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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Integration causes disintegration.

Yay, I have a new partner! Let's make them a part of the family right now!

At a poly event the other night there was an interesting conversation about a MFMF quad that is having a bit of a problem. Apparently one of the men in the quad had recently acquired a new female partner. Being a somewhat close quad they began to try and incorporate this new woman into their quad immediately. To their surprise they found the woman didn't have much interest in incorporating with the family. She seems perfectly content to date the man separate from the quad and have a relationship with him alone.

Interestingly, to the men in the quad that seems to be just fine. It is the two women in the quad who seem to be upset with the idea. They are quite frustrated the new woman doesn't care to interact with them and won't be contributing to the quad. A big part of their frustration is that the man will now be spending time away from the quad to be with his new partner. The result being that one of the women currently in the quad will be left alone at times while everyone else is out on a date.

The question became; what to do when a new partner doesn't want to integrate with an existing poly family?

Actually, I think that is the wrong question to ask. It seems to me the quad has created a paradigm being that anyone new should become a part of the family. Related to that is that nobody wants to be the odd person out, to be sitting home alone. This would be the same problem were it a couple instead of a quad and one of the two found a new partner. The question in my mind is more like; How do we deal with one partner in the quad being out with their new partner.

Or maybe an even better question since the women in the quad seem so unhappy without someone to occupy their time; Are we a closed, fidelitous quad?

When creating our poly lives it is sometimes easy to create a paradigm that supports our desires while protecting us from the undesirable; being alone, not having our partner when we want them, not feeling threatened in our relationships, and on and on. When the paradigm is questioned, such as in the situation mentioned, it is easy to defend it by saying "That's our agreement" or "That's how we have always done things."

When I run into a problem like this in my relationships, where something isn't working or feeling right, I try to question what it is that is actually being challenged. Is it a rule or just a common expectation. And where did that rule or expectation come from. Was it something born of an honest reason or cause, or is it the result of repetition in the current relationship that has morphed into a subconscious expectation. If there isn't a good reason supporting the feeling then a subconscious expectation is likely the cause and the expectation needs to change. That can be a very hard thing to do, almost as hard as changing psychological norms.

The feeling that things are changing and shouldn't be is a trend I have noticed where people resist change they haven't initiated. Couple that with the type of expectation mentioned above and it is easy to see how someone could become defensive and hostile very quickly. The key for me is realizing how the expectation was created and taking a deep breath before examining what is changing.

Tell me your thoughts. Did the quad create their own problem as I believe they may have done or am I on a sailboat with no sail again? Have you ended up with expectations in a relationship due to repetition that were contrary to the relationship goals or design? And, how do you deal with change in your relationships?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't do it if it makes sense!

Yep, it happened again. One more time I found myself in the middle of a conversation that made my head spin and my brain hurt. At the same time, it got me to thinking. . .

The comment that was made was this; "I can't do poly, I get jealous too easy. Instead I'll just cheat."

Excuse me?

At first glance that statement was more than a little disturbing to me. And as you might have guessed, or even do yourself, I mentally put that person immediately into the "Do Not Touch!" category. At the same time I like to be open to new ideas and dislike judging people without at least understanding their perspective or reasoning so I tried to take a balanced look at the statement and underlying concept.

With poly you do still have jealousy, I can't argue with that. Some people are better than others at controlling it or dealing with it but most still have it. The behavior taught to most of us throughout life is that physical sharing of the person you love is wrong. Physical fidelity implies love and commitment. The result is that the idea of sharing your love with another person can create feelings of jealousy.

But jealousy, in my opinion, is supported by other behavior. Most obvious is that whatever is happening isn't talked about. It is a secret. It is that unknown that often makes jealousy much worse than what actually took place. But there are other things that can cause jealousy to grow such as lack of support or visible behavior by a partner.

In trying to wrap my head around the concept of cheating to avoid jealousy all I kept seeing were red flags and comparisons that raised even more red flags;

With poly and jealousy things are, hopefully, out in the open and you can work on the problems whereas with cheating you deal with your own guilt and should you get caught the relationship will likely explode as unfixable.

