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Well, you’ve either made it through my last posts without being smacked silly or you have been and liked it. In either case, you’ve made it to a turning point in your new relationship. If you haven’t already, it’s time for your new love to meet the tribe.
Hubby likes to meet my dates before we go out, because it makes him more comfortable with me being out with a stranger. We don’t have a vetting process, but I appreciate having a perspective other than my own, and he’s generally a good judge of people. I trust his opinion, and he’s been correct for the most part. I like the two to meet before the rest of the family gets involved. It makes it less overwhelming for my date, and it gives he or she and Hubby a chance to bond a little bit as metamours.
Once we’ve gone on a few dates and feel comfortable as a couple in a controlled environment I like to introduce new partners in a light setting. I generally prefer to have it be a public outing or occasion where everyone feels on even ground, and something laid back in fun to reduce tension and anxiety.
If everyone gets along it’s great. If not it doesn’t immediately dissolve the new relationship, but it does limit things a bit. We push to foster a sense of family and community, and if there’s an impasse it greatly stunts the progression of a new relationship. Sometimes it’s a matter of mere growing pains, and with time the kinks can be worked out. At other times it’s an irreconcilable issue. I’ve never encountered a situation where a partner and Hubby couldn’t stand to be in the same room together, but I have had metamours refuse to ever meet me. In the end one of the relationships will fail if we cannot either smooth out the problem or live double lives. I would never consider the latter a viable option.
We are not a family who believe in shielding our children from our lifestyle, therefore where there are kids involved there is a second family outing, one that centers around them. Thus far I admit this has only concerned small children, but only time will tell how it will work with older children and teenagers. When people ask how kids can benefit from or this kind of lifestyle I remind them that children are without preconceived notions about what love and family looks like. Children are not as easily confused as we think they should be. They will accept what we show them as reality, and as long as what we show them is an honest, open, loving family they will be happy, well-loved children. There is nothing wrong with that.
What advice can I give to you as you introduce a new partner to your family? Be yourself. Don’t act differently with either your family or your new love. Don’t feel a need to entertain everyone. Your family will do just fine on their own. Let them all get to know each other naturally. Don’t feel a need to constantly be at your new partner’s side. Let him represent himself, but do quietly check in once in a while to make sure he’s not too overwhelmed, especially if this is his first poly experience. Follow up later with everyone, as if your family would hold their tongues anyway.
My advice for family members meeting a new partner? Again, be yourself. This is a friendly introduction, not an interrogation. Remember what it was like to be new and nervous. Remember all the mistakes you might have made and consider your reaction if the family had been this particular about your first impression. You’re not losing status, and you don’t need to prove your place or experience. Just relax and have fun getting to know someone new who has obviously really connected with someone you love.
Lastly, my advice to a new partner? Can you guess? Be yourself. These people are a part of this new step in your life and this new love you’ve found. Embrace them and think of them as valuable resources. How often do new relationships come with living manuals? Last but not least, don’t let them intimidate you. You mean an awful lot to someone. Find strength and pride in that and let them love you, too.
The last piece of advice I can give is one I’ve given before. Remember that this relationship is unique, and it will continue to be unique as it becomes a part of the greater family structure. You must let your new partner’s relationships with the rest of the family form as they will, without interfering or trying to control them. This new addition will ripple throughout the family and indelibly change its inner workings. The more you can let that happen organically the better the transition will go and the stronger the new family unit will be.
Congratulations! You made it past the first few dates and have started to develop a relationship with a new partner! I won’t assume my last piece had anything to do with it, but with the timing and all I will accept it as a coincidence and thank fate for proving my points. In any case, now let’s examine your current state for a moment.
I’m going to bet you’re giddy and excited. You’re smiling even through mundane every day tasks, you can’t stop thinking about this new step in your life or the person you’re taking it with, and when you’re together the rest of the world either vanishes or becomes paradise depending on the glasses you’re wearing that day.
