Yes, I am open to multiple relationships. No, I don’t take every opportunity that comes along.
There are many reasons why I don’t pursue every relationship opportunity.The most logical ones are a matter of resources … do I have time to start something new while maintaining my existing relationships? Other reasons aren’t as simple to quantify.
- Weird Rules – Every couple/tribe/amoeba has their own rules. Sometimes they’re logical. Sometimes they conflict with yours. Sometimes they claim to “have no rules” and that seems a bit unsettling.
- Impending Poly Drama – Are they dating one of your exes? Are they dating one of your partner’s exes?
- Experience Mismatch – Maybe they’re new to poly and you don’t feel like being a “teacher” … or maybe you’re new and aren’t comfortable walking into someone else’s world.
- Your “Poly Spider Sense” is Tingling – Something just isn’t right, and it makes you uncomfortable.
I don’t expect every relationship to be the love of a lifetime, but I’m also not out for a one-night stand … or leaving my friends standing in a burning pile of drama. It means I do miss some opportunities, and occasionally don’t pursue some relationships with people that I’m really attracted to.
In one case, I passed on an opportunity with someone I really loved. Years ago, I started a casual relationship with a friend who was new to poly. It quickly became apparent it wasn’t going to stay casual. Our dating circles overlapped, which lead to some wonderful moments in bed. Over time we grew extremely close, which lead to even more wonderful moments.
This was a woman I loved deeply.
This was a woman who broke my heart.
She was always someone’s secondary partner, dating in a circle of married couples. She met someone who wasn’t poly, but was definitely hers. As much as I loved her I couldn’t fill that need. It was a rough breakup, and honestly it messed me up for a while. It took over a year for me to get back to what I felt was normal, after accepting that I didn’t do anything to drive her away. She left me on her terms.
Years later I had a chance to try again. It was the last day of a kink con we both attend. She was there as a photographer. We were still friends, and kept in touch. She and her boyfriend (also a good friend of mine) were discussing giving poly a try, and she wanted to know if I was interested. I don’t think she was prepared for me to say no.
The conversation was quiet, honest and a bit emotional. I wasn’t sure what we could be after such a rough breakup, and I wasn’t sure if I was the best choice for her “trial” partner. Could her boyfriend handle it if we got back to the same emotional intensity we had at the end of our relationship? Could we handle it if it didn’t work out?
I wanted her back, but not at the risk of losing her again.
Poly, like a lot of things in life, is risk management. The love I have received over the years has been worth the risk, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take every opportunity that comes along. Sometimes it’s a practical consideration, balancing the limited time you have to share. Other times it’s an emotional reaction, playing against your heart instead of your head.
I wish I had a better answer for when it’s right to start something new … but if it was easy it wouldn’t be as satisfying when it works out.