Ask Polly – Balance
Welcome to Ask Polly, the UK’s first poly advice column! We invite readers to send poly-related questions to our resident columnist, Polly, and she’ll do her very best to offer advice. You’re also very much encouraged to join the conversation in the comments. Polly can be contacted by email, on polly at polytical dot org, or via Polytical’s Facebook or twitter. Ask Polly is published twice a month, and you can read more here.
I’m transitioning from mono to poly, and I’m struggling with a bit of jealousy and the way my partner and I differ when it comes to relating to other folks. She’s a lot more sexual than I am, and I am very insecure with other women…
We’ve been together for years, and even though we weren’t entirely monogamous, our relationship was pretty closed and seeing other people was rare. We only hooked up with other girls if both of us were present, and we required explicit consent to get involved with new folks. A few months ago, we’ve decided that it was time things got more spontaneous and agreed that we should be able to connect with people individually, and that we did not have to necessarily pre-approve each other’s partners. Also, we’ve acknowledged that deep feelings may arise, and that loving other people doesn’t affect the love we feel for each other. We’ve evolved to something like a poly arrangement with no strict rules other than mutual respect and compassion, and I’m pretty happy with that.
Nevertheless, the thing is that I’m facing a lot of trouble with this new way of doing things. I’m very insecure with women and I don’t really know how to express interest, how to get people to be attracted to me. My partner, on the other hand, is a very secure person and it is a lot easier for her to be sexual with other people. Currently she’s in a relationship with another girl and expecting to date a guy, while I am not seeing anyone and get anxious only thinking about having someone new. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out the fun part of being poly, and that leads me to feeling jealous. I definitely don’t like that!
Now, I don’t really know what to do. I don’t want her to stop seeing other people (and I’ve told her that repeatedly), I don’t believe anyone should let jealousy decide anything, and I can’t think of any “rule” or measure that could help me overcome this. It seems to me that my difficulties with women is another problem entirely, but they increase my discomfort and I think it would be a lot better if things could be a little more balanced.
What do you think?
Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for writing and telling your story! Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you. It sounds as though you and your girlfriend are working through some pretty tough stuff, and doing it really well – the story of your transitioning towards poly was great to read; I love your solid base of mutual respect and compassion, and I think the way you’ve identified the problem here, as you not dating enough rather than her dating too much, is brilliant. This is all really mature, difficult stuff, and I admire your self-awareness: a big cheer to you.
So, you’ve said that you feel quite insecure with women and that you’re anxious even thinking about dating someone new. I think this is a really common feeling amongst queer women (and more on that in a second), but what I wanted to ask first was, well, are you really sure that dating more people is what you’d like to do?
I’m not asking this because you’re shy – I’m not trying to second-guess you here – and I’m not suggesting you become monogamous while your partner remains poly and runs around dating. I just wanted to float the idea because – well, you know that you don’t have to date, right?
While it might seem sometimes that loads of poly folks are dating new people left, right and centre, the fact of the matter is that dating takes up a lot of time and energy, and you don’t necessarily need to spend that energy on having lots of partners. I hear you on wanting things between you and your girlfriend to feel balanced, but I’d also caution you to only go out and date or shag if that’s something you’d actually like to do. Otherwise, it’s not really fair on you or your dates.
What else can you do with your extra time and independence? Living a poly life can free up time and energy not only for other lovers, but for other projects as well. Is there something you’ve been wanting to learn, or a skill you’d like to build on? Would you like more time with friends, or more personal space? Cultivate your own, independent life, build your skills, and see how much satisfaction can come from that!
The thing about cultivating new interests is that you’ll also find new social circles, meet new friends and become more rounded and fascinating as a person – all fabulous if you decide you’d like to date later on.
And if you think about this, and decide that it would make you happy to date now? Well, read on.
I’m sorry to hear that you feel insecure and anxious around women – that sounds really hard. What I can tell you is that this seems to be virtually universal to the queer female experience – most women find dating each other awkward and tricky, to the point of often not even being sure whether they’re dating or seeing each other as friends.
I suggest starting by hanging out with more queers socially – having friends is great, and you’re also likely to meet lovely people to date through friends. See if anything takes your fancy from this huge list of socials – I’m thinking of discussion groups like this one in London, or this one in Manchester. The news site Lesbilicious also runs comedy events, and I’ve also been recommended the Muff Scouts, a queer and trans womens’ adventure group, who sound amazing!
If you’d like to get a bit more dating-specific, there are quite a few options. Don’t worry too much about finding poly-specific dating media – non-monogamy seems pretty widespread among queers (especially young, urban-based ones), so the concept should be familiar to most people you meet.
In person, PinkDate run regular lesbian (and bi) speed dating nights in London, Manchester and Brighton. You could also try Poly Speed Dating – the next London event will be around September, and there are hints of events in Bristol and Manchester soon.
Online, check out OKCupid – it’s much loved by poly and queer folks everywhere. If you’re bi but just looking to date women, I recommend labelling yourself as ‘gay’ if you don’t want to be deluged with offers from men. Say you’re poly, and mention your girlfriend upfront if you’d like to. You can search for ‘poly’, ‘polyamorous’, and so on if you’d just like to find other non-monogamous folks.
Lastly, check out these articles for more advice!
Autostraddle: The Ultimate Guide To Effective Queer Socialising – (read the article, and the stuff they link in the article, and actually, the whole website is pretty fabulous, and they have forums too)
Very best of luck!
Liked this piece? Why not check out the previous Ask Polly column?