Life is best when it’s two. So quoth the single and the attached. Marriage for two remains the goal, with its accompaniment of benefits and tax breaks. Restaurant specials are offered to Couples. The day to day conveniences of being in a Couple are supposedly all around us.
I show up, mid afternoon, with a bottle of strawberry margarita mix and a box of donuts.
I don’t know all these girls. I don’t even know if they are all girls, aside from 1) the assumptions I’ve been conditioned with my whole life that says “This person ‘looks’ like a girl,” and 2) my friend called this a “Girls’ Night.” At least one is non binary. But it’s okay that I don’t know their names, identities, etc. Because I know my friends, and I know they wouldn’t bring anyone here who wasn’t someone I could be myself around. And I’ll learn about them, and, perhaps even get to know them better over time. Beyond anything else, I’m looking forward to sitting and luxuriating in all the feminine energy!
Semi-quarantine during Covid is a funny time to meet people, you might say. It’s true. And I don’t often. But when I do go out? It’s almost always gotta be something like this. Where I don’t have to mind my p’s and q’s (whatever the p and q stands for, anyway.)
I can just be…me.
Some of us, perhaps, are lucky enough to have had/have this our whole lives. Wherever we go. I am sure some of my vanilla-presenting friends are, indeed, as happy as they say. As comfortable floating through life, as I am, in my trusted little bubbles. I do not hold this against them. But it may be hard for someone who “fits” to understand what it means to “not fit.”
But, here, among this group of girls, I feel safe. And I just don’t feel this way in proper society. It’s not even much different, to be honest. Nobody’s pulling out their floggers and dragon tails. Only -one- girl is in a unicorn onesie. Everyone’s (nearly) fully clothed. Nobody came here to play. Tonight isn’t about that. It’s about being among like minded folk. Open, reassuring, creative, etc. All the things I love best. That’s all.
I don’t even want play, not tonight.
If it happens, it happens. But tonight, it doesn’t, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I needn’t even be kinky to be welcomed by this very lovely group. If I were very modest and vanilla, nobody would care. Nor would they care if I were Super Kinky Woman.
We just eat donuts and drink wine. Mention the latest penis we’re dating (with pics!) and also how nicely the paint came out in the new house. Or try on cute clothes during an impromptu fashion show. And, yes, I do mean flashing penis pics at each other. Okay? These things happen.
More than, that, however, I can cuddle up to my girlfriend, whilst casually referring to my other partners.
Nobody blinks. No curious glances. No lengthy explanations and spontanous mini Ted talks. We continue to drink wine and eat donuts. And that’s surprisingly refreshing!
Everyone shares a bit about what they are up to these days. I tell them about the munchkins, the castle we’re moving into, the fun little adventures I’ve had…all of it. Without worrying if I’ve slipped up, said too much. Said the wrong thing.
Because all of these girls are “worse” than me.
Or just as bad. Or as awkward, or quirky, or strange…or anything as I am. At any rate, none of us will judge the other. And they practically assume you are kinky, poly, whatever. Which is problematic in its own way, but still, for once it’s nice for the assumptions to be made in the opposite direction (“No, sorry, I’m actually quite vanilla and mono, but I appreciate that you are different from me!”)
Well, -I’m- not mono, but I am, actually, fairly vanilla. Except for the whole M/s/pet play/I’m owned thing. But, like, who doesn’t do that, right? (kidding!) Still, I don’t own a single sex toy that I use (my friend gifted me a dragon tail, but I don’t actually want it used on me/know how to use it. Of course, I may change this in the future.)
There’s not even any qualification here as to who is Kinky Enough or Poly Enough or Non Binary…or…or anything Enough.
When I’m here, I matter to these lovely folk. Just for being myself. No matter who I am or what I say (so long as it’s not cruel or offensive). I am heard, as are they.
I absolutely love and crave this. It’s my self care. It’s how I rejuvenate. With people like this. My girlfriend is here, and my partner joins later in the night (after we open up the evening to the boys and neighbors and such).
So, no, I don’t know these people, not all of them, but it doesn’t matter. Where do -you- go to be among your “safe” crowd?
