Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Yesterday Van left this note in the comments below…
"Roman is a lucky guy. As is Jake, as is Max.
Just out of curiosity, how much interaction do you tend to have or foster among you and your three partners? I know they're all aware of each other, but do you sometimes socialize together (three or more of you—and please understand, I'm not talking about sexually), or is it kind of like three separately maintained duo relationships? I'm especially fascinated by the poly aspect of your lifestyle, even more than by the pro domme and general BDSM aspects."
An excellent question, Van, and the kind of thing every poly couple has to figure out. Let me start off by talking a little about Max and his secondary partner, Maura. They've been involved for nearly three years, so there's a bit more history there to use as an example.

When Max first began seeing Maura, he and I had a not-very-well-explored-expectation that she and I would be around each other a fair amount socially. "Socially" is a broad term here, it encompasses everything from having her accompany Max and I to parties, to me bumping into her at breakfast after her date with Max.

I also agreed that I would be willing to sleep in the same bed with her – Max likes to keep his dates overnight – although there would definitely be no three-way sex. (And no two-way sex, either. Sleep means sleep.) Our bed is quite large, and I felt reasonably okay about that for while.

But after about a year and half, I felt like some of the lines around this relationship were getting blurred, and I decided that a) I didn't want to sleep with anyone I myself wasn't having an intimate relationship with, and b) I needed Max's relationship with Maura to be more separate from me. Maura is a nice person. But you know, she's not my partner.

So that's where thing stand now. I do see Maura on some group social occasions, but it's not unusual for a month or three to go by without my seeing her at all. So I'm guessing you'd call that a "separately maintained duo relationship".

While this was happening, I was seeing Mike, and while Mike did come to some parties at our house, he was fairly outside our (mine and Max's) social circle, so while Max liked what he knew of Mike, they didn't encounter each other much. So you could score that as another SMDR. (Hey, I like that acronym!)

Fast forward a few months. Exit Mike, enter Jake and Roman. Max knew Roman before he was my partner – in fact, I would say that Max was instrumental in my getting to know Roman well enough to say, "I want that guy."

Since then, Max and I have spent some time around Roman socially, usually with his wife present as well. Group situations so far, although I think Roman's wife seems very cool - I'd like to hang out with her some more. (All in good time, I'm sure.) We have a lot of the same friends and acquaintances, and we go to many of the same fetish events, and I could see the four of us doing some social stuff together. Still, it seems like a mostly-separate relationship.

Given how I met Jake, it's going take a little longer to sort of blend him into my social life. He does know some people I know, though, so I'm thinking that will happen gradually, as will any connection that happens between he and Max. They've met several times, of course, but so far, my relationship with him been rather SMDRish.

The thing that's going to make any Max/Matisse/Jake social occasion slightly trickier is that while Jake is dating different people, he doesn't have a primary partner. Roman being married - well, I understand how to behave in that situation. When I see Roman with his wife, he's her date, not mine, and his focus is on her. That means hands-off for me, except for normal social hugging and such. Naturally there's that little zing between us, but we're low-key and friendly, rather than all intense and sexual. And I'm fine with that arrangement; it seems completely reasonable and natural to me. It's certainly what I'd expect from any secondary partner of Max's.

But let's say I invite Jake to, just for example, a dinner party at our house. So he's there stag, and I'm there, and Max is there. Wow. For me, that sounds like an exercise in very carefully portioning my focus - especially if Jake doesn't know many of the other people present very well. Not that he'd expect me to pay an inappropriate level of attention to him, but still...

It's not un-doable. Max has been in precisely that situation with me and Maura on any number of occasions, and we (usually) sailed through it unscathed. But it requires some delicate handling, and it assumes everyone involved will give everyone else the generous benefit of the doubt.

So I can imagine doing something like that – but what I cannot imagine is sleeping in the same bed with Max and either Roman or Jake. Max, fair-minded guy that he is, has expressed his willingness to at least try that sometime. (With the same no-sex rules.) But I couldn't...It's just…Oh, it's simply not in the realm of things that seem possible. I'd either giggle nervously all night or just lie there in a state of this-should-be-fun-but-wow-it’s-weird.

The mildly flustered tone you're hearing in my voice is all about me, you understand. Max is such a friendly person, he's quite disposed to like people if they give him half a chance. (I would be the snooty one in this relationship.) So I think I'd like it if Max had independent friendships with either one of them, although a corner of my soul quails at the idea of them talking about me when I'm not there. Surely that couldn't be good.

Postscript: I confess it hadn't really occurred to me to foster any kind of acquaintance between Roman and Jake, although Roman has expressed some mild curiosity about his opposite number. Huh, an interesting thought. I have no idea what they'd make of each other. But I can't imagine sleeping in the same bed with the two of them, either.

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