Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Open Dating?

A high-school friend of mine saw my post about open relationships, and asked some questions. He's single, but thinks that dating with the intention of monogamy may not suit him. At least, it hasn't worked well so far. Let's take a look at the alternatives to traditional dating...

Traditional dating tends to be a period of time during which people have fun together, get to know each other, and determine if there is enough interest, chemistry, and/or compatibility to pursue a monogamous future together. But what if monogamy is not your goal?

I recommend that you be clear about that within the first two or three dates, if not during the very first one. If you don't ever see yourself committing to one single partner, your date deserves to know that, bearing in mind that your opinion
could change. It could, and she should know that it may not.

If you intend to "date" more than one person at a time, it's up to you whether or not you out that fact to your dates. Dating doesn't have to be exclusive. It's totally valid to spend time with and enjoy multiple partners without an "it's only you" commitment. This gets trickier once you involve sex in the mix, as many people falsely associate sexual intimacy with an increased level of commitment.

Thus, if you intend to be sexually intimate with more than one partner at a time, clue them in to this little factoid BEFORE you engage in any bodily-fluid-swapping contact. I also highly recommend that you get yourself tested for STIs, know your partners' health statuses, and use barriers, like condoms and/or dental dams. Your dates deserve the right to NOT share you with other partners, so give them the chance to say No. Only when they have the opportunity to give you a full-informed No can they also give you a fully-informed Yes.

"Is there a relationship of sorts or is it strictly sexual?" he asks.

That entirely depends on what you and your partners want! You may choose to date several people for the purpose of having fun and sharing companionship, and date several other for the purpose of fulfilling sexual needs and desires. Or there may be cross-over... some dates are sexual, others are not. There is no right answer, or one right way, and you get to create your dating life in the way that inspires you!

"What is the other person usually seeking?"

That depends on the person. There are a lot of polyamorous people on OKCupid, for example. Some of them (like my husband) are looking for additional sexual friendships, and others (like me) are interested in adding new significantly romantic, emotional, and sexual relationships. The key is to know what YOU want, and then look for people who
also want that.

"Is the other party typically single or are they married? If married what if the partner is cheating on their spouse? (Personal note: I don't condone that.)"

It could be either! I'm about to date a single man, who's also dating a female friend of mine, and I went on a lovely date last week with her husband. LOL! Thank goodness we're all mature adults! My husband is also enjoying a sexual friendship with a married woman, whose husband fell in love with someone else. Single or married - you could go either way.

I choose not to date (or fuck) people who are cheating on their spouses. I'm a very public person, and I'm not willing to expend the energy to Hide anything. AND, some married people feel that cheating is the only way to meet their physical needs while maintaining a happy marriage with their spouses. That's their call, not mine.

The key here? Know your own limits, and honor them.

That said, sometimes people lie. I received a call once from the wife of a man I thought was single... and wasn't that awkward?! Just do your best!

"Are there limitations or restrictions?"

Of course - I am limited to and restricted by my agreements with my husband. EX: If we have an agreement that oral sex on the first date is okay but penetrative intercourse is not - that's a limitation. Having intercourse on the first date would thus be considered Cheating.

My partners are also limited by my agreements with my husband, as they also have to walk that same line. NOTE: If I don't tell the truth about my agreements, and say Stop or No when I've agreed to stop, that's on ME - not them. They are not at fault if I break an agreement, or if we cross a line that I didn't know was a trigger for my spouse.

That said, if she tells you she can not have sex with you tonight, and then, after making out and getting all hot and bothered, says that it'll really be okay, really... Tough as it may be, I'd suggest that you honor her original response and politely decline. Leave her wanting more rather than potentially stepping across that boundary. Do not give her, or her spouse, the opening to blame YOU for her unwillingness to honor her agreements.

Ya get me? It's not worth the potential mess. If she wants you that much, she'll come back.

"Are they friends of the marriage/relationship or is it best kept separate?"

Again, that entirely depends! I know people who prefer a very private kind of poly... "You know that I'm going out with someone else, and that's all you need to know." My husband and I both prefer a very community-style type of poly... his new fuck-buddy is a developing girlfriend of mine, and he has met (and approved) both of the men I've gone out with. I could totally see us going out on a double-date sometime and having a blast!
But would our dates be comfortable with that? Their preferences also matter.

