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  #41  
Old 08-09-2011, 08:22 PM
neobohemian neobohemian is offline
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Hello nycindie,

I found this thread through Google, also trying to find other people who have had the experience of being poly without looking for a primary partner, because yes, information and testimonials about this lifestyle are hard to come by, so I'm going to go ahead and write up my whole experience so far. And I'm only a few months into it, so I'm really curious how other people negotiate this.

Your original post really spoke to me -- I have also just come out of a 10+ year marriage (separated 9 months ago and proceeding with amicable divorce), and the one thing that I knew I wanted right away, was to not be seriously partnered again for a long time, if ever. I wanted to sleep alone most nights, to enjoy my own freedom and solitude, to have an active social life, and to otherwise focus on my art-making. And yeah I definitely liked the idea (and the experience!) of having sex with a lot of different, new women, and exploring my minor sexual interest in men a little bit (which I had never done before).

But for some reason I didn't consider pursuing a poly lifestyle -- just never occurred to me, even though I live in San Francisco where it should have been an obvious thought. Consequently, I had bad experiences with dating at the outset of this new chapter. The first two women I was involved with after my separation, very very clearly hoped for more from me than I was able or willing to give, and both seemed to regard me on some level as some kind of potential salvation in the form of cool boyfriend. Needless to say, I pushed away fast in both cases, handled it poorly, and both relationships ended really badly -- the second so spectacularly that I actually gave up on dating and sex altogether for months, basically until I was so desperate with longing for touch that I couldn't stand it any longer.

At that point I was also totally uninterested in getting involved with anybody in my existing social circles, even (especially) the ones who appeared to be interested in me, so I signed up on a dating website, met some completely new people from totally different worlds, had some fun times, etc. and nothing got too "serious" for my comfort. Then along came this interesting girl who told me up front that she only did open relationships, which initially gave me pause but decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a try, so I did.

I read the Ethical Slut, which was okay, and then Opening Up which I found spoke to me better. As soon as I read the lines you posted above about "solo polyamory," I said to myself: yes, that is me. That is exactly what I want. I want to openly have more than one lover, I don't want to prioritize them in any way other than what comes naturally, I don't want to be dogged by received ideas about the way relationships "should" be, and above all else, come what may I absolutely do not want to share my life with another person. I don't want that to even be on the table right now.

And so I started pursuing that life, and put at the top of my profile that I was only interested in pursuing friendships, casual sex, and open relationships, and had existing romantic involvements but didn't have a primary and didn't want one. Since I did that, the number of messages and responses I get has gone way down, but the quality of people who remain interested has been really good. Which is the only thing that counts. There is a certain tradeoff in that most people on the site won't be interested, and I have definitely looked with a pang at certain profiles, but I'm clearly never going to exhaust the available possibilities just on this one website, so that's fine.

How it has played out since then has been completely ideal for me, actually, so bless the heart of the girl who prompted me to give it a try. She is still a lover, and in the meantime I've found a second lover whom I see about as often, and have made a third till-now platonic friend who seems increasingly interested in getting it on. I see each of them around once a week, sometimes less, sometimes more, and communicate with one or another of them each day via email or txt or phone. And I go on a couple dates with one or two new people each month, for the occasional one-night stand and the possibility of finding another long-term lover.

It has been really great to explore new worlds this way -- everybody is so interesting and so sexy in different ways, and mesh with my life in completely different ways -- without the threat of any one relationship taking over my entire life. What I find most lovely about this adventure, is that both of my current regular lovers have qualities that, in a monogamous relationship assumed to be headed for living together, would be total deal-breakers. I could not possibly make a life with either of these girls even if I wanted to, but because that isn't on the table I'm able to fully enjoy their company and love them for who they are, and the things that bother me are irrelevant because they're never going to dominate my life.

At the moment I have been keeping my two regular lovers totally separate. For one thing, I think they wouldn't get along very well if they met. But they do each know that the other exists and that I am actively dating new people, which I think is the bare minimum of being open (as opposed to just being single and dating a lot), and what else they know depends totally on their level of comfort and interest.

