I’m the girl that nearly eight months ago advised A to stop trying to find a girl who fit into a mold he had envisioned and to embrace the opportunities in front of him. I encouraged him to date and enjoy what developed. To stop looking for a specific thing and to see what could develop. Part of the reason for this conversation is that both of us didn’t really feel a romantic connection, despite the fact that I had crossed the couch and we were already having incredibly hot sex at the time. He had gone on a date with a girl who he had a great connection with but for allergy reasons he couldn’t continue to date. He had other reasons he didn’t want to continue to date her, and at that point, he felt like there was something wrong with him. I suggested he should just have fun and see where things went with the girls he was dating. That he should stop looking for something specific and embrace what came to him. I suggested that since he was happily married, he didn’t need to check so many boxes, that he could probably find something that was fun in and of itself. Something unique. Something worth it.
When I was giving this very good quality advice, I wasn’t thinking that he would end up dating me. I never thought that we would be in a slightly complicated committed relationship. I never envisioned anything that happened in the months that followed. What I know is that this man saw me through the greatest heartbreak of my life, he also saw me through the negotiations of my divorce, and he saw me through the emotional breakdown that happened when my life slowed down enough for me to start processing. This man, who is so incredibly frustrating to talk to about emotions was my biggest support when I was going through so many.
I’ve been dating. I was rather smug when I first dated as a poly woman. Three dates and two boyfriends out of the deal. Break up with the one boyfriend and accidentally make the other one my boyfriend. Well, I have more than learned my lesson since. I had that horrible date after Christmas, I had another with a guy who was married to a girl I went to highschool with, I had a coffee date with a guy that was nice but there were no fireworks. I had the great date with the hot bearded guy that knows D, and a second, but he doesn’t want what I want, so that went nowhere. I had the great date with another guy, who ended up too busy to keep dating me, which was too bad, because I was really into him. There was the guy who was lying to his wife. There are so many guys I’ve been talking to who I eliminated from contention for this reason or that. The guy who, before meeting me, suggested we have sex without protection and set off every red flag there is, who I stopped talking to immediately. The guy I met the other day for coffee, who I had this great connection with in text, who completely failed to ignite a spark.
I’m disconcerted, disenchanted, and disinterested. I miss NRE. I miss connection and that overwhelming desire to be with the man I choose. I had it so completely with X. I had it throughout the entire relationship with D. I haven’t felt it since. Not even a little. I am in love with A, but that happened slowly over time, with connection, shared experience, and the deep trust that we have developed. It was an interesting transition from friends to friends who fuck to friends who fuck who get in a collision together and he unintentionally calls me his girlfriend when we make out in the back of the cop car, then I become his girlfriend and we really like each other and then I fall in love with him and he avoids talking about feelings with me to where we are now. I’ve been dating L, who I think is cute and amazing and fun and lovely, but I’m not overwhelmed with emotion for him, I just really like him. The rest of the guys, I just can’t get past the first date with. Those I do, don’t get past the second.
I would feel broken. I would feel disappointed. I would feel wounded. But I’m not. It’s not about me. Or maybe it’s about me having standards that didn’t exist before. I have a benchmark, a threshold, that I can’t reach. That threshold was set first by D. He’s tainted me for all future relationships. So few will ever reach a place where he just set himself by being who he is. A and L and even X are the only ones who have lived up to those standards long enough to stick around. There is nothing wrong with having high standards. There is nothing wrong with high standards. There is nothing wrong with insisting the men in my life fit into my life in the best possible way. What is wrong to me, is that I was giving exceptional advice about eight months ago that could apply specifically to this situation, and I am doing the best to avoid listening to it. What is also wrong is that I didn’t insist that my husband reach that bar. I settled. That realization hit me hard.
I wrote the first part of this post over a week ago. I was dealing with some pretty heavy emotions that I didn’t understand at the time. Feeling like something was missing, not knowing what it was, thinking there was something wrong with the relationships I have and trying to figure out if I could stay happy with what I have or if I needed to communicate needs I have, and if so, what those are. I was a bit lost, to be honest. I was admittedly sad, thinking about how in love I am with A and how he’s not expressed love for me. I even engaged him in a rather unproductive text conversation about it that ended up in him shutting the conversation down as I got way too into the feelings. At the same time, my dad was showing his worst side on Facebook, and between the two, I knew I needed to shut down the outside world for a while and take some time to turn inwards. So I deleted Facebook off my phone, stayed in contact only with those I love, and embarked on a 2500 plus kilometre road trip filled with camping alone, visiting the best of friends, and so many epiphanies that I don’t know if I can actually put them all into words.
