Juggling

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4.  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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
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25 thoughts on “Juggling

  1. There’s no strict need to segregate your relationships. You seem to be assuming in your post that you can only spend time with one person at a time.
    I tried this for the first time last summer and it’s actually a pretty shitty way to do poly relationships at least to one’s own mental well-being.
    Part of being poly is that your lovers can be friendly with each other and, like, spend time being affectionate with you around each other.

  2. You don’t spend any private time with each of the people you’re seeing? I’m surprised by that, but even if so it’s not how I’d want to conduct myself, and wouldn’t work for the relationships I’m in.

  3. That’s also sort of requiring that the people I’m seeing be friends and spend time together socially. It would be appreciated, but obviously nothing I have any control over.

  4. Oh of course I do, but it’s not set up like “quality time with someone only happens when I’m alone with them” more like “quality time can be a mix of alone-time and other-partners-included-time”.

    That’s an odd thought—requiring partners be friends/social with each other—I can’t imagine anything standing in the way of that happening in the first place. Perhaps an inherent awkwardness to approaching multilateral relationships and discomfort with other partners existing outside of theory. But I wouldn’t want those qualities in a partner anyway—too denoting of inexperience and a hesitancy regarding non-monogamy that would put the stability of the relationship in danger. Or maybe if the individual led a VERY busy life and had many other partners. But in that case, my time with them would be short anyway and the dividing of my time not so stressful.

  5. Sure, if you’re looking at “quality time” as the only measurable factor, but “alone time” is also a requirement. I’ve not had any difficulty scheduling “quality time”, the difficulty has been in scheduling “alone time”.

    “That’s an odd thought—requiring partners be friends/social with each other—I can’t imagine anything standing in the way of that happening in the first place.”

    Er. What if they just, you know, aren’t? Nothing has to stand in the way of it for it not to happen.

  6. E.g., I have partner A, with whom I have many things in common, and partner B, with whom I have an entirely different set of things in common. If there’s no overlap A ∩ B, or no significant overlap, they might well be people who wouldn’t normally spend any time together, and having me in common doesn’t necessarily change that.

    I think you have some unreasonably rigid views about… well, a lot of things, but in particular the “right way” for people to be poly, or open. Or, for that matter, single.

  7. But I wouldn’t want those qualities in a partner anyway—too denoting of inexperience and a hesitancy regarding non-monogamy that would put the stability of the relationship in danger.

    Nor would I, in an ideal world, but it’s not impossible to find oneself in the situation where those qualities come with other qualities that one finds both more important and desirable, and indeed for the person who embodies that particular combination to be someone one is intimately involved with and cares deeply for.

  8. culinaryarts: Maybe for somebody else. I don’t pursue anyone who isn’t absolutely certain polyamory is for them. And were I to discover that awkwardness in my partner, it would be necessary for them to get over it if they wanted to have a successful relationship with me. I can’t honestly imagine qualities that would be so important they would trump those two things indefinitely or at all.

    Nick: I guess I don’t have a clear understanding of why you find it difficult to schedule the alone time. I got the impression you had difficulty with the demands on your time not with scheduling any alone time.

    To say they just aren’t seems overly simplistic to me, especially when sharing a partner in common makes for a lot of common ground. That actually raises a lot of questions for me and I’m a little hesitant to give voice to them having just been entrenched in a forum debate—but I guess I’ll just put them out there. Maybe you don’t realize this but I don’t see a need to require any sort of friendship or socializing simply because it’s never been an issue—usually a partner’s metamours are friendly and interesting enough that I have no trouble forging a friendship with them or just socializing when the situation calls for it. But I have been in situations where a metamour has a different enough personality that I don’t click very significantly with them. However, even in this case, though I wouldn’t call them a close friend, they are still a friendly acquaintance that I can socialize easily with. I don’t really understand the situation you seem to allude to where two partners cannot be friendly acquaintances and have a marked preference for not meeting.

    I wouldn’t characterize myself that way but I suppose if you think that, there’s not much that will dissuade you. 🙂 I would say I know what’s right for me but while I may not believe there is a “right way” that applies to everyone, I do think there is a least painful way.

  9. “I don’t really understand the situation you seem to allude to where two partners cannot be friendly acquaintances and have a marked preference for not meeting.”

    I don’t believe I alluded to this, anywhere, and it’s certainly not what I’m experiencing. The post was about the theoretical difficulties in juggling five simultaneous relationships, which doesn’t seem like something that should even be remarkable.

    I work nine hours and sleep eightish, and of the remaining time much of it is already committed to other things. It’s perfectly doable but occasionally a stretch to make some alone time for both of the people I’m seeing in a week, or to make sufficient alone time (they have different needs on that front). I could probably fit another serious relationship in there, but five sounds really difficult. And unremarkably difficult at that.

  10. Or, if it helps, it’s difficult to carve out alone time for both people that works for their social calendars. L, at least, is as busy as I am, so the days that we have available to get together aren’t more than a couple per week; it’s easy for something that I’ve pre-planned with Carrie to take up that spot.

