Well, I've been poly-in-theory for nearly a year. My wife first raised the possibility last March and, after a week of reading and further talking, it just seemed right and good to us to remain committed to one another and to not be exclusive in that commitment.
I've done a lot of thinking, and talking, and posting to online forums since then. I understand the idea of polyamory, and of ethical non-monogamy, pretty well. More than that, it makes so much sense to me, in the broader moral framework I bring to bear on the world, that I can no longer imagine how I could have been unreflectively monogamous for so long.
After all that thinking and talking and making sense of things, it comes down to this: I have a date tonight.
I really like her, and I look forward to seeing what kind of relationship we might have.
Heck, I just look forward to seeing her in a few hours.
I'm wonder-struck, like a child, and it's good.
I'm still wonder-struck.
The story of how I met her - call her G - is not entirely free of irony. As I've posted elsewhere on the forum, I've had a love-hate, approach-avoidance relationship with OKCupid. I've gone through two different accounts on the site: started one, then deleted it; started another, then deleted it.
I decided a dating site is not really the best place to meet people; the set-up and the expectations of the whole thing seem off, somehow. I made a lot of noise about this on the forum a few weeks ago, and annoyed a few people with it.
Well, damn me for a fool, but I met G on OKCupid, and my exchange with her was the one thing I held on to when I deleted my second account.
Now, in my own defense, I was drawn to her, in part, because her profile was so direct and honest, and she began it with the disclaimer that her life is very full, and she's not really interested in a new romantic relationship. She was there out of curiosity, nothing more.
I wrote to her with no expectation of anything at all.
Well, we've been corresponding by email for a couple of months now, and I guess we both liked what we were reading. She comes across as intelligent and thoughtful . . . which is all but irresistible to me! She's also been poly (and openly bi/queer) for a while, and understands things about relationships that, for me, are still matters of conjecture.
We met for coffee a couple of weeks ago, and the spark was struck. We met for lunch last week . . . and talked for three hours. Fortunately, her work schedule that day was relaxed enough that there weren't repercussions back at the office. It was a non-teaching day for me, and I made up for lost time over the weekend.
We immediately set up our date for last night. She drove to my house, and we walked to a nearby sushi restaurant. We were seated in the back room, which we had pretty much to ourselves for the evening, ate sushi . . . and talked for three hours.
Then we walked around for a while in the unaccustomed cold (real winter weather, in Georgia!), then came back to my house for a cup of tea and more talk. My wife and daughters were caught up watching something in the other room, so we had some privacy.
I'm usually open about the fact that my besetting vice is cowardice, especially when it comes to making myself vulnerable, letting someone else see my deepest feelings and failings. I tend to use words as a defense, talking away from my discomfort, changing the subject . . . and I'm very, very good at generating words.
In the past, when I've found myself wanting to tell someone or show someone how I feel about them, it seemed to me I was standing on a precipice, or on the edge of a too-cold swimming pool. I would want to jump in, but I would be afraid of what might happen next, afraid of the irrevocability of it.
Once I jump, I can't unjump.
I would resolve to jump in, be ready to jump in, then hesitate, and think again, and wait, then resolve again . . . and end up standing there, contemplating the edge.
Back in college, I let potential relationships slip away, because I would not take that fearful leap. There are some I still regret, to this day.
I've taken the leap a few times, often with much talk. When I was dating the woman who is now my wife, it took me about an hour to explain what I meant when I said I was in love with her.
(I know, I know.)
Anyway, to make a long story short, sitting and talking with G last night, I jumped . . .
and it wasn't such a terrible precipice after all, because she was right there with me, meeting affection with affection.
And so we launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas.
We're both inclined to let our relationship develop slowly. The thing is to spend time together, so we can come to understand and trust one another.
Did we hold hands? Did we kiss? Was there a warm and prolonged good-night hug?
I'm not the kind that tells.
Glad to hear things are going well! I like the way you write and look forward to reading more.
Just wanted to say congrats on what sounds like a lovely first foray. :)
I was talking to my wife this weekend.
Wait, I suppose I should give her a nickname. How about Vix? (Short for DanceVixen, a user name she once had on another site.)
Anyway, I was talking to Vix this weekend, and she told me to stop being so anxious about the effect my new relationship is having on her. Really, my anxiety about it, my checking in with Vix all the time to make sure she's all right, was getting annoying, and even a little creepy.
That's the word Vix used: "creepy".
I realized I was experiencing a kind of reverse jealousy, as though, by developing a relationship in which Vix does not have any direct involvement, I was stealing something from Vix.
I mean, what an outrageous thing for me to do! How dare I?
Fortunately, the cure for reverse jealously was at hand.
First, Vix assured me she's really happy I've found G, and that she'll let me know if she has any doubt or anxiety or worry along the way.
Knowing Vix, I'm quite certain she'll let me know!
