June 3, 2012
I love my husband. But we don’t have sex. And if I don’t have sex with him, and we sleep in different rooms, then how are we different from roommates? And if we’re “just” roommates, then what significance can our relationship really have for us?
I know this is sort of non-sensical, but it’s some of the stuff that’s been knocking around in my skull lately, and it’s really throwing me off balance, so let’s get it all out, shall we?
What I’m really questioning, deep in my psyche, is what our relationship is, and how sex or lack of sex may have redefined it. After all, normal married couples have sex, so if we don’t, does that make us less married? Less in love? Less able to care for each other. Of course not, but my fears are the ones in the driver’s seat right now emotionally, so I’m trying to squish them. And that’s where defining relationships comes in.
For example, my brother and I share an undeniable bond. We hated each other growing up, but once I moved out things changed radically. We’ve become allies, friends, and companions, and although we disagree sometimes, argue, and get frustrated with one another, I’m still driving something like 14 hours with him to help him move out of state. Because I love him and he loves me, and we are Sibling. So what is sibling? It isn’t just about growing up together, because I know plenty of siblings who don’t have a special bond or even much of a bond at all. It was a decision that we both reached pretty much simultaneously around the time we came of age. I’ve got your back.
And maybe it really is that easy. Michael has my back, too. We don’t just live in the same house, we’re there for each other, and there’s an understanding, both stated and quietly understood, that we always will be. Like my brother and I, Michael and I have made a decision. I love you. You love me. I’ve got your back.
May 28, 2012
Saturday night was ladies night at a local gay club, and I am finally feeling so ready to meet people…
My night started a little too early when only a few couples in their fifties were at the club, shortly after opening. I hung out downstairs and chatted with a man I met, instead. He was definitely gay, but I guess a little lonely and he kept buying me drinks. I spent more time than I meant to listening to him talk (even if I tried to talk, he wasn’t really listening back, so I let him chatter). Eventually, I managed to get away. Upstairs was wild by that time, with loud music and women’s bodies moving mostly to the beat on the dance floor. I was tipsy already, so I waded out into the dancers and started to move to the music on my own. It was exhilarating and fun, and soon a woman waved me over and we danced together.
I’m completely new to clubbing, so there are still things to learn. Like how to gracefully switch partners if you spot someone more your type. I did manage to extract myself from the clutches of two different Very Drunk Older Women by claiming a need for water, but I’d float away if I did that every time I wanted to switch partners.
I danced until I was drenched in sweat, and then made my way outside onto the patio for some air. It felt great, and I soon found myself chatting with a trio of friends. The one I was most attracted to was straight (damn!) but soon the two straight women had drawn off into their own conversation to give me room with their friend. She wasn’t what I am normally attracted to, physically, but she was sweet and interesting and had a tattoo very similar to mine, which was intriguing. We chatted and flirted and I explained my home situation to her and she explained about her cheating ex. We ended up kissing, and it was not the best kiss of my life, but it turned me on in a pure, physical way that I have been missing with Michael for a while now. His kisses are affection and comfort and love, but they don’t stoke that fire in me. Hers were pure arousal and it was exciting to find that.
In the end we exchanged phone numbers, but in the morning light I realized that I was much more interested in her as a friend than as a potential girlfriend, and her self-esteem issues were a HUGE red flag for me. I asked her out for coffee to be polite and to keep from damaging her fragile self further, and she politely shot me down because in the end, she wants monogamy. What a relief!
Yes, I still have a lot to learn… but it seems like I’m going to have some serious fun learning it.
May 24, 2012
Michael has been chatting with a nice young lady (she’s a year younger than me, so I think I can officially call her that) on a dating site, and the time has come… They’re going to meet! It has, you may have noticed, been a LONG time since either of us has dated any, so this was a sort of big deal and I am getting emotionally used to the idea, again, of sharing him. Their first meeting is to be a get-to-know you while our kid (4) and hers (5) play together, no hanky-panky.
And suddenly it occurs to me what a convenient solution that might be for them – let Kathleen watch the kids, after all, they play great together! And we’ll go have a romantic dinner. My first, intense, knee-jerk, nut kicking reaction is “OMG NO!” And this before the idea has even been conceived of by anyone but me. Pretty intense, but upon further inspection, not unreasonable. (And before I get too much farther into this post I just want to say, I’m not saying I’d never watch her kid, but it would have to be after I had gotten to know and like HER, and after she and her child were an established and steady part of our lives.)
