Whenever a discussion about how to negotiate a relationship with a sexual person comes up, asexuals tend to toss out the idea of non-monogamy as a potential solution. This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years, since even before I came out as asexual. I’ve had a couple of different friends who were polyamorous, and seeing a little bit of how their relationships worked, I gradually opened up to the idea of getting involved in some sort of poly arrangement myself.
In my first relationship, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t question my own monogamy, or really any of the fairy tale bullshit I’d been taught to believe about relationships (i.e. that love lasts forever, we complete each other, etc). I didn’t have much reason to. Although I had seen how healthy poly arrangements could work, and I thought in the back of my mind that I might be willing to try it someday if it ever came to that, in my situation back then, it just so happened that I had little impetus to explore the idea. I was with a fellow asexual, who was monogamous and insecure, and tended to get jealous over the slightest remarks. Obviously it would have been awful to try and bring up polyamory in a relationship that was already so unstable. And although the relationship eventually failed because of my ex’s extreme insecurity, I had been happy with the arrangement. It was essentially my ideal relationship. I had no problems being faithful, although I did meet someone during that time that I developed a very slight crush on (who, by an amusing twist of coincidence, was polyamorous), so I realized back then that being in love with one person does not turn off any potential attraction to or love for other people.
Now, after all that has long ended, and after going through everything I did with M, I am finally in a position where I am considering actively dating. I’ve never been too comfortable with the idea of dating, for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve never done it before, so I only have a vague idea of how to act in that situation. But that’s fine, I’m willing to learn. What I’m NOT willing to do is bend to the traditional expectations that someone may have of me, or waste my time with someone who is not looking for the same thing that I want, which is my second (and by far most daunting) problem. I have always been put off by the idea of having to explain all of this (that is, all my relationship expectations and needs) to someone up front, which is what I feel is the only ethical solution. It requires a lot of time, which most people in a dating situation are not willing to invest until they’ve already gotten seriously involved with someone. So instead, up until now, I’ve always tried to stay friends with people who are potential romantic interests, and slowly build up their understanding of what kind of relationship I would be open to, and then once they’ve been sufficiently informed, if there’s mutual interest we can go from there, and if not we can stay friends. Or not.
But really, it’s not even something I can just explain, right off the bat. It’s a complex issue that I haven’t fully figured out, and I can’t really do that, because I don’t have any experience. In theory, I would like to try some sort of polyamorous arrangement, and I think I can handle it, but in practice? I don’t know where my limits are. I don’t know what, exactly, my relationship needs are. And as I’ve learned lately, it really takes testing things out in order to find out, because things that you thought would be a big deal can turn out to be nothing, and vice versa.
So I want to try things out. I want to find out where I stand in terms of relationships, but I don’t want to waste my time trying to explain all of this to someone who is very traditional about relationships, and wouldn’t even give me the time of day anyway. It’s making more and more sense to me to try dating someone who is polyamorous, because at least then I know they may be willing to listen. Lurking around a couple poly communities, I can see that their approach to relationships is very different, and everything tends to be more up-front than with mono people. As I keep on thinking about it, I think I might be a little bit uncomfortable being bound to monogamy forever anyway. I wouldn’t go so far as to identify as polyamorous, because I think I’m really neither inherently mono nor inherently poly, but just somewhere far enough in the middle that I could be happy with either relationship setup, provided the relationship was strong. Still, in the past few years, I’ve stopped thinking in terms of monogamy.
My mindset has slowly migrated away from that over the years, and at this point I’m no longer interested in the idea of polyamory as just a way to work out some kind of compromise with a potential sexual lover (which by the way, could also be done by swinging, which I suspect is actually a little more in line with what some asexual people really mean when they suggest stuff like this, but to asexuals polyamory just sounds better—which amuses me because it seems that sexual people are more apt to call polyamory swinging, but with us it’s the other way around. Funny how that works, eh?). Now, I’m interested in pursuing polyamory myself, not out of a desire to keep a partner happy, but for my own happiness. I just don’t believe anymore that “one person should be enough,” or that one person can be someone else’s everything, and I wouldn’t want such a demand placed on me, nor would I want to put it on anyone else. Actually, I’ve been in that situation, and it was fun for a while, but it was definitely a burden that I wouldn’t want to carry again. I definitely will never date anyone again who’s looking to be “completed,” mono or poly. It’s not a question of “enough,” it’s a question of whether I believe I can love more than one person at the same time, which I do. Not that I think I will be lucky enough for that, but I don’t want to get myself involved with someone who would, in the event that I do, require me to either stifle any love that I could potentially have with a second (or third, or fourth) person, or break up with them. I’d rather keep them both (or all) in my life.
The problem is, how can I find even one polyamorous person around where I live, let alone two or more? And more importantly, how can I find poly people that I actually would want to get into a relationship with? Obviously there are poly people around here somewhere, my aforementioned old crush proved that… and I might have asked him to introduce me to some of them, if he hadn’t left my area a while ago. But he’s gone, and I’m kind of a recluse so I don’t know where to go to meet people in general, or how to do it. My next option, then, is internet dating sites, but again, since I haven’t ever considered it before, I only have the vaguest idea of where to go. I know a couple of big name sites, only one of which is free to join. Probably none have asexuality listed. Smaller sites might be geared more towards what I’m looking for, but I don’t know of any, and would really prefer to join one that’s been recommended to me, rather than one I just found off of google.
Anyway, I intend to take it slowly, and learn as much about polyamory as I can before diving right into it. Hopefully I will meet some interesting people I can at least be friends with—it’s always good to have more of those. But I don’t want to push myself into anything. As usual, I’d rather just let my relationships develop organically, and see where it takes me.