This is it. This is the summer of Fully Exploring Poly. I’ve been holding a lot of resistances and – not quite fears, but wary expectations – of how this summer will play out in my gut and in my heart, and I feel very strongly that, whatever happens, these next two months will be challenging and life-altering. I hope, and expect, that it will also be a time of positive change and joy.
Poly is on my mind more constantly than ever before, and I was pretty obsessed about it while I was in San Francisco. I found a fascinating blog that follows a woman’s personal journey through opening her marriage and trying to figure out if she can be in a relationship with a polyamorous partner; you can probably guess that I’ve already read the entire archive. There are just so precious few resources for having a polyamorous relationship when you yourself feel you have only enough energy to devote to one person at a time – maybe two, if one of them is long-distance.
And, as I process my own emotions and reactions, watch others’ relationship dynamics, and read, read, read (or listen, in the case of the Polyweekly Podcast), I continue to suspect that I lean more towards sexual monogamy than polyamory.
It’s been difficult for me to admit this, because I have read many of the warnings to poly partners against dating monogamous people. There’s this article, for instance. Granted, I have no desire or fantasy of turning Max monogamous with my seductive wiles (snort), but for a while it was easy to conflate the difficult emotions I felt over our relationship with the concept that my not desiring other partners was detrimental to him in some way.
It doesn’t help to be bombarded by a diverse mishmash of messages of what poly should look like, how your relationship to your partner’s other partners should look and feel, and what emotions are and aren’t healthy to feel and express.
To that end, I’ve been working to develop my own, personalized poly primer, which I hope to use as a guideline in defining and shaping my own flavor of relationship style. I’ve begun to realize, now that I’m facing the full brunt of poly, that I have relied very heavily on Max to define “poly” for me – too heavily. And while I certainly haven’t figured it all out yet, if I am to delve into this, I have to be able to identify and communicate the needs I’m looking for from my partner(s). Luckily, these needs are beginning to crystallize as I dig a little deeper inside myself.
My Poly Primer
- Dedicated space – Taken from my friend Red’s post, a space where I fit and belong in my partner’s world. Also, a space where I feel safe to express my emotions, worries, and concerns, without fear of mockery or scorn.
- Collaboration – I need to feel that there is a collaborative effort to sustain and build our relationship.
- Trust – Trust that my partner acts with good intention, compassion, and kindness.
- Support network – Something I’m actively developing and growing, a network of poly-knowledgeable friends that I can turn to for advice, comfort, or a listening ear.
- Self-acceptance – Be able to feel that my being and presence are an asset to my partner’s life, and that my self-worth is not diminished by sharing my partner with others.
- Couple versus partner – Perhaps my biggest epiphany: Desire for a “couple” relationship, versus a “partner” relationship. I say desire instead of need, because I’m not quite convinced it’s a need, but it’s at minimum a very, very strong desire.
- No surprises – Taken from one of Allena Gabosch’s Poly workshops, keep surprises to a minimum. Significant relationship shifts, new additions, NRE – please keep me informed!
- Balancing poly and D/s – I’m … still working on defining this one…
That’s a pretty long list already, and I could add more, but I don’t want it to get too unwieldy from the start.
It was the beginning of second grade. My mother had signed me up for an after-school program, which I was highly dubious about and expressed little enthusiasm for. I think I cried and stomped my foot a lot the first day I had to go. But the arts and crafts drew me in, and I loved my after-school teachers. I would end up attending that program until I was in my early teens.
This is where I met him – I’ll call him the Writer. He was a strange, quirky boy, with odd habits and beliefs. He had an amazing imagination and read voraciously. We got along quite well.
We saw each other daily after school. He taught me how to play chess, including the four-move checkmate I remember as the Blitzkrieg. I drew pictures and concocted drawing games for us and the other after-school kids to play. He wrote short stories – dark, strange stories that often fell into the category of horror or detective thriller. We pored over video game magazines that he brought in; took turns at beating levels and bosses on my black and white Gameboy. We may or may not have reenacted character moves from Mortal Kombat on the playground.
There was a certain period of time wherein our friendship solidified and strengthened. Sometimes, we would simply walk around the school track, just the two of us, talking about nothing at all. Yet we never saw each other outside of the school grounds, never went over to each other’s houses.
