Checklist for Meeting Metamours

December 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm (Polyamory, Relationship) (, , )


After a first meeting with a metamour a few days ago, and a miserable emotional crash after it, I realized I needed to mentally prepare for such meetings with intention. I do not deal well with uncertainty, and there was a great deal regarding this meeting that was left up in the air. I can enter a situation with greater confidence and certainty if I prepare for it, so I’ve made a prep list for meeting metamours in the future. I thought I’d share it as it may prove useful to someone else.

This list is a mix of things that should be discussed before the meeting, and some guidelines for how to make such a meeting successful. Your mileage may vary. There are a lot of “shoulds” in this list, and it is because they are my personal preference and what I would feel most comfortable with. For others, some of these points may not be so important. But they may help you think of the topics you would want discussed before meeting a new metamour.

Also, this list presumes that the meeting is between metamours who share a common V partner but are not necessarily interested in or going to build an emotional or physical relationship together – in other words, a V relationship and not a triad. That’s simply because that has been my experience as a mostly-heterosexual female dating a mostly-heterosexual male. There would probably need to be additional adaptations to the list if it were to be applied to a situation where there is interest in forming a triad.

Because of this, a lot of the burden in conducting the meeting is placed on the person who is the V. I feel this is fair. It is in that person’s best interest to facilitate a successful meeting, so that individual should be prepared to plan and communicate expectations clearly with both partners, and be actively involved in enabling a pleasant encounter for everyone. If the V person is not willing to at least discuss these topics, and shows reluctance to consider the guidelines I’m suggesting, that would make me question my relationship with that individual.

Anyway….

Arrival at a meeting place

  • If the V person will arrive with one of their partners while the other partner meets them solo, determine in advance what kind of greeting will be offered between the V and the solo partner – smile, hug, kiss. Agree to the appropriate and comfortable level of affectionate greeting with respect for the feelings of all individuals
  • If each individual is arriving separately, determine in advance what kind of greeting will be offered by the V to each partner with respect to the comfort level of each individual.
  • The V should make the introduction between the metamours. Do not immediately start a conversation or wait for them to introduce themselves.

Seating arrangements

  • If possible, seating should be with the V person in between the two metamours, with metamours facing each other (this should work with a square or round table).
  • This allows metamours to angle slightly towards the V person while not directly turning away from each other as they would if they were next to each other instead of opposite.
  • This should allow for more comfortable, open body language and avoid a feeling of turning one’s back on another person.

Conversation

  • The V should acknowledge that while everyone is probably a little nervous at least, that he/she appreciates their willingness to meet and express happiness that they could finally meet.
  • Keeping in mind personalities, nervousness, introvertedness/extrovertedness, the V should probably be prepared to carry the conversation, or at least provide lead-ins.
  • Have a few topics ready to bring up that should be of interest to both metamours. Think of common hobbies they may share or other similar interests.
  • Try to avoid inside jokes between the V and one metamour. If such a topic does come up, explain the context to the other metamour to avoid any feelings of being left out or excluded.

Departure

  • The V should again thank both partners for their willingness to meet. Metamours should feel comfortable to display the level of farewell that feels comfortable – smile, handshake, hug, etc. as based on how their interaction developed.
  • If the V person is leaving with one of their partners while the other partner departs alone, determine in advance what kind of farewell will be given – hug, kiss, etc. – with respect for the feelings and comfort level of both partners.
  • If each individual is leaving alone, determine in advance the kind of farewell shared between the V and each partner, with respect for the comfort level of all.

I may add to this as time goes on and I have additional experiences meeting metamours. What do you think? What else would you put on a list like this for yourself?

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Romance and Gratitude

July 20, 2012 at 9:49 am (Real Life, Relationship, Uncategorized) (, , , )


Earlier this week I caught myself thinking, “I need more romance in my life.” I almost tweeted that silly thought, but I stopped to wonder what I really meant by “romance.” What was it really that I was longing for? I don’t personally feel a need for the candy-gifts-and-flowers commercial brand of romance, so what does romance mean beyond those cliches?

