Saturday, April 03, 2004

unforeseen advantages of polyamory

Something I had read and been told has started to make more sense to me. Working from a monogamous mindset, we expect so much of our romantic partners that we’re pretty much bound to be disappointed. I think about some of the first dates I’ve been on, both with people I’ve met online and the old-fashioned fleshy way, and how I’ve studiously applied all the principles espoused by the self-help books that promise to help you find your one true mate. Which questions to ask, what signals to watch for, and so on. Things that are considered important for women in my age cohort to consider, what with our decaying eggs and all the rest of it. Remain unmarried into your mid-thirties, and suddenly dating becomes laden. And you know what? It’s exhausting! If I’m spending the whole date checking what I’m learning against the list in my head, I could be missing something wonderful and subtle. Whereas if I accept that there probably isn’t one person in the world who is going to match that list exactly, but that there might be a few who hit most of the high notes, suddenly I’m free to enjoy the differences between the people I meet and the unrealistic fantasy mate I’m carrying around in my head.

So I went on a Friendster date last night with a gentleman of the Southern persuasion; a (by my standards) fairly butch fella who likes motorcycles, beer, and reggae music. Not an obvious first choice, seeing my tendency towards hyper-intellectual and often quite neurotic straight men that other people mistake for gay (AX, I am not speaking of you now, except of course on point the first. Not that being mistaken for gay is a bad thing.) But because I wasn’t all caught up in is this the ONE? type thinking, I was able to actually hear what was being said.

And it was good stuff. I mean, hardcore environmental activism. Passion for his work. Sweetness.

And knowing that the gentleman who’s getting the bulk of my affection these days actively supports this sort of behavior was icing. The evening was just so easy and pleasant.

About a year into my we-are-absolutely-monogamous thing with Slice, I developed a crush on a coworker. While I never acted on it in the way I so desperately wanted to, I still got in trouble when I admitted the infatuation to Slice. The fact that I wanted Dart became a sign that I didn’t love my partner (completely untrue), not that I was simply attracted to someone who could offer me something different in addition to the relationship I already had (very, very true.) It became an ISSUE in my relationship with Slice, which is ironic in light of the fact that he eventually slept with someone else and then lied to me about it; a situation whose ugliness could have been avoided had he taken my initial offer to open the relationship up. But the point is, what might have just blown over had it had a chance for expression became a BIG DEAL that had to get dragged through couples counseling repeatedly, and expensively. In the last year of our partnership I often said that I felt like Slice sucked all the air out of the room, but I think now that sensation had as much to do with my fear of being trapped in an emotionally and sexually exclusive relationship with one person when that didn’t seem, at heart, to be in my best interests.

I am still hesitant about a lot of this stuff. A friend is graciously trying to pimp one of her friends to me, a member of her merry poly band who is free some evenings when his wife is out on dates with hot babes. I’m having a hard time believing this can work this way; it flies in the face of everything I’ve been taught. And clearly it’s best accomplished with people who aren’t just poly-curious like myself but secure in their choice; I’m starting to have real sympathy for the two people who have been trying to show me the virtues of this particular path. Especially considering that some polytheorists categorically state that you should leave mono people alone. But as I said to Paz last night, suddenly I seem to be surrounded by poly people...where did my mono friends GO?

In other, sadder news, my mother told me yesterday that my father hadn’t read in two days, that he’d been too tired. This is a really bad sign. Tonight I modeled for Fifi, who I’ve been working for privately for a decade, and while I put on my clothes and she sorted and trimmed the drawings she’d made, we talked about my going home. She had me so worked up by the time I finally left that I decided to bail on the troupe potluck I was supposed to hit and just head straight to Orbitz to look at plane tickets. I’m thinking last week of April.