More parrot wrestling..
I briefly introduced myself over in the "Introductions" forum ( http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?p=6535 ), but figured I'd come here to elaborate a bit more on my situation, and perhaps ask for some advice and opinions. My apologies if this gets a little long.. I'm a bit of a verbose person, and have a tough time cutting things short and summarizing. But I'll try my best.
First, a bit of history..
Four or five years ago now, my then-girlfriend of four years and I broke up. One of the main reasons for this was that she wanted a polyamourous relationship, and I didn't. The break-up was needlessly messy, mostly owing to me. I've always known that I have the capacity to love more than one person, or at least to have serious feelings for them.. but in the interest of our relationship I ignored them, and when R said that she wanted a poly relationship, I suppose I felt a little betrayed. Silly, in hindsight.. but at the time it was a very important thing to me. She had also approached a relationship with her prospective lover before telling me that it was what she wanted, so there were some trust issues as well. Water under the bridge, we're both practically sisters now.
Fast forward to present.. my current girlfriend (I'll call her C) and I have been seeing each other for two and a half years now. We're very active in the queer community, and both volunteer for a number of queer organizations. Through this, we have both become good friends with a number of people in poly relationships of various shapes and forms. C has always been respective of people in such relationships, but very sure that it wasn't for her.. she just couldn't wrap her head around it. Knowing this, I never brought it up, and continued in my happy unhealthy ignoring of any feelings beyond close friendship with other people.
A fundamental difference between C and I is our sex drive.. mine is almost non-existent, and hers is absolutely raging. We've dealt with this in our relationship with concessions on both sides, and it hasn't really been a major issue, at least from my point of view.
A few weeks ago, C brought up polyamoury.. partly due to her wanting a more active sex life, and partly due to a major crush she has on one of our mutual friends. My first thought was "Great! I can explore some of my feelings for other people and stop repressing myself!" My second was "Oh my god.. this is R all over again." So I tentatively said that we should do a bit of research and figure things out before making any hard decisions. Since then, we've been reading books and scouring the internet. We've lightly tested the waters.. being a bit more than friendly with friends, seeing how different things make us feel. So far, so good.. neither of us have had any major jealous reactions to seeing each other cuddle, kiss, or flirt with other friends.. all of which were virulently off-limits in the past.
We're at a stage where we're trying to determine the framework that we want to base our relationship on from here onwards.. what our personal boundaries are, what is still off limits, how to ensure we're safe. Sex with multiple partners, who all may be having sex with multiple partners, who all may be having.. it's all kind of daunting.
And so begin the questions..
Besides basic safe sex (condoms, gloves, dental dams.. of the two of us, I'm the only one who may be interested in sex with men at some point, and I'm completely infertile, so I'm not too worried about birth control. *Laughs*), what are some things that you do to make sure you're safe? How often should one be tested? C thinks that it would be difficult to find partners if we required them to be tested before sexual contact, but I'm incredibly wary about getting sick and think it's a perfectly reasonable request.
In trying to figure out how we want to operate in this new definition of our relationship, we've set about drawing lines. Is this reasonable behaviour, or are we obsessing and setting ourselves up to damage our relationship if someone "breaks the rules" as it were?
What's something you wish you knew before entering into a polyamourous relationship model? I know that everyone is different, and we're going to have our own set of surprises and speed bumps, but if there's any unpleasantness that knowledge can help us avoid, then I'll take it. *Laughs*
So that's where I stand right now.. thanks for reading through all of that, and in advance for any advice you can offer!
Let me first say that I'm far from expert on STDs, generally, and probably ought to learn a good deal more. HIV has been my main concern, and I know that in my town anyone can get tested without a long wait and get the results the same day -- and for free! Other towns may not offer this, but it's worth looking into what is offered. But this is an HIV test I'm talking about, and not a full screening for all STDs, which may be desirable.
(My excuse for relative ignorance is that I haven't really--recently--come to a bridge in need of crossing, as my partner and I have both been tested (for HIV) since our last involvements with others ... and neither of us are seeing anyone else just now. But I plan on using care, and expect care on his part, in the future. I don't seem to have any symptoms of other diseases, either.)
Fluid Bonding [ http://www.smartsextalk.com/fluid_bonding.html ] is a concept and method much worth inquiring into and considering. In my own case, I doubt that I'd ask to see the documentation/papers, as that would indicate a really low level of trust in the relationship. That raises all sorts of issues..., and I'd love to hear folks ideas on all of that. (How would you feel if your new lover wanted to see documentation/proof of your medical exams?)
And don't rely on any one internet-based description of fluid bonding. There are lots of such descriptions online.
Personally, I think the fact of STDs is as good a reason as any to seriously consider polyfidelity as a relationship model. It would seem to me a model capable of flexibility allowing openness to including others -- but with care to protect members of the group both in terms of health AND emotional/spiritual well-being. Google the term polyfidelity for heaps of info.