This is what we call NRE, or New Relationship Energy, and it’s like sweet Ambrosia after an extended period of failed expectations and frustrating encounters. Enjoy it. This is where the foundation of your new relationship is built, where you begin to discover what it will look like, and when you really start to get to know your new lover. This is a time of firsts. I reiterate, enjoy it. Don’t let the worries about where you’re going, what you’re doing, or what this new person in your life thinks of every little thing you do or say hold you back from being who you are and living in the process, not three steps ahead of it.
Be yourself. If she can’t accept you now for who you are she won’t be able to accept you in the long run, so stop worrying about it and just let yourself be in the moments. Take the opportunity to do something new. Form your identity as a couple, and do not attempt to replicate your other relationships, and do not try to compare them, because this is not any other relationship but this one. Every couple is unique, as are the roadblocks and tender moments each one will have. Embrace these differences. If every partnership you have is identical what’s the point in being poly?
Finding balance. While NRE and building new bonds is important, so are other priorities in you life, like your job and existing partners. It’s easy to lose track and let all your time and energy be absorbed by something new, but the rest of your life still needs attention as well. Make sure to keep up communication with your established partners, as they may be feeling some growing pains. Sharing your new experience while setting aside some quality time for them can strengthen that bond and ease any inner struggles that may be forming, allowing them to feel compersion instead of insecurities about an unknown situation. Use this as an opportunity to do something you haven’t done in a while or even try something new yourselves. Take out that relationship bucket list and cross something off. Reconnect with what brought you together, and even what made you poly.
On the flip side, remember that you are poly, especially if this is your first multiple relationship. Don’t wrestle with questions about your established partner’s motives or feelings. You both agreed to the terms of your poly relationship. If you start to feel uneasy you should talk about it, but don’t let your second guessing pull you away from giving your time and energy to your new love. Believe me, you’ll all miss out on a lot that way, and you will not be able to fully enjoy polyamory until you can master this hesitation.
The last hurdle with NRE is when it starts to end, or rather when it starts to transition to become an established bonded relationship. This is where a lot of people feel a drop. This is where you start to say things like “you never XYZ anymore!”. This is where a lot of relationships end, because when the buzz wears off and a routine starts to form many people feel like they fall into a rut. For some it’s true that the only thing they ever had in common was an addiction to NRE, but to me this is when the real relationship begins. If you can enjoy the NRE for what it was and truly own and embrace the meat of the relationship that has developed you will find that it’s worth it. You don’t have to stop having the adventures and experiences, but now you have them as a couple with an amazing bond and a solid foundation. You have built something that will survive the setbacks and enrich all your lives. Do not mourn the end of the NRE, welcome the beginning of a new journey.
Next Week: My final installment. Family introductions.
Finding one person to date and share a life with can be hard. Finding a second who is compatible with your family? Who would sign up for that? Polyamorists, that’s who. Jumping off from my last post, let’s talk about how to proceed once you’ve decided to take the leap. I’ll remind you that this is how my family operates, not all poly families or couples.
I prefer to start any relationship the way I’d like them to proceed, openly and honestly. My husband and I disagree about when we talk to new love interests about polyamory and our family, but whether it’s on the first date or once you decide there’s a connection, it’s an important conversation to have. Before I begin to date someone I make sure they know my situation and my expectations. That way there are no misconceptions from the door.
While Hubby prefers to meet any new suitors before I go on a date, it’s not always feasible with our respective schedules. I at least make sure he knows who I’m with and what our plans are. It makes him feel more comfortable with me being out with a stranger, and in some ways it puts me at ease as well.
No matter what my marital status is, I always expect a new interest to be a gentleman and go through the proper steps that anyone would go through at the beginning of a relationship. I enjoy the early stages of a romance, and I really have fun with NRE (new relationship energy). My new partnership is not my marriage, and there’s no reason it should rush through its upstart because I’m someone’s wife. I have no problems taking these new partnerships at a slow, steady pace. I’m not desperate for a relationship. I’m not lonely, bored, or anxious for new love. I also do not owe anyone anything. Just because I have others doesn’t mean I owe someone sex. There is no reason not to take our time and get to know each other. Remember that. Don’t cheat yourself out of the experience because you want to get to the meat of polyamory.
