Tag Archives: polyamory

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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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?

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.

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.

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.

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…

 

 

My Opinion on Sexting

I came across this article about sexting this week, and it made me think about my own relationship to electronic flirting. While there may be a lot of hullaballoo about “kids these days,” sexting up a storm, I’d have to say I’ve been doing it forever, at least since CompUServe and AOL dial up, and some of the memories are downright hilarious.

My girl friends and I would jump online and pretend to be people we weren’t. Namely, we’d end up sexy talking some (probably equally geeky younger guys, or maybe creepy middle age men) with fun names like Romy & Michelle. Yeah, we were SO clever. I think once I pretended to be Kari Strug (yeah, the famous Olympian) to get some sexy talk going. Not sure who would have believed any of that, but if it was today the Catfish crew would sure to arrive on my doorstep!

In my conservative Christian college days, I kept the sexting under wraps (mostly due to no options, really), but once I was graduated it ramped up again with my long-distance much-older boyfriend. I love pictures. I love words. It seems I was built for sexty texting!

And now that I’m in a newish relationship with Anne, I enjoy sending her sext messages in a different way I enjoy sexting with Keith. The same picture can spark a very different conversation between lovers. And that’s what’s fun about the the whole adventure!

So I was surprised, when reading through the article’s roundtable, that there were some who were so…shy? awkward? uncomfortable with the whole idea of sexting. While I can relate, in that I wouldn’t sext someone who I wasn’t 100% sure was interested in it, the whole act is fun and flirty and without much repercussions if you trust the person on the other end (perhaps I’m naive to the uprising of revenge porn).

Bloggy world, what’s your relationship with sexting? Love it? Hate it?

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?