  11. Sorry, if I was unclear but I was responding to your comments collectively at that point, not the post itself. And actually I got the impression you were remarking on the difficulties of your current situation more than the seemingly impossible five relationships (which I think only seems difficult if one is trying to adhere to a standardized quality of relationship across the board).

  12. That does help and I had a wholly different impression. What you’re referring to there is something I deal with so much that I hardly notice it anymore.

  13. Actually, “difficult” isn’t really the word. “Complicated” works better. Or “computationally complex”.

  14. sorry, this time without fucking up the formatting:

    Maybe for somebody else.

    Unless you’re suggesting the solution ‘become more like you’, I fail to see how this sentence is in any way helpful, or indeed how it might be thought of as displaying any other positive quality.

    I can’t honestly imagine qualities that would be so important they would trump those two things indefinitely or at all.

    I think the first four words sum up a lot of your problems.

  15. culinaryarts, I was responding to your comment which seemed to be addressed to me, thus I responded from my perspective. O_o

    And I personally don’t find it a problem to know my priorities.

  16. I think this discussion may have started over a confusion over existential (“some”) and universal (“all”) quantifiers.

    If I read Clarissa’s comment (“You seem to be assuming in your post that you can only spend time with one person at a time”) and put it into slightly stilted English, she’s saying that “not all time with partners has to be alone-time.”

    Applying DeMorgan’s law (flip the quantifiers, push in the negation), this is equivalent to “there exists time with partners that is not alone-time.”

    However, it may have been interpreted as “there does not exist time with partners that is alone-time.” Note that all we did was move the “not!”

    Applying DeMorgan’s law again, this also means “all time with partners should be time that is not alone,” which isn’t the same as the original statement, but should be, since we negated the statement twice.

    I know that the discussion has moved past this original point, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

    On scheduling: Intersection of sets (“simple scheduling”) is linear in the size of the inputs, so polynomial time. Intersection of sets and trying to maximize combined energy/health of partners? Harder, but doable! (Shortest roadtrip to visit all your lovers exactly once without visiting any lover twice? Egads.)

  17. >However, it may have been interpreted as “there does not exist time with partners that is alone-time.” Note that all we did was move the “not!”

    I do have the impression I was misinterpreted or that I have missed something important myself. I’ve perceived a tone of rancor in some of the responses directed at me and I can’t say I fully understand what has prompted it. :s

  18. However, it may have been interpreted as “there does not exist time with partners that is alone-time.” Note that all we did was move the “not!”

    Not at all, it’s just that it seemed unremarkable to me that there should be some alone time (as well as, of course, some together time), and that this is obviously what was logistically difficult. I also question the assumption that it’s reasonable to expect my partners to want to be around one another, and find it slightly insulting to suggest that if they don’t then there’s something wrong with them.

    I also think it’s unreasonable to assume that discomfort with wanting to be around other partners necessarily means being someone who “isn’t absolutely certain polyamory is for them”, but that isn’t directly relevant to anything I was saying. People can certainly have ethical or positional attitudes that conflict with their preferences; a preference for seeing one’s partner alone doesn’t have any necessary bearing on their comfort with that person’s having multiple partners.

  19. Yes, I acknowledged I misunderstood in an earlier comment but even in my first comment I qualified that it “seemed” from your post you were seeing quality time strictly as alone time–in other words, that this was my perception, not a fact.

    I’m sorry you felt insulted. I did speculate on some reasons, both negative and neutral, why my hypothetical partner might have that preference and I did mention I didn’t understand or know of the basis for separate partners to prefer not to be in each others’ presence that did not revolve around some variation of those reasons.

    But since I wasn’t aware of this preference being the case for your partners, I don’t think I can be said to have suggested that about them, though I understand how my words could have implied that.

    As to the rest of your comment…

    I also think it’s unreasonable to assume that discomfort with wanting to be around other partners necessarily means being someone who “isn’t absolutely certain polyamory is for them”, but that isn’t directly relevant to anything I was saying. People can certainly have ethical or positional attitudes that conflict with their preferences; a preference for seeing one’s partner alone doesn’t have any necessary bearing on their comfort with that person’s having multiple partners.

    I understand it isn’t relevant to what you were saying—I think I was actually responding to another comment at that point—but since you are bringing it up, I would like to break it down a little more.

    As to “a preference for seeing one’s partner alone doesn’t have any necessary bearing on their comfort with that person’s having multiple partners” while I agree with your statement, I don’t agree with the implications. What I would mean is more along the lines of a marked preference for seeing a metamour as little as possible seems like a red flag to me.

    And as for “I also think it’s unreasonable to assume that discomfort with wanting to be around other partners necessarily means being someone who “isn’t absolutely certain polyamory is for them”, while that’s true, from my experience, while it doesn’t necessarily mean that, it can be a red flag, too.

    I think it’s clear I may not understand your position and if you’d care to elaborate, I’m interested in knowing more about it.