Remember that poly dating is still dating. Just because the first person who takes you on a date is poly, or at least open to the idea, and interested doesn’t mean that’s the person you have to date. Do you remember how many people you went through to find your spouse? What makes you think finding a third or a secondary partner will happen right off the bat? Again, give it time. Don’t settle just to “be poly”.
In that same vein, polyamory is not Pokemon. You do not have to date every and any person who asks. You are allowed to wait for the right partner. In my mind, polysaturation can ruin the experience. If I call every guy in my life a “boyfriend” it cheapens that position in my life. I hold the title very close to my heart, and anyone I call a “partner” holds a piece of me. I take it very seriously, and I won’t date every guy or girl who comes along just because I can. To me, polyamory is about loving relationships not just collecting people. I simply don’t have the time or energy for that.
The last piece of advice I can give about poly dating is to enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about the next three steps. Enjoy this one. Have fun. Do something new. Then go home and share the excitement with your spouse!
I have always preferred the term “responsible sex” over “safe sex”. It implies that we have a choice when it comes to the decisions we make. I have written a lot about responsibility as it deals with emotions and how our actions affect the relationships in our poly circle, but today the topic gets a little more earthy. Let’s talk about sex. We were all in a Sex Ed class at some time or another. We all know the statistics, consequences, and responsibilities that come with sex, and by now we all know how to be healthy, sex positive adults.
Do you remember that poster of the sex pyramid? No not that pyramid, the other one. The one that shows how many people you actually have sex with when you factor in every partner your partner is with. Yeah, that one. As with any other actions in a polyamory, the decisions we make affect each and every member of our family. I take that responsibility very seriously and do not even consider sex with anyone who tries to weasel his way around safe sexual practices. I have heard every line in the book. I consider this blatant disrespect and an attempt to put my entire family in danger, since giving in puts not only me, but my partners and their partners and so on, all at risk.
My family trusts me to make responsible decisions, and I trust them to do the same. This level of trust is crucial in a poly situation. I’m sorry, but no sex is worth breaking that trust. Yes, especially sex with you Mr Random Internet Hookup. I’m sure you’re just as trustworthy as any other person on the internet, which means I brought my own condoms, so there’s no risk that they’re old, weathered, or tampered with. As a side note, always make sure your barriers are in good condition. This doesn’t just mean checking the expiration date. This means checking the packaging. Have they been sitting in a wallet for a year getting beat up? Have they been repeatedly exposed to extreme heat and cold? Could they have been punctured? Be smart, friends. Condoms are not so expensive that you should risk using one that’s past its prime.
The next step in responsible sex is testing. Unless you’ve been abstinent for the last six months, even if you’ve been protected every time, regular testing is still necessary. Our family gets tested at least one every six months just to make sure nothing has slipped through the cracks. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and this is something I’ve had to explain to clinic staff in the past. We don’t get tested because we feel dirty or because we’ve done something wrong. We do it to be healthy and informed. An informed family is a responsible family.
At this time I am blessed to have medical professionals in my life who don’t bat an eyelash when I talk about my lifestyle and are always happy to give me the information I need to keep us all healthy, but not after a long road of judgmental and unhelpful ones on the way. I have had OBGYNs tell me I should use condoms with my husband because I can never be sure he’s telling the truth about his actions. I assure you, I would not be married to him if I could not. There is also outdated information still being passed out by medical professionals about HIV and bisexual men, gay men, and apparently men in general that is no longer useful or apropos, and they have used it to warn me about the dangers of my choices in partners.
I do have partners with whom I am fluid bound. It’s a big step in a relationship for me, and one I don’t take lightly. It takes a huge amount of trust and commitment to accept what happens if accidents do happen. That old Sex Ed cliché “Nothing is 100% but abstinence” has truth to it, and this lifestyle incorporates a certain level of accepted risk. Making the decision to be poly, fluid bound, kinky, or anything else means acknowledging that risk and agreeing to deal with any fall out as a family if it happens. In most cases it doesn’t, but it has to be something you keep in the back of your mind, because the power to decrease or increase the likelihood of unplanned events is yours.
