A friend and I were IMing the other day, talking about our lives & relationships. Because she is poly and in the BDSM lifestyle, much of what we talk about centers around W’s and my relationship, but on this day I was talking about a difficulty I was dealing with in my relationship with my other partner, Ad. God love him, but he can be the most unmotivated person on the earth, and it’s damn hard to deal with sometimes. At one point she said, “I know you are very in love with W…and I sense frustration in you with Ad…do you think you are, in general, more compatible with W?”
The question took me aback a bit. She’s poly herself and understands the dynamics of multiple relationships; the reasons why many engage in multiple relationships; that it is not about being “more” or less of anything, more compatible, more in love, less than, etc. It’s simply…different. I get different things out of each of my relationships. That’s the easy answer.
But…it also made me a little uncomfortable. And, being me, I forced myself to examine the question–and my reaction to it–more closely. If I was feeling some discomfort, then that means maybe there is some emotion/reaction that needed to be explored or analyzed.
The fact of the matter is, in some ways, in some things, I am more compatible with W. Intellectually, sexually (in regards to BDSM), in our energy levels. And in some ways, in some things, I am perfectly compatible with Ad. Note that I do not say “more compatible” in that last sentence. That’s because I don’t know for a fact that I am more compatible with Ad in those ways. I strongly suspect I am, but because of the limited nature of my relationship with W, I don’t know this for a fact.
I live with A. Share a home and a life with him. We see each other every day, know each others foibles and weaknesses and know the daily intimacies and banality that accompany a live-in relationship. He does frustrate me sometimes. He is unmotivated, not-social, happy to do nothing at times, low-energy and sometimes infuriatingly incurious about the world around him. I am fairly certain that if it were not for me dragging him out and bringing interesting topics to our conversations, we would have very little to talk about except daily life and WoW and the books he reads. I would quickly grow bored, and eventually restless. I need more interaction and stimulation than I get with him. I know that and he knows that. And he is very happy for me to find it elsewhere. I stimulate him more than enough, and frankly, if I didn’t go elsewhere, I’d quickly wear him out. In this, yes, we are incompatible. And if I didn’t date others, if I didn’t have the absolute freedom I need to explore life and other relationships as I do, we would soon split up, due to that very basic incompatibility.
And we would both lose out on an amazing, loving relationship.
My sister once asked me, and I have heard other monogamous people say, “Well why does it have to be sexual relationships? Can’t you get that from friendships? Can’t you get that from hobbies? I do.”
Perhaps other people are able to balance their needs that way. In my case, because my needs are also sexual in nature, and because I also crave emotional intimacy as much as simple social interaction, simple “friendship” and hobbies would not suffice.
(I do believe there is a certain amount of disingenuousness in this argument, btw. As is the case with most monogamous relationships, because there is a certain degree of distrust and insecurity built in to the the mono dynamic, my sister (and most of the mono people I know) is not allowed to have friendships with the opposite sex, or if they are, these friendships are very limited, because (of course) those relationships could easily overstep the boundaries imposed by monogamy. Even having an opposite-sex friendship at all is often looked upon with suspicion. So by saying that she gets what she needs from friendship, she is saying from same-sex friendships. Does no one else see that as incredibly limiting? Why, as a female, should I only have other females as friends? There is the whole other half of the population out there to get to know & to learn from. But I digress.)
In any case, as it is, he benefits from my excursions into the outer world. I bring back to him things to amuse and engage him. I do drag him out occasionally, for which he is also grateful. And I benefit by having a live-in partner to share my life with, to come home to, to make a home with. Someone that allows me to be me, that loves me and puts up with me, with whom I have great sex and that I feel comfortable just being “me” with. If it weren’t for poly, we wouldn’t be together, because I’d soon grow bored and he’d soon get overwhelmed. This way, we both get our needs met, and still have each other, and the wonderful things we bring each other, to show for it. We don’t have to throw out the wonderful parts of our relationship because we don’t fulfill each others every need.
That part is the part I don’t know about with W. I don’t live with him. We don’t share a daily life. Would we be as compatible as A and I are, if we did live together? That I can’t answer, because we don’t. I suspect not, though, because I can’t imagine living with anyone else as compatible with me as a live-in partner as Ad is. As accepting of me as he is. As warm and loving and giving. As easy to live with as he is. Although I could be wrong about that. W knows and accepts me, and his steady, unflappable nature is similar enough to Ad’s that perhaps he would be similar to live with. Perhaps he would let me fly as Ad does.
On the other hand, one aspect of why I enjoy life with Ad is it’s very mendacity. It’s everydayness. It’s familiarity and ease. I need a space to come home to that is “normal” after the things that W and I do. If I lived with W, maybe I wouldn’t have that. And that kind of “daily banality” would probably ruin-or at least drastically alter–the flavor of my relationship with W. I just don’t think we could maintain the level of intensity we have in our interactions if we also had to deal with daily life together.
We’ve blurred that line though, in the year we’ve been together. I’ve deliberately brought him into my life in ways other than the BDSM connection, and we seek each other out for friendship and companionship as well as just the sex, and we’ve found ourselves incredibly compatible in this regard as well. So, as I said, perhaps I am wrong and we would be as compatible as Ad and I are as live-in partners.
When I was with my ex and first started dating Ad, I wanted nothing more than to have them both as live-in partners. I loved living with my ex. And I knew I would love living with Ad. Sometimes I find it odd that I don’t think about that (much) with W. We’ve been together over a year now, and I am perfectly content with the way things are. I don’t want to change a thing, because it just works. One reason is I have blurred the lines between simply a BDSM relationship and more with W. If it was based solely on that one thing I do not think it would have lasted as long as it has. But another reason is that I do get to stay overnight with W as frequently as I want to and as our schedules allow. Well, to be honest, maybe not quite as frequently as I want, but that, too, is part of the intensity of our interactions. I long for the almost-weekly overnight we get, or the odd 2-3 day marathons, and pine for those times in between. Our shorter times together, and the times that we just hang out either alone or with Ad and do “vanilla” stuff, just brings that desire to be there, with him, in that “other space” just that much sharper into focus. But I need the ordinariness of my life with Ad-and those vanilla times with W-to bring that into focus. I need both sides, or all sides, of my relationships with both men.
So I guess the point is–I am compatible with them both. The relationship I have with each complements the other. I wouldn’t be content with just one or the other-and oh what a loss it would be to have to be with just one. But I don’t have to be. That’s the beauty of poly. I don’t have to choose.