Third – Thoughts on Dating a Couple
My constellation is growing. We have never been a closed group, but recently we have had a period of startling growth. I might even need to update my helpful diagram for my rapt audience. We’ll see.
On my end of the sky, I’ve entered into a new relationship with a male/female couple. And now, only a few short weeks after railing against the “unicorn” stereotype, I have decided to write about dating a couple and why it’s awesome.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why couples are so appealing to me. The first thing I need to put out there is that it’s not the sex. Threesomes are lovely, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t have a particular yearning for a threesome over one-on-one sex, and historically I have not found them more satisfying. So that comment is out-of-the-way.
I suppose the easiest way to start an explanation of why I like couples is to draw comparisons with other relationship structures.
When I date a single person, there always exists the possibility that this person is “playing along” with my poly life to make me happy. Deep down, s/he wants to be my only partner, but won’t say so. This has happened to me. It sucks a whole lot. I’m not throwing accusations at all the single poly folk in the world, it’s just a fear that I have developed through experience.
If I date a person who is in a relationship (or several), I know this person is interested in a poly lifestyle. Obviously. Developing the right level of communication and relationship between myself and his/her partners is a delicate and complex dance which makes that relationship style challenging. It took at least a year for my husband’s girlfriend and I to find a comfortable place. I have to worry about how much the other partner(s) like me and to what degree that affects my relationship with this person. Who are they to me, and what does that mean for my relationship with my partner? This isn’t always a bad thing, an extended poly family offers support and love outside of direct romantic connections. It’s just complicated.
Getting into a relationship with a couple is a lot more complicated, because I’m dealing with a triangular shape – effectively creating four new relationships rather than just one – but a lot of other aspects are simpler. We are all going to be separate people, with different romantic, sexual, and communication styles, just like any other relationship. But we are also on a more level field, where rather than being concerned with “my boyfriend and his girlfriend,” or “my girlfriend and the person she might maybe be interested in dating,” it’s “my boyfriend and girlfriend.” I know who my partner’s partner is to me: s/he’s my partner too. Communication is circular. Plus, I know they both like me, which helps a lot.
There’s also a great deal of comfort in being welcomed into a pre-existing, loving relationship. The couple is telling me, “We have this love. It’s a good love. We think adding you into it will make it better for all of us.” This particular couple is truly the best thing to enter my life in years.
For those who’ve been reading my other blog posts, I’m sure you’re wondering what has gotten into me since my “I am not a unicorn” angry rant. Don’t worry, I’m still not a unicorn. These two have welcomed me into their existing relationship, but not as an instant sex/romance enhancer. They don’t want me to be a tool to make their relationship better, they want me to be me. And who I am fits with who they are, and what they want in their lives. They’re in this as much for my happiness as I am for theirs.
I don’t want to rain on my own parade here, but I also don’t want to present the sunshine-and-roses version of my life, so here’s the down side. Dating any couple comes with a certain degree of fear. This is my second time with a couple, and the first was an utter failure because their relationship was not strong enough to hold me. I couldn’t be their third, because they couldn’t stay together as a pair. That planted some unease in me for future relationships, but in this case is thankfully not a concern. My couple is secure, stable, and happy together.
However, this pair is new to the poly world; I’m their first girlfriend as a couple. Which in some ways is incredibly fun, because I feel like we are discovering all sorts of new things, and everything is bright and shiny. But it creates its own kind of fear: I’m afraid of being an experiment. That in a month, or two, or worse a year they’ll realize they really would rather be monogamous. “Sorry, we tried. Goodbye.” That’s a common fear for any new partner in a poly group – being sacrificed for the health of the pre-existing relationship.
Every new relationship comes with grains of fear, and showing the emotional dark side doesn’t mean that I’m not overjoyed to be in this new relationship. There are two new shining stars in my sky, and that’s cause for celebration.