We’ve all been there. One of us gets the idea that Date Night is a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea when you’ve reached a point where all your time spent as a couple is spent cleaning or running errands. The caveat is that once you plan a date night you need to find something to fill that time, especially in the winter when temperatures make it hard to keep a smile that isn’t just frozen on your face when outdoors. Luckily you’ve got a voice of experience to give you a few favourites in my book..
The family that glows together. I happen to love mini golf, but golfing in 20 degree weather can be a bit much, and until recently there were no local places to play indoors. The ones that have popped up are just as fun and challenging as any outdoor courses I’ve played, and they’re usually some form of blacklight glow golf! If you’re in Florida you get the added benefit of lizards. The last time we were in Kissimmee it turned into a side game to score lizard avoidance because they would sit on the course or run across it as our balls were in motion. Fun!
Drive Each Other Crazy! If you’re blessed enough to live somewhere warm enough to be outdoors, like the Fun Spot in Orlando, find a go-kart track and go! Drive doubles or singles, and take a romantic ride on the Ferris Wheel. Just make sure you go in the photo booth before the ride in the bumper boats with water cannons on them. Or don’t, and make it sexy!
Life’s a Picnic. Pack your favourite lunch or desserts and head out for a relaxing picnic. Again, if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate, go to the park or beach. If not, maybe wander through a museum, aquarium, or indoor farmer’s market. Don’t try to picnic in the snow unless it’s a hot chocolate picnic.
Take a Scavenger Hunt! Have you guys heard of Watson Adventures? You should have. I’ve written about them before. They’re awesome! With hunts themed for adults and children of varied interests, you can wander through art and science museums, farmer’s markets, historic neighborhoods, and zoos. Make your family a team, or split up and see who gets the most answers!
Be a Bunch of Tourists. Head to a local brewery, historic site, or factory and take a tour. I am constantly amazed by the places around us that I have never heard of. This year we made a list of “to do” ideas for those restless weekends when we just want to be out of the house. It also gives you a good reason to get some pictures as a family without feeling silly. Go ahead! Be silly, and learn something while you do it!
Be a bunch of kids! Head to a local bowling alley, Family Fun Center, or Dave and Busters with pockets full of quarters and let loose! There is a barn not far from our house that has been converted into an arcade. The best part? Once you pay to get in the games are unlimited! There’s another place in a really cute village of restaurants and antique stores with vintage arcade games, much like the Musée Méchanique on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, which means there’s something for the history nerd, the antique shopper, the foodie, and the gamer all in one trip!
A few tips.
You are not a weather man, and sometimes it’s just not worth heading out in the elements no matter how much you need the time, so have a contingency plan. Stay in and have a slumber party. Make hot cocoa, ice cream sundaes, cookies, or a bunch of new Pinterest recipes. Do each other’s nails and hair, men too! Have something in mind in case you can’t or just don’t feel like leaving the house.
If you’re playing some kind of game, never hesitate to make a wager. There is nothing wrong with a little competition, especially if there’s something in it to sweeten the pot. It can give you something more adult to look forward to if there are kids with you at the time, and it can give you leverage to bargain with later. Have a few already in mind so you’re not put on the spot when it comes up, because it will.
Never be afraid to be creative and just go with it. It’s good to have a plan, but remember that plans can always change, and sometimes we each have a different idea of how an activity is going to go or what we should be doing. Keep it simple. Be flexible and open-minded, and just enjoy the ride. The important part is that you’re all together. Date night is about the time together, not the itinerary.
I hope that helped! Now go make plans! Take an umbrella, and wear sensible shoes.
Go now, have fun!
What does it mean to be poly?
Polyamory is not a method or a behaviour; it’s who we are as people. While no two people are identical, there is a very bare boned archetype of a polyamorous person.
To be poly, one must be open-minded, honest, and willing to step outside of her comfort zone. She must be strong, sensible, reliable, and able to put the needs of her family ahead of her own.
