My Poly Set-up: Constellations and Guidelines (Poly Means Many)

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts will be found at www.polymeansmany.com from tomorrow. This month, our topic is “My Poly Set-up”.

 

I’ve interpreted “My Poly Set-up” to mean the constellation of relationships in my life and how they are conducted and connected. I’ll discuss how I came to be in my current constellation and how it works as well as it does.

 

Constellations

 Domestic Life

I have a domestic partner whom I’ve been with for the past 3+ years, and who gets most of my time (mostly as a function of us both being introverted homebodies). I use domestic partner as a label, because we have always resisted the label of “primary vs secondary”. I don’t find that hierarchy helpful or useful in describing how either of us do things. It’s restrictive and, I feel, a potential snag that could cause us to be lazy in terms of communicating and defining our expectations of one another.

 

Other Connections

Beyond my domestic partner, at present I have a few amorphous connections – currently tangential but with potential to become less so in future – with people who live an ocean away from me (where I lived until recently). I would not usually feel comfortable with such an undefined connection, but distance at least partially requires me to be, until I spend enough time with those connections that we can choose to define them in a particular way or not. I generally prefer my connections to be fairly well-defined; or, at least, I like to have 2-3 connections fairly well defined. I would not describe anyone as a “girlfriend” or “partner” until we have a conversation explicitly agreeing such labels. So here I am: many important people in my life, varying types and levels of connection, and distance keeping most of those connections undefined until such point that the distance is closed or, until we have The Conversation from this distance.

 

Relationship Orientation and Sexuality 

Demisexuality

I think a great deal of how I do things as a polyamorous person is impacted by being demisexual (follow this link to read more about demisexuality). Sex is important to me, but casual sex (outside of an established relationship) isn’t, particularly. That doesn’t mean I don’t have sex outside relationships, just that I don’t go out of my way for it anymore (e.g. I rarely attend sex parties these days – this is subject to change). Being demisexual means that I tend to enter into romantic/sexual relationships incredibly slowly.  On average I know someone for a minimum of 6 months (and sometimes much longer) before being comfortable enough to express or even feel an interest in or attraction to them. I tend to prioritise connections that seem romantically substantial and potentially long-term. Any long-term partner is likely to spend considerable time in my home and often with my other partner(s) around.

 

Guidelines 

Defining and codifying ‘considerate behaviour’

I commented to my domestic partner the other day that “we don’t really have a lot of rules”, and they said to me “WHAT. We have more than a pageful saved in google drive!” How embarrassing! I looked at the document and remembered it right away; I suspect the reason I had forgotten is that our agreement with each other (made long ago) is mainly defined by what we both agree is considerate behaviour toward the other person, not by what I think of as hard-and-fast rules per se. This agreement has been so ingrained in the way we do things that I’d forgotten we had a whole document defining precisely what we considered to be considerate behaviour. It includes things like:

  • We agree to update each other on the status of other relationships and our feelings for others.
  • Other dates/partners should not come to the flat unless we both agree to it in advance.
  • We will only get involved with people who the other person respects and is likely to be able to spend some time with.
  • We agree to be positive, constructive and enable other relationships as much as possible; to take responsibility for working through our issues. The other person will recognise that this may take some time.

 

I know other people (couples, triads, etc) who don’t stick by the above (or any) guidelines and it works for them, but both of us know – due to previous experience – that having well defined, codified guidelines ensuring we’re on the same page is a great tool to prevent misunderstandings and heartache. We can re-visit them from time to time to make sure they’re up to date. It’s how both of us have been able to maintain a relatively pretty peaceful poly set-up for the past little while. If/when I enter into another long-term partnership, I’d likely want to come to another agreement with that person defining what we believe to be considerate behaviour in the context of our particular relationship. It’s the set up that works best for me, and although it can take a considerable amount of time to get there, it’s worth it.

Advertisements

PolyMeansMany: Why I haven’t learned anything from being poly.

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts will be found at www.polymeansmany.com from tomorrow. This month, our topic is “What being poly has taught me”

When the PMMers first picked the topic of “What I’ve learned from being poly”, I  assumed that I could or would have a lot to say about this. I have been practicing polyamory since my first relationship at 15 years old – that’s half my life now – so I thought I would have plenty of material and could write a litany of “poly lessons learned”.

