I had a lovely dinner with Not Blond last week, a relatively new arrival to BDSM who is interested in polyamory, mixing it up a little and general experimentation. He's also smart, funny and nice to be around. We talked about his ideas on polyamory, which is something I've been thinking a lot about recently now that The Photographer and I have moved to having a more 'serious' relationship. Not Blond expounded a 80% / 20% idea in which his ideal relationship was to have one fixed partner who took up most of his time and energy and then a number of casual interests who filled up the other 20%.
Like Butler's theory on gender, I'm beginning to consider relationships as a sliding scale rather than a binary and exclusive on/off situation in which some roles are prioritised more than others. There are a lot of ways of working it, but not an awful lot of words for describing it, and being a very wordy person, that can be a little challenging. However, whilst not having a template for how-it-works can be daunting, it is also liberating. Polyamory works in the way that those involved in that specific relationship require it to work. But it is still very new and needing a lot of thrashing out.
There is a strong element of social and cultural conditioning and also a certain element of old-fashioned English politeness. I've met The Photographer's partner, she is very clear on not wanting a monogamous relationship with him and I think we get along well enough. I still have strange sensation of treading on another woman's toes. I am self aware enough to realise that this isn't the case, but logistically I do have to 'share', for want of a better word. I'm working my way around to considering it as I would any other fixed requirement in the life of someone I want to spend time with. Given that all parties understand and accept the situation for what it is: is him being with another partner any different from not being able to see someone because of their work, or their family commitments? We have a (small) number of clear rules on how the relationship works and the more time I spend with both of them, the more real and therefore familiar and easier the situation is.
It also gives me plenty of space for myself and my musings, as well as time to have alternative dalliances. Over coffee with Offensive Charmer recently he worried that my increasing connection to The Photographer might perhaps harm my 'Great Experiment' as he put it. And that is a valid point - there are only so many hours in the day and there is only one of me and certain situations exclude others such as The Photographer's control over my cunt. It is exciting, and I'm enjoying it, but it limits other options. I cannot have my cake and eat it. But I can take a tasty morsel from lots of different ones.