“[My] kids come first in everything…We live and breathe for our children. When they are grown and have families of their own then we will have our time together again….No exceptions. I love my children far more than I love my husband!”
“We raise our children to become independent, to leave us and make their own lives. If we wish to have a life with our spouse after the children leave? We have to put the marriage first, nurture it. So there will continue to be a marriage when they move on.”
“No babysitters. Our children are TOP priority and we haven’t been on a real date since before our oldest was born. It’s rough but it’s our reality. And neither one of us trust just anybody with our children.”
I read this article, “Put your spouse first, kids second!” The article claimed this to be the way to ensure a happy family and marriage.
Of course not everyone agreed. Some vehmently objected and said their kids always came first! Others said, yes, if you don’t take care of your spouse- the one who will be there for you when the kids are gone- you will end up with nothing. Most took one side or the other.
I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that not everyone lives this way, because, well,
What about the crazy idea that you put both (kids and spouse/partner/insert any other appropriate relationship title) first?
Is it truly that hard? I understand for some it can be…they don’t want to put one above the other, but they don’t always know how to make it happen.
Some parents do understand this, of course.
I’m currently trying to balance this in my own marriage. After we had kids i feel like we kinda forgot there was an us first. My first child was always there (she was 2 when we started seeing each other) but after we had our son our marriage kinda got put on hold. We had to take a step back and remember WE were important too!”Facebook commenter
I’m tired of the idea that it needs to be a competition between spouse and kids.
I don’t want that life. I didn’t agree with the person who said that they never went on a date, because they had to be with their kids every second. Or the person who said you had to put marriage first. Their argument being that kids would grow up and leave, but the marriage would always be there. Because parents need date nights and an identity that isn’t being a parent. And kids need attention, too.
I’d like to propose a modest solution: find a way to put the FAMILY first.
Which includes YOU as part of the family. I have no intention of my kids growing up and leaving me, anymore than I left my parents when I left my family home. Of course I’d want our kids to be independent and living on their own– but I don’t want them gone! I am still there for my parents on a near weekly basis. So, no, I won’t find myself in the position of having my kids gone and only my spouse left.
I don’t think you should choose kids now, spouse later OR spouse first, because kids will leave, spouse will stay. I think you should have date nights and be there for your kids. Take care of everyone’s needs and wants, as well as your own (theoretically your spouse and even, to an extent, your children, are doing the same for you; it’s not just you giving and everyone else taking).
There must be a way to live that doesn’t make either feel “second place.”
Because that’s what I have with my partner and family. And I wouldn’t ask anyone else to accept less.
I’ve always felt lucky in that my primary partner has always made me feel valued and prioritized in our relationship, not despite, but because of the fact we have kids that we are raising together.
And to be quite frank, while it is hard work, I don’t think it’s any harder than trying to make your spouse happy at expense of children (or vice versa.) Having a family and raising kids? It’s hard. But that doesn’t mean it has to be painful and miserable. (And if you want an easier life, which is PERFECTLY fine, don’t have kids! It’s avoidable these days, and if you are unable to access these options, CONTACT ME and I WILL help you! You do not have to be a mother unless you want it! I cannot entirely say this about fathers, so please be smart about this!)
What if life was more like this?
“I love my kids with all my heart. I do everything for them. But if I have the opportunity to leave them with family and take my husband on a romantic vacation? That’s happening. If my husband and I are having an argument that’s difficult to come to terms, you bet my kids are being sent outside. Or to their rooms, until we have both resolved our issues. Prioritizing my marriage isn’t about putting my kids last, it’s about keeping their parents happy, and their lives stable.”Facebook commenter
“I always feel these articles should be worded more along the lines of “Don’t let being a parent completely overrun your relationship.” As in, I am always a mother first, however I still am a human seperate that with hopes and dreams. You are allowed time to be just yourself. In the same way, we should remember that it’s okay to leave the kids with someone and go out with your SO. It’s okay to occasionally “put them second” in this sense, to make sure you get to remember who you are as a couple as well ♥️ but, no, I couldn’t imagine saying they come first all the time.“Facebook commenter
Because that’s how my life works, and it actually does work, and everyone is pretty happy. No, I’m not saying that everyone is happy all the time and always gets what they want. But the compromises work well for all involved and aren’t usually much of a compromise. And it isn’t just me. Just from the support of comments I made on the article, I know that many find ways to balance the needs of everyone in the family.
