Always Seeking, Never Finding: An Ent Among the Active Daters

a painting of desert sand dunes. The image of a woman sleeping is superimposed over them.
Image by Tobylyn Marjeta / CC BY

“So I know we talked about meeting in the afternoon, but are you free tomorrow evening?” I ask CC.

“Actually,” CC says. “I might be meeting up with a girl from OkCupid.”

“Ah,” I say.

“Provided she writes back to me. She hasn’t yet.”

I sigh. “Okay.”

“I’ll let you know if she doesn’t message me back before tonight, okay?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “If it works out, it works out.”

He goes to work, but I’m numb. He just told me the other day that he was sick of online dating. And he’s going through stress from a recent breakup.

Why is he on the prowl again, at now of all times?

And did I do something wrong?

An Ent Among the Active Daters

Sometimes I feel like I don’t quite belong with the rest of the polyamorous kinksters.

I’ve only done scenes with people I’ve been seriously involved with. I haven’t really played casually. Maybe a demo or two with a friend. But certainly never with a stranger with whom I must quickly negotiate.

But a lot of poly folks I know are always seeking new play partners. Hitting up online dating. Sending out dozens of carefully tailored messages. Or sorting through a bunch they’ve received.

Me? I last about a week or two tops before I get overwhelmed and slink back offline. I’m very passive about partner seeking.  I’m like an ent that way. An ent has all the time in the world. They can take all day saying goodbye or hello, if that’s what they want to do. They have unrivaled patience and caution. But they can cover massive territory, too, if it’s what needs to be done.

I’m in no rush to find partners. And when I find one I like, I want to go very deep with them.

It caused a lot of strain in my first marriage, as Seth was always in a hurry to find new partners. Would get frustrated easily with the lack of results. While I meandered along making friends and other connections, some of whom turned into something more.

My second marriage is a bit better. Skyspook is much more relaxed in his approach. Still, he does look more actively than I do. As can be said of practically everyone else around me.

Mardi Gras in the Desert

Except of course for Ro. Somehow we’ve ended up dating, even though we’re both underdaters.

“Why do so many poly kinky people date so freaking much?”

Ro thinks this is because monogamous dating is such an intimacy desert. “Picture it,” she says. “You’ve been wandering across the dunes. And you come up on… a 21st birthday party.”

And into the bacchanal you go. Sampling from everywhere, bingeing until you make yourself sick. Mardi Gras in the desert.

“I think people just have to reach their breaking point first. Before they lay off it,” she says.

I drink my tall rum and Diet Coke and think Ro and I? We’re thereWe’re so at that breaking pointWe’re done dating just for the sake of dating. 

And so is the bartender.

“I’m sure he’s good for someone to date, just not me,” I say to Ro later, as we chat about a mutual friend who has been making subtle advances.

“Honey, I know that story,” the bartender chimes in, throwing us a smile as she sets down a tray of drinks.

I, Hypocrite

“Part of it is gender disparity, isn’t it?” I say to Skyspook.

He nods. “I can’t exactly just wait for messages to come into my inbox. Gotta send them myself.”

“I guess,” I say. “But I’m not sure why CC said one thing and then turned around and did another. That’s where I’m struggling.”

“Well, now you know how I feel,” he says.

“Huh?”

“When we reopened, you told me that you were a really passive dater. Probably wouldn’t do much in the way of online dating. Since you don’t like it. Find it stressful,” Skyspook says.

“Yes,” I say. “And?”

“And then you had a date with CC a couple weeks later. No online dating? Ha.”

I sigh. “Well, you’d started talking back and forth with 2 or 3 women, and I thought that soon you’d be out every night. So I kind of panicked.”

I was only logged in for a couple of weeks. But during that time, 200 men contacted me. CC was the best one. By far. There was just something about him. His messages. I’d get so excited to hear from him. We wrote thousands of words back and forth before meeting up at a coffeehouse about a week later.

But to Skyspook, the whole thing looked like an instant 180. A reversal. And like I’d started dating the guy really quickly. Out of nowhere.

And then those promising prospects he’d been talking to? Poofed.

“God, I’m a hypocrite,” I moan.

“No more than anyone else,” Skyspook says.

I laugh.

He adds, “All I’m saying is that there’s probably more to it than you’re seeing.”

Coming Clean

CC, 

I think I’ve made a huge inductive leap that you’re not excited to see me or spend time with me.

And I think this stems from the fact that you pretty much actively date always, and I do so rarely. Very very rarely.

Most of my partners are people that sort of wander in through my life via friends or as friends.

And so I got it into my head that you only see me because it’s convenient, because I can do afternoons. This is not true, I bet.

The girl seemed cool when you showed me her profile .

Anyway, I got irrationally upset and felt like you’re unhappy with me or something. So I’ll leave this here for whenever. 

I didn’t want to wait because I wanted to be truthful that I was upset, even though I know it’s stupid and probably built on at least 6 or 7 leaps of logic and misunderstanding. 

You said offhand the other day that you were tired of online dating, which means nothing, but anyway I got confused and worried that I had been stupid and misread things.

-Page

*

“I’m sorry,” CC says.

And his apology stuns me. Why is he apologizing? He’s done nothing wrong.

“I’m not replacing you or anything,” he continues. “I planned this because of the breakup. I’m trying to keep myself out of the house and doing things so I’m not sulking. I wouldn’t have scheduled it if I knew you were free.”

CC thanks me for telling me about my concerns, and he’s so gracious about the whole thing that I feel even sillier for doubting his intentions.

His OkCupid date never writes back.

I Hate Small Talk

“So I talked to Ro, and I talked to Skyspook, what do you think?” I ask CC.

“Why do I date and casually play so much?” he says.

“Yes.”

“I generally love investigating new people. Shiny new people are so fun to look into. And it’s a way of escaping my own brain by focusing on someone else.”

I nod.

“To your other point, you definitely belong among the poly folks. And the kinksters,” he says. “I mean, we have people in the scene who are mono, people who show up and don’t usually scene, and people who are only there for the classes.”

“Maybe it’s related to how I hate small talk,” I say. “I’m only interested in going deep with people. And I’m bored by surfaces.”

“I’m sure that’s part of it,” CC says.

“Ro, Skyspook, and you, you all seem to agree on that one point. That I’m poly and kinky. I belong just fine.”

“So naturally you’re not convinced,” CC says.

I laugh. “So, lover of all things new and shiny, is this different somehow? You and me?

“Versus me online dating?” he says.

“Yes. The Mardi Gras in the desert.”

“Absolutely,” he says.

*

My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks, Ben. I get so much gratification from writing slice of life poly pieces. And I’m incredibly grateful my partners are cool about my writing them.

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