Category Archives: dating

Baby Steps into 2015

Coffee on New Years with Ann. We hadn’t seen each other since the crazy texting breakup of 2014. I got to Starbucks early, and was reading a book when she walked up. And it was exactly like no time had passed at all, and yet a thousand years had passed. I saw her with normal eyes and not the rose colored glasses of infatuation.

We sat, and talked, catching up over the past few months. Pleasantries with really good energy between us, and then the conversation steered toward the deep, the painful, the vulnerable. I opened it up by saying, ‘I’m glad we’re talking again, I’ve missed you. And I’m scared to even say that, because I’ve never admitted to any ex that I’ve missed them and want them back.”

And she apologized. For everything. And not just a desperate I’m-so-sorry-boo-hoo needy apology. A well spoken, insightful apology that included her owning up to all her shit, including things like “when I said this, it’s because you triggered this in me, and it wasn’t you, it was me reacting to my self and my own insecurities,” and WOW. It’s taken four months, but we were really communicating. Non sexy communicating about wants, needs, boundaries, hopes, and not in a fantasy sense, but in a real honest to goodness two real life people who need things way. I told her that my biggest fear about entertaining the idea of dating her again is that this will be a pattern of crazy. That I will open myself up repeatedly to not be hurt in a normal daily hurt way, but in the emotional upheaval roller-coaster way.

We’re busy, with families, and work, and life. But we decided to move forward in baby steps. Texting. Maybe planning to hang out in the next month. Maybe redefining some boundaries we are comfortable with and what we’re not. Our time at the coffee shop ran out quickly, I had to make my way to Portland and she had to get to work. I kissed her goodbye by her minivan, and in one short hour we had gone from broken up to back together on some level. It feels optimistically good.

2015 has started off quite surprisingly!

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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?

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.

WTF Profile Pictures

I think I could possibly make 14.56 million dollars for coaching people in the fine art of online dating. You know where I would start? Profile pictures. I get it poly/bi/queer ladies…you’ve got hair. Brightly colored hair. Dreadlocked hair. No hair. That’s cool. But why do you take pictures of your hair with a 1.2 megapixel camera from 2004? Also, are you so drunk that your hand shakes constantly, because BLURRY. 

Seriously, that’s what I’ve noticed so far. Online dating is full of special snowflakes who feel the need to pick 4 pictures of them in costumes or with dia de los muertos facepaint. I get it, you’re into cool and edgy and offbeat things. So am I. I went barefoot for a year (there are no pictures of my feet online). I was kidnapped by a taxi driver in India while living there in 2006 (no pictures of me in front of the Taj Mahal). I have my wrists pierced and a tattoo on my ribs (also not visible in my profile pictures). I don’t get it. I want people to know all the cool things about me, too, but I am not my wrist piercing. I am not my tattoo. I am a cool person WITH these cool things. 

Maybe I’m just a bitter Betty after sending like 25 messages to seemingly ‘normalish’ people online, and only getting 2 back (1 lady was clearly cray cray, and another is really boring in her messages, so I have no idea what to talk to her about). I’m not turned off by flaming purple hair or the giant rose tattoo on your thigh, but think that could possibly be an element of our possible relationship, and not the whole thing. 

Thoughts people? How do you feel about the pictures people post? The quality of the pictures? How shallow and ‘like a man,’ I am for judging these ladies based on their profile pics? 

Tarot for Moving On

I was struggling this past weekend. I had written Anne a letter, not trying to rehash details, but to cauterize some of the jagged edges I felt from how we had ended. And when she responded in like, which brought up a lot of unfinished feelings inside myself. Because I see myself as a very straightforward person, it’s hard to hear that she said “I think you were more serious than me,” when in fact, she was the one who had a few months ago asked “are you taking a girlfriend application?” I feel like the confusion of her personal life was spilling over into dating me, and it was especially painful to read, “I give 99.9% of myself in all my other relationships and at work, and I need someone who will be my oasis.” As someone who doesn’t really do drama, but will call out miscommunication, that hurt, and I haven’t responded. I wasn’t the self-proclaimed ‘Disney princess, hopeless romantic,’ that she was, and I certainly do not want to be relegated to the point of doormat oasis. I don’t ask a lot from relationships, but what I do ask is to be present with me and work through communication issues as they arise. 

