Originally Posted by RunicWolf
...can tell them to their face, in person, that it's alright and it doesn't matter. I'm married, and thus instantly friend-zoned.
Yup. And sometimes kicked out of even the friend-zone...
As a rule I don't go "looking" for people to meet and don't approach people that interest me (intellectually, sexually, etc.) with any expectation of where that interaction is going to lead.
That being said, back in grad school a friend dragged me to a small LGBT get-together for students. I met a cute sexy interesting bi woman there and we chatted and ate and talked about our school experiences and our relationship experiences. Now anyone who talks to me for 5 minutes knows that I'm married (aside from the fact that I wear a ring) - MrS is my best friend so my stories often refer to him "MrS and I did this...", "I had invited this girl over and my husband told this story about the time that I..." etc.
Anyway, short story long, she invited me to dinner at her apartment. More conversation, some very light flirting, and at some point in the conversation she just...freezes up. (I don't remember what we were talking about but I don't think it was anything poly or heavy - maybe just school or something). I ask her if there is something bothering her and her answer is "You're married." OK, that's true. What specifically is bothering you about that? Are you uncomfortable because I am flirting with you? "No, I'm really enjoying myself...BUT You're Married." Have you not been friends with anyone who was married? Yes, but there was not the possibility of “more than” friendship because...they were MARRIED.
We talked for a bit longer, we talked about my relationship with MrS, and her prior relationships and current friendships. I toned down the the flirting. She brought up that she didn't know whether she was looking for a “woman” in her life right now (apparently she had recently ended a relationship with another female and she usually “alternates”) or whether she was looking for a friend that she had things in common with. I said I wasn't “looking for” anything in particular so why not just hang out and see what develops? (BUT...You're Married)
Finally I told her that I enjoyed hanging out and talking with her but that she seemed uncomfortable with the fact that I was married...perhaps she would feel more comfortable if she met my husband? She expressed some concern that if she “decided” to get involved with me that would mean that she was agreeing to be “involved” with him as well. (This seemed like a HUGE leap to me – she hadn't even MET the guy yet – maybe they would end up friends, or lovers, or acquaintances who nodded at each other civilly if they passed on the street – or maybe they would hate each other at first glance, who the hell KNOWS?).
Anyway, she came over to our place a few nights later, we ate and watched TV and talked (both alone and with MrS). Eventually we had the conversation – we are Married, MrS is ok with and supportive of me seeing/dating/forming relationships/sleeping with women, such a relationship does NOT imply an intimate relationship with him, etc. (At that point in MrS's and my relationship the understanding was that he would feel threatened by my having an intimate/romantic relationship with another man beyond the friends/flirting stage. He did/does not expect to be involved in the more intimate aspects of my relationships with women – although he has not objected to being invited when the situation arose >grin<... “Ladies Choice”)
AND...well, that was pretty much it. She and I spoke a few times after that in school but ...”BUT...You're Married!” Now, I don't KNOW that poly had anything to do with it. Perhaps she was just not interested in me, even as a friend, and the Married part just provided a convenient out? Perhaps it was just not the right time in her life to contemplate something that had the potential to be complicated? (I think there was an ex-boyfriend who was in the process of making a re-appearance...)
With that one exception my potential partners have come from the small pool of people who are friends with MrS or myself and have had the opportunity to observe how our relationship functions without being introduced to both us as individuals and poly as a concept at the very same time that the “Could this go somewhere?” question is on the table.
(Damn, I suffer from verbal diarrhea - sorry for the essay!)