Missing X

I was writing this post before the disaster with O that I’m still processing.  I just want to get it out there, and it’s still relevant.

I have a handful of things swimming around in my head that I want to write about. I get an immense amount of comfort from writing out my feelings, some small and rather insignificant and others that are huge and impossible to wrap my brain around easily.

Last summer, X and I rekindled a bit of a relationship. Not romantic, but not just friendship either.  We had maintained that amazing 22 year connection and sexual attraction to each other and we celebrated the sexual connection by sharing as much as two people can share sexually over 1400 km and only an internet connection. It was lovely.  I didn’t feel pressured or commited or like I was obligated. It was simple, just connecting when we could and not worrying about anything in the meantime. I realized somewhere in there that I still love him.  Not in that deep, life partner sort of way, just that he is someone I really care about.  I had realized that having what we had gave me an outlet to express that love and it was exactly what I needed and we got to have a relationship on our own terms.  

Life got busy for him, with some major work successes and everything else that he had going on in his life.  I returned to work after summer, met O, and my life ramped up in its usual fall busyness.  He started having a hard time balancing life, he said, and the time between communications would go longer and longer and then they stopped in mid-November.  The last couple messages I sent went unanswered. He deleted his Facebook, or perhaps blocked me, and I haven’t heard from him in a couple months.

I’ve had enough on my mind in the last months that I was actually actively choosing not to acknowledge or process this development.  My life being what it is, I was reminded of his disappearance like a baseball bat to my head the other day. Through a very cool, statistically improbable series of events, O reconnected with a girl he dated for an intense period when he was 20 years old.  They went for drinks to reconnect and when she went home after hours of clothes-off reconnecting, he and I debriefed.  Turns out that their connection is still there 27 years later, and he’s very excited about this new development.  In fact, it’s the most excited I’ve seen him about dating a new person since we’ve been together.  It resulted in a few feelings on my part, but we quickly talked through them and I am super excited for him, and looking forward to watching his new relationship develop and getting to know my new metamour.  

However, as I thought through the cool story of O and his new-old girlfriend, I recognized the connections between their story and my story with X.  This brought the disappearance of X from my life to the forefront of my mind.  Having worked through the other things that had been bothering me, the emotion of X’s absence in my life hit me like a tonne of bricks. This started with a little bit of envy that O gets to live out the conclusion of that life-long connection and I so badly would like to do that with X.  It’s a little silly being envious, but it would be really cool to actually explore how awesome things could be with X after so many years of fantasizing and connection.

The fact is, X disappeared from my life in October 2016 because he didn’t have his priorities straight with his girlfriend. It caused a huge amount of hurt for me.  I was thrilled to have him return to my life.  He and I had a connection that was evolving nicely and calmly for me and was quite fulfilling. But he left me suddenly.  Again.  I see the pattern. I see how disposable I am to him.  I feel that pain acutely.

I don’t know how I’ll handle it when he returns to my life again.  I guess it depends what’s actually going on in his brain right now.  But I do know that I’m going to be a little more hesitant to welcome him back.  I miss what we had and mostly, I hope he’s OK.  

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Processing

Early this week, O reconnected with an old flame from 27 years ago.  He’s consumed by NRE and truthfully, it was really cute to see them together when we met at a local polyamory pub night last night.  This pub night is a monthly event, one I try to get to because I rarely socialize with anyone unless it’s with one of my  people one-on-one.  The plan of the night was for me to go to O’s and then head to the pub night together.  Before the pub night, we had a great talk about how we were back to our wonderful dynamic and that things were amazing again.  We talked about things we want to try and I told him that I was *almost* at the point where I could share him, but not quite yet. His new GF was going to meet us at the pub.  I was planning on staying the night at O’s place, as I knew I would have too much to drink to drive and he lives a couple blocks away.  S and her hubby came and met us as did O’s new GF.  It was a rather perfect poly evening, with lots of wine, lots of kisses, and lots of laughing.  Around 11 p.m., we left the pub to walk to O’s house a few blocks away.  Each of us were holding O’s hand and I remember joking on the way to his place that it would be hard for the three of us to fit into his bed. I really didn’t realize that she was coming to his house too.

When we arrived at his house, O and his GF were making out in the driveway, and while I am happy for his happiness, it isn’t something I want to see.  So I let myself into his place, stripped, and crawled into bed, fully expecting that he would crawl into bed and cuddle me as we slept.  The next thing I knew, they were inside his apartment, and making out there.  I sent him a text that said “I love you.  Where is your phone?” (it was going off in his suite) and then “I love you. You’re making out with GF right now. I’m intentionally not watching. I want you to be happy.”  I heard the “New text message from *me*” go off on his phone and we giggled about the fact that I was texting him while he was in the room.  I then fell asleep, assuming that they were saying goodbye and that he would be coming to bed shortly.  

An indeterminate amount of time later, I woke up because the bed was shaking and there were some joyful sex noises permeating the room.  O and his GF were having sex next to me on the bed.  I got up, stumbled to the bathroom, did my thing, and through my drunken haze, tried to figure out what was going on.  I returned into the room (I couldn’t just wander naked into the other part of the house that O shares with his roommate) and crawled onto the couch that’s at the foot of his bed.  They stopped their fucking for long enough for him to ask me to join them, and I declined.  He asked me to come back to bed, and I said “No, I’m good here, I’m just going to cover myself with a blanket and go back to sleep.”  I then curled up in fetal position on the couch, covered myself with a blanket, and plugged my ears to drown out the sex noises coming from a couple feet away from me.  At this point, I was in survival mode. I wish I had gotten dressed and left and called a friend to get me, but I was curled up and trying to make myself as small as possible and shelter myself from the awful happening around me.

