I’m new to polyamoury and I guess I’m into the “kid in a candy store” phase. I’ve been calling it “balls to the wall poly” and “punch drunk Poly”…
I’m worried about my attentions, how to split them respectfully, what kind of etiquette I should be following, whether or not I should be having lots of sex (I’m having lots of sex!) or looking to avoid having lots of sex.
I’m socially kind of awkward but unconventionally somewhat attractive and I’ve had a fair amount of attention, some of them have only wanted sex but some have seemed to want more. I’m having trouble finding ways to be clear that don’t turn people off… that aren’t awkward. I suppose I’ll get used to it. But I don’t really know what I should be doing. Whether or not I should be more attentive to some people, less attentive to others.
I’ve always felt I was wired right for poly, and that I would slip into it very well. But I don’t know really what to be doing with myself. I’m not too worried about jealousy on my part… I’m worried about my insecurity about my worth, which has caused me to think that I mean nothing to others and… inadvertently hurt them by thinking I’m worthless… withdrawing too soon, etc.
First off, the “how much sex should I be having” is easy. I’m presuming safer sex practices. After that? As much as you and your partners want to without hurting anyone. Could be none, could be your only interest outside of making a living. That’s up to you and your clearly consenting partners.
Don’t worry about awkward. As long as you’ve got kind and respectful sorted out, you’re golden. This will mean stating clearly, “I’m polyamorous. I have <foo> number of partners.” It will turn some people off, and you know what? That’s good. You don’t want partners that are uncomfortable with or are not into polyamory.
If there is unspoken etiquette surrounding polyamorous relationships, I know nothing about it. Being honest, being kind, having appropriate boundaries and all that smack seems to cover it pretty well. When I’ve done all those things, stuff worked out well. When I haven’t, hilarity usually ensued.
When we’re dealing with attentiveness to partners, this is so easy it’ll blow your mind. Ask your partner(s). If you want to give them that much attention and can, then you do it and it’s awesome. If you can’t or don’t want to give a particular partner that much attention, then maybe y’all aren’t a great match and should give the relationship some thought.
The insecurity about your own worth? That’s an issue and a serious one. That’s definitely a short-cut to making decisions that’ll bite you in the ass. Work on that. While I’m all for having as much of the kind of sex you want to have (Ya! Sex!), I will also point out that you cannot fuck your way to good self-esteem. Neither is polyamory a game of “collect the genitals.”1 Your worth is not based on how many people want to have sex with you.
If it looks like I’m saying that most of polyamory revolves around getting to know partners well, loving them and being able to respond to their wants and needs while they respond to yours, you’re right. It’s about the humans and the individuals involved. It’s not that there aren’t general principles that work well in relationships. There are. But most of those principles involve getting to know the human beings, the real individuals involved rather than making a procrustean attempt to follow a specific set of rules.
1 I wish I’d come up with that expression. I got it on Tumblr from a post that has since been deleted. Dammit.