In my recap of Chapter Two of More Than Two, I mention having the experience of someone(s) trying to fit me into a box. That turned out to be a really important poly relationship experience for me, as it showed me so many things that I never wanted to happen again in a polyamorous relationship (or really, any relationship). That relationship happened with a guy named Alex and his (initially totally a mystery) primary partner Amanda.
I met Alex online on a dating website. It was interesting, because I looked at his profile on my phone and he sounded so interesting (and looked so cute) that I formed a little crush on him right then and there, which caused me to hesitate to message him. His profile was pretty detailed, so I decided that I wanted to spend a day reading it carefully, and put a lot of thought into a message to him – I wanted to make sure that it was clearly a well-thought-out message (not one of those randomy, spammy “hi, what’s up?” messages that some people on dating sites seems to send out by the dozens) that reflected interest directly in him. By the time I got home, to my surprise, I had a message from him – it said that he noticed that I’d looked at his profile, and that he’d checked out mine and seen we had quite a number of things in common – wine, music tastes, bisexuality, hiking…he’d love to talk to me, but he wanted to let me know that he was quite serious about the bisexuality – he’d had relationships with men in the past, and wasn’t interesting in hiding that or in being with someone who saw that as a negative about him. So if I was still interested, he’d love to chat with me.
This was damn well near the perfect message for me. I really appreciated him talking about his bisexuality up-front. I find bisexual men (and men having sex with men, as well as me having sex in a threesome with two men who are also interested in each other) to be incredibly sexy and I also understood his reasoning in being up-front about it – I myself have come across bisexual women who think that female bisexuality is hot and awesome and great, but that male bisexuality is gross, un-masculine, and unacceptable in a partner. While I don’t think that everybody should love male bisexuality the way that I do (ok, I do think that, but I’m trying to be realistic here!), bisexual women being judgmental about it is hypocritical, obnoxious, and cruel. If it doesn’t butter your muffins, fine; but making men feel bad their same-sex feelings is totally unacceptable and shitty.
<Liz is now getting off of her bisexual-men soapbox. Anybody wanting to give a loving shout-out to bisexuals of any kind, but especially the male-identified ones – meet me in the comments section :)>
Now, where was I?
Ah yes, I totally understood Alex’s desire to be up-front about his bisexuality. I’ve also written disclaimers of a similar type about being poly in my first or second message to someone. I’ve had the (brief) experience of having a date with someone I met online who didn’t mention being poly in their profile, and had them tell me on the date that I really didn’t want to be poly OR that they’re not into poly, so one “condition” of a second date is that I give up being poly. Shockingly, there were no second dates with those people. And to stop myself from wasting my time with future anti-poly assholes, I started specifically mentioning in my messages that yes, I am poly; no, that’s not going to change; please let me know that you are also poly, else there’s no point to us dating. If I don’t get a clear, unequivocal “yes, I am poly” from someone, then we don’t date* (especially since this was around the time that my relationship with Rachel was getting serious. We hadn’t yet started talking about being partners, but it was already clear that we had a very serious and special bond). It was refreshing to be talking to someone who understood the importance of disclaimers like that. Unfortunately, I did take Alex’s forth-coming statements about his bisexuality to mean that he was a clear communicator on all fronts. This turned out to be disastrously untrue. Though, I have to also say, my communication wasn’t fantastic either – had I asked more careful questions up front, we probably wouldn’t have ended up in the muddle that we eventually found ourselves.
Anyways, Alex’s entire message was wonderful – his mention of mutual interests, the idea that he was comfortable with his bisexuality and expected me to be comfortable with it too, his writing style, everything was just…really promising. So I wrote him back and told him that I was delighted by his bisexuality, mentioned my polyamory, and said that if he was comfortable with that, it would be wonderful to chat more about other things. His response about me being polyamorous was really interesting. He told me that he’d never called himself polyamorous before, as he didn’t hear much about the word until recently, but that he had always been a fan of Dan Savage’s “monogamish” and had always felt himself to be monogamish. Though he didn’t know anything about polyamory from a community perspective, he did know his feelings on jealousy and having multiple, serious relationships at a time, so he’d love to talk to me specifically about polyamory and learn more. He also asked if I knew of any good polyamory resources.
While that wasn’t quite the “yes, I know poly and I am poly” answer that is my Holy Grail, it was close enough that I wanted to proceed to get to know Alex.
And I did.
At first, it went wonderfully. Alex was extremely attractive to me physically, mentally, and emotionally. He was a very honest person. We talked about his failed marriage and how that experience impacted his feelings on dating and trusting people now. Long story short, the woman he married said that she was fine with him both being monogamish and bisexual, but when a business trip put him in the same city as one of his former male paramours, his wife had a fit. And when he didn’t immediately agree not to see his lover again, his wife invited her parents and his parents over to inform them all what Alex wanted to do on his business trip. Happily (kind of happily) Alex’s parents were fine with his bisexuality and believed Alex when he said that soon-to-be-ex-wifey had agreed that she was OK with this. However, STBX-wifey’s parents were horrified at his wonton gay ways, and agreed that their daughter deserved an immediate divorce.