The thing is, when Michael and Becky were dating, I was a facilitator. My needs became secondary as I smoothed the road and made sure that all obstacles to their togetherness were removed where possible, despite the fact that this was neither my responsibility nor my role (or should not have been). Becky, who claimed all the “poly experience” should have known better and asked me to back off, but that is neither here nor there. The fact is, babysitting a kid I barely know so that my husband can go have a romantic evening with a woman I barely know… It’s wonderfully convenient for them, but unless she’s paying me $10 an hour, it’s definitely putting my needs and wants below the establishment and growth of their relationship.
Logically, we have kids the same age and if I’m watching one kid, why not two? But emotions are a very different matter, as are perceptions (I don’t exactly want my husband’s new girlfriend to see me as the nanny or the pushover or the person to use for her convenience!) And for that reason, unless she becomes a serious partner of Michael’s and unless she and I (and her KID and I! And her kid and MY kid!) get along, she’s just going to have to call a sitter.
Heck, logically we should all just live with our parents for the rest of our lives and save the money on rent, but sometimes you just have to think of yourself.
August 11, 2011
Whew! Just took a risk and even though it didn’t pay off, it wasn’t so bad. Yesterday I briefly met a young woman, around my age, gorgeous, friendly, and possibly flirting with me. And then I left. I was very tired and didn’t think until after that she might have been not-straight (I have a habit of presuming that every woman is straight until proven otherwise).
I happened, coincidentally, to have a way to probably reach her. So I tried it. I called today, and said “this may sound crazy, but were you maybe flirting with me?” She sounded shocked, a little pleased, and very amused, but the answer was no.
And guess what? I didn’t get stabbed through the heart. I didn’t lose any fingers or toes, and no matter how scary it was, it wasn’t painful at all, even when my gamble didn’t pay off.
So maybe next time you see that perfect guy or gal, and you’re too scared to take the risk… ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen, and then ask yourself what’s the best? Maybe going out on a limb could really be worth it.
May 12, 2011
I have a good friend. I’ve been half in love with him since we met about 7 years ago, but at first I thought it would be a betrayal of Michael to have feelings for someone else, then we were poly but he was still off limits because he was in a relationship for a long time. Finally, recently he became available but I hesitated. I didn’t want to jump in like a vulture before the carcass of his former relationship had so much as cooled (and trust me, if facebook can be believed he had plenty of other she-vultures to contend with!) Then I was not sure if I wanted to risk our friendship or upsetting the group dynamic since he is also close friends with my step-sister and her husband.
Apparently my step-sister doesn’t feel any of the same compunctions. They were semi-poly in the past (they were more like swingers, in a way. They would pick up a girl together, have threesomes with her for a while, but it was a purely physical thing from what I have observed.) She and her husband have been dealing with some marital discord and neither of them is great at communication… can you see how this is the opposite of what I generally counsel? Yeah, it gets worse.
Here’s what I have pieced together from the current drama: My step-sister asked for permission to ask our friend out. Her husband, knowing that our friend has a problem with the idea of poly, said yes just so he could throw it in her face when the friend said no. The friend said yes. I would guess that he has had a crush on her for a while, possibly in part because she has been flirting with him for months. (He was also apparently in the midst of a personal breakdown when she made her move, so we can argue vulnerability here, too.) The friend is now in love with her, and still not okay with poly. He is subtly but strongly encouraging her to choose, and since he is calm and loving and her husband is having what might be called a prolonged tantrum, he is hopeful that the choice will be in his favor.
Part of me hopes that the therapy my step-sis and her husband are in result in some resolution and her breaking things off with our friend… I’ve still got feelings for him, but at the same time I am disgusted by his behavior in this situation. I know my brother-in-law can be a jackass, but no one deserves to have his wife swiped, and my friend has made this clear that that is his “best case scenario”.
I’m sort of feeling the urge to avoid everyone involved until the inevitable explosion happens and things calm down. GOD I hate drama.
May 9, 2011
Sometimes poly is beautiful and wonderful and almost perfect.
Other times the guy you’ve had a crush on for almost a decade starts dating your step-sister… whose husband gave permission, but is, in fact, not okay with it.
March 29, 2011
If you are experiencing jealousy, there is a pretty good chance that it is an unfounded jealousy (if your partner is threatening to leave you, well, your jealousy is founded for sure, but you have bigger problems.) Jealousy is a sneaky and harmful emotion if you let it start to take over, and it can harm your relationships as well as both your and your partner’s happiness. But don’t look to your partner to make it go away (although maybe he or she can help). Your insecurity is the root of your jealousy, and that is something you have to examine and deal with on your own.