I posed the question to Twitter, and got some wonderful responses:

  • “A text the next day would be nice…” [@QuantumTree]
  • “I leave special notes that say how much I care, in unexpected places. I do things for my loves that may not have thought of.” [locked user]
  • “Knowing what I like and don’t like – especially food-wise…” [@OpenSourceHeart]
  • “Going out of your way for someone, creating for them, & understanding that tiny things make a big difference.” [locked user]
  • “I’d rather have little moments that count than flowers. Finding my chores done b/c I’m behind. Words of affirmation when you think of them. Making time to hang out even if it’s ridiculously short…” [@darkersunshine]
  • “A soft touch, compassion and understanding. Support when you are are you weakest. Passion, Desire and Desperation.” [locked user]
  • “Emotional and moral support. passion that extends beyond the sexual realm. understanding, patience. quiet.” [@anne_athema]
  • “The burning itent to make your mate feel loved; to know how they have become an integral part of your very being.” [@Where_Do_I_Fit]
  • “When they do/make/buy something that solves a minor problem I was having but I didn’t realize they noticed.” [@LadyMadhu]
  • “Less flowers and gifts..more little moments and surprises that show I’m cherished and he KNOWS me. Memories.” [@meditativeme]
  • “A connection deeper than just pure need. Talking about aspirations, desires. Sex at a higher level than just orgasm.” [locked user]

The thread through all the comments is that romance is in actions, not objects. It is how the connection between lovers is maintained, with communication, intimacy, and clear expression of emotion.  I agree with these definitions of romance and would adopt all of them for myself.

So then I wondered, am I receiving these things? What am I missing that leads me to this sense of lack of romance?

And the answer is… well, I’m not really missing any of them. I just don’t always see them. I’m starting to understand that romance isn’t just about what is expressed or given, but it’s about being open to receiving those expressions with warmth, gratitude and appreciation for the intent with which they are given.

I struggle sometimes to see the wonderful things I have in the shadow of what I think I want. When I do stop and look more closely, the things I have shine brighter, and the things I think I want start to fade away. There’s a lack of gratitude in my life sometimes, but not a dearth of romance.

He will walk me down three flights of stairs to his door when I leave, just to have a few more minutes with me and kiss me good-bye one last time.

He will text me on the random occasion just to say “I love you.”

He offers foot rubs and enjoys giving them.

He will agree to be the designated driver.

He will flirt with my friends when they need it, but he’s never insincere about it.

He tells me that my breasts are phenomenal.

He has made me a few little love tokens and notes  that I cherish.

He will talk to me about anything, and he respects my opinion, even if I disagree with his.

Romance? I’ve got it. I just need to be open and recognize it when it is given.

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Earning Love

July 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm (Polyamory, Real Life, Relationship, Uncategorized) (, , , )


I started seeing a new therapist in June to work through some issues that were coming to the surface during bouts of PMDD depression. I’ve meshed with her much better than I did with the therapist I saw last year, and I feel a lot more comfortable with her and the work we’re doing. It doesn’t feel like work yet, four sessions in, but we’re getting to it, and in our last session I had two revelations that created a shift in my thinking. I’m still not quite sure what to do with them, but they definitely gave me pause.

The first came from discussion of a pattern I already knew existed. Since the decision to end my marriage, I’ve said several times that I will never marry or even cohabitate again. I’m very aware of what I do when living with a partner – I very easily shut off parts of myself that I think may displease that person; I become the caretaker, the responsible one; I strive to be as adaptable for and accommodating of that person as possible. Of the four men I’ve lived with in romantic partnerships, I’ve done this every time. I mentioned this to my therapist, and we dug into a bit, and suddenly the pattern came to the surface.

From childhood onward, I’ve been driven by an enormous desire to please others, to earn praise, respect, and love. I’ve always seen love and caring as things that must be earned, that I must prove myself worthy of. In my romantic partnerships, that same inner drive pushes me to give, give, give – particularly in the form of actions, taking responsibility for things, getting things done, being the stable, consistent, reliable partner, being helpful. I’m very conscious of the inner hope that by doing the things I do, I can earn the love I crave. But at the same time, this leads to a heavy doubt… am I only loved for the things I do, the help I provide? Am I only valued for what I give – my time, my money, my willingness to carry the burden of responsibility – and not actually who I am? So I become fearful through this doubt, and even more hungry for signs of love and affection, which drives me to do more, to give more, which leads me to more doubt. It’s the dog chasing her own tail in a sad and frustrating emotional circle.

So the first revelation was how this pattern was of my own creation. The next step is to try and break it. Stop giving unless I really want to give out of simple love and happiness. Stop taking responsibility for things that are not my responsibility. And learn that love probably won’t be taken away because I stop doing those things.

