I have a deep-seated love/hate relationship with the dating game.  Yes, even as a married poly woman this gets frustrating, daunting, and just plain exhausting.  First, there’s the constant barrage of new interests in whom I’m just not interested.  I used to have a real problem turning people down.  As a result I went on a lot of dates, even multiple dates, with people I couldn’t stand.  Please  note, I’ve gotten over that.  It is assumed that because I’m poly I will date several people at once.  If I had the time for this and found that many people with whom I would consider spending quality time I’d consider it, but this is the real world.  So the first step is always, Could I have the time and sincere interest in this person?  

If that question can’t be answered adequately or it’s a completely new person in my life, there’s the “getting to know you” portion.  While I love getting to know new people, I hate the obligatory ice breakers, I’m terrible about asking pertinent questions or giving information about myself that anyone really cares to know, and I’m really not the social butterfly you might imagine.  (Really, Autumn?  Really.)  If you’ve read my Summer of Love post, you know I didn’t even do on a date until I was 17.  This is why.  I’m not very adept at it. 

If getting to know this new person goes well there’s an awkward limbo of wondering if he or she likes me and the inevitable progress or rejection that stems from that.  Even if both parties agree there are subsequent dates where you find all the little things you either can’t stand or decide you can live with to keep that person around.  All in all, it’s a stressful, time-consuming process to end up having to start all over.  This is why I hate the dating game.  I just like to get to the part where you’re sure this person is worth your time and devotion and enjoy each other’s company.

I also love the dating game.  It’s refreshing at times, and a confidence booster no matter who the attention comes from.  Now that I’ve learned to have standards and tactfully turn down people in whom I have no interest, I can take advantage of my options and be selective. 

I also love the thrill of both conquest and courtship.  I like feeling needed, wanted, and important enough to spend the energy to obtain.  occasionally I come across someone I actively want to pursue and get to know, and then there is no longer a question of time and energy, it’s a need.  In this case I live for the “getting to know you” portion.  When I find someone fascinating I can’t get enough of them.  I’m like a sponge, soaking up all the information and time that person is willing to give me.  There’s a thrill and excitement to new energy in my world.  It energizes me and reminds me why I love the lifestyle I’ve chosen. 

Even if the relationship never goes beyond this point, I’ve made a lot of really good friends this way.  In some cases the other person wasn’t interested, and in some I wasn’t.  Some just never flourished past a meaningful night or two and a good friendship.  In any case, I wouldn’t give these people up for the world.  They are my chosen family, and my feelings for them don’t change based on how we associate “love”.  It simply is. 

So, yes, I both love and hate the dating game.  Sometimes it gets exhausting and I desire more consistency.  Sometimes I like to feel a familiar touch of someone who genuinely cares and loves me.  I like to belong.  I like to feel safe and warm.  The dating game only sustains me in between these times.  These feelings can’t be rushed or fabricated, so until then I’ll just enjoy the ride and take what I can, be it a good memory, a good friend, or just a nice dinner.