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Friday, April 9, 2010

Screening new loves?

So here you are, happily traveling down the poly road in life. You have an SO with an open relationship and there aren't many rules. One day you are at a party or other gathering and you see some sweet young thing that catches your eye. You pop on over, introduce yourself, and start having a conversation. Things go well and there seems to be some chemistry between you. You start to think that maybe there is a possibility of some type of relationship with this person.

So what now? Obviously there are the initial questions you might be asking yourself like, is their body language indicating interest beyond friendship? What about their attitude?
Or are you more direct, asking very open and direct questions like "Would you like to come see my stamp collection?" ::wink, wink, nudge, nudge::
Let's say that goes well. You are still getting all the right signals and things seem to be looking good.
Now you are up to the tough part, letting them know you are poly. You do let them know you are poly before you start dating them, right?
How do you approach that? Do you just blurt it out and await the usual questions about polygamy and how long you have been a Mormon? Or do you ask them what their orientation is first?

Let's assume you find they are poly, and you let them know you are poly as well.
What now?
Do you ask for their definition of poly and see if yours and theirs are compatible?
And what about all the other questions:
-Sexual safety.
-Poly openness? Do they say they are poly but really aren't?
-How would they mesh into your existing relationship(s)?
-Could they be integrated to your existing poly family?

In other words, how do you ‘screen’ relationship potentials? Follow your gut or have a well defined screening process? Does it start as soon as you see someone? Before your first date? After the first date? After your first child is born?

I usually try and get things out in the open right away. I'm pretty much open to a relationship regardless of race, color, size, etc. so that doesn't slow me down much. If I'm attracted, physically or emotionally, I'm open to the idea.
Once I approach someone and start having a conversation I try to read the body language and listen to what they are saying. If I think things are looking good I'll try to steer the conversation to relationships, or I'll just casually drop comments like "My girlfriend and I. . . " and see how they react.
If things are still looking good I'll try to somehow let them know I'm poly. Again, I look at their reaction. If they run away screaming I pretty much know there is no possibility of a relationship.

At that point if things are still looking good I'll start being much more direct with my questions about their current lifestyle, past lifestyle, lifestyle dreams, interests with respect to new loves, things like that.
Assuming everything still sounds good and we are both still interested I'll try to setup a date.

Ahhh, but the screening process doesn't end there. I usually expect nothing on the first date. I may flirt but I don't even expect a goodnight kiss. Now on that first date if they indicate they are interested in sex soon, like right then, I'll complete the date being as socially nice as possible but I probably won't pursue a relationship with any kind of physical aspect with the person. To me, that's casual sex, and I'm just not that interested in someone who has sex that casually. Maybe that's okay for some folks, good for you. Just not my thing.
But if that first date goes well, and they don't scare me off ::laughs:: then I'll try for a second.

The second date is where I'll start asking much more direct questions that are more physically and relationship focused. I'm still not going to assume there will be any physical interaction but in my mind it is a good time to get 'those conversations' out of the way. You know, the sexual safety questions, etc. Of course, every person is different and if I'm getting vibes from the other person that they aren't quite ready for 'those conversations' then I wait for a subsequent date. What I've outlined here is more of my general roadmap than a hard and fast set of procedures.

So how do you do it? Is each person different or do you have a method you prefer to follow? What has worked well and what hasn't?
Personally I've heard people say they never tell someone they are poly until after the first couple of dates. What do you think of that idea?
What failures have you had? I remember dating a woman once who I had told I was poly before our first date. After our first date we were talking on the phone the next day and I mentioned something about my SO and I getting together later. The next thing I knew I was being screamed at for "not telling her HOW poly I was". Apparently she thought I was poly until I started dating her, then I would somehow magically change and we would have a monogamous relationship. Wow.

And maybe an even better question; What suggestions do you have for poly people in the situation described above when they meet someone new?

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