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Scared to date

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So, it is says anything about the gravity of this topic, this subject line has been sitting here since October of 2011.

Hello. My name is Bella. I’m polyamorous and I’m afraid to date.

Hello Bella

Is there a support group for people like me? I have been polyamorous for almost 9 years now and for the past 4 years I have been afraid to date. I have been avoiding discussing why for a very long time, but like most things if I don’t just delve in and say it publicly, it will never get parsed out and thus never truly change.

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Turn-offs: pushiness

Maybe this will be an ongoing topic, but its worth stating that as I approach 8 years of being poly I have grown and developed and learned quite a bit about myself.

And today it has been reinforced that one of my biggest turn-offs is pushiness. I hate it.  No, I don’t want to webcam with you.  No, I don’t want to see you.  No, I cannot meet with you tonight just because you are lonely. No, I will not send you a pic. 

For future reference if you have to beg, cajole and push me into doing something in electronic communication it is pretty clear that the up close and personal experience will likewise be lacking in clear respect for my stated boundaries. If you cannot take no for an answer online, I thoroughly do not trust your ability to do so in person.

Open marriages: a mainstream reality check

Let me confess right now that I am not a celebrity watcher. Sure I keep up with the basics of the gossip, but i don’t let the temperamental and tumultuous relationships of celebrities define anything for the reality of my life.  Personally I believe any marriage exposed to such a magnifying glass is already starting out with more pressure than it can withstand.  But when I read that some gossipers are blaming an open relationship for the failure of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, I think people are too quick to assign blame to the “new” concept of an open marriage instead of looking at the qualities and characteristics of the people involved.  And let’s be clear…none of us know Demi and none of us know Ashton.  So unless you are in the relationship itself, can you really assign blame to an open marriage or any other signular scapegoat?

In this article on HuffPo “Open Marriage: A Celebrity Solution or a Contradiction in Terms?” people continue to speculate on the disadvantages of an open relationship. What bothers me about the article is that it pretends to have an equal point of view where it intends to treat open marriages as an option, except it doesn’t really delve into the good realities of an open marriage.  It treats open marriage as if it is biohazard material which can only be observed at a distance or with heavy protection against its dangers.

Open marriage may seem sane to some as it allows for forgiveness on both sides if and when both partners give into the inevitable temptations and stray. The thinking is, “If we’re going to cheat, let’s at least be honest about it.” But it is not a real solution. I don’t have the statistics to prove it, and with today’s divorce rate, traditional marriages aren’t exactly stellar in the numbers department, but from a purely practical perspective, we can’t have it both ways.

I don’t think my marriage could stand up to this kind of pressure and I’m not sure that any healthy marriage could. I believe it prudent to intentionally keep things that are potentially damaging to your marriage away from your marriage whenever and wherever possible.

First, let’s agree that there are a few problematic terms here such as “stray”, “cheat”, “not a real solution” and “potentially damaging”.   The article is already stacking the deck against us. Open marriages for the most part don’t view outside influences or people as dangers that should be guarded against.  And frankly if someone decides to open their marriage with this perspective in mind, they might not have the right mindset to even start an open marriage much less sustain one.

Most open marriage start with the premise the honesty is mandatory.  No subject is off the table, no encounter is not worth sharing.  So, if cheating, straying or stepping out becomes an issue, it’s usually because a partner has a compulsion to deceive in a relationship, which I view as far more damaging in an open relationship because the fear of being honest, confessing an attraction to another person or god forbid flirting with another person has been managed and ideally eliminated.  Generally speaking, if someone cheats in an open relationship, they are a special kind of douchebag, often blaming the other partner for their lack of integrity and honesty instead of owning up to their compulsions and impulse control issues.  But in a traditional marriage, this might not come to light and would be blamed instead on that partner’s inability to be monogamous.

But to say that it is prudent to keep “potentially damaging” influences, people and situations away from your marriage is problematic.  If that were the case, let’s make sure we don’t open up marriages to children.  After all, the birth of a child could be potentially damaging to your union, causing among other things financial instability, mental break-down and a lack of sex drive.  Let’s also make sure no married couple takes on a risky business venture or has to travel for work.  Include too potentially erratic and damaging in-laws or friends.  Pets. Home remodeling.  Disability. Death of a family member.  Or anything that might cause stress. And most definitely let’s eliminate any threat of mental illness or chronic disease.

