New Adventures in Polyamory

Yesterday, I got to meet my fiancée’s new girlfriend.

Since we’ve been together, C has dated several different people, but up until now she’s only done long-distance relationships with people other than me. Those relationships never made me jealous, but because they were LD, I never thought that would be an issue. I always kind of wondered whether or not I’d start to feel jealous if she managed to find someone who was local, but so far, I’m pleased to report that it hasn’t been an issue at all. It’s been about 3 weeks now, so it could certainly still come up, but I don’t think that it will.

In fact, it’s kind of interesting. There are a lot of similarities between my first dates with C and her first dates with her new girlfriend, including (in part) the location. This is another girl that she can spend hours talking to without wanting to go home. She also seems to have a lot of similar interests as me.

But what’s really interesting is how we’re different. For all that I used to wonder whether I really counted as asexual or not, in comparison to her, it’s pretty clear that I don’t experience sexual attraction. C, for her part, says it’s really weird because she’s not used to dating sexual people, and forgot what they were like. Now she’s in the position of trying to decide what she’s ready for. Despite saying that before she met me, she didn’t know if she could date an asexual person, she’s been telling me lately that she’s glad that I’m asexual!

So all in all, being polyamorous has been working out just fine for us. I have actually gotten more enjoyment and amusement from hearing stories about her other partners than jealousy.

One of my absolute favorite things about being poly, though, is that I get to read all the really bad OKCupid messages that C gets. Seriously, they’re fantastic. She’s been compiling a list of the particularly bad ones. Here’s an example:

Oct. 20, 2010 – 8:49pm
How was your day? One of our medics used me as an example demonstrating the efficiency of 14 gauge needles, it looks like a juice box straw if you do not know, it was crazy the blood flow. Got to go talk to you later.

That was sent to her by a complete stranger, whom she had never talked to before. Another person she had never talked to before asked her this:

Apr. 25, 2010 – 12:42am
Hey how are you? How many times a day you like sex?

Or how about this one?

Nov. 15, 2010 – 11:38am
Hi… I am Marc… [Name of City we live in]… Interested?

Or this:

Aug. 15, 2010 – 2:30pm
Hi Im dave a 38 yr old married 6’2 240 i saw ur pic and thought u were very attractive ;) msg me if u want to chat ;)

I don’t know what’s with describing his appearance, but this other guy felt the need to do it too:

May 13, 2010 – 9:08pm
hi it roger 29 5’9 140 brown hair hair and eyes very outgoing down to earth very fun guy to be with i have 7 brother and 2 sister well i love to travel i love to party well i have a good job well i own my house in [misspelled place name] well i love my job on Base well i am a very open person well want to know anything just ask


And perhaps the most pointless message of them all:

Aug. 22, 2010 – 3:25pm
I haven’t heard of any of those bands. Maybe I should check them out.

Greener Grass: Understanding That Other Patch

Jealousy has always been a curious thing for me, since I experience it so extremely rarely that my relation to it is most often as a spectator tilting her head to the side at this weird thing that humans apparently feel with such strength of emotion that it makes the stomach roil and the head fill up with so many images which each introduce a fresh wave of agony. Even in situations in which I suppose I should have been expected to feel it (I was well aware that M was carrying on liaisons with many other women besides me), if I experienced it at all, it was as a thought rather than an emotion, which in any case I only entertained for a little while.

Yet I am put in the odd position of often being expected to feel envy rooted in yet another emotion I don’t know what it’s like to feel, and told I don’t know what I’m missing for not feeling it. I suppose that’s true enough in one sense—not reacting that way myself, I may never know exactly what it’s like to react in that particular way to that particular stimulus (or rather, in the expected ways, to that particular set of stimuli). But what I recoil from is the idea that I can’t know what I’m missing, that not having that reaction myself, I can’t possibly understand the reaction of others. I’ve touched on this idea before, when I mentioned the oft-cited analogy that sexual people tend to come up with for why they can’t explain themselves to an asexual person, of trying to explain red to a colorblind person—why red, I wonder? So many people independently come up with the color red, yet all my friends and relatives with color deficiencies tell me they actually can distinguish that color. I’m being glib; I know red is culturally and psychologically associated with sex, but my point is, you can see from the choice of colors that even if we were literally talking about explaining red to a colorblind person, it would still be more about the speaker’s (mis)understanding than the listener’s. Perhaps it is a better figure of speech than I first pegged it to be, but if so it’s only unintentionally good, because it’s presented to demonstrate what’s taken as truth about its subject, but it actually better demonstrates the attitude of the person who is not its subject. My criticism of that attitude still stands, but now I want to expand on it. Continue reading