I had a friend over this weekend.  It was a great time, and I was glad to see him.  One of the odder things that happened, though, was that he “hooked up” with someone he met at a bar the first night he was in town.  This is fascinating to me, and I think I’m really envious of his freedom to do that.

Now, I don’t begrudge M his experience.  He’s a fine guy, and he’s been unlucky in love for a long time.  Nor would I want to trade romantic lives with him.  But that freedom to just find and connect with someone sexually is something I don’t feel like I’ve ever experienced, and would have liked to.

I don’t know that I realized, on getting into a nonmonogamous relationship (I’m sorry, I’m still not comfortable calling myself “poly”) just how restrictive it could be.  I’d had enough poly/open friends to have some clue–I knew my potential dating pool would be much smaller than when I was single.  But it didn’t occur to me what a burden it is on getting to know someone you’re interested in to have to discuss your relationship status up front lest they assume that you are single by default, and it certainly didn’t occur to me how many people who are explicitly interested in casual hookups would still be hostile to the idea of someone in a committed relationship who was still available.

I’m not saying that I’d have made different choices had I known. I don’t think we choose who we love, or at least I think I don’t.  But this has been perhaps the toughest part of the learning curve for me.  I have done two very large things in the past few years that affected my potential dating pool:

  1. I moved out of Indiana and to the east coast.
  2. I got into an open relationship

Had you asked me ahead of time, I would have thought that the former would have had by far the larger effect.  Now, I think the latter is more significant, although it’s actually pretty close. I’m going to avoid getting into actual numbers, but I will say that I connect romanticosexually (we’ve established that “date” is incorrect here) a little less often than I did in Indianapolis, in a town where there are certainly better attitudes toward this stuff and a lot more available people.

Which is fine, it is what it is.  But I reserve the right to be occasionally, irrationally envious.


4 thoughts on “Restriction

  1. Very interesting. I never would have thought about this aspect of being in an open relationship. Honestly, when I hook up with people I don’t usually disclose my relationship status, but then again, this is only in the context of not being in a committed relationship with anyone.

  2. Well, it’s not just the disclosure to that person that needs to be navigated. I’m entirely certain that if I hooked up with someone new without first letting Carrie know this was a possibility, that would be a Very Bad Thing.

  3. I certainly wouldn’t call it a “very bad thing” in and of itself. If you were at a club, like M was, and you met someone you wanted to hook up with, and it was a moment and not a planned “date,” I’d just beg you to a) let me know where you are so I don’t think you’re dead, and b) at least make a reasonable attempt to find out if they’ve been checked recently for diseases. Sometimes people hooking up in clubs are figuring they’ll never see you again and don’t care nearly as much about disclosure. And what you get, I get. That’s the part that’s not okay.

    I guess the theme here is that I want to know about the people who are going to impact my own life or day or moment in some direct way. If someone’s going to be around for a while, or especially if, as mentioned above, they have additional contributions, that affects me. If I’m at the club with you and you’re hooking up with someone else and leaving me twisting in the wind, that would affect me. If you’re bringing your date to the house while I’m home, that definitely affects me. But Unplanned Sex is not itself a frownable offense. As long as you’re not making it my problem, go for it.

  4. That’s mostly the same page that I’m on. I don’t think that I’m disallowed from hooking up, but there’s no reasonably likely situation that I can come up with where I wouldn’t have to let you know; it would always mean coming home late, or bringing someone to your home, or leaving you behind somewhere. Which does add a layer of complication to any theoretical encounter.

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