Wed Aug 10, 2011
I haven’t written about poly issues in awhile, but with reviewing/publishing reviews on a couple of swing sites lately, it’s in the forefront of my mind again. While I wrote that I ultimately didn’t choose poly as a lifestyle, it’s not like the issue never crops up in a longterm relationship. I think any relationship that has good communication will occasionally deal with the topic, because while I don’t think I’d choose poly as my lifestyle again, I also don’t think we’re hardwired for monogamy. In the same vein, I’m not hardwired to like working out, even though I might be healthier because of it. I do seem to enjoy a bit more fermented grape than is probably good for me. I don’t think hardwired is the argument that should be had, necessarily, but rather a consideration in the overall decisions.
I was reading Swinging Advice’s recent column, what to do when one partner wants to “close” the relationship. At the end of the day, there wasn’t much advice there except the biggie: talk about it together and figure out how big a deal it is to you. And understand that where someone is one year isn’t going to be where they always are. I then read a column on ebbs and flows of poly, and what priority to give it.
I like that there is so much more conversation going on now, more than just the tired old “how to avoid jealousy” conversation. I’m still not a sexually (or emotionally) jealous person. I adore sharing Elliott with friends, I encourage him to have his own time, own interests, etc. The first article mentioned above was sort of unclear, because the advice seeker didn’t actually say whether his wife wanted to close the relationship entirely, or just stop participating in it herself. That is a huge difference. Elliott would be totally open to swinging (in fact, he’d prefer it) and I have no problem with that. My problem is that I’m not all that interested in joining in on the fun, and last I heard it’s still pretty damn difficult to show up as a single guy and get in on the action. In this instance, it’s not that I care about an absolutely “closed” relationship, it’s rather that I’m not inclined to participate myself. On the other hand, I still lean towards poly in that I’d love to have bdsm playdates again, that weren’t necessarily sexual. I would check that in the polyamory category, just ’cause doing intimate things whether tab A is inserted into slot B or not, seem to count to me.
I think the biggest hindrance to figuring out how Elliott can have his swinging, and I can have my bondage playdates, has to do with the second column I referenced above. Where do you prioritize it in your life? In our case, every time we start to seriously even have the conversation, there are a zillion other things we put first. Whether it’s going out sailboat racing on a weekend instead of attending a bondage class by Max, or making time for elderly parents or friends who are moving, there is always something we put before that. Right now I’m ok with those priorities, so long as we still make time for each other. I do think though that when our schedules and life circumstances change, we’ll have the conversation again, and maybe again after than in a few more years.
You rarely see writing on the subject of going from poly back to monogamy, only the opposite. I’d like to see the conversation open up even more, to accept that a person, or a couple, can be happy moving fluidly from one to the other, so long as their ultimate priorities are in sync.