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
six-of-swords
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
pagepentacles1
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. 

Summer Lovin’ Happened so Fast

Sometimes I find myself so enraptured in life, not even trying to mindfully live and experience it all, that I don’t take the time to sit down and get it all out. Channel the energy of the moment into words on paper. And then the moments are gone, because life is a series of moments strung together, and writing about the past, for me, is sometimes difficult because the feeling in the moment has passed.

So there I am, having not written about what it was like to lay in her arms laughing after we had sex for the first time. I didn’t try and describe what it was like to taste her, my first woman, or how she moaned in delight saying I had a magic touch. I didn’t write about the sunshine streaming in the bedroom window, or how romantic I felt in buying her a handmade gift off Etsy. Instead of writing, I was living, experiencing, loving (with a little l, not the big L).

And just like that, it’s over.

A new moment. A new feeling. A new blog entry, with the gap of time between the beginning and the end. A first chapter and a last but no middle.

The reason we ended was silly, trite, frustrating for someone like me that values conflict as a refining process toward creating a shiny diamond of relationship. Miscommunication, perhaps fear on her end, and a breakup in the middle of an argument over…toast.

Though, in the words of a shitty therapist I fired a few years ago, “it’s not about the fucking laundry toast.” Somehow the smallness of a conflict over a text message was really a symptom of something bigger. We both behaved like 8th grade girls and I’m embarrassed about my part in the ending. 

And yet, this Wise part of my soul knows the freedom I now have is what is best. I fell into a relationship with Anne, and now, with my foray into OK Cupid (like, actually messaging people), I feel like I am being more intentional. Really examining who I want to be in an open relationship and what I’m looking for in a potential partner. 

In a sappy final breakup text, sent a day or two after the fact, as I wanted to round some of the sharp edges we had left off with. In tribute to how we both enjoyed Emily Dickinson, I sent her this:

THAT is solemn we have ended-
 Be it but a play,
Or a glee among the garrets,
Or a holiday,

Or a leaving home; or later,
Parting with a world,
We have understood for better, 
Still it be unfurled.

Mindful Choice

Keith’s recent FriendZone came back to him, asking for things to ‘go back to how they were,’ and while I encouraged not rushing quickly into deciding one way or the other (because simply acting out of hurt isn’t good). So he hung out with FriendZone, and realized that the friendzone is right where they should be right now. And he was able to articulate that to her in a (hopefully) non hurtful way.

And as he and I processed through the last 8 whirlwind months in this whole openness thing, he was able to be insightful about many things that I appreciated. Namely, he saw FriendZone as a friend/co-worker who was cute and he was attracted to her sexually. But as their relationship progressed he realized that, much like many patterns with women in his life, he was giving much more than he was receiving. He was this girl’s emotional stability, the counselor she turned to at 2 am when she needed a shoulder to cry on, and while he enjoys that role in a relationship, he would like something that fulfills him in an equal way, and that is not in the amount of BJ’s he’s receiving. He was able to say that he was infatuated with the NRE and the simple newness of being ‘open’ that he went for the first fish on the line thinking ‘maybe Polly will want this closed soon, better jump!’ or ‘maybe this is the only one I could get to relate to me, I better just go for it.’

When she friendzoned him, it gave him pause and time over the past two months, to provide that emotional support without the sexual reciprocation. Initially I was surprised, but as he talked more about his desires, his patterns, how he’s enjoyed talking to people on OKCupid who are seeking non-monogamy and have a similar worldview as the two of us, it made perfect sense. No harm no foul in this whole experiment of living life to our open fullest.

And that’s what I appreciate most about our journey. He didn’t just start going to seedy bars to get his bang on. He’s been the mindful thoughtful guy I’ve known our whole relationship. Today as I laid intertwined with Anne and we were talking about our orientations, and how I believe that my husband is at heart polyamorous, she said, “I could see that. I could see him having 6 wives. And giving each one 100%. Treating each one with the individual respect and love that they need. And sure jealousies would come up, but not because he would be comparing you to someone else.” Because his personality is bent toward being relational, sex included.

And that summed it up for me. And to have my sweetness able to already see that about Keith, who she’s only met a handful of times, made my heart happy. Sunshine in Seattle happy.

Mimosa Mondays

mimosa-drink-3
My lady love and I have a relaxed summer schedule, since we both work in the education field. So we’ve dubbed our Monday hangouts “Mimosa Mondays,” because…mimosas. Mmm. I can’t believe that a mere few weeks ago I was an emotionally distraught mess thinking that maybe I should go guns blazing into the world of OK Cupid to soothe my hurt little fledgling bisexual/lesbian pride. Because now? Um…amazing.

The conversation is so good. We can spend five hours talking and it feels like five minutes. We text a lot and I find myself mentally and emotionally stimulated. And the sex? Well, I’m no longer a lady virgin, ya’ll, and I’m loving every second in the lesbian pool. Mmm.

So we hang out, on Mondays, drinking mimosas and writing and reading books and snuggling on the couch and having sex. And it feels really nice. We’ve also started attending this online creative writing group that goes for the next few weeks, and I’m excited to connect with her in this way. Makes me feel closer to her already.

Poly Dating & Band Camp

OkCupid.com_website_homepage_screenshot

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

TraderJoes.FlourlssChocCake.11.3.12.600

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.