So how do you deal with it? When you feel jealousy, you are feeling your insecurities made manifest. You are, in essence, afraid that you may lose your partner to this other person because… why? In what way are they “better” than you? It’s time to step back as far as you can and objectively (I know it’s hard) look at what you think is so much better than you are. If you can do this yourself (“I’m afraid he’s more handsome, but we’re both good looking guys.”), cool. If you can’t, it’s time to involve your partner, not to bolster your self-esteem but to help you sort through what the new person may have/do better, what your own merits are over said person, and why these things are important to your partner.
The rest is all processing, I’m afraid. You have to examine your self-esteem flaws to death. You have to hold on to your trust of your partner, even when you feel like it’s killing you. Because in the end, the only one who can banish your jealousy and insecurity is… you.
March 23, 2011
PolyAnna had a great post last week about the various kinds of guilt that many poly people experience. They were in-the-closet guilt, unfairness guilt, and if I understood her correctly, just plain guilt about being poly.
The first kind is pretty easy to understand. You might feel that you are unfair to an OSO if you aren’t out at work and can therefore only bring/talk about the known spouse/partner at work functions. You might feel some of the same guilt at family functions if you are not out to everyone. And on the other side of the coin, you might feel guilt for not telling friends or family, particularly if the secrecy is to protect one of your partners when you might otherwise be “out”.
The second kind stems from the fact that poly is just rarely fair. You might both WANT to find new partners at once, for example, but that doesn’t usually happen the way that you hope. And while you are out enjoying yourself and basking in the heady cologne of NRE, your partner is sitting at home. Alone. Maybe miserable or at least lonely. This isn’t always the case, but it is certainly a source of guilt.
The last type seemed a lot like the second to me, but I think it was more of a “time spent” guilt. For example… If I weren’t poly I would spend more time with my kids. Or maybe “if I weren’t poly I bet I would be a better husband.” But for some people, poly is just a part of who you are. You aren’t cheating or trying to be unfair… This type of guilt, I think, is almost entirely societal.
Guilt can be helpful up to a point in that it can force us to take a look at our actions and whether they are truly warranted or whether they are really the best option. Once you have determined that you are doing the best you can, communication with your partners about your guilt and wanting to let it go might be the first step toward relaxing guilt’s hold on you.
March 22, 2011
I hadn’t thought about Matt and our failed relationship for months until about a month ago (maybe more) I had a totally random dream about him in which I ignored him while shopping in a store that he owns. He confronted me about ignoring him, and I said he was beneath my attention, and that I’d let him know if I needed help with my purchases, but I didn’t have anything else to say to someone with no balls. Hey, it’s a dream, I can be a bitch if I need to!
I’ve thought about him a bit off and on, and wondered how I’d react to hearing from him now, or contacting him. I was afraid there would be a lot of anger or resentment, and I wasn’t sure how I felt, still, about the way our friendship (not so much the relationship) ended. And then yesterday I got a spam message from his email. I sent him a polite note back to let him know he’d been hacked (I always figure better to get swamped with messages to that affect than to have all of your friends assume someone else will tell you). He sent a message back that was probably a “form” message to his entire inbox, basically thanking me for my concern, letting me know he’d been hacked and the steps he’d taken, and apologizing for the messages. Impersonal, professional letter.
And I felt nothing. No hurt when I saw his name in my inbox, no problem being distant in the communication about the problem… he’s like anyone else I don’t know well or don’t have a relationship with, no hurt or sentiment attached, apparently. It’s nice to know, and it isn’t what I thought it would be.
March 17, 2011
My husband and I have a primary relationship. Period. But there is the possibility, eventually, that someone will come into our lives and become so important to both of us that they become a third primary in our relationship(s). Until then, no one has the priorities, the considerations, or the power in my life that my husband does.
That’s not to say that I don’t respect secondary relationships. In fact, I was a secondary (an interesting experience for me!) in my brief relationship with Matt. Okay, his primary relationship was wobbly and damaged, and it ended up costing me a potential relationship with him (and him one with me). But other than his wife’s super-special-crazy-sauce, I found the secondary relationship comforting. I didn’t have to be the primary source of love and affection in his life (okay, turns out I did, that was one of the many problems – but I shouldn’t have had to be), I didn’t have to commit tons of my free time to the relationship since we were both busy, and I still got plenty of affection and support.
BUT… I already have a primary partner. I can see how these things – which I thought of as so wonderful – can be a big downer for someone who is single. No attentive primary relationship, competition of a sort with the primary (for time, for attention, for affection), and possibly worst of all, the power that someone else may have over your relationship.
What do you think? Do secondaries get the short end of the stick?