Juggling multiple lovers

If you are a swinging Boomer on the singles scene there’s a good chance you may
find yourself getting down with more than one person.

Picture it: Bob on Monday, James on Wednesday and Malcolm on Friday. Or Barbara
on Tuesday, Jackie on Thursday, Marjorie on Saturday afternoon and Julia Saturday

After all, you’re not dead right? And you’re not tied down, so why not sample
all the goods out there?

But we are a culture that celebrates monogamy. So, does there come a point
where you have to make a choice? How about when the clothes have come off with
one or more partners? Can you juggle multiple lovers with grace?

I’m not going to answer those questions for you. Only you know what you can
and cannot live with. But if one does choose door number 3 (or 4 or 5) there
are ways to make the merry-go-round smoother for everyone.

To begin with, do you have to be honest? And, if so, how honest exactly?

The simplest answer is that you are not obliged to divulge information for
which you have not been explicitly asked. And if nobody brings up the subject
of seeing or not seeing other people you are not required to bring it up yourself.

If, however, you are asked, you should not lie because lying is very rarely
a good idea and in this case it could lead to one of those oh so hilarious situations
in which you find yourself shoving one lover into the bathroom when another
drops by spontaneously.

Dossie Easton offers a more in-depth point of view. Easton , 64, made a vow
of non-monogamy in 1969 and, with Catharine A. Liszt (geddit… Catalyst?) is
the co-author of The Ethical Slut to be released in second edition (Now With
More Sluttiness!
) this year.

“If you want your lifestyle to be in balance,” Easton says from San
Francisco, “it helps if everybody else knows who you are and how you run
your life. If you tell someone [after some time] that you see other people and
they go ‘Oh my God, I never thought you would!’ then you’re in a really difficult
position whereas if you walk in the world and say ‘I’m poly and I date a number
of people and I love a number of people,’ then there are two advantages.

“One is that you’re in a more honest position and nobody feels deceived.
The other is that your lovers become kind of self-selecting. People who can’t
handle it don’t start up with you in the first place, so you’re in a much better

This is indeed a fine way to weed out the possessive and jealous sort. But
what about you? You can dish it out, but can you take it? Ask yourself whether
you are as comfortable with the idea of your lovers seeing other people as you
are with doing it yourself. Then, if the answer is “Why sure I am!”
ask yourself this: “Really?”

If so, great. Otherwise — unless you’re super-wealthy, of legendary prowess
in the sac or have some other leverage enabling you to negotiate some sort of
‘I can do what I want but you have to stay faithful to me’ arrangement — you’re
going to have to work out those feelings.

Easton says jealousy means different things to different people. “I don’t
think there is an emotion called jealousy to tell you the truth. When I’m doing
workshops I’ll ask 60 people to say how they experience jealousy.

“This person will be insecure, that person will be angry, this person
will be territorial, that person will feel worthless. Another person will feel
ugly, another person will fear abandonment, I mean it just goes on and on. So
we’re defining jealousy by the stimulus of dealing with a partner who’s connected
to another person rather than by any emotion.”

Because of this Easton recommends an exercise outlined in the upcoming edition
of Slut. “We each have our own very specific buttons that get pushed when
we get jealous. And so a good exercise is to write for 10 minutes on ‘How do
I experience jealousy? What is jealousy to me?'”

Taking care of your own personal and emotional needs and seeing that you meet
them yourself, rather than relying on a partner to do so is key. Easton says
“I think of it as taking care of yourself when feeling jealous. The idea
is to find ways to take care of your needs that are not contingent on the exclusive
attention of somebody else.” It can be difficult but that’s part of the
territory. Also a good life lesson.

“If you are dating and there’s nobody who has the job of taking care of
you it’s an experiment in independence and in learning to be your own best support
system. It’s fabulously valuable to learn that.”

For many of us, the responsibility of more than one partner is daunting and
it’s easier just to stick to one. Partner juggling can be very time consuming.
If one relationship is work, imagine how much more work three will be. Like
having three jobs.

For others, the poly lifestyle is well worth the trouble. And it broadens your
social circle.

Easton says “Way back in, like, 1969 and 70 I used to have brunches where
I would invite all my lovers and my friends would invite all their lovers and
we would all meet each other and hang around on Sunday morning and have a wonderful

To keep things in check, she advises taking time out for yourself. “It’s
very important to figure out how your time works, to keep your time commitments
and to make commitments that you can keep. If someone wants you to do something
you can’t really fit into your schedule because they need you, they need you,
they need you, then that’s the person who needs to look at ‘OK, how do I take
care of myself until he or she has time for me?'”

And remember, Easton cautions, just because you’re casting yourself widely
doesn’t mean you can spread yourself thin. Love and affection are still important.
We can sometimes feel, when things are casual, that we need to retain a bit
of emotional distance. But just because a relationship is not exclusive doesn’t
mean it doesn’t require nurturing.

“The first five years of my vow of non-monogamy I also vowed that I would
not be partnered,” says Easton who has since modified this credo. “What
I would advise people who are dating or single and having many partners as a
lifestyle, is to look at ‘How do I share affection and love in these relationships
with people that I’m not doing some marriage-type relationship with, that I’m
not partnering with? What kind of affection do I share? What kind of love can
I express?’ And not leave that out of relationships just because you’re only

Article courtesy of Click by Lavalife.

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