So, as we grew older and outgrew that after-school program, we saw less and less of each other, unless we happened to be in the same class for a certain subject. What had seemed like such a close friendship suddenly became awkward and uncertain. The Writer had his friends, and I had mine. There was no overlap, despite the fact that we were both social outliers.
Had I been better informed and more self-aware at the time, I may have realized earlier that we were both kinky. At least, all my memories of the Writer lead me to believe he was (is?) very, very kinky. Besides his short stories involving naked, writhing women in caves, there was a natural power dynamic underlying our early relationship – except that I was often the one chasing him around the playground, trying to catch him and pin him down.
I would have also realized that our mutual awkwardness were telltale signs of the crushes we had on each other, rather than signs of a faltering connection.
Now, almost a decade later, I can’t help but wonder where life has taken the Writer and whether he has had any kinky relationships. We are still tenuously connected – in that we are friends on a few social networks – and it is exactly these sorts of connections that keep me from deleting my social media accounts altogether. We’ve even corresponded once or twice, tossing around ideas of a creative collaboration with his words and my artwork. Nothing’s come of those brief exchanges yet, but lately he has been on my mind again.
I wonder if I should ping him again – perhaps when I am next back on the East Coast, where he still lives. I wonder if I should even attempt to meet up with him, to see if he is at all the person I remember him to be. I wonder if I would be disappointed by our meeting, or if perhaps I’d see a familiar, mischievous glint in his eye and feel some of that old chemistry again.
Given how busy my life already is these days, it seems foolish to even be thinking of this. But, given that the Writer is my longest-standing crush, it seems sad to leave such a cliffhanger in my past. Either something might still spark between us, and at the very least I’d regain a lost friendship, or we will both have changed and branched off in completely different life directions as to be incompatible, even as friends. But, whatever the case, at least there might be some resolution to this chapter of my life.
A story told in images:
I took a few photos of my back a few days ago to capture some striking rope marks from a self-suspension I’d done Monday night. Once I uploaded the pictures to my computer and got a good look at them, I did a double-take. Was this really my back? I was stunned to see any muscle definition at all – so stunned that it took a few moments to even see the rope marks.
My surprise may sound odd given that I do try to keep active and exercise, but I’ve historically never been more than just a casual athlete, and I never went through any consistent exercise regimen with weights or aerobics. Certainly, I’ve never had much muscle definition to speak of, so while this isn’t at the same level as what I’ve seen at the climbing gym, I view it as a personal victory and tangible evidence of my months of climbing and yoga.
The other victory is that, while I’ve come a long way in accepting my appearance and dealing with my personal insecurities, it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve been able to move from mere acceptance towards loving my body. Looking at this photo and actually being attracted to what I see – that feels like a huge leap in the right direction.
By this time tomorrow I will be in Seattle, ready for the week of kinky outdoor camping that is Paradise Unbound. It promises to be a full, exciting eight days, and I honestly can’t believe it’s almost here. I’ve never been to Paradise, but the combination of a wonderful kink/leather community and camping in the Pacific Northwest is vastly appealing, and that’s not even including the time I will get to spend with Max.
We talked a bit about scheduling over the phone yesterday, and then last night, I dreamt that I missed my flight to Seattle. I went to another area to get on another flight, except I got distracted and missed that one too! This meant I would not be able to get on a plane until the next morning. This put me in a panic, and all I could think about was that I was messing up our schedule.
Traveling always makes me very anxious, and it affects my whole body. As much as I try to plan ahead and make things run as smoothly as possible, my body just reacts immediately when I think about packing and getting to the airport and checking in bags and getting through security and finding my gate. So it’s not surprising that I had that dream.
I’ve actually travelled quite a bit, which of course raises the probability of things that go wrong in airports and on airplanes to happen to me. I have: flown to the wrong airport for a summer program; sat in an airplane at the gate for three hours before getting herded onto another plane when whatever technical issue couldn’t be resolved; missed a connecting flight and been unable to get to my destination until the morning after; had a nine hour layover at an airport due to weather; missed a flight completely due to poor time management; had two swiss army knives and a bottle of leather conditioner confiscated; and left a ticket for a connecting flight in the seat pocket of another plane.
That said (and hopefully I won’t jinx my upcoming flight), I’ve never lost any baggage or valuables like my passport, and I’ve never had much trouble with security. Let’s hope that trend continues!