I'm the sort that could never be a "swinger". That doesn't mean I have to get married to any or all of my sexual/romantic partners; it just means that when my sexuality is engaged, so is my heart -- and my need and desire to love and be loved in a wholesome sort of way. I can have a "fling," or a brief romantic affair -- or whatever it would be called --, but my whole being will be participating, not just the parts below my waist. My heart and my genitals, and other erogenous zones, are all linked up, and when any part lights up the whole of me lights up.
Not so for many others! For millions and millions of people, sex is a form of light recreation, and people are dispensible when they no longer serve.
I won't go into a rant about narcissism here. I'm not in the mood.
Anyway, if people want to use their sexulity as a form of light recreation, that's fine -- as long as they are honest about it with all with whom they are involved. (I bet you can guess about how my heart has been broken in past dealings.)
Next time, I'm going to keep my eyes open wide. :)
Thanks for the input, JRiverMartin. :) I'll have to pass along information about fluid bonding and polyfidelity to C, and see what she thinks. As I said, I'm pretty sure I'm emotionally able to deal with being in a poly relationship.. it's the possible health concerns that worry me.
And I'm definitely with you on not being able to be a "swinger".. more power to those who can, different strokes for different folks and all that, but I don't think I can detach sex from deep emotional attachment, whatever the length of the relationship, at least in my own case.
Glad to help any way I can, Sadie. I'm no expert -- just a serious enough student. Take my words with some salt, and keep inquiring.
It seems I've come up on a personal roadblock, and was wondering if anyone had any advice that I could use to dissect it and understand why it exists..
It's kind of strange, and I spent a good couple of hours bouncing ideas off of a friend yesterday to try and understand it. To preface, C and I haven't yet opened our relationship officially.. we're still in a research and planning type stage.
I can watch C kissing others, cuddling with them, flirting with them, even outright making out with them on stage (we perform in the local Rocky Horror Shadowcast, and C pulled her crush on stage to molest for one of the numbers). None of this phases me in the least.. I don't feel uncomfortable, insecure, jealous.. it just is. We can also talk about it with eachother, and even joke about it. None of this bothers me in any way.
But the moment we aren't together, I get seriously choked up. It's almost like when I'm alone, I can dwell on it, and my body actually physically responds to it all. My heart rate quickens, I feel anxious.. even when I know exactly where she is, exactly what she's doing, and completely trust that she respects that I want to move slowly and that we haven't offically opened our relationship.
The best my friend and I could come up with was that while we are together, I know what's happening. When we talk about it, even in depth, C's there to reassure me about it all. But when I'm not with her, I get choked up with some kind of bizarre fear of the unknown, even though nothing is currently happening.
It's like when we're together, I'm perfectly alright with the concept of us being in a poly relationship. But when we're apart, I suffer from some serious doubts. I can't pinpoint what it is exactly that I'm anxious about, or why I can't take the reassurance that C gives me when we're together out of that setting. It's kind of driving me nuts. *Laughs*
It isn't at all uncommon to consciously believe or choose X, Y or Z, and yet still have some part or aspect of one's self left out of that conscious belief or choice. How or why it works this way, I don't know, but I do know that some "parts" of me are always playing catch up with other "parts" of me.
So it may be that you're consciously quite capable of warmly giving your blessing to your partner as she is intimate or loving with others ... yet some "part" of you isn't yet so evolved or comfortable as the rest of you. And so there's probably some spelunking to do.
I'd recommend looking very closely, carefully, with refined vision and delicate attention to find out and name the precise nature of the fear some "part" of you experiences when challenged as you describe above. Is it fear of abandonment and loss? Is it a fear that the love you share with your partner may be made less by spreading it out among others? Find out. Only you can do that. Whether through dream analysis, astrology, tea leaves, i-ching or phrenology, ... whatever brings you to that "Aha! That's it!". Often, our submerged fears or worries disipate when we can know them, feel them, and name them.
Everything that you say in your last post is very normal.
Welcome to what it feels like to be in a poly relationship! Take heart, it gets easier and can be very rewarding. It will make you deal with stuff that you didn't previously know you were struggling with. Will make you see yourself differently about how you are with people and how important you are to those you love and who you love. It will make you not settle for anything but the best for yourself and in turn make you your best.
It is for me the best work I have done on myself and has made me very proud. You won't believe the results.
That being said, it isn't for everyone and its okay if you decide it isn't for you because the emotions attached run so high. Everyone has there interests and knows their limits.
You have to be able to push yourself and your loved ones beyond their comfort and yours. You have to be able to communicate instantly even if you're feeling insular, mopey and self involved. Nothing will be hidden. You will not have much time for yourself as you a may be used to and have to be able to drop your stuff at the drop of a hat sometimes.
On the flip side you will get so much love and attention. Anything you ask for you will most likely get from someone. There is nothing like it. At least in my experience. I am so blessed to be given so much and be able to give so much love.
Good luck! You'll need it :)
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