I think the biggest benefit of refusing to create an explicit hierarchy, for me, is that it reflects the reality of the situation. So long as I reject committed partnership in general, none of my lovers has priority over the others, though I may have more interest in one or another, or might be closer to one of them, at a given moment. It does get slightly tiresome scheduling new dates every week (or not scheduling them, as when I have art to make or just want to be left alone for a week), but so far it has been worth the trouble.

Well, I've written a lot here and I hope that this adds to the discussion. I'd love to hear from others who are trying this as well!
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  #42  
Old 08-15-2011, 06:52 AM
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DrunkenPorcupine DrunkenPorcupine is offline
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Oddly, I've never really thought about this before. I am somewhat cynical though... As a heteroflexible male living in a community that is horribly imbalanced in terms of gender (sharing the ideals of this community is almost a prerequisite for trust and attractiveness to me) I've never really even considered the luxury of a "what if the best happened".

That's not a negative per se. I've had great relationships in all sorts of mixes and don't see them as less than ideal. But I simply have never really even thought of "If I could have my cake and eat it too."

Or maybe I've had it, with specific lacks in certain traits. So lemme ponder...

Once I became poly, I dropped "roles". If I loved someone I was not in a sexual relationship with, I just loved them. I didn't call them my "Best friend". I just loved them. I've slept with people I didn't love, and loved people I haven't slept with. I've had financial bonding with people I loved, and didn't sleep with. So I really stopped defining.

I just called everyone I loved my "Inner Circle". It was usually about 5 people and usually predominantly female.

So, my ideal situation would probably be myself, multiple women, a guy and their partners as extremely close friends. Added to that, there would be joint financial interest, but not "melded" finances. For instance, all people involved were running a business. We all benefit if we all benefit (creating incentive) but the individual choices (positive or negative) we make with our individual earnings wouldn't affect the whole.

For instance...

At the time, K(f) was someone I was intensely attracted to sexually. She was also my best friend. K(f) was married to R(m). K(f) was also attracted to, but not engaging with O(m).

There was also A(f) who was poly but committed to one person as primary with occasional , consental flings with men and women.

S(f) was poly with a primary J(m), but secondary relationships were common.

Myself and C(f) are currently in a relationship and she has two other partners M(m), K(m). C(f) occasionally has non-sex, but sexual, escapades with another person W(m) and is seeking another partner who is female.

O(m) is my best friend and single, but attracted to K(f).

My ideal would be a web of relationships with irregular members of that "Inner Circle". K(f) and O(m) might gravitate toward each other and have a sexual relationship that wouldn't be an issue with the people involved because we all know what's happening under the surface. But this would not preclude me from having a relationship with K(f) either, or K(f) and A(f), even though they both gravitate towards others on a daily basis.

I dunno... it's complicated. Trying to put what I mean into words kind of makes it formal and it's the ebbs and flows of a socially and sexually liberated circle that actually seem to appeal to me the most. So... I'll leave that there, since I'm not even sure I got my own point. :P
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  #43  
Old 10-05-2011, 10:36 PM
sunnyskies sunnyskies is offline
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nycindie, I find this thread very interesting. As a complete novice in making my own rules, not adhering to the societal norm, it's helped me to think more around what I think might work for me.

My point of view? To be honest I think I'm a bit of a 'relationship anarchist' - in practice I don't know that I would want any rules/boundaries, and hope that with whoever I'm committed to trust is implicit and mutual.

In my little fantasy world, however, a few scenarios have popped up which appeal:

1. Being with 2 men who are independent spirits, by that I mean they appreciate and are comfortable in spending free time apart from me. I would also love for them to be close with one another, and not threatened by any differences. Both who I would consider equal (i.e. no 'primary').
2. A quad, with 3 men & me, or 2 men & 2 of us ladies.

