“It’s so refreshing to talk to someone like this and really connect,” Rob wrote.
“I know what you mean,” I typed back, grinning over the keys. The fact that there was really no polyamorous community whatsoever in the Maine woods greatly complicated any partner search. Start out with low population density, add in a conservative sexual culture, and it was really a recipe for disaster. I knew there had to be a few poly folk sprinkled here and there (surely?), but most of them were probably closeted and not running all over online dating announcing their status. In fact, my close friends Megan and Pete had been open for a couple of years, and none of us had suspected a thing.
But here Rob was, and it wasn’t a hard sell. Granted, he was in Cleveland, and we’d never met, but it was refreshing to not have to convince someone of polyamory before flirting.
I had no idea what the scene was like in Cleveland. It would only become evident later, especially after my first visit there in the fall, about 4 months after these initial chats with Rob. Rob had originally reached out to me on the official business of making sure I was good to Tina, my new girlfriend, who was originally from Cleveland and remained play partners and occasional lovers with Rob, despite moving out to Maine for her career, working at a rural hospital system. I presumed it was just as difficult to find poly partners in Cleveland as in rural Maine, especially since my the first time I ever heard about Rob and his wife Michelle was listening to Tina chat with her husband (who was Rob’s best friend) about what a difficult time Rob and Michelle were having finding partners.
In our chat, Rob replied that his difficulty stemmed from the fact that having a wife scared girls away.
“It doesn’t bother me in the slightest,” I wrote back.
At the time, I thought little of this exchange, especially since Seth had said something similar about his entanglement with me. Seth often bemoaned the fact that being married made it difficult to find girls.
Close, but no cigar.
Joining a poly community that is positively THRIVING compared to what I experienced in the Maine woods has demonstrated to me that Rob and Seth were wrong.
Setting aside the fact that neither Rob nor Seth were the smoothest customers on the block and their flirt game needed some work, being married didn’t necessarily make it difficult to attract girls. However, it did make it difficult to attract MONOGAMOUS girls as well as the semi-mono girls who were okay being non-exclusive while it was just for fun but secretly hoped it would turn into a monogamous thing, once the guy realized how great she was. After all, why would anybody have an open thing unless there were serious deficiencies in their relationship? It wasn’t as though people came right out and said that (at least not to our faces), but a lot of what was said and done demonstrated these beliefs.
With poly girls though? Solo guys have a much harder time than partnered ones finding new partners. For one, a happy pairing with one woman quickly demonstrates to would-be lovers that you can actually sustain a relationship and please someone else in a way that’s more than fleeting… the preexisting relationship acts as a reference, a preview to prospective partners what it’s like to date this person. It also makes a guy seem safer and more approachable. I’ve experienced this myself dating both solo and partnered guys – solo guys have always thrummed up my anxiety in a way that partnered guys haven’t.
Skyspook agrees. His view isn’t that I make his dating life harder – he views me as a boon, both in our intense and fulfilling connection with one another but also in his chances of attracting others (there is nothing more attractive than happiness).
I think back to what Seth and Rob said, and there’s another problem that jumps right out – it presumes that dating is easy and fruitful for single men. I can see where they believe this since both had partnered at a young age and neither of them had dated as single men since roundabout the turn of the millennium, and it’s easy to forget what a shit show dating can be, online, set-ups, or otherwise. Especially when it comes to online dating, heterosexual single men (or at least men seeking women) always have fewer bites on the line than women. They are typically the ones tasked with pursuing and mostly face rejection (whether actively or in the form of not receiving responses). This is not at all a phenomenon limited to married/partnered poly men. Skyspook, conversely, married significantly later in life and had done quite a bit of dating as a single man.
While it’s easy and ego-preserving to blame any difficulty attracting new poly partners on being married, it does not come without cost. For one, considering all the implications, it’s not a nice thing to say about your existing partner. For my part, I struggle with feeling like I’m in the way (not just in relationships, but in life in general), so the idea that I could be holding my partner back somehow feels horrible to me. Not only that, but to treat your partner like they are in your way of seeking other things reinforces the monogamocentric idea that you only have so much space in your life – and implies that your existing partner is taking up too much of it. Maybe some dating prospects will feel this – but if they are, they probably aren’t poly, and if they are poly and feeling that way, especially if they are acting out on it in ways that are problematic or preclusive of a connection, they probably are really insecure in a way that’s going to at least be high maintenance and stressful.
Or to put it another way – if they’re scared off by it, they’re not suitable.
So married poly dudes, calm down with this line of thinking. Your wife isn’t scaring off anything worth having, and if anything, she’s attracting attention that can bring quality new people (for friends, sexy shenanigans, and otherwise) into your life.