Jealousy mainly causes one person pain, maybe two. Not to diminish that but with cheating a whole lot of people could potentially be hurt.

Jealousy may or may not be a concern to other parts of the relationship whereas cheating is a good indication there are other rules or expectations that are possibly not being followed as well.

With all of that said, I have known couples in the past with a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Basically they know their partner is having other relationships, they just don't talk about it. I'm not sure how that would help you avoid jealousy. For me the unknown is almost always worse than the known. What it does do though is lead me to a bit better understanding of what the person mentioned was trying to say. Essentially what they don't know won't hurt them. At that point cheating, assuming you don't get caught, will avoid jealousy. Both having it and having to deal with it from a partner.

In a twisted way it makes a bit of sense to me now. If jealousy is the absolute worst problem you can imagine in a relationship then avoiding it at any cost makes some sense. Though I don't agree with cheating and would avoid becoming involved with someone who is cheating, I at least understand it a bit better now.

Where are you at with cheating? I know, most people despise it completely and I pretty much feel the same way. But, are there situations where cheating would actually be a better option?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dreams vs. reality.

Everybody has dreams right? Dreams of a big house, nice car, lots of money, or even the perfect spouse. To be fair, some even have quite modest dreams and achieve them easily. And some people are better at chasing their big dreams than others.

So how do dreams fit into Polyamory?

The concept I'm talking about is your ideal relationship paradigm vs. realistic relationship paradigm. What do you dream to have vs. what you actually find, have created, or is available.

Personally I hope to someday have a small to medium sized poly family, either living together or spending so much time as a group that it feels like we all live together. There wouldn't be physical relationship requirements such as "group play" or anything like that. Only that everyone would share respect and love for one another.

Being a realist though, I realize that is very probably something that will possibly never happen. It is difficult finding a group of people who want to be together that much and all get along that well. And sharing a household? Even more difficult. Because of that I scale back my dreams and realize having multiple partners that occasionally spend time together socially is probably more realistic.

But I do know people who have their dreams and are committed to making them happen. They want the integrated family and have a very specific design in mind. Unfortunately what I see from those people a lot of the time is disappointment and heartache. They often find new partners and incorporate them quickly into their family only to find they don't fit later. The endings are usually uncomfortable and often ugly with screaming breakups and the family being shattered.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't follow your dreams but I do think there are a couple of options here.

One is the path I have chosen which is to have your dream but be realistic about achievement of the dream. I keep my eyes and mind open to the possibility of fulfilling my dream but accept other options that may be available.

Second is dedication to your dream. The active search for fulfillment that includes the rejection of anyone or any situation that doesn't support your dream. I think the key here is careful examination of potential partners or situations prior to incorporation in your life to avoid the ugly breakups I mentioned above.

The path I've chosen makes sense to me and fits my personality. That isn't to say the second option isn't viable or less attractive. I think either would work.

What I'm curious about here is how you have balanced your dreams vs. reality. More to the point, are there other realistic options for chasing your dream that avoid conflict and heartache? What have you tried that has or has not worked? Do you think your dream is realistic or almost completely impossible?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Monogamous multiplicity.

The other day I heard a concept I had never heard of before, the idea that someone can have multiple monogamous relationships.

The person putting forth this idea was a self-identified polyamorist and was using the term Multiple Monogamous Relationships to define their polyamorous lifestyle. Essentially this person was saying that their poly family was closed; a poly-fidelity type situation. Though I don't remember how many partners were involved in the poly family, I understood there to be only one legal marriage involved. The person elaborated a bit and indicated physical relationships within their poly family were one-on-one and some of the partners didn't interact with each other physically.

My first impulse was that the term Multiple Monogamous Relationships was contradictory to say the least. Ridiculous, was the first word that came to my mind. Monogamy is sexual exclusivity right?

Thinking about it some more I took a peek at my Definitions page here on this blog and remembered that the definition of Monogamy originally meant simply a single marriage or union. Using that definition as a litmus test, was the idea of Multiple Monogamous Relationships possible? If there is only one marriage involved then technically it sounds plausible.

