Our poly world and our kink world often overlap between our lovers, our flirtationships, relationships, friendships, play partners (sexual play), and our scene partners (bdsm play). Sometimes this is a good thing, like the unexpected and lovely development of our little tribe. Sometimes, it’s not such a great thing, like when a partner of a partner doesn’t like you or like your partner or any combination of dislike, comparison and animosity.
When our poly worlds collide, good or bad, things have to be figured out. Things like which partner do you pay what amount of attention to when all three of your partners are at the same event. Do you order them hierarchically? Do you try to find an equal amount of time to devote to each one? Do you surround yourself with all three of them and hope like hell they all get along well enough to make the event fun? Do you go to the event with one, say hello to the other two but spend most of your time with the one you went to the event with? What if they don’t like each other, can’t get along… then what? What if they don’t know each other? What if they are there with another one of their partners… then, what?
In a trio of a married couple and a third… who sits where? Who pays at dinner, entry fees to get into events? In a group of four, where all four are lovers, who sits where in the row at the movies… around the table, with two chairs on each side? It’s funny the little ways in which the worlds collide and the potentially treacherous waters we find ourselves navigating.
Sooooooo…. in our little corner of the poly world we have discovered we have two types of relationships. We have our tribe and then we have our external partners.
In our little tribe, all of the players are fairly interchangeable. The eight of us know each other fairly well or are working to do so, even with a couple of the members being long distance. When we go places we usually go as a group and throughout the event you might see any of the eight of us cuddled with any others of the eight of us. We spend time together as a group on a regular basis. Some of us are just friends, some are lovers, friends with benefits, or somewhere in between, but no matter what micro dynamics are there, the eight of us are close to each other. There are boundaries, of course and rules in place within each established dynamic, but generally speaking we are all in relationship, to some degree, with all the others in the tribe. We all get along. We all like / love each other. We are family.
Then we have our external partners, for lack of a better or more easily understood word. External partners are the people who we are involved with that may not be involved with all of the others in the tribe. They might be in a relationship, on some level, with a member or two of the tribe but not necessarily all of them. Sometimes the externals aren’t involved with anyone else in the tribe. And, then you have the other partners of the external partners. A lot of times we may not even know, on a personal interactive level, the other partners of our partners.
This can get a little tricky when all of the players, tribe or external, are active, busy members of the local kink community. Mix in potential new partners and whoa Nelly… tricky, tricky.
Why tricky? Well, let’s take a look at that. Stay with me, it’s gonna get a little convoluted…
So let’s take a little trip and see how the worlds collide (all names are made up to protect the…ummm… innocent?!? sure, something like that :P)
Joey and Rachel
Monica and Chandler
Phoebe and Ross
Brett & Julia
Luke & Becky
Ok, so… Joey, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, Ross, Jake and Jenny make up a poly tribe of sorts. Simply meaning that the eight of them spend time together whenever possible and that all of the parties involved are involved with each other on some level. The levels vary from friendship to relationship and lots of places in between, but… they are all connected and when they go places the players are somewhat interchangeable. You may see Joey and Rachel holding hands one minute and Rachel and Chandler snuggled up the next. You might also see Rachel, Jake, Phoebe and Ross all snuggled up or Chandler, Jenny and Rachel making out or any other combination of affection. That’s how their little tribe works and it is a beautiful thing.
Joey and Rachel are a couple. Monica and Chandler are a couple. Phoebe and Ross are a couple. Jake is Joey and Rachel’s third. Jenny is Monica and Chandler’s third. Then you have Joey and Monica’s Daddy/baby girl relationship. Chandler and Jenny’s Daddy/baby girl relationship. Joey and Rachel’s Daddy/princess relationship. Rachel and Jake’s romantic relationship. A developing poly family dynamic between Joey, Rachel, Phoebe and Ross. Rachel and Chandler are play partners. Rachel and Monica are lovers. There is a developing love affair between Rachel and Phoebe. Rachel and Chandler are sometimes top/bottom scene partners and Rachel and Ross are developing a top/bottom relationship along side of their long standing flirtationship that has the potential to be more. Joey and Phoebe are friends with a developing flirtationship. All of them are friends. Their eight lives are intertwined. They are a tribe.
Now. Each member of the tribe either has or is looking to have partners outside of the tribe as well. Those partners slide up and down the rule with relationships that vary from friends, lovers, play partners, fuck buddies, scene partners to romantic relationships, and all kinds of places in between those defined labels.
Are you seeing, yet, how this could quick, fast and in a hurry spiderweb spiral into some seriously overlapping relationships in a kink community of any size? Let’s look a little closer, shall we…
Add the following to the spiderweb. Joey has a relationship with Stacy. Stacy and Rachel are friends. Joey and Rachel have a crush on Becky and Luke and give often and serious consideration to the idea of pursuing the development of a deeper relationship with them. Becky and Luke are involved in a separate relationship with a couple who Joey and Rachel have become friends with. Stacy is pretty close friends with Becky and Luke also. Jake has a D/s dynamic with Missy and a budding romantic relationship with Lucy, who happens to be close friends with Lulu, an ex (that ended badly) of Joey and Rachel’s. Lulu is a top/bottom play partner with Josh, Lucy’s fiance. Dani has expressed an interest in playing with Joey and Rachel and possibly Chandler, too. Monica has a developing relationship with Brett and Julia. Phoebe and Ross are considering bringing Shae into their little family. Monica, Stacy, Jenny and Becky are all sceneing partners with Sam who is friends with many of the players in this scenario and who is in negotiations to possibly become scene partners with Rachel, also. These spiderweb connections don’t even touch on the overlapping friends in the community.
The overlapping of our friends and lovers and partners illustrates quite succinctly that tiny kink community is fucking tiny. Which, honestly, with all the groups we have in this area, all the different parts of town and events to go to, you would think you might never run into someone you don’t want to run into in the local kink community… that the worlds could co-exist with out ever overlapping.
However, I say again… tiny kink community is fucking tiny… no matter large it might appear to be. We often find ourselves planning to attend and attending the same events as our partners other partners, past partners, potential partners, friends, etc. Some of these events are fairly large in scale and we might actually be in attendance to the same event and not ever bump into each other. But… many of these events are so small that avoidance is not a practical solution. Much more practical a solution would be for all of us to act like grown ups and be civil to each other and to each other’s partners (current, past and potential). Our partners have chosen their other partners, just like they chose us. That choice needs to be respected by all parties involved.
Poly / open is not easy. The more people you bring in the more complicated it gets. It requires maturity, respect, honesty, fuck LOADS of communication and even a splash or two of tolerance and understanding. The community is small. At some point we are all going to be breathing the same air in the same space. We might want to figure out how to do it with civility so that when our poly worlds do collide we aren’t left with nothing but smoldering, fractured remains of those beautiful worlds.