Once a week, Daily Intelligencer takes a peek behind doors left slightly ajar. This week, the Polyamorous Woman Color Coding Her Lovers: Female, 33, work at a charity, London, in an open relationship, heterosexual.
10 a.m. I update my Google calendar while I’m in the office, in between discussing fund-raising proposals for the mental health charity I work for. Now that I’m seeing three people, it’s gotten more complicated. The calendar is color-coded for each person so I know at a glance when I’m free and whether I’m “over-doing” anyone. Biker Guy is blue. The One, Possibly is red. Weekly Fun is orange. Administration is the one part of my job I’ve always hated, but I’ve really improved since I started dating.
1 p.m. I meet Weekly Fun for my afternoon off. He’s having a hard time with his current girlfriend, who has just broken up with her girlfriend. Her self-esteem has been knocked and he’s trying to spend as much time with her as possible — hence the lunch date. I can’t go without sex, even though I’m starting to feel like his counselor. We go to his house, which is down the road from mine, and start making out. I give him a blow job in his living room, with his large, possessive orange cat staring at me steadily from the floor. He pulls out before he comes in my mouth and the come falls onto the rug. We end up scooping it out with tissue.
6 p.m. I try to do a couple of more hours of work when I get back home, but my concentration is whacked. As usual, I end up going through OkCupid, to check my messages at first, and then just to see if there’s anyone new. I don’t understand the negativity around online dating. It seems to have more stigma than being polyamorous. I knew something was up when I saw lots of guys were labeling their profiles with “available” instead of “single.” I’d found The One, Possibly that way. He seemed so upfront — like me, out of a difficult, unadventurous relationship, looking for something open-ended that just acknowledges it’s human nature to get bored easily. I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.
6:20 p.m. There’s a new message from Tech Geek, with whom I’ve been pinging messages back and forth. Weirdly, I haven’t got bored of the correspondence even though we’ve been in touch for a few weeks and canceled a couple of meetings.
8 p.m. It’s my scheduled night off. It’s been less packed than usual this week because Biker Guy is away on holiday with his girlfriend. I’m reading a book, listening to the podcast “Pedestrian Polyamory.” I hate being one of those people who go on about poly — to me “poly” just a way of owning it before anyone else can say it’s strange or wrong or pervy. Okay, it’s definitely pervy, but in a good way.
11 p.m. I need this time off so much. But the OkCupid app pings again. I hold off looking for a few hours, but inevitably my eyes start wandering.
1 p.m. Working from home again. I laid out new bed sheets during a short break from researching new fund-raising avenues. The bedsheet cycle is a tricky thing to master. I’m a bit slacker than I used to be. The One, Possibly called to tell me that he’s coming around later tonight after all. We’re trying to spend time together before my mum arrives from up north of England. The phone call reminds me there is one thing that I have to do before he comes over.
7 p.m. My new housemate Accounting Executive Guy is in the living room watching extreme sports. I have worked myself up for this conversation, even though I had to have it with my previous housemate. “You know, my boyfriend is coming over tonight?” AEG: “Sure.” Me: “That guy you met last night wasn’t my boyfriend.” He looks over and again says, “Really, I thought that was.” Me: “I’m seeing a couple of guys at the minute.” “Oh, that’s cool!” He looks over and smiles reassuringly before fixating on the television again. The One, Possibly and Weekly Fun look nothing like each other. The thing that really distinguishes poly guys from average guys is that you can have a thoughtful conversation with the former. Either way, AEG seems indifferent and that’s always a relief after I’ve worked myself up.
10 p.m. The One, Possibly is over. It’s going to be our six-month anniversary soon. I fall asleep in his arms, while we’re watching House of Cards — we’re both totally obsessed with it — on Netflix, much earlier than I had planned.
8 a.m. We have morning sex. He kisses my mouth, which must taste gross. From behind he uses a small pink wandlike vibrator he has just bought for my clit and somehow also penetrates my butt with his finger. I feel like a strange legless creature. We fall back into a warm sweaty heap. I feel mildly relieved that Weekly Fun won’t be coming over this week so I don’t have to wash and dry out the bedsheets, which takes two days in my draughty house.
4 p.m. Everyone in the office is really excited because the office manager announced her wedding date. Like everyone else, I squeal, and privately think, A year of this fake squealing to go. I can do less squealing; I’m freelance and don’t have to spend much time here.