So how do we move away from this competition between making the marriage succesful and making the relationship with children successful?
Because, while some have found their own solutions and balance, this remains a problem. Many couples with children do choose to neglect one or the other and make one come “first.”
I noted this statisic from the article,
“[M]ultiple researchers have shown a precipitous drop in the level of marital satisfaction in the first three years of a new baby,” says Liz Colizza, a licensed professional counselor and head of research at Lasting, a relationship counseling app. In fact, 67 percent of all couples experience a drop, while only 33 percent maintain their level of satisfaction, according to research published in the Journal of Family Psychology.“Why My Children Will Always Come Second to My Marriage”
I don’t know what to do about solving this widespread problem. But I do think we can encourage some- in my opinion- healthier behaviors. Perhaps ask your non monogamous friends in healthy, happy relationships.
Some of my non monogamous/poly friends in the healthiest relationships I know also have some of the best relationships I know with their children; because they’re already used to balancing multiple priorities. They already learned those “relationship skills.”
Similarly, I wonder if that makes -good- parents great candidates for polyamorous relationships, “I can treat both my spouse and children well, of course I can treat a new partner well.”
Or…here’s a few suggestions. Such as:
It’s okay to go on a date night and leave the kids with Grandma.
Or with any other family member. Or with a babysitter. Or at a sleepover with friends. Your kids, in fact, need to develop good relations with people that aren’t you. I think it’s much more selfish to make your children dependent on you and only know how to interact with you– than it is to allow them some time away from you. You get time for date night with your spouse (or whomever)! And Grandma has the chance to get to know her grandchildren. Win-win-win.
Develop friendships, close relationships, with other adults who can help you as you help them. I am my kids’ “friendmom.” My family wouldn’t know what to do without me. Can you find a friendmom for your family? Someone like an aunt, but closer to you emotionally (or perhaps you do have an aunt that is an integral member of the famiy, rather than a distant, or even loving, relative)?
Because I promise you that you don’t want to end up having it so bad between the two (your children and spouse) that you are forced to choose the happiness of one or the other. Because their wants and happiness are so divergent that you cannot possibly make both happen.
Or let’s say you absolutely cannot find a way to make both parties happy and prioritized.
You never have a date night, because your kids need you with them every second of every evening. Or your husband tells you that you need to move to a home that is more convenient to his work, even though that means uprooting your children for their friends, life, and the school that they love to a school with which they are incredibly unhappy (yes, sometimes moving is necessary but the children should benefit from the move, too).
Well, that is a sucky situation. I, personally, would choose my children in that case and find a new partner to help raise them. And I think, often, most others do, too. Or maybe they just make the best of it for everyone, with nobody really getting what they want. But I don’t think anyone would say that’s a great situation.
Please try and make sure that you and the mother/father of your children are on the same page as to A) how to raise them and B) how to balance your family life! Failure to do that (and, yes, life happens) can have miserable consequences.
The rest of it?
A good relationship counselor or marriage counselor can probably help you figure out the day to day issues, if you have trouble with time management, etc.
It’s not at all impossible to reach that place of happiness and contentment among your family; it’s just a life skill that some haven’t learned (like any skill, it’s hard until it’s not hard).
How do you balance YOUR family life?
P.S. Are you trying to find a way to balance your spouse and children AND considering entering a polyamorous relationship, too? Not sure how you’ll manage it all? Stayed tuned for my next piece on “scheduling poly dating life and childcare: how do you make them both work?”!
Some women see their scars as flaws. Some accept them as a part of life. I…love my scars. They are memories drawn on my skin.
I have, in fact, a soft spot for the differences that are my scars. Because you may not realize this little known fact about scars, but at least in my case…
My scar is my favorite erogenous zone.
It’s softer than silk, and it responds to temperature and texture– you wouldn’t ever think this was a benefit of scarring, would you?
