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  #1  
Old 03-29-2011, 11:47 PM
Myrddin Myrddin is offline
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Unhappy What could *possibly* go wrong?

Hi all,

First, can I say you guys run a really useful forum. I've been thoroughly enjoying reading round it.

I'm in kind of a weird situation (well, for me it's weird), and I'd appreciate your take on it. I've been meeting up* with a girl for a couple of months now in a date-like fashion. We enjoy each other's company, but she's been reticent about using the formal girlfriend/boyfriend labels.

She is also bi (which I knew), and last night she sat me down for a serious chat and told me that she is currently in a relationship with a female friend of hers. She has self-defined as poly since some time last year, and she seems interested in continuing our relationship**.

Now personally I'm mono. I'm also - to be brutally honest - not terribly secure (classic geek), and totally out of practice with any kind of relationship. As such, the current situation is confusing on multiple levels, and it all seems like it could go very very wrong.

So. My first question for you is: should I carry on this relationship? Given that her other significant other has precedence, I assume I'd be secondary - have I got that right? Is being secondary bearable for someone who is less inclined towards multiple relationships? What trade-offs am I making here?

Secondly: if I decide to go for it, what pitfalls should I watch out for? The obvious source of catastrophe in a new mono/poly relationship is her other significant other. I don't know what the OSO's feelings are about the situation - if she reacts negatively then will things get very political very fast? What else should I worry about? What questions should I be asking her? For that matter, what questions is it safe to ask her, and which will just cause upset?

Thirdly: if someone is poly, is it assumed that their SOs are themselves free to behave in a polyamorous fashion? I.e. if I someday find another girl I like, what would be the repercussions of dating her? Part of me thinks that it would be a bit dog-in-a-manger for girl #1 to object; another part of me thinks that that's a dangerously wrongheaded attitude.

Fourthly: how do you integrate a poly relationship back into a mono society? Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I have to draw network diagrams to explain my love life then I'm probably going to freak some people out. That goes double since I'm moderately uncomfortable with the situation. How does one avoid being dismissed as a cuckold by people with more macho mindsets?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom.

* Terminology check: this is not a euphemism for "hot monkey sex". I'm assuming you folks are mostly the other side of the Big Pond from me, and I'm not sure how much of the lingo transfers over.

** The thought that this was an incredibly elaborate way of dumping me had crossed my mind...
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  #2  
Old 03-30-2011, 02:58 AM
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redpepper redpepper is offline
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Hello and welcome. Oh so many questions and so much to learn. Being here will help with that and so will time, patience, communicating honestly and openly and pacing yourself.

The thing with poly is its all your choice what you do and don't do. The point though is to be ethical and act with integrity. Really this is what we all should do anyway in relationships I think but poly people seem to have it more together this way. Probably because there are more partners to deal with.

I suggest doing a tag search for "secondary" " lessons" "foundations" and anything else that comes up. Those are good places to start.
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2011, 06:07 AM
dragonflysky dragonflysky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
...** The thought that this was an incredibly elaborate way of dumping me had crossed my mind...
I had gone out with a guy a few times and then told him about my poly relationship with someone else. He thought I was trying to dump him with this wild, made up story about something called "polyamory". It was quite the opposite. I was very attracted to him and thought he should know about my relationship status before things went any further between us. I suggested that "Who in their right mind would want to take the time and energy to make up such a difficult to comprehend relationship concept as polyamory?" just to "dump" someone?? Considering how polyamory isn't that well known and/or accepted in society, that's probably one of the LAST excuses I'd ever consider using if I wanted to "dump" someone! (It's not like it's going to shed a good light on me in most situatons! )

Also, you wouldn't necessarily have to be a "secondary" to the first partner just because you came into the relationship "second". One can have more than one "primary" relationship if that's decided by those involved.

Last edited by dragonflysky; 03-30-2011 at 06:10 AM.
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  #4  
Old 03-30-2011, 07:35 AM
Kaizer Kaizer is offline
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Hey man.

An advice, no matter what others say to you ... but if you feel this weird and makes not more sense for you, probably you should listen to yourself.

I have seen many good people get hurt because they are so obsess with a person that want to give poly a try even if they feel it is not their cup of tea. After they realize they should had heard their "inner voice" and get the heck out of it.

This is not for everyone and even how good it is for some of us, nobody has a right to chose for other person ... so put your thinking hat and see if you could possible handle all the situations that come, what if the other person tomorrow is a guy? Would you be able to manage jealousy issues? It may be tougher than to see your girl kissing another girl.

What I am trying to say is, contrary to what many believe, I think we are not here to "convert" others or be converted ... if this is not what you see yourself doing, move on. Best wishes for you to make YOUR very best decision!
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:48 AM
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BlackUnicorn BlackUnicorn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
I've been meeting up* with a girl for a couple of months now in a date-like fashion. We enjoy each other's company, but she's been reticent about using the formal girlfriend/boyfriend labels.
Probably has more to do with her being unsure about how to break the poly to you than with any insecurities about the relationship in general. Also, a few people feel the relationship has to be sexual before calling it dating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
She is also bi (which I knew), and last night she sat me down for a serious chat and told me that she is currently in a relationship with a female friend of hers.
How do you feel about her bisexuality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
As such, the current situation is confusing on multiple levels, and it all seems like it could go very very wrong.
What is the worst case scenario you can imagine, given what you know now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
Is being secondary bearable for someone who is less inclined towards multiple relationships? What trade-offs am I making here?
More than about primary/secondary statuses, I'd worry about time management. Does she have enough time to see you as often as you would like? When the relationship turns physical with sleep-overs and the like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
What questions should I be asking her? For that matter, what questions is it safe to ask her, and which will just cause upset?
Probably upsetting questions: 1) Which one of us you like more? 2) Would you be willing to leave her for me? 3) What about a threesome?

