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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