Originally Posted by PolyLinguist
Perfectly legitimate questions. I would get much tougher ones from relatives and friends were I to reveal my polyness to them!
Three answers, without too much elaboration:
1. Variety, just as nycindie suggests. I like my wife's cooking too, but still like to try other peoples' (and restaurants') cooking.
2. An affirmation that I can (still) get somebody to fall for me.
3. It's an adventure. In an analogous way, I am happy in Vancouver, it's safe and pleasant, so why would I want to go to explore Brazil and Japan, as I almost certainly will? It's not that I want to leave Vancouver permanently, but I would like the adventure of exploring a foreign place.
Glad I wasn't too tough on you!
I understand wanting variety sexually. I understand wanting to meet new people for variety and learning and growth. What I don't understand is feeling the need for it to be an entire, sexual, romantic relationship.
And my problem with the analogies in #1 and #3 (although it does help to explain the desire) is that cooking, restaurants, Brazil, and Japan, are all inanimates. They don't have feelings, needs, desires, of their own. They don't care if you come back. If your wife says, "I really don't care for Japan and it's getting too expensive to go there every year," Japan is not affected at all.
Another person is.
Plus, although this is not a reason, I now have the time. Until last year I worked full time, until a few years ago we still had children at home who needed my constant time and presence. That didn't leave much time for extracurricular activities.
Here again is where I sort of cringe: another person is a full, complete, living, breathing human being, with feelings, needs, emotions, the ability to be hurt, to have their lives completely upended and altered.
They should not be regarded as an extracurricular activity.
I understand that you are referring to 'pursuing relationships,' not to a specific person; but to me, seeing a relationship as an extracurricular activity does put it all in terms of your
fun, and something (stress thing
can come or go from as you
please. Where is the thought to the other person's well-being in there?
But what I wanted to avoid is exactly the kind of situation you describe. If I wait with my declaration of "poly-hood" until I meet with someone and form some kind of emotional rapport, it is bound to become messy. Either my wife will be upset about being presented with a fait-accompli, or I hurt the other person by leading her on then backing out because I don't want to damage my marriage, or both. Of course, it could still become messy, but at least I have done some pre-thinking.
Yes, I think you are wise to do a great deal of pre-thinking.
Now that I have answered why at least one happily married man would look for a poly "affair", let me ask you why do you think an unmarried (or even married) woman would enter such a relationship? This was my purpose in starting this thread, after all. Don't most women want more from a relationship than what a married man can give them? Onoma seems to think that there are lots of women like that, all I need is a confident approach, less intellectualizing and maybe dress better. What do you think?
I would tend to agree with you that most
women want more than a married man can give them.
There's a thread
going about why many women (well, people, but as we're talking about what women want, I'll go with that) are more willing to have an affair with a cheater than with a married man. And I think it's right on in saying that having an affair with a married man holds out the promise
that he might
leave his wife someday and give her the whole deal. After all, he's soooo miserable with her, and he's sooooo in love with me, right, so even if he says he won't leave his wife, these women have that hope. To my mind, most
(not all, but most) people date with the intention of finding a life partner. A poly man who is upfront about loving his wife takes away that promise and hope.
That being said, why would women date a married, poly man? Maybe some of them do
still hope he'll leave his wife--either because they're calculating or because they don't understand the poly mindset. Maybe they don't want a life partner for various reasons.
I can tell you my reasons.
First, I have
had many doubts, from the very start, about my wisdom in continuing to see him. A year in, including much reading here, I believe, more than before, that there's a huge element of playing with fire in the whole open marriage/poly thing. I think a lot of people get hurt. I would never advocate for it. Had a stranger on OKCupid approached me with the idea, I never, ever would have agreed to it. In fact, a poly guy did recently approach me offering me a long-term, discreet affair, and I have no interest.
That said, why am I here?
- I knew him for a long time before he asked me out.
- I agreed to get together at a nice restaurant to talk business, not to go on a date.
- He told me bits and pieces of the whole story that night. I went back for a second date out of extreme curiosity. Probably not the best reason.
- I kept going back because I enjoy his company, talking about ideas, our time together. I think in the back of my head, I told myself, just one more, just one more.
- I continue to go back because I see a great deal of GOOD and PERSONAL GROWTH coming out of this for him and for me, both.
- I guard my feelings, I value the good things, but I have no expectation of permanence, and am willing to walk away from this at any time. Note that I do not think it's a good thing to be in a relationship and feel that you must guard your feelings and not fall in love. I think it stifles what a relationship should be and what ours could be, and I think that's sad. But I'm not going to waste my life, or even my evenings, pining after someone who's not available.
Among other reasons I stay, he goes to great effort to let me know how important I am to him. He's given up things he and his wife did, to put me more at ease in this situation and to stress how much I mean to him.
And here's one of the problems with poly: how far can you go in making one person happy when ultimately what gives one peace is upsetting to the other? Sooner or later, in trying to juggle two relationships, there will be such conflicts. How will you resolve such conflicts if you have a girlfriend you've fallen in love with and value, and what she needs directly conflicts with your wife's wants or needs?
Another list specifically of why a 'half-time boyfriend' suits me now:
- I'm recently (15 months) divorced from a lousy marriage, enjoying my peace and quiet and space and in no rush at all to have a man move in with me.
- I lead a very busy life doing things I love that require a lot of time alone to do that work.
- My children need me.
- I don't want to introduce my children to another man barely a year past their father moving out, and put them through that additional turmoil.
- Ironically, perhaps, I had no interest in seeing anyone or having a boyfriend, anyway. I was quite happy on my own, and still am, the nights I'm not with him.
If and when those things change, if and when I start having the desire to have someone more involved in my life, move in, share finances, etc....this situation will probably no longer be acceptable to me. He knows that, and encourages me to date other people, even knowing he's going to be very hurt if/when I break it off because I fall in love with someone who is not okay with me having a second boyfriend. In short, he has put my good above his own. That's another thing to think about. When you find a woman who's happy dating a married man, will you be able to look ahead to what's best for her
future, knowing you may be hurt very badly when it has to end?
Do you think that you can move in and out of relationships, enjoying the variety and new experiences, without either party ever getting hurt by it ending?