I have a question for you and I’ll give you a bit of a background on my history with poly in order to help you understand my quandry.
After about 8 or 9 years of marriage my wife met a poly couple, realized she was poly and fell in love with the husband. I have since come to accept this and feel like it is a positive thing except in the sense that it brings me back to feelings I left behind when I got married, such as anxieties about approaching women.
I often find myself attracted to other women but my status as a happily married man is quite public. My being polyamorous is not quite so much. I’m constantly left unsure how to approach talking to someone I’m attracted to. For example, there is a woman I am attracted to currently at work (and I know that makes it more complicated, she and I do not work directly together however and that is not the focus of this question, but feel free to address it also); I am both infatuated and feeling limerence for her, but I also fear what could happen if I addressed this with her. We have both talked about going out to lunch (with bagged lunches) together, but it hasn’t happened yet… Part of this fear is that I don’t want to upset her, I have a strong desire for her to be happy and to do any and everything I can to help foster that for her… however, I’d like to find out if there are any reciprocal feelings.
I am just totally unsure how to address these feelings without looking like I’m an adulterer seeking to have an affair. My wife knows about this woman and has expressed feelings of compersion for me regarding her. She also sympathizes with my concerns and worries. However, she has never had to seek out such things. The local poly community is not child-friendly, and hosts gatherings in venues I don’t find comfortable. Since we have children, this is an issue.
Can you help with this?
Well, Sean, that’s a real issue, it is. In our culture, it is certain more common for women to be approached and men to be doing the approaching. If you feel shy, or find it difficult to talk to women, yes, you’re going to be having problems.
I don’t know how liberal your company is, but unless you’re dealing with one that is liberal to the point of being a Northeastern college, I can’t help but caution you as a poly man not to date someone at the same company. I know this sucks, but if you can envision one way of it going wrong for you, there are probably six or seven more.
You did mention your town, and you’re right that there is an active local poly community and an email list for organization and communication. The problem is that its “culture” may not suit your needs. You do live in an urban enough area that I’d encourage you to try another way of approaching it. Since the local poly culture doesn’t seem to have many child-friendly gatherings, there is a perfect solution you can give your local poly community. Start hosting them. Even child-free twenty-somethings often enjoy barbecues in the back yard!
No-one likes to bear all the burden of hosting gatherings or being the only one responsible for social interaction, so if you’re offering to go a little ways in being a participant, it can be welcome. You can approach it gracefully, “Hey, the strong smell of coffee is a migraine trigger for me, so I can’t come to the coffee house gatherings. But I really would like to hang out and get to know you guys. How would it be if I hosted a poly potluck?”
Successful poly is often about making sure that everyone’s needs are met, and this is a non-romantic example of skills you’ll be using in your poly life anyway.
Yeah, I suppose if you’re having trouble approaching people that this will seem to be intimidating. But look at it another way: this sort of thing will just be great practice for learning how to meet people. Women are not some kind of separate species that needs somehow to be treated differently than the rest of humanity. Learning how to be relaxed approaching, meeting and talking to humans will be a great help to your problem.