The other part of the definition, or a newer concept if you will, is sexual exclusivity. Breaking down that concept led me to a simple realization; sexual exclusivity can be perspective based. That is to say there are a couple of ways to define sexual exclusivity:
1. Having only one sexual partner at a time or the idea that you are only having sex with someone whom you currently have a relationship with and that you only have one relationship at a time. This is the more commonly accepted theme of monogamy.
2. Only having sex with one person at a time. Or stated simply; no threesomes or moresomes. You literally only have sex with one person at a time making sex an exclusive act at that moment.

Based on definition #2 and that the person putting forth the concept has only one legal marriage the concept of Multiple Monogamous Relationships is a very real possibility.

My feeling is that this person was trying to come up with a term to uniquely identify themselves. Is the term technically possible? Sure. But wouldn't Polyamory or Poly-fidelity, two more commonly understood terms, just as easily provide the definition needed? Seriously, why confuse an already confusing landscape? Does the term Multiple Monogamous Relationships provide better definition for their situation? Not that I can see.

What it probably does do is provide a more socially acceptable term for use in certain situations. Monogamy is a term with which most everyone is familiar. It implies morality, stability, and normalcy for most people. At the same time most people probably wouldn't care enough to question the term, or wouldn't want to show their ignorance if they didn't understand it. And if questioned, it would be quite easy to present Multiple Monogamous Relationships as Serial Monogamy and avoid revelation of a polyamorous lifestyle.

So what do you think about the concept or term; Multiple Monogamous Relationships? Contradictory or brilliant? Plausible or ridiculous? Does it provide good definition of a specific situation or just add more confusion to an existing big pile of confusion?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jumping in to avoid falling in.

How do you fall in love?

My current love (let's call her Lucy) and I have been together now for a couple of years. I'm a mostly heterosexual male while she is a definite bi-sexual. As we have built our relationship there are a few things we determined we didn't want. Neither of us wants to be another couple looking for a Unicorn. (A single female bisexual willing to join a M-F couple). Not only is that an almost impossible task (hence the term: Unicorn), neither of us feels mutual love of a new partner is a requirement. We don't believe that a new partner for either of us should be required to be a new partner for us both. We aren't looking for a third for a threesome, or even for one person we could both date independently. Although Lucy is a bit new to the poly world, she is experienced with open relationships and our relationship together has involved partners for us both. This isn't new to us and we both try to continually educate ourselves about polyamory.

We also aren't looking hard for partners. Neither of us believes that forcing a fit just to grow our family is a good idea. We prefer to let chance and fate determine our course. Since we are both quite open to different types of relationships with different types of people this path seems to make the most sense to us.

What we both do hope for is that when either of us finds a partner that we will all be friends. That we will hang out together, go do things together, and generally all enjoy each others company.

Where this all begins to matter is that we recently ran across something of a Unicorn. A nice woman (we'll call her Ethel) to which we were both attracted, seemed to get along well with, and was attracted to us both. I say "something of a Unicorn" because she does actually have a husband although we have never met him. At present time he is unavailable for us to meet him and will be unavailable for some time.

Since Lucy and I both knew that we were both interested in Ethel we discussed things a bit and decided we would both like to approach her about a relationship. We had several conversations with her, both as a group and individually, and found she was also willing to try a relationship. It was made very clear from the beginning that although we were open to "group activities" ::wink wink::, it was not a requirement and that we were all free to engage with each other one-on-one if desired. Ethel let it be known that although she had interest in me she was primarily interested in Lucy. And so things moved forward.

I won't go into details about who did what with whom so let's just say I have had more opportunities with Ethel than Lucy has. Despite that, we have all spent a fair amount of time together in group settings as well as individually.

This is where things get a bit confusing for me. I've noticed that Lucy and I don't fall in love the same way. Nor does Ethel.

Lucy tends to hold back a bit. She measures and evaluates things and quickly comes to a conclusion. At that point she will adjust her expectations and actions according to that conclusion. In this case Lucy feels a relationship with Ethel will be somewhat casual in nature and may not be long-term. What Lucy is comfortable with however is a quick physical involvement with a new partner. That isn't to say she isn't safe, but she gets the required conversations out of the way quickly and proceeds to the physical part of a relationship.