That one is pretty clear, and on the surface at least, pretty easy to do something with. The second one I’m not so sure about, but it took my breath away and leaves me with a lot more questions to explore. It was regarding a brief relationship I was in late last year, and how I felt in that relationship, in comparison to my current & ongoing relationship and how I feel in it. There have always been distinct differences to me, and as I started to dig into those with my therapist, I realized with that person, I had never felt the need to give, to do, to try and earn his love. In the brief span of that relationship, I knew exactly how he felt about me. I never doubted, wondered, longed for affirmation. I didn’t feel like I had to work for it. I didn’t feel unworthy, either. I had no doubt that I was loved for who I was, not what I might give.

I realized in one big flash that I had never felt that certainty with anyone before. Every man I have ever loved, I felt like I had to work to be loved in return. But he saw me as I was – he knew more about me leading into our relationship than probably anyone else ever has – yet he chose to open up his life to me, and himself to me, knowing exactly what my flaws were. He saw me clearly and he loved me and never asked for anything except for me to be me and to let him love me.

I don’t know why I felt no drive to earn his love. I can’t say that others haven’t freely given their love to me, and I just felt for my own reasons that I had to work to deserve their love. I don’t know why it was different with him, other than maybe it was just who he is, and who I am, and the circumstances that led to our relationship, and the points in life where we both were at the time. I don’t know. I’ll be thinking about this more, asking more questions with my therapist, digging in to why it is so hard for me to just open up and be loved without trying to earn it. I want to. I want that experience again, that confidence and comfort of being held, emotionally held, with love that doesn’t ask to be earned.

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Poly But Monogamous

May 1, 2012 at 10:15 am (Polyamory, Real Life, Relationship) (, , , , , )


Since the decision made in January to dissolve my marriage, I’ve been in essentially a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend. Monogamous on my side, to the extent of not having slept with anyone else but the boyfriend since the husband moved into a separate bedroom while he buys his own house. I’ve been on a date or two, and we had a threesome, but the boyfriend is presently my only relationship and my only sexual partner.

He is dating others, and having sex with others, though I’m his most regular partner in both the dating & sex categories. So it remains an open relationship, though I am not actively poly for the time being.

And you know what? I’m totally okay with that. I thought it would be difficult for me to only “have” him while he “has” others. But that’s not been the case at all. I’ve had little twinges of the standard, reflexive jealousy over time he spends with other women, but I’ve found those fears easier to acknowledge and let go, much easier than I ever did with the husband. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed listening to him talk about what’s developing with other partners, experiencing some of the journey through him, and have tried to provide support, encouragement, and at times a bit of reassurance as some things took different directions than he’d hoped.

I realized recently why this is so, and the answer is simple: my needs are being met. I’m very satisfied with this relationship. I don’t doubt that I am valued and cared for. I’m content with what we have, exactly as it is, and there’s no need or desire to make it something else, something different. In the realm of emotional support, intimacy and sex, I’m getting what I need. Which makes me pretty gosh-darn happy.

In comparison, I struggled TERRIBLY with jealousy with my husband. During the period where he was dating and I was not (the first couple years of our open relationship), it was extremely painful for me to let him go, and to hear about the women he was dating. He never developed any serious relationships, and I realize now that may have been, at least in part, because he knew how difficult it would be for me. And it probably would have been. I had many unmet needs throughout the course of this marriage, and through most of it I repressed any expression of those needs and was encouraged in that repression. But this post isn’t about throwing stones and blame about the reasons why my marriage ended. The fact is simply that I’m coming to understand that unvoiced and unmet needs lead to fear, and fear leads to jealousy. It’s as simple, and probably obvious to others, as that.

With the boyfriend, I’ve been encouraged and have challenged myself to ask directly for what I need. There’s an understanding that not every need can or will be fulfilled; we all have limits, and sometimes it’s just time and energy that will prevent need fulfillment. So far, though, all my important needs have been met when I voiced them, which is remarkably effective in helping one overcome the fear of voicing a need. And a lot of the time, my needs are simple – just reassure me. Just tell me I’m still loved. No need to change your course of action, no need to block your own feelings, just give me a few moments of attention and affection that remind me I am not being abandoned. That does wonders for helping me quiet the fearful voices and get back to being supportive and encouraging. And it’s a wonderful thing to have those voiced needs met without accusations of manipulation, or criticism of being “needy”. Positive reinforcement of voiced needs doesn’t make me more “needy”, I’ve found – quite the opposite, I feel like I’m needing less and less reassurance.