Some time later, he said good-bye to his GF and woke me up and asked me to come to bed.  I declined again, saying that I was going to sober up, start processing what just happened, and when I was ready, I would go home.  I woke about 4:00 a.m. and gathered my things and went home without saying good-bye. I crawled into my bed and slept for a short while longer and went to work.  We’ve been texting all day.  Here’s how that went down.

Good morning, love!  Can I see you after work this afternoon? Or at least a phone call?  Please let me know.  The evening totally didn’t go as I expected and….wine.  I hurt your feelings and I feel like dirt.  I am sorry.  

(I don’t want to say how little I cared that he felt bad.  I was so pissed off at the immediate excuse and thinking it was “hurt feelings”.)

Good morning. I’m sure I can find time to talk this afternoon.  I’m not really ready to discuss anything yet.  I’m trying to wrap my brain around how I ended up in a bed where my boyfriend was fucking his girlfriend next to me and then on a couch where I had to listen to everything. I’m trying to figure out how I feel about it, other than disgusted with myself that I didn’t have good enough boundaries to begin with and that I was too drunk to just leave.

I can meet you after work but I have to pick up my daughter at 4:00….I tried to include you but you weren’t into it.  Sorry, we should have talked about possibilities beforehand and should have checked-in when we got to my place.  If you tried and I was too drunk to register it, I will own that and apologize.

(More excuses.  No ownership or acknowledgement of what he did and how fucking inappropriate it was)

I have a busy afternoon planned and a date with A tonight, and honestly, I’m not really in the mood to see you. I’m livid.  This is a major consent violation. MAJOR.  “Tried to include me”?  Fuck that. You made a really bad fucking decision.  I was asleep when you guys crawled into bed. I wasn’t “not into it”, I was FUCKING SLEEPING.  What you two did was completely fucking inappropriate.  

And while I’m at it, the fact that you continued after I woke up and moved to the couch is even that much more inappropriate.  Jesus Fuck.  How could you?

I am sorry. We should have talked about this beforehand and on the walk home. I totally wasn’t thinking straight and was very drunk.  I should have had dinner.  I am sorry, Love.

(More excuses.  This time about drinking.  More pissed off.  More disappointed in him. And myself.)

Do you blame bad furniture placement when you stub your toe too?  Drunk is not an excuse.  In fact, there is no excuse.

I’m going to suggest that you back the fuck up, think really hard about what you did last night and what you need to say to me about it.  This isn’t a little thing.  This is a major thing. You are saying all the wrong things, in a situation where I was trying to determine if I can get past it.  I don’t have much left to give you in this situation. I am really really fucking angry.  Consent is so important. You completely violated it.  You fucked up, and fucked up big time. It’s a huge breach of trust.  I’m going to spend the day and night processing this and deciding what I need to do. I recommend you do the same.  

I highly recommend that you not make another excuse or flippant remark about what you guys did.

I feel ashamed.  How can I make this up to you?

(This is where I lost it. I was so angry I was raging.  Seriously?  What the actual fuck? You fuck up that big, and you ask me to tell you what you need to do?  It’s not eating the last piece of fucking cake! You fucked your GF in the bed next to me without my fucking consent!  Own your fuck up!  NRE is not an excuse to treat people as disposable. Adults don’t allow NRE to make their decisions for them.)

I don’t think you can.

I went for lunch and thought. I talked to G, who is amazing, as always, with the perspective.  Then I realized that I needed to put him in my shoes.

I want you to think about this:  What if you, me, and A left the bar together and got a cab to my house.  You are drunk and crawl into bed naked while I’m saying a lengthy goodbye outside. We come into the bedroom and we’re still making out.  You see us and text to gently remind that you’re there and witnessing things. You fall asleep assuming I’ll crawl into bed with  you.  You wake up an indeterminate amount of time later because the bed is rocking and all you can hear is the noise of A fucking me hard and the sounds I make.  You don’t say anything, but get up and go to the bathroom. When you come back, we don’t stop, but ask you if you want to join. You say “no”, and curl up on the floor at the end of the bed.  I ask for you to return to bed and you say “no, I’ll stay here”, and then you curl up in fetal position and I return to fucking A.  You have to plug your ears to drown out the sounds of our hot fucking that I’m clearly enjoying.

Eventually, we stop. I kiss A goodbye and he goes home.  I wake you and ask you to come to bed. You decline.  

When you are sober enough to drive, you leave and go home.

What would you do in that situation when I messaged you and said “Well, I tried to include you, but you weren’t interested.” and “Sorry, I was drunk, it’s not what I expected from the evening.”

Having someone else sleep over in a sexual way without prior consent from me is disrespectful, assumes my opinion and consent are meaningless, and shows no value for our time together.  

Not a thing about your responses show ownership or recognition of how inappropriate, disrespectful, and unloving you were and how little you valued me, my opinions, my feelings or consent last night.

So tell me, what would you do, if I had done all this to you, and then completely failed to own my shit?

What would you need me to do to “make it up” to you?

Using your example, I would start by insisting you give me a complete and sincere apology, in person, outlining all the ways you disrespected me and our relationship.  I would insist you demonstrate a full understanding of all the ways consent was needed and was not given or even sought in this case.

To “make it up”, I would make it perfectly clear that if something like this ever happens again, it would be cause to end our relationship.  “Making it up” would include ensuring this never happens again. It would also include an increased sensitivity to me and our relationship when it comes to interacting with other partners and to ensure every decision involving other partners is formed on a foundation of respect and honour toward me and the relationship we have built. In time, and with a consistent demonstration of this increased sensitivity to me and our relationship when it comes to interacting with other partners and ensure every decision involving other partners is formed on a foundation of respect and honour toward me and the relationship we have built.  In time, and with a consistent demonstration of this increased sensitivity, perhaps the hurt I felt from going through that situation can be healed. Lastly, not owning your shit when i called you on it was a further indication of how far up your ass your head was and oblivious to the transgression  you made that evening. This must also be included in the apology showing your understanding of how thoughtless you were.  This type of response is indicative of what needs to change with an increase in sensitivity to me and our relationship.