To be honest though, I'm just happy to see how things evolve for me and whoever I end up with. My main fantasy is that we are all happy & can always negotiate our lives to promote this for everyone.
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  #44  
Old 10-07-2011, 05:35 PM
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Morrigan Morrigan is offline
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My ideal is that I have none. I like to see who comes along and deal with everyone as it feels right (for all involved). Solo, single, partnered, primary, secondary.... I'm no hierarchy girl
I'm involved with different people and them being different makes them so important to me. Each of them strikes a different chord with me and I really couldn't make a choice who's my primary and who's not.

Thanks for the quotes of Tristan Taormino earlier on in the thread, nycindie
Don't know her work, need to check it out some time.
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  #45  
Old 10-08-2011, 05:04 AM
PolyInNJ PolyInNJ is offline
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I guess in a way I kind of qualify to be on this thread. I am in the process of an amicable divorce from my husband (we were together for 13 years, and have been separated for a little over a year). I have a boyfriend who lives 4 1/2 hours away from me that I only see once a month, though speak or communicate with daily. He has a wife that he lives with. I have little to no desire to have a primary partner of my own right now, and am happy being in a relationship with him, and enjoy the fact that I can so look forward to seeing him, and still have my own space and place to call my own. I'm living on my own for the first time in my adult life - I went from living with my parents to living with my ex - and I am finding that I am REALLY enjoying my independence.

That being said - if there were a scenario where I could live geographically closer to him, I'd be happy with that - but I don't think i woud like to co-habitate with him - at least not right now.
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  #46  
Old 10-11-2011, 04:02 AM
sayhaw sayhaw is offline
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Okay- My ideal would be a female and a male couple that love my husband and I... and we all can have our children play together... we all can be together and live happily ever after.

But... that's not going to happen. So I compromised with my husband. Since he knows I am bisexual since the day he met me, and he's okay with that. He doesn't want me to "cheat", I figured there's got to be some way to meet in the middle. I found this! He is okay with me sharing a women with me but he's not keen on having another woman, at least he says "not yet". I would love to find the perfect woman to fit in our relationship. Is that a unicorn? V? I dunno, still learning the definitions. I also would love to make her part of the family, my children having another mom in the house would always be helpful too, but my husband and this time says "whoa, lets slow down and find someone first and see how this new life will be with us before you start thinking about having someone living with us". Again, he's not keen on having another live in or a woman that close. So, that's my ideal.

Now I know there's such thing as this, so it would be a woman only "dating" us then, right? I think my straight husband is typical in the fact that he likes the idea of another woman with me, but I keep telling him it's not that I just want a one night-er or someone for "you" (him) just to get off watching. Ya know? I want it to be real, real in such a way that it's special... long lasting and sincere. I really would love to have sort of that "wife". Does that make sense? I am sure it does. My only hope is that I have that someday and my husband continues to accept it.

Last edited by sayhaw; 10-11-2011 at 04:06 AM. Reason: added
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  #47  
Old 10-11-2011, 04:29 AM
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Hey Sayhaw, thanks for adding what your ideal would be. However, since you're married and your husband is obviously your primary, you wouldn't be considered solo or single. Someone who is solo is unpartnered, generally, or has no desire for a specific person to be their primary. I created this thread for solo poly people, since the married folk looking for a "third" are a much more vocal and common contingent here.

Anyway, I'm sure, if you take things slowly and methodically, you can have what you want. There is another thread you might like: "Imagine your ideal relationship." Also read around, try a tag search for the words "triad," "unicorn," or "vee, and you will probably see more possibilities and learn realistic ways to pursue what you want for your life.
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  #48  
Old 10-13-2011, 12:38 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neobohemian View Post

It has been really great to explore new worlds this way -- everybody is so interesting and so sexy in different ways, and mesh with my life in completely different ways -- without the threat of any one relationship taking over my entire life. What I find most lovely about this adventure, is that both of my current regular lovers have qualities that, in a monogamous relationship assumed to be headed for living together, would be total deal-breakers. I could not possibly make a life with either of these girls even if I wanted to, but because that isn't on the table I'm able to fully enjoy their company and love them for who they are, and the things that bother me are irrelevant because they're never going to dominate my life.


