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Sunday, May 29, 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I've said it before so those of you who read here a lot already know what I might say. . . Decide for yourself what you want out of relationships before you are in one. If you don't know what your needs are, there is probably no way someone else will be able to figure them out for you.

In the poly world that is even more important since unlike monogamy, polyamory comes in assorted flavors, sizes, and varieties. Almost like going to a build your own sundae bar. If you don't know what you want before you get there you will end up with a bit of everything. Sometimes that is okay, sometimes you end up with a complete mess.

Now this is where I leave you hanging because there is no magic potion, recipe, or place that will help you figure out your needs. I think you need to be in touch with who you are to figure that out. Fortunately when the time came for me to figure out my needs in polyamory it was as simple as learning the language because I had already been living it, just not as polyamory.

This is where I make up for leaving you hanging. . .

I am a very good Secondary but I will never be a Primary. Despite that, most would define me as a Primary in relationships.

And once again you are thinking, "Is he smoking crack? I know he doesn't like or believe in relationship hierarchy, and not only is he using it here but he can only be a Secondary?"

Well, sorta. I am very comfortable being in the position of Secondary with a woman who is married or has a Primary. I can easily respect boundaries, limits, and needs of her other partners. That fits with my personality somewhat, I enjoy rules. (Yeah, I know, sick isn't it?).
But in my relationships I believe in equality. If someone new were to join my family I would consider them equal, on the same level, or whatever you want to call it as my existing partner of 3 years. I wouldn't give either preference over the other.
That seems to be where some people classify my relationships as Primary. Because not only do I consider my partners equal, I consider their importance in my life to be equal to that of (for lack of a better term) a true partner. I regard them as family, depending on them and supporting them as any family would do.

I believe that my knowing this, being able to see my needs, is what allows me to enjoy polyamory when I hear others talking about failed attempts, exploded or explosive relationships, and constant drama. Upon entering a relationship I usually am able quite quickly to realize whether my needs will be met, how well, and sometimes even how long. Knowing that fast allows me to adjust to realistic expectations and be less surprised if things don’t last.

My suggestion to you is to simply know what you want, and what you can give, in a relationship. If you know you can't be a fulltime partner, don't get involved with someone who wants a fulltime partner. Likewise if you want a fulltime partner, don't enter into a relationship with someone who can't commit the time you need. If you need more exclusivity, maybe dating someone who already has 2 or 3 partners isn't your wisest choice. At the same time remember that polyamory is as much about designing a relationship paradigm that satisfies your needs as it is having multiple partners. Find a design that fits you well and you will much more easily find partners that fit your design.

Love well,
PP

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How young is too young?

As open minded as I think I am, and try to be, I do have limits. Part of what builds those limits is personal preference. But part of those limits is in understanding my own.

Several years back after a few failed attempts at having relationships I realized the failure was actually mine. I had been engaging in relationships with women at least 10 years younger than I was. After a short time the relationships failed due to differences in goals, desires, general outlook on life, physical differences, and more. It took me a while to figure out that age was a problem. Not that my younger partners were defective in the least. They were just at a different point in their lives than I was.

What came next was a bit of soul searching. I'll admit the male inside of me was reluctant to give up the idea of a nubile young 20-something-year-old who hadn't yet suffered the effects of gravity as I have. Once I got past that I realized that as delicious as a younger woman may be, not all of my time is spent enjoying her physically. A lot more of my time is spent doing things like shopping, cooking, entertaining, watching movies, or many other things. And not having stress during those times is quite important to me. I realized the trade-off between youth and maturity had benefits in many areas. I thought maybe it was time that I started to focus on women with maturity. Now I'm not saying that younger women aren't mature, some are, but in general younger people simply want different things out of life than older people.

The inevitable next question was the one posed at the beginning of this article; How young is too young?

Well, I can't answer that question for you. Obviously your age and tastes will dictate your needs which are likely different than mine. What I will do though is encourage you to examine your tastes. Particularly if you find yourself in a position similar to mine with relationships that seem to be failing for the same reasons over and over. Maybe age isn't even the factor that seems to be affecting your relationships. Maybe it is religious background, how they were raised, geographical differences, financial differences. The point is to know yourself well enough, and to evaluate your relationships deeply enough, that you can recognize what may be a relationship red flag for you. Figure out what the common factor is between any failed relationships you may have had, how to recognize that factor in future relationships you may contemplate, and devise an effective way of handling the situation. Maybe it becomes an automatic "deal breaker" for you, or maybe it is something you can negotiate away. Either way, at least you are aware of things up front.

