I've talked a bit here about some basic tenets of polyamory, and about how it's definitely the right choice for my partners and me. But even when you're all committed to multiple love relationships, there are stumbling blocks. One that Max and I had to cope with is what happens when you don't get along with your partner's other lover.
Once upon a time, Max met a woman who I'll call Anna. She seemed like a perfectly charming person, and I gave Max my consent to begin a relationship with her. But over time, it turned out that Anna and I had vastly different ways of looking at the world—in short, she started getting on my nerves. First a little and then, over time, a lot. As in, I didn't want to be in the same room with her if I could help it. It's my impression she felt the same way about me.
Not the perfect situation for two people sharing a partner who cares for both of them. You've heard the phrase "a growth opportunity"? In my circle, we call something like this an FGO, which stands for "fucking growth opportunity." To be translated as "this really, really sucks, but I'm trying to get something positive out of it." The relationship was an FGO for me.
So what did I get out of it? Well, I got clearer about the fact that there's a difference between breaking poly rules and just not caring for someone's style. Anna wasn't trying to interfere with my relationship with Max, so I wasn't going to tell Max I wanted him to break up with her.
I learned to be careful when my partner begins a relationship with a new person. One of the mistakes I made with Anna was giving her a lot of affection and attention at the outset, to assure her that I was fine with her being with Max. But in doing so, I set expectations, and when I stopped, I think it hurt her feelings and created confusion. I now think more about what kind of interpretation Max's other partners might place on my actions, and try to be clear about what I'm doing and why.
The whole situation forced me to get very clear about my personal boundaries, so I could state very clearly what types of interactions I was okay having with Anna and what kinds I wasn't. Anna coming to Thanksgiving dinner? No problem. Anna, Max, and I all sleeping in the same bed? No way.
Max and Anna's relationship lasted about five years. There were moments when I had to grit my teeth, and times I was decidedly bitchy about it. But I'm glad that I never played the pick-her-or-me card. I know Max would have chosen me, but I also know that forcing him to break up with her would have damaged our relationship. A lot of things worth having are hard work. I wanted to give Max the gift of my trust and my support of his relationship choices, and the fact that it was hard work just makes me happier that I achieved it.
FRIDAY 5/25CLUB NIGHT AT THE CUFF
No cover for leather, bear, motorcycle, or rodeo club members (requires membership card or club colors). Also, no cover for those with Club Seattle or Basic Plumbing cards. Cuff, 1533 13th Ave, 323-1525, 10:30 pm, $3 before 11 pm/$4 after, 21+.CLASSIC LITTLE RED STUDIO
Little Red Studio is an intimate space for erotic performance art. Music, delicious desserts, beverages, and a variety of sexy audience-participation performances. Little Red Studio, 750 Harrison St, 328-4758, www.littleredstudioseattle.com, 9 pm, $30, reservations recommended.CACTUS & SUCCULENT SOCIETY OF AMERICA'S 32ND BIENNIAL CONVENTION
Members of the Cactaceae family thrive in harsh environments, are sharp and dangerous on the outside, soft and fleshy on the inside; they grow in nipple-like structures called areoles and many of them only bloom in the dark. Clearly, the Cactus & Succulent Society of America is the kinkiest botanical society. (Doubletree Hotel, 18740 International Blvd, see www.cascadecss.org for full schedule including Sunday's rare-plant auction. Through May 30.)
SATURDAY 5/26FIRE AND ICE
Jennifer from Libido Events teaches hands-on, interactive, erotic wax-and-ice play for couples only. All orientations welcome. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746 or www.libidoevents.com, 1—3 pm, Wet Spot membership not required, $25.POLE DANCING
Don't let strippers have all the fun—learn to pole dance in a class for women only. No experience required, women all shapes and sizes welcome. Wet Spot, 1602 15th Ave W, building E, 270-9746 or www.wetspot.org, 2—4 pm, Wet Spot membership not required, $40.
SUNDAY 5/27RAIN CITY JACKS PARTY