Well, I've written a lot here and I hope that this adds to the discussion. I'd love to hear from others who are trying this as well!
This quote is EXACTLY what I have found about having multiple lovers but no one-true-committed-life-partner.

Like you, Neobohemian, I am also a rare "solo poly person" who is not seeking a primary partner. (And I too have found that NYCindie's posts really speak to me!)

I need a lot of solitary time to work on my writing. I don't want to live with anyone or be one half of an intensely bonded couple. I need a lot of space, physically and mentally and emotionally.

I'd like to have a number of regular lovers that I consider good friends and am emotionally close to. But I don't think relationships need to be "serious" or permanent. For me, dating and sex and love and friendship are all about exploration and getting to know oneself and others.

I am at a point, however, where I am very uncertain and have not had much success at finding what I want, and I am still struggling to overcome some bad / weird experiences.

It's hard because in the "real world," nobody seems to want what I want, or to be sympathetic to it at all. It's better in the various poly communities I've joined, but even there, I still feel like a very marginal minority.

There are a lot of resources for how to have committed coupledom with more than one person, but almost nothing at all for how to have happy, healthy, NON-committed relationships.
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  #49  
Old 10-13-2011, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeraReed View Post
I'd like to have a number of regular lovers that I consider good friends and am emotionally close to. But I don't think relationships need to be "serious" or permanent. For me, dating and sex and love and friendship are all about exploration and getting to know oneself and others.

I am at a point, however, where I am very uncertain and have not had much success at finding what I want, and I am still struggling to overcome some bad / weird experiences.

It's hard because in the "real world," nobody seems to want what I want, or to be sympathetic to it at all. It's better in the various poly communities I've joined, but even there, I still feel like a very marginal minority.

There are a lot of resources for how to have committed coupledom with more than one person, but almost nothing at all for how to have happy, healthy, NON-committed relationships.
Sorry to hear you've had some bad experiences. Yes, we solos are a minority in both the mono and poly worlds. And it's surprising how even some poly peeps will view the solo person as not serious enough for more than only casual or primarily sexual liaisons. I like how you put it, that "dating and sex and love and friendship are all about exploration and getting to know oneself and others."

I've always felt that relationships don't need the goal of being permanent to be successful. But I wonder about your last sentence. How can an ongoing relationship not be committed in some way? If it continues at all, there must be some level of commitment there, no? Even if it is simply to see each other again. Otherwise, all we would have to look forward to is a string of one-night stands (hey, nothing wrong with that, but...). But perhaps this is just another example of how differently people can define certain words for themselves. Certainly, in the mono mindset, a Commitment in relationships is a promise to stay together forever; my definition is very flexible. I wrote about it in another thread, starting here:

http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...66&postcount=7

Basically, I see commitment as an allegiance between people who are moving toward the same goals... Wait, strike that. They may not have the same goals but at least, for a time, their goals are not at odds -- and they are supportive of each other as they move forward in life. So, they can be committed in the sense that they honor any agreements they have (whether verbalized or not) to be supportive of each other. In that thread, I stated, "I think you can still be committed to someone with whom you are in a relationship, without that commitment necessarily meaning marriage or forever -- or even long-term." I do believe that a solo poly person wants satisfaction in relationships that don't have life partnership as the goal, but we don't necessarily need to exclude commitments/agreements altogether.

I would think a casual, less frequent relationship can still realistically have commitments to honesty, safer sex, moving toward deeper understanding and knowledge of each other, and supporting each other's efforts in self-growth. I do want someone in my life that I will get to know deeply and very well, and give my love to, while still maintaining my autonomy and independence. So, that's why I usually phrase what I want thusly: I want multiple, ongoing, committed, loving relationships. I just don't want any life partners moving in!

I'd want my beaus and I to be conscious of what we'd be committing to. I guess, for me, being solo is sort of straddling both worlds -- something committed and more substantial than open/casual, but without any pressure to make it forever.