I tend to jump into relationships harder than Lucy. I'm finding that I very quickly put my heart and emotions into things expecting a strong and lasting emotional relationship will continue to develop. I'm happy to immediately become depended upon by a new partner. I quickly accept them into my life and allow them the freedoms usually granted to long-term friends and family. That said, I'm a bit slower than Lucy when it comes to a physical relationship. Although I open myself quickly emotionally, I take my time with the required conversations and don't rush a physical relationship.

To her credit, Lucy acknowledges this about me and will gently voice her concerns or that she is unable to treat Ethel the same as I do. She is very good about tempering her actions and opening her heart only to the point she is comfortable. Surprisingly these two different methods of approach haven't caused any conflict between us and things seem to be moving along well.

Another difference I've noticed between myself and Lucy is how we participate in physical relationships. Although Lucy may realize a new relationship will never have a strong emotional component once she has determined someone is safe for a physical relationship she will continue with it. On the other hand I may have developed a physical relationship with someone but once I realize the emotional component isn't what I had hoped for the physical attraction diminishes and I often will let that part of the relationship fade.

Are you someone who jumps right in with a relationship, giving yourself completely? Or do you evaluate and open yourself slowly until you understand where the relationship is headed? Do you follow one of the styles mentioned or do you find your style depends on your new partner?
With either style, what do you do when you realize a new relationship isn't quite what you had expected or had hoped for? How is your physical relationship with a new partner affected by your style?
What do you think of the two different styles I've mentioned?

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'd like to ask you out on a date. . .

I had something really interesting happen to me the other day. Lucy, my sweetie, and I were out to an early dinner at a local restaurant when Lucy took a liking to our waitress. While the waitress was gone Lucy mentioned she found the woman attractive and would like to take her out sometime. I told her I thought that was a great idea!

Waiting for our drinks we chatted about our differences when it came to physical attraction. Lucy found our waitress quite attractive whereas I found her only mildly interesting. I was also curious how Lucy knew that the woman would be interested in dating another woman. To my surprise Lucy didn't know but thought a beaming smile from the waitress and eye contact might be a good indication. There was also some talk about the proper way to ask your waitress out along with Lucy's fear that if the woman was offended by a proposal our food could be damaged in some way.

We finally ordered and due to other employees in the vicinity as well as our waitress coming back to us frequently we didn't have much more conversation about the situation. Being aware of how it might look were Lucy to ask the woman on a date with me sitting there I planned to step outside after we had paid for our meal, giving Lucy some privacy to talk to our waitress.

As she often does, Lucy surprised the hell out of me and asked the woman on a date when she returned with our receipt. Being surprised I did nothing but sit there with a big dumb grin on my face. The woman was polite and Lucy's phone number was provided so we'll see what happens.

After leaving the restaurant though I expressed my surprise to Lucy, as well as some mild concern that the woman may have gotten the wrong impression with me sitting there. Lucy explained she had chosen her words carefully to try and make it clear she was asking the woman on a date, not just to go out as friends. I agreed, her words were quite clear that she wanted a date with the woman. My concern was that by my being there the woman might think Lucy was trying to attract her as a partner for us both. Lucy's point was that because she asked the woman out in front of me her assumption was most likely that Lucy and I were just friends and didn't have any type of physical relationship. At the same time it probably implied that Lucy was female, not male, oriented.

So I'm curious; if you were the waitress what would you have thought?

Friday, August 13, 2010

I need a new towel bar!!

My bathroom towel bar is about 20 inches long. (Or wide, depending on your perspective I guess). It will easily hold one large bath towel unfolded. Plenty of room for one person. But when you add a second person the towels now have to be folded in half. They still fit nicely, dry in a reasonable amount of time, and the towel bar doesn't complain. Additionally when the second person isn't around for a day or so their towel can be folded in fourths. My towel then has breathing room again.

Now add a third towel to that towel bar. Now all 3 towels must pretty much be folded in fourths to fit. Or maybe two folded in fourths, mine in thirds. The towels do not dry quickly and the towel bar emits groans once in a while.

Another problem is; which towel belongs to whom? I will share a lot of things but my bath towel really isn't one of them. It was easy with two towels; mine on the left, yours on the right.