Thanks for that. I need some time and space to process this all. I’m not sure that I can get past this, and if I decided I can, what I need for that to happen.  I’m going to take the weekend to process this all. I’ll come to your place on Monday afternoon when i’m done at work and we can talk about all this.

Thank you.

So now, I think.  I process.  I figure out what action, if any, I have to take.

I’m so angry and so hurt and so fucking disappointed.  Yesterday, I was sure we were back on the right track and doing so well again.  Then, he pulls a potentially relationship-ending asshole move.  I’ve actually never had a boyfriend pull something so completely devastating.  I literally don’t know what to do with this situation. I’m used to small red flags that accumulate over time and lead to me finally coming to my senses.  But this is a huge red flag.  One that I would be stupid to ignore or fail to acknowledge.  I just don’t know if it’s too big or not.

We had a conversation a short time before this happened about the fact that I am not ready to share him with someone in the same room.  I was supposed to sleep over, she was supposed to join us for drinks.  Sure, we didn’t lay out boundaries specifically, but at no point was my consent asked for.  I feel so unimportant. Disposable. Unvalued. Used.  Taken for granted.  Insignificant. Disrespected.  I’m sure I could go on.  

The fact is, he fucked up. I don’t know if I can get past it. I don’t know what the long-term consequences of trying to get past something like this are.  Trust is such an important component of a relationship and I’m not sure it’s something that I can get back.  

I’ve talked to A LOT of people who love me today about this situation. Hoping that one would have that thing to say that told me it was OK to forgive.  Universally, they all told me they loved me and respected me and wanted me to stop hurting.  Some wouldn’t give their opinion except to say how badly O fucked up.  Those that did said I should break up with him.  One said I should *at least* scale back the relationship.  I feel like that would be causing a slow death instead of taking the quick death shot.  I don’t know. I really really really don’t know what to do.  I know I can forgive anything, I’m good at that, but I don’t know if I can forget. If I can’t forget, I may never actually get past this.  

Damn. My heart is broken.

 

Girlfriend

A couple months ago, I decided it was time to change my OKC profile to looking for women.  Our threesome and subsequent foursome with U was the catalyst for this change.  I have always been attracted to women.  Who wouldn’t be?  We are soft and sensual and gentle and smell good and….well…..boobs!  I’ve never acted on it before. Part of this was the fact that I definitely like a man as a life partner, so monogamy dictated that a heteronormative relationship was the way to go for me.  The other dissuading factor is that I’m completely inexperienced with girl parts.  Sure, I know mine, but that’s 40 plus years of practice and the angle is all wrong for another woman.  The truth is, I know my way around a man.  Or, at least, I know how to explore his parts and identify the individual things that drive him wild.  It’s something I enjoy doing. I get off on it.  I want to be driving my man wild whenever we are together and love a man who directs me how to do so.  The idea of doing that same exploration with a woman is….intimidating.  Like I’m that teenage girl who didn’t know a cock actually had to go into my mouth when I give a blowjob.  I’ve got a few ideas of where to start, but no tried-and-true tricks that I can rely on like I do with men. Plus, men are easy to get off.  As a woman, I know that we are not quite as simple.  

To say that this process has brought a little anxiety would be accurate.  I really wasn’t feeling any pressure, more of a “let it happen” sort of attitude.  I chatted with a few women, but I learned that much like talking to men on dating sites, they are diverse in their ability to carry a conversation, especially electronically.  I like getting to know people electronically first and I’m a busy girl with a pretty full schedule, so communicating via text becomes essential when you date me. I love exchanging pictures and sexting and generally just maintaining the connection with my partners in between dates.  It keeps me grounded and is essential to my happiness.  So, when a person doesn’t communicate well off the hop, I get a little concerned.  

A couple weeks after I changed my OKC profile, a woman messaged me.  I will call her “S”, because I asked her what letter she wants, and this is what she asked for.  We hit it off immediately. She’d ask a tricky question, I’d give her an honest answer, and vice versa.  We realized we are really similar, but different in enough ways to make it interesting.  The connection was there immediately.  So then it became real and we scheduled a date. Then I got sick.  So we rescheduled, which with my schedule is a little silly.  We had our first date last week. It was lovely.  Non-stop conversation, laughing, connection, and fun. It was easy and comfortable. Yesterday, we had our second date. She came to my place and we chatted on the couch for hours, cuddled, and made out a bit.  She wasn’t put off by my children being colossal assholes. I admitted nerves to her and asked to take things slowly and she totally respected me.  I can’t wait to see her again.  So yeah.  I have a girlfriend. Life is pretty damn complete.

Now, to find some extra time in my schedule.

Blocked

In previous posts, I mentioned that I had a couple emotional weeks.  Part of that was the intense discussions with O and the concern I had about everything to do with that situation.  Another part was the feelings of disappointment as my one year anniversary with A came and went without the connection I so needed.  The final, and most emotionally destructive, part was another conflict with my sister.  

I can’t type it all out, because the truth is, I deleted it all, but even if I did still have it, I wouldn’t want to.  I don’t want to hold on to anger and I certainly don’t want her hurtful words to remain for me to reread and repeat that immense pain again.  

She called me many names, including “whore”, “compulsive liar”, “abusive bully”, and more.  She told me I was projecting, that I was mean, that my life is disgusting and repulsive.  She told me that I was pushing my lifestyle on her.  She told me that I’d been a bully all her life. She told me that I was just whoring myself out to cover up some undiagnosed pain.  She said many more awful things. The final thread, in which she included my parents, had me asking her to stop seven or eight times before I started deleting her messages unread.  She kept saying “See, this is how you treat me, how does it feel to have someone treat you as badly as you treat them?”  After the third time she said that, I apologized for every time that I unintentionally caused her pain and pointed out that she was intentionally causing me pain in revenge.  I asked her to stop.  She refused. At that point I completely blocked her.

