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Dos and Don'ts Of Dating A Married Poly Woman

The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch — or several.

I’ve been on two dates with a cool girl that I met on an online dating site. After the second date, she let me in on a secret: She's not actually single, but married and "poly," a term I had never heard before. Apparently, she and her husband have a rule where they can each hook up with whoever they want (well, there are more rules, but that's not the main point here.) Basically, she'd be free to see me, go on dates, get drinks, make out, have sex and so forth, but she wouldn't sleep over at my place, I couldn't sleep over at her place, and so forth. As she described it to me, I was like, "Is there a catch? That sounds kind of awesome." But maybe I'm jumping into this too fast. Dating a poly woman is something I've never done before, and for all I know it's actually hell or at least more complicated than dating monogamously. Do you have any experience here? How does one "play" this type of situation?

Hi Poly Confusion,

For many straight guys, dating a polyamorous person seems like a miracle, for good reason. A lot of the sources of typical dude relationship trouble just don’t exist in polyamory. For example. You’re never going to get in trouble for staring at eye-catching cleavage. In fact, it’s encouraged. Your lack of commitment is never going to be questioned, ever. It seems pretty sweet, right? It seems like a normal relationship, without all of the irritating trappings that make you feel caged and unwelcome.

But that’s not entirely true. Because it’s not a normal relationship. And you have to do the mental adjustments that this entails.

Primary among them: you’ve got to remember that this woman is not your wife. She’s not your girlfriend. She’s probably not going to suddenly decide that monogamy is, like, way better, and that you own the only dick she’s ever going to want to see again. This sounds so simple, I know. But it’s actually really difficult to wrap your head around polyamory if you haven’t done it yourself. We generally all assume — because the human brain is lazy — that relationships form the trajectories we’re used to. That people behave, in romantic situations, as we would. You need to ignore that tendency.

So try not to fall in love. But if you do fall in love, realize that the throbbing of your heart doesn’t actually mean much in this context. Your puny feelings don’t change a thing. To polyamorous people, falling in love doesn’t entail exclusivity. It’s just another fun feeling floating around in the collage of feelings. You don’t get to have this girl. You’re not in it so that eventually the two of you can buy a cute little house somewhere and go the nuclear family route. Or you shouldn’t be. While I’m sure you’d make a fantastic main squeeze type boyfriend, she probably doesn’t care.

I can't stress this enough. Don’t imagine that this polyamorous thing is a weird temporary phenomenon that’s going to evaporate. The biggest misconception people have about polyamorous relationships is that they’re sort of a larval state for monogamy. Sometimes primary partners break off and pursue exclusivity. But this isn’t the norm, and there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen.

This is a manifestation of a kind of psychology that plagues a lot of relationships: the tendency to regard other people’s behavior as abnormal. This is a totally understandable mode of thinking, and it causes an endless amount of human misery. If you want a functioning relationship, you have to realize that, by anyone else’s standards, you’re the strange one. Your behavior is unusual. Which you don’t realize in day-to-day life, because you go around obeying your own preferences and desires. You don’t even necessarily realize what your expectations are, because you always live up to them. But when you’re in a new relationship — especially if it’s a kind of relationship you’re not used to, like a polyamorous one — you can’t take for granted that your partner will obey your unexpressed desires, and behave in a relationship like you expect they would.

Next thing: remember that polyamory isn’t anarchy. Just because the usual romantic rules don’t apply, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rules. In fact, a good polyamorous relationship is usually more complicated. It’s simple math. The more people are involved — the more sets of genitalia you’re going to be indirectly or directly touching — the more variables there are. So, shortly, this woman is probably going to tell you a lot of fun details about exactly what you can and can’t do sexually, and, moreover, about what your role in the relationship will be. Listen. And follow these rules religiously. Otherwise you’ll be kicked out of Beautiful Free Love Land, and rightfully so.

The last thing I need to point out is that you’ve got to be OK with being unimportant. In a polyamorous relationship where you’re not the primary partner, you’re a diversion. You’re a fun little outlet for excess affection and sex drive. In the vernacular of our times, you’re the side piece.

While you might say, “Sure, yeah, no problem,” you might be less cool with this than you’d imagine at first. You might miss the standard emotional ties. Because being important is the most fun thing about a new exclusive relationship — and it’s what you’re used to, as a monogamist. Suddenly, there’s a person in your life who’s just fascinated by you. By the muscles in your torso, by your weird little figures of speech, by your past, by your sexual fantasies. You become a main character in someone else’s life, who actually regards you as a complex person, unlike your idiot co-workers and your casual acquaintances. And they get really, really unhappy when they think about the prospect of your disappearance. This is way better than getting laid, I think. It’s affirming, it’s enriching, it makes you realize that you’re a real person.

