Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Newbie Questions - Poly Dynamics

The night we went to karaoke, the Libertine & I spent a lot of time outside talking to Ingenue, the newbie poly girl.  She was sweet, and funny, and extremely curious. Being new to the lifestyle, she spent a fair amount of time asking us questions about poly dynamics, and ours in particular.  I thought some of her questions were really well thought out, so here is a mock up of how the conversation went.

I started writing this post solo, and realized that I couldn't do it alone.  The Libertine wrote his side of the story for me... yay for guest posts!

Ingenue: Do most people end up in triads or V's?  Which is harder?

Me: I think most people end up in V's.  For me, a triad seems unnecessarily messy, not to mention potentially difficult to find.  There is a lot more opportunity for jealousy in a triad, because the lines of attraction run in all directions.  With a V, my spouse may get jealous of the Libertine, but I can handle that.  When you start talking about multidirectional jealousy things get complicated.  All of my relationships are V's, and my metamours are amazing women.  That's not to say things are perfect all the time, but I imagine it's much easier to maintain day to day.

Libertine:  I don't know about "most people," but within my constellation there are more V's than triads. I am dating a girl who is dating a couple, and a friend of ours is also dating a couple.

Ingenue: How many partners do each of you have?

Me: I currently have my husband plus two, and an extremely casual/occaisional play partner.  I don't think I could handle more than what I have right now.  The Mister and I have a complicated schedule, which allows both of us to have dates multiple nights a week without infringing too much on alone time, etc.  Overnights are more the norm than the exception for the Libertine and I.  My other boyfriend, the Prime, has a really limited schedule, so our dates are less frequent and shorter.  We utilize chat and phone calls to keep in touch during the week.

Libertine: That's complicated, depending on how you classify "partners." I suppose I would say I am currently at wife plus three.

Ingenue: When you are meeting a potential new partner, do you tell all of your current partners before the date?

Me: I tell everyone if I am meeting someone new, but it's not as if I'm asking permission.  It's more like I'm giving them a heads up that I'm screening a new boy.  What often happens, because all the boys can see my calendar, is one of them will ask me about the new person before I get the chance to mention it.  It's occasionally awkward, but I never ever hide what I'm doing.  I have a "no sex on a first date" rule, so they all know I'm not going to rush into anything crazy or dangerous.

Libertine: I don't ask permission from my partners to see someone new, either. I also have a "no sex on the first date" rule. Unless the new person would have a sexual impact on the rest of the constellation, like an STI or if it's a current partner's ex or something, I don't ask permission there, either. I often fly by the seat of my pants on open days, and there aren't a lot of those, so I don't clear first dates with my partners. For instance, when Open Source Heart and I had our first date, the two of us both just happened to be leaving work at the same time and decided to meet at a coffee shop between us. Make sure these expectations are set and communicated before you start seeing anyone new. I actually had a breakup because a former girlfriend of mine got very upset that I didn't ask her for permission when I dated or slept with someone new.

Ingenue: What about when you do decide to have sex with someone new?  Do you talk about STI's up front?  Do you tell your other partners?

Me: STI's and tested status are discussed way before naked time even becomes an issue. I am an over-sharer, so everyone usually knows if a date has potential to lead to sex, again not because I'm asking for permission, but because I believe in really clear communication.  Plus, if I meet someone super awesome, I'm apt to talk about them a lot, to anyone who will listen.  My monogamous friends are sick of hearing about the Libertine & the Prime.

Libertine: I always talk about STIs before anything progresses to a point where genitals are involved. I like to think that I am very forthcoming with information when sex is involved, but, again, I have had a relationship end because she didn't feel that I was communicating properly or seeking the appropriate permission. I don't seek clearance before I have sex with someone new, requiring that everything is clean and safe, and there is never unprotected sex with anyone except my single fluid-bonded partner. I value that bond and connection so highly that I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that. I haven't added any partners, sexual or otherwise, since we approved the fluid transfer.

Me:  There you go making me think of Demolition Man again.

Ingenue: How long have you two been dating?

Libertine:  How long do you think we've been dating?

Ingenue: I don't know, a year? Six months? A year.

Libertine, smiling at me: Shorter than that. Our first date was on Leap Day, so just over three months. My wife and I have been together over ten years, and we had this sort of instant and deep connection, too. It's really something else, this thing we have.

Me: The Libertine recently met a long time friend of mine.  She actually commented on how insanely comfortable we are with each other for only having been together a short time.  She has known me longer than I've known my husband, and to her we seemed like a natural fit.

Ingenue: How do you define primaries and secondaries?  Have your spouses met?

Me: That's... complicated for us.  Our spouses and children have met, we like to do family dinners whenever we can.  I love the feeling I get when we're all together and the kids are playing while the adults chat, cook, whatever.  When all of us are in one house doing what "normal" families do every evening, I feel as though my life couldn't possibly get any better. The running joke is that I want the Libertine to be around when we discover the Mongoose (my 1 year old) is an evil genius.

Libertine: There are so many flavors of polyamory... Our definitions don't necessarily map to everyone else's. Open Source Heart and I... We blur the line between primary and secondary. Already, we are definitely "family." All of us, our children, OSH and I, both of our spouses, we all get along wonderfully. I have never had a feeling of stability and permanence and connection like this with anyone except my wife, but OSH and I don't live together, don't budget or pay bills together. But I do know people in relationships who consider a partner to be their primary even though they don't live together, either. OSH and I spend at least half of our time together, we cook and eat and sleep together an unreasonably large amount of the time. OSH and I are at the point where I wouldn't make big life decisions without talking to her in addition to my wife.

For me, my real secondary relationships are with women I see regularly but not too often. Both of my secondary relationships are once-a-week relationships. Rarely, we'll do multiple days in a week. The only women who get me for several nights a week are my wife and OSH.

Me: I would call the Prime a secondary, and I know he would do the same.  That's not to say we don't love each other.  We see each other about once a week, whereas it's not unusual for the Libertine and I to spend several nights in a row together.  There really is no right or wrong way to experience a polyamorous lifestyle.  I choose to share my life and my love with these men in whatever way our lives fit together.  I would love to see the Prime more often, but it's simply not possible right now.


Ingenue asked a lot more questions that evening, everything from how we meet people to how long we have been poly & the always interesting break up stories.  I want to cover all of that, but keeping this post topical and also less than a mile long meant some serious edits!  I also want to give the Libertine the chance to tell parts of the story, if he so chooses.  Because I'm an awesome girlfriend like that.

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