To the outside world, from conversations I have had, we take on a bit of legend and fantasy. To those who support polyamory, or at least tolerate it, we are saints. We are patient, selfless, and unfettered. We never have a negative emotion or disagreement, and life in a poly family is nothing but a day in Shangri-la. To those who are not supportive of our lifestyle, we are flaky, immoral, and non-committal. We are either being taken advantage of or avoiding real relationships, and we never deal with real issues because we can’t possibly work together as a team.
Reality is what reality does, lying somewhere in the middle Yes, polyamory requires patience, a skill many of us have had to hone as we go. We must not be selfless, but able to compromise, and poly merely means setting or own limits and boundaries as they make sense to us, not that we can simply ignore rules. On the other hand, yes, there are some people who are poly just to avoid real relationships or commitment. Sadly, it is my opinion that they will never grasp the full potential and freedom one can find in a committed poly family.
We’ve been over all this before, but what I have not discussed is how being poly looks and acts within the community, and even within the family.
Within the community we are a team, no matter what. Past that, we may look different, because poly is not a set of rules. No two poly families looks or acts the same. To some we’re a little more conservative. To others we’re a bit more open and free. In either case, we try to be a good resource and sounding board, especially to those just exploring polyamory. Our lifestyle isn’t a closed cult or a patented method, nor are we the poly police, but we try to project a loving, sharing attitude to those who may want to learn and grow or just talk. What’s that line about poly people talking a lot? We do.
When I think of Hubby or A, I think of people I can trust and speak with openly without judgment. I think of people who will fight just as hard as I will for our family and come to me with a problem before letting it cause resentment or discord. The fact that we’re human means that sometimes we get a little off track or lose sight of the bigger picture when something is important to us as individuals. We have bad days, we get emotional and cranky, and we have fears and insecurities that can sometimes keep us from being as open as we hope others will be with us. This doesn’t mean we’re “doing it wrong”, it means we’re not gods or angels, but mortals after all.
In a conversation I had with someone recently I was asked how I thought the “group mind” of a family changed our identities, and I think a lot of my answer to him fits here. To the outside world we feel a need to look strong and well-adjusted. We want the world to accept polyamory as a happy, healthy lifestyle, so we put on that facade to never let on that we have rifts, because to have an issue is to prove all the arguments made against polyamory. Sometimes this behaviour gets internalized and becomes how we act with each other, which can dangerously lead to a lapse in communication and compassion and make us feel trapped. At times I feel like we do the same within the poly community to prove our authenticity. We hold ourselves to unreachable standards, leading to inner turmoil and an unstable family structure.
Now I may to contradict myself for a moment. Yes, poly is a way of being not a way of doing. No, this does not mean that every poly person will get along with or be able to love every other poly person. I have gone on several date with people who admitted that polyamory was the only thing we had in common. The only reason I was a blip on the map was our proximity and lifestyle and the size of our local community. The problem here comes when people settle with situations that don’t make them happy because of the assumption that there aren’t any other local poly people. This panic leads to bad experiences which can actually drive people away from the lifestyle, which I hate to see. That’s like never eating pizza again because I assumed the place next door was the only pizzeria in town and got sick from it.
Polyamory doesn’t change who we are, and it is not an exclusive personality trait. It’s merely a lifestyle that embodies a set of personality traits that make up part of who we are as lovers, families, and individuals. By no means does it make us all compatible, and by no means does it make us all experts, but by no means does any of that make us less genuine.
Two years ago I wrote a post in my blog about Time Management. It centered mostly around the time constraints of a new relationship, so today I’d like to talk about time management in a family situation.
Time can be one of the hardest aspects to master in any marriage. Between work and personal interests it never seems like there is enough of it to get everything done and spent quality time with all the people we love. This can be a sensitive topic in a poly relationship and the one I find leads to the most emotional discussions we have. At times it seems like juggling knives would be less tense, and often less risky, but it’s not something that can be avoided.
Our family full of independent people with jobs and extracurricular passions that take up a lot of our free time. Add in commutes, differences in shifts, and household chores, and this leaves very little to work with when it comes to spending time together. We have a pretty colourful Google Calendar, which I will mention again and again as a poly family’s best friend, but finding space between the motley array of prior commitments can be frustrating. Making that time healthy rather than stressed and rushed can be even more so.
