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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
At the crossroads of dating and physical interaction; options and alternatives
I feel like writing something and I'm not sure what so I'll just do a bit of stream of consciousness.

I'm at a crossroads with my dating/romantic life. After my last relationship I realized that a number of things were more important to me than previously thought so I reset my criteria and questions to focus primarily on the things that matter the most to me. This includes things like honesty, integrity, equality, sexual desire, logic/reason, non-monogamous, gaming, and so forth. I then reset my match search filters similarly.

The results of these changes were somewhat depressing. To relate I'll share the most recent data points. From where I am now there are only about a dozen people within a 100 mile radius that have a 70% or higher match rating. Of these I find less than half physically attractive. Half of those are quickly eliminated for various reasons in their profile that the questions haven't or can't match against (e.g. anti-technology / singular interest in outdoor activities). To put that into perspective the geographical area includes the third ranking US city by population of Chicago with 2.7 million people and less than half a dozen potential matches.

I think it's safe to say I'm an outlier in the dating pool.

I've adjusted my search criteria to include people anywhere in the world, which returns a decent selection, but very few people are interested in responding to someone half way across the country. Adjusting to include monogamous individuals results in an explosion of potential relatively high ranking matches.

This leads me back to my crossroads: where do I go from here. Do I adjust my compatibility to include potential for a monogamous relationship? Do I keep things like they are and just wait to see if anything ever materializes? Or do I set it all aside and forget about ever dating again?

If I'm feeling desperate then adjusting compatibility at least increases chances but still doesn't guarantee anything and feels like I may be lying to myself or others. I could just let things sit the way they are and see if anything develops in the future or in another location when moving but this increases the chance of getting jaded about things and still results in shifting through lots of cruft contacts. Setting everything aside and forgetting all possibilities of dating seems like the most productive option, but in terms of social and human interaction it's the least desirable.

I'm still on the fence between the first and last options.

It's not the only avenue to get social interaction, though it may be the best avenue to get physical contact (outside of sex, which in itself doesn't interest me).

I need a cat. That would give some closure to the notion of physical non-sexual contact. Then a close relationship wouldn't be as high of a personal need. I need to move somewhere I can have a cat.

If it means keeping my integrity then I'm okay being single. I find myself a little sad coming to that conclusion but I don't think I could accept anything less.
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mai_neh From: mai_neh Date: December 29th, 2014 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Pets are great for physical non-sexual contact! And also for imposing some sort of routine on your life that isn't about your own needs.

I have no idea how I'd start looking for compatible poly guys if I had to start over. Neither of the guys I'm poly with today were fans of the idea when I met them. But I didn't meet them online ... online filters are so different from meeting people via personal friends and then just trying to make it work without the intermediation of algorithms.

Yet, I ran into plenty of people IRL who were irate at even hearing the idea that I might want a non-monogamous relationship. I had pretty much given up on finding a boyfriend because of all these irate people who were happy to have sex with me exactly once before firmly stating that they were looking for monogamy.

I dunno. You might have several decades of life ahead of you in which to meet the right fellas. These things seem to defy logical planning and algorithms. Though, I do believe there are ways to increase your chances of getting what you want, and definitely telling people what you want is a good way to increase your chances of getting what you want. I told Tod I was poly the very first night we met. Ditto for K. And they dated me anyway. So, I vote for being completely up front about what you want, and then let other people decide whether they want to try that also.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 29th, 2014 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
And also for imposing some sort of routine on your life that isn't about your own needs.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't think that's really true, or at least not for cats. They don't need a specific schedule for walking, feeding, or being put in a cage while everyone is out. They want attention when you're there, sometimes, and are usually fine by themselves all other times. Food can be left out in a bowl or delivered via a timed dispenser. Litter might be one of the few things that needs to be taken care of on a semi-regular basis, though there are contraptions (of varying quality and success) that alleviate that to some degree.

Neither of the guys I'm poly with today were fans of the idea when I met them.

Yeah, that's something I'd like to avoid. I noticed that you've gone through a lot of headaches with trying to ween them into it and I have no desire to try to convince someone else to do what they say they want to avoid.

