Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Dilemma.

Dating is hard when you're married. I know that sounds like a "No, really?" statement but it's true for most free lovers and doubly true for me. It's not that I'm hard to get along with or that women don't find me attractive or interesting. I'm a big masculine guy and women who are interested in me love that but, it's usually my mind that attracts women to me. I think differently about everything and I'm not shy about sharing it. I don't have any racist, sexist or elitist tendencies and I always try to do what's right. So if my character and appearance are fine, what's the problem? Well I'm rather shy for one but that's not the biggest obstacle. It's that I'm already attached to my Angel, Elouise.

Now to be clear, I don't consider Elouise to be an obstacle to me dating other women. Quite the contrary actually as she actively encourages me to meet someone. It's that I'm often unsure of how other women in my town will react to a free loving couple. What happens often is I meet a woman I click with, usually at a bookstore or game store, we end up talking about nothing for hours and just enjoying each others time. I feel like things are going good so...I back off. The reason? There's a very good chance this awesome lady is monogamous or at the very least poly-intolerant. Sometimes if I'm unsure I'll ask directly "Have you ever heard of Polyamory?" and 7 times out of 10 I'll hear "Yea and it's disgusting. Having sex with all those people." The other three times they'll simply say "No." I'm not going to keep my Angel a secret like someone suggested once and I'm not going to lie to anyone (I have enough bad karma). If things get to a point where we are making plans to spend the day together I think she deserves to know I'm not single but not a cheater either. I mean when exactly is a good time to say "Oh and, little thing, I've been with someone for 12 years straight. Want to catch a movie?" That whole thing is awkward beyond words.

I've heard some advice that was equal parts brilliant and silly. "Don't date monos." Great. Problem solved! Let's have all poly people date other polys and that's that! Now what do monos look like so we can not approach them...? See the issue? Monogamous people don't wear a sign that says "I'm looking for my one and only," and even though free lovers (from now on I'll use that term. Poly sounds funny to me.) have a symbol of our status we seldom wear it. Identifying other free lovers just isn’t that easy, as much as I would like it to be. 

Maybe I should wear one of these.
Also in my town (Hampton, VA is part of the bible belt) anything that isn't related to religion on some level is vilified to hell. This town will literally beat you over the head with "Gawd's wurd." There are churches all over the place. In fact I've mapped it. There is absolutely no way to get from my home to my job without passing a Christian church. I make this point because as many free lovers will tell you, church going folk, who apparently have Jesus' power of attorney, will condemn you for not being monogamous and heterosexual. Obviously not every religious person is like this but enough to make one nervous when coming out to a religious family member.

There's also one more big red flag for me and Elouise personally. Being African American. I don't want to elaborate on this particular issue to much (I might in a later post) but suffice it to say that in the black community it's generally frowned on to do anything considered "White" despite the ignorance of that statement.

So all of those factors combined with me being a big chicken have led me to be very reserved and taciturn when I'm out. Of course my Angel notices me checking out other women and has even gone so far as to ask them to come over and meet me. Which of course leads to this other woman to ask if she's my sister to which I reply "No. She's my wife." This leads to a whole dialogue tree ala Mass Effect with all roads ending in her walking away, her level of disgust the only variable.
All hope is not lost though. I plan on trying to actively date now that I have a forum to talk about it (thank you for reading this far by the way). Any advice or ideas would be very welcome. Maybe my next post will bring good news. Until then, Live and Love Freely.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I've been with the same woman for over eleven years. To this day whenever we're together people say we act like newlyweds. We enjoy each others company so much and we're not shy about showing it. We've seen every up and down a couple can handle and a few that no couple could. Through it all we've stayed together, leaning on each other in times of weakness. I've cried to her when I was at my lowest and I've held her up when she couldn't stand on her own. The love we share is magical, if I may be allowed such a delusion. There is no woman on Earth or in time I'd trade her for.
So I won't hold it against you if you find it odd that I'm writing about our enchanted romance while she's on a date with her girlfriend Tiffany. 