  20. I do have the impression I was misinterpreted or that I have missed something important myself. I’ve perceived a tone of rancor in some of the responses directed at me and I can’t say I fully understand what has prompted it.

    Here’s a clue: if you’re saying something that equates to ‘there exists time with partners that is not alone-time’ it’s not necessary to misunderstand it as ‘there does not exist time with partners that is alone-time’ to find it an objectionable contribution to a discussion such as this. It is sufficient to notice that you’re saying something obvious as if it were not obvious to the people to whom you’re addressing it, that is to say arguing as if (if not assuming that) they have not got that far themselves.

  21. But since I wasn’t aware of this preference being the case for your partners, I don’t think I can be said to have suggested that about them, though I understand how my words could have implied that.

    Fair enough. If I mistook your implication, I apologize for that. And it’s not the case for anyone I’m seeing (I don’t think) that they dislike each other.

    And as for “I also think it’s unreasonable to assume that discomfort with wanting to be around other partners necessarily means being someone who “isn’t absolutely certain polyamory is for them”, while that’s true, from my experience, while it doesn’t necessarily mean that, it can be a red flag, too.

    Well, it’s along the lines of, say, someone who has a preference for not dating, say, bisexuals. While that can (and even likely does) indicate some hangups that they should work on, it also doesn’t mean that they are necessarily biphobic bi-bashers, or even that they’re uncomfortable with the idea of bisexuality. All we know from that one datum is that it doesn’t appeal to them to be involved with one.

    Likewise, someone who wanted much or only exclusive time with a partner might, in fact, not have any issue with their seeing other people, but also not want to be around it. It can (and likely does) indicate hang-ups that they should work on, but doesn’t mean that they aren’t perfectly lovely in every other respect and worth spending time on.

  22. Here’s a clue: if you’re saying something that equates to ‘there exists time with partners that is not alone-time’ it’s not necessary to misunderstand it as ‘there does not exist time with partners that is alone-time’ to find it an objectionable contribution to a discussion such as this. It is sufficient to notice that you’re saying something obvious as if it were not obvious to the people to whom you’re addressing it, that is to say arguing as if (if not assuming that) they have not got that far themselves.

    Y’know, no matter what you think of my comments, I haven’t dressed anyone down or tried to put anyone down, mainly because I respect that this is Nick’s journal and I don’t want to bring ugliness to it, so, if you have any mutual concern for that, please tone the attitude down a bit.

    The claim that my comments were inherently insulting because YOU think the people I’m addressing would find it glaringly obvious doesn’t make a lot of sense unless one is looking for a reason to feel insulted. My actual comment was this:

    There’s no strict need to segregate your relationships. You seem to be assuming in your post that you can only spend time with one person at a time.
    I tried this for the first time last summer and it’s actually a pretty shitty way to do poly relationships at least to one’s own mental well-being.
    Part of being poly is that your lovers can be friendly with each other and, like, spend time being affectionate with you around each other.

    While I should’ve clarified that these were conclusions I’d reached for myself and thus opinions in this context, I think it was clear from what I said that I was basing my comment on what I perceived in the journal post and that this approach you think it is glaringly obvious to avoid I’d discovered through my own experience, I would add, with a fairly competent poly person where it wasn’t immediately obvious to him or to me (though I did find it strange).

    It is not objectionable to think people (even non-monogamous ones) would be influenced by cultural mores to pair-bond–with the difference of there being multiple segregate pairs–and that one could reasonably bring this factor to their attention if there’s some reason to think, even through a misunderstanding, it might be interfering with their relationship lives.

  23. Likewise, someone who wanted much or only exclusive time with a partner might, in fact, not have any issue with their seeing other people, but also not want to be around it. It can (and likely does) indicate hang-ups that they should work on, but doesn’t mean that they aren’t perfectly lovely in every other respect and worth spending time on.

    Fair enough.

  24. Y’know, no matter what you think of my comments, I haven’t dressed anyone down or tried to put anyone down, mainly because I respect that this is Nick’s journal and I don’t want to bring ugliness to it, so, if you have any mutual concern for that, please tone the attitude down a bit.

    The claim that my comments were inherently insulting because YOU think the people I’m addressing would find it glaringly obvious doesn’t make a lot of sense unless one is looking for a reason to feel insulted.

    Way to derail. Here it is, in four easy-to-follow steps:

    Write comments like a patronizing douche.
    Sit back and wait for reactions.
    When they come, tell someone who reacts to ‘tone the attitude down a bit’.
    For bonus points, you can accuse your interlocutor not only of irrational anger, but even of having deliberately chosen to be insulted.

    A textbook example: well done.

  25. I don’t understand how talking about poly issues on a blog about poly issues equals derailing.

    I already examined my comments based on your initial outraged and baffling reaction and subsequently clarified myself, emphasized what was opinion relating to my experience and cleared up my misunderstandings.

    You’ve only responded with more flames so I won’t put myself in the way of it any further. I think the thread speaks for itself at this point.

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