And yeah, this is really important to me -- eventually, I'd like to know that someday there will be one or two people I am in relationship with, that can be on my list of emergency contacts. Now that I've entered my 50s, I think about being alone as I get older. I may not want to live with someone again, but I still want some boyfriends I can count on, and be counted upon by them if help is needed.
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Last edited by nycindie; 10-13-2011 at 09:34 AM.
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  #50  
Old 10-13-2011, 09:45 PM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post

I've always felt that relationships don't need the goal of being permanent to be successful. But I wonder about your last sentence. How can an ongoing relationship not be committed in some way? If it continues at all, there must be some level of commitment there, no? Even if it is simply to see each other again. Otherwise, all we would have to look forward to is a string of one-night stands (hey, nothing wrong with that, but...). But perhaps this is just another example of how differently people can define certain words for themselves. Certainly, in the mono mindset, a Commitment in relationships is a promise to stay together forever; my definition is very flexible.

Thanks for the response, Cindie.

You're right about "committed." By "NON-committed" I just meant not-necessarily-committed-for-life, not-on-the-marriage-path, or maybe even not-certain-where-this-is-going-but-it's-fun-for-now-and-that's okay.

(Or maybe what I meant was simply "non-exclusive"?)

I have never actually had a one-night stand (well, I did have one, but it turned into four years of off-and-on fuck buddyhood). So I've never actually dated in a totally "non-committed" way.

But I've also had brief sexual relationships where we parted with no commitment to see each other again (because we lived far apart and could not predict where our lives would be going in terms of jobs and other relationships). These flings were fun, and we maintained some kind of friendship with sexual overtones and kept things open to see each other again if things went that way. I liked the spontaneity of that, because it's so totally the opposite of how I normally am (needing to plan everything WAY in advance).

I have, however, definitely been frustrated with men who could not make any definite commitment simply to see me again in the future--that wasn't what I was looking for either.

Most people think "commitment" means "for life" and that seems to be part of the implied definition. It also seems to imply monogamy (well, among monogamous people, anyway), so that is part of why the word "commitment" kind of makes me cringe.

Other reasons why I dislike the word "commitment":

--It sounds like one of those goofy relationship words used frequently by those lovey-dovey couples no one can stand to be around.

--When I went looking for relationship self-help books, every book I found began with a sentence like "Good relationships need to be built on a foundation of commitment!" But they really meant "a foundation of permanent monogamy."

--A therapist once told me I should work on my "commitment issues." I don't think that I need to (I just want a totally non-traditional type of commitment), and her comment led me to seek out a new therapist. But I guess since then, I've been trying to understand myself as someone who rejects the idea of commitment. Maybe that's the wrong approach?

An even longer story about my aversion to the word "commitment":

Last year (as I have posted elsewhere), my ex-boyfriend (and former best friend) told me that I was responsible for the sexual problems he had during our entire relationship of 2+ years. Among other things, he claimed that he had "always wanted love and commitment" and I denied him that because I only cared about sex.

I was completely in shock to hear that--it came out of left field for me--I had no idea that we hadn't HAD love and commitment. I certainly had felt committed to him while we were dating, remained committed to him while we were experimenting with some type of open relationship, and I was still committed to a close friendship with him even if we were no longer dating.

(This conversation had taken place almost two years after we had stopped seeing each other sexually--in other words, when I thought we had a solid, platonic friendship of two years, so for me, after four years total of thinking that we cared deeply about each other).

And while I understand on a logical level that he has MAJOR issues, just thinking about how mean and whiny his voice sounded when he accused me of denying him "love and commitment" breaks my heart all over again.

Especially because in the same breath he said that "true intimacy" and "true commitment" are what he has with his girlfriend (of two months at the time), with whom he was able to be sexually functional immediately. "Because she immediately committed to me as my real girlfriend!" my ex told me (after explaining that he'd never felt like I was his "real girlfriend").

Anyway, just the word "commitment" kind of makes me want to throw up now.

I guess I just want to make sure I don't meet another man who needs the security of lifelong commitment just to get it up???

But thanks for pointing out that "non-committed" doesn't make much sense as a definition of what I want.

I am having a lot of trouble with these type of labels and definitions. It seems I can hardly articulate what I want even to myself, let alone others.
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