So, it’s simple – emotional satisfaction is good, and helps poly work. Geez. No amazing light bulb moment for any reader, I’m sure, but for me it has been remarkable to experience this and see it come together.

I don’t intend to remain monogamous to his polyamorous. In some ways, I’m eager to try bringing another romance into my life to better learn how to balance relationships and to share the love and happiness I feel. But I’m picky, and while I fall into limerance quickly I don’t find qualified candidates for it easily; I’ve only found three men in the past six years who really clicked for me. Also, I feel like I shouldn’t risk any emotional overload until my marriage is completely dissolved and I’m once again living alone. When the time is right, I suspect someone will come along. It always seems to happen that way, when I’m not looking or expecting. I want to be ready. And I can do that by nurturing this happiness and contentment I feel, taking good care of myself, and continuing to learn and grow. I see the value in the hard work. I’m willing to keep doing it.

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More than just a threesome.

April 23, 2012 at 9:53 am (Polyamory, Real Life, Relationship, Sex) (, , , , )


Those readers who also follow me on Twitter will not be surprised at the story I’m about to tell; they’ve seen it coming, it was just a matter of time. But it’s a complex story, and I fear that no matter how I write it, I cannot do it justice. Because it wasn’t just a threesome, and it wasn’t just a woman. It was so much more. I hope I can convey that clearly.

One of my difficulties in poly has always been a type of sexual jealousy – the fear that my partner might find someone else who is more ______ sexually than I am – more uninhibited, more experienced, more experimental, more orgasmic. It’s part of an underlying lack of confidence, the fear that the only thing I bring to a relationship is my sexual availability, which may not measure up against other women. As the relationship with the boyfriend has strengthened and deepened, I’ve challenged myself to raise my confidence in this area, and not be afraid that his other lovers will diminish me. One way I’ve worked on this is through actively encouraging a flirtation between him and a dear friend. She’s someone I trust, whom I feel a strong connection to, and whom I care about very much. Their interactions began with awareness and involvement, and eventually included private contact between the two of them. I was happy that they liked each other, and I felt little to no fear about their contact, I think largely in part because I was somewhat orchestrating it. Right or wrong, that made it feel safe to me.

As this was developing, I was also doing a lot of pondering on my sexual feelings towards women. I’m becoming increasingly curious to explore in that direction again. I feel much differently towards women than I do men, and I’m not confident enough in my understanding of the nature of those feelings to describe them yet. But I’ve been wanting the chance to interact with a woman on a sexual level, and the best opportunity to do so in a safe space would be with the boyfriend present. Like many boyfriends, he saw no problem with this. And eventually the opportunity arose with our mutual friend.

And here’s where I fear I can’t do the event justice right now, and it will have to be written about later, in more detail, in a different tone. Because it was a sensual, erotic experience, friendly and relaxed, flowing easily and without much if any awkwardness or hesitation. Lovely as it was, I first need to explore the emotional aspects and reactions, before I put the experience out there as an erotic indulgence.

And so… it flowed, from playful spanking, to a man with a woman snuggled on each side, touching him, kissing one and then the other, two mouths pleasuring him together. I watched as he eased into focusing on her, and I felt a calm, fully present joy with this. There were two people I care about very much, taking pleasure in each other in what can be the simplest, most direct and essential way. It was perhaps my first real moment of poly compersion, and I love the memory of it and still feel the echoes of that happiness. His head between her thighs, I knew what she felt, I knew it was good, and I was happy to be next to her while she felt it. I stroked her hair and hesitantly stroked her breast. I kissed her once or twice on the forehead. I believe she came while he licked her, and I was happy to watch her pleasure grow and unfold.

But sadly, this is where some fear started to unfurl inside of me, and I started to withdraw. He expressed a desire to be inside one of us. I gave him a condom and pointed him to her. I lay next to them and watched, still happy to see their shared pleasure, but with a little voice inside me pulling me away. They came, almost simultaneously. He kissed me and told me he loved me. He tried to draw me in but I resisted, almost hid. We lay together, a man with a woman snuggled on each side, and talked for a while longer, then parted ways.

And I fell apart. Because the fear that came to the surface was the one I was, well, afraid of the most. That I’m broken. That I can’t do what other women do. That I can’t have an orgasm without a great deal of effort and difficulty.

