My Addition To The Non-Monogamy Dictionary: Tandem Dating


My Addition To The Non-Monogamy Dictionary: Tandem DatingMy loved ones know I write this blog and sometimes they read it. Sometimes they disagree and have been known to call me out on it, especially Mr. Scarlet who never pulls any punches. Sometimes they misinterpret what I mean. Sometimes I say things without fully realizing the implications from someone else’s perspective. I mean I do that in real life too but it’s different when it’s in print out on the web.

My recent post saying the Foxes were an “ambiguous and undefined recurring relationship” hurt their feelings and left them thinking they were at a lower level in the hierarchy of relationships. Ironically that wasn’t my intent at all. I don’t really buy into hierarchy – the main thing is that I want to protect what I have with Mr. Scarlet but I don’t actually think he or anyone is more important than anyone else. The funny thing was that I actually talked about them because I do value our relationship.

It was kind of ironic that my terms hurt their feelings. I used those words because my thoughts were that we weren’t poly and that the relationship was “ambiguous and undefined” because that was what they wanted. I had asked months previously about poly with them and it was my understanding that they specifically wanted it undefined. Well after a lot of texts and the Star Trek like miracle of Skype we have gotten past that clusterfuck of miscommunication and are on the same page. I think.

So writing this blog is certainly an adventure from the swinger and polyamorous perspective. In the short run it can cause me grief even if in the long run it is a method to facilitate communication. I like Harper Eliot’s recent reference to writing here as her “preferred choice of exorcism.” I’m not sure about ridding myself of demons but it certainly helps at separating the wheat (good stuff) from the chaff (worthless stuff) and clarify my own ideas.

While on the topic of Harper Eliot, since she can make up her own words such as “Awesome Spoon,” I have decided that I need to make up a new word for what it is that Mr. Scarlet and I do. We swing and also do poly but neither is the way I see most people doing it. At least not what we mainly do. There are terms for the most common arrangements. Threesomes, MFM, MFMF, FMF, Y, N, W, etc. The list of terms goes on and none of them really seem to fit.

From a swinger perspective, we spend most of our time on our preferred poly relationships. Pure swingers would probably be horrified that not only are we emotionally involved but actually consider these people our girl/boyfriends. In addition, we are planning our vacations around them and have turned down some very good job opportunities because we aren’t really open to relocation at this time due to their locations.

But I think we aren’t like most poly people either. The biggest difference that I see there is that we don’t for the most part date separately. I will take a side trip to explain our current “constellation.” We have a quad with the Bears, a trussed quad with the Foxes, plus Mr. Scarlet has a rarely seen girlfriend, Ms. Tiger, with whom I have no relationship. Aside from Ms. Tiger, occasionally playing as singles at house parties, and an even rarer hall pass, weMy Addition To The Non-Monogamy Dictionary: Tandem Dating play together. Not just as swingers but as poly people too.

(As a sidenote to my sidenote, it is not clear to me if things will ever develop into an actual relationship with Mrs. Bear or not. I’m not opposed to it. But, it hasn’t happened yet and she and I tend to have a lot of miscommunication issues. Mr. Scarlet says this is because her and my personalities are almost identical. But I digress.)

There is a term called Swolly that tries to reflect the mixture of swinger and poly. I hate that word because I think it sounds like a disease. Plus my relationships are either one or the other, not really on a continuum. As an individual I consider myself a swinger with some individuals promoted to polyamorous relationships.

So I have started to refer to what we do as Tandem Dating. It is named after the tandem bicycle which has a place for two to travel on together. That is more or less how I see what Mr. Scarlet and I are doing on our adventure in non-monogamy. While full swap in swinging is common, Tandem Dating appears rare in poly. That makes sense if you think about it. You have to find four people who agree to relationships not just between two people but between all four (like in a swinger swap) who have good sex and then fall in love. Or maybe love first and then sex, but whatever works for you. Despite its apparent rarity, we have found two of these relationships. Maybe because we were open to it? Or maybe it was just luck? I certainly wasn’t looking for it when we started six months ago. At that point my mind was being blown by the idea of open or poly or even the fact that swing clubs existed at all.

Tandem dating is much more complicated than single dating. We seem to have gone from the bunny slopes of swing clubs to triple black diamond poly-swing. I am pretty sure we don’t know what the fuck we are doing. But we are certainly working through issues and trying to figure things out with maximum fun and minimum hurt feelings. In general I think a quad in Tandem Dating is like any other relationship except exponentially more complex since there are four involved and not just two. Then on top of that we are trying to spread our kreplits across more relationships than we are used to. Finally, I find that I have a lot more invested in the relationship of my spouse with my metamours. Why? Because if they screw things up it will negatively impact my own relationships and potentially cause them to end.

Even though it is more complex, I really enjoy Tandem Dating. I suppose there may come a time where we will have moved beyond dating and just consider them family. Or maybe (and I hope not) things will end. If that happens, then I will probably become a Tandem Hunter, trying to find that ever elusive compatible poly-swing foursome.


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

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