So naturally, after hours and hours of processing with my sister/good friends/Keith, I consulted an online tarot reading. Because fun and harmless. 

Past

The Past position in the reading refers to recent events and challenges that just took place, things that lead up to the present situation, and your role in them.

Six of Swords
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The Six of Swords represents a retreat that you took. You were dealing with heavy stress, signified by the choppy water behind the boat. This card can also indicate that you felt “haunted” by someone or something, and you sought closure. You left the situation behind, and set forth for the calmness of still waters. You learned to balance your mental state, evidenced by the swords that do not fall though the boat is in motion. You were the protector in the situation. Your loved ones relied on you to carry them away from troubled waters. You didn’t let them down.

Present

The Present position in the reading represents what is happening right now. Typically, this is what triggers you to seek out a reading. This card can often help you to understand what steps to take next.

Two of Cups
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Love and deep friendship are suggested by the Two of Cups. You may be in the process of entering into a fulfilling love relationship. This union is based on passion and strength, symbolized by the lion, and a healthy attitude, suggested by the Caduceus, or wand of medicine. The man and woman facing each other, staring into one another’s eyes, suggest the deeper sense of understanding that exists between them. You are probably feeling understanding with this person that you have felt with few others. Perhaps marriage is on the way.

Future

The Future position in teh reading describes what is just around the corner. It’s an official “heads up” about where the situation is heading and how you may navigate through it towards the best possible outcome.

Page of Pentacles
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Frequently, the Page refers to you, or someone of either sex who will strongly influence your life in the situation, and tends to be young or have a youthful semblance. In this card, the Page’s garments of brown and green demonstrate his connection to the earth. He gazes at his pentacle with pride and reverence; he does not take what he has for granted because he has worked so hard to earn it, and he knows he deserves what he has. He is the student, mezmerized by each mystery his studies reveal. The pay-off will matter very little to this person: he will do what he loves to do. His success will stem from his passion for his chosen field.

 

It didn’t solve everything, but it did leave me with a sense of groundedness. That it wasn’t ‘all my fault’ that the relationship ended (which was what my monkey mind was telling me), and that while the future is uncertain, it’s not a dreadful gloomy place. I learned so much about myself, letting myself open up to the possibilities, and am now free to pursue more relationships that make me happy (and are hopefully low drama? Does that exist with women?). Today I’m feeling in a calmly grounded place, and that is nice. 

Poly Dating & Band Camp

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A few weeks ago, after the friendzoned incident, Keith and I batted around the idea of joining OK Cupid. I finally got around to helping him set up his profile, and away he went, off into the land of non-monogamous dating in  serious and methodical way.

Not long after, I joined with my own profile. My intentions were FAR LESS pure than Keith’s, as he is really looking for an in-town girlfriend. I was…acting out because of hurt that Anne had to cancel one date (and then had to reschedule another). While we’ve patched it all up and are clearly moving in a beautiful direction, that hurt and insecurity over my lady love caused me to put my line in the water and see just who is out there in online dating land.

And honestly…

I’ve been sorta surprised. It feels a lot like band camp in this poly dating world.

Let me explain.

I come across a few different types of profiles. Gay or bi girls who are married/partnered and looking for another, or single gay/bi girls looking for casual/FWB/long term girlfriend (and they’re open to me being married or single).

And then…

Then there are these couples, with couple profiles, and it reminds me of all my years in marching band. While I was in band all through high school, I was also involved in sports (as a 6’1 girl, it was basically mandatory!! haha). As a part of the band I noticed this trend toward (what I deemed, then, to be) promiscuity. It was surprising to me, because band kids were NOT popular in school. And often I felt like I didn’t quite fit in. Yes I played sports, but I wasn’t popular. Yes I played an instrument, but I had a different set of social skills than most of my band peers. And thus I was sort of a floater. In my four years of high school band, it acted like one big poly community. Many of the people I knew were on the kinkier side of vanilla, and often they switched partners after a few months. While I wouldn’t say it was sophisticated poly (because often the girls felt heartbroken to be ‘traded in’ or ‘traded up’ by the guys in the band), there was definitely this openness to dating all within the community.