My piece of that pie comes with the fact that Hubby and I have household responsibilities that generally fill up the two days a week I’m home from work. This may change when I’m home every day or when we all live in the same house, but at this time that’s the reality. It’s also the only time we have to see friends and family, so even that together time is rarely the one on one bonding time that keeps an intimate relationship healthy. We can go months at a time without a day spent alone together doing something relaxing or fun together, and this causes a lot of stress on our marriage when it starts to seem like all we do is visit friends and do chores. From my perspective, Hubby’s nights with A are still considered “planned”, so he won’t plan a night with a friend or another hobby during the time he’s with her, and I admit I get a little flustered knowing my time gets filled with those things because we live together. While I may have more time on the whole, very little of it is quality time even spent in the same room, while they get to go to dinner, movies, and wine tastings. Hubby is trying to make sure we balance that better, and we try to have a “planned” date once in a while, but sometimes nothing can be done.
On A’s side she worries about our responsibilities completely filling Hubby’s schedule and pushing out her time. Hubby likes to sleep, so unless there’s a planned activity he will lounge and sleep or play games on his computer. This often frustrates her, because she wants to be doing something, even if it’s just cuddling or making breakfast. Because I’m often only home on weekends, that’s when we’re usually busy, so she doesn’t get a lot of time with him that doesn’t involve a work schedule in some way. This can be stressful having to factor in bedtimes and work responsibilities, and if he gets held up at work she misses out on what waking free time she has.
Now let’s add a new development, just because things weren’t stretched thin as it was. Hubby just started a job that will sometimes have him out of town a few nights a week, which means the only time he has consistently available is the weekend. This means our schedule changes somehow. It also means that all the personal activities he had reserved for weeknights also now can only happen on weekends.
We have discussed options that will make everyone happy. I have no problem with spending a weekend or half a weekend alone. My concern is that all Hubby’s personal time, all our time with his friends, and all our time spent as a family will come out of the now abridged time he and I have together, especially over the summer when events and outings pick up frequency. Last year we had a few incidents with time management and things that were really important to me getting pushed aside or family time that left me feeling like a third wheel. Some of that is internal, but some has been identified as something we all really need to work on to be a happy, healthy family.
Right now it’s all very up in the air with me out of work, and I will be returning right about the time our Google Calendar lights up again. I won’t say I’m not a little worried, but we’re all adults, and I’m sure we can work out a solution. It might take a few rounds of discussion and trial-and-error, but I feel like we’re headed in a positive direction.
Someone told me once that polyamory is not for a hopeless romantic like myself. While I don’t completely agree, I do see where the sentiment comes from. When things are falling into place polyamory is a great environment for a romantic like myself, but this is real life, and where there are glitches in any relationship there are exponential glitches in a poly situation.
The images and definitions you get when you look up “Polyamory” on Google look like a lot of fun, but none of them quite grasp what it takes to keep the wheels turning. A Corvette is beautiful, but if the engine stops all you’ve got is a pretty piece of yard art. Here’s a look under the hood.
Being a tribe, not a room full of chiefs. We are a family of strong-willed, smart, leaders, but working as a team means each of us giving up a little control to support the whole. There may be areas where I’m a little more experienced or have better solutions, but working together means not trying to dominate every aspect of our lives together. It also means listening and forming ideas together, using the collective brain to fix problems and make plans, and not being too proud to step back and let someone else take the wheel.
Being a Time Lord. If none of us had jobs or lives outside of this family time would never be an issue, Fortunately, we are all more well-rounded than that. This means there’s a lot to keep track of. Not only do my plans have to consider my busy schedule, but Hubby’s and A’s as well, which ripples into their extended circles and those schedules. Sometimes it feels like all of our time together is spent figuring out when we all have time to have more time together. The answer? Every poly family needs a blue police box. Or Google Calendar.
