What happens if I connect with someone in a way that differs from how I want my poly relationship to look? What message does that send to someone who doesn’t fit neatly into my dreams?
I’m not actually sure what this question is asking, but let me take a stab at it anyways.
One of the things I have been coming to terms with recently (through therapy and in my life as it goes) is that each relationship is different and it is ok to treat that relationship differently because of that. Not to say that it is ok to treat any relationship poorly or to neglect it – simply that I will interact with each person in my life differently because the people themselves are different.
But it can be hard to see other relationships and compare, especially if you think yours comes out “worse” in the comparison. It can even be heartbreaking. I feel like this is especially true in relationships where there is some degree of entanglement, whether these be between partners, metamours, friends, or family. It can be really hard to remember than comparison can truly be the thief of joy.
Am I focusing on an idealized fantasy more than on making organic connections with real people?
But I would be lying if I said that I haven’t fallen into this trap, focusing on the fantasy of what I’d like a particular relationship to be, rather than what it actually can be. I do engage in this kind of wishful thinking on occasion. Grounding myself on these occasions can be difficult, but I’ve found that reaching out and actually connecting with the person, asking tough questions about what can be with us, can be helpful.
With Grey Sky, I found myself falling into a fantasy: because I was ready to go out and socialize again, maybe I could find an involved relationship with someone who could give of their time as freely as Minx did. So I went into that relationship with a fantasy of what I wanted from a new partner. And like fantasies generally do, some of it came true, which usually makes it worse – the disappointments seem much more intense in light of the bits that did come to fruition. But I got a reality check after a couple months – this could not be what I wanted. Then I had to look hard at what was important for me in an emotionally involved romantic relationship – what I needed, rather than what would be nice. Eventually, I had to let the dream die completely – even the bits that had gone according to the fantasy. Because it could not be.
So, coming into my relationships with Diplomat, and then Lola, I had a better idea of what I needed, so I could relax and converse and let things flow. And they did.
I am working on integrating this into my non-romantic relationships, but there is still some work to be done.
When I visualize the kind of relationship I want, how much space does it leave for new partners to shape the relationship to their needs?
Some, I guess? I’m not quite sure how to answer this question.
My visualization tends to come from feeling the people out that I am interested in forming a relationship with, seeing what they are open to and what I can work with. If I think there’s enough there, I give myself some space to plan and some space to dream. If not, I try to let things fade, try to not get my hopes up.
This is why conversation about these kinds of things is important to me. It makes me feel secure in a relationship to know where I fit into things and where there is some flexibility in that.
Ideally, each relationship gets to stand on its own or fall on its own. And each of us plays our part in that.
Can I accommodate change, even unexpected change or change I don’t like?
I think I actually mostly answered this in my last post.
But let me see what I can add here.
Can I? Probably. Depends on what kind it is and how much change has been happening in my life at that point in time. Usually I can eventually accommodate it, it just might take awhile.
Will I like the process? Probably not.
If my relationship changes, is that okay? (Rephrased: If my relationships change, is that okay?)
I don’t know.
On one level, I recognize that relationships change every day. Each word you say, every time you do or don’t do something, the relationship changes in at least a minute way. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, sometimes in a completely neutral way (though I think true neutrality in change in relationships – not a combination of better and worse in varying amounts, but actual neutrality – is not super common).
On another level – change is fucking scary. Especially for someone with my sensitivity and neurodivergence. Change is disruptive to my existence and that can throw everything off. Sometimes things need to be disrupted to become better though.
I feel like my relationships are all changing right now and it more than worries me regularly. I’m trying to find some sort of anchor of solidness, something I can hang my hat on (to mix metaphors). And I’m having some issues with that, especially because my relationship with the idea of what I want to do with my life is changing as well. Some things are finding solidness and a comfortable space – my gender identity being one of them – but more than that, I’m scared of the changes that may be coming. I’m scared of shaking up my own life, of disrupting what is comfortable.
Am I flexible in what I’m looking for?
In general? Yes. What I’m looking for out of given relationships? Perhaps less so.
I look for what fits me at that time. If I’m looking for something more involved/entangled, and someone can only commit a day or two each month or every other month, that’s not going to work for me. I tried it and it made me very unhappy because I wanted more time with them than they had to give and I reached the end of my flexibility.
However, if I’m looking for something less involved or entangled (for whatever reason), then that kind of relationship works just fine for me. Heck, I have one of those right now. We talked at the very beginning of things and made it mutually clear that we were both a bit short on time and otherwise involved, but that it was worth seeing each other every once in awhile (has been panning out to 1-2 times per month so far, and that’s been great).
At this point in time, I’m not sure what I could do – I’m swamped in the high involvement/entanglement slots and very tentative about any other slots. So, now I flirt. And I have conversations. And occasionally have makeout sessions. Without the intent of it going anywhere. Which is kind of nice.
What configurations am I open to? Am I looking for a particular configuration because I’m afraid that others might be more scary or more threatening?
All this in theory, because I’m basically saturated at the moment.
