Friday, March 21, 2014

Expansive Love

With an amazing partner, recently I have been experiencing love in ways that I have never really known. What we create and share with one another fulfills us both and expands outward, into our other relationships. To varying degrees, everyone around us is benefiting from the love we've found and continue to grow.

Our acceptance and affection for one another is helping us to be unabashedly authentic and more eagerly accepting. We are better able to appreciate the unique inner beauty of others and offer them love that may continue to radiate outward, gaining momentum from those capable of contributing to it.

Clearly there is no guarantee that our love will extend beyond our direct influence. Some relationships may fully absorb the love extended to them, and they may continue do so until they either achieve their own capacity for expansion or eventually implode in the vacuum of their own bottomlessness.

Because this is the first relationship in which I've known this kind of love, past experience tells me that it is highly uncommon, and the vast majority of other relationships will never exhibit this tremendous capacity for love beyond its participants. Yet, I am hopeful that my past experience is merely an indication that I had not yet developed my own ability to contribute to an expansively loving relationship, and now that I have, I can easily form such a relationship with one who also has this capability. Still, I also recognize that the level of experience in human relationships and personal growth that I have achieved thus far is also uncommon, so I must continue to assume that finding others who are capable of contributing to an expansively loving relationship is not very likely.

The existence of relationships that ultimately prove to be incapable of expansion is a certainty that causes me concern. My concern is over the perpetual and complete lack of reciprocal nourishment offered by those relationships. I recognize and fear the strain I they would come to place on this expansively loving relationship I hold so dearly.

So I am protective of this amazingly fulfilling and generously overflowing relationship. I allow our love to expand as freely as possible, yet I'm also on lookout for potentially vampiric connections that are capable of slowly poisoning our astonishingly beautiful love from the outside in.

To protect this expansive love, I know I must be vigilant in my recognition and avoidance of such passive toxicity. This vigilance, though necessary, also presents a danger in over-application. I expect I will need to gain experience and skill in wielding this double-edged sword, and must take great care in doing so.

While I am clearly reveling in this newfound kind of love, I also must not allow my appreciation of it to create a sense that other loves are necessarily inferior. To do so would be incredibly foolish and harshly unappreciative of their own unique nature. While I recognize that I must avoid this myopic perspective, I also recognize that it will be challenging at times.

I began this somewhat rambling essay by saying that I've never really known this kind of love. I say this because I've only ever theorized its existence. I believed it could be, hoped it would be, and at the same time knew that it might never be a kind of love I'd experience. I am both astounded and overjoyed that I have come to know it.

Ever since I knew enough to know that I should actually personally consider religion, faith and spirituality rather than accept that of my culture and society without question, I have considered myself agnostic, practically faithless and quite non-spiritual. However, my recent explorations of loving human relationships in general, and this remarkable relationship in particular, have opened my eyes to what appears to be the spiritual nature of love.  It's surprising and difficult to believe that love may be my path to finding and understanding my spirituality, but I'm willing to accept it and explore it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Singles Can Still Be Poly

More often than I can consider coincidental, people are puzzled as to how I can identify as polyamorous at times when I am currently participating in fewer than two loving relationships.  It seems that in the minds of many, polyamory is merely a particular practice -- that is, the practice of being in multiple simultaneous loving relationships.

While this may be true for many, for me polyamory is much more about who I am, rather than what I do or the situation in which I find myself.  What makes me polyamorous is my capacity for loving others and my desire to share love with more than just one person...not the number of boyfriends I have.

Yet, some folks don't quite get this.  Not just monogamous folks who've heard about polyamory and don't really "get it", but also many couple-centric polys and polyfidelitous folks as well.  They seem to think that it's nothing more than a lifestyle choice -- like opting to live in a city rather than the suburbs.  Perhaps that's all polyamory really is to some.  To me it's less of a choice and more of an orientation.  It's not a sexual orientation.  It's more like the orientation of my heart.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Light Blue

(Author's Note: I first thought to write about this in early October 2013.  Without the time to do so, I jotted down a few notes, with the intention of finishing it later.  Now, it's certainly later.)

Back when I bought it and started wearing it, I never knew that a knock-off body spray would have significance in my life beyond being a little something special for myself every now and then.  I selected it because it smelled nice and wasn't too expensive.  There's nothing really significant about that, and that's how I expected things would remain.  That's kind of a foolish notion, now that I think about it.  I've known for a very long time how scents can combine with memory and meaning to create powerful nostalgia. Yet, I didn't expect to encounter it again.