The thing is, it’s essential for me to be kind to people. It’s important to me, as a strong, independent, intelligent woman, to be a supportive influence in other people’s lives.  I can be mean when angry, I’m human after all, but I’ve never intentionally hurt someone. Ever. But my sister, someone who is supposed to love me and support me and be on my team, is lashing out at me in the worst way possible.  The most hurtful thing she said to me was that my parents don’t actually support me “fucking so many men, they are just too afraid to speak out because they know you would keep the children from them.”   My parents have been my rock, my stability as I go through my separation and navigating my divorce. They have been there to listen, to laugh, to cry, to hug me when it’s too much.  They’ve prioritized my kids so that they get one-on-one time with their grandparents and feel special and have another safe place to talk about the changes in their lives.  They have spontaneously purchased stuff to fix toilets, bought clothes and boots for my kids, and purchased food for my fridge to help me out.  They’ve been nothing but supportive and nonjudgemental, in everything, including polyamory.

When my sister wrote these things, she started me questioning the way I come across to people.  Do people actually see me in the way she does?  Do I come across as mean?  As abusive? As damaged?  As judgemental?  I started doubting myself.  There were a lot of people who read her words. Each one of them assured and reassured me that I am not the person she says I am.  That no one in their right mind would ever say those things about me. It took a lot of processing to get me there. I had an onslaught of insults, criticisms, and judgements for over a week from her, and it was a lot to process.  In the same way that too much negative feedback influences a child’s security, I was feeling rather insecure. I needed some positive feedback to counteract the doubts in my head.  Fortunately, I have amazing people who do that for me.  In the end, I cried.  I was hurt, then angry, then disappointed, then sad.  At the end of all of that, I realized something very critical – it’s not about me.  Her issues are about her and her only.  The things she is saying are just words and it tells me more about her than it does about me.  What my sister is is a very angry, sad, broken person who needs to blame me for her problems and treat me badly to make herself feel better.  

So I blocked her.  I cut her out.  I can’t let anyone treat me that way, even if she is “family”.  I talked to my parents about it all and they are very concerned about her mental health, but support me completely.  Cutting my sister out was a great decision, although a hard one, but I had to take away her ability to hurt me.  The fact is, my life is better and easier without her.  The truth is, I have amazing people who are my real family, even if we don’t share DNA.  I no longer hold hope that reconciliation can happen, and I’m OK with that.

One year

Last week marked a year since I crossed the couch and A and I became more than friends.  The romantic in me booked a babysitter on our date night because it was my parenting night and we went out for dinner and then drinks. It was fun and casual and as always, conversation flowed between us, but it was quite clear early in the night that A was not feeling all that well.  As the evening went on and he got quieter and quieter and paler and paler, I began to worry that our one year celebration wasn’t going to be so much a celebration and more a collapse.  Sure enough, we got back to my place, A took a Dayquil, and about 20 minutes later, he said “I need to go to sleep”.  Disappointed, but understanding, I cuddled in, and we went to sleep.  He left some time in the night, sicker than I’ve ever seen him, and I was up for work by 4 a.m. the next day.  

The next couple days were filled with that horrible feeling of disappointment that you have when you had been anticipating something really great and didn’t get it.  Like when your best friend is coming to visit and she calls two hours before arrival and says her car broke down and she can’t come.  I totally understood that it wasn’t his fault that he was sick, no one is to blame, but I was disappointed that the thing I wanted didn’t happen.  Then, because I’m me, I felt guilty because I was disappointed and felt like I should have been more understanding.  I felt even worse when he apologized for not being himself multiple times. Guilt is hard for me.

The fact is, I’m incredibly in love with A.  A year later and I’m no less attracted to him than I was then. I’m actually more attracted to him, because I know what we share and what he can do to me and who he really is. I can’t get enough of him.  I have so much fun when I’m with him.  It’s light and funny and intellectually stimulating and interesting and full of connection and love.  There’s nothing complicated about us.  I can ask for what I need and he gives it to me if he can.  I can ask straight up questions and get an honest answer, even if he’s not forthcoming with information that isn’t solicited.  But when I don’t get to connect with him, I feel the loss of that time rather acutely.  It’s hard to lose our time together, especially as life’s speed is ramping up again and we will have less time for each other in the coming months.  

I’m so thankful that I messaged him last October on OKCupid after I saw his profile.  I’m so glad he responded and in true A style, he asked a couple key questions and then asked me out for drinks.  I’m so happy that he was my first first date, both as a poly person, but also ever.  I’d always met people and hung out with them and seemed to transition into dating before that, but never a first date that was an actual date with drinks and food and chatting. I’m beyond grateful that he sent me that rejection email. I’m glad I received it in the manner it was intended and befriended him.  I’m glad he sent clear messages that crossing the couch was welcome so that even clueless, unobservant me got the message.  I’m glad I chose to cross the couch and risk the consequences of fucking him. I’m glad we let things evolve naturally, without expectations or pressures.  I’m glad I talked to him about some of my kinkier desires and that we were able to descend the rabbit hole together.  I’m glad he was such a good distraction from reality for those many months when my heart was broken and my life turned upside down last summer.  I’m glad that I can talk to him about what I need or what I want and he tries his best to give it to me.  I’m glad that I can nerd out about my job and life and he listens, with interest, even when he teases me.  I’m glad that I can ask a million questions about his world and he answers with patience and detail.  I’m glad I can get lost in him, his smell, his strength, his enormous “attribute”, and the beautiful person he really is, inside and out.  I’m glad he can take control of me so completely in the bedroom and that I can be completely my strong and independent self outside it. I’m glad that with his control I can be weak and vulnerable and trusting, knowing he’ll push boundaries but never break them.  I’m glad he respects me and I’m glad he loves me.  I’m glad he looks at me and touches me and kisses me like he does.  I’m glad for everything we have.  