Being comfortable alone and in a group. By the very nature of poly we are a large family. This means a lot time spent as a group, which can be daunting for a hermit. On the flip side, there will be times when everyone else is busy. This alone time can be healthy. It’s integral to me that I not let my whole self be absorbed by the collective. I need to own my identity, which means learning to appreciate and utilize my rare alone time as much as I appreciate and utilize my intimate one-on-one and family time.
Being a communicator and a listener. When I get nervous, frustrated, tired, anxious, or uncomfortable I talk. When I feel overwhelmed, out-of-place, stupid, wounded, or slighted I get quiet. This talking and not-talking, however, does not equate to communicating well or listening, and that’s something I have to remind myself constantly. In groups, or when we feel like we’re losing something, we tend to speak however we think people will hear us. Oftentimes we are more concerned about having a chance to make our points heard that we merely sit and wait to talk instead of actually listening to the person talking. This doesn’t get anyone anywhere. It just creates more chaos and heightened emotions.
Being an adult who can act like a kid. Let’s face it, we take ourselves to seriously. We are all professionals, parents, activists, anachronists, writers, and intellectuals. It’s all very serious business, but we can easily lose track of the fact that we started doing a lot of these things because we enjoy them, and this leads us to take life and ourselves too seriously. With all that rigidity something is bound to snap. Sometimes it’s just as important to let loose and be ridiculous. Alone, together, as couples, it’s all an important part of the bonding experience and, in my opinion, one of the secrets of life.
Being able to get off your own rollercoaster to help someone ride his/hers. There’s a meme going around that says “Everyone is going through something,” and it’s true. Whether good, bad, or just plain important, everyone has something happening. In a poly family you tend to have a lot of this happening at once. I may be starting a great new relationship, but Hubby might be having a rough time with one ending. It is important that we each not get so wrapped up in our own feelings that we disregard the other’s. I can be supportive of him without ignoring or trivializing my NRE (new relationship energy), and he can be happy for me while still processing his grief. It just takes both of us being able to emotionally multitask.
Being open and optimistic. We live in a society that teaches us to learn from our mistakes, which can be great, but sometimes taken out of context. In poly we trend to forget that real relationship snags happen. Just because we’re both poly doesn’t mean we’re compatible. Just because the last guy with those stats was a jerk doesn’t mean this one will be, unless the stat says “jerk”. Poly requires an open, fresh heart every time we enter a new relationship no matter what happened “last time”. This can be one of the hardest lessons in love, the ability to let go and move on without forming a whole new litany of issues. When I found Hubby I was overjoyed to never have to go through the dating process again, and dating as a poly woman can be discouraging and frustrating. I encounter people who just want sex, people who think they don’t have to treat me like a real girlfriend because I’m married, and people who use me as a fill-in until what they’re looking for comes along because they think I shouldn’t require any commitment beyond now. Add all this to the normal dating mishaps, and it’s a wonder anyone falls into place, but it’s a beautiful thing when it happens, and it will only happen if we stay open to the possibility.
Being a romantic realist. I love surprises. I love coordinating surprises. I love sweet moments and little things to make those I love smile knowing they are loved. I love surrounding myself with people who find creative little ways to do the same for me. This is where polyamory is perfect for my inner romantic. It’s also the part of me that gets disappointed and a little pouty when we have to accept that sometimes things happen. Intimate moments are interrupted. Time is hectic. This year Hubby and A went on a trip the weekend before our first wedding anniversary. I agreed to it. They needed the time. We never got to do anything special for our anniversary. Life took over, and we just never had time. The romantic in me screamed and stomped, but the realist in me had to accept it knowing it wasn’t the last anniversary we’ll ever spend together.
Being able to wear the big kid britches. I have needs. Everyone does. Physical need. Emotional needs. Sexual needs. They all need to be addressed and tended to, but sometimes having a need means prioritizing. It also means learning to tend to some of these needs ourselves. When we form a family, especially a large family, we get used to being taken care of, but we have to remember that we’re all adults who took care of ourselves at one time or another. None of us lost that ability when we found each other. It’s nice to be taken care of when I need it, but if someone else’s need is greater I have to be willing to asses whether or not what I have is a need or a desire. If it’s a desire, it can wait. If it’s a need, can I find a way to satisfy it on my own? Once that’s done I need to be able to not take it personally that I had to do it myself. This can be the hardest part of all this adult behaviour, not forming resentment.
