Tag Archives: communication

Coming Out, College Friend Edition & Blurred Lines

It had been two years since my last catch-up session with a good college friend. She was in town for Christmas, and so we decided to take our friendship offline and back to a Starbucks like the old days. Her mom was sweet enough to watch my son while Clover and I got our caffeine fix, and about an hour into our hang out, I decided to come out to her even though it’s ‘not really relevant right now, since I’m not actually dating anyone,’ and her response was:

“You know I dated a woman for 5 years, in college, right?”

Um, no, I didn’t know that, but A) my instinct (and Keith’s instinct) was right this WHOLE TIME, that she was not totally straight, and B) I reframed and felt so bad that I hadn’t been a better friend at various points, because apparently her relationship with Denise was abusive. And full of shame, and secrecy, because we ALL were involved in the college youth ministry group, and our life was built around church, and a church that appeared ‘liberal’ in so many ways, but same sex gender relationships was definitely not on the table. It was so lovely to connect in this way, and later I told her that I had wished I would have known, because I remember when she decided to stop hanging out with Denise, and how hard it was, and it makes so much more sense now knowing that she was BREAKING UP and not just ENDING A FRIENDSHIP (which is also hard, but in a different way).

So, yay, I’m out to all my college friends, except Laura, who I was probably in love with anyway, and might make things awkward. So, ya know. Another good coming out experience for the record books.

But then, I’m in this weird place. Texting Renee has been boring as fuck lately, because being a mom is not my most interesting feature, and while I’m okay to talk about our kids, I really get tired of hearing a grocery list of things you’re going to do today, like three loads of laundry and dishes. I want to know the thoughts in the head that are beyond that, though I also recognize that in the haze of new baby it can be hard to remember to think about things like the patriarchy, or whatever. And since I got this apology email two months ago from Anne, I’ve just been missing those conversations that tickled my brain and my clit.

So, ten days ago or so, Anne texts me that her ex-husband, and the father of her older teenagers, had died in a car accident. And suddenly we were texting. Not just condolence niceties, but actual texting. Like nothing had ever happened. And then my grandma died, and she was texting me about that. And then I sent her an article on the rising cost of childcare, and she sent me an article about horrible 50’s sex advice, and suddenly…we were texting. A lot. Like old times.

I’ve missed her.

Her long blonde hair, and laughing during sex, and the conversations over text about life AND poetry AND Victorian literature AND education AND etc.

I haven’t missed the horribly juvenile and tumultuous way we ended. Via text. No closure, just ending. And passive aggressive pinning quotes on pinterest. Like we were dumb junior high girls in a girlfight.

So I invited her to coffee tomorrow, since I’m on my way to Portland for my besties’ birthday, and she accepted. And we both said we were nervous. And I feel DUMB, because I feel like I’m going against all my better judgment in wanting an ex back, but my co-worker Bethany said that ‘maybe it’ll be closure at least, if not something new going forward,’ and I can honestly say that in the 4 months not dating her, I’ve given dating an honest shot and been totally bored or not turned on by anyone I’ve been talking to. Despite that tumult, I would honestly like to date her again, with some parameters and lessons learned, perhaps.

Any advice? This whole game of romance is so fraught with emotions, and dating a woman is so different than dating a guy. I feel like the complicated emotions and different communication style had contributed to our breakup. And I don’t want to rush into something that is in a constant state of emotional upheavel, but there’s this big part of me that misses all the really good things. Anyone been here, done that? Dating an ex? Closure? Reconnecting? Having to tell people you really want to get back together with someone you’ve been bitching about for four months even though you know you’ve still liked them this whole time?

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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?

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.

Answering questions from friends…

At work Russ came up to me this week and asked how my dating life was going. We got on the topic of non-monogamy (something he is personally struggling with, as he enters into a monogamous marriage in the next few months), and the topic of ‘rules’ came up. I divulged that Keith was allowed everything but vaginal penetration at this point, and he made the joke, “oh, so it’s okay for you to get it, but not your man?!” I can see this perspective, and find myself wanting to go down a few different trails of logic.

The first being, it’s not a forever rule. But only a few months in, I’m still adjusting to even being out (somewhat) as bisexual, let alone dating, let alone letting my husband (who has a history of…er…indiscretions be in sexual contact with others physically or via technology) is sort of a big deal. And I don’t want US (yes, US) to rush too quickly and get overwhelmed with the “negative” emotions that might rear their head.

But mostly it’s because of historically how Keith and I have viewed morals around sexuality. At 29, when we got married, he was a “virgin” (to penal-vaginal sex). His reasoning for waiting were due to religious upbringing and an overall desire to make it ‘special’ and have this intimacy not found in other sexual relationships. It was something he set up, something he adhered to, despite many many many failed attempts on my part to pre-maritally break him of the habit (because, clearly, I was not, myself, a virgin).