It's important that your style matches with your partners. I would feel very left out if my hubby refused to tell me about his dates, or refused to let me meet and enjoy his new partners. And someone who prefers privacy could feel very confronted by being forced to meet their loved one's other partners.

So talk about it! Ask questions. Pose some What If's, and How would you feel If's. Do your best to know yourself, accept yourself, and start opening yourself to others, and remember - life is an adventure, right? There's no one way to ride that bull, so get out there and have some fun!

M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved -

Monday, March 28, 2011

Open Relationship... What's that? The hard stuff yet to come.

It occurred to me just after posting my last entry that it might be valuable to point out some challenges of open relationships. I didn't mention them at first due to the fact that hubby and I are new to this! Certain experiences have yet to cross our paths. Nonetheless, it's likely that at some point...

One of us will fall in love with someone else, and both of us will have to deal with that. Neither one of us has yet been through what I'm thinking of as 'third-wheel NRE (New Relationship Energy)' - where he's in love with someone else, and I'm the third wheel, for example. He's not yet come home talking non-stop about another women, but it's likely to happen sometime.

One of us will feel like we're not getting enough attention, affection or time from the other. Right now, I'm the one who gives approval for him to go on a date, and vice versa. It's predictable that that level of control will diminish as we get used to sharing each other, and as demands from other partners increase. At some point, one of us is likely to feel slighted and have to make some powerful requests accordingly.

One of us will not WANT to keep our agreements, or give the other what's been requested! 'But I'm having so much fun with him, and now you want me to spend the Whole Next Week only with you? Wanh!' Chances are that one of us will have to manage a frustration when what we've agreed to do or give no longer feels like a good idea.

One of our relationships will end, and both partners will have to deal with it. NRE happens when a relationship starts. What's the term when a poly relationship ends? I count my blessing that both he and I are so responsible with our emotions - chances are that we'll be able to maintain friendships with our future exes as we already do with past ones. But there's still an amount of grieving that occurs when a relationship ends - something that brought me joy, for example, is now gone, and that's a loss. I can pretty much guarantee that one of us will experience grief, and the other will have to navigate "my partner is grieving, but I'm still here, but he/she's still grieving," etc.

None of these situations are good, nor are they bad. They are simply some challenges that to me appear unique to open relationships. Are they insurmountable? No. Are they 'growth opportunities?' Yes! Are they the reason that some couples end their open relationships? Yes.

I like to think that we're ahead of the game just by knowing that this stuff is likely to occur. So, when it does, we can say, "Oh yep. Here's that frustration that I knew would show up! Now, how shall we deal with this...?"

M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved -

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Open Relationship... What's that?

A friend from college noticed that I'd changed my Facebook status from "Married" to "In An Open Relationship."

"Does it ever get complicated?" he asked. "Like, for instance, if your husband's girlfriend decides she wants to be more than just a girlfriend. Do you ever worry that your husband might get sick of sharing you with someone else?"

Well, I have to admit that we're just starting this adventure together, so I can't yet declare that we've made it work for the long term. Nonetheless, neither of us believes that it's either realistic or fair to expect one person to meet ALL of one's intimate needs - be they emotional or physical. So, when he has another partner to meet the needs that I can't/won't meet, it actually takes the pressure off of me, and vice versa.

Am I worried that he'll ever get sick of sharing me? No, it's not something that he's doing as a favor, or a new toy that might wear out. He is committed to my well-being and satisfaction in our marriage, and I count on that as much as I share that commitment for him. A happy wife is a better wife, right? It's in his best interest that my needs get met! AND, if he asked me to be monogamous for a period of time while he/we processed something traumatic or deeply-impactful, I would accept and honor that request. We've agreed to put one another first.

So, given that I'm thrilled that I'm not his only sexual partner, what if she wanted to fill some of the emotional roles that are currently mine - like professional adviser and motivator, best friend, or meal-preparation expert? Honestly, I think I'd be happy to share some of the responsibility! I deeply want him to be happy and fulfilled, and I'm not attached to being the source of that.

At the same time, it's MY job to make sure that I still get MY emotional needs met, so there would be a period of navigation - testing things out, tripping over unrealized boundaries and then negotiating for/around them. In other words, getting upset, figuring out why, which includes totally owning my part in it, and then determining how to mitigate that. For example, is there a request I need to make for more time with him, or more contact of a particular kind, or a certain kind of communication, etc.? Sometimes it's easy, other times more complicated.

