Met up with Kiss Curls for a cup of tea and the closest to girly chit-chat that I get - we were both girls and we both chatted. At the moment she's dating a lot, on the look out for nothing more complicated than interesting sex so we took a while to compare notes. After we'd shared a few choice details (her: newly discovered kink for filthy hill-billy accents, me: experiments in kink/pagan crossovers) we discussed future projects and came to the general consensus that two hot bi boys to play with were this season's must-have item, the important thing being that they must be into each other and that we must be in the middle.
The conversation meandered over to lifestyle choices. A male acquaintance of hers is in a poly relationship, a V with two women, both of whom have become pregnant within a few months of each other. Our reactions were separated by time but allied in attitude, a kind of surprised horror at the thought that he is intending to maintain both families, in different parts of the country. We decided that as a concept, it didn't work for us, to say the least. I know that there are folk who manage poly with babies and possibly even with kink thrown in there as well, but to try and do double duty with two distinct households? Perhaps I'm overlooking the thought of love conquering all, but I'm sure that love often needs the assistance of time planning and a decent cash injection every now and then. I know my life does and realistically I'm only seeing The Photographer, Knight of Wands and some double-dating at the weekends. We eventually hit the nail on the head and rammed it into the coffin with the thought that he would only be able to be half a Dad to each kid, half a partner to each mother and that wasn't fair (for fair read what we would want in that situation), given the amount of effort that our mother's have led us to believe babies are.
It got me thinking, about poly as a life choice, rather than a passing phase or a way of having my kinky cake and eating it. With cream. My attitude to poly has a tendency to vary with my mood, in the way that everything looks a little worse on a dull and gloomy day. At the moment, the outlook is not as favourable as it has been, it seems a tad over-complicated and a lot of effort rather than boy meeting girl and deciding who ties up who. On a good day, it seems the perfect way of living - everyone has their own space to explore sexual preferences, different long-term relationships can be established without sacrificing another part of your life: no-one has to compromise on what they want. And that's the key word, for me, compromise. I've never been particularly good at it, preferring a more all-or-nothing approach because for me "kind of right" is just a nicer way of saying "wrong". So is poly a permanent compromise or a way of avoiding any compromise?
I guess it depends on the exchange rate - what has been given up in return for what, and whether I can live with that ongoing. For me, poly was a consequence of meeting, and becoming very attached to, The Photographer. It wasn't something I've ever done before, and it has remained a means to an end, effect rather than cause. Given the option, I'd probably not do it. But I live in the real world, rather than the hypothetical, so it pays to examine exactly where I stand and whether it is worth it.
What have I given up? Exclusivity is a pat response, but it is true. I've lost monogamy, and have previously been one of its great adherents, finding security in the knowledge that there was just the two of us, against the world, a symmetry and balance that you don't get hanging on the end of a V. There is a loss of control also, the knowledge that someone else, who you don't know very well, regardless of how lovely they might be, has a say in your relationship with the person you love. That's hard, but not unheard of in monogamous relationships: best friends, parents and well-wishers all might chip in, however it's not the same thing. In this case, the other person has just as much stake in the relationship as you do, if not more.
There's a joke that anyone who says that their poly relationships aren't hierarchical and that they are all different and special is just trying very hard not to tell you you're a secondary. Powerplays and games of subservience are all well and good in BDSM, very well and good, in fact, but I don't think I can live like that. I know I can't. It's one thing feeling small and insignificant when compared to a Dominant partner, but not to their partner. I'll consent to the first, but not the second.
Finally, I've given up marriage. The big white dress moment, church bells, family, friends and any sort of large-scale public acknowledgement of committment, life-long love. I'm a natural nester, and no matter how many times previous relationships have come crashing around my ears (and oh they have!) I remain confident that out there, is the right person for me and that when I meet them I'll have that Happy Ending we've all been promised by so many stories and films. Without wishing to inject further melodrama, I burst into tears as I typed this, which only goes to show what a hopeless (pathetically, naively so, I know) romantic I am and also that I am a little run down and unhappy at the moment making everything that little bit harder. However it probably goes a fair way to expressing how much this image and what it represents means to me.
There's a flipside to it, obviously, because as much as I'm a masochist, I'm not in the business of making myself unhappy. Both men in my life make me extremely happy. The situation and the style of relationship, less so. I'm just not sure how to square the circle on this one, but I'm working on it. We're working on it.