When I started spending time with the guy who'd later be an ex-boyfriend, I was invariably affected by the scent of his cologne when I'd discover it still lingering on my hair or clothing, well after a hug or other embrace.  It was both a reminder of the time we'd recently spent together and an accellerant that fueled my physical and emotional desire for him. Even though I thrilled in catching the aroma of his cologne on me after a date, it was also a torment. It was a reminder that the object of my desire was physically out of reach. In that respect it was torture, but certainly not a torture that I'd ever refuse.  It was an exquisitely delightful torture that I was thoroughly grateful to have. As an added bonus, by knowing the extents of my reaction to his lingering scent, this also seemed to serve as a distinct turn-on for him.

Then one day, when I was hanging out with both him and his fiancee, my ears perked up when I heard her screechily lament, about his cologne, "all you wear is Light Blue". It was in that moment that I felt a strange connection to him that, while it was admittedly silly, also felt like a coincidence that wasn't purely due to chance. I hadn't realized that the cologne he wore was Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue for men.  I'd never smelled it before meeting him and neither had he mentioned the name of the cologne nor had I asked. I was struck by this sense of connection because my body spray was a knock off of Light Blue for women.  It was a small thing, to be sure, but had me reeling for a moment, nonetheless.  I said nothing to him of the connection, not then and not since. Instead I held it as a completely private treasure.

Over time, I noticed a few more complaints of the same nature come from his fiancee.  Before long, it was revealed that she'd picked out a new cologne for him and wanted him to wear it.  The next time I saw him he was wearing the new scent and asked for my opinion.  As I breathed it in, I noticed that it seemed quite soft; reminiscent of baby powder and a kind of delicateness that is decidedly non-masculine.  I was honest in my opinion, telling him that I found it to be too soft for him, and did not prefer it to his old cologne.  She beckoned him over to test the scent herself and proclaimed, "I like it."

On our next date I discovered that when I got close enough to smell the new scent, to a degree I was actually repulsed.  I wanted the scent that fanned the flames of my desire, not the scent that made me think of him as fragile and diminuitive.  While trying not to be insensitive or demanding, I asked if he would wear his old cologne for our dates. I apologized sincerely for not liking his new cologne.  I really wished that I didn't dislike it so. In a disappointed tone he agreed to "try not to wear it."

The end of our relationship came quite shortly thereafter.  In the days that followed I thought back over all of this and considered whether perhaps the change was contrived by his fiancee. Like most things, I never came to a definitive conclusion in which to decide to believe. I recognize it to be possible, and even likely, considering the many supporting factors and subtle signs -- things like their degree of information sharing about outside relationships, their apparent power dynamic, the signs of passive aggressive jealousy, posession and territoriality.  Still, I have trouble believing this to actually have been the case.  Often I experienced self-talk along the lines of "you're just being paranoid", While there may be truth in that notion, it also makes me wonder if it is really a kind of self-gaslighting.  But that's an entirely off-topic exploration waiting to happen.

About a month or two after the end of it all, as the holiday season started to roll around (almost immediately following the conclusion of Halloween, of course), the usual onslaught of holiday-specific advertising started to ramp up.  Among the ads for shavers and gift-wrapped luxury cars, ads for perfumes/colognes also invariably appear. It was when I saw an ad for Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue that all of this made sense in another light: what the product apparently means to the marketers.  Both print and television ads for Light Blue present swimwear-clad, bronze-skinned, ever-so-slightly sandy models interacting provocatively near the ocean shore.  There are rocks and sea spray, sailboats and other images of effortless power.  The ads evoke a message of summer passions.  I don't know how long D&G has marketed Light Blue in this fashion, but it seems quite apropos of my summer love.  Clearly, and sadly, summer is over.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Well Played

Today something pretty amazing happened.

My day started with continuing to feel down and hurt by something that I learned yesterday about my recent break-up.  The rain, traffic and having to wait around for appointments in doctors offices weren't doing any favors for my mood either.  At times I was really angry at myself for ...well, being me, really.  I had grown to love the guy who'd dumped me, and I believe that I tend to develop feelings of romantic love faster than others do, on average. (But according to this very timely post from one of my favorite sexologists, Dr. Jess O'Rilley, perhaps not.)

I thought to myself that I wouldn't have been as hurt by the breakup if I hadn't allowed myself to feel love for him.  And that's what made me angry.  I thought further that by allowing myself to feel love for this guy and, even further than that, express those feelings to him, I might have prompted the break-up.  (It was pretty clear to me that he and I weren't quite on the same page in that respect.)  Perhaps I should do what most others seem to do -- that is, not reveal my feelings until I am certain they'll be requited.  But just the thought of doing that feels very unauthentic to me, so I choose to live honestly rather than conform to the status quo.  Maybe frightening lovers away is the price I will always pay for the comfort of knowing that I behave genuinely.

