I’m having some trouble. I’m a happily married man, with a wife of 8 years, and we’ve been polyamorous for nearly two years now. So far, though, it’s only resulted in a very close friendship of mine becoming, well, a lot closer– for me at least. I’ve been looking on online dating sites and the like, and I’ve been trying to follow the advice that I’ve found on the Internet about dating (esp. while married), but I’ve had little luck so far. I’ve been okay with that, up until recently, when my wife moved overseas for a year. (Very close friend is also quite far away.)
I know that the best way to find romantic partners is often to befriend them. I’m really good at that. I’ve got plenty of lady friends. The question I have is, how do I approach turning lady friends in to lady-friends? My instinct is to simply ask directly, but I know that a) women live in an environment in which they are constantly barraged with creepy attempts at hooking up, and I really don’t want to be that guy, and b) that polyamory is not generally accepted in the public at large, even in our pretty liberal social group, possibly further compounding the creepy factor. I desperately want to be not-creepy, and I genuinely like my female friends, so I usually default to keeping my mouth shut about possible romantic intent. I’m also assuming here, since we’re not shouting-from-the-rooftops out as polyfolk, that any interest on the part of the lady friends in question is squelched by our monogamous social norms.
How do I go about having the “Hey, I know I’m married and all, but I think you’re cute and I’d like to get to know you better” conversation without being skeevy?
I’m presuming here that you’re not falling into the Nice Guy Syndrome here. You say you genuinely like your female friends and I’m not getting a whiff of the usual understated misogyny that usually accompanies it, so I’m guessing you’re okay there.
Surprise, surprise! Your instinct to ask directly is actually the good one. You can do it without being intimidating. You will risk being told no, and while getting turned down isn’t really all that much fun, it won’t kill you. If you’re asking how to do this without risking rejection, I can’t help you. While I have gotten direct requests to which I said no, I find people confident and sensitive enough to be direct less likely to feel creepy to me. Provided, of course, that I don’t get the pissed-off nonsense if I say no. But being asked directly is so far removed from both the Nice Guy Syndrome and the flip side of the coin, the Pick-up Artist that many women will find it refreshing. Being on the wrong end of millions of hookup attempts almost never involve kindly, mature directness.
The “Hey, I know I’m married and all, but I think you’re cute and I’d like to get to know you better” conversation requires the clause of, “and my wife knows. Please ask her if you want to.” This does several things. It keeps the skeeviness out of it. It lets the women know off the bat what they’d be getting into, and it helps keep clear communication lines open.
One question you might want to settle in your mind. You mention your wife and another person (partner of some sort) are gone for some time. Are you planning these dating relationships as a stopgap until you usual partners return? Might want to give that one some thought, that might not be something a lot of people would be too cool with. If not, cool. It just bubbled across my mind as I was re-reading this.
But yes, be direct. Audentes fortuna iuvat, man!