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Being polyamorously single January 23, 2010

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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It is not a position I would have anticipated being in at this point.  Boy meets girl, girl meets boy’s girlfriend, girlfriend and girl get along and become friends.  Boy dates girl, boy falls in love with girl, girlfriend breaks up with boy, boy stays with girl.  Girl gets job in Atlanta, plans on moving there, and boy decides to go with her to start a new life.  Change in location causes anxiety, frustration, fear, and girl very suddenly breaks up with boy, moves out, and cuts off contact with boy.  Boy is alone, sad, and in a new place where he knows few.  Boy is still polyamorous, but he hurts too much now to love.  Boy is polyamorously single.

Becoming single while polyamorous

It can be difficult, being single.  Several years back I decided I was going to be single.  I had ended an awful relationship with a girl named Lauren whom had ruined me financially and decided I needed time to heal.  For more than a year I did not date at all, and eventually discovered that I was capable of being alone and happy.  The happy part took a while, but it came.

Eventually I met a girl, Amanda, and began dating again.  She was moving to Denver, and we had little time together.  It was intense, and I decided to spend the summer with her in Colorado.  That lasted a week.  Perhaps it should have been then that I should have taken the lesson that moving to a new city, even if only temporarily, to be with a person that you have not known very long but care about deeply is not a good idea.  Perhaps it is a good idea in some cases, but I’m now zero-for-two.

But all of that was before I was actively polyamorous.  When the girl I was living with broke up with me last year I had another wonderful girl to hold me at night and console my great pain.  It softened it, but it still hurt.  But not this time.  This rime she was my sole love, and when she left….

For now, the project is to move on.  I know that the pain, regrets, and sleepless nights will eventually pass.  I know that I will love again, eventually.  But in the midst of such circumstances, it is hard to keep these pieces of knowledge present in thought.

But, then the obvious question; how to be polyamorous? I mean, when a single person who is ready to date and wants to be polyamorous, how do you start?  When I am ready to move on, where will I begin? As a single heterosexual poly, I will address this question from my point of view.  My experience as a gay or bisexual poly is severely limited as is my experience as a female of any kind being polyamorous.  Thus you may have to fill in some gaps for circumstances other than my own.

The Single’s scene

Meeting single women and telling them you are polyamorous, even if it is after the second or third date, may not be the wisest course of action.  Telling them after you’ve been dating for a while is probably much worse. Telling them up front does not always mean that even if they don’t run away screaming things will be alright in the long run.

Most people don’t know what polyamory is, and when they hear the word, they are more likely to hear “polygamy” or something like that. The concept does not fit with most people, quite simply.

There is, in the single and dating world, a sort of acceptance that you are going to not be strictly monogamous.  But this is not polyamory; it is a sort of game where the way to win is to find that one person with whom you decide to settle with.  Monogamy is the goal, even if it is a long-term goal.  In the mean time people are just having fun and not committing.

So when someone like myself comes along and is not looking for monogamy in the long run, it probably looks like a person with commitment issues.  And when I am with someone with whom I want to commit to a more long-term plan, I usually want a time where I focus on her alone in many cases.  Then once we are settled, established, and secure then I can explore other options.  It is sort of a reversal from the monogamous single’s scene.  And, of course, different polyamorous people go about this in different ways than I do.

As a single guy I can go out and enjoy the promiscuity of single culture as well as anyone.  But this is not very appealing to me because it is largely shallow or superficial.  I may meet someone with whom I will share commonalities, but to sift through it all is time and money consuming.  There must be another option.

Poly Communities

And there are places to meet other polyamorous people.  Polymatchmaker is one, for example.  There are local meetup groups, email discussion groups, etc.  I have been a part of a community in Philadelphia and met some people in the past.  Now that I have been in Atlanta I have met a few people, but I have not known them very long or very well.

So, how do you approach polyamorous people when you are interested in dating them? Well, first you should get to know them at least a little bit.  Meeting them might be helpful, too.  But once you have met someone who you are interested in, tell them what you are interested in. Tell them what you want.

From a monogamous point of view, flirting with or asking a woman (or man) on a date of some kind while their significant other is around would usually be a very quiet and secluded conversation done while you are hoping nobody can overhear.   It would be done in the hopes of something clandestine, and perhaps this is part of the excitement.

Flirting with someone with their partner near-by, perhaps even with their arm around them, is usually a game that monogamous people play at in jest or at most because deep down many people like the idea of the flirtation.  To me that speaks volumes about monogamous dating culture.

Polyamorous people are as different as people of any other group.   Some will want you to just come out and ask, others might prefer more subtlety.  Some will want you to be friends (and possibly lovers) with their partner, and some will never want you in the same room with them.  Some will want to be all over you that moment and others will prefer to take their time, get to know you, and eventually get to a physical relationship.  Sometimes that never happens and people have poly partners where sex (no matter how it is defined) is not a part of their relationship.

Getting what you want

As a single guy in polyamory, I have to first figure out what I want.  In fact, this is true whether you consider yourself polyamorous or not.   Upon figuring out what you want, pursue it directly while keeping in mind that it may not happen. 

One of the first things I learned while being polyamorous is learning how to say no and learning how to accept a no from someone else.  There is nothing wrong with telling the person you are attracted to that you would like to take them out, take them home, or have them on the table right there.  There is also nothing wrong with them saying no, and then possibly talking about something else or wishing them a good day and moving on.

More importantly, there is nothing wrong with what you want.  Depending on what that is, there may be something wrong with acting on it, but the desire itself is not the problem (although someone might be able to think of a few desires that may indicate something wrong with a person, such as wanting to rape or murder, but that’s not what I’m talking about).  Wanting to be single is fine, wanting to love and be loved is fine, wanting your friend’s girlfriend is fine.  In fact, wanting your friend and his girlfriend is fine.  What you do about it is where the thorniness begins.

Weighing the risks of transforming your wants to your pursuits can be dangerous ground.   Be careful to accept rejection of what you want.  The fear of rejection is strong in many, but without risk there is no gain.  In love, the risk of the vulnerability of opening oneself up can leave you hurting or broken, but the alternative is the hurting and brokenness of never having tried.   Find what you want, pursue it, and be prepared to be told no.

All in all, being single while you are polyamorous is not much different than being single and not being poly. It is about finding what you want. My advice is to not assume monogamy. In fact, perhaps you should not assume polyamory either. Pursue each desire on its own terms and be open with your partner(s) with what you want. You may get it, you may not, but your desire is only out of your reach based upon those whom you desire and your willingness to act on your desires.

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Comments»

1. Arioch Morningstar - January 24, 2010

My first impression: brilliant post. You make many fine points and do so eloquently. Thank You.

I hope to find time at a later date so that I can return and make a more cogent comment (and possibly donate/subscribe) when I am more awake. I stumbled across this post during my mid-sleep surfing thanks to a Tweet link from @polyweekly.

2. shaunphilly - January 24, 2010

I thank you for your kind words. And any donations would go a long way, as my recent single status is having a profound effect on me financially.

Thanks

3. Obama Tells 2.6 Million Twitter followers he Never Tweets | twittersRus.info - January 29, 2010

[…] Being polyamorously single […]

4. hambydammit - February 8, 2011
5. shaunphilly - February 8, 2011

Hamby, I always read your posts. Got you on the ol’ Google reader. But yes, I will likely enjoy reading it.


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