But this morning I certainly wasn't feeling self-satisfied about living honestly.  Like I said, I was angry, and I was being pretty mean to myself about having grown to love this guy.  But then another thought occurred to me.  This thought stemmed from a concept I came across on the SoloPoly blog I started reading recently.  That is, the concept of being your own primary partner.  The thought that occurred to me was that my primary wouldn't stand for me being abused this way.  That ended the negative self-talk in a blink.  I was surprised and very pleased.  I'm pretty sure the be-your-own-primary concept is gonna stick with me for quite a while.

I wish I could say that my day brightened instantly after that, but I still had plenty thoughts of self-pity and other such saddening and annoying thoughts.  I had feelings of longing, too.  I still wasn't over wanting to have a significant relationship with this guy.  He dumped me -- some even say he blindsided me with the way things ended -- and that hurt, but it seems that what lead him to make that decision could have been avoided.  So I still held hope for reconciliation.  Obviously not right away, but at some point in the future.

Last week I had many questions about why things unfolded as they did and he was gracious enough to accept and answer the questions.  Within his answers he assured me that his primary partner was always a proponent of our relationship, rather than the negative influence that I suspected she might have been -- based on the adversarial nature of her direct interactions with me.  I was very pleased to have the reassurance.  I believed it wholeheartedly and started to feel like a real ass for even suspecting that she might have been feeling threatened, territorial, angry, adversarial and ready to end the relationship for him if she had to.

His answers to some of my questions were less than direct and somewhat off-topic, but I really didn't mind that much, because these particular questions were really questions that were much more appropriate for her than him.  Because I never got an email address for her I wasn't able to send her the questions I had for her.  I sent them to him, but let him know that I was neither asking nor expecting him forward them on to her.  I'd agreed to not put him in the middle of any issue arising between she & me, and I intended to continue upholding that promise regardless of the breakup.

I assume that she may have never gotten the questions.  I know that if I were in his position I wouldn't just forward the questions on to her.  I'd let her know about them and let her ask for them of her own accord.  I also know that she keeps herself very busy with school, so she may not have even felt she had time to even read them, let alone respond to whatever they might be.  On top of that, it always seemed to me that it was she who was most adamant about issues being addressed directly between the parties whom are immediately involved in the issues.  So I also thought it quite possible that she was waiting for, and expecting, me to ask her directly for the answers to my questions.

Because it now seemed that I had a lot of egg to wipe off of my face for second-guessing her support of the relationship I shared with him, I turned to her and asked for her email address so that I could send her my questions.  The response that followed -- assuming that it was crafted solely and specifically for the purpose of encouraging me to heed the demands that were clearly stated in the first few sentences -- was simply and amazingly masterful.

The action she wanted from me was vividly clear, right from the start of this multi-part, book-length chain of SMS messages that didn't even all make it to my phone.  The gist of the messages can be summed up in two simple words: Go away.

Of course those two words wouldn't even fill up one message, let alone several.  Her response included many sentences expressing this basic theme, but also included many sentences where she spoke for a part of the couple they form, that is.  (I'm not certain I've ever had any direct communication with her in which she's spoken of him as an individual.  Is it really any wonder why I pondered whether she treats him as an individual and allows him to act as such?) Also included in the chain of messages were nasty personal attacks and ugly, suggestive, baseless (and ridiculous) assumptions about me and my past.  It was perhaps the most rude and most intentionally hurtful string of text messages I've ever received -- which, considering that I've received messages from a cruelly manipulative and craftily intelligent narcissist, is really saying something.

But the strange thing is, even though I'd been feeling pretty down throughout the day, the messages didn't make me feel worse.  In fact, they made me feel so much better that I wound up sending her back a message expressing my gratitude.  Now I'm sure you may be wondering, WTF???  Just hear me out.

Her message content was so heinous to me, so obviously intentionally hateful, that I realized that even though I love him and probably always will (that's just the way love works for me -- yes, even when it comes to the guys I've dumped) there is no way that I could want a relationship of any significance with someone whose life is heavily enmeshed with someone who would spew vitriol such as this.  So just like that (cue finger snap), I was instantly released from my lingering desire for her fiancee.

Note that I write, "her fiancee", not "him".  I make this distinction because I imagine that I would very much want a relationship with him if he were not so tightly coupled with someone for whom I have such a strong and very reasonable distaste.  Though considering his promise to marry her, I don't expect that to ever be the case.

As I mentioned earlier, if the content of these messages was crafted specifically for the purpose of causing me to be repulsed by the idea of having a real relationship with her fiancee, then I say, bravo.  Well played.

