Last time I wrote a fairly generic update, this time I’d like to explore the issues around starting a second romantic relationship in greater detail.
When two people get together in more typical circumstances, they spend a while talking and dating and see how things go. They probably move from spending time together having a meal, going to see a film etc to more casual, more intimate time, curling up on the sofa and talking, going for walks, whatever floats their boats.
When you’re already in a relationship, you need to negotiate with your partners about what’s ok. It feels to me like this negotiation means you have to choose what you’re negotiating for. Are you asking your current partner whether it’s ok to just have socks with this new person or are you saying you want a more involved longer term relationship. It’s not that you can’t say “I want to explore this and see where it goes” but that’s harder because it creates uncertainty and the poly people  I know say they feel least threatened by a new partner when they know what’s gong on and what everyone’s expectations are.
This is the position I’m in currently. There is a new person I’m interested in, Lee. Lee has a partner who he needs to discuss things with. Unfortunately life, as usual, is complex and Lee’s partner Linda is currently out of the country to be with a very good friend of hers who is dying. Lee doesn’t want to discuss this with her until she’s back. I understand this, and I think I’d feel the same, but it leaves me in the awkward position of waiting for  someone else to have a conversation so I know where I stand.
Since I first told Lee that I was interested, I’ve spoken to him more, spent a little more time with him. I think he’s amazing. I know now that I want to explore something more than just sex. I don’t know how much more yet, because in some ways I’m very much still getting to know him, but the feeling is there. I’ve not yet told Lee how I feel so I don’t know exactly what he’s going to talk to Linda about. And I know I need to tackle this but I also feel I need to give Lee the room to be supportive to Linda in what must be a very difficult time for her.
A second problem is the mental habit that starting a new relationship means ending an old one. I’m incredibly happy that I don’t have to do this – I can have my cake and eat it – but I keep finding myself mentally comparing them. In what ways are they each better than the other? As though I have to make a choice. It infuriates me that I keep doing this even though I’ve thought it through and there’s no problem, I don’t have to worry about this, but it keeps popping in to my head unbidden. Is this unavoidable? Do we always compare new people to people we already know? Our new partners to our previous partners? I have no idea, I just hope that by keep reminding myself that I don’t need to think that way anymore that eventually I’ll stop doing it.