I know what you are thinking right now. What about the hooks on the back of the door? Well, the situation is me and two women with long hair. On the door hooks we have a hair towel, which I have been told in no uncertain terms is necessary and to shut-up and accept the idea. Yes ma'am. There is also my robe, and her robe. And soon, her hair towel and robe? I can hear the door hooks begging for mercy already. Not to mention with all that stuff the door doesn't open all the way and the two-butt passing lane is now down to one-butt. We need a traffic signal for the bathroom door. The second bathroom is an option but that one is used by the kids. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

But wait! There is a towel bar on the shower door!
Dammit. It has a hand-towel and two washcloths. All of which are being changed much more frequently these days. They may require creative folding soon as well if the addition of a washcloth is required.

Fortunately the toothbrush holder has 4 holes. Heck, there is room there for another person!! Hmm, why is she giving me a dirty look?

At least shower space isn't a problem. . . .Oh, you have a scrunchie, a back brush, a washcloth, your own shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, shaving cream, and an as yet unidentified substance in a tube? There went the shower space.

Let's go sit on the couch and discuss space issues and figure this out. Oh, I forgot, it is a loveseat type couch. Two seats. That didn't help much, the problem just moved.

All this talking has made me hungry, why don't we get something to eat?
Dammit. The kitchen table seats 4 and with the kids we have 5 people to seat.

It recently struck me how creating a poly family can impact facets of your life you never expected. Fortunately these are problems that I enjoy trying to solve. Though it may sound psychologically absurd, while trying to solve logistics like towel bar space I'm reminded of how full my life is and of the love I'm privileged to experience.

I enjoy having to adjust my cooking habits to accommodate another person. I like seeing an extra pillow in the bedroom. I feel warm inside when I automatically remember needing an extra plate and silverware for meals and seeing the table now includes an extra leaf all the time. I find it interesting seeing how a new addition finds her own space for car keys, coffee cups, purse and glasses. I like how a quiet home becomes a bit more noisy with someone almost always there.

How has your life changed as your poly family has grown? What types of problems did you have to solve, and which ones did you actually enjoy solving? What are the little changes that, although possibly annoying to some, reminded you how full your life has become?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stop poking me!

Yes, the title almost sounds provocative or even concerning. And maybe that is what this article will become.

This morning I woke up slowly and felt a slight pain in my back. Thinking I had slept wrong I just wiggled a bit to see if the kink would work itself out. But it didn't. As someone with a history of back problems I was a bit concerned. I sometimes wake with a stiff back that relaxes after a little while but I don't usually wake up with pain.

I rolled onto my side and the pain went away. A good sign. I lay like that a while, dozing a bit more. But before long I went back to my usual position flat on my back. Hmm, the pain returned.

This time I rolled to my other side and once again, the pain disappeared. I continued to roll onto my stomach and again, no pain. (Yes, I have a very large bed). Rolling back onto my back, the pain returned. I tried bringing my legs up and adjusting myself a bit but the pain remained.

Finally I reached to feel the spot on my back thinking maybe I could massage out the kink, find a bug bite or something like that. Instead I found a barrette. One of those little metal arrow shaped thingies that snaps back and forth.

I quickly realized it had come from the pretty head of my new love. We had enjoyed some private time together the night before. Apparently the barrette had become dislodged and lost in the bed covers, noticed by neither of us at the time.

I put the barrette back where I found it. I laid back down and again felt the pain in my back.

This time I didn't move. I just smiled and remembered.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Poly family

Recently I was at an poly event that was billed as 'family' style. In other words, kids were welcome, nudity was expected to be at a minimum, drinking and other things probably wouldn't be a priority as at some other events.

What struck me after being at the event a short time was the actual lack of community.

I expected to be part of a fair sized family or community but instead everyone was off doing their own thing or paying attention to only their immediate poly family. This was a huge contrast to other poly events I've attended which were not billed as 'family' style yet included a huge sense of community. Everyone hung out together, did things as a group as much as was possible, and even shared meals.

This got me to thinking about my assumptions or inherent beliefs about polyamory.