Being able to hold your tongue. I hate to say it, but there’s no rule saying I will or must like everyone Hubby dates. They don’t all have to like me either, as long as they’re respectful of our family. This can be the hardest part of poly. I don’t have to like who Hubby’s with to support him and be happy for him, nor does it mean am happy or relieved if that situation fails. That’s not to say I might not be relieved, but my primary care is for his happiness and well-being. Unless he asks or there is a major conflict regarding respect or honesty, my responsibility to him is to keep my mouth shut. It’s not my relationship; it’s his. It may make group activities trying, but I am obligated to at least try before we discuss any overbearing issues.
Polyamory is a lot of fun, a lot of love, and a lot of adventures, but it’s also a lot of work and not for anyone who can’t handle constant change, re-evaluation, and adaptation. We’re all learning as we go, and we all make mistakes. It’s how we handle those mistakes, change our course, and move on as a solid unit that decides if we sink or sail. Sometimes we improvise. Sometimes it all comes together as planned. In either case we do it with strong hearts and genuine faith in each other. We are warriors. We are wheels turning and hearts singing. We are a tribe, and nothing is stronger than the tribe.
I usually have some idea what I want to do for Hubby for Valentine’s Day. This year, however, my well of ideas has run dry, so last night I set out on an internet search. I was thoroughly unprepared for the magnitude of hilarious Valentine’s Day crap out there! While I’d never pay money just to give Hubby a gag Valentine, I will let him read this post and laugh with me, which is all in the same spirit anyway. I hope you’re all prepared, because ready or not, Happy Valentine’s Day
I’m a little uncomfortable being just stared at this way, but I might give this card with a taser.
This one has creepy pink-lipstick adorned Nick Cage, and why is that teddy bear sitting up on the side like that? I’d give this with a ragged old teddy bear I found at a thrift store. Maybe a rape whistle.
I actually considered buying this one, especially because it’s a magnet. I might give this in a “gas acceptance” gift basket full of canned pork n’ beans, cabbage, and grapes.
Cutest. Card. Ever. I’ve never cuddled a hedgehog, though. It’s probably not as cozy as it looks.
This was made me snort. I love science…and puns…and science puns. I’d pair this with one of those foot-long giant pencils.
For the dog lover in all of us. I might give this card before a romantic picnic in the park as warning to watch where you step.
Card number two I almost purchased. I had never seen an episode of Star Trek from beginning to end until I met Hubby. Last yeqr we had a romantic Jacuzzi suite where we spent a whole day watching a Star Trek marathon.
As is Jack in the Boxes weren’t creepy enough, here’s an image for you. Also, where to puppets or spring action “Jacks” have butts? I would give this with an actual Jack in the Box, the older and creepier the better, and a shaving kit.
This card speaks to the part of me that feels rebellious and indignant when people get overly suggestive. Still, I’ve always had a fondness for Alf, and it reminds me of my childhood. I’d give this with a box of fruit snacks and a slap bracelet.
This is just a big NO. It’s creepy, it’s bratty, it’s everything I dislike about Pokemon. Picachu was created to specifically attract girls and mothers to Pokemon, which makes it a manipulative “pocket monster”. It should not be using innuendo. I would give this with two bouquets. One for my date, and one for her mom.
What does it say about me that the first problem I had with this was the grammar? I’d at least send this with a cliche bottle of wine or box of chocolate to soften the blow.Creepy Yoda cupid. I probably don’t need to say more. I just hope there aren’t any old people in the room when my date sees the picture.
Don’t give this card if you’re part of a triad or poly family. Just sayin’. I’d give this with a bag of Sudoku and crosswords, maybe one of the personalized crosswords I mentioned last year.
There ya have it, friends! If you actually want to purchase any of these gems, they’re all available on Etsy.com. I send you all my love this Valentine’s Day, and whether or not you have a date I hope you do something exciting!
Go now, love.