Sometime I forget about it, until someone runs their fingers over it, reminding me of the tingle it causes to run through my body. Other times I remember to ask the person, please don’t neglect this bit of me. It feels amazing.
I didn’t always feel this way.
I used to be ashamed of it. Hide it. I hated wearing swimsuits, because they obviously exposed that jagged mark across my body. People would ask questions, and I didn’t like the attention. Especially since I had it from a relatively young age.
I didn’t fully appreciate it. I thought it was an error on my body. But as my technical friends would say, “It’s not an error, it’s a feature.” Indeed, it is.
So, hey, whatever flaws you think diminish you? Perhaps they enhance you. Make you special, unique, beautiful. Don’t worry about being the “same” as everyone else. None of us are the “same.” We all have our quirks.
What stories are imprinted upon your body?
I am not perfect, by any means. But when I strain my recollection, as far back as I can remember, I cannot isolate a single incident of ever wanting to be anyone but me. I’ve never watched a romantic comedy and thought anything but, “That was fun, but thank God I’m not that person. I like my own romantic life much better.”
I’ve never been envious of celebrities. If anything, I respect many of them, but I also pity them a bit. For always having someone on their case about their hair, their teeth, everything. Especially the ones that got fucked up as child actors.
I am, truly, happiest being myself.
I have a penchant for chocolates from this one chocolate shop. I don’t know if it’s the best chocolate; I just like the people and the shop. Being in that shop makes me crave chocolates, not because I need sweets, but because of their passion towards chocolate making. Chocolate is who they are.
I hardly have lesser expectations when it comes to my interactions with people. I think being “me” whoever you are is amazing. I want to talk about whatever you are most passionate and knowledgeable. Sure, we can talk about other things, but I definitely want to learn about your most “you” qualities and interests.
I just have one teensy, tiny confession. I am sincere when I say I wouldn’t switch lives with anyone–
But I might want to be Mary Poppins.
I don’t know if Mary Poppins is a faerie, an alien, a witch, or something else entirely. I’ve read all, or most, of the stories– and I’m still uncertain of Who She Is. I don’t think anyone knows. I am, however, fairly sure I could be happy being her. No regrets.
I imagine myself soaring through the air with my fantastic magic carpetbag and an umbrella to shade me from the harsh sun. Until I found a home and children for whom to care and help nuture relationships between themselves, their parents, and their family.
I feel like I could be everything that is me, but with magical abilities.
I try, in my own little way, to create my own magic. Still, it might be a little easier as Mary Poppins. I’d stick gold paper stars on the sky to create new constellations. I’d take my friends on an adventure and explore all of a town’s graffiti.
I could be my most caring, loving self– but with a little extra help. I am an AWESOME mom, aunt, friend, artist, and partner– and I know it. Yes, that can make me a bit arrogant, but I know my value (as does Mary Poppins.) I am the person that people feel comfortable confiding in. I’ll listen, and if you ask, I will stay quiet and let you do all the talking– but at the same time I’ll assess the situation to offer practical advice proven to work in similar situations.
I’d be the person to help you through your day. Add a spoonful of sugar to your sour moments. I’d hold you and comfort you to sleep. Of course one of my lacking qualities is that I likely couldn’t stay forever. Yet I would stay you with for a while, as long as you needed to be able to care for yourself without me around. Or perhaps a very long time. Until the wind changes…
…who would you be if you could?
She stamps her foot and says, “I am here, and I will not be quiet.” She wishes her domain run with a certain discipline. A certain grace breezing across her lands (or at least her side of the bed.) She does not care for chores, especially doing dishes, and she doesn’t like to wake up early. But, of course, all princesses must stay humble by reminding themselves of how their citizens live (and so she does do laundry and wipes down surfaces and even cleans bathrooms, ugh.)
She is a gracious princess and hostess, however. Without that quality, she is nothing but a spoiled brat (and not the fun kind). She is a princess because of her state of being, not because she posseses wealth (although that often helps), but she does want to give (it’s just sometimes she still feels like Cinderella when she was the pauper, not the princess).