When I'm around poly folk I tend to assume the people are very open and loving until they prove otherwise. By 'loving' I'm not saying open to a physical relationship but rather they are caring and kind. Obviously there are exceptions but that is my assumption until proven otherwise. I have found often in poly groups that everyone is met with a hug and often a kiss, even upon meeting a person for the first time. I like that and it is one of the things that draws me to polyamory.

Back to my warped analysis. I took a step back, tossed my assumptions and expectations to the curb, and took an impartial look at the question of whether a sense of community is something to be expected in poly families and their extended network of friends.

Within a family I don't know that community is needed. I know several poly families where responsibilities are not shared equally. Some members just seem to exist within the family while others actually run it and support the family being functional. Here I'm talking about families residing under the same roof.

Families with a member living outside the primary household seem to often have a different sense of community. The outside member is invited to the primary house often or even allowed to come and go as they please. Frequently when the outside member is at the primary household they will jump in and get involved with whatever is happening. My guess is that has something to do with a desire to incorporate with the family, to feel a sense of belonging. It may also stem from a sense of responsibility to the family. Because the outside member isn't there all the time it may be easier for them to become involved, or could even be something lacking in their daily life.

Families and their friends network is where things become a bit fuzzy for me. Some families I've been around seem to prefer to keep to themselves about a lot of things. They don't share a lot of affection outside the family, don't involve themselves in community type activities, and just generally seem closed off to anything but light social conversation.

I've also seen families that immerse themselves in the community as a family. They are happy to share their love and compassion with others and welcome anyone and everyone into their circle, whether it be to help cook, discuss family details, or just hang out together. You almost get a feeling from these folks that "the more the merrier" is a conscious choice for them.

The result of my ponderings is this; I don't know. I think that in general, probably because of the lifestyle, most poly folk are more open and caring of others than a lot of people. At the same time I don't think it is a requirement or a fair assumption I've been making. Not that I am becoming jaded but, I will temper my assumptions a bit going forward.

So how do you feel about polyamory and a sense of community or family? Is it something that makes poly attractive to you or not something you even think about? Have you noticed more of a sense of community or family with polyamory or is it just me? Do you interact differently around poly groups or families that convey a sense of community vs. those that are more closed?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What do you mean the rules have changed?

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I use the word 'rules' quite often. You also probably know that my relationship rules are fairly high level. Things such as complete honesty and safety first are good examples. Rarely will you find me supporting a detailed, low-level rule such as; No tongue kissing in front of me or, I'm always the priority over other loves.

Recently a love and I attended an annual festival in the mountains. Being a somewhat sexually charged festival we did a bit of talking beforehand. Who would be off-limits, possibilities, and a few "what if?" situations. Since we have attended the festival many times, know most of the participants, and have had the same conversations many times we really didn't need to discuss a lot. Knowing the group as well as we do neither of us really expected to be interacting physically with anyone anyway and didn't think we would really need to worry much about our rules.

But as life does sometimes it throws you a curve. Before we knew it we were developing a relationship with a young lady. This is where things got interesting.

Typically I require quite a bit of conversation when entering a relationship. I'm not the guy who jumps into bed with just anyone, even after the requisite STD talks. I like to know how a person thinks and understand their decision process first. If I don't have confidence in their decision process, attitude, morality, and honesty it doesn't matter to me if they are a supermodel with a perfect health record. We probably aren't going to get physical. My lover with me at the festival behaves much in the same way.

At festival however the requirements change a bit. Because we know the community we both know the history of most of the participants. The prerequisite conversations are much less involved, partly because it is a sexually casual atmosphere and it is more about freedom. Partly because we know the participants. It isn't a swing event, nor do we swing at all, but the possibility of a casual encounter with someone we know fairly well but with whom we probably won't have a relationship is possible.

So here we are having some mild prerequisite conversations with this young lady and it quickly becomes apparent there is mutual attraction between the three of us, availability for us all, and we seem to be on the same page about most of the high level stuff like safety, long-term hopes, etc. But life must throw curves and finds this an amusing time to do so. My lover and I got busy running events at the festival and the timing just never worked for any of us to consummate our new relationship.