So forgive me if I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that 6 married years later it’s just cool to dip the stick in any oil tank around, ya know? Because after so many years of ‘dealing with it,’ I finally bought into the myth that his VIRGINITY was what equaled out specialness together, I’m not quite ready to give that up…yet. But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t, especially if he found someone who was more than just a 3 month non-committal honey…ya know?

But also…

I’m struggling as someone who is bisexual.

I have known for YEARS that there’s this part of my personality that has gone unfulfilled in a monogamous relationship with man. But I’m newer to the concept of polyamory being an orientation, and not just “dudes being dudes trying to get laid.” And also, because Keith’s sex drive has historically been WAY WAY lower than mine, I have this thought in the back of my mind like, “um, dude, if you don’t want to put out with ME four, five, six times a week, then why on earth should you get more than one lady to do the dirty with?”

I’m working on it.

But that was my reasoning, and he’s honoring where I am, right now. I know it won’t be a forever thing, but I’m not interested in him losing his second virginity (is that even a thing?) to just a random hookup. Ya know?

Ugh, though. Rules. They sorta suck and put a damper on things.

How do you go about navigating relational boundaries with your partners?

Dating is about more than the good times…

I’m incredibly bummed.

Yesterday I had a wickedly amazing texting conversation with Anne, about life, and family, and school, and looking forward to our date on Friday. And she wanted advice on contacting her instructors about a possible schedule conflict for class, because she learned her grandma wasn’t doing well and she wanted to fly there to say goodbye one last time. We were really connected, and it was sweet to share bits of our life together, and I started getting really excited to hang out with her again in person in just a few days.

But this morning I got a text, at 6am, that she was on a plane already heading ‘home,’ because her grandma had passed away. And in the second sentence she said she would have to cancel our date. The thoughtfulness of telling me that in the middle of her sad time put a lump in my throat. While I’m bummed we’ll have to push back our hangout time, I have this quiet confidence that she’ll be in my life for a long time, and what’s one or two more weeks in the grand scheme of things?

And it really put into perspective for me, that dating isn’t just about the good times. It’s not just about the sexy thoughts and the romance of first dates and wine and making out under the stars. It’s about real moments, like sharing childhood memories, and dealing with deaths in the family, and experiencing conflict or hurts, too.

Keitht’s reaction was sweet, when he texted me, “is it weird that I’m sad my wife doesn’t get to go on a date with her girlfriend this week?” and I knew how he felt. Because if Jen were to have something happen where she couldn’t make their date next week, I’d be bummed for him, too. And it sparked a great conversation betweent he two of us, about jealousies and potential jealousies, and the care we have in wanting each other to be happy with our other partners.

I think relationships can be messy, not just because of hurt feelings and conflict, but because life is full of really beautiful and hard experiences that we get to share with each other.

Communication & Connection

 

Oh my Lord, I haven’t felt connected to my husband Keith in such a long time. I don’t know, we’re just in this space where the talks are free flowing and things are seriously GOOD. It feels really lovely, though it’s not exactly easy. Because the ramp up off communication has it’s spark in our newish foray into the world of openness in our marriage. We’ve been talking about feelings and insecurities on how much time we will spend together, or how we feel about our partnerpossibilities that we’ve each been exploring, and how the page sometimes changes and we will need to adjust accordingly.

See, when Keith reached out online to Anne, it was because she was seeking out a threesome with an already established couple. They flirtatiously texted for a few days before he introduced her to me, and then she and I hit it off. We met up last Friday, but I had already been forming a bond with her that began to feel more girlfriend quality than random hookup  or even friends-with-benefits quality. Having never had a girlfriend before, I can’t quite explain why this felt different (because maybe it was just different than I expected it to feel?), but somehow the page went from it being  our couple wanting a threesome initially, to me wanting to date her, make her my girlfriend, and let a threesome happen more ‘naturally’ if the case may be. Because, while I have a really high sex drive, I also move at slower pace in terms of initiating something sexual with her, than Keith would.

Keith was under the impression that she was still game for an experience with the two of us, initially, because he wanted to be in on the vulnerable experience of me really being with a woman. He has known that it’s been part of my identity since the beginning of our relationship, and he felt hurt that he might not get to experience that, and worried that he might feel jealous in the future. But just like how I felt different after he explained that it wasn’t just a ‘guys think two chicks making out are hot’ reason why he wanted to be there while I explored being with a woman, he realized that I was still picking him, us, over a new relationship. But we talked, and talked, and talked, and didn’t have an agenda in trying to convince the other person that I AM RIGHT, it was truly an exercise in sharing vulnerably, allowing our insecurities to be seen, and loving each other through it.

And so, at the end, we are in a really amazing place. I have no jealousy about the ex-coworker he’s sexting and hoping to meet up with her at some point. He feels good about me pursuing a dating relationship with Anne, while maybe keeping the hope alive for a possible threesome in the future when she and I are comfortable with each other, and already established. And ultimately, regardless of what is happening in these budding new relationships, we are still all about each other at the end of the day. This type of relational openness isn’t for the faint at heart. Because talking about feelings and insecurities is exhausting, but oh so worth it at the end of the day.

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