When you’re new to polyamory, the first few times a partner goes out on a date without you, it can be kind of tough. So I thought I’d give you a few ideas on how you can cope. Hey, guys, I’m Jay, and this channel is all about helping you boldly grow yourself, your relationships, and your creativity.
Lack of Symmetry
A huge part of becoming comfortable with your partner being out on a date without about you is being comfortable with a lack of symmetry between what you’re doing in polyamory and what any of your partners is doing in polyamory. Don’t try to control your partner’s dates by only allowing them to schedule dates when you have dates scheduled, or vice versa. Not only is this extremely difficult to manage long term from a logistical standpoint, but it’s also going to rob you of the opportunity to confront some of the emotions that are making this process uncomfortable for you.
Don’t tell yourself stories
So when your partner is actually out on a date, don’t start telling yourself stories about what must be happening at any given moment. Firstly, you have no idea what’s happening during the date, so telling yourself stories about what must be happening isn’t a reflection of reality, so there’s really no point. And second of all, if you’re just constructing narratives in your head in order to torture yourself, well, that’s really not going to help you or anyone else. So do your best not to do that.
Focus on the Potential
If you’re struggling especially hard not to tell yourself these stories, consider trying to focus instead on the potential joy that this date might be bringing into your partner’s life. After all, you care about or love this person, and you want them to be happy, and you are polyamorous for a reason. So focus on the potential love, the potential friendship and happiness that could be generated as an outcome of this date. And do it without imagining that this is going to somehow eclipse what you and your partner share, because most likely it won’t. Beyond confronting some of what’s going on for you internally while your partner is on a date, it can also be helpful to get yourself out of that ruminative pattern. If you distract yourself here and there.
Hopefully you have hobbies and interests outside this relationship. If you don’t, you really should. What interests you? What excites you? What are you curious about? Engage with these things while your partner is away on a date. You can read, you can study, you can practice that language that you’ve been trying to learn. Work on a skill that you’ve been trying to hone. Use those paints you picked up that you haven’t tried yet. Write a chapter of that book you keep saying you want to put out. Throw on Netflix or some DVDs and binge a series that your partner doesn’t want to watch with you, but you’re dying to see. Hell. Play a video game. Attempt that intimidating raid that you were putting off and afraid of. The number of interesting, nourishing, enriching things that you can do when your partner isn’t around is functionally endless. So do something.
If you have the physical ability to exercise well, then do it. Hit the gym, go for a jog or a brisk walk, lift some weights, get on your bike, do whatever it takes to increase that heart rate and get your body moving so that your body is doing something other than generating a feeling of anxiety.
Even just doing an especially rigorous deep clean of your home can get your blood pumping. So do something. Move. Or, if you have the means, get out of the house. Go do something on your own. Enjoy your own company. Take yourself out on a date. Go see a movie that you want to see that your partner really doesn’t care much about. Go see some local musicians, go to an art walk, sit in on some free lectures at a local university or go to a museum. You can do so many things to treat yourself. Or you could catch up with some friends, go out and see some people you haven’t seen in a while, invite them over, play a board game, or write a letter to a friend who lives far away that you haven’t talked to in a while.
It can be a really nice surprise to get something other than a bill or junk mail if you have any polyamorous friends or acquaintances, maybe they have more experience dealing with this sort of thing than you do, and they can listen and just be there for you. Having someone around who’s been through what you’re going through and has come out the other side can be very, very helpful. Of course, I do want to reiterate that you shouldn’t just distract yourself indefinitely. Distraction can be great for interrupting a ruminative thought process that’s sort of digging a trench into our minds that’s negative and is just going to encourage us to generate more negative emotion upon negative emotion. But distraction also undermines processing the feelings that you’re having and what’s going on underneath. So I do think it’s pretty important to balance distraction and doing things that you want to do while your partner isn’t around and sitting with your feelings and dealing with them. If when you’re trying to process those feelings it gets a little overwhelming, and you can’t seem to process it because you just work yourself up into a kind of emotional frenzy, then I do have one thing that I would like to recommend. When you’re dealing with this very intense, frenzied feeling of anxiety or fear or jealousy or whatever other negative emotion you’re trying to deal with.
Sit with that emotion in the way that it feels inside your physical body. All emotions ultimately are physical sensations. So when you’re anxious, when you’re afraid, whatever it is you’re feeling, where is it inside of you? Are you mostly feeling it in your gut? Are you sort of feeling it in your chest? Are you feeling it in your face? Or all of the above? Once you’ve identified where the feeling is, focus all of your attention to a fine point if you can, and really just pay extraordinarily close attention. Put all of your energy and all of your attention into focusing on that physical sensation. Just observe them. Don’t judge the sensations. Don’t try to move the sensations or do anything with the sensations. Just watch them. Just observe them. What happens when you do this? In most cases, when you do this for long enough, the actual emotion seems to kind of dissolve into nothing. Our brain translates these physical sensations into an emotional conceptual framework. When you really, really scrutinize what it is to feel something physically as an emotion, it makes it difficult for that emotion to persist at all. This can take some practice, but it’s an incredibly useful tool that you can have in your back pocket for when those emotions are starting to feel a little overwhelming.
And finally, the next time that you see your partner after the date that they went on, really connect and talk about that experience debrief with each other. Share how you were feeling during the date and listen to what they experienced while they were on the date. And both of you will hopefully do this with no judgment toward the other person for the way that they were feeling while the date was happening.
Do be careful, though, and respect the privacy of the person that your partner was on a date with. Make sure that if you guys start talking about something related to the date, it’s something that your partner has gotten consent to share. If nothing else, talk about the way your partner was impacted by the date. Talk about the way they’re feeling about this person.
And hopefully the two of you can also just connect with each other as partners. Reassure each other with physical contact. Really spend some quality time together to reaffirm that connection that the two of you share. I hope that this has been useful for some of you, and if you have any stories about the first few times that you dealt with this kind of situation, I would genuinely love to hear about it down in the comments. I love hearing about other people’s polyamorous journeys and the different individual quirks and idiosyncrasies that can come up during these experiences. I hope that all of your relationships are fulfilling and continue to grow.