PQ 16.5 — Do I prefer to spend time with my partners separately or together? How do they feel about that? Do I respect their other time commitments?
Spending Time Together Versus Separately in a Triad
When I’m in a triad, I absolutely love seeing both partners together at once. Going on group dates. Pretty much whenever scheduling permits.
I do find, however, that especially when a triad is new that people will often want to go on one-on-one dates as a way of making sure that everyone has good chemistry. To build intimacy and strengthen the individual bonds without the group dynamic being present. This is especially the case with the more introverted partners I’ve had. They need to have ample one-on-one time with every member of the triad before they really feel comfortable in group settings.
And it’s also especially common to ask for one-on-one time when someone starts dating a couple as a test to ensure that both parties are actually interested in the new person and not simply trying to annex them onto their existing relationship as an accessory. They’re trying to make sure they’re not just a way to “spice things up,” as the old cliche goes.
The new partner says something like, “I would like time alone with each of you. Separate dates.”
And if the couple flips out, then either:
- They’re not secure enough with their bond for you to feel comfortable putting yourself out there to date them. OR
- They’re viewing you as a kind of marital aid/toy and aren’t actually interested in you as a person. OR
So if I’m in a triad that has formed from an existing couple I was part of, we’re dating someone new and they want alone time with me and/or my partner, then I will absolutely agree to this. l will do what my other partners need to feel secure and know they matter to me.
But interestingly, I’ve found I’m highly unlikely to ask for it myself. When I’m in a triad, I don’t really crave “alone time” with individuals per se — and that goes no matter whether I’m part of an existing couple or if I’m dating an existing couple as the newer partner (I have dated couples as a unicorn many times).
I completely get the utility of “one on one” time as a test but these days tend to rely more on my intuition, formed from many past experiences, a mix of good, bad, and otherwise.
And maybe it’s my particular form of extroversion, but strangely I’ve never found that I build intimacy in a radically different way in a triad than I do in one on one settings.
That said, one-on-one time with one member of your triad? Can be totally fun. But I’m very unlikely to leave someone at home who could just as soon join us while I go out with another partner, unless it were important to someone else in the triad for me to do it.
Separate Versus Together Time in Vees
Now, vees, situations in which I and another person are dating a mutual partner and not each other? Yeah, that’s been a different beast for me altogether.
Poly group outings — where it’s a mess of partners, metamours, and friends — can be really fun, to be sure. Double, triple, quadruple dates. And sometimes a vee going out for the night can be a good way to build those metamour relationships. Discover common interests. Make things less awkward.
But if it’s the only way you ever see people? That’s no good for relationships. You need to have that one on one time.
As I wrote in an earlier piece, “The Come-With: More Isn’t Always Merrier”:
While in general, I’m a big fan of kitchen table style polyamory (in which folks all know one another and even hang out and see each other regularly), sometimes?
You just want to have some alone time with your sweetie.
In that piece, I compared poly come-with experiences to when I dated someone in the past who always wanted me to come with him while he hung out with his friends. Who were nice enough. But you can’t always be hanging out with your buddies. Sometimes you want to have a date.
It Seems to Come Down to Whether the Presence of Those Other People Would Make It Not a Date
Looking at my beliefs about dating together versus alone, it seems that I love seeing multiple partners at once basically all the time — so long as it’s a scenario where it would still be considered a date: i.e., all of the people I’m hanging with are also involved with one another.
When that’s not the case, such as in individual partnerships or vees, I’m happy about some social interactions among groups of partners, but I definitely think it’s important to not to substitute every dating experience with group hangouts.
It would seem that my partners feel okay about it. Haven’t gotten too many complaints.
Whenever possible, I try to respect my partners’ other time commitments — whether those commitments are to other loves, friends, children, family, work, or their own self-care needs.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.