Although I’ve been in a number of open relationships in my life, and intentionally so in the past years, I don’t really consider myself polyamorous. Nor am I accurately described as a swinger. I call myself poly-friendly, because I need to be friends with someone before entering into a sexual relationship, but I also am not falling in love with people or specifically seeking out love with multiple people.
I’ve also learned, over the past years, that it’s hard for me to focus on more than one romantic relationship at a time. Even in some of my relationships in the past years where my partner also has a primary partner…I know some of those men have felt that I wasn’t paying enough attention to them.
When I was first exploring more casual relationships, this was also the first time that I was seeing/dating men in the Pagan community. I immediately ran into the social complexities of that. I had just finished the leadership program at Diana’s Grove, and I was realizing how very, very quickly a bad breakup could lead to disharmony. I think I managed to keep on good terms with most of those guys, but I recognized that the whole prospect was fraught with peril.
I’ve always considered myself monogamous, even when I’ve been in open relationships in the past. All I ever really wanted, growing up, was to find my soulmate and be with him forever. For a while in my late-teens/early twenties, I was anti-marriage, but then, I was sort of finding my footing as a feminist and I was looking at marriage solely as an institution of the patriarchy. I suppose that didn’t really last long as I got married in my early twenties; the call to settle down with one person was the stronger call.
Communication challenges abound. How you deal with people who are engaging in some communication habits that are frustrating can vary a lot depending on the person and the relationship. Once I saw an email from someone who had a friend who was constantly looking for compliments and cheerleading for behavior that she thought was pretty ordinary. She felt that her friend was manipulating her for compliments. She felt she was being manipulated for compliments and was growing resentful.
On this email thread, she received advice like, stop giving in to their manipulations, ignore them, wait til that friend disappeared from her life and tried to use someone else. Those suggestions didn’t look very helpful to me, so I offered some alternatives.