Recently, and those who read my blog regularly will recognize the theme here, I found myself in a conversation with a couple about their Polyamorous lifestyle. Without going into a lot of detail this couple is struggling a bit with Poly and as also seems to happen sometimes I found myself in a counseling type of role.
So here we were just chatting away. . .
She: We go to strip clubs sometimes.
She: Yeah, we find partners that way.
Him: We have a hard time finding people we both like. And finding Poly people.
She: So we go to the strip clubs and look until we find someone we both like.
She: So then I go to them and give them a business card with our information. I tell them we might like to have massages or something. Or give them a massage.
Me: Okay. . .
She: I let them know we might like to hire them, for massages or whatever.
Me: So these are the strippers you are approaching?
She: Yeah, dancers. I tell them we would like to hire them or maybe party with them. Well, but, if we party with them we will give them some money if they need it.
Me: Um, okay.
Him: We have met some nice people that way.
She: And we let them know we want to have a relationship with them. So like, this one woman we had a relationship with, it went pretty well but she got demanding.
Me: Demanding? What do you mean?
She: Well, she wanted more and more from us.
Me: I don't understand what you mean.
Him: She wanted more money.
Me: So you were paying her while you were in a relationship?
She: No, not paying her. Just giving her money if she needed it. And we gave her lots of gifts. Stuff she needed.
At that point the conversation refocused on why my mouth was hanging open for so long.
My brain was screaming at me: "They are hiring prostitutes, having an ongoing arrangement with them, and calling it Polyamory!!"
I honestly didn't know what to say at that point. Even worse, it really turned me off to the point I wasn't even that interested in continuing our meeting. I did so as nicely as possible and have been social the few times I've seen them since then. Sadly I liked and felt somewhat attracted to them both but after that conversation there is no way I would enter into a relationship, particularly a physical one, with either of them. In my mind they just aren't safe anymore.
Disclaimer: I'm not at all saying prostitutes are bad people or that there isn't cause for their services. Nor am I saying all strippers or exotic dancers are prostitutes. And 'safety' is a personal decision which used in the context above refers to the safety of the couple in question, not the prostitutes or strippers.
But I digress. What really stuck in my mind was the thought; if you are paying someone to have a physical or emotional relationship with you that isn't Polyamory. It is prostitution. As much as I tried to comprehend the idea I just couldn't come up with a way to call what this couple was doing Polyamory.
It got me to thinking what my limits might be when it comes to finding loves. Would I pay someone to have a relationship with me? Jokes about a guy "paying for it anyway" aside, the answer is no. Never. Nuh-uh.
What about someone in the Swing lifestyle? I wouldn't cross them off the list just because they were a Swinger but it would require some serious conversations. I would need to know our relationship was more than sex, at a minimum.
What about fishing in the Monogamy pond? I have but when I do I'm pretty up-front about being Poly. Before the first date actually. I've had mixed results doing that and it definitely isn't my favorite place to find a love.
Fortunately I socialize in a fairly liberal crowd where folks are not only comfortable talking about their lifestyle but very accepting of all lifestyles. I also try to remain active in the Poly groups near me. Though some have an incestuous feel, some don't and make for a nice place to meet other Polyfolk for potential dating.
So what do you think? Was the above couple engaging in prostitution or was what they were doing okay? Would you ever try to start relationships in that way?
And what limits do you have? Do you completely stay away from the Mono pond or another group? Have you ever made the mistake of fishing in the wrong pond?