Monday, September 30, 2013

About Picky Poly

The Blogger
As a blogger, and principal contributor to Solo Poly Life, Picky Poly is just starting out.  She's introspectively thoughtful and has a tendency to be quite revealing with it comes to her thoughts, feelings and personal experiences.  Her writing style can be wandering and difficult to read, given its interjections, tangents and frequent lack of clear point or purpose.  Despite the ultimate effect of her style, Picky Poly attempts to make her points as clear and succinct as possible.  The production of her pieces is slow and deliberate.  Because she takes care to write what she means, mean what she writes and likes to shake things up a bit here and there, she uses the dictionary and thesaurus at almost compulsively. She is new, but she'll write, learn and grow.  Have patience.

The Solo Poly Gal
As a solo polyamorous woman, Picky Poly isn't quite just starting out.  She first heard the word, polyamory, in 2011 from a much older friend of hers who could be described as an old hippie.  Given its Latin/Greek roots -- as well as the context in which the old hippie used it -- she immediately discerned its meaning, and was quite intrigued.  It seemed to fit somehow with her fairly recently formed views on how she wanted to live her life as it applies to romantic relationships.  With only a small amount of exploration she discovered that solo polyamory is the relationship style that seems to fit her best.  She identifies with it strongly and in some ways sees herself as having always been polyamorous, without really having a word for it.  In her poly adventures to date, she's experienced what it's like to juggle time, attention and affection between multiple partners, be a secondary partner to engaged/married men, and lose men to mono women who demand (or are expected to require) exclusivity.

The Perpetual Online/Offline Dater
Since 2011 Picky Poly (by the name Picky Poly recently, but historically by other handles) has  freely sought opportunities to date and form all sorts of different relationships with a wide variety of interesting men.  But as her handle implies, she is very picky -- and this isn't entirely by choice.  Her sense of attraction tends to be quite narrow.  Though she is sapiosexual to a degree, a fascinating and enthralling mind isn't usually the be all and end all for her.  She looks for the guys who've got a lot of different things going for them -- and these guys aren't usually the 10's that every other woman seems to be out to snag.  Although she loves it when other women flock to her sweethearts, the ones that the majority of other women find to be the cream of the crop often just don't do it for her.  As far as looks are concerned, her weaknesses seem to be green/blue/hazel eyes that aren't too piercingly bright, strong manly hands, adequate heads of clean-cut hair and clean-shaven or stubbly faces.  She's far more into the guys that present themselves as the clean-cut type than the ones that like to project a bad boy image.  Her (currently half-assed) profile can be found on OkCupid.

The Mask
When you get right down to the bottom of it, Picky Poly is really just the mask or alter ego of the woman presented here, who hasn't yet gathered the courage to come out publicly as poly.  This mask was created a couple of months ago as a result of the owner's desire to come out as poly in her dating life, but not yet come out as poly AND herself.  So, everything you see here is real, but the name has been changed to protect the identity of the cowardly.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Necessary Ending?

The Beginning
I met my former partner at a meetup of the local group for alternative relationships.  At that meeting we barely exchanged 10 words, but the connection I felt was immediate and electric.  He was there with his primary partner and another couple.  It was the first time I ever attended a meeting such as this, and even though I was very interested in taking him up on his invitation to join them, I was too intimidated by the size and coupling of their group, as well as their sticking together as a unit rather than mingling with others.  I was new in town and more interested meeting lots of people -- regardless of relationship potential -- than I was in potentially falling into a cliquish sub-group.

As it turned out, the four of them remained separate from most others in the group mostly due to the layout of the venue.  Toward the end of he evening, after they'd all eaten dinner, they socialized a bit more, but it was still very clear that the two pair were each strongly coupled.  The dynamic between my former partner and his obvious primary was curious.  For every hundred words or so that she uttered, he might have uttered two.  Despite the apparent power dynamic between them, I was still drawn to him.

In the weeks or so that followed, I didn't think anything of meeting them, but then I got a message from him via an online dating site.  I was admittedly excited, but also hesitant.  Aside from being naturally hesitant about being approached by men who are clearly part of a couple, I was also hesitant because his profile made a lot of mention of being open, but did not necessarily mention being poly.

As we began to exchange messages and have phone conversations, I tried to get a clear sense of whether his relationship with his primary partner was open to only strictly casual relationships or if perhaps there was room for genuine, loving relationships outside of their own.  Over time I became convinced that their may be an opportunity for a real relationship with him.  Based on my relationship experience with a married poly man, I expected to have no problem dating a newly engaged man -- so we agreed to try dating.

A Fine Start
As we dated I struggled with other areas of life including work and other relationships.  Through these challenges he proved himself to be a wonderfully supportive friend.  He became very important to me.  The more we learned about each other, the more we came to respect and admire one another.  I was growing attached to him.

