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!
4 thoughts on “Fortune Favors the Bold”
I’d like to offer an entirely different perspective. This is the way we had to do it in the ’60’s and ’70’s, before the sex positive community and it’s poly subset coalesced.The best relationships we found then were with friends who we began to talk to about sexual freedom, etc. with. The attractive friends who weren’t at least thinking about it already were always a waste of time.
Today, I would never spend time trying to seduce anyone into poly. With one disasterous exception, l have met all my lovers in the last 30 years in the sex positive community. My suggestion is find the poly potlucks and meetups, go regularly, and get to know people even if they don’t fit your erotic stereotypes. They may have friends who do, or you may end up finding them so interesting personally that you develop a new erotic stereotype.Even if you live in an isolated area, the online community probably offers a way to find people reasonably close by.
Something that has worked really well with new friends (especially people new to our large and sprawling Tribe) is simply being open about the fact that I’m/we’re poly, and how that works, and what that means in terms of how relationships get managed. I’m not saying we give lectures, but there are always ways in which it comes up in conversation that just make introductions to the topic so new people can start to wrap their heads around the *concept* before they have to deal with live-action implications of what might look like “being hit on by the Married Guy”. It’s going to be difficult for the gentleman in question to get his spouse participating in those conversations, or there may be other reasons for discretion and not actively broadcasting their lifestyle, but barring such limitations, open conceptual discussions in a group can make for great ice breakers before making discrete offers to potential lovers within that group.
I think it might also be helpful to replace “Hey, I know I’m married and all, but I think you’re cute and I’d like to get to know you better” with “Hey, I’m married, *and* I think you’re cute and I’d like to get to know you better”, at least in your head. If you come across sounding like you’re apologizing for it, people will pick up on that and think you’re doing something wrong- or at least that *you* think you’re doing something wrong, which might be attractive to some people- but probably not the people you want to be dating. Then, as mentioned, offer contact information for the spouse in question. Then it’s all above-board. I find that I get a lot more mileage with the kind of folks I like to be around when I present ‘weird’ features as normal, and let them ask as much or as little as they want about it (I’m pagan, so I’ve had some practice with this in other areas too). Good luck!
Good point about the “and” v. “but”. Thanks for pointing that out!