But when I started to really think on this, I quickly realised that being poly has been so infused into my life that I have a difficult time differentiating its place in my life from relationships more generally. And furthermore, I don’t feel that being poly has taught me very much at all in particular. I think non-poly people deal with most of the same issues that we do: jealousy, trust, time management, boundaries, good communication, etc, and most of the seminal lessons I’ve learned from specific relationships would have transpired regardless of whether I was monogamous or polyamorous in that relationship. (I might have learned those lessons a bit differently if I were monogamous, however.)

In my own particular case, I’ve undoubtedly had many more relationships because I am poly, so perhaps my rate of learning from relationships has been greater than if I were monogamous. And as I have covered in previous posts, those lessons often come from loss of relationships – which in my case, has come more frequently as a poly person than it would have if I were mono, simply because I enter into relationships more frequently.

So perhaps in this way, poly has taught me to deal with loss better than I otherwise would have. It has taught me to fully appreciate having relationships that I know won’t last forever or even for very long at all. It has taught me the value of romantic and/or sexual friendships – a type of friendship I might not have been able to engage in if I weren’t poly or at least open. It has taught me to stop taking the damn relationship escalator all the time and to live more in the moment with my loved ones. NB: I got into my relationship with my fiancé thinking we would definitely not have a long-term primary-ish future together, and yet here we are just over three years later about to get married.  I firmly believe that not jumping onto the relationship escalator from the moment we met each other is what got us here, because it meant we could form our own unique bond free of such expectations.

At the same time: I could have learned any of the above while not practicing polyamory, it is simply impossible for me to know since I have never been anything but poly.  But I maintain that being poly has not given me access to a particular set or special level of knowledge that can only be gained by those who are poly. Frankly, I don’t think that kind of knowledge exists. I have learned so much from the many relationships I’ve had, not from being poly, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Fear of Missing Out: Dating, Mental Health and Introversion (Poly Means Many)

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com

 

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is something I have experienced on a regular basis in the past couple of years. Being poly as a socially anxious introvert is sometimes not a pleasant experience. I find this can be particularly exacerbated within poly communities, when I look around and can easily see my friends and loved ones being actively poly all the time – going on many dates with lots of different people.  

 

Triggers of FOMO: Dating, Mental Health and Introversion

Relatively speaking, I don’t date very many people. I tend to be picky, but more than that I am extremely introverted. That means, while I love being around people, doing so saps a lot of my energy. When I go on a date with a new person, unless I already know them well as a friend, it means I have to put on my ‘game face’ – I have to be ‘on’ and I have to perform. Some of you might think this sounds odd, but it’s just the nature of my introversion. My most natural state is being quiet and speaking rarely, and while I love intense conversation with friends and lovers, if I do it too often without a break I become completely mentally and emotionally exhausted. On top of that, struggling with depression for most of my adult life means that I don’t have the spoons to act happy and energetic and generally socially presentable as easily and regularly as some others.

 

In the past, I think one of the reasons I experienced FOMO on a regular basis was because there are many people who I would like to date, but I simply don’t have the energy to engage with that many people as intensely as I would like. Very often my social anxiety gets in the way of flirting with or even speaking with new people I find attractive. Sometimes being in a crowded room at a party overwhelms me so much and saps so much of my energy as an introvert that I have difficulty approaching new people. When I see people around me working the room and chatting with and making out with people they’ve just met, I can become convinced that I am missing out and that I am the reason that I’m missing out.

 

Overcoming FOMO: Self Acceptance

One of the ways I’ve found to overcome FOMO in these situations is to emphasize self-care and self-acceptance. I’m introverted, I struggle with anxiety and depression and dealing with those characteristics is part and parcel of being me on a daily basis. For better or worse, it takes a lot of time and energy to deal with being me, and I have to be my number one. I have to make sure I get enough alone time and that I prioritize dealing with my mental health. This means not spreading myself so thin dating lots of people or going to huge parties, despite the fact that I am poly and have been for most of my adult life.

 

Lessons Learned

Several years ago, I dated many people at once for a few months. I had just split up from a mostly monogamous long-term relationship and I had a bit of that old familiar “kid in a candy store” mentality. After a few months it became clear this was not good for me, at all. I had started a lot of relationships and then went through a lot of break-ups. Gaining and losing so much in a short period of time took its toll on me. I decided to take a break from dating and a break from sex for a little while. I experienced some FOMO during this time, but mostly I felt relief that I was allowing myself a break from something that – in the long run – I knew was not going to make me that happy.

