“THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POLYAMORY & SWINGING…” This month, our columnist enjoys an extra-marital tryst with a twist
It’s been four months since Jack’s* wife told him she wanted to be polyamorous. This month, he tries to get his head around ‘poly sex’ versus ‘casual sex’
One of the complicated things about polyamory is that it means different things to different people. Many ‘poly people’ are in the position where they have a primary partner – in my case, my wife, Lucy* – with whom they’ve reached an agreement to have a more open relationship. Whereas others have multiple relationships, which are all on an equal footing in terms of commitment and time spent. Something that is agreed upon is that polyamory is more than just sleeping around. Sex should be something that strengthens a relationship, rather than being some sort of end game. Otherwise, it’s not polyamory, it’s swinging.
But it’s not easy. My wife’s first extra-marital relationship ended abruptly when her boyfriend began to take issue with her being married. Meanwhile, my only ongoing relationship is with Nell*, who is also polyamorous with a primary partner at home, which means we have yet to find a moment where we can share a bed. The truly complicated thing about polyamory? Simply finding the time. I like the idea of building meaningful relationships, but diarising with my family is hard enough, let alone trying to find time to date a string of other women, too.
And yet, I’m determined to make as many new connections as I can. Lisa* is another poly girl I meet through dating app OKCupid. She lives nearby and we meet at her local pub. There is an instant spark and she tells me that her live-in boyfriend works nights, and her other boyfriends visit while he’s out. We arrange another date for a week later… at her place. On our second evening together, I learn a little more about her set-up. She’s into S&M, and her current boyfriends are categorised as either ‘dom’ or ‘sub.’ Being a ‘switch,’ she’s happy to accommodate both with props ranging from the ‘traditional’ (corsets) to the more surprising (strapons). Often she will film whatever she does to show to her main boyfriend when he gets home. It’s a huge turn-on, and we soon end up in her bedroom. Things are about to get heated when she tells me she has a rule: she never sleeps with anyone until she’s had more than two dates with them. It seems even polyamory has a traditional side. I lock in our third date for the next week.
When we meet up again, we’re soon back on her bed, talking dirty. But rather than the amateur-porn scenario I’d been expecting, our tryst ends in nothing more exotic than a blow job, and I leave wondering if Lisa is really as adventurous as she says. Over the next few weeks, the fire and urgency disappears from our text exchanges, and those familiar time pressures intervene. We fail to arrange another meeting.
Some might expect polyamory to mean a lot of sex with a lot of different people. But the fact that most people involved in this lifestyle, by definition, have so many other options on the table means the metaphorical ‘bar’ for real intimacy is set much higher than it might be on the singles dating scene. So the free availability of casual sex that I thought polyamory might lead to has not materialised. Both Lisa and I moved on without a second look back. Would it have been so easy if we’d both been single? Perhaps polyamory really is a more enlightened, less high-pressured way to meet people and create genuine connections. I’m still hopeful.
“While her boyfriend works, the others visit”