Let me stop to state in no uncertain terms that this is not her fault. It is not his fault. I am in no way blaming them for enjoying their contact and taking sexual pleasure in each other, and I don’t want them to feel guilty for doing so. I wanted them to, and it made me happy that they did. These were my own fears and my own insecurities that took those things I watched and made them into a source of pain through comparisons that, again, only I was making. Neither of them in any way excluded me. Neither of them in any way said or did anything to imply that I wasn’t worth the effort to involve any further in this encounter.

It was my choice. I withdrew. I closed up. Because the voice in my head was saying over and over, it will be too much work. Trying to bring me back into the erotic exchange and arouse me, excite me to the point of orgasm in whatever way possible, would require too much effort, and it was too late at night, and I was too nervous, and it wouldn’t work. It wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t worth it.

The voice told me I wasn’t worth it. And I listened to its lies.

I regret this deeply. I’m struggling to let go of my disappointment in myself. Because I thought, through a lot of work from myself and a lot of support and reassurance from the boyfriend, that I had gotten past this way of thinking, that I’m broken and insufficient and worthless because of how I’m wired. That the difficulty I have in orgasming with a partner is a flaw, a failure. I’ve tried hard to change my perspective. I’ve tried to accept this as the way I am, not a shortcoming, but just reality. We work with it; we get me off together, and he had, in recent weeks, been surprisingly successful in getting me off on his own accord. But there was a rotten core still in there, and this experience pushed it to the surface and I let it take over. I let it talk me into withdrawing from an experience that could have been richer, and in some ways I suspect could have been healing and comforting for me. But I was too afraid to take the chance.

I want a do-over, and I know I’ll get one in time. Both of these wonderful people have been reassuring in their willingness to listen to me try to explain my sad reaction to this happy event. We’ll try it again sometime. And with the light on this fear, keeping it from hiding in the dark corners again, I hope it can be another step towards truly conquering it, towards accepting myself as I am, with affection and desire from people who care about me, whether I have an orgasm or not.

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Poly Introverts

March 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm (Polyamory, Relationship) (, , , , )


One thing I know well about myself is that I’m an introvert. I need a lot of time alone. I feel drained after spending time in crowds, at parties, or otherwise around a group of people. The energy that people generate, the many voices, the activity and restlessness of groups can all overwhelm me. I prefer to build friendships and relationships slowly, one on one. And while I do have some circles of connected friends, I’d much rather spend time with each person as an individual, and at group gatherings I’ll tend to linger in conversation with only two or three people. I’m comfortable with this; I know this is what works for me, and how to balance my somewhat small needs for social interaction with my much larger need for quiet, peaceful, solitary time.

This seems in some ways to be contradictory to the poly lifestyle. Tweets with the #youknowyourepolywhen hashtag often focus on the group dynamics and the “fun” of being part of a large poly circle, family, clan, or whatever you may prefer to call it. Poly people also love to talk about their time-management skills and scheduling tips and techniques, seeming to take pride in having extremely full, busy lives booked months in advance because of all the wonderful sweeties and awesome metamours they have in their lives.

It feels at times like it’s presumed that if you’re poly, you want that kind of life. That peppy, gleeful constant busyness. A poly commune with your extended families all within an arm’s reach. It seems to me that this is set up as the ideal, the way to “win” at poly – the more colors on  your calendar, the better your poly life is. The classic extrovert characteristics – having to be constantly surrounded by people and activity to feel sane, safe and happy.

It’s not for me. And I know it’s not for a lot of others who still identify as poly. Having the capacity, the inclination and the desire to build deep, intimate, loving connections with multiple people does not automatically equate to that extroverted desire to be with people all the time. The thought of communal living has no appeal to me at all; in fact, it sounds like a particularly dreadful form of torture. I need my own space and my own time.  Also, it feels completely unrealistic to me to expect myself to fall in love with multiple connected people at once, or for a lover to expect me to fall in love with his or her partners as well. For me, attraction is a tricksy, unusual thing, involving a weird combination of elements. Sometimes I think finding a lover or partner is difficult enough; so an assumption or expectation that I’ll love your partner just because I love you isn’t going to work for me.

This is probably why I’m comfortable keeping my relationships independent, and why I don’t expect or presume that my lovers will become friends — I don’t even particularly care if they ever meet. To me, relationships are unique. I don’t expect to knit them all together into a glorious afghan of many colors. I’m very content with spending time with individual lovers, as I do individual friends.

As with most of my rambling posts, I share this mainly because there may be others who feel the same. There are, I’m sure, others who wonder if they can have time to themselves, or have independent, intimate relationships, and still be “really” poly. Just like with friendship, just like with monogamy, there are many approaches to polyamory. Group poly is okay if that works for you. Introverts who practice a more individual, independent form of poly are okay, too.