The first epiphany came the morning after I embarked on my week-long journey and I was chatting with a friend, saying how disillusioned I was with dating. How my standards were just too high, and I was finding the effort that goes into internet dating to be too much. I realized that my “problem” is that my standards ARE high. But it’s not a problem, I just haven’t met anyone worthy of my time. It’s a good thing.
This realization made, I decided to focus on that feeling like something was missing, but not knowing exactly what it was. I’m pretty damn good with my emotions and I know myself really well, so it was so weird to not know what was missing. There are two major factors that fall into this part of my many epiphanies. The first is that there isn’t anything missing. I don’t need anything more than I have in my relationships. Do I want more? Yep. I want love to be reciprocated. Is it something I need or want enough to draw a line in the sand? No. It would be pretty damn dysfunctional of me to demand something like that, and if love isn’t given freely and willingly, then it’s not really given, and the alternative is to end a relationship that I love and cherish and value so very much. I would never do that because A doesn’t tell me he loves me, when he does, at least some of the time, show me that he cares about me.
This is overthinking it and so far away from my point. The reality is that for the last year of my life, I have had the full range of very very very intense emotions. From love to anger to heartbreak to disappointment to lust and back, I have had it all. I have navigated enormous amounts of stress and major life changes, and as such, have been in emotional damage control mode for so long that when I finished that damage control, my mind didn’t catch up with my reality, and I started treating the functional parts of my life as another problem to be solved. The thing is, there is no problem. They are functional relationships with partners who are working with me to create what makes us both happy. That things aren’t perfect is a given. Nothing is perfect, because we are human. But the commitment, affection, and cooperation is there. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The second part to this “missing piece” epiphany hit me so hard that I was nearly winded by it, and then I had to spend two days thinking it through and deciding what to do, and was the subject of my second night camping alone in a no cell service area. X and I reconnected in May, just a week or so before D broke up with me. It started out just chatting and joking with the usual sexual innuendo, and has progressed from there to more intimate conversations. It got to the place where when I was talking to people I met on OKC, I would mention him. “There’s X, he was my first poly partner. We’re just friends now, but if we’re ever in the same room together, we probably won’t stay clothed for long.” Over the last few weeks, as F and I finalized our divorce negotiations, as I was having some pretty deep feelings about A going away and not seeing him for a few weeks, and as some pretty amazing things were happening in X’s life, we started talking more, and he became a huge source of support for me and I for him. On Friday, a huge event happened in his life, and when I heard how well it went, I was so very excited for him. Like genuinely happy in a way that shook me to the core. I realized in that moment, that I love him. I don’t know if it’s “still” or “again”, but either the hidden feelings rose again or they rekindled.
I spent the next couple of days trying to decide what to do with this knowledge. I’m really enjoying our friendship, and don’t want to lose it. I’m happy with what we have and can stay happy with it. There’s not a lot that can be gained by pretending that the feelings don’t exist, but it occurred to me that I don’t need to advertise them either. Then I remembered a year ago when he dared to tell me about polyamory. How he dared to reach out to me and love me and support me and ultimately, lose me because the timing was wrong. So much good came back from that risk he took. I decided to reach out to him and tell him how I feel. He received it well and is taking time to process. That part doesn’t matter (well, it matters, but not for what my topic is). What matters is that I realized that part of the reason that I don’t spark with anyone I meet is that the space is occupied by someone else, and I don’t have room for another person unless the spark is strong. There’s very little chance that anyone will ever reach the level of spark that X and I have. It’s 23 years of foreplay, for fuck sake! What form our relationship takes going forward is up to us. It may stay the same, it may change, but no matter what, it will be interesting, for sure.
I spent the last two days processing what is going on in my life. Or rather, what isn’t. I decided to stop dating. I’m going to focus on the relationships I have, including my two men, my family, and my friends. I return to work tomorrow and as a career-minded girl, that will consume a lot of my time. I’m going to live my life with love and freedom and really hot sex. And instead of looking for the missing thing that isn’t really missing, I’m going to enjoy all that I have, because I have so very much, and what was missing was me being cognizant of that.