When Alex and I met, the divorce was a bit more than a year in the past. So, far enough away to not be a constant sting, but close enough to still hurt. He wanted to take things slow, which I was perfectly happy to oblige (I prefer a slow start to a relationship, both because I enjoy the tension of being *pretty sure* sex is going to happen eventually and because I like to really have a good feel for a person before getting naked and hawt with them). Both of us were pretty busy during this time; between Date Two and Date Three there was nearly a two-month hiatus. But we texted and emailed off and on during that time, and I felt like I really got to know him really well. I was continually surprised by the things we had in common – there really was a lot of overlap in our shared interests, and I was really falling hard for him.
During this time, Alex’s company was making plans to shuffle people around and they wanted him to do a stint in one of their European offices. It would be a three to four month transfer. It was a big honor for him, and he was excited to take it. As we weren’t yet seriously dating (we’d only had two dates at this time), this was something he simply told me – we weren’t making any life plans together. Or any plans at all, really.
Meanwhile, another development in Alex’s life was that he was considering buying a home in the town I lived in. His parents lived a few towns away and he loved this area; it’d always had a special appeal to him as a child, as it was a bit bigger (and more cosmopolitan) than his hometown – this is where his family went to go out for a night on the town, or for a really fancy restaurant. With his company wanting him to transfer to Europe in a few months, he wasn’t sure what to do about his potential home-buying plans. While he was debating this, we finally had our third date.
Even though it was only our third time going out together, the amount of emailing and calling we’d been doing led me to feel like we were getting extremely close. I realized that I was falling for Alex. Hard. And I wanted to talk to him about that and see how he felt so that if I was way off-base in my feelings, I could reign it in before I got too hurt.
So we talked about it. I told him that I was really hoping that he would buy a home in my town, that I had a lot of feelings for him, and that I hoped we’d form a solid, primary relationship together. Alex told me that he felt much the same; he wasn’t sure if the timing was good on buying a home yet, in part because he wasn’t sure where in the US he was going to end up when he returned back from Europe. There was some talk about moving him to Oregon. So he was holding a part of his heart back, because he felt like a long-distance relationship would be too hard for us. He wanted to see where he would end up living first. But if he ended up staying in the area, he absolutely saw a future for us together.
Our third date ended up at my place, where we had a lot of amazing sex. I know, I know. I said I like to get to know people slowly first. In my mind, that had been fulfilled pretty well, as Alex and I had been talking/emailing very regularly for about five months. I felt like I knew him well enough that I definitely wanted more of a relationship with him – and I wanted to see how compatible we were in bed. The answer to that was “very” and my feelings for him were growing ever deeper – I started feeling really invested about Alex coming back and buying here.
But anyways, the sex (this is relevant). I’ve mentioned kink before, and Alex and I turned out to have very complimentary kinks. Both of us were switches, and both of us enjoyed sex where one person topped/dominated the entire time & we stayed in our respective roles. We both also enjoyed a good bought of sex where we fought for dominance and whoever was able to overpower the other first (be it physically, psychologically, or with a well-timed bite), would be the dom/me for that experience.
Although I’d done a fair amount of topping women in previous kinky relationships, I hadn’t met any submissive (or switch) men who I had good chemistry with. Topping Alex was amazingly fun (damn well near addictively fun), and it was also a revelation that he was incredibly good at topping me.
The more I got to know him, the more there was to really be into.
The rest of the date went well. Alex let me know that he had a business conference coming up. He was excited because his past lover, Amanda, would also be in attendance. I don’t actually remember the exact words that he used to describe Amanda – it felt like he said “former lover/girlfriend”, but honestly, I didn’t take note other than she was a previous sexual partner that he planned on having sex with again. I was curious about her, so he told me a little bit about her – she was gorgeous, sweet, very shy, incredibly smart, delightfully kinky and really wonderful to spend time with. “Like a shyer, blonder version of you” he said. “I think the two of you would really hit it off well”. I agreed; she sounded wonderful.
Eventually, Alex had to head back home, and he promised that he’d be in contact after the conference. I wished him a good trip, and started counting down the days until he got back.
This is a good place to pause until Part 2, as the way I felt about Alex changed radically when he returned – with news.
* A clear, unequivocal “yes, I am poly” also excludes people who say things like “Well, I’ve never been poly, but I don’t think I’m necessarily against poly. Can you tell me more about it?” No, I can’t. I don’t actually exist to teach people things that they could look up on their own. If you’re not interested enough in poly to read up on it yourself, then this isn’t going to work, because I’m not spending the beginning of our relationship “educating” you. Especially given that my experiences with “educating” people about things always involves them eventually saying “Oh, I don’t really like this thing and don’t want to do it. But hey, we’ve been dating a few months and I like that, so why don’t we just keep dating and you forget about that other thing that I’m not really into?” NO, sorry, not happening, thanks for playing.)