Monthly Archives: March 2015

On why it’s worth it.

Boo often refers to reading my blog as “watching me work things out.” That seems highly accurate to me. Most of my personal writing, generally, be it here or in emails, is designed largely around working things out in my head.

The problem with that is that good things don’t have to be worked out, and gushing for the sake of gushing is a thing I try to avoid. So this blog gets posts like the one from last week about the parts of being a non-polyamorous person in a polyamorous relationship that are hard for me, and doesn’t get as much of the parts that are easy and amazing (which is the overwhelming majority of the parts).

To that end, I am posting here a comment I left this evening on a post I read on another poly blog that upset me. It touched a nerve that had been raw last week around the time of the aforementioned post, and made me doubt for a split second that the resolution(s) and decision(s) we’d come to were the right ones. But then I remembered that some random internet person who is polyamorous and older than me who was talking to another random internet person in a vaguely similar situation to that in which I’ve chosen to root myself does not know my life, my relationship, or my emotions better than I do. Fact.

After I recognized that, though, I was still upset at the way she responded to the vaguely-similar-situation person, and I thought that that person could use a hug and a few more encouraging words than the blogger and the other commenters had left. So I decided to write a comment myself.

This is the post, a letter written to a poly blogger by a person whose long-term partner has expressed curiosity around polyamory and the poly blogger’s response.

And this is what I said in response to the response(s):

 

I would like to offer a different opinion to the asker than has really been presented here. I am a person who does not identify as poly who is in a loving committed relationship with a poly person who has other partners, and personally I think that it is possible to find happiness, joy, satisfaction, and contentment inside of a relationship type that on its surface doesn’t hold intrinsic appeal to you. I began dating my partner in the summer of 2013, when he already had a girlfriend. He approached me looking for something casual, and had I known then that we would fall into a deeper love than either of us had ever previously known, I probably would have said something similar to what the letter writer thinks she would have told TP if he’d come out to her as poly when they were initially showing romantic interest in one another. But I didn’t, and I found myself in love with someone whose entire view of love and relationships differ dramatically from my own.

And at times, that can be terrifying. It is often challenging. But the challenging aspects, the moments of fear and doubt, they cannot compare to the overwhelming joy, positivity, security, warmth, support, and sense of rootedness being with my partner brings to my life. Being in his arms feels like home, and I want to share and build my life with him, and he feels the same way about me. So we commit ourselves to being ourselves, as different as we may be, and dedicate ourselves to relationship practices that honor and respect our different needs. I think the answer to whether you can learn to find happiness, or at the very least peace, in something that initially seems painful lies in figuring out what your needs in a relationship are, and then working with TP to figure out if those needs can be met with him having other partners. I’ve learned that feeling that I am a priority in my partner’s life matters more to me than being his only love, and that not feeling that our growth is limited by his other relationships is more important to me than that I get to spend every night with him. I’ve learned that I can respect his relationships with his other partners even if I don’t fully understand his desire to have other relationships. Every day I see the truth of the statement that loving others does not detract from his love for me. I couldn’t have known those things in the beginning; in entering the world of polyamory, I have learned and continue to learn what I need and what I am capable of.

I don’t think the letter writer is wrong for wanting to try to make things work with the person she loves. I think there is a subtle framing shift between “finding ways to cope” and “finding ways to make the relationship they both want to be in work,” and while neither of them is an easy path, the rewards can easily outweigh the costs. No two people are perfectly aligned in their visions of the ideal future, but where there is enough overlap, there can be a happy way through.

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Today, in IUDs are weird.

Me, at work: *stomach area feels kind of weird *

Me: *goes to bathroom *

Me: *wipes *

Me: *sees blood on tissue *

Me: WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?! AM I DYING?! *repeats emotions of first period in 4th grade *

Me: …Wait a minute. This is normal. This is a normal thing that happened to me monthly for upwards of 15 years. This stomachache is probably cramps.

Me: *digs around in desk until she finds a pad *

Me: *takes extra strength Tylenol *

Me, at home: *feels unbearably tired, passes out waiting for chicken to defrost to cook dinner *

Me: *reallllllllllllllllllllllllllly fucking hopes this isn’t gonna become a thing again *

GO HOME, MENSTRUAL CYCLE. NOBODY MISSED YOU.

Nothing in poly is “your own problem” – you have to be willing to communicate openly about what’s going on with you. And no matter what, do your best to keep working on the “stuff in your head” that challenges you in relationships – and trust that your partners are with you because you’re worth it, not because they just haven’t found anyone better.

Poly Advice, in response to an ask

I’m very interested in emotions like sweetness, which have no place in the pantheon of educated concerns, and yet are very important to me. Sweetness is the opposite of machismo, which is everywhere—and I really don’t get on with machismo. I’m interested in sensitivity, and weakness, and fear, and anxiety, because I think that, at the end of the day, behind our masks, that’s what we are.

–Alain de Botton

(via Learning Everyday…)

The parts that are hard for me.

Sometimes being in such an unconventional relationship as my first serious relationship is hard. Over time, as my feelings have gotten bigger and stronger, I’ve uncovered deeply held assumptions and expectations of romantic partnership that are not, can not, and will never be applicable to the relationship that I’m in. The path to finding ways to make the relationship work for me without those things winds through some periods of mourning that are hard to explain to my partner. Sometimes the path feels like it takes me in circles, like I’ve been through all of these emotions before and will again.

