Unknown to most of you, there has been quite an interesting little exchange going between myself and a new commenter to this blog, on some posts from the past.
Please check out the comment sections on this post and this post if you want to catch up.
He has left me with quite a long question that I wanted to share with all of you, so that my answers could shed some more light for all of my readers.
Thanks shasta. Looking forward to that.
I’d appreciate it if you’d either respond in the comments to this post, or point here to where you respond elsewhere.
My hopes for poly would be:
1) it could keep sexual interest with my main partner at a high pitch for both of us, I’d hope (if the opposite happened for long I’d be devastated;
2) it MIGHT help keep the relationship together by virtue of 1) but also more love and friendship/sex from others hopefully stimulating jealous (in a controlled way I’d hope) competing from the primary partner and hence keeping things invigorated and affectionate (again if it didn’t work this way and in fact it became a way for her to find a better alternative, I’d be devastated);
3) and lastly, but not unimportantly, a way to have safer sex with others for me as well as her, and hence a fantasy fulfillment.
My fear is that the common wisdom is right. That pair bonded relationships married or not which then move into poly tend not to last. More than otherwise, that is. And further that one person generally gets far more out of it in all ways than the other, but has a ready rationale, ideology and support system for denying that they are acting selfishly and hurtfully. Actually that last wouldn’t necessarily bother me so much as BOTH were in fact getting lots out of it, and deep caring (deep enough to break off with others that became too much of perceived threat) remained or (is it possible?) increased.
I’d also guess without knowing, that contrary to popular belief at least out there in the clueless mainstream, that it’s usually the women who make out better, often “trade up” with lots of “trying out” beforehand in a lot more fulsome manner than your typical furtive affair. (I see lots of reasons why this seems likely to me to be so, but this comment is long enough already.)
That is except for a FEW men, who may well make out just as well (number of most desirable poly dance partners, or “applicants” waiting.
I’d be REALLY fascinated to hear your thoughts on these hopes and fears as well, you sexy and OH so intriguing girl!
Thank you again for your comments and questions on the blog. Jack and I have enjoyed reading and talking about them.
I actually find your hopes for poly interesting. The second one in particular, which is the basis of a ongoing joke amongst the poly crowd that I know. That joke being “Relationship Broken: Add More People”.
However, I will come back to that. Let me speak to your points one at a time.
1) While this does happen for some people, we didn’t find that it worked for very long. After a while, the idea of your partner having sex with someone else becomes so normal that it isn’t all that exciting anymore. There is also the fact that the idea of Jack having sex with someone else is not a turn-on for me at all.
In addition to this, unless you are still in your early 20’s it’s more likely that sex with your original partner will actually decrease in frequency once either of you begin seeing additional partners. After spending four hours rolling around with K, I rarely felt inclined to have sex with Jack once I got home. Likewise I doubt that Jack would have much energy left for me after getting home from a pro-longed date. Time and energy are not unlimited. Some people look at this as a perk of poly, especially if sexual appetites are mis-matched between the original partners.
Swinging is much more likely to have the desired effect on your sex life.
2) Adding more people to a relationship that is already in trouble is almost a guaranteed death sentence. I can say with 100% confidence that if Jack and I didn’t have such an incredibly strong relationship to begin with, poly would have driven us to file for divorce by this point. There have been many times along the way that we were so at odds with each other, a weaker relationship would have crumbled under the pressure. It happens, the entire community knows this and speaks about it often.
Also, I don’t think that there is such a thing as ‘controlled jealousy’. Not in the way that I believe you intended it. Jealousy and competition between partners is a VERY BAD THING. It will not titillate your primary into working harder for your affection. It will make her bitter and resentful. No one wants to feel that they are competing for the attention of their partner. That is what causes so many of us to struggle. Feelings of competition lead to wanting to take out whoever it is you are competing with. This often ends in horrible confrontations and ultimatums.
3) If you want to fulfill a fantasy, again I suggest you try swinging instead of polyamory. Certainly there is sex, but most poly people will resent being added into a relationship to fill some sort of pre-determined ’slot’. People are unpredictable, they have feelings, and fantasies are sometimes better left in the realm of the imagination. Threesomes can be hot, provided that the person you end up with is actually attracted to both of you and understands the dynamics of your current relationship.
My personal goals for poly are more or less centered around what I believe is a less constrictive relationship paradigm between humans.
1) I hope to deal with my personal demons and reach a ‘higher’ state of self-awareness. I think that polyamory forces all of us to battle our insecurities, and I have yet to find a less vigorous crash course in learning to love ones self.
2) To explore people and relationships outside of the confines of monogamy. How well can you really get to know a person, or them to know you, if you are fighting feelings of attraction for them? I have formed deeper friendships and closer romantic relationships with people because I am more genuine with them, and with myself. I am also fascinated to learn more about how people relate to each other when there are fewer socially imposed rules and regulations in place.