Shit, am I really a lesbian?

via tumblr Curves and Confidence
via tumblr Curves and Confidence

Have you ever dived into a lake, and then barrel rolled under the water a few times until you no longer know which way’s up? That feeling of floating, spinning, twirling…when under my own volition, it feels fun and exciting to lay motionless for a moment to realize which way is up, watching my bubbles rise to the surface, guiding me to my next breath of fresh air. This was a past-time of mine as a kid, and I did it in pools or lakes or any body water big enough for me to splash around in (note: I might have unsuccessfully tried it in the bathtub).

But contrast this with being thrown from an inner tube or being knocked over by a strong ocean wave, or being tossed into the deep end by a ruthless family member. That feeling of spinning under water, with panic outweighing the fun adrenaline sense of whoa dude! You know the difference.

I fee like I’m somewhere in-between those two feelings, like walking out into the waves and feeling the sand slip away from under my feet. I’m searching, searching, searching for a label to try and pin this sticky thing of sexual identity on. I came out as NotStraight (my very eloquent dip into the other sexuality pool), and then just defaulted to saying bisexual, because whoa people didn’t quite get the whole NotStraight thing. And bisexual neatly expresses why I am, in fact, married to a man. And why, in fact, I have had boyfriends in the past. And why, in fact, I have only just had my “first” sexual experience in the lady pool (with childish “experimentation” and drunken college makeouts with ladies. Bisexual explains it…right?

So I’ve spent my free time diving into the community. Reading AutoStraddle and watching Netflix documentaries like Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, or Chely Wright’s coming out story, and in the latter I couldn’t help but feel really…convicted (to use a Christian term I grew up with) when Chely talked about having dated men, but knowing she was, in fact, a lesbian.

With Anne, we refer to each other as lesbians. And yet we’re married to men. We talk about being attracted to pretty lesbians, like Chely Wright, and yet how it’s an energy attraction that we feel. Anne has some butch lesbian friends who talk about seeing women on the street and thinking “whoa, I wanna bang that chick” (to use crass language), and she (and I) don’t resonate with that, because I see a pretty girl and think she’s beautiful and how nice it would be to brush her hair or sit and drink coffee in her presence. And yet, get me alone, with my thoughts, later, and all the fantasies come crawling out. I don’t see guys and drool over them, either, so it’s not just a lady thing.

I cannot deny that I have been incredibly attracted to a handful of men over the years. And yet, if I were to really be honest, I resonate with the word or concept of lesbian much more than I do with the concept of bisexual. I can’t quite explain it. It doesn’t make rational sense. Lesbians like ladies. Bisexuals like ladies and men. I like men and ladies. But don’t really feel like the bisexual pants fit quite right (I’m muffin topping all over the place here people!).

UGH.

Labels.

They’re so unnecessary, I know.

But I also know that sometimes before you can transcend and feel comfortable beyond and without a label, you first must embrace and living within its framework. And I feel like I’ve been thrown into that deep end and barrel rolling and trying to blow bubbles to find my way to the surface. Reframing my past in light of my present and thinking…was I just living a lie? Were those feelings for boys misplaced or influenced by a Disney fairytale culture? Am I really a lesbian?

And, if so, what does that mean?

 

Coming Out Among Strangers

 

My one piece...a bathing suit :)
My one piece…a bathing suit 🙂

My bestie, Ruth, lives a few hours away, and invited me down for the night while her husband was bachelor partyin’ it up in Vegas. It was SO NICE to get away, even just one night, and have some good girl talk. She and I met in college and have somehow managed to push through our phone-anxiety and talk weekly for something ridiculous like NINE YEARS. Whoa.

While visiting, we headed to one of her friend’s houses, for an awesome One Piece Party (where all you could wear was a one-piece outfit plus undergarments. SO FUN!) with a bunch of other lovely introverts. There was ping pong, and a backyard fire, and dancing to Soul Train in the living room. So lovely.

And while I was there, the talk about relationships came up. There was this lovely single girl there, also wearing a bathing suit + tights combo, and my bestie was trying to set her up with this single dude friend of hers. But all night I just got this vibe that she actually was interested in ladies. We were all sitting on the couch, talking to another single girl about the perils of being single vs having a relationships. My bestie said that it was really nice to have the house to herself for the weekend, even though she missed her man. I processed aloud that I was in a strange situation because I hate feeling caged in, and yet here I am getting into this situation where commitment is happening. The one girl asked what I meant, and I explained that I had a husband and a girlfriend, and that if  my husband were out of town I’d be wanting to see her. And her response was “wow, I don’t think I could do that.”

What I loved is that she was just so not judgey about saying that. Seemed interested in knowing it worked for me, but generally musing she didn’t think it’d work for her. Cool. My first stranger coming out.

Soon followed, in part by the copious amounts of yummy vodka spiked juice, the vibe girl sitting down on the couch entering the conversation about being single and not. And she casually asked me what my deal was, and I explained the situation. And she perked up, saying “I’m a unicorn! And I’m so into the whole poly thing, so cool. I’m trying to meet this lady right now, who seems really cool, but she has kids like your girlfriend, and is having all these hesitations.”

Wow.

I met a poly gal in person all for just being open and out. And I loved that my initial gut read was spot on when I had just felt that she might have been less into the dudes and more into the ladies at the party. Yay for gut instinct.

And yay for more positive coming out experiences. With the exception of the first online outing that was ‘negative at worst, neutral at best’ I am at so many positive ones. And feeling more confident and secure in myself and my ability to trust those around me.

 

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…