This is why I can’t handle polyamory. Ava was basically a cartoon of the ideal polyamorous girl. A wildly hot hippie girl from California whose sheer quantity of love (and friskiness) was too much to be absorbed by any one man. So I got some of the overflow. It was great. No commitment, no being tied down, no nothing: just fun dates followed by raucous, no-strings sex so loud that my neighbors called the cops.

But something happened that I really wasn’t expecting: At some point, I realized that all of that wonderful casual warmth wasn’t enough for me. Ava would have been perfectly fine without me, and I didn’t enjoy that. I wanted her to need me, at least a little bit. Don’t get me wrong — she liked me fine. She enjoyed it when I was around, and she was interested in me. But if I wasn’t around? Whatever, that’s cool, I wasn’t her primary partner, and there were plenty of other men.

This promptly made me into a whiny little jerk. Without even realizing what I was doing, I’d start making snide little jokes about her husband, or I’d launch into weird little speeches about the kind of relationship I ultimately wanted. Unintentionally, I became messy and needy — exactly the sort of person who shouldn’t be in a polyamorous relationship. In the end, it’s hard to say whether I quit or I was fired. But suffice it to say, I’m not hooking up with Ava anymore.

A lot of men are similar, I think. Not a lot of dudes are comfortable with being a side character in a relationship. We want to be the hero, the earth-shakingly impactful man, the guy who comes along and changes a woman’s life. This is a situation where you’re roughly the opposite. If you can put your ego aside and accept your role, you’re going to have a lot of fun here. But that’s a big if.

The Firearm Blog

It is no secret that I am an unrepentant H&K-aholic. Over the years I have collected just about every one of their roller locked long guns, a ton of their pistols dating back to the HK4 and VP70z, and even a few modern implements that required quite a bit of effort to get ahold of. That being said, you can’t be an H&K guy without catching flak from your peers in the gun community regarding either “because you suck, and we hate you”, or the infamous “backwards bullet” fiasco. Well, most assuredly H&K does not hate you (albeit they certainly hate import regulations dating back the the 1989 ban on the importation of foreign military-style long guns into the US) but the backwards bullet catalog is an unquestionable blunder… and yes, these are real catalogs, not some photoshopped joke that went mainstream:

I have managed to collect three of these catalogs over the years; One I bought from an independent seller on eBay and the other two I bought from an unnamed former H&K employee. To clear up the internet lore and fiction surrounding this printed blunder, I made sure to ask the man exactly what the story was on the infamous inverted bullets. Anyways, said employee was at the 2004 SHOT Show and the catalogs got shipped directly from the printer to the show. Obviously the photographer Heckler & Koch had chosen was not a gun guy, as the most inexperienced shooters can probably figure out after looking at a magazine loaded backwards that something just isn’t right. Hilariously nobody at SHOT noticed, and the H&K booth was soon set up with their new products, some swag, and these catalogs to hand out and showcase their wares. An unknown number of these made it into the hands of attendees until someone (not an H&K employee) mentioned that the bright and shiny stack of glossy catalogs featured a spectacular blunder. It could have just been a typo somewhere in the middle of the slickly printed pages or even something out of whack in a photo somewhere near the end…. but no. This magnificent failure was featured right on the cover of their catalog at their booth at one of the worlds largest small arms expos. To add insult to injury, the old H&K slogan is featured prominently to the right of the backwards bullet.

The aforementioned H&K employee estimated that no more than a few hundred made it out before the order came down to destroy the remaining boxes of catalogs (not throw away, but destroy mind you so as to prevent “profiteers” from digging them out of the trash either to sell or slander H&K with). The corrected catalog is much less interesting by the way, as everything is the same except the bullets in the magazine have been oriented correctly. All in all, it is hard to estimate how many of these catalogs have survived (who knows how many SHOT Show attendees kept theirs as I know I usually throw away most of my swag from conventions and shows) but I have heard anywhere from as low as fifty to as high as 300 or so. Regardless, after searching the internet I have only come across one image of one catalog that someone has taken that keeps getting circulated so I assume if there were a bunch of these out there then there would be a few more digital images. Combining that with the fact that these three are the only ones I have ever seen for sale in five years or so and I think the number of survivors is low. However that doesn’t matter does it? Once you put something out there like this in the digital era then the damage is done.

The backwards bullets are not a photoshop or some H&K-hater’s concoction, but a very real gaffe that somehow made its way into circulation and will forever haunt Hecker and Koch. Shame really, within this printed blooper shows some good old-fashioned H&K products that make me yearn for the past.

Oh how I wish I could walk into any gun store in the USA and buy a new, unfired P7 variant!

Oh how I wish I could walk into any gun store in the USA and buy a new, unfired P7 variant!

And of course the back of the catalog shows the 2004 H&K pistol lineup.

So that’s it, the real story behind the backwards bullets. Next time you see an enthusiastic poster on a message board who has taken photos of their Heckler and Koch firearm with the bullets inserted backwards, you will know exactly why!

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.

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