My first several years of poly were a series of false starts and broken hearts. I’d get involved and emotionally connected and then WHAM!!! the rug gets pulled out one way or another. It is a hard, bad thing. I’ve had a partner go mono with new a partner, a partner who was actually cheating and subsequent dissembling of the web of deceit (blowback sucks balls), and a partner who decided she was mono and wanted me to forsake all others for her (and, if I really loved her, of course I would do this… or so went the logic). Also, a partner who insisted I push all other relationships to the periphery – essentially making those others casual and very tentative – which I refused to do.
It has been painful. And, it seemed that I couldn’t manage a full year without one of these issues cropping up. I was disillusioned and heartbroken. I wondered why I was doing it so wrong. Some of these folks were new to poly. Only dating experienced poly people (the no newb rule) is only partially effective – as it didn’t help me in two of the four cases above. They were more experienced in poly than I was. I couldn’t suss out a pattern to help me select more judiciously.
I decided on two things about a year ago and I’ve essentially stuck to them. The first, and probably most important thing, is that I decided that a broken heart isn’t the thing I’m most afraid of. I must “love with abandon.” A broken heart is not desirable but well worth the risk. So, I need to place my bets on compatibility, chemistry and mutual investment. Poly is only one element in that complex equation.
The second thing sounds like the opposite of loving with abandon. But, I think they go hand in hand. I decided that I needed to be a “slow poke” with relationships. I tell people I date this and they often don’t know what I mean. But, I move relationships along very slowly. I don’t, with rare exception, push to advance a relationship quickly or respond to the pull from others. Slow and easy. Some women confuse pace with interest. That’s a real problem that I try to solve through communication.
Going slowly to me looks like trying to take the time to get to know you (no, really!). I’m trying to avoid the false sense of intimacy that surface connections and lust can create. Deeper communication and finding ways to experience shared passions/hobbies seems to work consistently. That often means I don’t see someone at every possible opportunity. But, it does mean that the opportunities we do have can support deeper connection. I’ve been told that I come off as very intense and serious because of this focus. Both are probably accurate descriptions. However, if we’re not also having fun, then nothing else will materialize anyway.
I’m betting that a potential partner who is willing to slow down and enjoy the scenery while we find the joy in each other will also be more thoughtful and confident in their polyness than those who cannot. And, if they’re not confident in or are new to poly, the willingness to take a slower pace indicates an emotional control that will improve the odds of being able to work through the inevitable kinks along the way.
My bets are on the table. What are you betting on?
(originally posted on Facebook as a response to a query)