Do you see how utterly stupid that is?

Instead, why don’t we teach our married brothers and sisters how to deal effectively with a partner when facing these “threats” to their united bliss?  How do we deal with conflict?  How do we deal with disappointment and deception?  How are we playing out the tired and unsuccessful patterns of relating that we’ve learned from society and family in our married lives today?

But comparing an obsession with work and material success to the enrichment and fulfillment available when connecting with more than one human being is insulting.  That’s not to say that I haven’t seen marriages torn apart by the distractedness and self-centeredness of one of the partners.  For example, I knew of a couple that broke up because the wife spent most of her time scrapbooking or playing games online than watching her kids, leaving the husband to work 60+ hour weeks, risking his and the kids’ health.  But whenever the focus of a partner is rooted in the outside world, connection starts to wither away.  Focusing on bringing home the joys and rewards of those outside influences and allowing it to help replenish the couple so it becomes something they can share in together, equally and reinforce the connection.  But it’s easier when you’re bringing home the joy and bliss of a new connection.  Seeing your partner light up with pride and love at a fulfilling evening and having them share that positive energy with you is not at all the same as waiting up all night for your partner to come home from a long business trip only to have them barely kiss you or share the details of their trip with you.

Open marriages are just an invitation for sexy, exciting, thrilling and potentially lethal distractions. It’s inviting disaster, just like working crazy hours at the expense of yourself or your loved ones; playing golf more than you know you should to get away from your family; hanging out with friends more than hanging in, or out, with your spouse; and the list goes on.

Lethal distractions?  Really? Only if someone can’t control their jealousy.  But then again, I’ve seen people murdered for less.  And I would absolutely LOVE to divorce someone for playing golf (because I find golf to be an insipid, tedious and needlessly elitist “sport”—that is pretty much a deal-breaker to me). My husband’s distraction is video games.  The benefit he gains from it helps me too.  He is more relaxed, more able to talk about his day, more focused on my needs instead of just his.  And I have my distractions too.  I love kink. I talk about it, write about it and even study it in my spare time. (and belly dancing is a close 2nd) It has benefits for my husband in much the same ways his distractions benefit me.  So, I wouldn’t say that distractions are per se bad, but that it breaks down to the cost-benefit analysis of it all.  Does the benefit to the marriage outweigh the cost to it?

Additionally, is someone is seeking distraction to avoid the real dysfunction of the relationship or is it something that is enriching to their character and growth?  It’s only at the end of the article that the author even suggests that there might be reasons why someone is seeking distraction in their marriage.  And frankly, I don’t know a couple that doesn’t seek it to some extent.  So the question is why?  And frankly, we tend to knee-jerk quite a bit about this subject.  Could it be that this “distraction” is contributing positively to someone’s growth and journey?  If so, I’m all for it.

So until you know these couples and what their individual and joint journeys are…it’s probably a better idea to look at yourself and ask what is so delicate about your marriage that you must avoid “danger” at all costs instead of allowing it to test your mettle and commitment, allowing it to alter your perspective and perhaps even enhance your life.   Through good times and in bad, right?

“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those you care for to be what they choose for themselves, without any insistence that they satisfy you.”

– Dr. Wayne Dyer

Return

I made a vow when I started this blog that I wouldn’t discuss my personal life here very often.  Or at least if I did, it wouldn’t be in grand amounts of detail.  I’ve been outed before.  It’s not fun.  And some of the people I’m involved with would also consider it, not quite so fun to be outed.

