Over the boundary

Although people who are polyamorous have adopt...Image via Wikipedia

I got hit on the other day by a polyamorous woman. For those unfamiliar with the term it's basically someone who is open to having multiple partners. To have a polyamorous relationship is to feel free to follow those desires, just as your partner(s) will. It's not for me, but it is interesting and increasingly common.

This woman was interesting, fun, reasonably attractive and seemingly perfectly normal but for this small quirk. And married. I'm not interested in a polyamorous relationship, but another time I'd probably have been quite keen to know her better.

Funny thing is I'd be more inclined to have an illicit relationship with her behind his back rather than with her husbands full knowledge and approval. To have him complicit in anything we might get up to feels odd, and to my no doubt old fashioned frame of reference somewhat wrong. I would feel strange and uncomfortable. There is a sense that I might feel used as well, which doesn't make sense.

I'm not judging it: it's just not my thing. I had a friend who indulged in it for a while, but it was easy for him. Let's face it single men are polyamorous by nature. It's not a huge leap and given the simplicity of single life something I've been guilty of. I've been the other man too, and didn't give much consideration to that. I have an open minded and acquisitive attitude towards sex and sexual relationships. Yet to get it on with someone with their partners consent while they go off and do something similar is a step too far for me.

In this case I'm not sure what she was fitting me up for, but I can only presume there was an amorous aspect to it. I haven't closed the door on her – she is interesting and worth knowing – but I figure the best we can manage is friendship. There have to be some boundaries.

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5 responses to “Over the boundary

  1. I’m curious, can you perhaps try to describe why it would feel more plausible to be romantic with this woman if you thought she was lying to her husband? You’ve stated that it would feel strange, uncomfortable, and that you’d feel used. But why?
    The polyamorous community actually gets this reaction a lot. Non-poly folk say they’d rather hook up with someone who cheats or is being dishonest.
    There are a number of responses to the ‘why’ question, but the deepest and most emotionally researched reply I’ve heard is that when one is being ‘the other man’ or the ‘mistress’, there is a sense (which usually turns out to be false) that they are the TRUE object of affection, and the spouse being lied to is not as important, or not as interesting, and not a threat. Whereas, if the spouse knows and is complicit, then they are still as valued in the eyes of the lover, and therefor, you compete with them for affection.
    Is this along the same lines as why you’d feel more comfortable if she were lying to her husband?

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  2. The question I have is how, exactly, did she hit on you? Did you assume that since she was polyamorous, that there was that “amorous aspect?”
    Because I have to tell you, “poly” doesn’t mean “any.” We poly women are as selective as monogamous women. If all she did was ask you to have some coffee, maybe she just wanted coffee and a friend.
    Also – being poly means having the freedom to follow up on desires – but there may be limits to that. I have two men whom I am attached to, and I am “poly-saturated” at this point. I don’t want additional partners, because it’s too much work and too much time invested, no matter who I’m attracted to or desire. It’s not always practical to leap on every desire, regardless of how attractive someone might be.
    I found Serendipity’s comment about honesty very insightful, as well. Why is it more comfortable to lie? What insecurities does honesty bring up for you?

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  3. Let me answer you both at the same time.
    I met this lady in a bar. I was waiting there for a friend who was late as usual. She was with friends but seeing me alone turned to me. She was fun, interesting, intelligent, attractive. We talked easily, shared a laugh, became a little playful.
    Later she contacted me and explained her situation: she was married and polyamorous. She would like to see me again, and so on. I was surprised: it was unexpected. Perhaps I read more into it than I should have, but I presumed some intimacy given our earlier conversations.
    I’ve thought about why it makes me a little uncomfortable. If I were having an affair with someone I would expect it to be a transitory stage: that she would leave her husband in due course and we would live happily ever after. It’s not the physical side of intimacy that gives me pause, but the emotional intimacy. That’s what love is after all isn’t it, that emotional honesty and trust? While I don’t judge anyone I don’t know if I can parse what I feel by sharing that with someone who shares alike with others. That may seem selfish and possessive – no doubt it is – but in large part that is how we are conditioned, rightly or wrongly. It’s a very interesting question which I’ll think more on.
    As for this woman – well yes, I’ve decided to become friends with her, but just that, as I am with other women single and not. Life’s too short to turn from good people.
    That’s as near as I can explain it for now – I’m glad of your questions. You’ve made me examine something worth understanding.

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  4. Yes, I’ve heard that a lot with people who engage in relationships with married folks. I think its a common misconception when a mistress or lover-on-the-side, starts to believe that their partner is going to leave their spouse for them. If it were that easy to leave a spouse and seek other love, they would have done it already. Cheating happens precisely BECAUSE its hard to leave a spouse. There’s money, divorce, children, and according to various psychological studies, between 35% and 55% of cheating spouses are HAPPY with their marriage. Yeah, chew on that. Cheating is NOT usually a symptom of an unhappy marriage.
    If you’re ever looking for a way to think positively about your new friend’s decision to be honest, instead of having a fling with you behind her husband’s back, give this a thought: She could easily have lied to her husband about meeting you, betraying the trust of someone she’s built her life around. If she were willing to lie to someone she cared for so deeply, imagine what she might say or do to someone who she’d just met, like you. (And if you do become romantic with a cheating person, you already know they’re quite capable of lying and cheating on YOU too)
    Instead, you can be relatively confident that she’s an honest person, and if your friendship with her grows deeper, you know that she’s more likely to be straight with you, even about the difficult subjects in life.

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  5. I’m a little surprised by your response Serendipity. It seems proscriptive and narrow considering you are advocating life choices that are just the opposite.
    I’m not going to defend adultery. I’m certainly not advocating it. It happens though, regardless of intentions or statistics. All you say may well be true some of the time, but it certainly isn’t all of the time. More pertinent is the fact that most human beings act independently of conventional common sense at least part of the time. It’s what makes us human. We’re foolish, we’re deluded, we exist on misplaced hope too often. Yet would you have it any other way? I’m talking about things far bigger than having it off with another man’s wife. We make mistakes – if that’s what they are – all the time, but sometimes they lead to greater opportunities and greener pastures. I’m certainly not about to consult a bookie next time I have a fling to check if the odds are on my side. I’ll go with what I feel.
    But I digress. I don’t think we really disagree Serendipity. We come from different backgrounds and have made different choices and consequently have different perspectives. That’s fine, in fact it’s fun. I have no doubt that what you say is true, and not for a moment am I judging the polyamorous lifestyle. I’m not sure it’s for me, but that’s fine too. I’ll take a few steps down the path and see how it feels. My mind is open, let’s see where it leads me.

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