This article has been updated and can now be found here.
Alright, let’s get something straight.
I think married people are awesome. Couples are awesome. Two people who make a life long commitment to one another, and stick to it through thick and thin: they frickin rock. I am in awe of this kind of commitment.
Now, that is not to say that I do not occasionally feel the sting of singleism.
I won’t deny that this phenomena is real, and it can be very frustrating.
But, I adore dating married people. And when I say “married people”, I’m including those who are in committed long term common-law type relationships.
So, yes, I said it! I love dating married people!
Well, let’s be clear: not all marriages are the same. Having been in a marriage that was falling apart and attempting to glue itself back together under a guise of non monogamy, I feel I might have a better sense of what the warning signs might be when I meet a couple in a committed long term relationship who are doing the same thing, and coming to poly from an attitude of scarcity.
It’s very different from folks who come at it from an abundance perspective. Partners have to be willing to share- and I don’t mean in the “Please sleep with my husband cos I sure as hell don’t want to have sex with him anymore!” way (been there, done that).
Opening up a long term committed relationship is, I think, the ultimate litmus test for the viability of that relationship. So, getting involved with married people can be challenging.
Here are the questions I ask:
1) What is their relationship to their partner? How is it defined? How long have they been together? How long have they been open?
2) What are the other relationships in their lives? Other partners? Kids?
3) What are they looking for? Why is it they want another relationship?
If I feel comfortable with those answers, I find I’m then curious to meet their partner and observe the home dynamic- this is especially true if there are kids involved. I dated one man who didn’t have children with his partner, but the way he spoke about her was full of praise, and I knew his other long term partner through several mutual friends. So, sometimes there’s exceptions.
Anyway, I think it’s important to have a date zero with the family. I had this when I was seeing Nate last year, and I also had this when Loki and I started seeing one another. Having done things that way, if someone married with kids did not invite me to meet their partner and children before diving in to anything more, I would just say no. That’s a red flag. Why on earth would you disregard your child in favor of getting laid? Those are values I can’t connect with. In my personal life philosophy, children are of paramount importance, and someone who would dismiss or disregard the needs of a growing human is not someone I’m going to be able to feel much respect for.
I am singleish because I do not want a life long relationship right now. I don’t want to get married and have babies and live in a picket fence house or share a bank account or any of that stuff that couples do. I tried it, and it wasn’t for me. But there’s a lovely stability that can come with that. When I date someone who is married, and get to know their children, their spouses, and the other people in their life, I get to become part of a tribe. I’m an independently functioning member of that tribe, it’s true, but that tribe is there. And some amazing friendships have formed as a result of this dynamic.
For a marriage to survive, generally speaking people have to have their shit together More or less. At the very least, they have to be working on having their shit together. Especially if it’s been opening up to more relationships. It would be hard to find a long-term couple who had been poly for more than a couple of years and were still having problems, cos if problems arise you have to learn to either sit down and communicate, courageously, or you stop being non-monogamous.
What this means, of course, is that married people who are doing their work on themselves have a tendency to be really good at relationships. And that, for starters, is hugely appealing.
Also, married people won’t demand a huge amount of your time. They tend to not be needy. And they certainly won’t be putting pressure on you to settle down with them. How frickin awesome is that?
And, okay, realistically, it is paramount to keep in mind that you will not come first for someone who is married and has children. You may not even come first for someone who is married and doesn’t have children. But- that’s okay. Because- at least for me- there is always a person who makes sure that I come first- and that person is me!
None of this precludes the idea of loving, fulfilling relationships with someone who is married.
In summary, I think married people make ideal people to date if you are singleish, and I celebrate the fact that I know so many wonderful fantastic awesome married poly people today!