SB has had an interesting introduction to poly. Or rather, an interesting introduction of how poly can be confused with open as though they are the same thing. While they can be the same, for example, G and I are open but poly too. When we were swinging, however, we were only open. Poly was not part of it. We never let it get to that point.
Poly seems to be a big thing these days. A couple opens up their relationship and says straight out that they are poly. And while it can happen, I am often skeptical. Why? Sex is easy. Meeting up with someone you have attraction to - fucking - and going home. Good stuff.
Poly is a relationship. Poly is caring. Poly is love. Poly is being there for the ups and downs. Poly is sharing yourself with another - not just sex, but who you are. That, to me, is poly.
Something that starts out as open can turn poly. But it really depends on how that person is in your life. It depends on how open you are to it. It depends on how the relationship develops. It depends on how it all works out. Just like anything else.
For example, a friend of SB's, also in the community, claims she is poly. However, when you talk to her about how she looks at a secondary relationship to her primary, her claim breaks down. To her, a secondary is a toy only. It's a playmate that comes in for fun, then goes home. They may have minor interactions with her and her primary, but, at the end of the day, her priority and her life is for her primary. A secondary is, in short, disposable.
Listening to her describe this, I felt bad for the secondary. Why? Because they were coming into a relationship that is labeled poly, but are going to have a difficult time establishing a relationship with her because they are like kleenex. Hell, even her description made me feel uncomfortable.
Talking to SB afterward, I told him that she is open. She wants the play, she wants the sex, but she doesn't want the relationship. She is not poly.
And that's okay. Be who you are. Adapt your relation being "open" to how it fits you.
And most importantly, don't let your partner's definition define your's.
And equally as important, let the other person entering it know what poly or open means to you so they can see if it is what they are looking for too.
If your partner is poly and you are okay with that, then don't feel pressured if you are mentally not the same. If you are both okay with how your relationship together is defined, then don't feel pressured to follow a norm. Be who you are meant to be.
As I have said, I know I can be poly. But regardless of relationship, I do it the same way. I walk into that pool, if you will - I don't jump into the deep end. Wading in makes sure it will work the way it should. It allows you to adjust. It allows you to test things out. Jumping into the deep end means you are either going to sink or swim. There is no time for trial-and-error. The risk is much bigger which means that the reward can be just as big, but so can the failure. Because not everyone I will love. I will always care. Love will be given to a point, but not everyone gets the love I have. Poly, for me, does not mean love right away. Nor does me being poly-capable mean I promise to give you my love. Like any relationship, that must be developed between the two of us.
Whether you are poly or open, just remember - respect who you are bringing into your life. Make sure everyone is on the same page and getting out of it what they need. Negotiate that just like you would anything else - sex, a BDSM scene, whatever. And be prepared - it may not work out because you may not be in the same place or want the same things.
But, when you do and it does, good stuff.
And big trouble.
Big, wonderful, glorious trouble.