The real challenge comes when actually executing your new master plan. Sometimes the heart gets in the way of the head and the best laid plans fall apart with a kiss. Seeing the bumps in the road is one thing, while actually avoiding them is something quite different. When I figure that one out I'll be sure to let you know!

Until then, love well.

PP

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Starting at the end.

It should be no surprise to you that we are all human. (Well, except for Barbara Walters maybe. Does she age?) We all make mistakes. We do things every once in a while that we said we never would. We have emotions, desires, fetishes, and hang-ups.

One of the mistakes we often make is to start a relationship in the wrong way. Instead of getting to know the other person well, we get excited, emotions like desire take over, and the next thing you know you are crawling around in the dark looking for your socks. (I'm not the only one that has happened to, right?). We go home and beat ourselves up over our indiscretion. We worry about safety. And as we brush our teeth and look at our messed up hair we promise to never do that again.

Of course, some of us probably will.

I don't know that a lot of that actually matters. But what matters, in my humble opinion, is what we do next.

Instead of beating ourselves up and making promises we may never keep, I propose something different.

Look at a casual encounter as an opportunity rather than a mistake. Instead of running away, embrace the possibilities. Often after a casual encounter our first response is to avoid the person or, at a minimum, avoid finding ourselves in the same situation with them again. But why write the person off as simply poor judgment?

In my mind, it is never too late to take a step back and reapproach things with a level head. Why not realize that there was some attraction to the person or the casual encounter would never have happened? Sit down and have some of the conversations you should have had up front. Learn more about them and find out if there might be a connection. Let them know that you are interested in the possibility of more than just a physical relationship. If they feel at all the same they will welcome the conversation, and the opportunity. They will be happy to take the time to build a real, solid relationship.

And while you take that step back and negotiate a possible relationship try to remember that every relationship is different. There is no reason it has to fit social models or fit into acceptable categories. Build a relationship that you want, that satisfies your needs, whatever that may look like. Realize that building a relationship is a good time to challenge yourself as well. Try something you haven't tried before. Accept the other persons differences as qualities, rather than deficiencies. You never know, you just might find that you enjoy something in another person you never have before or didn't think possible.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Things.

Life has been going 100+ mph lately it seems. Work is insane, warmer weather means more social commitments, more social commitments means more contacts, contacts mean more dates. It is a cycle that will keep anyone busy.

Along with the usual craziness of life I've had some other things happening lately that have kept my brain as busy as my body. One of my partners is preparing to buy a house. Being her first house she has a lot of questions and a lot to learn. Helping her with that has been keeping me busy with conversations and weekends spent looking at houses. But that isn't what keeps my mind busy.

In my thoughts lately is the question; why is she buying a house at all? For those of you who don't know, I'm a single dad with two kids. I have a nice sized house that meets my needs well. My sweetie and I have talked about moving in together and in fact plan on it happening but right now is just not the right time for a few different reasons.

That is leaving me with some mixed feelings. Why shouldn't we move in together now? If we want it to happen, why not just make it happen? Is it silly for her to buy a house near me when we could just move in together? And if we do move in together, how will our lives change?

I've struggled with these questions a lot and what I've come to believe is that every relationship evolves at a different pace. Some move along quickly, growing strong fast, and burning out just as fast. Others build slowly and steadily, lasting sometimes a lifetime. Where I think we sometimes make mistakes is when we try to change the pace of a relationship, either moving it along more quickly than is natural, or trying to slow it excessively. When we accept things as they are and allow relationships to move at their own pace is when they seem to work the best. At that point, even mistakes made, as long as they are made without malice, seem to be more easily corrected and forgiven.

I have thought about that a lot during my partners house buying experience. I've wondered if we should try and move things along a bit faster, jumping to the next step in our relationship instead of growing into things. Realizing that trying to force things to happen unnaturally may cause problems and pain rather than joy has helped me be confident we are making the right choices now, even if it means delaying other things.

I hope that you too are able to find the pace with each of your relationships. With polyamory, that is quite a challenge. One relationship may move fast, while another moves slow. And sometimes the difference of pace can be a cause of pain when one partner feels your relationship with another partner may be moving to fast or that their relationship with you is moving too slow considering the speed of your other relationships. Communicating this difference to them may help solve the problem though often the need to "make things even" can override the logic of understanding.

Although life has been crazy lately, working through this seems to have not only helped me find my pace, but helped my brain calm down a bit as well.

What are your thoughts on the pace of relationships? When you have multiple relationships how does the pace of each affect the other?