 

During that period I experienced much less FOMO when I realized not dating was a choice I was making and that it was good for me. I was able to feel happier for my friends who were dating a lot because I felt more relaxed and I had more energy. I knew that, while dating lots of people might make them happy, that it wasn’t for me. So I experienced less FOMO and greater ability for compersion. Eventually I started dating again and got into two very fulfilling relationships.  I don’t think I would have been able to enter into those relationships if I hadn’t given myself a break and some time to recover.

 

FOMO and Distance

 

At the moment, I am taking a similar sort of break but for different reasons. I have just moved to a different country and therefore many thousands of miles away from the community/communities I had been a part of for the past several years. I am physically removed from my strongest support network. At the moment I am experiencing massive changes in my life, including reverse culture shock. And I admit it, I have been experiencing lots of FOMO because of this. I know lots of the people I left behind are having lots of fun without me. But why shouldn’t they? They are awesome and they deserve love and fun when I am not around.  I love hearing about what my friends and loved ones are up to. I just wish I could be there to experience it too.

 

The way I’m handing this now is, perhaps somewhat oddly, slowing down my life in my new country. I’m not making myself go out and meet lots of new people, as I was sorely tempted to do. I have enough on my plate already – enough new factors in my life that could trigger some serious mental health issues. I’m limiting the new factors entering my life right now and that means taking a break from dating new people. Chances are that, even if I were in London, I would want to date lots of people but wouldn’t have the energy to do so. Doubly so now that I live in New York, where I’m getting to know a new city, a new transport system, and basically a new culture in which I am immersed on a daily basis. Once I can expend less energy on adjusting to all of that and looking for employment, I am likely to consider dating again.

 

In the meantime, the FOMO is dying down as I realize the decision to not date anyone new is really the most healthy decision I can make for myself right now.  Perhaps this active decision-making will work for others who struggle with FOMO too.

 

PS – When it is time to date again, I am thinking of developing something like this “Social Anxiety Elevator Speech” that Life on the Swingset discusses. Some of you might find this and the links below to be useful resources:

The Introverted Polyamorist 

Modern Poly: A Guide To Introverted Polys, Featuring Pie 

For mental health issues and polyamory, I highly recommend contacting Pink Therapy in the UK for poly and queer friendly therapists, some of whom operate on a sliding scale.

Poly Means Many: In Praise of Bad Timing (Aug 2013)

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com. This month, our topic is “Time”.

This month I want to write about time, specifically as it pertains to “bad timing” in relationships. This has been very much on my mind lately, as I am about to move country. I’ve been reflecting on the timing of my various relationships (many were very badly-timed!) and I begin to realise that it is one of the most important factors in how long that relationship lasted, the intensity of it, or even that it existed in first place. Upon reflection, Bad Timing is something I can mostly praise.

Bad Timing as Catalyst

According to a lot of people, now would seem like a “bad” time to start a new relationship, given I’m about to move country. It’s been interesting to observe who has distanced themselves from me during this time and who has decided to come closer. There have been a few people with whom I’ve shared a mutual interest who’ve decided to not pursue anything with me due to my move. However, not to sound immodest (!), but mainly I’ve been bowled over by people who’ve decided they’re interested despite my imminent departure. In my experience, Bad Timing often is the catalyst for these connections. For better or worse, it is a catalyst I embrace.

My history with Bad Timing

My relationship with the Boi Wonders has had a unique history in terms of timing. A couple of years ago I thought it was very likely my visa would not be renewed and that I would have to leave the country. Despite that we decided to enter into a relationship, knowing full well that three months into our relationship I would likely have to leave, probably permanently. During that time we became very close and also quickly became well-acquainted with one another’s virtues and flaws. Thankfully I was rather unexpectedly granted another visa. Shortly thereafter a series of “badly-timed” interpersonal events transpired that put our relationship under more stress than ever. Somehow we managed to make it through all of this and our relationship came out stronger.

Two years later I’m in a position now where I now must leave the country, but happily I can do so with the Boi. We would not be together if we had listened to the sensible voice in our heads that “now is not the right time” a couple of years ago. I’m so happy we decided to give it a go despite the rather immense odds against us at the beginning.

