Monthly Archives: November 2014

Moving Forward, a Slow March

On Monday we had Renee over to our house for a low key pizza night. It was important for me to have her up in our territory, and see how we all interacted together. And it was good. Easygoing. Everything I imagined it would be, minus any of the possible sexiness, since both of our kiddos were hanging out in the living room with us. There was pizza and wine and chocolate. The kiddos played mostly happily together, and it felt like we had known her for 100 years.

It was a little awkward at bedtime, as she forgot that the two of us are almost always needed to put the munchkin to bed. And after she had gone home, Keith and I laid in bed and talked and talked while the little one snuggled in between us. The debrief. Where we both realized that we are so 100% on the same page that it’s not even funny. That the fantasy of open marriage has become a reality, and that we are both very interested in moving forward. Yet, at the same time, we are both surprised and shocked by how it has progressed. In our debrief we talked about where each of us were, and I confessed that I feel a bit like I am trying to play catch up, and that is complicating how I’m feeling. I hadn’t even known that Keith was talking to Renee until a few weeks ago, and their relationship went from 0-60 in their first date. And I don’t work quite that way. With Anne, I felt instant sexual chemistry from the moment we met, but we still didn’t even begin a sexual contact until around date 3. While it’s easy to get me off, it’s sometimes a little more difficult to get me to the place where I’m hot to trot. I’m in the firmly undecided category on whether I want to pursue anything sexual with Renee.

Thought that’s not a knock on her, as I am feeling unmotivated sexually at the moment anyway. Can I be teased out of my head and glumpy thoughts? Sure. Does it take a little work? Sure. As in, if Renee made the first move, and started making out with me, I know I’d thoroughly enjoy it. I’m feeling like I’m going through some weird shift between being highly sexual and asexual. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m just not feeling that sexual in the past couple of weeks. And Keith agreed. That he’s actually felt the same way, too. And maybe that’s why we’re a good match, except when our cycles of sexiness are off.

So I think we’re all on the same page. Moving forward. Slowly. Building a relationship. And I’m (mostly) enjoying myself, though the conversations are difficult and long and necessary.

Living with Strong & Competing Emotions

On Saturday, a few hours before my first date with Renee, I got a message from my ex Anne. I hadn’t heard from her since we broke up in August. She was apologetic for how things ended, and basically said she thinks of me a lot and hopes things are good with me. Talk about punch to the gut. Sure, I think about her, too, but if someone gets so stressed out that they break up over toast, then I can’t really have that person be around.

And yet, I do miss her, miss what we had.

So I mustered up my energy to head down to Renee’s house for some home cooked pepperoni pizza, which I felt was very sweet. We were hanging out with her 8 month old son, and I felt very comfortable with her from the get-go. But not overwhelming passion like I felt with Anne, so in my mind I was conflicted, because this felt like that friendship piece I want, where I could simply hang out and be myself and could see myself wanting to progress sexually.

While sitting at her kitchen table, though, I kept having these overwhelming thoughts. I kept imagining Keith having sex with her, in her house, where I was, just five days earlier. Like in some dissociated state, I had these weird feelings of being totally present and also stepping outside and analyzing, thinking ‘what did he see in her that he would cheat?’ We all decided we wanted to move forward with pursuing one another, despite the hurt, but there was this part of me that was having a really hard time with it, the imagination piece was the worst. So I texted Keith, and said, “I don’t think I can do this, I’m so hurt by what you did,’ and after that I was actually more present and enjoyed myself.

So there’s the conflicting emotions. My experience clouded by the fact that I was sitting with the only other woman who has had sex with Keith. The hurt that the rules and boundaries we had created weren’t lived up to. The whole ‘what does he see in her that he didn’t see in me?’ irrational thoughts. The difference between intellectually being open and emotionally being open.

It ended up being a lovely evening, with no physical exchanges since her son stayed bright eyed and bushy tailed all evening, and I was getting a scratchy throat that turned into a full blown fever by the time I got home. It’s weird being in this place where I’m living with all of these conflicting emotions that bring up strong emotions and fears and insecurities. With Renee it was so easy until it wasn’t, which is part of the reason I enjoyed dating separate from my husband, though I think I would like to know the person/people is having sex with.

Maybe over time I’ll get used to it, but right now I still feel raw. And yet, I want to proceed, is that crazy?

Responding to Polyphobia and Rude Comments

elisabethsheff

On November 7, 2014, John D. posted a comment in response to one of my Psychology Today blogs, “Does Polyamory Work?.”

In his comment, John D. assumes that polyamory is obviously pathological and an excuse for inhumane and slavish behavior. This response, just one of the many, many like it that I have received over the years, has at its core the certainty that polyamory (or kink, or feminism, or ______(fill in the blank) is debased beyond redemption. Thus far I have taken these folks seriously and provided the evidence they demanded, attempting to engage them in reasoned dialogue. While occasionally this works, far more often they either disappear or snark. My patience with their foolishness is wearing thin, and I am beginning to question my accommodating strategy.