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Thoughts about that word.

November 28, 2011 at 10:40 am (Polyamory, Relationship) (, , )


There’s one word in the English language that we treat with a strange mix of fear and excitement. One word that we prize above others, that we wait with baited breath to hear. One word we use casually and carelessly about objects and interests, but when applied to other people it’s handled with care, loaded with meaning and profound, dramatic emotion.

Love.

We think we know what it is, what it feels like. Sometimes it’s a physical ache from your chest, your core, a tangible yearning. Sometimes it’s a radiant warmth from the eyes, a blush of the cheeks, an involuntary smile at the thought of someone’s face, or a from moment’s lingering eye contact.

It’s a desire to see someone happy. It’s a hope to be a part of that happiness, or to influence it. It’s a longing for connection, for intimacy, physical and emotional. It’s the pleasure of seeing another’s genuine self, vulnerable, imperfect, but no less wonderful. It’s that delight in another person’s existence, in their companionship, their strength, their openness to you.

But we lock this word up tightly and use it so sparingly. We debate long and hard before we speak it to another about them. We worry that it’s too soon to use the word. We wonder if it might come back to haunt us; if it might build up expectations we can’t meet, set standards too high, and become a crushing weight, a word to regret. We take it very, very seriously and use it at the end of a practiced speech, trying to make what was carefully rehearsed sound natural and sincere. Or else we blurt it out in a moment of passion, or in a state of intoxication, and regret it later.

When I start thinking about love as a word, I’m reminded of a passage from Anne of the Island, one of the Anne of Green Gables books. (I’m a sap underneath all this misanthropy, really.)

“You love it, “Said Miss Patty with emphasis. “Does that mean that you really love it? Or that you merely like the looks of it? The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one never can tell what they do mean. It wasn’t so in my young days. Then a girl did not say she loved turnips, in just the same tone as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior.”

What good is a word that is used to express love of turnips, mothers, Saviors, and romantic partners all? If there were better distinctions, different words for different kinds of love, it might make it easier for us to express our feelings without the fear that surrounds the use of the dreaded L-word.

It can be kind of fun, in some ways, to challenge myself to express emotion using any possible combination of words except that one. But more often than not, I dislike the fear that surrounds it’s use. I hate playing it cool, doing the dance of detatchment, wondering who’s going to slip up and say it first. What if he doesn’t say it back or what if I change my mind or what if it’s really just that I want to get laid… Ugh. Enough with the nonsense.

I’ve tried using the word limerance, and to a degree, it works. It covers that initial rush which is mainly about the longing for both sexual fulfillment and emotional connection. But at what point do you acknowledge that you’re past the stage of limerance and into real love?

And what is “real love” anyway? Do you love a person the same way forever? As an emotion, love changes; it deepens, broadens, forgives, glosses over, sees more clearly, adds reinforcement; changes texture, weight and color. I don’t love my husband today the same way I loved him five years ago, yet I still love him. And it’s still the same word.

Where I’m going with this, is this – I don’t want to be afraid of a word anymore. I’m going to use it with greater freedom. There is love in so many moments that get left behind because of this fear, and I don’t want to keep doing that. I can’t prevent others from reading different meanings into the word when I use it; but I can do my best to put the word in context when I use it. Using a few more phrases seems better than not using one word at all. It’s about communication, really. Something I don’t think love can exist without.

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The lap dance.

November 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm (Polyamory, Real Life, Relationship) (, , , , , , )


I’ve started dating someone new.  Funny enough, I never thought I’d date someone I met through Twitter, but technically that’s how it began. A somewhat-local follower (we live about an hour apart) whom I’ve been interacting with for several months, and we finally met in person at a poly potluck in October. Ah, chemistry. Ah, limerance.

This one has a particularly sweet flavor. I think it is because being the recipient of open, no-reservation affection is something of a novel experience for me. In a lot of my relationships, both parties have tried to play it cool, hold their cards close and stay casual, detatched, afraid to be vulnerable, or exposed. This one is developing with eagerness, though that doesn’t mean recklessly or without caution.  We put our cards on the table early and I’ve realized how much I’ve missed the freedom that comes from that.

I think of him as a young man, though a six-year age difference isn’t really young. He’s shy, but I think he has a determination to overcome his shyness, and somehow, I think I’m part of his motivation. It’s hard to describe what a wonderful feeling that is. It makes me want to be a better person and hope I’m worth his effort.