One of my last Long-Term Relationships (with someone other than the Boi) was the long-distance relationship I was in for 18 months, which some of you may recall from when I started this blog. That relationship started partially as a result of Bad Timing too. She went to China for the first 6 months of our relationship, but we decided to give it a go anyway. I could not be more grateful. Although we’re not in each other’s lives much now, I learned and loved a lot with her and would never change that for anything.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t always ignore Bad Timing and plow through anyway! A few times in the past couple of years, I’ve met someone and after a few weeks or months, decided to not pursue a romantic connection with them. Bad Timing was often a factor in making that decision. However, in my experience, even making a go of it and deciding not to pursue that kind of connection can bring people closer together as lovely friends.

Bad Timing with Metamours and Friends

As I mentioned earlier, Bad Timing does not just impact individual partner-relationships. Say, I meet someone and most signs point toward it being a bad time to start an entanglement. Maybe I’m moving away or maybe my other relationship is on the rocks. Adding a new relationship to the equation could be viewed as risky, and maybe it is. But it can also be the necessary impetus to finally sort out the problems in my extant relationship(s), whatever the outcome of that sorting-out process may be, and an added motivation for me to sort out any issues with my metamours.

Bad timing brings both the good and the bad into sharp focus. It’s easy to reflect on missed opportunities – which believe me, I have done! – but also facilitates an intense reflection on the good. At the end of the night of my farewell party recently, a friend came up to me and said “I feel like I’ve wasted all this time not having been friends with you earlier.” This was really touching, but all I could think was that I’m just that much more grateful for the awesome friendship we have now and can continue to have. Moving away doesn’t mean my life needs to stop or that I can’t have nice things. It just means those things take a radically different shape than they might have otherwise done. Nothing has taught me this quite so well as being polyamorous.

Poly Means Many: Assumptions about polyamory and sex

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com. This month, our topic is “assumptions”.

Out of the many assumptions made about polyamorous people, assumptions about sex seem to often be expressed the loudest. It’s now a cliché that in virtually every media article written about polyamory the headline photo is a photo of several pairs of feet (all white!*) in bed together (*but that’s a blogpost for another time). Of course, we don’t see such photos in articles written about monogamous couples, even though they obviously also have sex with each other too. Broadly the assumptions about poly and sex can be categorised as follows:

– Wow, you’re poly! So I assume you must have a lot of sex.

– You must have sex with a lot of your friends/You must not have non-sexual friendships.

– You’re just afraid of commitment. One day you’ll want to settle down.

For this month I will address each of these assumptions in turn.

Wow, you’re poly, so I assume you must have a lot of sex.

I certainly know polyamorous people who do seem to have a lot of sex, but just like monogamous people they have “floods” and “dry spells”. I’ve certainly had those myself! But I’ve never heard anyone link being poly to having a higher sex drive (anecdotally or otherwise – although please correct me if I’ve missed something). The “you must have a lot of sex” assumption also erases people who have naturally low libidos and who are asexual. There’s certainly a segment of poly people who talk a lot about the sex they have with various people, but that could just as easily be a product of them being more open and unashamed about their sexuality than most people. I’ve gone from monogamous set-ups to polyamorous set-ups and can say from my own experience that whether I’m poly or not has no bearing on the amount of sex I have at any given time. My ebbs and flows have largely transpired for different reasons (e.g. hormones, medication, mental health, etc).

In addition, poly people don’t all want to have sex with loads of people, or loads of threesomes and orgies. Some of us do, and some of us prefer to keep our sexual encounters one-to-one. Sometimes it varies from week to week and year to year. Some of us prefer to not have sexual encounters (with partners or otherwise) at all. We’re all still polyamorous. We’re just people who have complex and differing preferences.

You must have a lot of sex with a lot of your friends/a lot of people.

You know what? Not really. I definitely have friends who I sleep with (or have slept with), but I have a far far FAR greater number of friendships that remain platonic. I *gasp!* even have many poly friends – many who I find attractive – who I choose not to sleep with. I have relationships and friendships that have a strong D/s dynamic but maybe we don’t engage in a lot of activities most people would label as “sex”. I know poly people who hold regular orgies with groups of their friends, and I know poly people who’ve had one or two sexual partners, fullstop.

This particular assumption is underpinned with what I think is an even more sinister assumption: that sex inherently defines a particular hierarchy in our relationships. For me, whether I’m having sex with someone has very little to do with their importance in my life. It can often overlap, but that overlap doesn’t indicate a causal relationship in terms of the relationship’s importance.

