On Dating and Poly

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Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com.

One advantage of being non-monogamous is that you can go on dates even if you already have a partner or two, how great is that? Not only can you have wonderful long-term relationships, you can still cast your line out into the rocky sea of potential ‘others’ and then spend nerve-wracking night after nerve-wracking night trying to convince said ‘other’ that you aren’t a complete mentalist.

I kid. Sort of.

As it turns out, I’ve not been on that many dates myself. My first date with Kirsty was under the monogamous guise and… well I’ll be honest, neither of us is really sure what our first date actually was; we worked together so already knew each other, we’d both recently found ourselves single, have similar tastes in music and movies, we kinda fell into a relationship.

That said I do remember our first kiss. It was so romantic, after a candle light dinner, we walked until the sunset, nervously hand in hand across the beach, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves. We paused to watch the last shard of the red sun dip beneath the horizon, slowly turned, looked into each others eyes and realised we’d fallen for each other. We leaned in and … nope I can’t lie, it wasn’t like that at all.

It was a hastily grabbed snog on the stairs of a bar called Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow, on a cold October night. We were both tipsy enough to be able to abandon ourselves to the moment and I won’t ever forget it! Screw you romance, gimme beer and a grungy bar any day!!

Time passed, we decided to try an open relationship and so it was I found myself walking through Glasgow on my way to meet Clare for our first date (I’m not sure stealing her chips the first time I properly spoke to her really counts).

I can’t recall why I picked the pub I did, maybe because I knew it, maybe because it’s a low-key kinda place, not too ‘old man’ nor too ‘trendy hipster’. As I walked down the lane, early as I am wont to be, I sent Kirsty a quick text telling her I was almost at the pub and completely shitting myself.

She reassured me, for about the 100th time that hour, that everything would be ok, that I should relax and just be myself. Thankfully the bar has a large glass frontage so I could see that I’d gotten their first so I walked in and quickly ordered some dutch courage.

The date went well, my fears about not having any conversation were unfounded, we laughed, and smiled, it was a pretty damn good first date.

So what’s so special about dating if you are polyamorous? Well for one you have someone to talk to about it, both before hand and after, and I think it relieves some of the pressure. If both parties know the situation going in then you’ve immediately taken away the ‘find the one’ aspect that a lot of dating seems to include.

One thing I would say, if you are considering a poly or open relationship, is that you don’t need to go on dates. When we first started looking at this lifestyle I read a lot of articles and there is an almost assumed state of poly = longer term partners + a lot of dating.

I will now contradict this and say that, whilst I have two very lovely, loving partners, there is part of me that enjoyed the excitement and nervous tension that dating brings. It’s not so much the New Relationship Energy (which is also great) but that sense of the unknown. Maybe that’s why so many poly people are actively dating, to keep that element of the excitement in their lives.

Kirsty and I touched on this when we discussed changing our relationship structure, we’d both come from long term relationships and recognised that one thing we should guard against is complacency. It’s easy for a good relationship to slowly crumble through comfort and familiarity, for two people to drift apart and not even realise it’s happening until it’s too late.

Regardless of your own situation, communication and honesty are key. If you are going out on a date with someone, make sure they know your circumstance in advance. Sure, they might not understand it but if they are interested you can talk them through how, and why, it works for you. Equally I know some poly families have rules around dating, and it’s not a bad idea to set some expectations; if you are going to ask someone out on a date, or have been asked, then mention it to your partners.

Of course once you get on the date it’s the same whether you are poly or not.

Nerve-wracking.

But maybe that’s just me.