His shyness gives him a bashful, boyish quality, and I feel protective of him. But there are times when I’m reminded that he is very much a man.

On Saturday night, some friends from our poly group went to a strip club. (This might seem odd to some, but how it came about is a long story that really isn’t relevant to this one.) The group included both my husband and this new fellow. I has the pleasure of spending most of the evening sitting between the two of them, holding hands, sharing drinks, and watching the girls dance. That, in and of itself, would have made for a fun evening in terrific company. But it got better.

Our shy fellow found a reserve of courage and approached a cute dancer on the stage. For a tip, a girl would bend down and gyrate especially for a customer – rub her breasts across your face, briefly embrace you, shimmy her butt at eye level. He took a liking to one, a blonde with pretty, round, real breasts and pierced nipples. She had a fun attitude – not the weary, scheming or damaged look some girls tried to hide, but a kind of tomboyish, careless approach. I think she just didn’t take any of it very seriously, and that made her appealing. Lots of people liked her. Several people in our party approached her over the course of the night.

I have to admit I eagerly watched him stand at the stage and receive her little performance for the tip. In a way, I was proud of him for having the guts to go up there – I certainly didn’t, as much as I would have liked to. And I liked seeing the smile on his face that came from this brief transaction.

When she approached our group, he asked her for a lap dance, and I asked if I could watch. No problem there, and we both were a little giggly and giddy at the prospect. We followed her back to the semi-private dance area, and I was seated across from him for prime viewing position. We chatted for a moment about her nipple piercings, then she got down to the business of the lap dance.

Watching her slide around against him was a complexly emotional, exciting experience for me. It was probably the most erotic thing I’ve experienced that didn’t involve personal physical contact. But it also was an inner storm of emotions that buzzed like guitar distortion – some a little painful, but all worth the experience.

As with the stageside tip, I enjoyed seeing the smile on his face and knowing the pleasure he was experiencing. For my own benefit, I enjoyed watching a pretty, near-naked girl moving seductively a few feet away. Watching him touch her, the way his hands slid along her sides and up to her breasts, gave me a fleeting stab of envy that he would touch her that way before he would touch me. But I also watched knowing that this may be how he might touch me, with the warmth of anticipation. I felt grateful that he was comfortable enough with me, at this early stage, to allow me to watch him do this. In a strange way, I felt a kind of pride that I was with him for this experience. And when his eyes met mine over her shoulder, I could read the same feeling in them that I’ve been seeing every other time we connect. A happiness that I’m distinctly a part of.

It was unsettling, lovely, and strangely intimate. It’s something I want to remember.

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Healing.

September 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm (Real Life, Relationship, Sex) (, , , , , )


I’ve reached a point in therapy where I need to go deep into an old wound. I need to do so with compassion, the objective being to forgive myself for something I once did, something I am ashamed of, which I believe to be the root of a lot of my issues. This is that story.

When I was twenty-two years old, I married a man I’d met about a week prior. Actually, I’d known him for several years, but we had never spent a moment together until then. He had been in prison, and we’d corresponded with letters and tapes. He professed to love me. No one else ever had. I didn’t think I would find someone else who ever would. I liked being wanted, being needed.

I wasn’t attracted to him. I was pretty uncomfortable with him, actually. But I had promised to marry him, and I did.

I am deeply, deeply ashamed of that. I should have known better.  But he had crossed the country to be with me. Actually, he’d broken laws to be with me, which led to our first few years being a pretty fucked-up mess. At the time, I didn’t think there was any way I could have said “no”. Deep down, I may have felt that the risk of saying “no” was greater than the risk of continuing. I chose to continue.

The marriage lasted seven years. It was about two years into it when he began using heroin. He’d been a junkie before, and I knew it. I pretended not to realize what was going on for another year. By then, we were deep in debt. The first time he overdosed, I called 911 and we went to the hospital for him to be revived. The second time he overdosed, I just sat on the bed and waited to see if he would come around or not.

Eventually, he went back to jail for a few months, and somehow I found the strength to tell him he couldn’t come home when he got out. He did anyway — he had nowhere else to go. It took about a week of constant fighting, and an OD suicide attempt, before he got it through his head that I was serious.  He packed up and moved out of state, and he has never come back.

Except in dreams. For years I dreamed about trying to get him to leave; dreams where I would come home and he’d be there, acting like he belonged there. I’d have to convince him all over again to leave.