The last few weeks have been hard for me.  Things with my sister, with F, and with O have caused me a lot of emotional stress stress, for different reasons.  My emotional capacity has been tested and my usual level of “no-fucks-to-givery” is pretty low, even for me.  I’m sensitive and a little anxious and destabilized and….well….hurting.  What this means is that when natural breaks in conversation happen because of life, I start worrying that something is wrong.  I start analyzing my behaviour or communications and wonder what I could have done wrong.  In short, I become a little irrational.  Logically speaking, I know things are fine.  If they weren’t A would tell me.  He’s good at that!  Anyone who can call me petulant and explain that he values me in the same sentence and have me laugh it off a couple days later is good at direct communication. I’m just stuck in a bit of a negative feedback loop right now.  

Yesterday was our weekly date.  Before our date, I sent him this message:

“Yesterday I was talking about how you helped me process all my feelings every week during the summer while I was having a hard time emotionally.  How you took me to a place where nothing else existed except what you were doing to me. The pain of the flogging, the intensity of you fucking me hard, and the intense pleasure of each orgasm.  

I’ve been in my head all week between dealing with O, F, and sister.

It occurred to me last night that I need you to help me reset.  Fuck me, flog me, choke me, hurt me, and love me so that I forget that anything in the world exists while we are together.

Please sir.”

As always, he delivered.  He delivered several orgasms, a handful of bruises, and a release from reality that I needed.  I got lost in subspace for a long period of time.  This reset me, allowing me to face the world renewed. There is something incredibly amazing about subspace and the reset that it provides for me.  Our play turns off my brain when it is stuck in overdrive.  I get lost in sensation. In the pain of each spank/paddle/flog, in each hard thrust that hits my cervix and makes me explode with pain and pleasure, in each forced orgasm as he abuses my clit with the magic wand.  Getting lost in him is an incredible way to find myself again when I’ve lost myself to the crazy reality of my world.

I needed this reset. The reset of myself, first.  The reconnection with A second.  But third, the reset of the balance in my relationships.

A stressful few weeks resolved

O has been suffering a lot more jealousy, specifically about my relationship with A, than we were prepared for in recent weeks.  It got particularly bad over New Year’s, to the point that I spent a lot of time turned inwards trying to figure out how to best communicate the major changes I needed him to make.  Through talking to a long-time poly friend who I’m hoping to make my girlfriend (more on that in another post!) and doing some intense soul-searching, I figured out what I wanted to say.  It started with his reactions to my collar and then some stress about being at my house with A and his wife on New Year’s eve, and he recognized what was happening and spent some time self-reflecting and trying to come up with a method to deal with his jealousy and move forward in his chose life.

O has given me permission to share his self-reflection, which he shared with me so I could provide feedback:

Solo Poly, Mono/Poly, Poly-saturation

I am a solo poly man. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with what I consider my main (primary) girlfriend. She doesn’t like labels, so I am careful to qualify that I treat her as my primary even though she wouldn’t agree to that title. She has good reasons. I started a relationship with her while she is also in a well-established relationship with another man. She loves us both intensely and I have no doubt of her love for me. The issue I have found difficult to negotiate for myself is the fact I have nothing to temper my love for her in terms of relationship commitments. Like I said, my other relationship seems to be in decline and I am just starting a new one. Love is not a factor in those cases (yet). Because I am jumping without a net, so-to-speak, I have had some very stressful episodes where I either felt like a fool for giving my heart so completely so fast to someone who will always also be committed to at least one other man (or woman), or, I have felt I am in over my head and need to protect myself. Neither of these feelings are productive or wanted. I am actively working on ways to more positively work with these feelings.

One idea is that I need to nurture at least one other loving and sustained relationship so that I don’t feel these stressful episodes when I am not with my main relationship. She is exceptionally good at helping me work-out my doubts and fears, checking-in with her and cuddling are very effective. She is very patient with me, but I also understand that everyone has their limits of patience. However well she helps me in the short-term, I still need to work on the cause. I believe it is that there is an imbalance in that she loves two partners completely, whereas I love one—her. Direct Action: I need to have another partner (or two) to help balance the scales. At this point, I am in still making connections in the poly community and I hope another quality relationship starts for me soon. I feel this will help me both temper my unbridled love for my main relationship into a more realistic/sustainable framework and it will also help me feel compersion for her in her other relationship rather than jealousy or abandonment.

I have been questioning whether I could be in a mono/poly situation with my main relationship. This is partially due to the fact I don’t have a strong second relationship at the moment and I have been functionally and unintentionally mono/poly over this past holiday season. I can’t predict whether I will always want multiple partners. At this moment in time I do, but down the road I may not. I have also been imagining focusing solely on my main relationship and the idea of being monogamous with her is surprisingly attractive to me. She is pretty amazing, after all. She, of course, will be poly forever and I will still be “poly” even if I go through episodes of monogamy focused on her. When I reach the point where our relationship has enough history and an even more solid foundation (we are only two months in at this point), I foresee that I will be able to feel the compersion and not the jealousy while she goes out on date nights and I do not. For the time being, however, I intend to pursue a completely poly lifestyle to its full advantage.

Digging out Jealousy by the Roots

I mentioned that my main relationship has a partner who she has been with for a year. They have a highly developed BDSM relationship even to the point where she wears his collar to work and other public places.

I have been dealing with jealousy of my partner’s partner since the beginning. This is not normal for me. I had twinges of jealousy when my now ex-wife was seeing other men when we opened-up our marriage in Toronto. In fact, I have seen her, and other partners of mine, have sex with other men while I was watching. The jealousy I have been experiencing lately from my partner’s partner is different and it has been perplexing me. The following are some of my self-discoveries.