You’re just afraid of commitment. One day you’ll want to settle down.

I probably hear this one the most from well-meaning friends who just don’t get it when I tell them I’m polyamorous. These are the people who think they aren’t so crassly focused on the sexual aspects of polyamory, but rather the emotional aspects, when actually, sex is at the core of this assumption. If I’m having sex with several people, I’m obviously not committed to any of them. No, not right at all. Commitment doesn’t equal sex or vice versa. My relationships are important (and committed!) based on emotional closeness and trust, not necessarily whether I’m having sex with them, and certainly not whether I’m having sex with *only* them.

In terms of “settling down” (whatever this means?!): well, since I was a small person I dreamed of one day having a wife and a husband. Now I’m less focussed on the genders of my partners, but having more than one co-parent/partner is certainly my ideal. This is subject to change once I actually have children, of course, but I can’t imagine wanting to raise the next generation in a standard nuclear family set-up, particularly since my own parents tried and failed so hard at it. If anything, polyamory makes me commitment-philiac, not commitment-phobic. I want to commit to more people as part of my family, not fewer.

Beyond this, more and more I see myself committed to a community of friends and partners who are building a life together, regardless of who in that community or out of that community I’m having sex with. I’m not sure if or when I’ll know I’ve found this “community” (I suspect it looks more disparate than, say, a commune). However I do know that whatever that community looks like, I’m likely to have non-sexual relationships with most of the people in it and that my sexual relationships will undoubtedly re-configure over time. Some of the most important relationships in my life have never been sexual, or they used to be but aren’t anymore, but I am more committed to them than ever. This is a trend I intend to continue.

Poly Means Many: the ethics of due diligence

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. This month we’re talking about “types of non-monogamy’”. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com

This month we PMM bloggers are supposed to write about ethics in polyamory (aka why we’re not cheating). I suspect that others may discuss ‘why we’re not cheating’, with specific arguments pertaining to knowing about and consenting to all other relationships at any given time. I’d like to cover something a bit more specific, however before I delve into that I want to establish some basic definitions.

As a polyamorous person I’ve often said that I adhere to ethics but I am largely amoral. When looking online for some solid definitions to share to show the difference between ethics and morals, I struggled to find any – they usually meld together, as in the following from Oxford Dictionaries:

Ethics:

  • 1 [usually treated as plural] moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity:medical ethics also enter into the question

  • 2 [usually treated as singular] the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles:neither metaphysics nor ethics is the home of religion

  • Schools of ethics in Western philosophy can be divided, very roughly, into three sorts. The first, drawing on the work of Aristotle, holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person’s society. The second, defended particularly by Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from a knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings. Thirdly, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality

I eventually found an explanation of the difference that is very close to my own view:

“The difference between ethics and morals can seem somewhat arbitrary to many, but there is a basic, albeit subtle, difference. Morals define personal character, while ethics stress a social system in which those morals are applied. In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs… So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can be other-dependent.” (Wisegeek)

NB: To much of the world, poly (and queer and kinky) people are considered immoral. I’ve often tended to identify as amoral because ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ within our society is generally determined by systems and social norms that I have actively chosen to reject (e.g. religion). However I do consider myself a very ethical person – someone who can follow a system of expectations to which I consent to be held to account.

In general I’d say that there is a common system of ethics for polyamorous people, one in which we communicate honestly and transparently about our relationships, such that we can give our informed consent. But generally speaking this is viewed on a fairly one or two-dimensional scale: do all of our partners know about our other partners? Are we keeping to the various boundaries we’ve agreed?

What is often missing is conducting what I call ‘due diligence’ prior to starting a relationship with someone. I don’t mean googling a partner before your first date or anything like that. What I’m talking about requires a lot more time, patience and keen observational abilities; this process is partly why I usually take months or sometimes longer before agreeing to enter into a relationship with someone. Instead this due diligence pertains to a potential partner’s other existing relationships, and it is something I’ve personally learnt the hard way (but that is a story for another time… and probably not for this blog!).

