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Old 03-29-2011, 11:47 PM
Myrddin Myrddin is offline
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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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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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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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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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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Old 03-30-2011, 02:41 PM
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BlackUnicorn BlackUnicorn is offline
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Ooh, a quick reply and then I really need to shower for public-health reasons.

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Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
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.
Yep, my question on how you feel about her bisexuality was more along these lines, not so much about 'are you generally okay with LGBT people'. I think if you weren't, you wouldn't bother about the relationship in the first place.

I think straight guys have too basic responses to female bisexuality (sorry all your straight guys out there, I do love y'all);
1) Hmm, has she actually ever had a relationship with a girl before? I mean, how could she, because she, like obviously enjoys having sex with me. Did they use a strap-on? Who used the strap-on?!? And what about boobs? I mean, if she's really into tits, maybe I'll never compare. Maybe it was just a phase, y'know.
2) That's HOT! I mean, HOTHOTHOT! Hey, maybe we can have a threesome. There's enough of a man in me to go around, heehee... Girls kissing girls are so hot. And cute. Maybe we can all be together? I do so love watching Big Love. And now that she has one of each, she'll not be going after another guy, at least. Like, she has everything she needs now, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
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.
The garden gate nods vigorously. Knowing she herself would still not be dating in that case either if she hadn't been somewhat vigorously pursued in the tender age of 20, she understands.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
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.
That can happen. However, mono relationship can go all to hell too. People who are not in the lifestyle tend to blame relationship breakdown on one or both partners being poly, whereas if a mono person cheats, it was due to 'issues of communication' instead of the partners being (obviously not) mono.

Getting to know the OSO could assuage many of your potential fears. Also seeing the two of them together might help you understand what this lifestyle is about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
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.)
Peer pressure. My mum thinks me having dated a man who has two other gfs is the equivalent to me betraying all my feminist principles and being a total slut, too. You would be well advised to start developing a thicker skin for that kind of stuff.

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Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
Fair point. But you're missing the most important question: what relationship status should she put on her Facebook profile?
Hm, I don't use FB but somebody demonstrated to me that you can enter multiple relationship statuses, just name them differently. Like being engaged to one and 'it's complicated' with the other .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
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.
No stop-gaps that I can see. Could you specify?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myrddin View Post
Hmm, this seems to have turned into a full-blown therapy session :-/
More therapy for everyone! Now, shower therapy for me ->
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:43 PM
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MonoVCPHG MonoVCPHG is offline
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She's poly, which does not always mean there will be others but the potential is definitely there. How will you feel about her bringing another boyfriend into her life after you?


If the judgement of your friends is a concern now, how will you feel if she starts dating other men?

Has she defined what poly means to her?

Maybe she should read this - Survival guide for dating a mono
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:14 PM
PolyNrrdGrrl PolyNrrdGrrl is offline
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Hi! I'm new to the board, but a lot of your post was striking close to home.

I'm a poly female in a new relationship with an unsure/probably mono/who knows at this point man. It's been about a couple of months, and in classic me-style, we have moved pretty fast. Like you, he is generally inexperienced when it comes to relationships. Whereas, I've had them streaming out of my ears since the age of 14. In fact, I've been within a week of my wedding to the father of my now 2-year old child. Big difference between that and being the third or so girl that he's dated.

For us, there was no fanfare, no "Ok. you're my boyfriend now." .. I got bored one night and changed our facebook relationship status The ever-important medium.

Like your girl, I am in a prior relationship with my best female friend. LAM seems to have the same attitude you and many other males I've encountered have - "If it's with a girl it's okay." ... I told him I was poly, he reeled (and is still in the process of reeling, hence our joining this board for a little bit of group couples counseling, ha!) .. I told him I was in love with, and involved with a lovely little gal and he just shrugs. It seems like through his struggles with polyamory, he fails to realize he is already ENGAGING in it, by simply being with me, while I'm with her, and she's with whomever, and so on

Anyway.. my advice is basic, which is... if it's something you can handle emotionally... just go with it. That's the easiest way for me. I communicate my problems as they arise, but other than that my main goal in life is to love others and be loved and just let things happen. You will find soon enough exactly where she falls into your life and where you fall into hers and it's not entirely necessary to make this comparison between yourself and her girlfriend. Each relationship is different - and to the poly partner, each relationship may be entirely necessary. You don't want to cause resentment by comparing yourself to someone else she loves or trying to get a leg up on her or anything... as easy as this may be to do.

Hopefully, I'm making a little bit of sense. I have just woken up, my apologies!
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Old 03-30-2011, 06:20 PM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
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Poly relationships don't come in one shape, so you'll have to talk with her a lot to know how she lives her polyamory.

Asking questions about yourself and where it puts you is legitimate.
The questions I would ask if I were you are:
- is there some kind of ranking between us, am I secondary? Can I expect the same from our relationship as I would otherwise, or will I always come after her when decisions need to be made?"
- are you planning or expecting to have other partners?"
- are you fluid bonded, does she have other partners, do we need to use protection if and when we do start having sex?
- am I expected to have other partners, too? If I like someone, what would you expect me to do, tell you about it before doing anything, or can I start dating them and tell you about it after the fact? If I don't want other partners, are you going to push me to get some anyways?
- without going too fast, is there a future to our relationship, or should I expect it to be short term or not committed? Are things such as living together and having children excluded, or would they be an option if our relationship works? What about getting married (to either of us, as both would impact our relationship)?
- will we ever have dates with the three of us, or will our relationships be mostly "segregated", with you being only with one of us at a time?
- do I get to meet her? When? What's expected of me towards her? How does she feel about me? How does she feel about your polyamory? Is she poly or mono?

About primary/secondary, I suggest you look at other threads for descriptions of what makes a relationship one or the other. Things such as living together, raising children together, sharing finances, making long-term projects, taking (most) vacations together, making big purchases together are all things that usually mean the relationship is primary (they don't need to all be present).
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