I initially thought it was a personality conflict. My initial meeting with him was sudden and stressful and I wasn’t left with the best impression. But, to be honest, there hasn’t been any conflict and I really am only starting to know him as a person. Our third time in the same room was only yesterday.

I thought maybe it was because we are “so similar.” Well, we may look similar, but it is becoming clear we are very different individuals. When I first started seeing my main relationship, there was a good deal made of how alike we were. That gave me no end of insecurity wondering why my partner would be with me if I was a less experienced, and more vanilla version of her established partner. Thankfully, that insecurity dropped away when it became clear how different we are as people and what I provide my main relationship that no one else does—on all three levels of connection: physical, emotional, and intellectual.

So, that brings me to where I think the root of my jealousy lies. By articulating this, I hope to better understand it, channel it, and control it. I am jealous of their relationship—of their history, their highly developed sexual play, and the level of trust they have developed. That is why I wasn’t jealous seeing my ex-wife or other partners fuck other men, because there wasn’t a relationship. This may also explain why I felt some slight twinges when my ex-wife was going on dates, but I never met those men. They weren’t important figures in my life and in the life of my main relationship.

Now that I have isolated the source of the jealousy, here are some action points I am going to try. The first action is to focus on the history that is developing naturally in my own relationship. I need to continue to make memories and collecting meaningful moments and cherish them for the relationship foundation they are. The stronger/deeper I build that foundation in my own relationship, the less their history will provoke jealousy in me. In time, I foresee feeling compersion toward their trip to Banff, or breaking the bed, etc.

The second is to continue developing our own kinky sexual play in our relationship. I don’t want to imitate or compete with their established way of conducting their BDSM but I want to explore BDSM from the ground-up with my main partner (who is a sub and passionate about it). We are early in this exploration. We had one evening that was highly successful involving restraints in my room. We have another evening planned in two days at her house where I have drawn up an agenda (approving the agenda was an indication of consent) of activities. We are both very excited. It will be my first time flogging her and I am very much looking forward to it. I am actually nervous about my rope tying skills but with her help, I am sure we will work it out. We have two more evenings plus a staycation later this month where we will have the house to ourselves to continue our explorations. The more we develop our own connection and build experience regarding kink, the less I should feel jealousy toward their kinky play. Again, in time, I hope to turn it around to compersion and enjoy my main relationship’s pleasure as well.

The third, the level of trust, is in some ways the most elusive but also the most important. None of the previous two work or hold meaning without trust. It must build over time. Part of my efforts here in articulating my self-reflection and defining my needs is so that I can be a better partner for all my relationships, but especially for my main relationship. I had a hard time this last week because the collar that was given my partner as a sign of submission to her partner is a physical symbol of their dom/sub relationship and the trust it is built on. Seeing it makes me aware of how far I have yet to travel. But I will traverse that distance and this document is a step down that road.

I received this, and it set off so many red flags for me.  I had a disheartened few days while I thought about how I was going to communicate with O about how I felt about his thoughts and emotions and plan, when there were so many things I needed to say that would be hard to communicate and even harder to hear.  I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or worse, lose him, because I was really not dealing well with his jealousy, or the way he thought he should tackle it.

I put together some thoughts on paper and formed an idea of what I wanted to say, then edited the shit out of it, so he knew it was coming from a place of love and support and not criticism.  He came and had a coffee break with me and knew something was wrong (I completely lack a poker face), and asked, so I gave him a very condensed version of what I was writing out after I told him to remember that while it may sound critical, I’m coming from a place of love.  

Here is my response:   

First, let me say, I’m glad that you are working to understand your jealousy and anxiety over my relationship with A. Second, let me say that it is a huge priority for me to help you work through it.  I love you and I want to just love you and have it be about us.  Talking about A and I and our relationship so much is draining on me.  

For some time, I’ve been concerned that you have such a hard time when I’m with A. It seemed to be getting better and then all of a sudden it got much worse.  I find it a bit overwhelming, honestly, because I really don’t understand it.  The fact is, I came with many relationships.  I came with my kids, and my parents, and my friends. I love many people, A included.  But if I have a night out with G, or my work friends, you don’t have a hard time with that.  But if I’m with A, you do. Truthfully, I don’t get it.  To me, love is love is love, the only difference is how I express it.  The fact that I have sex with A, even in a committed BDSM dynamic, doesn’t seem any different to me than me going to Mexico with my parents because my mom loves me and pays for the trip.  It’s often too much for me and I don’t know how to reconcile supporting you through your feelings while also honouring my discomfort with the fact that you react so strongly.

There are a number of things in your document that give me cause for concerns. I’m going to try to address them appropriately and add a few of my concerns to the mix as well.

  1. You identify me as your primary, despite the fact that it is important to  me that we don’t have a hierarchical relationship structure. I get that you are trying to respect my request, but treating me as a primary relationship but just not calling it that is problem for me. I want us to evolve naturally in our relationship escalation, without the labels, without expectations, in a way we decide together. I would really appreciate you eliminating the idea of me as a primary from your internal dialogue. I consider all of my relationships as separate entities. I don’t compare them and they certainly aren’t competition. It’s important to me that I am not better or more than anyone else, but I can’t dictate how you think of me.  I just want to be me, for you.  One relationship should never restrict the other’s development except within the parameters agreed upon within that partnership, in my opinion.  (For example, A and his wife’s relationship and their mutual commitment to their marriage and cohabitation naturally limits my relationship with him.)  I love you. You are a game changer and I want to have you as a life partner.  That doesn’t mean we need to escalate to every level of relationship status now.  It means we are committed to making our relationship work, grow, evolve, and thrive moving forward.  It doesn’t mean we are committed to making it fit a specific mold. I feel like you are trying to move us towards a very mononormative escalation and hierarchical level of poly that I won’t ever be comfortable with, and I really need this boundary observed.  What I really want is for us to work together to define what we want together in an ongoing, continuous, and loving capacity.
  2. I feel like it would be beneficial for you to look at our relationship and the length of time we’ve been together.  We are totally in love and that’s amazing.  We are still new and you are new to polyamory AND I haven’t been doing this for a significant amount of time either. What I do know is that I’m solidly polyamorous.  Your experience seeing your wife and others fucking other men is not a comparison to dating a fully polyamorous woman in a committed relationship with someone else who came before you.  She didn’t have loving committed relationships with those people.  In addition, she abused her right to fuck others and broke your heart.  I’m not sure that you were completely OK with it and I suspect much of what you are experiencing now is actually triggered by that experience at least in part.

