“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’

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents -

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”

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