Our dates were amazing.  They were some of the best dates I've had in many, many years.  Without his awareness of it until after the fact, he satisfied a years-long innocent romantic fantasy of mine by creating a picnic in the park at dusk for us, that featured the natural light show of a field full of fireflies.  Nothing could tarnish how special that night was for me...not even being bug bitten, rained out and forced to retreat to the most unauthentic Irish pub in town that had a horrible beer selection and professional wrestling on TV.  In fact, all those little quirks made it just that more authentic.  It's a date that stands out like few others in my history.

By this point I recognized that I could be in danger of developing "serious" feelings for him.  Yep, the L word.  I wanted to be able to consider him a boyfriend, I wanted to know whether falling for him would be a problem.  I explained what I wanted, what I didn't want, and what it all meant to me.  He checked in with the fiancee.

The first response was something along the line of, "she's already been referring to you as my girlfriend", and "she's comfortable with whatever relationship [he and I] mutually agree upon", with heavily suggested requests for the three of us to spend some time casually hanging out as a group and getting to know each other.

So that's what we did -- when we could coordinate everyone's schedule -- and it seemed to work well.  Our discussions regarding boundaries and expectations went pretty smoothly.  I understood that their relationship to one another was the most important romantic relationship in each of their lives.  It seemed they both understood that I knew my relationship to him was secondary to theirs, and that I had a strong interest in supporting their relationship and ensuring that my relationship with him never impeded their relationship.  I was told that even though they discuss everything with one another and hold no secrets from each other, they do afford each other privacy in their outside relationships.  I was told that they had a commitment to each other to be vigilant in ensuring that they both refrained from bringing any issues of their outside relationships into their relationship, at least until the issues had been fully addressed in those external relationships.  I understood everyone to be committed to open communication.  It seemed we were all on the same page.

My Own Superlative
My relationship with him continued into physical intimacy, which was deeply emotional for me.  It became clear to me that not only could I no longer internally deny that I was feeling love for him, but that I was also expressing that love physically -- and, in hindsight, I had been doing so for some time without admitting it to myself.  I experienced a connection with him that was like no other connection I've ever felt.  It was frighteningly, amazingly wonderful.

I was terrified by the emotional vulnerability I felt. Despite my fears, I gathered the courage to admit that I'd been making love to him.  Even though my logic on this subject dictates that I can't make love (i.e. physically express love) without feeling love in the first place, it somehow seemed a safer admission than admitting that I love him.

His reaction was what I expected it to be.  It was genuine, tender, kind and largely, if not completely, unrequited.  I felt good about coming clean on the meaning and emotion behind my display of physical intimacy, and at the same time, I knew the fear surrounding my emotional vulnerability had been validated.  That validation didn't cause any sort of heart-sinking or knot-in-the-stomach feelings.  It just was.

Before our time together came to an end that day we discussed when we might be able to see each other again.  Facing both of our schedules, the possibility of getting together any time over the entire next week, over the weekend, and some time into next week was the very next evening.  I knew I was going to miss him over the extended stint to come, but also didn't want to pass up any opportunity to spend time with him.

But almost as soon as that plan emerged it became tentative when he realized he had to take his car to the shop and would probably have to pick it up (well out of town) in the evening.  The only way that the plan might work was if the car needed more repairs than could be completed in one day.  I was a disappointed that the plan had to be put on the "maybe" pile, but I understood, reminded myself that I'd just gotten to spend a lot of time with him.

The next morning when it seemed clear that the plan would be moved from the "maybe" pile to the "no" pile, I decided that I should make alternate plans rather than continue to be the ever-hopeful optimist and end up with even more disappointment. As it turned out, his evening was free because the car wasn't ready at the end of the day as the shop said it would be.  I didn't let that get to me though.  I had made a decisive choice to not risk disappointment by holding out hope.

I stayed pretty busy and managed my desire to see him by keeping in contact with him when possible throughout the next five days.  I finally managed to arrange for a small (less than 30 minutes) slice of his time to meet up with him at the parking lot of a neighborhood grocery to borrow landscaping tools and quickly catch each other up on our respective weeks.  I've always cherished all the time I've gotten to see him, talk to him and show affection for him, but this was too little.  Not only did it feel like too little, it wasn't even enough time -- or quality of time -- to objectively meet the expectation that all three of us agreed upon, which was he and I seeing each other (i.e. having a date) at least once per week.

At my next attempt to get a connection of a higher quality than text messages (i.e. a phone call), I was also met with disappointment.  He couldn't call because he was helping his fiancee.  But he suggested having the call the next evening.  I appreciated his effort and accepted the offer, but given the series of disappointments, I was also starting to feel worn down and left out.  I asked for his availability over the coming week and made every effort I could to secure a few hours of the one evening he wasn't booked.