She tries her best to be a benevolent ruler, drawing people towards her with a natural charm. She may get impatient at times- even much of the time- but she mostly just wants people to be kind and loving and to stop fighting over Every. Single. Little. Thing. She has no time for drama, there are too many problems- not only of the world, but of her friends– in desperate need of attention.
She is a child at heart, but she is far more than that. She likes to wrap herself in warm blankets to be safe, and she carries her precious stuffed animal with her in public and pretends it is a mascot for her group or her daughter’s stuffed animal that she happens to be carrying, because, well, you know how kids are (in this way, nobody suspects what it means to her).
She needs to be reminded of what she has to do, but once she is told, she generally follows through. Except when she is tired or hungry or when she just doesn’t feel like doing something. She doesn’t color (not every little enjoys crayons), but she does love to make crafts and she sings songs to herself when she thinks nobody is listening (or when she feels safe).
She will play any game with you, or invent one of her own. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the rules. So long as you play with her, she will be perfectly content and do her utmost to keep you entertained. She will, no doubt, provide you with constant amusement.
She wants to be comfortably herself, no matter what, and she will happily do what makes you happy, so long as it doesn’t harm her own well being. She thinks the world could be much simpler and pleasant, if only everyone didn’t grow up so fast.
She likes to push things off the bed, including, sometimes, her master. But she means no harm by it. She prefers scratches to whips and snuggles to beatings. A spanking might elicit a yelp, or it might scare her off entirely.
She will purr and curl around you, no matter where you might be. If you dare to lie down on a couch or a chair, be prepared for the Kitten to leap out of nowhere to drape herself across you and the couch. Once you begin petting her, however, be warned. Stopping the petting may result in a sudden Kitten Explosion. Keep petting her for the next ten years, to be on the safe side.
She requires several hours of sleep at a time. She might be the sort that is okay with water, and she may venture from the bed to various bodies of water (bathtub, hot tub, outdoor springs) when time and ability permits. If she is an outdoor Kitten, she will go outside from time to time. If she is an indoor Kitten, understand that it may take a great deal of effort for the Kitten to get dressed and Go. Into. The. Scary. Outdoors.
She will be your loyal companion till death do you part (or until you stop feeding and watering her). She will always be there for a hug, unless she is in an antisocial mood. She will keep the mice away. And attract other, cute Kittens and sometimes Puppies. She will always be there to hold you at night (or at least be held.)
Is your partner any of the above? Or all three? Share your stories!
I adore WALL-E.
It came out ten years ago, a couple of years before I settled into practicing my form of polyamory. Before I knew the word existed. I moved to Korea shortly after the movie was released, and I showed it to my Korean students. Their mastery of English varied quite a bit (though all speak it infinitely better than I speak Korean); and this is one where you don’t need to know many words. You just need to feel compassion.
Not long after I returned to the US, I watched my partner kiss his then love– and I didn’t feel jealous. I did feel pleased for them. It made me think they were in love.
At various points along my journey into a polyamorous relationship, I think about why this love story makes me feel good, when most fail to impress me at even the barest level. Perhaps, I think to myself as I fall asleep, its the fact that the love between the two robots is not romantic. It’s not sexual. There’s no expectations, no “relationship agreements.” It’s a pure love, devoid of complications that I witness in other romantic love stories. Their battle is never with each other.
The story of WALL-E and EVE is simple, but beautiful.
There’s a sweet montage where “La Vie En Rose” plays in the background while WALL-E does awkwardly adorable things to try and get EVE’s attention. But when it becomes clear to WALL-E that what EVE cares about is this little green plant? He risks everything to give it to her. It’s not about him. I mean, he likes the plant, but he doesn’t see it the same way she does.
But it’s important to her. It means everything to her, and so it is everything to him (and, at the same time, he still takes care of what is important to him and doesn’t lose himself utterly to her, even as he grows in his compersiveness).
What their love is, is compersive.
WALL-E is still one of my favorite movies. I love animation. I love cute romantic stories that don’t make me puke.
Leave off the voyeur aspect of compersion. Leave off the idea that it means you must be jumping off the ground giddy every time your partner dates someone new. Leave off the idea that you need to gain JOY from your partner’s other partner.
