I’m a 38 yo male currently involved with three women. One is a long distance relationship. We met at a concert and had one night together and stayed in touch. We speak regularly on various chat and texts. Two is a nonsexual relationship. She spends the night and we spoon. We have some common interests, but that’s it. And Three I met on an online dating site. We go out and have sex once or twice a week.
On one hand I feel like between the three, I’m actually pretty fulfilled and all my needs are being met. On the other, this is a lot of work. Even though it hasn’t been discussed, there is no expectation of exclusivity with any of them.
I guess my question is, is this healthy? I’m spending all my time divided between three partners. Should I be trying to find one person that can do it all? I don’t have any illusions that any one of these girls couldn’t just move on and/or that my relationship with any of them could change at any moment.
Have I stumbled into being poly? Maybe I’m just over thinking and should just enjoy what I have?
Three’s a Perfect Crowd
If you explore what true-blue polyamorous folks have to say about their non-monogamous orientation — which you can do extensively on morethantwo.com — you’ll find that one of the unifying concepts is the freedom from the belief or expectation that one person — The One — can fulfill all of our needs.
In the monogamous mindset, it’s believed that one partner should be and can be it all: the best overnight snuggle spoon, our favorite long-distance sexter, and our hottest in-real-life copulating cutie.
In non-monogamy, this trend is bucked and folks are free to explore a wider variety of human sexual and romantic experiences. The pressure is taken off of one person to be All The Things and having multiple partners can scratch our multitudinous, ever-changing, relational itches. As you’ve accidentally discovered, TPC, this feels nice — and is hopefully worth the work.
But is this healthy? It’s my belief that among enthusiastically consenting adults, any relational, sexual, or intimate structure can be healthy and wonderful. Are you unhealthy because you’d rather date three women than one? No. Are you a weirdo because you’d rather keep it casual than head down the aisle? Definitely not. Your body, your time, your intimacy, your choice.
However, in order to enthusiastically consent to something, each party involved should be clearly informed about what they are saying Yes or No to. You say that there are no expectations of exclusivity between you and these women. But you also say that this has never actually been discussed. And without clear communication, that healthy enthusiastic consent we’re looking for isn’t there.
My advice to you, TPC, is to discuss it. Rarely do folks write into The V-Spot if they are feeling 100 about what’s going on for them and I’ve got a feeling that this lack of upfront discussion might be the shadow that’s lurking behind this trio of fulfillment.
Sure, we’ve all got a grace period before having that Define-the-Relationship (DTR) talk, but it seems like all three of these relationships have been going on long enough to make you start questioning your practices. It’s time to DTRs.
To take a wild guess about any of these women’s expectations of you and your fun times together is a mistake and it’ll save you a lot of future pain — inflicted or endured — to speak to each of them now. It doesn’t have to be a huge talk. It can be as simple as “Hey. I like you and respect your time and company so I just want to let you know where I’m at.” By doing this, you’re giving them the clear info they need to opt in or out, ethically.
So, is this healthy, TPC? Almost, but not quite. Are you poly? If you continue to make assumptions rather than brave a discussion, definitely not, as the most important difference between non-monogamy and cheating, TPC, is open, clear, enthusiastic consent.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sexual advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.