I tend to form my relationships and romantic interests very slowly over a period of months, partially due to my experiences of how important this is. (And time, as I’ve discovered, is sadly sometimes not enough to reveal all of the information you might need when people do not know their own needs/desires and don’t communicate them clearly.) Why would I want to find out more about my partner’s other relationships? Because I honestly think that entering into a relationship with someone who is having major problems with their other partner(s) is an ethical issue. If a relationship is on the rocks, it will require more time and energy to resolve than a relationship that isn’t. If you enter into a relationship with that person anyway, you could be knowingly jeopardising their other relationship(s) because your new relationship will require time, energy and effort that is needed elsewhere. Of course, the other side of it should be considered as well; if one of your relationships is on the rocks, it probably isn’t the best idea to engage in new ones.

As we know, the capacity to love can be infinite but the other resources required to sustain a relationship are certainly not. Knowing that many of those resources will be invested in your new relationship is an ethical quandary that I see as particularly relevant to the Kant and utilitarianism schools of thought. Is engaging in a new relationship, despite the negative effect this is likely to have on other existing relationships, ‘obeying the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings’? In my view, probably not. It certainly does not fit into utilitarianism, as it is unlikely that to have the greatest happiness or benefit the greatest number. More likely than not it will cause unhappiness for everyone involved, including yourself as the new partner. In such circumstances it could be more ethical to engage with that person as a friend and not as a partner.

Styles of non-monogamy: the ideal and the reality (Poly Means Many – May 2013)

The past 15 years have given me the opportunity to be involved in all varieties of non-monogamy (except polygamy/polyandry, but I don’t much miss that). I’ve done open relationships, ‘dating’, non-hierarchical polyamory, hierarchical polyamory, polyfidelity and swinging (in my case, this was more like ‘sluttery’). I’ve been polyamorous when single (solo/unpartnered polyamory), poly while having one partner, and poly in a triad.  I could talk to you for hours about the pros and cons of each of these set ups.  (NB: I won’t go into specific definitions of what these different types of non-monogamy entail, as Rarely Wears Lipstick has a good entry defining many of them here. You can also reference the wikipedia article on non-monogamy:  and this chart by Franklin Veaux highlights some interesting overlaps and differences in styles of non-monogamy.)

I was in a very serious marriage-type partnership for eight years in which I (rather unsuccessfully) dated people outside that relationship nearly the whole time.  I would class this as more of an ‘open relationship’: I had a lot of stability in one relationship but almost none in my other relationships.  I then became single, practicing solo polyamory and the aforementioned sluttery.  This was a lot of fun but offered me no security or greater depth of relationship.  A short time later I experienced being partnered in a triad and as a secondary, which was an entirely new experience for me.  While I enjoyed it I sorely missed having an ‘anchor’, and so I came to have a closer affinity to non-hierarchical poly.  I then became involved in two serious partnership-type relationships and continued to subscribe to non-hierarchical poly during that period.  This time I enjoyed having two strong anchors, but both took a lot of energy to engage in and my other relationships (such as friendships) may have suffered due to lack of time.

For various reasons one of those relationships ended,  and for several months now I have found myself being poly with one partner. Recently, I’ve gone on dates with several people. I’m perhaps ‘dating’ someone I really enjoy spending time with now, but as I will be moving continents in a few months, my inclination to get into another serious intense long-term relationship is not as strong as it has been previously. I’m cautiously realistic about long-distance relationships. If or when I have children, I imagine that I may practice a more hierarchical form of poly, if only because my kids will unquestionably be my top priority as well as any co-parents I might have (please note: this could be more than one other person!).

For ages, I had the closest affinity with non-hierarchical polyfidelity. I think this is because I spent my early teens dreaming about having both a husband and a wife. Although I see polyfidelity in a different (less gendered) way now, it still attracts me in many ways. But my point is that despite whatever ‘ideal’ I have, the right approach for me is as much a product of circumstance. Any ideal simply might not fit with the shape my life is taking. One thing I’ve noticed, is that it can be difficult to find partners who are willing to try non-hierarchical poly when they are already very seriously partnered up or intimidated by my current relationship.

My relationship style may also change and adapt based on the preferences of who I am dating at the time. Some may think of this as fickle, but I think of it as realistic and practical.  One of the most important skills of a polyamorous person is negotiating ‘flexible boundaries’ (a term I first heard on the ALBJ blog on the post about boundaries and rules). While I cannot say whether any given style of non-monogamy is somehow superior to others, being able to negotiate what type of non-monogamy you want to practice over time is one of the most fundamental negotiations of all.