PW 361: How many partners is too many?

How do you know when you’ve hit polysaturation?

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1:00 Announcements

7:00 Topic: should there be a limit on partners?

Listener Addie asked; you gave your advice on Facebook and Twitter. Is there a limit on partners? What should it be? How should it be determined?

  • When you run out of time/energy/bandwidth
  • When communication breaks down
  • When your partners stop feeling appreciated

Other markers:

  • When you/they aren’t emotionally satisfied
  • When you don’t recognize them at the grocery store
  • When you can’t remember their kids’ names
  • When you’re worn out and don’t have enough time for yourself
  • If you couldn’t fit them all into a D&D campaign, it’s too many

Personal examples:

  • Clara: Up to seven. For committed, romantic, generally two boyfriends, a girlfriend and a metamour with benefits
  • Misha: one per area code
  • Elizabeth: No more that six: two lovers and a pair of grown children, two close friends.
  • Hydro: Two to five. Ramp down Dunbar’s number into scaled tiers and you have similar. Core 2-5, first tier 10-15, 2nd say 30, and rest in the large gradient fade out of tier 3 to Dunbar’s 150-200.

22:00 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

4 comments to PW 361: How many partners is too many?

  • Robin

    Such an interesting podcast! I’m a curious monogamist, maybe future poly, and I’ve been doing a lot of personal work over the past 4 years or so. (By ‘personal work’, I mean figuring out the things that I’m afraid of (that limit me, because all fears are limiting), facing them and overcoming them on a broad scale with the use of introspection, journaling, coaching and other tools).

    What I’m finding is that the more centered, honest, and expressive that I get, the more loving and open I am to everyone in my life.

    Now, if I am in a monogamous sexual relationship, but feel and express love and affection for multiple close friends, is that borderline poly?

    Is the relationship *agreement* the defining quality?

    SUCH a wonderful show. I’m going to go back and listen to more and explore =) You sound lovely, and I appreciate your character.
    -Robin

    PS: Oh, and a question – I’m finding that a… beautiful yet uncomfortable side effect of this open/honest/expressive living, is that some people are hurtful, or unwilling/unable to perceive what I’m experiencing, and that I feel sad about it. To be more specific, it feels like they don’t want to love like I do. Does that sadness ever change/go away?

  • So glad you enjoyed the show! To answer your first question, I believe that being poly is really not terribly different from being monogamous. Mono folks nearly always have the type of intimate friendships that you describe; polys just sometimes port those intimate friendships into the romantic category. But how you define your relationship orientation is up to you. “Monogamous but poly-friendly” might work.

    And to answer the second question, it depends. I used to get sad whenever someone that I really cared about wasn’t on my wavelength. But nowadays, I see my job as respecting who they are, even if we’re not 100% aligned all the time. If a friend doesn’t get why I’m so jazzed about something; that’s cool. I probably won’t get why she is jazzed about something at some point–but what really matters to me is the mutual respect and communication. We don’t always have to be on the same page.

  • I really enjoyed the various definitions of “enough” and “too many.” I particularly appreciated Joreth’s reply, “Since the number is not static… if even the thought of one more partner or one more hobby leaves you exhausted rather than excited.”

    That particularly resonates with me right now, since I love the idea of finding a new partner… but apparently only the idea right now. I’ve been pursuing a (solo endeavor) hobby recently with such a passion that I sometimes even get jealous of my own time with my current partners, instead thinking, “I could be doing the hobby at this moment.” 9.9

    I’m sure that will change, hence I also like that she noted the number is not static.

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