But one thing this past weekend is honestly too big to hold back on.  Here I am three years after the fact, facing a return to my spiritual husband.   It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.  We broke up two years ago…but in my mind it was really three.  It was three years ago our relationship started to seriously deteriorate.  As that was happening, I was adding two new relationships to my life: one had been in the wings for quite some time and the other was accelerated on a timeline I couldn’t foresee.  And my spiritual husband and I both were caught up in the waves of the latter.  Crashing, crushing waves that I had not encountered with anyone other than this spiritual husband.  Initially he was supportive of all those relationships, but then the relationships (both local) were quickly overshadowing what he and I held together. There were a lot of other factors at play, not the least of which was our own pride and resentment brewing under the surface.  But the events of July 2008 forever changed the rules of the game and set us on a path that only served to push us away from each other.

And the wedge of resentment was so very strong.  Walls went up quicker than either of us had the power to eliminate (and we are both quite skilled at it).  For the first time in a long time, when we talked we didn’t listen because we both insisted that the other wasn’t hearing us.  So we just talked louder.  And more forcefully.  And louder still.

broken-promises

Until we could hear nothing but the hollow echo of our own emptiness.

I may never fully comprehend what happened back then. I know that I went through a massive emotional and spiritual reboot.  And I know that I couldn’t have done that if he and I had still been together.  Even as things shifted and changed, we were holding true to these perverse assumptions we had about each other.  You know the ones, the ones where the “other” is actually the villain.  This is not what we believed in.  And yet it happened.

It happened because it needed to happen.  I’m a big believer in “everything has a purpose” and this was no different.  Both of us have changed significantly over the years, without much involvement from the other party at least.  So when he announced he and his kids and girlfriend would be coming to town, I had to rely pretty extensively on what I’ve developed in myself over the past three years.  I was nervous and terrified and radically honest with myself about what I could handle and what I couldn’t.

…you know how people tell you emphatically to never, ever get back together with your ex?

Yeah, I ignored that advice and I’m glad I did.

Because the part where we got to talk without kids, without responsibilities weighing us down was amazing.  It was honest and sincere.  We were both holding a little back, but we recognized it for what it was and moved onward with an initial amount of trust.

And when we kissed, the cosmic forces seem to shine their approval.  Was it really a break-up if we both still loved each other that immensely?  Was it really a break if we both had hurt each other that much?  All I know is in those magic hours under moonlight and stars, we remembered who we really are together.  All the immense pleasures and joys we bring to each other’s lives and how deeply and immediately we feel that connection.

I don’t have words for what we are and I’m reluctant to name any, particularly at this stage.  All I know is that I felt like a part of my soul snapped back into place and I feel inspired and alive again.  We will have to create new images, new ideas to truly describe where we are now and who we are to each other.

… but Love fits.  Always has and no matter what we endure alone or apart it always will.

A poly disclaimer

For the past few days I’ve been reading posts about polyamory.  For full disclosure, I do describe myself as polyamorous  (poly).  And I suppose I identify sooo much that people have accused me of being a poly advocate.  I would actually describe myself more as an advocate for healthy relationships.  No matter what form they take. I don’t necessarily advocate poly for everyone, but instead I use it as an example of a relationship structure that not only works for me but works fucking well for me.

And here is a quick summary of my relationships:  I am legally married to one man, let’s call him Husband and we have two marvelous children.  I am spiritually married to another man for the past 3 years, let’s call him Warrior, who is legally married to another woman (and she has another partner as well).  I date both women and men and those that identify in between.  So does Warrior.  Husband is only now starting to consider getting involved in other relationships.  Husband and I have been poly for 7 years this July, which is more years we’ve been poly than not (we’ve been together for 12 years).  So, yeah, poly is working quite well for me.

Over the past few weeks, I found myself getting hyper defensive of what I’ve been hearing about poly lately.  Maybe this is how the rest of the world feels when their relationship dynamic is under attack.  Except, you know…they’re the majority and still have power, control, rights and shit.  Most of the people making complaints about poly have been either those who are new to it or had a terrible experience with it.  Anyway, I thought this might be a good place to start a blog about relationships, sexuality, culture and where they all intersect in my life.

This is by no means a coherent or even competent defense of poly.  It’s just a reaction.  A knee-jerk reaction that wasn’t at all appropriate for the person who originally inspired this…but was something I needed to say after redefining over the past year the way in which I practice poly.  Again, I don’t advocate poly for everyone…but I do advocate conscious relationship building. Read the rest of this entry

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