I feel like you are overthinking everything and not giving yourself time to just feel the feelings and adapt through a natural evolution.  It seems like you are trying to control things and direct them and that’s impossible. The evolution of multiple simultaneous relationships and the feelings that you have with them is so important.  Things are changing too fast and I suspect you are not adapting as fast as you’d like.  I think you are happy with your decision to embrace polyamory, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing.  I am very concerned that with all the emotions you are experiencing, starting another relationship, in fact, actively looking for one, may not be the best idea. A new relationship will add a different level of confusion to your life, navigating new emotions, specifically to distract from the emotions you are having with me? The idea that you need to get another girlfriend to distract you from the fact that I have a date with A really bothers me.  I think that it might make you feel better temporarily, but it’s not owning your emotions or processing your feelings or working through your challenges. I think you need to feel all the feelings. Work through them. Accept and understand them and accept and understand my relationship with A.  Compersion isn’t necessary, but acceptance is.  We should not have to talk about jealousy and triggers several times a week.  Jealousy is normal, but this intense form of jealousy is a very real problem that needs to be worked through as a priority.     

  1. Finally, I’m concerned about us venturing into kink.  It’s just not the relationship dynamic that you and I share.  I find it forced and unnatural.  I don’t find myself naturally submissive to you.  I love our vanilla sex. Loving, caring, passionate, and fun.  I have this feeling that you are venturing into kink with me as a sort of end goal because you want to be what A is for me.  Like if you can fill the spot he does, you’ll be more important.  But the whole premise behind polyamory is that no one person has to scratch all your itches.  By moving towards a relationship dynamic more like my relationship with A, we’re losing the dynamic we established that felt so right and perfect and full of connection.  The fact is, I don’t want a kinky relationship with you, apart from the occasional spontaneous fun play.  I would encourage you to find a girlfriend to explore that area of your sexuality with you, but I don’t think I can be that person. I’m glad you want to understand what I get out of it though.  I really really really want to return to ***our*** natural state..  

Remember everything here is from a place of love.  I want to work with you. I can clarify as you need and I am always here for you.  I love you.

In true academic fashion, he read and reread this and made notes and then responded.  Here’s how that went:

First, let me say again, you are right on all fronts. I recognize that I was trying to move us toward a mono-narrative, hierarchical level of poly. Intellectually I was resisting but emotionally I was. I see that too. Consider that issue identified and dealt with.

I have been thinking all week about how I need to stop thinking of you as my primary. So, yeah, I totally agree. I realized on my walk today that I was having trouble consolidating the fact you avoid labels because of people’s preconceptions of what they mean and that affects their choices, yet you have one relationship that is clearly labelled and defined (drawn up in writing as a contract) and another relationship that is not. It is true, I have been needing more definition of our relationship for quite a while but I realized today that I shall embrace the contradiction. It is part of my dynamic with you and your other relationship. It helped me greatly to read that “I just want to be me, for you.” I can solidly get behind that. It also helps me SO much to read that I am still your gamechanger and your life partner. To be honest, I just needed to hear that. That is all the reinforcement I need.

 

My wife totally broke my heart. Totally. I never really dealt with it while I was with the girlfriend after her. Plus, I was never really in love until now. This hurt may require a therapist, but identifying the issue is the first step. Thank you for helping me see this. I need to not react/overreact as though you are my wife, just like I am not F in how I treat you.

 

I totally overthink things. I need to let go and let things proceed naturally. You are totally right. You are right that I need to give myself the time to just feel the feelings and adapt naturally. I heed your words of caution regarding starting a new relationship while I am dealing with this. I am taking your words of caution to heart and will be mindful of this when I meet with anyone new. …On my walk I questioned my need for another relationship and I realize it is not for distraction (you are right, that is a stupid reason), but because I want to feel a real connection with another person for all the reasons I chose a polyamorous lifestyle last fall. I need to get back to my poly roots and be true to myself. …I foresee a time in the future where I will be content being mono/poly with you but I am not there yet. With that said, I recognize I need to take the time to evolve, feel the feelings (there are A LOT!), and learn to accept. …And I need to either GET OFF the meds and get some anti-anxiety meds to help me be the chill and rational guy I was only a few weeks ago. Walking sure helped today. I need to do that at least once a week!

 

Last: I TOTALLY needed to hear that you love our vanilla sex…and that I am still your gamechanger and life partner. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear those things. …And I agree with you, I thought you would find our play even hotter with being kinky. Don’t get me wrong, I was really starting to get into it, but yes, let us return to doing what we do well. Let me do some reading on it. Let us introduce toys naturally over time. Please let me know when (and if) you would like to introduce some bdsm into our play in the future. …I Love you forever. I want to be with you. That was one thing that is never in question and the place I started from on my long walk today. I am for you.

I had to clarify from his first part about my defined relationship with A:

Let me say this: My relationship with A isn’t defined at all. Our sexual dynamic is. And part of the long verbal negotiation that happened was the contract as part of embracing that ONE part of our multifaceted relationship. If I say I’m submissive, it’s the same as saying I’m poly. There’s a lot of individual variability

Thank you for the clarification. Either way, I am choosing to embrace the variability and constant flux rather than try to control and define. That is the lesson I am learning here. To let go and let things grow and evolve. …It is that leap of faith I wrote a few days ago…the trust exercise of falling back and trusting someone will catch you.

