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!