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?