I Am Not Your Wife: On Dating the Inexperienced

a close up of a small budding red flower, an inexperienced little plant
Image by Hafiz Issadeen / CC BY

I Am Not Your Wife

“I called off my date,” he said.

“You did what?” I asked, confused.

“It seemed like what you wanted,” he said.

“It’s not,” I said.

“It’s not?”

“All I was saying was that I was uncomfortable. Because you asked me how I felt. It’s the first new person you’ve seen since we got together, so it’s taking adjustment. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want you to do it.”

“See, that’s not normal behavior,” he said.

I blinked. Took a deep breath. Fought the urge to get defensive. “What do you mean by normal behavior?”

“If my wife says something is stressful for her, then she’s telling me that she doesn’t want me to do it.”

Maybe I should have said it then: “I am not your wife.”

But I didn’t.

Instead, I was gracious.

“Well, I’m different. If I don’t want you to do something, I’ll tell you that. I won’t imply it by telling you something bothers me and just leaving it there. Or by sitting mutely and looking upset. I will tell you ‘I don’t want you to do that.’ Straight up.”

“Okay,” he said, before announcing he was going to go reschedule his date.

I sat for a moment, wondering how his would-be date would feel. If she’d agree. How she’d take the whiplash.

On Dating the Inexperienced, the Unsettled Down

Prior to what a lot of people think, open relationships aren’t just for promiscuous people. Y’know, veteran sluts.

Instead, there are a lot of people who come into polyamory very sexually and romantically inexperienced.

When I was new to polyamory, I was really the only person in my web who had very many lovers in the past. Everyone else had 1 or 2 tops. They were Unsettled Down.

The Unsettled Down follow a traditional social script for relationships.  You meet someone, commit, marry, settle down, and… happily ever after ensues. Except surprise, it doesn’t.

There are a lot of boring stretches that are edited out of the movies, much like bathroom breaks and long waits. And you’re left with an unsettled feeling, that despite what you’d been told about the key to happiness, to Movie Magic Romance, something is missing.

One of my partners bemoaned his state explicitly prior to opening up. “I never got to taste other flavors. How do I know if what we have is any good? I have nothing to compare it to.”

So for some, open relationships afford them the opportunity to explore experiences they hadn’t tried before committing.

I dated 4 Unsettled Down individuals at once. And while I adored my lovers regardless of their level of experience, I found then and still find that dating the Unsettled Down often leads to frustration.

Since it’s been a long time since they’ve had to date anyone, their skills are rusty. And maybe they weren’t even so good at it in the first place. For some, their entire dating skill set is calibrated to one person. And often not fully fleshed out.

Knowing Goes a Long Way

Thankfully, just knowing that this is a typical source of problems largely mitigates the worst of its effects. It’s easier to not take things personally and to watch out for potential misunderstandings if you know a partner doesn’t have much of a dating history.

And if you’re newly poly with an anchor partner and inexperienced, just keeping in mind that not everyone is going to be like your anchor goes a long way. And that’s a good thing. If we were all clones, it would ruin most of the fun of dating multiple people.

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My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

 

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