When you have a partner with a lot of other partners...
Before your eyes are even open, your phone is in your hand. It’s habit now- turn off the alarm and immediately check for messages. The fifteen minutes of life sucking scrolling that happens before getting out of bed is just the reality of life these days. A black background is so much easier to see through bleary, sleepy eyes and you find yourself perving through Fet while shrugging off sleep.
And just like that it hits you. Everything sinks to the pit of your belly and your mouth turns sour. You struggle to process what you’ve just seen/read and the gut jarring reaction it gives you. The feeling deepens and spreads through your diaphragm while your rational mind is still working to sort out the meaning of it all. And before you even know what you’ve seen, the self-doubt and insecurities start raining blows to your psyche.
Perhaps it’s been rough lately. Maybe work hasn’t been going so well or bills are stacking up. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with illness- yours, a child’s, a spouse’s, an elderly parent’s. It could be that relationships- friendships or partners- have suffered a strain in recent days. You could even be dropping from a fresh scene. These things have taken their toll everywhere in your life and kink is no exception. You’re simply not as confident as you might normally be.
It isn’t a killing blow, but it hurts. A lot.
Because the thing you just saw was likely unexpected. Your partner (or the other party involved) has just posted a photo of a scene that you probably had no idea was happening in the first place. And the activity within that photo combined with the people in it are the absolute last things you had the emotional stamina to deal with in any rational manner.
Maybe you haven’t seen your partner in some time.
Maybe the last scene you had with that partner ended poorly.
Maybe your partner just performed a scene you’ve been dreaming of for years with someone else.
Maybe your partner just played with someone you have a crush on.
Maybe your partner has new toys you want to play with and haven’t yet had the chance.
Maybe you despise the person your partner played with.
The combinations of possible scenarios are infinite, but the end result is the same. You are left with that wild jealous feeling that you’re desperately trying to get back under control. Even while you feel like your chest will explode and you want to scream, somewhere you know that it’s completely the wrong reaction. Maybe if you were the primary… or a close secondary….
But you’re just a play partner.
The rules of your relationship are such that you don’t always know who your partner might play with or when. You aren’t the spouse or the primary partner, the boy or girlfriend, or anything else of “real” significance. You have no control over their negotiations with other people, you just have to trust that they make the “right” and safe decisions. And sometimes those decisions involve your partner playing in a way that leaves you with your world rocking while your brain says it has no right to do so.
And sometimes, it just so happens to be that your partner is someone who plays with a lot of people. In fact, this is partly what drew you to them in the first place. Your partner’s frequent play has built experience and finesse into their play style. It has made them a Master of their craft (whether they choose that title or not). Your partner has many other partners and requests to play not only because they are good at what they do, but a good human being as well. It is part of what makes you like them so much.
The downside is that when your partner has a lot of other partners, it can often leave you with very mixed feelings about your worth and place in the relationship. It is easy to feel like if something happened, you’d be replaced tomorrow. You wonder when your partner will grow tired of you and trade you in for someone younger, prettier, more masochistic, more submissive. Maybe you want to ask your partner how they really feel about you, some kind of title or validation, but you’re afraid that will be the wrong move and show your insecurity. It is easy to become buried under the avalanche of “not good enough.”
But the truth is, you don’t really need the title or the validation. Deep down, you DO know your place, your value, and your worth. You never wanted to be the spouse or the primary in the first place- you already have that and are quite happy with it! Nor do you need to share all YOUR play plans- the arrangement works both ways and you’re free to make your own choices. You ask yourself, “what else do I want from my partner?” and the answer is simply “Nothing.”
So how do you know? How do you fight down the doubt and find your confidence? What is it that tells you that everything is ok?
You know it when you’re with them. When you and your partner are alone and you’re the only one they see. You feel it connect and spark fire and neither of you are thinking about anything or anyone else. You’ve got their undivided attention in that moment and you feel beautiful and special and worth it.
You know it when they rearrange their schedule to make a play date with you. You know it when they buy a new toy because you mentioned you were interested in trying it. You know it when they surprise you with a crazy scene you’ve always dreamed of. You know it when they build new hardpoints into their play space just to do one scene with you. You know it after years of play when you are still there, still important.
Time grows confidence. As the wild first reactions ebb and subside, the rational brain takes over. Maybe your partner tried that scene first with someone else to work out the logistics for an epic scene with you. Maybe they played with that person with long term hopes of setting you up with your crush. Maybe they practiced with those toys with thoughts of using them on you later. Whatever it was, chances are good that you were still there in your partner’s mind.
It is not an easy path, to have a partner with a lot of other partners. But I wouldn’t trade my partners for anyone else.
I am sometimes asked by others “how do you do it?” And my answer is always, “I fuck it up all the time.”
In regards to emotional attachment, I was once asked if falling in love with my partners would change anything. I replied, “Only when’s it’s over.”
Recently someone asked me what to do in a similar poly set up. “Play it like it’s going to last forever until you have reason not to” is the best advice I have.
Most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing here. But what I do know is that I'm going to try my hardest to make the most of it.