Date night

Date night (Photo credit: kevin dooley)



Dating in a poly relationship can sometimes be a little tricky to navigate, not just because of the boundaries and agreements of your own relationship but those of the people  you intend to date.  Non-monogamy comes in all shapes and sizes, and you can have great chemistry with someone, but if they’re style doesn’t compliment yours there may be some disappointment.


Today I’m going to talk about “The Package Deal”.  This generally means a couple who dates, plays, interacts as a couple.  They may be looking for a third, another couple, or any other grouping of new partners, but they come as a set.  Hence, “The Package Deal”.  Let me start by saying that I’m not putting down any style that works for you.  Sometimes we get so comfortable in our ways that we forget that others are also entitled to develop their own relationship styles.  Hubby and I tried “The Package Deal” once, and while it wasn’t for us I admire anyone who can make it work.  To me it’s one of the more complicated forms of non-monogamy, but that doesn’t make it impossible or a thing to be avoided.


At the beginning of our poly journey Hubby and I dated as a couple until our second triad when our girlfriend decided she wasn’t actually bi.  Our choices at that point were to either end things with her completely and break up what was a strong bond between them or open our marriage completely and date as individuals.  It was a scary move when we decided on the latter choice, but one that was ultimately the best one for us.  Since then we have had points where we’ve dated the same person, but as two individuals not as a couple.


So, what are some of the pros and cons of “The Package Deal?”


Logistically, “The Package Deal” takes more consideration when it comes to time management.  On one hand it means less time away from one’s existing partner, since dates and time spent with the new partner are spent together.  This does mean, however, that there are more schedules to try to coordinate.  Time is something we’ve discussed before at great lengths and can be a deal breaker or mitigating factor in all types of poly situations.


In this particular form of non-monogamy there is no “blind-eye”.  While you don’t have to wonder what your partner is up to with others you also can’t avoid it when you’ve got a front row seat for the action.  You must be completely, totally, 100% secure in your partnership or there will be drama.  This is great for anyone who tends to think the worst about things he can’t see or experience first hand.  It’s perfect for anyone who gets excited by the idea of her partner with someone else but not so much for someone who is shy or prefers more intimate one-on-one interaction.  “The Package Deal” is not a way to avoid jealousy or have control over a given situation.  No matter what form of non-monogamy you practice these issues will come to a head and you will have to deal with them.  End of story.


“The Package Deal” requires a little more patience than most forms of non-monogamy to find the right fit.  Think about how long it took to find your existing partner.  Think about how many times it just didn’t feel right or the chemistry just wasn’t there.  It’s hard enough sometimes when just two people are involved.  Now that you’ve added another person and his dislikes and preferences in a partner you increase the variables that need to match for a healthy relationship to form.  This may mean compromising a little.  We’ve all heard of the “unicorn”.  This is where we start the quest for the unicorn.  If your standards are too rigid or your expectations are too high you may never find a partner that suits your needs.  You may also find someone who fits one persons needs but not the other, especially when factoring in sexual orientation or BDSM dynamic roles.  “The Package Deal” demands that you have at least similar taste and needs from someone new.  This is an enormous shoe for that one person to fill.  The flip side of this is that if you find someone who fits the bill and they have chemistry with both partners the resulting unit is generally extremely solid.


In my experience “The Package Deal” can either bring a couple closer together or tear them apart.  In some cases sharing those experiences and loving someone together can strengthen the bond between existing partners and foster a larger sense of community.  In others it can pull out latent insecurities, competitiveness, and fears. I have heard everything from “I love the look you give me when you’re with her” to “you never make those sounds for me!”.  As with any form of non-monogamy you can handle the latter case with open, honest, non-confrontational communication and the desire for balance.  There is also the chance that one person will get very attached and the other won’t or one will fall in love and the other will actually dislike the new partner.  In a situation where emotions are already running high this can cause a lot of internal processing and damage control if not handled carefully on all sides.  We can’t control or predict every scenario or our emotional responses to them, and the “Package Deal” can make that reality exponentially intense.


“The Package Deal” can be a good gate to independent dating or it can be a permanent state of non-monogamy.  I believe it really helped me and Hubby feel things out and decide how we really felt as opposed to over-analyzing or over-intellectualizing them.  It left no room to hide reactions or surprise emotions, and while it may have caused some severe growing pains it also taught us some harsh but necessary lessons about communication, compersion, and sacrifice. It forced us to step out of our comfort zone as a couple and build trust that we would conduct ourselves appropriately outside of the one another’s presence.  This was a huge turning point for our marriage and one we’ve built on in the years since then.


I would never advise against “The Package Deal”, but I would suggest that you keep in mind that relationships are not solid state objects.  They are constantly changing and growing, as are the needs and desires of each person in those relationships.  I would strongly recommend that once you find a comfort zone in this lifestyle you revisit your opinion on “The Package Deal”.  Decide if it’s still what you need as a couple and as individuals, and repeat as often as necessary.  What works for you now may not work for you down the road, and you must always be prepared to at least discuss the possibility of change.