My dear Elouise
Yes we are a polyamorous couple and we've heard every criticism that gets hurled at poly couples. "Polyamorous? Oh so you're a cheater." "What's the point of getting married?" "So you guys are swingers?! That's cool!" "Oh that's just an open relationship where you have sex with other people." Living in Virginia, part of the bible belt where churches are on nearly every corner, is particularly hard for anybody poly, nevermind a non-religious, African American, poly couple with a bi-sexual female (bet that scarred a pastor or two). Just trying to find another poly person to talk to about this is frustrating because we're often so unsure about how someone will react. So far I've met two other polyamorous people, both bisexual women, in the Hampton Roads area and neither of them were locals.
We tend to ignore the ignorant and allow them their simple explanation for the complex choice that polyamory can be. We do have a good support system in our families, surprising as they're all old school baptist, who love us and respect our choices. When we dating Candy (name changed for her privacy) as a closed triad, we introduced her as our girlfriend to our respective parents. She was welcomed with open arms and, in my mother-in-laws case, a bearhug.
So the obvious question is "How did we find out we were polyamorous?" Well that's a funny story. It starts out in 2010 when we were toying around with the idea of having a threesome with another woman. We would talk about what kind of woman should she be. Big or small? White, black, Asian or something else? Tall or short? Younger or older? We discussed it often and excitedly. We loved to talk about so much that we couldn't wait to see each other to discuss it even more. Eventually we tried what many couples who are venturing out of their safety zones for the first time try.
We put up an ad on Craigslist.
We received various responses but not very many genuine ones. We became frustrated over the fickle nature of our responders (silly now we know but, bear in mind we were very insular at the time.) Then my brilliant wife said the words that opened up Pandora's box. "Why don't we just date a woman? Together?" (This was before we knew anything about the term Polyamory and before we knew we could date separately.)I initially laughed her idea off but, that night I went to bed, I layed there awake...and I it possible? Could we really date a woman as a couple? Could we have a girlfriend? I thought and pondered and analyzed both mine and my wife's personalities for weeks after she posed the question. I am a tall, dark skinned male with zero "swag" with a love of video games, comic books, sci-fi and horror movies and martial arts. I'm a very spiritual person but, not religious and I have a natural disdain for being ordered around. Elouise is a sexy, cinnamon-brown, woman who loves doing hair and is so incredibly girly you'd swear she sneezes rainbows. She's very much into R&B, is family oriented and loves to read. Where would we find a woman willing to deal with such an odd mixture of styles?
Soon I began to question the integrity of our marriage. Was she dry-cheating on me? Was she just after sex with other women? What about me? Would I feel comfortable having dates with other women? Would other women even be able to deal with me? I won't leave Elouise for anyone but, does she feel the same? All of these inner queries found their way into our nightly pillow talk. "We have been through the worst stuff together. Don't for one second think that anything or anyone can pull us apart. I love you. I always have and I always will," she says to me, with a hurt look in her eyes. I realized then that after eight years we had built a strong love on a foundation of honor, trust and honesty. We put "Us" before all else. We are a strong couple with a great relationship. Maybe we could make this work. 

Still not aware of what we were attempting we put up yet another ad on Craigslist. This time we received an honest response from a woman who we'll call Betty. The initial emails and texting went really well. This wasn't her first time dating a couple and she was eager to try it again. After maybe two weeks we agreed to meet at our local beach. Me and Elouise decided a public venue would be best if we had to leave in case she was loopy. In retrospect we may have ignored warning signs. Betty was not at all what she purported to be. She said she was a gamer to appeal to me but in reality she played Grand Theft Auto 3...once. She told us how she wanted to spend lots of time with us. We saw her one time: the initial meeting. After that nothing. She refused to call us, instead relying on texts which isn't that bad, a lot of people do that these days, but if we didn't text her it was Armageddon.
Needless to say we dropped her cold. Wasn't hard, just stopped answering texts. Naturally we're a little discouraged about dating at this point. I'm stubborn though and don't like the idea of quitting, even a near impossible endeavor like this one. So yet another ad found it's way on Craigslist. The woman who answered this time changed mine and Elouise's life forever. We'll call her Candy because that was our nickname for her. Again the initial emails and texts were promising. She was a funny, witty woman, very girly which Elouise loved and a total nerd which I loved. we traded pictures and talked about dreams and fantasies.
Then one day Candy and Elouise were chatting back and forth and she presented us with a word: Polyamory. So there was a term for it. Personally I was a little sad to find out we weren't starting a trend but, at least we knew it wasn't going to be a lonely road. Soon after we agreed to meet. We chose the same place for the same reason. The red flags we saw with Betty we did not see with Candy so we're hopeful at this point.
That was our first date but no where near our last. We walked that beach hand in hand in hand for hours just talking. We drew a few odd stares (Virginia is really conservative) but no one dared say anything. Eventually we left the waterfront and headed back to mine and Elouise's home being so close. Once there we lay in our bed and just looked at pictures and talked about where we wanted to go with this relationship. New relationship energy was riding high when she left for home that evening and we stayed up all night talking about it. 

Out of respect for her privacy I've blocked Candy's face out.
That was a start of three great years. In that time we celebrated birthdays, went to family reunions, introduced her to our parents (who were super cool with our new lifestyle), she cried to us about her past, fought with us, made up, opened up sexual avenues we never knew about, and grew as people just from being around one another. My relationship with Candy was different from my relationship with Elouise. Not less not more, different. Elouise and Candy had their own relationship separate from ours. Not less not more, separate. Of course we all loved as triad as well. She was part our family. She had her own key to our apartment and came and went as she pleased. We shared our darkest secrets with each other. It felt so natural.
Sadly she had to leave the country last summer so our relationship ended, on good terms but, with a lot of longing and heartache. We still talk to her and we let her know how much we miss her. She opened up a door for us that we never knew we wanted opened. I don't know if she'll ever read this but, Candy thank you for coming into our lives.
So how has it been since? Well stay tuned I got some stories to tell you...