Communication: Struggles Between Poly Star-Crossed Lovers

I have a good amount of open relationships. I'm young, I'm 25, and at the moment I'm not in a place in my life where commitment fits. I also have a thing for guys my father's age... and for the most part that will never lead to a long-standing relationship. Now I have seen it done, but there is not enough compatibility, usually, with me and my partner to discuss anything more than just being sex partners and my relationships to them relating to BDSM.

I've been talking to someone recently... we are trying to do a Dominant/submissive relationship in the mix of a long-distance relationship. I've done this before and it's worked for the most part -- there is less hands-on and more expectation that all partners are being honest -- but it can work if you put in the effort and understanding. In the end it really comes down to how you communicate.

I received an email that unfortunately, because of an email provider I use, randomly sticks emails in spam from him. After finding the email I discovered concerns, on his part, about sustainablity of our long-distance relationship because I have local partners who play with me. His concerns are that expectations in my other relationships don't coincide with his and, for the most part, have made him weary of my poly lifestyle choices.

I truly understand this... poly is not for everyone, and being a poly submissive is a balance act. But I question the sanctity of a relationship. Is sex a requirement for a relationship that would be considered off limits? In this case a rose by any other name does not smell as sweet....

In retrospect I guess you could say that if two people communicate, share common bonds and emotions they are in a relationship. However, I don't consider my best friend from childhood to be in a poly relationship with me. I do consider friends who I have had over at my apartment part of my chosen family. If my friends have my landline number, have spent time with me in my apartment and know my parents name I view them as close family. I chose to spend time with them. I chose to put in the effort of closeness to them

Is weariness needed, in a kink relationship, of play partners who there is no sexual interaction with? I questioned this through most of my email to him. There are non-sexual play partners where, for one reason or another, sex does not exist. It's not even because of looks or personality... the person simply is not the one.

How are sexual partners measured? Is measurement essential? Do I need proof that my partners are not having a scandalous D/s affair with me? If a relationship that revolves around sex, pie and screaming at the news is considered D/s then I am in trouble.

Faced with the expectation, without being told, that I go directly into a relationship and I call off all my other partners is difficult in my poly mind-set. I've been there with friends with benefits before. A random relationship starts, I'm talked to about it, and all the sudden things that seem harmless are not harmless to their chosen partner. The ability to understand that my perception of "yes" is not the meaning reminds me that we both have expectations to meet now. However, I've never really acquired ESP.

So I contemplated what I have learned. I am the first one to spot out any workshop that has anything to do with communication. At any conference I have been to on the east coast recently I have attended a communication workshop either by Bendyogagirl, a community educator who facilitates and presents communication techniques and have utilized skills from negotiating boundaries to realizing that I am rule-intent. I've seen video after video on communication when I was fiddling around with PassionateU and the insights of their presenters explained, in general, techniques of negotiations and communication in relationships. I have even taken the leap of faith and utilized conversations I had with a previous D/s partner of mine about her struggles with communicating with me.

I have had lines of communication... where it was almost like checkpoints... and you had to get through one person to get through another. By the time I got the message it has been a week and becomes a moot point by then. I have had communications where I repeated a phrase with a ball gag if I was uncomfortable or needed to stop the scene.

At the same time I have had monogamous friends who have had the same communication issues without having more than one partner. Which makes me question where communication comes into play and who makes the rules? How is it really applied?

Communication in monogamy seems just as difficult as communication in poly...