Is This What I Signed Up For?
Just as I was starting to feel I was managing to get closer to getting what I need and what I'd expected (based on group agreement) to be getting out of the relationship, I encountered big bout of disappointment.  Through our text conversation, I gathered that he would not allow me to be in the house she shares with his fiancee after dinner on our next date. I tried to understand and negotiate this, but imagining myself in this scenario made me feel really bad, cheapened, disrespected, hidden away like a dirty secret, and generally treated something like a prostitute.  When I attempted to assert my need for respect, while also acknowledging respect for both him and his fiancee, the conversation quickly escalated and became adversarial.  I disengaged from the conversation and promised to return to it the next day.

The two of us discussed the issue over the phone the next day and seemed to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. The evening of the day following that was our next and last date.  Aside from receiving an unexpected request to bring back a meal for the fiancee -- which was only unexpected, not at all unacceptable -- everything transpired pretty much exactly as expected.

The only thing about the evening that struck me negatively had nothing to do with any reaction to him, his or my behavior, or our conversations.  It was a symbol that I saw, formed where we'd been lying together.  It was a heart, and it mocked me.  When I first saw it I thought I was just my brain -- as if in response to a Rorschach test -- wanting to see it as a heart, but after a double- or triple-take it was clear that my brain wasn't just trying to make it fit the really was the shape of a heart.  And as I said, it mocked me.  I'm sure he wondered what the hell I was looking at, or maybe he saw it too.  I don't know, because I didn't dare say a word.  I know how I feel about him, but I was still too frightened of the effect of my feelings to admit them.

I shared other details of how I feel when I'm with him and we talked until it was almost an hour past the time we were supposed to end the date.  I felt only partially satisfied with the time we were able to share, I made mild complaints about all the time that going to a full-service restaurant consumed, and joked that next time we'd have to make it fast food.  I really needed more time for giving and receiving affection; I could have cared less about the table service.

A Proposed Personal Bonding Experience
Earlier in the week we locked in plans to go on his first skydiving expedition.  Originally the plan was conceived as an activity that he and I could enjoy on our own, because like a few other activities, skydiving is one in which the fiancee has no personal interest and would rather that he do with someone else.  As the plan moved from concept closer to reality he changed the plan to include his fiancee.  I don't see this as ideal (since I'd prefer that the majority of the time I spend with him is one-on-one), but I did accept it, along with the disappointment it brought with it.

A couple of days after our last date we discussed the skydiving trip, but also on the agenda was an arrangement to exchange the tools I'd borrowed for other tools.  Although he'd made mention earlier in the week of bringing the tools by my place, when I asked if he would do that he explained that he couldn't because he had a date with his fiancee. He hadn't mentioned the date to me before, so again, I was faced with another unexpected disappointment.  My only option was to be at his house very early in the evening -- which meant I'd be fighting rush hour traffic...both going and coming back.  I try to avoid commuter traffic like the plague, but for the opportunity to make progress on my home maintenance chores -- and especially for the opportunity to hug and kiss him -- I bit the bullet and vowed to make it work.

In the very same thread of text conversation, he dropped in another unexpected change to our plans.  Now not only was the fiancee joining us to spectate our skydiving expedition, but the plan had been changed to include a couple who will be visiting them.  At this point, I see that my efforts to form a personal bond over a first-time, "bucket list"-worthy adventure have been reduced to entertainment for the fiancee and house guests.  Further, aside from a request to confirm that this change is ok, I've been allowed zero say in this change.

That little bomb, combined with all of the disappointments that have stemmed from the perpetual breakdown of my hopes for sharing quality bonding time with him, sent me directly into self-protective, ultra-platonic "skydive buddy" mode. Inside I was intensely crushed.  With a phone call he managed to talk me out of this mode by offering to arrange for the two of us to drive separately from the rest of the group, so we could at least talk on the drive out to the drop zone.

The Ugly Parts
I woke the next morning to my phone chiming with incoming messages at an irregularly early hour. They were from the fiancee.  Despite having my phone number for weeks -- under the auspices of discussing poly topics that might be useful in her external relationships -- this was the first day she'd made any attempt to communicate with me directly.  It caught me off guard and, given the likelihood of her involvement in injecting her house guests into my plans to introduce her fiancee to skydiving, I was carefully and cautiously hesitant.

Her first two messages seemed harmless enough, and really rather pleasant.  I replied honestly and thankfully.  ...Then came the books.

The first message was so long it was broken into 6 different parts.  Its content was mostly what I might call left-field speak.  Aside from expressing a desire to have a friendship with me, I couldn't quite discern what message(s) she was trying to deliver.  Everything seemed like it was coming from left field rather than being delivered directly over the plate.  I kept my reply brief and addressed her content as well as I could without attempting to guess.  I'm often really bad at inferring true messages from left-field speak, and I find it's generally best to try asking clarifying questions instead.  However, I guessed that a one-step-at-a-time exchange of clarifying questions and answers just to uncover and begin to address the true message would just make for more incoming, indecipherable books.  So I decided to just address the sections that didn't seem to make sense to me or seemed to directly contradict expectations that the three of us had agreed upon.