It was easier in the beginning when I felt feelings I understood and he could help me through, like jealousy or feeling threatened. His other involvements are not the problem, especially with the current logistical setup. There are various scenarios that could play out that could make that statement ring untrue, but there’s no sense in getting too caught up in what could be.

I feel like it’s getting harder over time. I don’t think that’s normal. Everyone says it gets easier. I think that’s because most people know what they want/expect from relationships generally, and I’m only figuring that out in the context of this one/comparing my relationship to those that I see around me. I think I was supposed to have these feelings in the beginning and have decided it was okay to give these things up before I got invested.

The hard part for me is the feeling of lack I get when thoughts like, “You are not in a relationship where your partner wants to wake up next to you every morning,” or “What does it mean about you if no one ever just wants to be with you?” pop into my head. How do we plan for a future that is satisfactory to both of us when I want that and he doesn’t, but he wants to be with me and build with me? I trust that he wants the things he says he wants with me, but I don’t understand a way to want partnership without wanting that, and so I am left confused. I have both sides of the “why am I not enough?” “It’s not about anyone being enough” conversation in my head and just end up feeling frustrated. I feel like I’m falling into the “intellectually, being poly seems like a healthy way to live one’s life, but I don’t actually get it emotionally” trap, which super scares me because that’s a thing he used to say about his former partner as to why things didn’t work with them.

The hard part for me is conceptually trying to shape a future with someone who is trying to shape a future with multiple people. I don’t know what I can count on to be true. I’ve always managed to adapt to the current situation, whatever it may be, but knowing that it’s going to change in ways that affect but don’t involve me and that I cannot predict is hard. I’m scared that somewhere I have a breaking point, a point at which this type of relationship would be unable to meet my needs, and I don’t know where that is and every time something new happens I am terrified that I am about to find it.

The hard part for me is watching my friends and roommates be in relationships where they default to spending their free time together and realizing a) that that is the picture of serious relationship-ness that lives in my head, and b) that that is never going to be us. I feel selfish saying that because I want to spend the overwhelming majority of my downtime with him, he should want the same. But at the same time, feeling a gap in how much each of us wants that is hard. The poly resources say monogamous partners benefit from having a rich social life full of hobbies and other interests. I don’t have as much of that going on as I probably should. I’d like to spend more time with my friends, but doing that in the real world feels a lot harder than doing it in college. I have considerably fewer people I fuck with like that accessible in daily life. I don’t really have hobbies or personal projects that I can devote time to working on, and I’m not sure how to develop them. This ties into the larger feeling of I don’t know what I’m “about,” which I’ve talked about before.

The hard part for me is that I legitimately tried to restructure how I think about relationships and date multiple people as well, and it was a failed experiment. It was easy in the beginning when everything felt like fun and games, but when my heart came out of the boxes it had been locked in and went all in on this, the appeal of seeing other people faded away. I would be of two minds when I was out on a date with someone: one side of me would recognize that before I was in the relationship that I’m in, this date would have excited me, while the other side didn’t understand why we were taking time and energy and money away from the thing we’ve invested in. The shitty icing on top of that split-mind cake was that I legitimately did not enjoy having sex with the last two guys I had sex with as part of this dating outside of my relationship adventure. It felt sort of empty and hollow, like what people had always told me about hookup sex v. relationship sex was finally ringing true. I’d never had this mysterious relationship sex to compare casual things to before, and now they just didn’t feel right. I didn’t let that stop me though. I turned to dating girls, because then I couldn’t compare the sex, right? Except that nothing got off the ground with any of them, which was probably for the best.

To my knowledge, in the past 2 years, my partner has been on 3 first dates and gotten long term relationships out of all of them. I’ve been on at least a dozen, if not closer to fifteen, and have an amazing relationship with him and a bunch of people I’d feel awkward running into on the metro to show for it. But that’s what my whole romantic history looks like. He has had all of these relationships, loved and been loved by all these people. People don’t even like me. I am a desert. Things don’t grow here. So dating someone for whom love is a forest is always going to feel weird. When he starts something, I feel like it’s going to be something, and no matter how secure I feel in our rootedness, watching new things sprout and be tended to is difficult.

I have to find a perspective from which I am benefiting in some way from our relationship structure being how it is, besides all of this uncomfortable growth that I know is good for me even if going through it sucks. Having him in my life is the best thing I can imagine, and I am willing to confront all these other feelings and find ways to make it work because with him is where I want to be. But is it where I want to be regardless of the shape his other relationships take at various points in the future? Am I willing to bend myself to get in wherever I can fit in? He says he doesn’t want me to be smaller, but we never know what the future is going to bring. I think each of us is scared of getting to a place where it feels like I’m settling, or just tolerating this aspect of him. I don’t want to be tolerant; I want to be accepting and understanding and even encouraging. Those are the things I strive towards. It feels like a personal shortcoming to both be completely turned off by the idea of dating other people (even when I have needs that aren’t being met and could theoretically be handled by others) and also take issue with signing up for a life of sitting at home waiting for him to come back from doing things I only want to do with him with others. One of those things has got to give if this is going to work. But which one, and how?