Friday, 7 September 2012

Poly Boundaries (part two)

I am an affectionate, cuddly, kissy kind of woman. I hold hands with my male and female friends. I greet close friends with a peck on the lips. I snuggle up with friends on the sofa. I am affectionate with friends in public and in private. I always have been. Before Nic and I opened up our marriage he would never have a problem with any of this. Even when people asked him if he minded, he would laugh and wonder why. To my delight and surprise it still isn’t a problem even after I had the one-night only cheating experience with Paul. Even after we opened our marriage and there was a possibility I could build more intimate relationships with people. This is just part of who I am and how I interact with people. But, all of this is physical intimacy; when does it become something which needs to be negotiated?

If a kiss on the lips is acceptable, when does it become unacceptable? Is there a time-limit for the kiss? Are two seconds ok, but three not? What if there is slight movement? What if one of the people desires the other? What if it is a quick one second peck but hands are placed on the neck or face at the same time?

The same kind of questions can be asked for hugs, linking arms, holding hands: actions are fluid and do not always mean the same thing with the same people. 

My husband and I have agreed that in these instances it is up to my judgment. I have to decide whether or not an act of physical intimacy has pushed the boundaries. To experienced poly folk, this probably screams “accident waiting to happen.” I tend to agree. But so far it has worked.

What I have found is that I am more cautious with people than I was before we opened our marriage. I flirt less. I am less physically affectionate than before we opened. Because there is the option for me to build relationships with people, I have less interest in casual affection with people I don’t know well. The most amazing thing, though, is that rather than take advantage of the uncertainty in these boundaries, I do nothing with people I really would like a relationship with. I don’t peck them on the lips, I don’t hold their hands, I don’t do any of the things my husband approves without me having to ask. I don’t do anything which may threaten or challenge my relationship with Nic. After Paul, I do not want to be in a position where my stupidity and inability to control myself threatens my marriage and the promise of a beautiful relationship with another person. It isn’t worth the heartbreak it causes all of the people involved. It isn’t worth the risk. Does this mean the boundaries are clear and work? For now, yes. I hope that as we become more used to this poly situation the rules will be fine-tuned for our purposes, and maybe even relaxed so that I will be able to do a bit more without having to ask. But we will see.

As for Nic, what can he do? He is a clearly self-identified mono. I believe him when he says this. But I have given him permission to do whatever he wants (safely!) without having to check with me first. Whether he ever will remains to be seen. How I will deal with that will be another story!


  1. It's a varied and broken landscape to navigate sometimes, being Poly. Mrs. AP and I break the "accepted standard" by looking only to date as a couple. Everybody in the Poly groups on FaceBook says we're nuts and doomed to fail.

    Borders, boundaries, rules and guidelines have to be flexible when striking a path different from the norm. Communication between partners is paramount. I think, also, that being able to act with confidence and without fear is a key requirement to making both the existing and budding new relationships work.

    I think you're right to approach things slowly and establish your own comfort levels. Every journey is different; do what's best to ensure yours is a good one.

    Stay SINful
    Mr. AP

    1. Thank you! That is nice to hear. We don't always get it "by the book" right, but we are great communicators so we hold to the adage "there is no right or wrong, just actions and consequences." Maybe a bit naff, but perfectly true and negative consequences are considerably reduced with solid and continuous chatting!

      Thank you for commenting. It means a lot.