Asking A Lot: Poly Swinger Rules and Boundaries

2

Asking A Lot: Poly Swinger Rules and BoundariesOne of the good things about writing is that it gives you a chance to collect your thoughts. This is one of those articles. What I want to talk about is when you get to ask someone to stop seeing another person in the context of the poly-swinger world.

When is it fair to do so? When is it right to do so? When is it wrong if they say “No” to the request? When does it become a deal breaker? I don’t have answers, but I have noticed a trend in our family.

In the vanilla world, this is a pretty straight forward question. At some point in the relationship it is generally discussed that you are “getting serious” or “going steady.” Maybe you get engaged. Certainly by the point that one is married the very clear expectation is that there are no other romantic or sexual interests in your life. Monogamy is what you are signing up for according to most people.

The expectation is different in our world. And yet on several occasions we have each been asked to sacrifice what we might like to do.

About 6 months after meeting, back when we were also dating the Bears, Mr. Fox requested that I never play with Mr. Bird. He was clearly very threatened and jealous of Mr. Bird even though I’d never played with that guy before. Mr. Fox seemed to think there was some sort of magical sex that was going to steal me away. I thought his feeling threatened was ridiculous considering we were swingers, but I did agree to his request. Despite thinking at the time that his concerns were absurd, I lived up to the agreement. I agreed mainly because that is what he wanted and more importantly because I didn’t want to upset him. I also wanted to make sure he didn’t feel threatened and that he knew that he was a priority.

The second incident of this type occurred when we were going through our dysfunctional breakup with the Bears. Our relationship with them consisted of frequent disagreements, threatening breaking up or actually doing that, and then getting back together. When they dumped us and then started being manipulative to the point of trying to break us up with the Foxes, we knew we were done. That is, we thought we were done until they cornered us at a club and convinced us to give them one more chance. When I told Mrs. Fox this, she totally freaked out. It was very clear that we had a choice, the Foxes or the Bears. We hadn’t agreed to be exclusively poly with the Foxes at that point, but the choice was clearly before us. Without being told, we knew if we chose to try to be with both that the Foxes would’ve dumped us. In anticipation of the family Skype call to discuss it, we proactively dumped the Bears and cut off all contact with them. In this case, feeling threatened was legitimate. We’d been dating both couples at this point for about 5 months. It really wasn’t working for anyone.

A few month later at a party, Mr. Fox and I agreed to play as a couple but at some point in the evening we changed our agreement (never a good idea to change your rules in the heat of the moment) and agreed to play as singles. He ended up feeling completely abandoned and got very upset. I thought I had fucked everything up to the point that he was going to break it off, but we did work through this.

Ever since then, the unspoken rule in my mind has been to never play with single men unless my significant other finds another female first. This rule may have been started for Mr. Fox’s benefit but in my mind it applies to Mr. Scarlet as well. Single men in the lifestyle are treated like shit and I don’t want my loved ones to feel left out or abandoned. So I restrict myself even if I don’t always want to.

About a year or so into our relationship, the four of us were discussing the future. Ms. Tiger got brought up. Even though Mr. Scarlet only had a long distance relationship with her, even though they’d never even had sex, even though they only could communicate by Skype and text, even though the likelihood was that they’d never see each other again, Mrs. Fox was totally threatened but the mere thought that the relationship could become something more. Mr. Scarlet agreed to cut off all contact with a women he’d had a romantic emotional attachment with for two years. He agreed to this because he wanted to make sure his girlfriend didn’t feel threatened and knew she was a priority.

I think this is the key. You can’t be insecure all of the time or maybe there is an issue that you need to work on in yourself. But sometimes, the other person does make sacrifices for you to feel safe. It doesn’t matter if the threat is legitimate or if the fears are irrational. You agree to sacrifice what you might like because it isn’t as important as the loved one who you do want to make sure feels safe, secure, and that they are a priority.

I guess the converse is also true. If you aren’t willing to make a sacrifice, is the other person really a priority?

Share.

About Author

Ms. Scarlet is a newbie non-monogamist. She lives in a really Red part of fly over country, hence the name Ms. Scarlet. She likes contact sports, massages, rum, fast cars, ice cream, and good oral sex - not necessarily in that order. You can find her discussing the latest sex news and other things on Twitter as @MsScarletBlogs

2 Comments

  1. Interesting to see how you do things. I like the care you show for your significant others.

    As a poly person, not a swinger/poly person, I take a very different tack. I would not dump someone because a partner felt threatened. I don’t think that is fair to me, or to the other partner, who loses a relationship because of a third party’s feelings.

    I personally would discuss with my partner why they feel threatened, what they fear, and how likely it is to happen. I’d offer reassurance. I would see if there are ways I can demonstrate how important they are to me: special date? Words of affirmation? Acts of service? (Yay love languages).

    In the past I have made a promise to a partner not to fall in love with a new play partner. It didn’t actually reassure her, we kept dealing with fear and jealousy. Plus I did fall in love, so that was messy. I won’t make the mistake of trying to limit a relationship for the comfort of other partners again.

  2. Jen,
    I agree that it is different in the context of an open relationship or a poly relationship where the agreement is that people are free to add other partners. I think that it does to some degree depend on what the agreements are. In the swinger world if someone crosses the line, they generally get cut off. Often with no explanation. The point of swinging is that it’s casual sex and no strings attached even if it does develop into a friendship. But they aren’t partners.

    Ms. Scarlet

Leave A Reply