Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.
How do I go on dates with other cuties when I don’t even have time to go on dates with my wife? When any “taking time” feels more like “stealing time”, how the hell do you prioritize?
-Not Enough Time
Dear Not Enough Time (NET),
First of all, I want to say, thank you for writing in about this. This may not be the sexiest topic, but it’s SO important to talk about.
This sounds like the classic dilemma that more folks encounter than you realize, monogamous or not. We have a lot to deal with during the day: there’s school, work, commuting, social media’ing, catching up with friends, family drama, sickness that can sneak up on you, aging and shifting relationships. All of this impacts the way that we prioritize and schedule our day.
It seems like you definitely already have a lot on your plate, NET. I think the first thing to do is to be clear about what you would like to do and what you are capable of doing. If we all had unlimited time, energy, and resources, there’s so much that we would be able to get accomplished. But there are so many barriers that make that impossible for many of us, and that’s okay. We have to be honest with ourselves about what our own boundaries, limitations, and desires are.
I would consider writing down exactly what your priorities are: what absolutely needs to be attended to, in the moment, no matter what? What are things you would like to make more time for? Where are your openings for time to realistically fit those things in without overextending yourself?
Personally, I feel like scheduling makes this a lot easier to do when you’re in relationships with various people, or just really busy. I personally use good ol’ Google Calendar, but I’ve also seen folks have shared calendars that they give to partners, metamours, and potential dates to find a time that works for everyone. It may seem silly at first, but planning out exactly when you have to do something — even if it’s scheduling down self-care time — it can really take the burden off of your shoulders.
Of course, there’s culturally a lot of resistance to planning because romance and romantic relationships are seen as “spontaneous” or that just come together without any work. But this just isn’t the reality of what it takes for romance and romantic relationships to succeed. We have to make time for them like we make time for other things that are important to us.
You’ve also mentioned that you’re at a crossroads with how you feel about “stealing” and “losing” time. But let me reassure you that time isn’t as rigid of an entity than you think. Being realistic with your wife, your dates, and yourself about what is actually doable can take away some of the stress that you may be feeling before the dates are even made.
I also get the sense that there are specific ideas that you have about what dates can look like. They don’t have to be always going out with a dinner and a movie — if there’s a date idea that matches more with your energy levels for the day, your natural communication style (like if you’re more introverted and prefer to interact one-on-one or in small groups or extroverted and do well feeding off the energy of multiple people at once), that’s valid. This familiarity and adjustment may be easier to navigate with your wife, who you’ve known longer and been able to establish a rapport with easier than folks who you may be dating for the first time, but these adjustments are necessary and valid.
Related: #ASKCAM: CELIBACY IS A VALID CHOICE
Dating is fun, but I think there’s a lot of pressure to fit it into specific molds. Allowing more space for our natural feelings and limitations to spill forward — instead of forcing them to fit more specifically into narrow boxes — can make dating much more enjoyable. Be clear about what you want and don’t want, but also be kind to yourself if things may not go exactly as planned.
Pleasure, romantic fulfillment, and all of the other things that you may be seeking in various romantic relationships may not always take the forms that you imagine, but they can still be valid and enjoyable for you.
Enjoy the process, whatever form it may take for you.
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