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"I am not poly, have always considered myself really monogamous, but I recently find myself SUPER AMAZINGLY TOTALLY attracted to this smart, sexy, thoughtful person who is poly. I’m ultimately looking for someone who wants a long-term, monogamous relationship, but I’m really open to some dating and experimenting and making connections in the short term. If things go the sexy direction, what should I do?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Bethany Rutter as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Bethany Says:

Dear potential poly,

So much of life is engineered to be a miserable, bleak, hard trek, and once in a while we get the chance to sprinkle it with a little bit of joy. Yes, you say that what you’re ‘ultimately’ looking for a long-term, monogamous relationship, but you don’t say that you’re temperamentally unsuited to nonmonogamy. My point is: who cares what you think you want in the end. When you’re given the chance to bring a bit of fun to your life right now, where’s the beef? Most people you encounter possess maybe one or two of ‘smart, sexy, thoughtful’, let alone all three, and you say yourself that you are ‘SUPER AMAZINGLY TOTALLY attracted’ to them!

My point about being temperamentally unsuited is, I think, important: if you had expressed anxiety about nonmonogamy, and if I thought pursuing this person would go against the fundamental basis for your happiness, I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic with my advice.

You know yourself better than anyone else, and you’re probably right about the fact that, long-term, you want to pursue monogamous relationships. With that in mind, though, even you’re saying that you’re ‘really open to dating and experimenting and making connections’ right now! It sounds as if you’re super into this person – for good reason – and you know that exploring this relationship is going to be worth your while. The fact that ‘thoughtful’ was one of the three characteristics you listed is good grounds for this being a person with whom you can have fun and fulfilling encounters of all types.

You don’t need me to tell you to just be mindful and cautious of your own feelings and this person’s. It can be hard to balance the opposing forces of ‘everyone has to start somewhere with nonmonogamy’ and ‘I don’t want to feel like someone’s toy who they can pick up and put down’. Be honest and respectful about the fact you’re not sure if it’s the relationship structure for you long-term, but that you don’t see the point in denying the attraction you feel.

I say this a lot, in a lot of contexts, but I think moving to a less rigid and permanent way of looking at things like relationship types and sexualities could really help people (including you!). If we took a more fluid approach to the movements and changes in state of platonic/romantic/sexual relationships, and more usefully interrogated what we want right now, rather than what we were in the past or what we think we want to be in the future, the time we spend on this mortal coil could pass more pleasantly.

I think what you need is a little push out of the nest. You’ve done most of the work yourself (read your message back again!) and you know what you want. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to indulge that in a way that’s fun for both of you. Open up conversation with this person about what your reservations are, listen to any of theirs, and see if by the end of it you think you can offer each other something great. It sounds like you can.

Bethany

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Click through to read more about Bethany and our other Second Opinions panelists!

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"I’m bisexual. I’m dating two people who are also dating each other. We are all in love and have no other relationships outside of these ones, casual, serious or otherwise. I feel like there is no category for me in society and no awareness that people like me exist outside of an abusive context. I know there is a kind of "poly" community but I don’t know how to access it or even if I’d be accepted there. My friends know but can’t relate. My family doesn’t know at all. How do I stop feeling lost?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I know right now you feel totally lost and different and I want to just tell you that you’re not different. You’re not weird. AND you are not alone. At all.

There are about a billion people out there in a successful poly relationship.

I can understand what position your friends are in, I could never be in a poly-ship. If the person I was in love with looked me in the eye and told me they were in love with someone else, my insides would absolutely fall out of my body and I would pull an Izzie-Stevens-Greys-Anatomy-Season-3 and lay on the bathroom floor for three months. Your heart, however, is different from mine, you’re in a relationship with two people and all three of you are in love and you are so lucky. Being in love is one of the most incredible feelings in the entire world.

So, let me tell you about how this feels from a perspective of someone who doesn’t relate. I still relate to you. The feelings that you’re feeling are the same feelings your friends have felt. Love, jealousy, confusion, sadness, joy, that pit in your stomach that you can’t explain, the exhaustion from staying up all night laughing, all of the feelings that come along with being in a relationship. These feelings don’t change based on the gender of the person your dating, the race of the person your dating, the religion of the person your dating or the number of people you’re dating.

Right now you feel like no one gets it, but I think if you give your friends a chance, you’ll see that we all have a lot more in common than you initially believe. Love is love you guys, we all feel differently about it, but we all feel it.

Kristin Says:

Well, Anonymous, first things first. If you feel like there is not a community out there, you can just check out the notes from our post yesterday to see that there is a huge support network for people in the poly community. Our response yesterday read to many as a lack of awareness surrounding the poly community, or a lack of respect therein. While neither of those things felt true to us, many people got PISSED AS HELL, and for good reason. Our words were easily, and unfortunately, read as an erasure of the poly community.  What was brilliant about the post and response was that many of our readers who weren’t aware of polyamory wrote to us to say that they were thankful that they had been made aware, and the voices of the masses who are in polyamorous relationships got a bigger platform to be heard.

So, that’s a great start.

Dannielle’s words above are exactly on point. What you feel in your relationship, that feeling of love, that is the same feeling of love that any of us feel for those we care deeply about.  Those are the feelings that you should try to communicate to your friends; when they say, “I don’t understand,” you can say to them, “Well, actually, you do understand a lot more than you think. The way I care for Sally and Todd is the same way you care for Bobby – it doesn’t have to be different just because there are three of us and not two.”

If you don’t want to tell your family right now, do not feel pressured. If you do want to share this part of your life with them, then, like we tell everyone, allow them time to go through the process of understanding. That process may begin with yelling and a lot of hurt. It may begin with a lot of questions. Don’t give up on the people who love you, because so many of them will surprise you by doing their damnedest to understand as much as they possibly can.

Now. I would like to call on the many of you who spoke up yesterday – can you please reply to this post and let Anonymous know about additional space of support on the internet, in their community, and beyond?

As Dannielle and I grow, we also continue to learn, and all of you are a part of that process with us!

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