On OkCupid I have the A-List membership that allows me to filter people based on specific answers to specific questions. If I filter based on the one about willing to date someone already in an open relationship or would date someone already in a relationship the number of results is very similar to those that already marked non-monogamy as a possibility. It doesn't seem like there's much of a choice unless I'm willing to forego it or intentionally try to subvert someone into doing it.

meeting people via personal friends

This is a tough one as it's not really applicable to me. I don't have many friends, only a couple have gay friends, only a couple do social events or cross-friend introductions, only one has ever tried to introduce me to someone, and there's very little overlap between these categories. I don't foresee a serendipitous introduction to someone's friend of a friend.

You might have several decades of life ahead of you in which to meet the right fellas.

I think this is the biggest nail in the coffin for the entire concept of dating for me. You may not realize just how much of an outlier I am in what I will accept in a relationship and what I wouldn't. Some of the things that you've talked about in your relationships would have me calling it quits right then and there, yet you somehow just keep going. This baffles me, and yet talking to other people it seems to be the norm and completely acceptable. Further bafflement.
mai_neh From: mai_neh Date: December 29th, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

relationships as goals?

Definitely easier to raise cats than dogs. As for whether the routine they impose is good, depends on your definitions and needs. I think it is helpful to have some other mammals to care for, instead of being completely self-centered and lost in my own shit. But this could just be a personality difference. Having pets also helps me to feel like I have a family, which is something that gives me meaning in my life. They have their own personalities, which I can learn from.

As for avoiding monogamists in your search for companionship ... the weird thing I've seen is that a lot of people don't really want monogamy once they realize there is a viable alternative. There is the potential for converting people. They just need to see ethical non-monogamy in practice and get over their cultural conditioning. A lot of people who say they want monogamy don't act like they are monogamous. Many fellas are having lots of sex with lots of people and claim they are waiting for the Right One when they will finally settle down and get monogamous. And a lot of fellas pretend to be monogamous while cheating on their partners. Some fellas just need an example, need to talk through it, and work through their jealousies, and then they realize they always wanted polyamory but were afraid to admit it. There are closeted poly people.

I'm not convinced that dating only an experienced, out-of-the-closet, non-monogamous person would be any easier than weaning somebody into it. There are so many issues in relationships, having experience in one issue doesn't mean everything else about the relationship is smooth sailing. I've occasionally said to people who want a poly lifestyle that if they weren't good at having one long-term relationship at a time, what makes them think they'll be any good at having two long-term relationships at a time? Long-term relationships are generally not simple to maintain. Don't you need to start with one and get that one rolling before looking for another? Imagining that by being poly that you'll easily find multiple relationships is an extension of the romantic fantasy that monogamists believe, that if they hold out for the Right One they can live happily ever after. Holding out for the Right Two or Three won't work either. Start living happily ever after now, as a single person, don't wait for Right People to fall from the sky.

Which is really what your final paragraph sums up -- to have a long-term relationship does require putting up with a lot of things you never imagined would happen to you. People are messy, they have lots of problems, lots of emotions, they don't always treat you the way you think you would treat them. Sex, Money, Jealousy, Addictions. People experience reality in different ways, and hurt each other both intentionally and unintentionally. There's so much bullshit in our cultural portrayals of long-term relationships, and in how couples want you to think about their relationships. Even within couples there can be deep denial of the realities of their relationships, because accepting reality could mean a breakup, and breakups are viewed as failures by our culture.

I don't think people should have a general goal of having a long-term relationship. I think such a goal distorts reality, and makes people more judgmental of other people, and in more denial of their own needs and desires. If I were starting over again, I definitely wouldn't look for relationships. I would just look for compatible activity partners, and naturally some of us will grow to like and even love each other. In a lot of ways, my partners are just activity partners, but we also love each other, and make room for each other in our lives, and we miss each other when we are busy. But if we weren't good activity partners, what would be the point?