The book I got in response covered 9 separate SMS messages.  Again, mostly left-field speak, but I think I was able to discern that she was simply reiterating (for what purpose? beats me) the same points we thoroughly discussed and agreed upon during the talk we three had about boundaries and expectations.  Among the territory covered in that discussion was the notification that the two of them discuss everything, yet she reiterated it, not just once, but twice in this second book of text messages. This struck me as possible patronization, but I wasn't going to be making any insinuations along that vein.  She seemed to be riled enough all on her own.

The Worst Hierarchy?
The content was also peppered with hierarchy and superlatives, such as "above all others" and "closest friend".  I took offense to this.  Not because she and he put their relationship above other relationships, but because she was stressing it directly, and privately, to me.  Maybe it's just me, but I know darn well that if I were ever a primary partner of someone I'd never think that it was acceptable or appropriate to privately stress the superiority of that relationship to one of my metamours.  It's just rude, and demonstrates a marked lack of empathy -- and maybe even a lack of respect -- for the metamour.

However, I feel obliged to make clear that I do not hold that same opinion when it comes to someone expressing to their own partner the higher level of importance they place on an outside relationship.  In this case such expressions may help that secondary partner face and healthily deal with feelings of jealousy, or it might arouse feelings of compersion -- especially if the partner who's in the outside primary relationship communicates the richness of the benefits of that relationship and how it brings them fulfillment and joy.

As a secondary I have always been beamingly proud of my partners for being fantastic husbands, fathers, breadwinners, caretakers and all the other roles that their primaries expect them to fulfill.  Hearing about how much my partner loves and shows his love for his primary makes me love him all the more.  Hearing that my partner's primary relationship is his most important relationship instills in me a respect for that relationship and a desire to support and protect it, for his sake if for no other reason.

But hearing about the superiority of a metamour's relationship with my partner strikes me as nonempathically thoughtless at best, and an attempt to rub my nose in the superiority of their relationship at worse.

A Careful Response Fails
Even so, in my reply I took care to not insinuate that I'd taken any offense.  SMS is not the best medium for expressing that sort of thing.  I just honestly re-affirmed the exact same things I'd originally affirmed in our original discussion on expectations and boundaries, and because I was beginning to become concerned that some contradictions may be coming to light that could negatively impact my relationship with him, I pointed out the contradiction and asked (rhetorically only) how the two sides of this apparent contradiction could both be the case.

Perhaps my concern about the contradiction -- and illustrating it clearly -- riled her further regardless of my attempt to avoid doing so.  Of that I'm not certain, but what I am certain of is that her next message struck me as clearly adversarial and seeking a wolf-in-sheep's clothing kind of way.

I refused to play into it, happy that my schedule wouldn't really allow for it even if I had wanted to engage her in this fight she'd been trying to stir up.

Fulfillment Of An Obligation
Of course though, I was still obligated to appear at their house for the tools exchange and she knew it.  Apparently she completely disregarded -- and was perfectly fine with showing no respect at all for -- the fact that my schedule could not allow me to stick around after the tools exchange.  But even more appalling than that, she had complete disregard for the impact of my emotional state upon arrival.

After the SMS exchange with her earlier in the day, I knew trouble was brewing.  I didn't understand it in the slightest, but I knew that I didn't want any part of it, at least not before whatever trouble she was brewing was left to simmer and settle.  But I knew that she wouldn't be able to let it cool off; I knew she'd be waiting for me, ready to start the fight she wanted.

Traffic was so heavy that even though I'd allotted an hour for a 15-mile drive, I thought I actually might not make it in time to meet his deadline.  I fantasized about turning around when the deadline came, and sending my apologies for not being able to make it.  But I made it there with five minutes to spare.  So I drove around their neighborhood, looking for a place to park so I could take some time to focus on staying calm and being slow and deliberate in my actions.  I found a place, practiced some deep breathing and tried to remain in the moment.

The Uneasy Scene
When I arrived I noticed that her car was on the street rather than in the driveway.  As I recall, it was even parked on the street facing the wrong direction.  It was definitely out of place and increased my feelings of unease about the situation.  I decided to park on the street, across from their house.  I got the tools out of my car, brought them to the front door.  Before I could ring the bell the dog started barking.  I thought to myself, well, I rang the dogbell.  That thought seemed kinda funny, so I thought I'd try it out.  After all, this might not be the trap waiting to be sprung that I expected it to be.  I rang the doorbell, and he came to the door to wrangle the dog and let me in.