I’m generally more open to people as individuals. Not really into the idea of dating a dyad (or triad, or so on…) together, but if for some reason I click with both/some/all of them separately, then I have no issues with that. I tend to like to keep things small, so I don’t get overwhelmed, so sub four partners (all levels of entanglement and involvement) tends to work out best for me (but they can’t all be high involvement/entanglement – my limit there is somewhere between 2 and 3).
I’m not looking for a specific configuration in particular, so I can’t really answer the second question except to say that my concern is more emotional energy drain and not having enough downtime rather than finding something scary or threatening.
What are my needs in relationships? Are they attached to specific people? That is, do I need these things generally, or do I need them just from certain people?
In all relationships I need:
- Affection. Touch and words showing me that you care about me, even if just in a sexual/romantic/kinky/familial/platonic (or whatever combination) way.
- Communication. I need you to talk to me and I need to be able to talk to you. This does not mean constant conversation, just that there is a line there if something comes up, or either of us is just looking to reinforce our connection.
- Intellectual challenge/stimulation. I don’t mean that I need you to be a genius or constantly challenge my intellect. In fact, I might even say that I would prefer that that isn’t the case, because that can be exhausting and I might start feeling stupid after awhile (and that feels like crap). I just need someone who is passionate about something and is willing to share their knowledge about it. I enjoy situations in which I am forced to expand what I know or what I think in order to grow and thrive. But I also need you to respect my intelligence.
- Time together. How much and what kind does depend on the nature of the relationship we have, but I find it very hard to sustain a relationship without having time together. Time alone together is easiest and best, but sometimes can be hard to do for a number of reasons.
- Space. I am an introvert and a highly sensitive person. As much as I may care about someone, I need space to be me and to do my internal processing without interference.
For romantic relationships I also need:
- Confirmation that you love me, at least semi-regularly (if we have reached that point in the relationship).
- Time alone together.
- Affectionate touch. Show me that you still want me in your life, that you still value my physical presence. Bonus if it is in public or when we are out with a group of friends.
For sexual (not necessarily kink – slightly separate categories for me) relationships I also need:
- Respect for my sexual boundaries. If I say no, it means no, not convince me. However, I tend to prefer to offer alternatives on top of nos.
- Communication about safer sex practices. I need to know what goes on in that regard so I can offer informed consent to however we decide to fuck.
- Respect for my kinks. Even if they are not your kinks and our sex will probably be vanilla or some variation thereof, I need to know that you don’t think less of me because of what I like.
Anything that tends to be attached to a particularly person is usually more of a want than a need, or is only a need that comes up because of how that particularly person is or does something. In those cases, boundaries tend to be an effective way of communicating this.
If I am already in a relationship, does my desire for others come from my dissatisfaction or unhappiness with my current relationship? If I were in a relationship that met my needs, would I still want multiple partners?
This is a bit more complicated to answer from the perspective of someone who is already in multiple relationships and for whom the chronologically first of those (the oldest relationship) was polyamorous to begin with. I dislike the assumption of a dyad opening up for everyone’s first poly experiences. Yes, it is common, but not all of us experience that.
Plus, the assumption that people only get into relationships to meet needs feels a bit transactional to me.
So I’m going to answer this from a couple different perspectives. The first being when I was just, from the start, with Trydaen (though I’m not sure those answers won’t be partially hypothetical, due to the difference in situation). The second being currently.
First: No, it does not come from there. No relationship will ever completely meet my needs by itself – I realized that a long time ago. Any new person brings new perspective and new light into my life that I could not have had before, possibly revealing new needs/wants/desires.
Second: My desire for (hypothetical) others currently is mostly out of an enrichment perspective – I am rather happy with my current relationships. The limited seeking I do outside of those is to expand my social groups. If I was dissatisfied or unhappy with any of them, I would prefer to talk to them first to see what can be done to alleviate that, not seek an outside relationship to replace or augment my situation. I choose to have multiple partners (the three that I do have and the other relationships that have value for me) because I value what they bring to my existence – each brings something different than the other – and because I like what we have going, in whatever form it is going.
Yes, meeting my needs is important, and I like that my partners definitely do meet some of them, but it is not why I choose them.
How do I define commitment? Is it possible for me to commit to more than one person at a time, and if so, what would those commitments look like?
I guess I would define it like this: two people give their informed consent to each other to start/continue a relationship with each other, with the intent of continuing with each other for whatever length of time they choose (including indefinitely). This means that they will continue to keep each other in their own loops and choose to work on whatever comes up during this time period. For me it is mostly about intention: I intend to continue the relationships I have currently in a loving and kind manner, and I believe that it is important for us to address anything that comes up and keep each other informed. I keep choosing them every morning when I wake up and I hope they either keep choosing me or talk to me about whatever is going on if they don’t choose me. (And by choosing me, I don’t mean exclusively – I mean keeping me as an important part of their picture.)
It is definitely possible for me to commit to more than one person at a time. Every morning, I give a minute or so to the idea of each of my partners and the picture we all form together. Did anything change the previous day? Is there anything we need to address (for me to keep choosing our relationship)? Do I still like the idea of us together? So, I just do this for more than one partner.