But in online dating, and now this might seem pretty judgey, I am coming across these very…band-camp couple profiles, where I am left scratching my head thinking ‘wow, they managed to find a partner, and now are wanting more?”

Oh God, I can’t believe I just admitted that online. But yes, I judge them. Not only based on their grainy or overly posed pictures, but also on how their profiles are written. And what they’re wanting from the theoretical ‘me’ that would be their third. I don’t feel super judgmental of people in person, so why am I reacting so viscerally to these online couple profiles? Maybe I should create a business helping people write their profiles so they don’t come across as so…creepy? Desperate? Borderline creepy?

But things like having Juggs&Gunns in your name, or ” hit me up right now if you are a liberal, non-religious crafty gal with a toddler or baby with a lot of free time on your hands and a reliable way to visit on a regular basis!” I I had heard the term unicorn hunter before, but..um…seriously? Isn’t that list a little bit specific?

I don’t really have a point to all of this, except that the whole thing fascinates me. There are quite a few really attractive and really interesting INDIVIDUALS on there, and some where they link their profiles to each other and seem super cool and down to earth, but the people who have couple profiles just come across as weird.

So far I haven’t actually done anything active, except upload pictures and fill out my profile/answer questions. I love that my situation with Anne has happened organically because Keith introduced us. I’m not quite ready to yet take the step and seek out/message people to try and get a relationship started. Plus, now that the hurt with Anne has smoothed over, and we’ve hung out again in person, and it was fabulous, I really want to focus on where she and I are going, rather than jump into the pool.

Anybody else have strange experiences with the couple profiles on OKC or another dating site? Am I the only one?

How Cake Didn’t Help Me Feel Better

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I’d been waiting a week for a repeat of our Saturday night goodtimes (which I have yet to blog about. Sigh). At any rate, the day sorta came…and went…and despite having bought Anne flowers and a chocolate cake to celebrate the end of the year and her graduating top of her class with a diversity certificate, I ended up watching too many cartoons on TV with my child and husband. And then I fell asleep in my kid’s room while doing his bedtime routine.

All of this after eating half a Trader Joe’s flourless chocolate cake…by myself.

Because, see, I had let myself get my hopes up. It’s something my mom told me NOT to do as a kid, rather than just teaching me how to deal with crushing disappointment. I don’t like to show how sensitive I really am, so I build up a shit-ton of walls to put on this swag that gives an impression that I am cool and unflinching in the face of disappointment. But, I gotta be honest, when Anne texted that she had to cancel our date, I was pretty fucking bummed.

The rational part of my brain kicked into gear, though, of course. I mean, her little sister had driven up from Oregon to fucking surprise her on Friday for her graduation. Out of town family TOTALLY trumps finger-banging your not-yet-girlfriend in a Saturday night date. I would have done the same thing. Especially since her sister doesn’t know about me. And it was partially my fault. Because Friday night she had invited me to this awesome end-of-the-year party thrown by her “wild friends,” and I had said no, earlier in the week, because I’m not yet ready to go to a party where I’ll stumble home at 5am drunk or stoned off my ass. With a toddler, that sort of shenanigans doesn’t fly unless I’ve pre-pre-pre arranged it. And it’d be better if I was just gone for the weekend than coming home.

So I had the opportunity to see her, and had to say no. And she got blindsided by her sister surprising her and had to cancel our date. I’ll survive. We’ll survive. But in the meantime, with my period just starting and being ‘stood up’ (or…cancelled on? rescheduled on?) I ended up eating half a cake and drinking a beer. Which made me feel barfy and chubby and probably why I fell asleep relatively early.

I hate that newness in relationships, where a one time change in plans can cause the emotional upheavel. I feel like a junior higher again.

Defining the Relationship…

In casual texting conversation today, Anne referred to me as her girlfriend. She was bragging about a test she had done okay on (and way better than the rest of the class) and was really happy that all her hard work despite burnout had payed off, and she said:

“It’s a good thing my girlfriend is a counselor because…”

And I think I stopped reading at that sentence because my head was spinning. I feel like a 14 year old girl with her first crush. I mean, whoa.

And yet.

Um.

Whoa.

