Amorous, or polyamorous?

The Purple Mobius symbol for Polyamory, non-mo...

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About 12 months ago I wrote about a situation I was in with a polyamorous woman. At the time I felt tentative at best, and at worst, confused, at the situation. In these pages I confessed to feeling more comfortable in getting around with a woman behind her husband’s back than with a woman whose husband happily encouraged the tryst. I felt uncomfortable in what I thought of as an odd, vaguely unseemly relationship: at least betrayal was a black and white, this was something else.  In hindsight my comments were intemperate, though honestly felt, and they prompted a storm of unexpected attention. I was contacted by people all over the world and had some post comments rebutting my simple heterosexual perspective. I was greatly surprised. I responded as I could, and at the same time quietly opted out of the relationship.

About a month ago the woman contacted me again. Nothing had changed, she was still married, still polyamorous, still interested in getting together with me. This time I allowed myself to go further than before. I saw my reaction last year as being fearful, and unworthy of the man I aspire to be – the least I could do was learn more. To that end we exchanged missives and as I didn’t last year I asked all about her polyamorous philosophy. How did this come to be? What did it mean to her?

To my quiet surprise I was unsurprised by her answers to me: it was pretty much as I thought. It seemed gentle, open, almost sweet in a way; a willingness to openly connect with others honestly and intimately. I couldn’t argue with any of that – is that not how human society should be? And yet I remain of the old school, strange as that may seem for such an old tart as myself: you’re either in or your out. You’re either in love and fully committed; or you’re not in love and without obligation. This seemed to fall somewhere in between, and while I’m not going to judge anyone for their beliefs it still feels foreign to me.

Despite that I’m meeting up with her next week. I wonder what I expect to get out of it. I like her, and I guess that’s a lot. She’s an attractive, intelligent, sexy and gentle woman. I would welcome her as a friend. More than that?

I guess that comes down to what she expects of me. She made it clear that while sex needn’t be part of the equation, quite clearly it may be. She seems attracted to me, and though I doubt she is motivated solely by the prospect of a gentle romp in the dark with me clearly, that’s a further extension of intimacy and well and truly on the cards. How would I feel about that?

It’s a funny dilemma for me to be in. It’s not often I’ve knocked back the opportunity (though it has happened). Sex is a natural part of a healthy life, whether it be purely for the transient pleasure of it, or to commit oneself to another body and soul in the act of giving as much – or more – as one receives. Love without sex is for me a kind of emotional veganism: I don’t see the point of it. Sex is some of the best bits, if only because there is a surrender in it with someone you love. It is cleansing and humbling. Celibacy has no point but it’s own virtue: that is, no point.

I don’t know if sex will become an issue between us, and I may well be jumping the gun – but if I find I genuinely like her then it would feel natural to adjourn to the nearest bed with her. That’s where it gets complicated though, and not only because her husband would be somehow complicit in the act. Ultimately our conflicting philosophies place limits on the possibilities between us. For her I may become another of several. For me, notwithstanding my general (and occasionally indiscriminate) appetites, if I grow to like her as I might then I would want her exclusively.

It’s an interesting situation, but better faced than avoided. The best solution as I see it is to be open myself with her: to speak honestly of my feelings and doubts as I have here. Who knows what surprises the world has in store?

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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