Dating, Relationships, and the Limbo Between
Dating is a confusing enough subject between only 2 people these days. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be things like college lectures on how hook-up culture is killing dating. Run a Google Search for Modern Dating, and the top results include multiple posts via the Huffington Post and a (self serving?) post on Match.com. Nearly every magazine available in the checkout line at the larger grocery stores include articles on how to date, how to look best for the first date, how to behave on the first date, how to hold attention after the first date, etc. Constantly there is this bombardment on how and why and when and who to date. The endless barrage of information is maddening.
This is made even more difficult trying to be a Poly couple in search of the elusive Single Bi Male. Mrs. AP and I have been looking, either actively or passively, for the better part of 18 months now. We’ve been more dedicated at some times than others, of course. Our search is, however, hindered by the fact that we can’t simply follow the traditional in-person routine that two single people can. Bars are, essentially, out, which is fine as we don’t really frequent them anyway. We could theoretically meet somebody out at the club, or even at a restaurant or diner or store, but having to explain Poly to somebody who’s never heard of it — in person — leads to more ludicrous looks than is often worth them time. Thus, relying on various online social and dating sites is the fallback on which we need rely.
We’ve had some luck through them. We met Our Crush online first, and have since arranged all three of our dates that way. So far it seems to be working. It is also mildly exhausting. Mrs. AP put it best the other night when she asked if we can just move beyond the dating stage to the relationship stage. She’s right, of course, in that knowing how to act and react inside an established relationship is easier when one (or two) has been out of The Dating Game for as long as we have. Traditional timing and molds don’t seem to carry over in a one to one ratio. Pace, expectation, and the timeline of the relationship all seem to get thrown into a state of turmoil. Lily Lloyd of theblackletherbelt.com calls it The Relationship Escalator. To quote her:
The escalator looks something like this:
> Dating > Sex > Moving In Together > Getting Married > Getting a Mortgage > Having Kids
This progression doesn’t work — may not even be possible to work — when it comes to Mrs. AP and I looking for a potential long-term member of what may very well become a Poly Triad. Restrictions are in place in many ways. Legally, at least within the United States, we may never be able to progress as a Triad from the “Moving in Together” stage to the “Getting Married” stage. The legal standings for such a Marriage are, at best, tenuous. That doesn’t necessarily prevent skipping that stage to the “Getting a Mortgage” part, but in this economy that’s more a pipe dream than anything else. As for kids, Mrs. AP and I already have several children between us in addition to our devastating miscarriage together just a few months ago. We’re not getting any younger, either; the likelihood of complications arising are a notable, worrisome prospect. What, then, is a Poly couple who’s met a wonderfully compatible third person to do?
I believe there lies a limbo between the dating and “in a relationship” stages at this point. Dating may — and with us usually does — include sexual acts between us. It’s how we gauge compatibility at the physical level, and must be judged in conjunction with and in relation to the emotional compatibility component of establishing a new relationship. Where, though, does dating evolve into a steady, potentially long-term relationship? That line seems to vary among every person, every advice column, and every etiquette guide available today. Some same three dates. Some say after the first time having sex. Some say after several months of dating. Others, quite frankly, insist it is not until one party asks the other party directly to be “Boyfriend” or “Girlfriend.” Such a view may be antiquated, but there remains a certain old fashioned nicety to such proposals that, if nothing else, serve to establish a date by which anniversaries can be determined. That’s nothing at which to scoff, certainly.
In the case of Our Crush, Mrs. AP and I have both confessed to very strongly liking him. It’s not a crush, it’s not love; it’s something between those two. It’s not “just” dating, but it’s not a steady relationship either. It’s a complex menagerie of dating and friendship and potential relationship and overwhelming attraction. It’s driving through a tunnel without knowing when the other end will appear. Surely out the other side lies a Triadic relationship, and all of us will be deeply happy with each other. It’s pure speculation at this point, but sprinkled with a dash of intuition and instinct, and garnished with a side of hope.
Truth be told, I don’t know where this will lead or what to call this current space that lies Between. I’m not sure an appropriate label exists. I feel like I’m going off the map, exploring new territory for which no preconceived notions are readily applicable. The next cliff may be easily scaled. The river may be easily forged. There may be pitfalls unanticipated, never marked because nobody ever came back from the descent. I don’t know. Mrs. AP doesn’t know. When we wallow in that uncertainty is strikes a deep note of concern that reverberates like a meditation bell. Yet that same note triggers introspection and reflection that can help unravel where we stand and how to progress. The convolutions are dizzying.
Regardless of the labels involved, I see great potential with Our Crush. I believe he sees great potential in us. I do hope things work out very well, and we can find our step on — or off — the escalator together. There is the possibility for failure, certainly, for crushed hopes and broken dreams, bruised ego and tattered hearts. All relationships, from the mundane to close friends to deep love bring risks and rewards. We try to balance these constantly, and with luck we find our way out intact and the better for it. Things will work out one way or another, but if I hope and work for the best I feel strongly that I can help make the good become manifest.
Either way, Mrs. AP and I will be together working, loving, and growing. Nothing can shake that.
Stay SINful, friends.