In a typical monogamous relationship, there is a pretty well-established sequence of how things progress. You meet, you see each other a number of times. Unless you belong to a fundamentalist religious sect there is usually sex involved. You probably meet some of each other’s friends. If there are children from previous relationships involved, you may meet them and they may meet each other. At some point, if you haven’t already been monogamous, you decide to become “exclusive.” Maybe you are in love with each other by this point. There are typically items of clothing or toiletries left at each other’s homes. You may meet some relatives. There may be a holiday of some sort where you are invited. You may take a vacation together. You spend more and more time at one or the other’s places. You discuss moving into one place together. You may even discuss getting married. More children may be planned and welcomed into your lives. You are each other’s medical and legal proxies. You grow old together.
Now I know that there is really no such thing as “typical” in the poly world, but I will use one of my relationships as an example.
We met. We had sex with each other. I met his wife and child. We spent time together. My kids met him and his wife and child. I met some of his close friends. We fell in love. We had sex with other people in each other’s presence. I met one of his other lovers. I am lactose intolerant so I have sorbet in their freezer. He may meet some of my friends who know about my lifestyle choices. I have met some of his extended family – introduced as a family friend. Although we have to keep reminding each other of what we are to say when asked just how it was that we met – since we need to keep our lie consistent on that subject. We have been to hospitals for and with each other. We have keys to each other’s homes. I’ve known him for almost a year and I hope to know him for many, many more. As a lover and as a friend.
He will not meet my husband – or rather, it is more correct to say that my husband will not meet him – but that is a subject for another post.
What also isn’t going to happen is any form of exclusivity – I cannot envision a closed poly posse for either of us. There are no sleepovers at each other’s houses, so no clothing or toiletries in drawers or medicine cabinets. I have a close extended family, but they will not be meeting him or them as long as my husband remains firm in his policy, so holiday dinners or cookouts are unlikely. He and his family don’t get enough vacation time together so the chance of us taking one, just the two of us, is realistically very small. Unless I realize my fantasy of intentional multi-family living (I would love to sit down with an architect and discuss some of the sketches I’ve put together), and separate or divorce my husband, our two families (and maybe one or two other families?) will not live together.
Because I am not happy unless I have something to worry about, I wonder if things don’t keep moving, whether that is one of the reasons that poly relationships founder? I’d like to know what other poly couples or configurations do to keep their relationships moving forward. I am curious more than anything. Trying to think outside the monogamous box. Similar to what Paula Poundstone says – I will paraphrase – but she asserts that the reason that adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up – is that they are “Looking for ideas!”