Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

June 21, 2017

Wait for the second date to reveal you're poly?

The last time I reported on a Dan Savage column a furious reader unsubscribed, writing,

I have no quibble with his poly advice. However, Dan is a pretty bigoted dude across multiple axis, and has been known to harrass and denigrate employees that do not meet his standards for attractiveness. One of them devoted a chapter in their memoir to his fuckery. I find as I age (35 years as a poly full adult plus the pre-poly years) I have zero tolerance for people who have something I agree with to say along one axis, while they are affirmatively wishing me dead along another. ...

What's going on here? You can include links in the comments. Savage's Wikipedia entry has a controversies section that reports graphic death-wish fantasies against Republicans and their enablers, but I'm guessing this is something else.

A lesson for polyfolks is in his column just out: Don't wait until the second date for your poly reveal. Else your date may think you're the snake in the cartoon.

Savage Love: Sneakers

Joe Newton / The Stranger
I am a 34-year-old straight woman. I'm monogamous and have an avoidant attachment style. I've been seeing a guy I really like. He's just my type, the kind of person I've been looking for my whole life. Thing is, he's in an open relationship with someone he's been with for most of his adult life. He was sneaky—he didn't reveal he was in an open relationship until the second date, but by then I was infatuated and felt like I wasn't in control of my actions. [Uh-oh! –Ed.] So what I've learned is that poly couples often seek out others to create NRE or "new relationship energy," which may help save their relationship in the long run. I was deeply hurt to learn about NRE. What about the people who are dragged into a situation by some charmer? ... I feel like such a loser.

Sobbing Here And Making Errors

"One of life's hardest lessons is this: Two people can be absolutely crazy in love with each other and still not be good partners," said Franklin Veaux, coauthor of More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory (morethantwo.com). "If you're monogamous and you meet someone you're completely smitten with who isn't, the best thing to do is acknowledge that you're incompatible and go your separate ways. It hurts and it sucks, but there it is."

This perfect, sneaky guy who makes you feel like a loser and a hussy? He told you he was in an open relationship on your second date. You knew he wasn't "your type" or "perfect" for you the second time you laid eyes on him, SHAME, and you needed to go your separate ways at that point. And I'm not buying your excuse ("I was too infatuated!"). ...

Veaux advocates ethical polyamory—it's right there in the title of his book—and he thinks this guy did you wrong by not disclosing his partner's existence right away. "Making a nonmonogamous relationship work requires a commitment to communication, honesty, and transparency," said Veaux. "Concealing the fact that you're in a relationship is a big violation of all three, and no good will come of it."

I have a slightly different take. Straight women in open relationships have an easier time finding men willing to fuck and/or date them; their straight male counterparts have a much more difficult time. Stigma and double standards are at work here—she's sexually adventurous; he's a cheating bastard—and waiting to disclose the fact that you're poly (or kinky or HIV-positive or a cammer) is a reaction to / work-around for that. It's also a violation of poly best practices, like Veaux says, but the stigma is a violation, too. Waiting to disclose your partner, kink, HIV status, etc., can prompt the other person to weigh their assumptions and prejudices about poly/kinky/poz people against the living, breathing person they've come to know. Still, disclosure needs to come early—within a date or two, certainly before anyone gets fucked—so the other person can bail if poly/kinky/poz is a deal breaker.

As for that new relationship energy stuff...

"There are, in truth, polyamorous people who are NRE junkies," said Veaux. "Men and women who chase new relationships in pursuit of that emotional fix. They're not very common, but they do exist, and alas they tend to leave a lot of destruction in their wake."

But your assumptions about how NRE works are wrong, SHAME. Seeing your partner in the throes of NRE doesn't bring the primary couple closer together; it often places a strain on the relationship. Opening up a relationship can certainly save it (if openness is a better fit for both partners), but NRE isn't a log the primary couple tosses on the emotional/erotic fire. ...

The whole column (week of June 21, 2017).

I'm with Veaux on the timing. Announce your poly-ness before the first date. If it's a deal-breaker, move on. Only a neurotic or a scumbag would waste time and hurt on guaranteed date failure — and the decent way to find out is to ask.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm both with Veaux and Savage on this one: in an ideal world, Veaux alone would be right and in any case disclosing that you're poly as early as possible (either right away if met in real life, or in a dating profile) is the right, ethical thing to do. Yet Savage's take makes sense too, given the society we still live in, considering the degree of non-awareness and prejudices people have about polyamory. It's probably a kind of compromise that's less ethical, less ideal, yes, yet I do not see it as bad or unethical. I find that a reveal during a first or a second date, while not something I would do, is still early enough in the dating process to avoid any badly hurt feeling.

That's why I'm also with Savage about the part where the letter writer states she feels extremely hurt by that reveal: her reaction is just way over the top - "infatuated"? "I wasn't in control of my actions", "I feel like such a loser"? Again, on a second date? For a 34 year old person?
Those hurt feelings are undoubtedly true and sad, yet there's here a complete different set of issues at play and those can't be the other man's fault/responsibility...

June 22, 2017 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment all around. It's ideal to be up front, but waiting til the second date, assuming the first was a get to know you thing, is not a great sin. It gives a chance for transcending an initial "no way" without pushing beyond the ethical. This woman was not manipulated into a relationship.

However, those who wait til things have seriously progressed, sexally or emotionally, are scum bags.

June 22, 2017 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One of them devoted a chapter in their memoir to his fuckery." They are referring to Lindy West and her book, "Shrill." The chapter details an incident where West publicly pushed back on a fat-phobic Savage statement.

I've been reading Savage Love for 20+ years, and have listened to every podcast. He has said things, heard pushback, and later corrected himself. He's grown and evolved a lot over the years, and I respect him for that. I'm sure your commenter has heard things that stung, and then stuck. In particular he has stated some opinions that are directly counter to fat acceptance activism (although lately I am hearing him soften and reassess on that issue as well). But I can't think of any person or group that Savage "affirmatively wishes dead." Possible exception for the current White House.

June 23, 2017 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so much wishing him dead, just ITMFA.

June 23, 2017 1:51 AM  
Anonymous John U said...

The real answer to this is to hang out in communities where people are at least OK with someone being poly. These days there are so many poly meetup groups, discussion groups, and sex positive organizations and events that there plenty of poly friendly people to get to know
. My experience over the past 50 years is that it is generally a waste of time to date mono people. Mostly, they're not going to change and you're not going to change. If you want to catch a poly fish, fish in the poly pond.

June 26, 2017 8:57 PM  
Blogger Matthias U said...

IMHO it's one thing to not discriminate people for being fat. But let's face it, being overweight is not particularly healthy (among other reasons for slimming down). Apparently some of the "fat acceptance" people can no longer distinguish between constructive advice and destructive discrimination.

July 21, 2017 1:06 PM  

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