When was the last time you were interested in someone who wasn't comfortable with being poly, or the fact that you had other partners? How did you handle it and how did they respond? I'm wondering if they wanted to ask questions and learn more and seemed sincerely open to this new idea, or if they completely rejected the whole concept. How do you decide if it is a violation to be intimate with someone who has expressed that they're only ~sort of~ okay with you being poly?
There are a few different questions in this block, so I’ll try to answer them piecemeal.
Q. When was the last time you were interested in someone who wasn't comfortable with being poly, or the fact that you had other partners?
A. All the damn time. I have codependent control tendencies, and for better or for worse I tend to be attracted to vulnerability and naïveté in potential partners. This has meant that the last two serious relationships I’ve had (including one I’m still in) began with those individuals having zero prior experience with ethical non-monogamy. In fact, despite the fact that one of my current partners has been with me for almost four years and is literally married to another man, he still identifies as monogamous (love you anyway, Jack!).
Q. How did you handle it and how did they respond? I'm wondering if they wanted to ask questions and learn more and seemed sincerely open to this new idea, or if they completely rejected the whole concept.
A. Because I have a bit of an elevated public platform within a few choice niche communities - and since I also largely date and fuck within those same niche communities - it is exceedingly rare that I come in contact with someone who doesn’t have some context for who I am (sex worker, queer, non-monogamous, and/or kinky). I find this more of a help than a hindrance when it comes to dating, as it works to naturally vet out most folks who I’d be incompatible with. Even so, as soon as I begin a flirtation with someone, one of the first things I disclose is that I’m polyamorous, and then I proceed to give a [brief!] outline of what my relationships currently look like, as well as what I’m available for. In the rare instance that we get this far in conversation and they “reject the whole concept”, well, toodles! But if I feel a strong connection to them and see real potential there, and they want to “ask questions and learn more and seem sincerely open to this new idea” - as those two aforementioned partners of mine were - I’ll often take on the challenge. Which, honestly, can be brave and tedious work. I know many a veteran poly person who absolutely won’t date someone who doesn’t have a breadth of varied and/or successful non-monogamous experience under their belt, and I don’t blame them!
Q. How do you decide if it is a violation to be intimate with someone who has expressed that they're only ~sort of~ okay with you being poly?
A. This can be tricky - feeling like you “know better” than your partner or potential partner. You simultaneously want to set yourself up for success, protect them, and continue living by the relationship “campsite rule”, but either they’re a) Pleading with you to give them a chance, b) REALLY fucking good in bed and you just can’t quit it, and/or c) The trickiest trap of all: You fell in love with them before determining that your relationship styles were in fact compatible. All that being said, we’ve all been there, and using the word “violation” to describe continuing on with this kind of relationship is strong language that I feel should be reserved for someone who is using coerciveness and deception to intentionally manipulate a person and situation for their solo benefit. Since I’m naturally attracted to more sensitive, submissive people with less poly experience than me, I’ve unfortunately heard horror stories of their exes who used such abusive tactics time and time again. Partners who lied to them, gaslit them, fed them false information about how non-monogamy “should be”, etc. In short, an incompatibility isn’t the same as a violation; the difference is in the intention.