And there were dreams about a panther lying on my chest, patiently waiting for me to make one wrong move so it could tear my throat out.

I still have these dreams sometimes, over ten years later.

I did a lot of work to get past this, to build up my self-esteem and re-enter the world as a strong, confident, single woman. I did a pretty good job of getting my life back together. Except for one thing. I still blame myself for those seven years of hell. I put myself into that situation. I let it continue. I let myself be abused both emotionally and physically. And I’ve never forgiven myself for that.

And there’s one more thing. The night before he left, we had sex. At this point, I truly hated him, but was so relieved that he’d finally relented and was leaving. I had no desire for him, but he knew how to touch me, and I gave in to him. I had an orgasm.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about that.

If you’ve read my blog, you know I have difficulty with reaching orgasm with a partner. Now, truthfully, he was not wholly responsible for this orgasm, but when we had sex we frequently used a position where I could reach my clit while he was inside of me. So not only did I let him fuck me one last time, I brought myself to orgasm while he was doing so.

I feel sick to my stomach every time I’ve thought of this in all the years since. I despise myself for allowing that to happen.

I’m starting to realize that somehow, deep down in the festering heart of that wound, I may have decided that I would never be allowed to have an orgasm with a partner again. That my body’s refusal to orgasm through a partner’s stimulation is my punishment on myself for doing something that so disgusts me to remember.

The first man I got involved with after the marriage ended told me, directly and explicitly: “I am not your ex.”  I took that to heart, and I’ve never again projected my distrust of my ex onto any other man. I don’t have trust issues, I don’t expect every man to abuse me, and I can stand up for myself in a relationship.

But I certainly don’t trust myself. And I’ve never forgiven myself. And in order to move on, I need to learn how to do both of those things.

 

 

 

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Passion, Intimacy, Commitment.

September 17, 2011 at 10:01 am (Polyamory, Real Life, Relationship) (, , , , )


The great trifecta – or Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love – has been on my mind a lot lately. Passion, Intimacy and Commitment. The ideal, of course, is to have all three, but many relationships settle into a state where two are stronger. My marriage is definitely on the Companionate side of that triangle (see link above).

DH and I have been talking about this. We’ve had sex a whopping three times in the past seven days, which is unusual. It’s comfortable, familiar, satisfying in its own way. But it distinctly lacks passion. There is no anticipation, no lust, no longing for sexual contact. We mainly have sex in the morning as an extension of cuddling. It’s an act of affection, but not necessarily one of desire.

I miss desire like crazy. I miss lust. I miss longing to touch someone and be touched, and I miss anticipating fulfillment of those needs. This puts me in an awkward position right now. The boyfriend was very effectively filling those needs, but we’re currently on a sexual hiatus while I work through some issues. I’m trying to be all Zen about it, and feel and acknowledge the desire without fulfilling it. Sometimes that approach is effective, and even somewhat pleasurable. Sometimes it is not, and I have to resist firing off a text message that would probably result in rejection.

I’m also struggling to accept the reality that the passion in my marriage is gone. Oh, I know, there have been thousands of women’s-magazine articles written on how to revive the passion in your marriage, and I’ve read a couple dozen of them. The problem with their advice is, both partners have to be willing to invest time and energy in reviving that passion.

DH is okay with the lack of passion. He does not want to put time and energy into games, dress-up, sexy love notes, or any of those other “put the passion back in your marriage” ideas. He values companionship and emotional intimacy over passion, and I do agree with him on that point… a lifelong partnership has a better foundation if intimacy and commitment are strong. I also think he doesn’t experiences passion the way I do, or sees the need to express it the way I do. It’s just a fundamental difference in perspective that is unlikely to ever change, like our difference of opinions regarding the moon landing (old joke, I’ll explain it some other time).

This is sometimes difficult for me to accept. I want that trifecta. I know that the lack of passion doesn’t devalue the other pieces we have, and I struggle not to diminish or overlook the value of those other two parts, because they’re worth immeasurable amounts. If I seek out fulfillment of my need for passion in another relationship, it’s also a struggle not to let that overwhelm and thus devalue the intimacy and commitment I have with my husband, because the passion is that longed-for missing piece. It’s the new toy on Christmas Day that makes you forget all your other, once-favorite toys. Passion is an oooh-shiny distraction for me, and I need to learn how to take it in measured doses, keeping my head about what it is and what it does for me.

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