Originally Posted by hyperskeptic
ItI don't intend to have children with any other partner, nor can I reasonably expect any other partner to take on any of the responsibilities for raising my children.
This means that any other relationships I might have would be different in character from my relationship with Vix, and that my relationship with Vix and the girls may have more of a claim on my time and attention than other relationships.
It also means that there are social pressures and expectations and, yes, advantages that swirl around us, serving to reinforce the priority of my marriage and my family as a social institution.
It just complicates everything. Really.
I have sometimes wondered if I should even have any other relationships, at this point, because the obligations of my current relationship and all the various social pressures on me - tied to advantages and status I really can't give up just yet, including a career that makes it possible for me to raise my children in security! - would make it so difficult to hold up my obligations to my other partners.
It occurs to me that one thing I'm doing here is shifting away from the language of privilege and entitlement and toward the language of obligations.
What obligations would I have toward other partners?
At minimum, I have the obligation to respect their standing as free, independent human beings with goals and choices of their own, to protect and support their capacity to choose freely. If I can't live up even to that basic obligation toward another partner because of the obligations and pressures and advantages of my existing relationships, then I have no business even thinking of myself as polyamorous.
I have been the secondary partner to two people who have children and were married. I have also dated people who have children and were not married. In both cases, I deeply respected their responsibilities, obligations, challenges and joys around having kids, and when they were married, extended my respect and care to their partner in all ways that I knew how. I never felt like it made our relationship less than - it was just different, and in my experience, different is good. When I am involved with someone, I feel like it's important to accept them as they come; not as they could be, or as I might want them to be. If someone's life doesn't work for me, I am capable of stepping back; I don't feel like that decision has to be made for me. One of my partners DID make that decision for me - they felt it was unfair to give me so little time, and they had so many obligations that they couldn't incorporate me into their life in a way that THEY felt was meaningful.... however, in my reality, our connect was SUPER meaningful, and I loved the fact that I didn't have to carve out huge chunks of time from my busy life to be with him. When it worked, it worked - I didn't have unrealistic expectations of what he had to offer, and was fully on board with him. If anything his commitment to his family, career and friends, and time for self made me respect him even more, and made the time that we had together even more special. The ultimate decision to end our relationship because of some perceived shortcoming on his ability to give me/us what we needed was... hurtful, insulting and offensive. Not everyone requires 'equality' in that sense of the word - lord knows I don't! I have a full life, other partnerships, family, friends, a career - I love the time I get with my partners, but am not resentfully expecting more than they have to give while maintaining their own balance and equalibrium.
So date without shame! And share your love - just because it can't be 'equal' doesn't mean that you're not going to bring your same, amazing qualities that make you who you are to another person in a meaningful way. Be honest about what you have to offer, and let others decide if it's right for them. You don't offer small change just because you have a wife and children - you offer your heart, affection, attention and love from a heart big and fearless enough to love and be present for your family, and others.... and what could be better than that?? The only 'obligation' my partners have to be is to be open, honest and protect my sexual safety - the rest is up to us to define, and provide meaning in each other's lives regardless of our other obligations and responsibilities.