When people who are considering polyamory talk to me, one thing they say is, "I'd like to open up my relationship but I don't know if I'll be able to handle it." No one can predict with perfect accuracy how he or she will feel about anything, but exactly how you feel isn't as important as how you respond to those feelings. There is a key trait in people who do polyamory well, and it's this: They are good at regulating their strong emotions. By that I mean, when something emotionally intense is happening to you, either good or bad, you're able to see it as part of a larger whole and keep it in perspective. You don't respond to getting cut off in traffic as if it were proof that the whole world was out to get you. Neither do you build marriage proposals on a stranger's flirtatious smile.
You see, two things happen when you're polyamorous. One is you fall in love—or at least into infatuation and lust—with someone besides your original partner. The early stages of love are a form of temporary insanity, and when you're in the grip of that, it's extremely tempting to tell your partner that you two have to discard all your previous agreements and limits so that you can be with the New Person without constraints.
That's a bad idea, and when the feel-good chemicals flooding your brain recede slightly, you'll realize that. Polyamory skills evolve, and things that once would have been too much for your partner to handle can become acceptable. But you can't act like a junkie who needs an endless New Person fix or your original partner will freak out. You have to feel all the good emotions your new relationship is bringing you, while continuing to love your existing sweetheart the way they need to be loved.
The flip side is your partner will also fall for someone else. Now, I don't care how nonjealous you think you are, there will still be moments when watching your sweetie sigh and swoon over someone else is going to make you grind your teeth and want to scream. It happens. Trust me. Thankfully, you'll live through it—we all do. But if you react as if what you fear—that your partner has ceased to love you and is going to abandon you for the New Person—is really what's happening at that precise moment, it's going to create drama. You must be able to tell yourself, "Okay, I'm not liking this feeling I'm having right now, but I'm going to keep breathing and it will pass." This doesn't mean that if something you didn't agree to is happening that you just ignore it—I'm talking about behaviors that you've given consent to. It also doesn't mean you can't say, "That was really difficult for me." But choose an appropriate time, place, and volume.
If you can tolerate occasional emotional discomfort, and enjoy your new relationships without trashing your old life, you've got a good shot at being successfully polyamorous.
THURSDAY 2/1RAIN CITY JACKS PARTY
FRIDAY 2/2WOMEN-ONLY NIGHT AT THE WET SPOT
Socialize, flirt, and do BDSM with the girls. All orientations welcome. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746, firstname.lastname@example.org, 9 pm—3 am, $15, members only, female ID required.ORAL-SEX WORKSHOP AT REDMOND RANCH
Hot tips, live demos, and audience participation for both genders. Single women and couples can just show up; single men must RSVP for the waiting list. Redmond-ranch.com, 425-868-8169, 7 pm, $45 for couples/$25 for single women.
SATURDAY 2/3ROMP NAKED
An alternative, nude gathering for men to honor male erotic energy through music and dancing to modern, global music. Romp Naked is a sexy party, but not a sex party, and it's an alcohol- and drug-free event. Expected headcount: 100—150 men. For RSVP (required), tickets, and location, see www.rompnaked.org.
SUNDAY 2/4HIGH-SECURITY ROPE BONDAGE
My partner Max's rope-bondage class, in conjunction with the Bondage Is the Point party. This month: make your erotic ropework more escape proof. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746, www.bondagelessons.com, 2:30 pm, $30/$35, nonmembers welcome at workshop, members only at party that follows.
MONDAY 2/5THE WOMEN'S WELCOMING COMMITTEE
A friendly discussion group for women of all orientations, the WWC meets monthly to answer questions and provide resources for women new to the Seattle BDSM/fetish community. Hot Dish, 2255 NE 65th St, www.wwcseattle.org, 7—9 pm, $3 suggested donation.
TUESDAY 2/6DAVID SANBORN
The sultan of smooth jazz brings his sexy sax bleating to Dimitriou's Jazz Alley. Extra-credit drinking game: Every time he holds a note longer than seven seconds, do a shot! (Or shoot yourself in the face!) Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 628-0888, 7:30 pm, $30.50—$32.50.