Fast forward a week and we are now all home from the festival. But now, the situation has changed. The prerequisite conversations normally required but suspended during festival are now required again. We have had a few of the conversations and things are still going well. What struck me was the idea that the rules change in different situations. That we make exceptions to our own rules to satisfy our needs and desires.

Does that make us unsafe? I don't think so. It is an adjustment to the environment. Meeting someone new on the street I don't know their history. Meeting someone in our community I probably either know their history already or can acquire it very quickly.

What I found amusing was that although I entertained the possibility of physical interaction with this woman at the festival, once we got home physical interaction was pushed aside in favor of first determining emotional compatibility.

Is this something that others do? Do you change your rules based on the situation? Do you relax your rules at times?
And if you have interacted with someone while your rules were relaxed what happens when you return to your normal rule implementation?

Incidentally, I ran across this picture while looking for an image to lead this article. It seemed fitting but then I remembered seeing the TV show once and it had nothing to do with Polyamory, Open Relationships, etc. So what's up with the picuture implying it does? Anyone?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What specifically do you not know you want?

In another article I recently touched on the concept of knowing what you want in a relationship. The idea is that there are two types of people out there; those who know exactly what they want in a relationship and will accept nothing less than an almost perfect fit, and those who may have preferences but for the most part will accept the idea of any type of relationship and are happy to define them as they come.

As a disclaimer I must let you know I fall into the second category. And although I mention there being two types of people I know that isn't absolute. There are other types out there though I firmly believe I'm talking about the largest two groups. For this article anyway, let's assume there are just the two groups; People who know exactly what they want in a relationship and that is all they will accept and people who are accepting of any type of relationship. Let's take a look at the two types.

First, those who know exactly what they want and will accept nothing but an almost perfect fit. These are the folks who maybe have a specific body type they want their partner to have. They possibly require employment or a certain level of financial stability, the ability and desire to have children, or even specific tastes in music, art, or travel. Sometimes there will even be a specific situation in their own life they want a partner to fit with, such as existing children or possibly a job that involves weird hours or extensive travel. They may have a laundry list or just a few key requirements. The bottom line however is that regardless of chemistry or attraction they will usually dismiss potential loves if the requirements aren't met.

Is this a good or bad way to approach relationships? I can see that knowing what you want in a partner is probably a positive. Really, why waste time with a blond haired man when you only like redheads? It gives you a consistent way to categorize and qualify (or, disqualify) potential loves. That said there are a lot of people out in the world who will readily admit they are happily involved in a relationship with someone who isn't their "type". I think it would be easy to dismiss potential loves because they didn't meet criteria and possibly miss out on a fulfilling relationship with someone.

Second we have those who are open to any relationship possibility and happily define each relationship they have individually. These folks may have preferences such as those mentioned above but they aren't strict guidelines. Maybe they like classical music and would prefer a partner who shares that interest but at the same time when a potential love comes along who is into say metal, they may appreciate the difference in taste. Though there may be specific situations in their life with which they would like a partner to fit they are flexible about finding alternatives and don't often have "deal breakers" upon entering a relationship.

Again, is this a good or bad way to approach relationships? On the plus side these folks will rarely miss an opportunity for a new relationship. By allowing for relationships with a variety of people who may not be ideal fits they constantly learn about people and relationships and expand possibilities. On the downside this approach to relationships may result in a lot of time spent in relationships that eventually fail. I personally think this type of approach works well with polyamory.

Though I think both types of relationship searches are valid it is the question "What do you not know you want" that puts me into the second category. Over the years I have learned a lot about relationships and personalities and I've watched my desires and preferences change based on what I have learned. Many times I have learned there are facets to a relationship that I enjoy but didn't realize existed. This has also helped me to know when I may not be a fit for someone else, particularly those wanting to fill a list of criteria. Being open to most any relationship potential has provided the latitude for me to learn those things, something which I'm not sure could have happened had I been following the first type of relationship approach.

Do I still believe it is good to know what you want? You bet I do. But I also believe that you can never know what you want until you have tried a few things and found you didn't like them. There has to be some basis on which to build.

How about you? Which category are you in? Are you the Meet My List type or the Anything Goes type? How has that worked out for you? Have any of you ever switched types? Are there other positives or negatives that you see with the two types?