Boil it down to the very essence of the word:
Happiness in someone else’s happiness.
I love how simple and happy the little robot is for the first robot friend he meets, even if it does take him a bit to get it “right.” All he really knows is what makes himself happy. He’s never had to worry about his cockroach companion, and that’s the only “person” he’s ever known. So, he’s not perfect about it at first, but he does try.
EVE doesn’t respond to WALL-E’s initial advances. Unless you count trying to blow him up with lasers. In general, she ignores him. Nonetheless, he keeps trying.
Because her happiness stirs something in him that makes life more than just getting up, doing a day’s work, and going back to robot sleep.
That, I believe, is the true beauty of compersion.
The idea that you are happy, because your partner (for purposes of this writing, I shall say ‘partner,’ but it could be a friend, family member, etc.) is happy. That you can be happy for their happiness– when they get a new job, when they achieve a new success, when they meet a new girl that curls their toes. That their being happy makes you feel warmer inside.
Sometimes my friends, my partners, my “tribe,” find happiness in something totally unrelated to me. That doesn’t mean they love me less. It simply means, on occasion, that we have different interests. Of course the fewer interests we share, the harder it might be to have a long lasting, entwined relationship (if we find everything about each other tedious, we might rethink whether we want to be together).
The funny thing is it actually does provide more joy in your life. Not the kind of joy where my Partner Sue dates her Partner Bobby…and Bobby becomes my friend so I get joy from our friendship…but a selfless joy.
It’s not better or more enlightened than other sorts of happy feelings– it’s merely different. But I am very much a “collect em all” when it comes to the pleasant, happy feelings. I highly recommend this one. (I also believe I deserve someone who can be compersive towards me, as well.)
Sometimes compersion can be difficult.
At one point, WALL-E might get chased and buried under shopping carts against a set of glass doors. And other similar incidents. Whatever. Sometimes it’s a little rough on the journey.
Compersion isn’t always easy for me, or anyone else. Happiness that doesn’t involve me? What?
It’s easy enough, until we stumble. Say, you and your partner start dating a girl. Turns out she likes your partner and not you. It’s a rejection that you can’t even get away from….but can you still be happy for the two of them?
Perhaps, but don’t worry if it takes time. Especially in this sort of situation when said happiness involves, -gasp-, Other People. Their dependence on you is diluted when others provide some of their happiness and security. That can be scary. If they don’t need you, will they want you? Plus, now they are getting something that you wanted. Can you still be happy for them?
Compersion is so much more- and so much less- than the silly misconceptions surrounding it.
Such feelings are sometimes complex and require time to age, much like a fine brandy. No, it doesn’t make you a worse person to not have this one under your belt from the start. Especially when you think it means things that no actual human could accomplish.
By the way, it’s okay to not be entirely the same person as a partner of yours. I like WoW. M likes Diablo. It hasn’t killed the relationship; and he can get excited about my shiny new helmet, just as I can get excited that he’s reached a new Torment level. And sometimes I play Diablo, too (I won’t ask ANYONE to play WoW without enthusiastic consent. I’ve sold my own soul, but I will not ask anyone else to do the same unless that’s their kink. That’s just fair. Plus, lately I think I’m losing interest, anyway.)
And, please, drop the idea that it has anything to do with watching your partner engage in sexytimes with someone else. Compersion is NOT voyeurism. It literally has its own kink for that.
When all the biscuit is put aside, I think asking that our partners be happy when we get excited and happy is not asking too much. That’s all it is, for me, and for everyone I know that actually feels compersive. Rather than trying to make ourselves feel what we think we OUGHT to feel.
And it’s seriously one of the most beautiful feelings ever.
…in an ideal, picturesque, though not entirely unachievable, world.
Some folk never quite get into traditional lifestyles. Some folk feel a bit off, but allow themselves to get settled, more or less happily, into a traditional lifestyle. Some get dragged, kicking and screaming, into a life they don’t want. I happened to be the first one, should that be of interest to you.
One’s entrance into polyamory might closer resemble a giant rock crashing down a cliff into the ocean, than a canyon eroded by a river.