Girlfriend seems like a too-good-to-be-true title for the mere 2 months I’ve known her. It feels important, regal, but also like…responsibility, and to just not fuck this shit up, you know? Because I’m not looking to break hearts, but this is also all so…new…and I sometimes catch myself during the day being like ‘oh yeah, you’re not monogamous, you’re not straight, you have a girlfriend.’ Gulp. Am I open to the task? Can I be trusted with another heart when I’m sometimes not the nicest person in the world? Am I ready to settle down?

Whoa Polly, you might be saying (don’t you hate it when bloggers just ASSUME what you might be saying or thinking as you read along? I sure do…) to take a breath, slow down, it’s not THAT BIG OF A DEAL. But yeah, it sorta is. Because like, sure we’ve talked about how we’ll probably date for 20 years or so (not just something I think, but other people in my life see our connection and roll their eyes and say ‘um, yeah, you’re gonna be that old couple still in love and talking about Victorian literature), so it’s not just a woo woo 14 year old “ohmegherd let’s get married!” to the other freshman kid in class…but still…dating…titles…it’s all so…serious!

It brings me to this whole conversation I had yesterday over on the post What’s In a Name where we were looking at how language shapes feelings and things like ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ can cause hurt feelings. And Anne is in a sexless platonic marriage set up for her to have a girlfriend as her ‘primary’ (only?) sexual partner. And I’m in long-time monogamous but now a budding polyamorous marriage where my husband has been the ‘primary’ emotional and sexual partner. And so while our goals for staying married to men and having a girlfriend are the same, I can’t help but wonder if our need or desires for what each other can fulfill is the same? And after two solid in-person dates, and texting and sexting multiple times a day, I’m still not sure I’m ready yet to call her my girlfriend.

So the convoluted…am I her girlfriend? Do I want to be her girlfriend (yes!) but am I ready right now (yes? maybe? what does it even meeeeaaaaan?!) Can I be her girlfriend but not have her be my girlfriend, yet? questions linger in my mind.

And then…what does being a girlfriend mean…for her…for me? Does it mean monogamy? Will I have the same level of communication with her that I do with husband Keith? What if I kiss another girl, or guy, is it cheating? What if she wants monogamy and I am just not sure yet but don’t want to lose her because she’s so damn awesome?

So many thoughts. So many feelings. So much advice is needed…

But girlfriend. That felt pretty good overall. Despite the mini-existential crisis I’m having in blogoworld…

 

 

My Solo Ladydate

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Pre-date: nervously stuffing tortilla chips into my face while simultaneously trying to get my wavy/curly hair to stop doing that thing that makes me look unkempt/unshowered/homeless-or-on-drugs and texting with Keith about how nervous I was for the night. His advice: it’s like dinner with Mari (my platonic bff), and don’t worry about ‘the kiss’ until after dinner.

That was good advice.

Though hard, when you’re sitting across from such a pretty lady.

Dinner: we were both early. I figured that would happen, since we’ve talked about how how we worry about being late places. She stood out front of the restaurant, and we hugged and went in, and waited for our table, and caught up and it was so…

easy.

I mean, seriously easy. The conversation flowed, and flowed. She asked questions. I asked questions. We started conversations and then got sidetracked down rabbit trails and have yet to answer some of those questions fully, but I don’t feel that panicky shit-I-should-have-said-that-in-order-to-convince-her-to-like-me-more feeling. It was relaxed. Comfortable. Like we’ve known each other 100 years.

After dinner: we took a walk along the marina in the sunset. We wanted to hold hands but didn’t. Were we nervous? I think so. I wanted to kiss her all night. And as we sat on the bench looking out over the water, people watching, and talking about life. She said she wanted to kiss me on the bench while we were sitting there, but she felt shy. And I felt shy. And then it got cold, and we walked back to our cars, and then I kissed her.

Before I kissed her, I said “i’m feeling like an awkward 15 year old boy, and I want to kiss you,” and she was so short and soft and smelled so nice. It was so different than kissing Keith, and different than all the drunk makeouts from my younger years.

And then we talked some more.

And kissed some more.

And a little more talking.

And kissing.

And finally it was too late, and she had to go home, so I put her in her car and we both headed our separate ways.

I have so many more thoughts about how the whole date, but today I’m just feeling quietly happy.