How do you all respond to people who make comments? How seriously do you take them? What do you think of my…

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Death of a Coping Mechanism

One of the best parts of my life is being surrounded by supportive and loving people who also know how to help me process when I am feeling both good and bad…and like this week, feeling both good/excited/happy and bad/frustrated/sad/upset/hurt at the same damn moment. I managed to spend a good thirty minutes with my therapist co-worker talking about my multitude of feelings.

All of this processing has helped me articulate to Keith last night, that the hurt I felt was not because he had sex on Monday night, the first extra marital sex experience (okay, okay, the first sex outside of me period). It’s that, when we were dating, and I tried to have sex with him on our first date, and he denied me that pleasure, I was understandable hurt inside. I knew that he had these moral convictions around sex, and so I convinced myself that it wasn’t really rejection, that it was because of morals, and that maybe I was the one who was wrong. Over the two years we dated and were engaged, I tried often to get him to have sex with me, all to no avail. We could do what he felt comfortable with, but not what I felt most comfortable with, all blamed on these moral/relgious beliefs.

I had all of these high hopes that once we got married we’d go from 0-60 in a short period of time. Instead we went from 0-30, which left me still feeling quite rejected often. His separation of intimacy and sex didn’t just congeal in one fell swoop, and so there were times I initiated and was denied, or longed to be touched and have him initiate with me, and I got radio silence.

And so here we are, 8 years later, and in one fell swoop my coping mechanism was completely shattered, with nothing to replace it. So my brain begins spinning because I revisit all of those times I asked for sex and was denied and think…well, if it wasn’t religious/moral reasoning, then it must have been me. He didn’t want to have sex with me. He’ll do it was some internet honey, but he wouldn’t do it for me. I didn’t even realize that all of this was bubbling inside of me, and he said, “I had no idea you felt rejected all those times. I thought you understood, and now my beliefs have changed, and I know it was hard to make the transition right when we got married, and I thought it would have been easier, and I’m so sorry you felt rejected all of those times. ”

Being able to articulate this crumbling of my coping mechanism made me feel so much freer. I feel like Keith’s ‘popping the seal,’ of extramarital sex is actually a good thing, because it allows me to really live within my belief that sex doesn’t always have to be this thing that has all these crazy intense meaning attached to it. And yet, now I think the hard work comes in working through and revisiting all the hurt from that night 8 years ago when I asked for sex and felt rejected the first time.

Rules are Made to be Broken?

Help me internet land, I’m in a place of cycling between incredible anger and sadness and insecurity. Last night Keith broke our one rule: no sex. It’s a rule I asked for, not because I have anything against sex, but because I have incredible insecurity around the whole sex thing because Keith denied me from having sex in the first two years of our relationship.

He was a virgin, I was not. We got married when he was 29, and the two years prior was filled with me attempting to have sex and being denied…repeatedly. Repeatedly. Under the guise of morality, as he had been raised in a Christian home, and was heading toward the ministry.

And so, when we opened up, I said…no sex…yet. I had almost lifted the sex ban with a woman who was so upfront and honest and kind with him from the get go that after their second date I said, “I feel comfortable if the next time you hang out with Kayla you have sex. She seems like the kind of girl who will stick around.”

So last night he heads over to Renee’s house, a woman he met on Tindr, and one that I’ve actually been chatting with over on OkCupid myself. It has been seemingly this really great start…he likes her, I like her, she seems to like both of us independently. Conversation and all flows well. when she invited him over to her place after the Sounders game I totally encouraged it. She had asked him if it was okay if he come over if nothing happens, which is what he was cool with.

And then they end up having sex.

She didn’t know. She didn’t know that I had that boundary. She didn’t know that he had been a virgin before we were married. Because Keith fucked up and didn’t tell her. He said he hadn’t even thought she’d want to meet him, let alone date him, and one thing led to another. I said that might work if you were a frat boy drunk at a party, but the fact that for 29 years you had a strong boundary even with the woman you were engaged with and then one night you just randomly decide to have sex?

I feel incredibly hurt. And insecure. Because now that ‘one thing’ that I had wanted to approve or share, the one thing I felt like was special between the two of us, isn’t there anymore. And it didn’t happen in a context I would like. It feels like he cheated.

So we’ve been crying. And talking. And yelling (me) and listening (him, and me). Texting her, and feeling validated, and supported, and all around soothed of my terrible insecurities.

But…how do I go forward? I’m basically asking…how do I prevent getting hurt, and I know that’s not possible.

I love this post by SoloPoly about deciding goals for yourself in open relationships. I know what my goals are, but it’s getting Keith to articulate what his goals are, ya know? Or maybe that’s not how it works. I don’t want to be the one to put a rule on to him, I want us to mutually decide what we’re goaling for, and then live into that with integrity.