7 p.m. In the bar, having a celebratory drink with everyone from the office. Almost all the women are married or in steady relationships. I’d like to be more open about my lifestyle but people make assumptions. I don’t even think I’m sleeping around, but “my two boyfriends” might just sound greedy to them. Or worst, slutty. I don’t want to make poly seem like a cult, but sometimes the only people who understand are the other people who do it too. Spice Girl Hair complains that she never meets straightforward guys. I’m tempted to “polynate” her, but hold back.
9 p.m. I’m on the tube back home. I never wonder about other people’s lives anymore, mostly because I assume that other people are doing equally weird things. A guy clutching a French novel looks over at me, and smiles. In the reflection of the train window I can see my skin is glowing. He looks up again and I feel a wash of pleasure down there. The more sex I have, the more attractive I feel and actually look.
3 p.m. There’s a quiet lull in the office. I got a text message from The One, Possibly saying that he’s going on another date tonight with the Darkhaired Creative Type. I check out her Twitter profile again. She’s a student, tweets a lot about politics. She left her shoes around his flat — big, thick white heels — under the sofa. They’re what a gay friend who saw them called “serious shoes.” It nagged at me for ages. What woman leaves expensive shoes deliberately behind in a house?
6:30 p.m. I’m at the bar, waiting to get a craft beer with Tech Geek, whom I have finally managed to meet, after I spontaneously called her. Though it wasn’t really spontaneous, because these decisions never are. We’d canceled on each other a few times, citing work and other commitments (by which we both meant people). It’s going well, but I don’t know whether it’s because we’re both girls and we’re supposed to be “nice” to each other.
11:30 p.m. Her hand brushes against mine when we’re sitting down and I have no idea whether it’s by accident or not. She doesn’t say anything to indicate she’s interested, no sudden trailing away, no “look.” I don’t feel the force of expectancy like on a date with a man. I can’t even remember what I normally do to show that I’m interested in those situations, maybe because I’ve always left it up to the guy to make the move.
12:30 a.m. We’re now walking on the bridge from the South Bank and there are only a few people milling about, because it’s so cold. I don’t know whether she wants me to kiss her when she stops to look at the water but I do anyway. The softness of her body throws me. She’s smaller than me, which feels really strange, but equally blonde. I’ve never had a blonde friend before. I don’t know whether I like it. I feel like the one in charge, and I even skim my hand down the side of her chest, like guys do when they’re too well brought-up to try to obviously cop a feel. It’s thrilling — this is why I do this, for the new feelings. But girls are so difficult to work out. Am I that difficult to work out?
10 a.m. Having a lie-in in bed, with my Mac and the phone next to me. He calls. Whenever I’ve been on a date, I call The One, Possibly straight away to “check in,” and he does the same. He tells me about the girl he went out with last night. The more The One, Possibly talks about her, the more reassured I feel. What I think about his potential new girlfriend is important.
7 p.m. We meet at the restaurant we chose for my mother, who objects to vegetarian places. She likes The One, Possibly, because he’s tall and protective and has what she’d call a “proper” English accent, as opposed to her Polish-accented one. My mother hasn’t dated in years, but is the busiest person I know. I could be imagining it but she laughs far too much at The One, Possibly’s jokes. But I’m really glad she likes him; she normally hates my boyfriends.
11 p.m. We’re in the cinema, and it’s nearly empty, apart from a few lone people in the front row. Plenty of room, especially since we’re close to the back. In the middle of the film, I put my hand on his crotch and begin rubbing until he’s hard, but don’t let him touch me. Then I put my head on him and give him a blow job. He comes in my mouth, which also tastes of gum sweets and popcorn. The end credits come around faster than I expected.
12:30 p.m. He leaves early because he has work to do from home, even though it’s Sunday. The phase of the relationship where we just lay in bed at the weekend seems to be over now. I’m okay with this — unlike most other relationships, it’s not going to get stale. On my laptop, I notice I’ve got lots of tabs open about our travels in South America we’re planning for next year. I leave them open while I’m browsing OkCupid because I want to have the holiday at the back of my mind.
3 p.m. Tech Geek sends me a text. Yes. I didn’t know whether it was a one-off, but she’s free earlier in the week than she thought she would be, and she wants to hang out the next night.
5 p.m. My first scheduled night off in the week. Weekly Fun has calls, asking for a drink at a nearby pub. I turn off my phone. I log off OkCupid so I’m no longer “Online now!” on the site. I could get used to this quiet, but I don’t want to.
8 p.m. When I finish reading my book, I start planning my outfit for my evening with Tech Geek. But not before I turn my phone on again and text The One, Possibly to tell him about getting the all-important second date.
TOTALS: Two blow jobs (one in a movie theater); one act of penetrative sex; one long deep kiss; one polyamorous coming out.