I tried the joke, but got nothing.  He looked up at me with somber eyes as he wrestled the dog.  I told him that the tools I was returning were on the porch and that I'd decided against borrowing the other tools.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw her approaching down the hallway, hearing her threaten, "This isn't going to end well if you don't talk to me."  I kept my focus on him.  I saw the confusion and concern in his beautiful eyes, and I felt myself starting to shake and break into tears as I told him that I couldn't stay and that I couldn't do this right now.  I picked up my hand and slowly reached toward the knob.  I saw my shaking hand, I saw the knob and I heard her say behind me, "If you walk out that door this relationship is over."  I knew I had to turn and pull that knob.  All I could say is, "I know".

I think I breathed, but I'm not sure.  I really can't remember what happened between my hand being on the doorknob and my hand being on the door handle of my car, but I think I walked slowly.  I recall seeing him walk slowly down the driveway.  After backing my car a few feet I turned into the driveway.  I spoke to him briefly.  Thinking that this may be the last time I see him, I blurted out, "I love you".  I saw something change in his face.  Aside from this, I'm not even sure I know what I said to him, but I know that I was thinking that I needed to disconnect from this feeling.  I needed to get back to me.

I know that nothing could have changed the way everything played out.  I did what I had to do.  I had to take care of myself first.  Although I resent the notion that she ended my relationship with him, (she clearly had every intent of ensuring that my relationship with him was over, regardless of whether he might claim that he ended the relationship of his own accord) I know that I made the healthiest choice I could have made for myself.

A Necessary Ending?
Because this is all still very fresh, I'm still struggling a bit with whether my relationship with him really needed to come to an end.  Slowly, and with objective feedback from friends, I am solidifying and coming to peace with the notion that it did need to end.  I have a plethora of questions about why everything unfolded as it did, but as with every time I have such questions, I am growing to accept that these questions will likely never have answers.

As of now I still have a desire to address the issues underlying this explosion, and I'm trying to accept that the opportunity to do so will never -- and perhaps should never -- materialize.

Some things that help me accept that the end of my relationship was necessary and the most healthy option are my perceptions and concerns about: the power dynamic between the two of them and how they expect that to play into his outside relationships, the power dynamic/relationship they seem (or at least she seems) to expect from metamours, the contradictions within their stated expectations and boundaries, and the impatience in communication and lack of acceptance that all parties need to have a safe emotional & physical space in which to communicate.  Aside from the perceptions and concerns I have about the relationship, the fact that I have many other unrelated and highly important responsibilities and goals in my life also plays a significant role in helping me accept the end of this relationship.

I approach this as a learning experience and aim to gather information and gain skills that will promote more success in future relationships.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Venturing Out

After much consideration, I've finally decided to venture out -- down the path of blogging on my experiences as a solo polyamorous woman.

A bad (or at least less than ideal) end to a secondary (from my former partner's perspective) relationship serves as a catalyst in my decision to finally get this ball rolling.  I expect that I'll blog about it after I've collected all my thoughts and organized them more coherently.  It's still very fresh.

So, in refocusing on the lingering things I'd been meaning to do for myself, I finally got around to searching for the solo polyamory blog that Robyn Trask mentioned when I met her at the 27th Annual Loving More Polyamory Retreat.  Of course I'd forgotten the name/URL of the blog she mentioned, so I spun the wheel of Google and landed on  (Hope I found the right one, Robyn!)  Considering that this was the first hit and all the other top hits were one-offs or only related posts/blogs, I'd say I probably found it.

Not even all the way through the first post, I found the kindred spirit and sense of community that I really needed.  I don't get to feel that every day, but it's absolutely fantastic when I do.  On those days, my world brightens and expands.

Before my solo poly world was expanded by, it was last expanded when I discovered that a long-time acquaintance of mine -- who has since become a treasured friend -- also tends to favor the solo polyamorous relationship style.  Though over the long haul she may be solo only by circumstance, it was absolutely wonderful to find an ally of such high similarity who was already someone I respected and liked.  On that day, my solo poly world got only a little larger by count (+1), but a lot larger in size (+100%)!

Upon reading the second most recent post on I discovered the group, Living as a Single Secondary.  Considering my recent poorly-ending experience, I virtually ran to this group, kicking myself all the way there for not having explored FL more thoroughly since joining.

I'm still exploring these newfound outlets, and considering many of the concepts and experiences shared therein, but I expect that I'll find great support and information there.  With these and related resources that I haven't even stumbled upon yet, I'm sure I'll be able to better weather the ill effects of my recent experience, identify and learn from my mistakes, and be more successful in future relationships.

It's a brighter day.