…polyamory isn’t always easy at first.
You come into it, you may not know much of anything good about love and relationships, you’ve probably got to unlearn a suitcase full of toxic and destructive ideas (“Jealousy proves someone loves you,” etc, etc.).
The hard part about polyamory isn’t getting two or twenty partners– although, actually, the latter does sound pretty difficult. The real difficulty is opening yourself and adjusting your ideas of what is and isn’t possible. It’s a different way of seeing romantic love, or, perhaps, even love itself. After all, you needn’t be romantic to be polyamorous.
After that, well, the rest is mostly logistics and finding someone who fits your desires, kinks, needs, etc. Balancing Google calendars. Figuring out if you both/all want kids or not. But you gotta do all that for any romantic life partner. Poly or otherwise.
But it’s not so easy to abandon ingrained Rules of Relationships. That takes time…and…after a while…you learn something new…
Yes, a married man can stay the night away from his wife…and a wife can spend the night from her husband.
“I met a man. He’s married and he cannot stay the night with me.” The first time she’s denied this it feels wrong, as if she’s left out of something that makes this love real. A simple thing, she’s always been used to in any relationship. But he always goes home to his wife. She thinks this is just what she should expect…until she dates another married man. He willing spends nights with her, not every night, but some nights. He say, A married man is perfectly capable of spending a night with his girlfriend.”
She realizes something, too, because, frankly, she is coming to understand that she likes having her bed to herself. Some of the time. The last man didn’t owe it to her. Over time, she realizes, “Even if he were single, he had every right to choose to spend those nights with someone else, or simply keep them for himself. I can’t expect him to spend nights with me automatically, but to seek someone who consciously chooses to spend them with me, should I desire it. Because he’ll have to accept that I can’t give him every night, either.” It’s not about what has to be, but what she and he want.
If you love two people at the same time, choose both. Because loving the second does not invalidate the first.
“He can’t possibly love me. He already loves someone.” Perhaps it’s true, perhaps not. She feels this is true, in her heart, except, except. Tiny doubts swirl. The man who claimed to love her yesterday left her without a second thought, she tells herself. The man who says he probably doesn’t love her, that he isn’t sure about his feelings, treats her as she would treat someone she loved. In little ways. Texts her good night with an emoji of two people kissing, even though he doesn’t seem the “type.” He remembers her favorite candies are salted caramel dipped in DARK chocolate.
Tonight, can you hold me a few minutes longer? Of course, I can, he says as he pulls her tighter to his chest. And a part of her begins questioning the difference between what she thinks love should be in theory and what it’s meant to her in reality. “Does he love me or not, and, truthfully, do I care?” She doesn’t know. She thinks she ought to care, but she feels too happy to let herself drown in worry. He’s never said it, but a lot of people have said it to her, some that she met only virtually, some that she never even said a word to, but they loved her, somehow. And none of that made her feel a fraction of how good she feels now.
Long distance love is more than possible.
“I can’t be with him, he’s too far away. It’ll never work.” It’s never worked for her in the past. She doesn’t mind, it’s just a fling. “He’ll get bored.” But he doesn’t. A trip happens, unexpectedly soon. I’m traveling to him tomorrow, for three days. She can’t stop the excitement from shooting through her, almost like a pain. Six months later, he travels to her. This time for a week. “This can’t work,” she reminds herself. The distance is bound to kill the spark. “He’ll find someone new.”
And he does, because he needs someone to share his bed through the night, too. But he doesn’t stop talking to her. The texts, the gifts, the video chats, all keep coming. Somehow, it feels as if it’s working. For now, for the moment…and for all the moments for the next three years…she wonders, “When will it stop working?” Eventually, she forgets to stop asking the question, far too busy managing her local loves and him.
and so it goes. each wave crashing, receding. an evolution of thought in relationships.
I apologize if I cannot give much of a timeline on how long it takes. I never bothered to learn love from fairytales or romances. I thought they were sweet, I still read fairytales. Scandanavian, Greek, Russian, Chinese. But I never took The Little Mermaid as a model of love. I learned love and relationships from watching people.
