be awkward as fuck, poly or no).
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