Good, valid questions: 1) Have you told your OSO about me? What does she think? 2) Are the two of you fluid-bonded, and how should we approach the issue? Does she have additional partners? 3) What do you want out of this relationship? Do you see us all spending time together?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
Thirdly: if someone is poly, is it assumed that their SOs are themselves free to behave in a polyamorous fashion?
All depends on the specific agreement the people involved have, but I personally am not a great fan of any arrangements which seek to artificially limit the level of involvement, number, gender, sexual acts etc. allowed with future additional partners. Those tend to end in heart-break.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
How does one avoid being dismissed as a cuckold by people with more macho mindsets?
Not everyone needs to know everything about your love life. People who know you best love you for who you are; to the rest, you can just say you are seeing a girl, or talk about your gf like everyone else. The first lessons I think many people learn on poly is that people or relationships are not interchangeable; she having another relationship with a girl does not in any way make what the two of you have less valuable. It doesn't even necessarily mean that she is in a relationship with you because some of her needs are not being met with her gf. Relationships truly are unique, and it's sometimes really hard to rationalize why you are attracted to someone. She wants to be with you because of what you are and how she feels when she's around you, not because you have a penis or whatever.

Oh, and you are warmly welcome, too!
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  #6  
Old 03-30-2011, 02:18 PM
Myrddin Myrddin is offline
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Thanks for the commentary, folks. You're doing a lot to help me get over the culture shock.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedPepper
Really this is what we all should do anyway in relationships I think but poly people seem to have it more together this way. Probably because there are more partners to deal with.
I think it's more than that. From what I've read so far, the poly approach to relationships seems qualitatively different to the classic mono approach. It's like the difference between metallic and covalent bonding of atoms (sorry, but this really is the best analogy I could come up with) - same electrons, vastly different group dynamic.

For example, in mono dyads, I'd say that open communication isn't always a virtue. To some extent you're expected to protect your SO from your emotional dirty laundry. Reading round this forum, that looks like a habit that's quite hard for monos to get out of.

Thanks for the references, I'll do some tag-searching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonflysky
I suggested that "Who in their right mind would want to take the time and energy to make up such a difficult to comprehend relationship concept as polyamory?" just to "dump" someone??
...
Also, you wouldn't necessarily have to be a "secondary" to the first partner just because you came into the relationship "second".
Thanks for the reassurance on both counts. Being a second would be a big problem for me - it's hard to put someone first if they're openly, honestly putting you second. And, being mono, I'd have trouble with the idea of not putting her first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaizer
what if the other person tomorrow is a guy? Would you be able to manage jealousy issues? It may be tougher than to see your girl kissing another girl.
That is a really really good point that I hadn't considered. You're right that the OSO being a girl makes a difference - it doesn't trigger the "me man, me dominant" reaction in the same way, and it means I don't feel like I'm being compared. I don't know how I'd react if there was another bloke.

I think a big problem is that, as I mentioned, I haven't had many relationships - certainly not with such a great person. So on some level I feel like it's this or nothing. That can't be a healthy attitude.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn
Also, a few people feel the relationship has to be sexual before calling it dating.
In that case, between you and me and the garden gate, I've never dated. Given that I'm mid-20s, this is yet another source of relationship insecurity and confusion that has nothing to do with polyamory.

(Please resist the urge to respond with the usual "valid choice" platitudes - I know that, and I've actually turned down one-nighters before so it is a choice. That doesn't stop it really throwing a spanner in my mental gearbox.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn
How do you feel about her bisexuality?
Totally unbothered. That's one thing I've got on my side: although I'm straight, I know several LGBT people and I'm pretty comfortable with the existence of alternative sexualities. (It's just being part of one that I wasn't expecting.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn
What is the worst case scenario you can imagine, given what you know now?
OSO and I fail to get along, end up in some kind of passive-aggressive war for her time and attention, everyone's life is made hell, and we end up breaking up anyway. Leaving me with yet another reason to feel emotionally insecure.

Oh yeah, and my friends - most of whom are mono, some of whom are macho - all find out and think I'm an idiot for getting into the situation. (I used to have a reputation for getting into daft scrapes, which took me five years to shake, and I'd rather not re-earn it.) And there are motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane. That's about it, I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn
More than about primary/secondary statuses, I'd worry about time management. Does she have enough time to see you as often as you would like? When the relationship turns physical with sleep-overs and the like?
Good question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackUnicorn
Not everyone needs to know everything about your love life. People who know you best love you for who you are; to the rest, you can just say you are seeing a girl, or talk about your gf like everyone else.
Fair point. But you're missing the most important question: what relationship status should she put on her Facebook profile?

I guess what bothers me here is that these seem like stop-gap solutions, which implicitly assume the relationship will be short-term. I'm... romantic, I guess you'd say, and I have trouble thinking of a relationship as being on a timer. Maybe it'd be good for me to try.

Hmm, this seems to have turned into a full-blown therapy session :-/
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  #7  
Old 03-31-2011, 02:11 PM
bkreader bkreader is offline
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This may seem like an obvious answer, but the best thing to do would be to just ask her about all those things you're worried about. I know how easy it can be to be insecure about things, but by discussing poly it sounds like she wants your relationship to work.
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