Full Up or Not Hungry?: Polysaturated Versus Polysatisfied

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Image by Neal Fowler / CC BY

Suddenly Polysaturated

polysaturation (noun) – when a polyamorous person has as many significant others as they think they can handle at a given time

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As I write this piece, I have three partners: There is of course my husband Justin Case. I’ve been with him for 6 years, and we were close friends for about a year prior to that.

I’m still seeing my girlfriend Ro. Friends for many years and occasional party makeout buddies, Ro and I started discussing the possibility of dating one another about a year ago — although it took us about 6 months to go on our first date, so I’m a bit fuzzy on exactly how long we’ve been together. Do we say 6 months? Do we say a year?

And in the past month or so, I started dating a new woman. Eva is wonderful. Another author. She’s funny, beautiful, and smart. And we have a ton in common.

Even more strangely, I’ve mysteriously stumbled into an open triad situation (open since all of us have other partners outside of the triad): Eva, Justin, and me.

Eva actually started dating Justin first. While I did have a crush on her, I thought she was going to end up being a kick-ass metamour and nothing else.

But I was so wrong (not the first time). And I’m glad.

In a strange turn of events, I am suddenly polysaturated — for the first time in a long time.

No doubt about it: I’m full up right now. I honestly don’t know how I’d manage another new relationship on top of what I’m currently balancing. My workload is insane. And I really want to devote focus and attention to building things with Eva — especially since triads are quite complex. I’m not only adjusting to my relationship with her (Eva + Page) but also the separate dynamic of the three of us together (Eva + Justin + Page). So in a way it’s very much like I’ve added two new relationships to my life and not just one.

In other words, if I were a motel, the “NO” on my “NO VACANCY” sign just lit up.

I’m Rarely Polysaturated, But I’m Nearly Always Polysatisfied

satisfied (adjective) – contented, pleased

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Being polysaturated doesn’t mean much really changes in my day to day behavior, however. That’s because I’ve often been an underdater, usually not dating up to my full capacity.  While I’m rarely polysaturated, I tend to be rather easily polysatisfied — which means I’m usually content with whatever I’ve got going on. I almost never actively seek out partners (I’ve used online dating for a total of two weeks in the past six years) and instead typically just remain open to things that might develop naturally.

For me, the allure of polyamory has more lay in the realm of infinite future possibility. The potential for new things. Even when I was functionally monogamous (only dating one person at a time despite being philosophically poly), I found it very exciting that if someone happened to come into my life where we felt a mutual connection that I would have the freedom to explore that.

And if I look over all my new dating experiences of the past year, I didn’t seek out Ro; she was a friend I’ve known for a very long time. After we’d started to make out some at parties, we gradually began to consider dating one another.

I was reunited with my ex-boyfriend CC after a mutual friend tipped me off that CC was going through some rough shit in his love life and could use some support. I asked him to lunch, and we caught up. CC had just been on a first date with another one of my friends, which he said seemed like it had gone well. We started out talking about that, but as the meal continued, he relaxed and opened up about some of his difficulties with one of his current partners. As he talked to me, I felt for him, but it stayed strictly friendly. I’d had a good time talking, but as I told my best friend after the lunch, the major emotional impact of that lunch, on my end of things, was that it reminded me of why we broke up.

It wasn’t until 6 weeks later, a few days before the Poly Land book came out, that CC and I hung out again. My intention setting this second lunch up had been to ask him about collaborating on some writing projects. We talked about that at the restaurant, but when we returned to my house to continue talking, we somehow ended up in a conversation about when we’d dated a few years prior. What had gone wrong. What we each regretted. And he spoke with such unprecedented insight and vulnerability that it that threw me completely off-guard.

In that moment, he was like a different man.

And before I knew it, we were dating again. He was back in my life on a regular basis. Until we broke up for the second time a few months later, and he wasn’t.

But before I began dating Ro and redating CC, I hadn’t seen anyone other than Justin officially in over a year.  And I hadn’t been looking when I’d started dating Ro and CC — both relationships just sort of happened.

The same thing with Eva, whom I met through a conference and began to spend more time with after she and Justin began to date, thinking again she was going to be my metamour.

In each of these circumstances, I wasn’t looking. I just knew something good when I saw it.

Some Might Say This Easy Polysatisfaction Means I’m Naturally Monogamous

I’ve often wondered if this tendency of mine to be easily polysatisfied (or even at times effectively monosatisfied) means that I’m not actually polyamorous.

As Franklin Veaux of More Than Two writes in a post intended for monogamous people who have just been told their partner is polyamorous:

Many people seem to be naturally inclined, whether by learning or by hard wiring, to need only one person in their life. Such people experience a drive to seek out romantic companionship, but once they have found that romantic companionship, that drive disappears. It’s as if the need to seek out intimacy is switched off; the drive is satisfied, and the person is content to settle down with his or her partner.

For other people, this is not the case. People who are poly by nature experience the same drive, the same need to seek out intimacy and romantic relationships, but once such a person has found a partner, that drive is not switched off. A poly person is still driven to seek out intimate romantic relationships.

This is what many poly folk mean when they say “Having one lover does not meet all my needs.” It’s not a way of saying that a poly person expects to have every need, no matter how trivial or transient, satisfied at once; rather, it’s a way of saying that the need that is completely satisfied when a monogamous person finds a lover is not satisfied when a polyamorous person finds a partner.

Put simply: Monogamous people can be happy sharing their lives with one and only one other person. Polyamorous people can not.

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By the above logic, I am not polyamorous and more fit the description of a monogamous person. I can absolutely be happy with very little. Yes, I could and have been happy dating just one person (polyamory was never something I sought out because of unhappiness or frustration; for me it was more a quest of curiosity).

I don’t date multiple because one partner doesn’t satisfy me. Or because I’m perpetually driven to gather as many as connections as possible. Instead I relish openness and the ability to connect, if and when it makes sense to. Polyamory for me has been more of a conscious choice to remain open to new possibilities. And an understanding that I’m capable of loving more than one person at a time.

Further Reading

To Make Mono/Poly Easier, View Monogamy and Polyamory as a Spectrum, Not a Binary 

3 Ways of Being Polyamorous: Wanting, Having, Sharing

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

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Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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