This week’s Poly Speed Dating event in Boston was a fun time, and a great way to spend an evening with a bunch of new people in hats. I was/am skeptical of the usefulness of speed dating, but if nothing else it’s nice to get an objective measure of how many people that you find interesting return the favor, even if that number may be a little lower than one would like.
To expound on that a little, I find it very valuable to have a way of gauging interest like that, because I don’t have a real sense of my own attractiveness. I’m not my type, and I’ve spent basically none of my adult life available for the sorts of things most people are looking for, so I can’t calibrate by “number of dates” or anything along those lines.
Edit: a little more exposition:
While in a monogamous relationship, it’s very easy to take almost any subtle hint of interest on someone else’s part as a real desire that will just never be consummated. So one can take little bits of validation from that without ever having to act on it, because one is dating the maximum number of people already. Whereas being in an open relationship is much more like being single in this respect; if one isn’t dating new people on occasion, it can’t be chalked up to being disallowed from doing so.
I guess I rely on occasional outside validation to determine where I stand in this realm. I’m sure that’s not the case for everyone, but I’m very thoroughly not my type.
Having really just started learning the logistical gymnastics of dating two people at once, I’m even more in awe of those who manage a handful of simultaneous capital-R Relationships. Trying to make sure that the proper amount of time is spent with Carrie and that I still see L once a week or so has been taxing, even more so when one adds in the demands of a non-doin’-it social life. In an email exchange with a friend recently, she indicated that she’s seeing someone new and that someone has five simultaneous relationships. I’ve been pondering this, and have come to the conclusion that that does not, in fact, fit into a mortal person’s 168-hour week. I have a few theories as to how this can be managed, though:
- A time-turner would make this trivial, and frankly this would be a much better use of it than trying to cram 25 credit-hours into a semester. No, this does not mean that Emma Watson is poly, shut up. At least, not to the best of my knowledge.
- Some sort of self-replication would also work, but in most portrayals only one body is the real body, and then you have to rotate that around so as to avoid offending someone, I’d imagine. Or else the primary body just stays home with your primary? Also allows triad or V relationships that only include two people, or, for two replicators, the ability to be both polyfidelitous and monogamous.
- Robotic impostors are an intriguing path, although you’d be missing out on part of the fun. Plus, they would inevitably rise up against their human masters, but hey, maybe you’re a switch and that’s okay.
- One could also spend time with multiple people by astrally projecting. One obvious problem with this path is that there wouldn’t be any touching, but I think you’d probably sully your chakras and end the projection if you tried, regardless. Plus, it’s not about the sex, right?
- Combining one and two, a Time Lord would probably have no trouble with this sort of thing. One question: is it still poly if you’re dating two different incarnations of the same man? And if so, can I get Ten and Eleven at the same time?
- Of course, if you don’t experience time in a linear manner, I suppose you can’t have anything but nonmonogamous relationships, as you’re seeing everyone you’ll ever see all at the same time, which sounds like a hell of a party. One that my ex-fiancée would ruin, I’m sure.
I was speaking to some of Carrie’s friends-who-are-becoming-my-friends-but-still-much-closer-to-Carrie (metafriends, perhaps, much like metamours (well, one is a metamour, or was, and will be again perhaps, let me expound on this outside the parentheticals) although the implication is that metamours are not one’s own “amours”, and I would consider these people my friends) this weekend, and mentioned that I was seeing L. It then came up that these (meta)friends had been under the impression that Carrie and I were monogamous, to which I replied “not on purpose, at least on my part”.
This has happened on occasion before, and it worries me a little for a couple of reasons, which depend on the source of this impression. The sources I can imagine are:
- I just seem like the monogamous sort.
- The fact that I wasn’t seeing anyone else was assumed to mean I didn’t want to see anyone else.
- Carrie’s hanky-panky-hiatus is being taken as something that I requested or wanted from her, meaning that I wanted a monogamous relationship.
And the corresponding worries are:
- If this is the case, I don’t even know if it’s addressable. Is there a special way I should wear my hair? A handkerchief that I should be putting in my back pocket?
- This is just frustrating in that it’s more need-money-to-make-money style stuff along the lines of how hard it can be to get a date in a poly crowd while single. How does one establish a second relationship if the lack of one is taken as indication that one does not want a second relationship?
- This makes me seem like an enormously insecure jerk, especially now that I’m seeing other people. And I don’t know how to address this short of going to her friends and once-and-future paramours and saying “Look, this wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t something that I wanted, and it doesn’t help me, anyway”, which would be along the lines of actually being an insecure jerk. That cuts a little too close to interfering in Carrie’s other relationships.
A first step, naturally, would be to ask exactly where this impression comes from, but I didn’t think to do that at the time. Until I do that, to some extent this is idle speculation, and so of course I will. It just always catches me flat-footed when people tell me this, almost as much as when they tell me that they didn’t think we were serious. Short of hanging a sign around my neck, I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to send the signal that I’m “available” but not unattached.
Anyone who’s reading this and within a range to go likely already knows, but some folks I know up in Boston are putting together a Poly Speed Dating event. I’ll be there, I believe, and give it a shot. I suspect that “speed dating” as an event will work well for me, as the bits that I find tough about dating are the initial approach, the mutual indication of interest, and figuring out whether someone is available for the style of dating that I am, all of which is taken care of here.
I was talking to Aaron, one of the team members, about the difficulties around how to mark gender in this environment, and I see that he seems to have found what I think is a good system:
What is your definition of gender?
While we recognize that the issues surrounding dating and gender identity are complex, we are limited by what our programmers can work out. Thus we have five gender check boxes: man, trans man, woman, trans woman and genderqueer, and we ask people to check off as many as they want to describe their own identity. We understand that this may leave some people out. We would appreciate your suggestions as to how to make this aspect of PSD better for everyone.
It’s a difficult row to hoe, there, because there are people who will be very offended to be matched with someone who isn’t cisgendered (although hopefully few of them at this event), while at the same time it’s rather marginalizing to force someone to identify as a third-to-fifth gender due to the fact that they are trans. I think the former are being ridiculous, but I also believe that someone’s personal preferences should be respected; it’s also certainly possible to be a relatively enlightened being and still be squicked out by things even if you know that you “shouldn’t be”.
In any event, it sounds fun and interesting, as an event, and while I don’t particularly expect to end up with any dates (I’m super picky and inconvenient to the mostly-Camberville crowd I expect to show up), it should be good practice. On the off chance that you’re lurking but would like the chance to say hello, now you know where to find me.
Poly Speed Dating.