This kind of lifestyle requires HUGE personal responsibility for one's own emotions. As my friend Philip says, "The best thing about open relationships is that you get to really learn about yourself, and the worst thing about open relationships is that you get to really learn about yourself."

Anyway... in the end, neither of us believes (=fears) that we're replaceable. NOTE: it has taken a lot of inner work and communication to get there. So, our partner having another loved one/lover isn't a threat, it's a source of support. That's not how most people in our society are taught to think, and popular media does NOT support that, which is part of why I've chosen my professional path!

Crazy, huh? On the other hand, there's a LOT of freedom here, and I suspect that we'd be more likely to divorce if we didn't have an open relationship than because we Do. To each their own... :)

M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved -

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Children, and why not to date them.

So hubby and I have finally decided that we're ready to start seeing other people. If you've read many of my past blog entries, you're likely aware that we're both naturally non-monogamous, and that we each have needs that can't be met together. Thus, our solution is to find partners with whom we Can get these needs met.

Great! Now, how does one do that, exactly?

Well, I started by checking out AFF - Adult Friend Finder. I'd heard it mentioned several times and thought I should get a sense of the site, for professional reasons if nothing else. And I got LOTS of flattering attention - most women do, I suspect. And, I actually found a guy about whom I was interested to know more.

It took a lot of time for us to meet face-to-face... I got really ill right after we met online, and it took almost six weeks before I felt well enough to meet someone new in real-time. Several times I almost quit him, a few of his emails made me rather uncomfortable, but he was persistent, and extremely flirtatious - to the point that I was a little intimidated. I kept reminding him that there were no promises, and I had no idea if we'd really click or not, and that Friends HAD to come before Benefits! He assured me that he understood.

So we met for lunch. He was moderately attractive, physically, and he was funny! Nice guy - and a REAL talker. We got on very well, I thought. Overall, he was someone I'd like to add to my group of friends - and I told him so. I thought we might be able to have some manner of sexy fun, but I told him I needed to spend more time with him first to find out. He kissed me goodbye, and meh, it was okay. Again, I needed more connection first.

Well, he wasn't happy to be put off much longer, and he wasn't available when I invited him to meet my husband at an event. I thought about it, and realized that I just don't have the connection with him that I'd need for a sexual relationship, and I don't think it'll show up either. It was my error for not honoring my instincts earlier, and I owned that. I was authentic, straight, clear, and compassionate, and I welcomed a continued friendship.

HOLY SHIT! I'd forgotten how humans can rewrite their memories to suit their current state of mind!

I subsequently received a nasty, snarky attack of an email telling me that he'd never really liked me at all, how annoying I am, how he knew from early on that I'm an egomaniac, etc., etc. and SO many other simply mean and childish things. Mean, childish, and with no basis in reality! I could show you the emails, the text messages, the many aspects of how he chased me and how excited me was about meeting me, etc. But no. Either he's the biggest player I've ever met - and I honestly don't think he's that skilled - or he's rewritten the past to save him from facing his own disappointment.

So what have I learned from this?
  1. Trust my instincts. If I'm at all uneasy about someone, then I don't need to meet them!
  2. It's okay to take my time - and theirs. I have a life. You do too. If you don't get to meet me right away, that's okay! You can wait! And so can I. Anyone who feels the need to rush me probably isn't someone I want to meet.
  3. If the chemistry/connection isn't there, then it isn't there. I'm not looking for a relationship that will grow on me - I'm explicitly looking for a quick and palpable connection. And that's okay.
  4. I might want to go out on 3, 5, or even 10 dates before I decide whether or not I'm going to have sex with you! And I will make sure you understand that from the start. If you've got a problem with that, then we shouldn't "start" at all!
I have also been reminded that there are some very emotionally immature adults in the world, and that sometimes good intentions don't matter. Not everyone can handle the straight facts. I'd still like to make a difference with him - his behavior is not conducive to successful future relationships - but given the story he's told himself about me... I doubt he could hear anything I say.

I am sad and disappointed. But there's also excitement, because I've met this other guy through OkCupid...

M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved -