Dear Abby this morning, and other advice columnists fielding poly questions
Many people are opening their morning newspapers to this item in Dear Abby:
Polyamorous woman keeps options open for men
Dear Abby: I'm never happy with just one partner. It's not that I want to go out and have a different man every night of the week — just some options. I'm currently in a polyamorous relationship, so seeing other men is OK. But my boyfriend is now asking me why I feel the way I do because he is considering becoming monogamous again.
Abby (Jeanne Phillips)
I crave something different from man to man and seek whatever the other one doesn't have. I have been with my fair share of guys, yet there doesn't seem to be one person who has all the qualities I need in my life. Should I just stay single and noncommittal forever?
—Fickle in Fort Wayne
Dear Fickle: Perhaps not forever, but for now, yes, until you meet someone who has more of the qualifications you're looking for. When you do, you may finally realize that in successful relationships some degree of compromise is always involved.
...Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Abby seems to diss the idea that in poly, compromise might be a two-way street. If you wish to share an opinion with her, write to the address above. Other advice columnists have taken note of articulate poly-community feedback and put it in print; for instance here, here, here, and here. Remember, be a credit to your kink.
Last June Dear Prudence, based at Slate.com, once again bobbled a poly question:
My new crush says he’s in an “open marriage.” Should I go for it?
Prudence (Emily Yoffe)
Dear Prudence: I'm a 27-year-old woman who recently made friends with a nice, attractive 34-year-old man. He asked me out for drinks soon thereafter and made it clear that he's interested in a romantic relationship. He's my type, and I like him, but after our date he explained that he's in an open marriage. I have no doubt that it's a mutual agreement between him and his wife. And I'm in a situation that makes the idea especially appealing: I just got out of a two-year relationship that was sexually unsatisfying (my boyfriend rarely climaxed).
It left me feeling as if there's something wrong with me. The idea of a fling with someone new, with no commitment potential and nothing to lose, seems like it could be a positive ego boost for me as I look for single, available men to date. New guy is saying: Let me be your rebound! Let's be friends with benefits! But most of my friends think it's a morally objectionable thing to do and doubt that I can get involved without getting my feelings hurt in the long run. What do you think?
—Want a Fling
Dear Fling, I wish you’d explained why you are so certain that this guy’s wife is also party to the information that they have an “open marriage.” I’m assuming that he didn’t text a photo of you to his wife in the middle of your date with the note, “Things are going well!” I bet if you decided to have an affair with him, it would quickly become clear your relationship is surreptitious and you would have to go along with his rules. It doesn’t speak well for this this man’s character (no matter what arrangement he and his wife have) that he withheld the central fact of his being married until after the seductive banter and drinks.
However, I understand the appeal of a commitment-free sex romp after coming out of a sexually frustrating relationship. But before you give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his friends-with-benefits proposal, make two counterproposals of your own. One is that you two get to know each other better first. I’m guessing he won’t want to invest too much time in activities unrelated to said benefits. Another is that given his history, you need to get a current STD status on him. Again, I assume he’s not going to be interested in generating any paperwork in order to get in the sack with you.
But even if he demonstrates he’s disease free, consider that aside from the moral questions about a married man, investing your time in one does have a cost. You think you can be looking for that real partner while you are carrying on with this guy. But, as your friends have warned, you can’t anticipate what happens to your emotions once you get involved with someone. If this affair gets hot and heavy, it will likely make the available men seem lukewarm and lightweight in comparison. Keep at the forefront of your mind that your goal is to find your own life partner, not borrow someone else’s.
The original (June 20, 2013).
That same day Seanphilly of Atheist Polyamorous Skeptics dissected her response piece by piece. For instance:
...This man is available. He’s in an open relationship. His wife does not own him. He does not belong to her. Want a Fling is not borrowing property the way she would go to a neighbor to borrow their weed-wacker or someshit. She is considering having a relationship with another person, who also happens to have a relationship with other people. Just like we all do (but with sex, which is apparently the way we own people).
...And who said anything about Want a Fling’s goals? Why should her goal be to find a life partner? Perhaps she doesn’t want that...
One wonders why people send their poly advice queries to unaware public figures, when so many knowledgeable and experienced poly advice sources are available. I've wondered at times whether a writer-in is being deliberately provocative. (Hmm, is that a suggestion?) But not in these cases.
Here are my last 12 posts about dozens of advice columns in the past three years (including this one; scroll down). And, you can search the archives to find many older ones. A research project awaits you, someone.
Labels: advice columns