This is a wonderful response.  Thank you for responding so positively and knowing I was coming from a place of love

Talking yesterday helped me more than you know. I could also see you relax as we talked and I held your hand in the car. We are all good at the articulation of our ideas in print but nothing is better than face-to-face and hand-in-hand. You told me yesterday you were going to be critical but it was coming from a place of love. I never doubted that. Besides, I know I have been not myself lately and I really needed the honest feedback. I would never forgive myself for messing up our relationship. …Walking today helped me in ways I need to keep doing no matter the weather. …And I need to deal with my meds.

And I Love you. I trust you to always treat me fairly and with respect. Yet another reason I choose you to be my life partner.

Here’s is my twitter summary of what I learned today: “It is what it is. Let things grow over time. It is ok to feel all the feels but also important to know when to let go.”

This all happened over the course of a week or more. It was incredibly stressful for me.  I was really concerned about how O would react when I responded in a critical way.  I didn’t want to lose him, I didn’t want to hurt him, and I couldn’t pretend like the problems I had didn’t exist. This conversation went so very well, and it was really productive.  

Since then, he and I have had a few dates and one in particular, where he took me out for dinner and I stayed the night at his place was perfect. We reconnected and reset and are back to the dynamic that made us so strong to begin with.  I’m happy and excited about where we are going.  I’m even happier that we were able to navigate a very difficult and heavy emotional discussion without anger or argument.  I think it says a lot about where we are going in the future that we so easily discuss things with love, support, and understanding.  

Collared

A and I have a dom/sub dynamic, which has evolved for us over time. Our relationship started off vanilla and worked its way to anything but.  Honestly, it started off as a drunken fuck after a really crazy first date and a desire for friendship and evolved into an amazing, loving, supportive, and exciting relationship.  It’s been an amazing journey and one I would embark on a million times over with him.  It’s an extremely fulfilling and freeing relationship for me on every level.  I am only submissive in the bedroom.  Every once in a while a little bit of submission works its way into our time outside the bedroom, but it’s rare, and usually part of the fun we have and anticipation for the activities planned for the evening.  

Anyone who participates in this lifestyle will tell you that consent is the most important part of BDSM.  The submissive consents to have her dominant control her.  The dominant consents to discipline, punish, and protect the submissive. Submission is a gift that is given freely. It’s truly the submissive who has the control.  Submission can be revoked at any time.  Play can be stopped with a simple word. A good dominant won’t ever get a submissive to the point where s/he needs to stop play. Boundaries are meant to be pushed but not destroyed.  A lot of discussion surrounding hard and soft limits needs to occur. Aftercare is an essential.  Sometimes, this means I just snuggle in and fall asleep feeling safe and loved.  Sometimes, it means debriefing and talking about what was too much or what was amazing. Sometimes it means we have a drink or two, cuddling, and joking around about nothing to do with our play. I don’t doubt that everyone’s aftercare is different.

Over the nine months or so that A and I have been venturing further and further down the bdsm rabbit hole, we’ve developed a committed love and deep trust of one another. Of course, my trust of him is paramount, but his trust in me is also important.  He knows I will speak up if something is not what I want, if something is too much, if I’m uncomfortable, or if I need a break.  He knows I’ll communicate with him if something is off limits or if there is something I really want him to do to me.  I know that he does everything for our enjoyment, not just his, and that my pleasure is more important to him than his.  I know that he will change something if he is uncomfortable or if something is not working for him. I know he loves me and my happiness is important to him.  I know he won’t do anything to hurt me beyond that which I enjoy and that he respects my boundaries and limits.

Among the things I’ve been asking for is for him to just ravish me. Walk in the door, grab me, and use me.  Unbridled hot fucking. This is not something he has been willing to do.  I’ve worked hard at trying to turn him on so much he does, I’ve asked him directly to do it, I’ve tried to be a brat so he will. Not surprisingly, transparently trying to manipulate him into doing what I want didn’t work. We talked at length about what I want and I understood afterwards that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to do this for me, but that consent is so important to him that he needs to obtain it every time. This is so true, that I almost always initiate or at least we have a quick conversation about whether it’s time to put the drink down and fuck. So we discussed how we could bridge the gap between what I want and what he needs.  That triggered a conversation about getting a collar and how that collar could be a symbol of implicit consent whenever it is on.  We chatted about it on and off for a long time and a few weeks ago he spent some time looking for collars online. He has amazing taste and the collar he bought for me is gorgeous.  Last Friday, he gave it to me. Not as a Christmas present, but as a sign of our commitment to each other and the agreement it comes with.  It’s beautiful. It’s heavy and gorgeous and because it weighs on my neck, I feel it whenever I have it on. This feeling reminds me, very strongly, of the feelings I have for A, in the most wonderful way.  

Getting the collar led to quite a bit of conversation about what it means, when A wants me to wear it, and the rules surrounding when I’m wearing it in public vs. when I’m wearing it in private.  We have a completely unenforceable contract that lays out some rules.  Among them are the fact that I’m free to date at will and he has no control over my choices of partners.  Our colour system for feedback during play.  The fact that his dominance is only over my body and not over anything else.  The fact that either of us can end the agreement at any time.  It’s quite amazing, actually.

Having this agreement is kind of awesome to me.  I like that we’ve talked out so many of the details, there aren’t any assumptions, and we are totally transparent about where we stand.  I also like the collar because it’s beautiful. It reminds me of my love for A.  The weight of it on my neck is a reminder of how we feel about each other.  I love the representation of our commitment.  Truly, it just feels right and makes me happy.  

Now here’s hoping that he’ll just ravish me one of these nights!