If they both broke up with me or died tomorrow ... I like board games, so I'd find folks to play games with. I like BDSM, so I'd go to the local BDSM club and hang out in a jock strap and boots and see what happens. Just do the things you like to do, when you have free time, in a way that brings you in contact with other people who do the things you like to do. Enjoy doing stuff with other humans, without the Heavy Weight of Looking for the Right Few :-)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: December 29th, 2014 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: relationships as goals?

My goal isn't a long-term relationship. I'm not looking for the love or loves of my life. I'm not looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with. I would be okay with short-term relationships. I would even be okay with a weekend fling (like in Weekend but without the alcohol and drugs).

The biggest barrier to any relationship is that of trust; do I trust them? When considering a relationship the answer is typically no. I might trust someone as an acquaintance or friend but not so much as a lover. Do I trust them to do what they say they're going to do (or let me know when they're not/can't)? Do I trust them not to intentionally lie to me? Do I trust them to not try to take advantage of me? Do I trust them to tell me how they actually feel?

The answer is usually no. It takes a lot to build that level of trust in someone and most people knock themselves out of the running very early on with "white lies" or delusions about their behavior or interactions with others. I don't trust someone who would take my credit card and use it to buy themselves new clothes. I don't trust someone who would get mad at me for what someone else did. I don't trust someone who would take advantage of their workplace or customers even if that is how "everyone else" does it. I don't trust people who break rules just because they can and not without actually thinking about why they're doing it and the consequences. I don't trust people who are exclusively concerned with superficial traits.

I don't rely on people who do these things. They can come and go in my life, maybe on here or there or at social gatherings, but I wouldn't date them because I don't trust them. I know they'll drop me like a hot cake whenever they feel like it and won't give it a second thought (if they even gave it one to begin with).

Is this a high standard? Yep. It's not to me, it's a basic requirement, but I recognize it's an insanely high requirement to most people. And ... I'm okay with that. I'd rather be alone than with someone who does any of the above.

I believe that trust is more important than monogamy - Savage Garden

The problem with trying to convert someone to being polyamorous is that it creeps too close to trying to convert someone to being homosexual and feels like being dishonest. If someone who is monogamous approaches me and wants to go out on dates with me then I'll give them the disclaimer and if they're still interested then I'll go out with them, but I won't get into it knowing they've said they're against it. Answering that question on OkCupid is the equivalent of saying they're against it so there's no point in me pursuing them. It's like pursuing a straight guy and I have no chance. It leads to heartache and trouble.

Can either be done? Are there people out there who would do it? Absolutely.

Another aspect of this is differences in expectation out of polyamory. To someone people it's more about finding sex partners or being able to initiate sex with whoever they feel like whenever they like. To me polyamory is about disclosure and consent and emotional connections. You, and others, may be okay with their partners screwing around with anyone they like without mentioning it, but I'm not okay with that. I want to be kept informed of who and what and why. I want to be able to make informed decisions if their behavior is too risky for me. I want to know what and who interests them. I might encourage them, tease them, or keep an out for their type, but I want that choice. If I trusted them it's unlikely I would even think about vetoing anything.
mai_neh From: mai_neh Date: December 31st, 2014 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: relationships as goals?

I think it is important to come right out and say it, that trust is a huge issue for you. And trust is important in relationships, definitely.

I'd caution you, however. Humans do not have perfect memories, and our past selves cannot bind the actions of our future selves. So nobody can be perfectly trustworthy, even if they are trying to be so. Trust can only ever be a relative thing, and opportunities for forgiveness will always be sitting nearby.

Overall, I do trust my partners. But over the years I've definitely heard feedback from my LJ friends when one of my partners crosses a line. I just don't expect my partners to be perfect. I know I'm not.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: January 6th, 2015 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: relationships as goals?

All I can ask is that people at least try to be trustworthy.

To me there is a huge difference between being or trying to be perfect versus intentionally doing things that cross a line, like going out of their way to hide something, or taking something of mine (e.g. money or property) without asking permission, or only thinking of me when they've got nothing else going on (the after thought, for granted, optional partner). Okay, that last one is open to interpretation and can work for some people and/or in some situations.
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