Lucky, Lucky Poly People
A man I thought I once knew, while discussing the nature of my polyamorous marriage, said to me, “You lucky, lucky poly people.”
News flash: Luck has nothing to do with it.
All too often when someone hears the word polyamory or open relationship, they conjure up images of a sexual free-for-all. Or they think that I’m just “lucky” my husband agreed, or perhaps my husband is “lucky” that I’m open to him having sex with someone else.
Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it.
My husband and I took well over a year to get from the suggestion of opening up to actually opening up, and that was starting with a very close, very emotionally intimate relationship to begin with. We talk pretty much daily: checking in with each other, expressing our love and gratitude for one another, openly discussing any issues or conflicts that arise, etc. That year consisted of many very deep, sometimes painful, discussions about who we are as individuals and who we are as a couple.
Once we finally did open up and establish our rules, it was further work. Just think how much work one relationship is…now add another. And maybe a third.
Any relationship worth having is not easy. It’s work. It’s effort towards understanding yourself and your partner better. It’s selfless acts. It’s compromise. It’s hours of talking and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s building true intimacy.
As I’ve said countless times, polyamory is generally not about casual sex. It’s about building relationships, loving relationships. Although sex can be casual, that is negotiated and agreed upon beforehand. No assumptions.
Recently I entered into a new relationship with a potential secondary, and I was everso excited. A secondary, for those who don’t know the term, is a satellite relationship second only to your primary. In my case, my primary is my husband. I met this new guy through the poly-friendly dating site called OKCupid, and he seemed pretty awesome all around. We met briefly and really clicked. Things moved quickly, probably too quickly, and our second date was so very awesome. He said he had found a secondary in me, and I thought I had found one in him, too. It was really great…until, a few days later, it wasn’t.
And the reason it got so very un-great so very soon, is that he’s not truly poly. He thinks he is, but he doesn’t have the openness or communication skills to be truly polyamorous. He’s very new to the lifestyle, so he’s likely still learning. At least I hope he’s learning. He seems to be confusing polyamory with swinging, which is definitely about casual sex. This man said all the right words, talking about openness and honesty, respect and communication, intimacy and safety; but he was unable to actually do any of those things.
As there so often is with communication via text and email, there was a seeming misunderstanding between us. Misunderstandings happen even in verbal communication which is why good communications skills are so important. Another thing that is essential in polyamorous relationships: taking time to ensure understanding with your SO(s). This man did not take that time with me. It seems that he was setting up a recurring casual sex friend. That’s not what a secondary is, and it’s most certainly not what I do. Perhaps that was a misunderstanding too, and I truly do hope I get the chance to talk with him and clear these things up. But as the days pass, I know that’s pretty unlikely.
A secondary is a loving relationship, and that term should not be thrown around lightly. Loving relationships take time and effort to build, to get to know each other, to understand each other, to support each other, and yes, there is also sex, but it is just a part of a larger relationship. Without open and honest communication, without time spent talking out of bed and reciprocity of affection, it is not a loving, poly relationship.
Things between us ended without him even showing me the respect of a face-to-face meeting and a discussion of what could be worked out. It was so new, he couldn’t even begin to understand my needs, nor I his, without some serious communication. He did not seem willing. That does not at all fit with the polyamorous philosophy or lifestyle.
Funny thing, I would still be willing to talk it out. That’s what I do. I communicate.
One of the problems I’ve seen in both myself and in potential secondaries are the expectations of immediate comfort and understanding. Since we already have a great primary relationship, we think that with a secondary, things will be great and comfortable and understood from the beginning. But starting a second relationship is starting a second relationship. It takes time and effort to know each other, our quirks, our triggers, our needs, etc. All relationships worth having take time and effort.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I’ve had two heart-shattering break-ups this year. Just imagine, as I struggled so much through those breakups that I could not help but to write about them in public because the pain was all-consuming, what it must’ve been like at home. My husband, for the better part of the last year, has been unwaveringly supportive and loving. He has listened to my repetitive, unending questions about what went wrong, if it was my fault, how could I have been so stupid, etc. He’s had to hold me for hours while I cried over another man. He’s had to take up the slack at home, with both finances and housework, when I was suffering from crippling panic attacks from the betrayal of a lover. And then another.
Luck has fucking nothing to do with it.
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~ by omgrey on October 26, 2011.
Posted in Romance & Relationships
Tags: author, communication, grief, healing, honesty, love, luck, non-monogamy, o.m. grey, olivia grey, open, open marriage, passion, poly, polyamory, postaweek2011, relationship advice, relationships, romance, sex, swingers, swinging, work