3) Our journey thus far has brought Jack and I closer than we ever thought possible. We have learned so many new things about each other, and I hope that our triumphs and struggles through poly continue to teach us new ways of thinking and relating to each other.
4) To fill my life with more love, with more people, and with more adventures.
I believe that polyamory is really less of a ‘relationship type’ and more of a state of mind. Even if I never have another relationship outside of my marriage to Jack, I will consider myself non-monogamous for life because of what I believe.
Monogamy should be a choice, but it should not be the ONLY choice.
People should not have to decide between either being single or having a monogamous relationship. To me that is like telling you that you can either eat chicken or beef (not both, you have to pick one) for the rest of your natural life. No trying the shrimp or sampling the buffet. You can only have one or the other. How absurd! We don’t tell people how many children they can have (well, not in this country anyway). We don’t tell them how many cars they can have (although I think we should). How on earth do we get away with telling them how many romantic partners they can have?
But I digress.
I might say that I have already achieved the greatest goal any of us could have. I broadened my way of thinking. I opened myself up to possibilities I once considered to be impossible, and morally reprehensible. I have taken a look under the rocks in my soul and discovered all of the ugly things that are hidden underneath. I have come to a better understanding of what love is, and I have a greater appreciation for my marriage. Jack and I have tested our relationship to it’s very limits and come out on the other side even more committed to each other and to our future happiness.
So, I hope that made that clear LOL, I know I can be awfully long-winded.
Now, the fears part.
It is true that poly can ruin pair-bonded relationships. It is my belief that some relationships are far too fragile for poly to be successful. Two people must be entirely committed to investing almost ALL of their time and energy into the effort. This may sound absurd to some, but I would say that polyamory rivals the raising of small children when it comes to the emotional/time commitment that it extracts. At least, it has for us. Not all the time, mind you, there will be points when everything flows along nicely. However, when shit hits the fan, everything else that isn’t necessary for survival seems to grind to a halt until said issue is taken care of. Many couples cannot take the strain of it. The friction becomes to great, or like you said, one is getting more out of it than the other.
A few words about that. Before you make assertions that the balance in the relationship is off, make sure that the relationship hasn’t been designed that way. There are some people that get into poly situations and arrange them in a way where it would appear they are getting the short end of the stick. One example I know of is a ‘V’ amongst two men and a woman, her being the hinge. One of the men wanted to be poly because he likes to be in a relationship, but requires a LOT of alone-time. He found the perfect situation since he gets to spend part of his time with his girlfriend, and gets all of the required alone time he wants. This is hard to come by in a monogamous relationship, particularly if your partner has a very low need for personal space. The girlfriend was happy because she got to be with someone who normally wouldn’t want to be with her because he would feel she was too ‘clingy’. The other male in the V also dated other women casually, but nothing serious, because he liked to have lots of companionship and sometimes the girlfriend was not available due to the other boyfriend. It all worked out beautifully, and no one was unhappy.
From the outside, that arrangement may seem vastly unfair. It is important to get to know the dynamics of a relationship before passing any judgements on it.
Yes, it DOES happen that one partner gets screwed, more or less, but the only person who can be accountable for that, it them. You need to be accountable for getting what you want in life. I mean, I can go around wanting a new vehicle until the cows come home and just hope that it falls into my lap. Not likely to happen though is it. As opposed to working hard and saving up and then buying it when I am financially able to do so. Relationships are the same way. Good ones don’t fall into your lap, you have to make them happen. As I am fond of saying, asking for what you want is a good way to get it.
If you feel a relationship is unfairly one-sided, ask for what you want. I have asked Jack for a break, which he has granted, and he has asked me to make every effort to work out my crap, which I am doing as fast as I possibly can. I think that when we give up our power, and put ourselves in the role of being a victim, then we trampled on. If we refuse to allow that to happen, things generally go a lot better for us.
As for woman making out better in poly than men. I disagree. I think that we pretty much all come out equal when you measure who gets hurt more or who succeeds more. I actually don’t know anyone who has used poly as a method of ‘trading up’ since poly requires so much honesty, integrity, and ethical behaviour. Anything less than that, in my view, falls into adultery. There is no place for deception or ulterior motives in this lifestyle. If you want to claim to be poly and just use it as a way to find someone ‘better’ than your current spouse, you’re no better than a cheater, and cut from the same cloth, if you ask me.
Of course, there are times when poly will lead you to discover that your current partner and you are not made to be together in the context of poly, and that can cause a breakup where additional partners are kept and the original partner leaves. That is a different story entirely.
Well, I hope that was long-winded enough for you, HA HA. It certainly is for me. I hope it provides you some things to think about and I look forward with anticipation to your response.