What was possible and what wasn’t possible I learned from watching what worked and didn’t work for others. I actually thought I’d learn about sex by joining my friends for the first time, because what did I know? Better to see it for myself.
I believe– and you may correct me if you like– that if something is possible for one person, it is possible for any person. Desired by anyone? No. Concievably able to happen? Barring any practical limitations, yes. Trying to force your partner to date the person you find attractive? Not very possible. Wanting your partner to spend the night with you? Completely possible.
Of course your partner may not want to spend the night away from their home. Your partner might, at your gentle nudging, find themselves swooning over the girl you picked out for them (in your head). It all depends on what people want, plus what people are capable of offering (occasionally there are limitations in what a person wants to do and what they can do). But I imagine they aren’t as limited as you’ve been made to believe.
what misconceptions have you left by the wayside?
I find a certain peace in watering my plants. Early in the morning, when the hummingbirds spin round, before the heat of the day sucks the moisture from my body.
I prefer sturdy plants that don’t require a great deal of water, so I don’t stress about killing them. I may not have the greenest of green thumbs. But I do my best. I think I do it fairly compentently. I’ve kept a basil plant alive for weeks! It isn’t only the act of watering the plants that brings me satisfaction, however.
It’s the bounty it produces.
The colorful blooms and bright red tomatoes. I love popping a cherry tomato off the vine and its flavor bursting in my mouth. You see…
…the tomato plant can’t produce anything if it doesn’t have water.
Yes, I have many partners. More than that, I have many friends. Many family members, both blood and chosen. Some people say the poly life is overwhelming because of this— but let me tell you a little secret…ssshhh, come closer!
The more I give to my partners, the more they give back to me.
How do I manage not to allow myself to get drained? Truth is that my own cup is overflowing all the time. It’s all I can do to make sure I return the favor to all the special people in my life! I’d hate for someone to give me so much, and me give too little in return.
There’s this silly idea out there that each relationship must be a drain on me— and maybe all your experiences with relationships have been that they take and take and never give. But I refuse to be with someone who takes everything without contributing. As much as I might love you or think you are a good person, I won’t allow myself to be sucked dry.
“But what about when you’re not around? How do you keep them fulfilled when you aren’t there?”
Hmmm. Thanks for the stroke to my ego, but my partners are quite fulfilled. With or without me sitting next to them, staring into their eyes like a demonic presence.
I don’t think my partners are only happy when they’re with me, but, yes, sometimes they miss me. Sometimes I miss them. But that’s life. You miss people in real life.
It’s okay, though, because they have their own lives. I am not always a part of that. It’s okay to keep one’s independence AND simultaneously be near codependent in your relationship with another. It’s not always easy, but the more people you have in your life, the more support you have, too. It’s an upward spiral. Perhaps Stephanie isn’t available to help you deal with losing your job– but Amanda is, and her words are just as comforting, if in a different way. Poly is, in many ways, about appreciating what you have in the moment.
“Well, what about self care? How do you tend for yourself?”
That’s one of the beauties of having so much love and support. While I am never going to not need self care, at the moment, I don’t really need that much. I’m pretty happy. I find a few moments here and there, and that’s plenty. I can always find SOMETHING, even if it’s not much. A hot bath at the end of the day. Indulging in chats with one of my online groups.
Sure, I can fall behind. With myself. With someone in my family. With a friend or a partner. But life isn’t about keeping score. You forgive yourself, and you work to do something nice the next day.
Besides, what about yourself?
It’s not always about the romance. I bet that you have at least as many “relationships” going on in your own life. You just don’t call them relationships. But—
— think of all the relationships YOU maintain. Your four children, your elderly parents, your best friend who lives two states away, your social group, your volleyball team? You probably are doing just as much as I am doing, without even realizing (and if you don’t, that’s okay, too). Life, after all, isn’t just about boyfriends and girlfriends.
…be honest. How do YOU do it?
How many relationships are YOU nurturing in your life? Romantic, platonic, familial, professional?
Like other analogies? This one might help!
I never said I am the eternal optimist. Sometimes my tiny turtle mind says, “Hey, little dude, you’re flat on your back and you can’t get up!”