As I've continued developing my relationship with G, I've simply kept Vix up to date on the story of how it has been developing, without apology or defensiveness or anxiety.
Just the facts.
She's persists in being happy for me, and is looking forward to getting to know G, in good time.
The one thing Vix has said she isn't sure of is how she'll react if or when I actually have sex with someone else. I haven't, yet, and it's something Vix and I will have to keep talking about, along the way.
Another part of the cure is in the experience of this new relationship, in which I've surprised myself.
Far from being swept away by blind passion, my growing affection for G is making me more aware of everything: of G, her other relationships, her boundaries, the touch of her hand, the feel of . . .
Wait, where was I?
. . . and also more aware of Vix, our daughters, the solidity of the life we've been building together, my own boundaries.
I'm not stealing anything from anybody, though I need to be careful, on my own account, that I keep it that way.
I spent yesterday evening with G, at her apartment. I went over after work and made dinner for her. We talked . . . and didn't talk . . . and talked . . . and didn't talk.
Today, in an exchange of emails, we've carried on the work of clarifying our current boundaries and the pace at which we want to proceed . . . which will be fairly slowly, given the complexity of our lives and of our existing relationships.
I'm happy to find I'm able - as of right now, at least - to keep things in perspective. However urgently I find myself drawn to her, I don't (yet) seem to be losing my head.
(Famous last words?)
Glad to hear you are taking things slowly and communicating well with everyone. I forget - does Vix have an OSO?
Vix is currently recovering from the implosion of a hoped-for relationship with a long-time friend, and so isn't currently interested in looking for anything more than that with anyone.
In the hoped-for relationship, Vix was very careful about communication and boundaries, and so was he . . . with her . . . to a point. They held the line at cuddle-buddy status, though they both wanted to go further, and sometimes toed the line. They were waiting for him to talk to his wife about the possibilities.
The kicker was that he wasn't really talking to his wife about any of it, not even the fact that they were spending time together as cuddle-buddies, not even the fact that Vix and I were over there several times for dinner with the guy and his sons while his wife was out of town. (She has a job that keeps her away 3-4 days every week.)
She found out.
She was displeased, to say the very least.
The fallout has been painful, not least because Vix wants to hold on to her former friendship with the guy in question, but is currently not allowed to have any really personal communication with him to which his wife is not privy; they are allowed to send private emails to one another so long as they are innocuous messages about an avocation the two of them share.
It's also painful because our various children like one another and want to spend time together.
(There's more, about the prior and ongoing state of our friends' marriage, but that's not really to the point here. For myself, I think Vix is well out of it, and have told her so.)
Anyway, observing her experience has added to my caution in developing my relationship with G. One of G's OSOs is, in her words, "not enthusiastic" about her seeing someone new.
As much fun as G and I are having getting to know one another, by talking and by not talking, we really do need to hold the line at least until she's worked things out with that particular OSO.
Neither of us wants to be a source of chaos in the other's life.
I'm astonished by the sudden intensity of what I'm experiencing with G. I begin to see how easy it would be to lose my balance, to let myself be swept away by her.
I begin to see how difficult being poly can be.
Okay, the story of recent developments:
Vix has been out of town since Wednesday, in pursuit of her avocation. She'll be back Monday.
(As an aside, Vix has a traveling companion on her trip, an older gent she's been drawn to for a while, in an intense kind of friendship. I wonder if Vix has any other kind of friendships? Apparently, something has been developing between them on this trip - she reports their relationship has gone "from sensual to sexual" - about which I'll learn more when she's back. For now, at least, I'm just not fussed about it; I'm happy for her, in part because it could be helping her heal from her recent heartbreak. She says it "feels like a cure.")
Anyway, Vix and I hadn't really finished working out boundaries on my inviting someone new to the house, for a visit, and introducing them into our girls' lives. Vix is right in thinking the girls - especially the younger one - form attachments easily, with adults and children alike, and it might be wrenching for them to introduce someone to them who might just disappear if the relationship didn't work out.
This caution was spurred by our recent experience with Vix's imploded relationship and its effect on two sets of children.
Well, on Thursday, I was feeling isolated. I don't at all mind being at home with the girls, and I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself and of them. I do much of the cooking around here, anyway, and can drive them to their various activities as well as Vix can.
Still, I was missing Vix, and wishing I could spend some time with G before our scheduled coffee date on Monday. I thought G might be available for a visit Thursday night, but hadn't asked.
So, I asked Vix, by text message, if I could ask G over for a little while, for a cup of tea and some quiet talk.
I'm glad I asked, because Vix said it would be okay. It seemed to her that what is developing between G and me is serious enough that she's likely to be around for a while.
As it turned out, G had plans to have dinner with a friend not far from my house, so it was easy for her to come by afterward.
My daughters - lovely, feral creatures that they are - insisted on having tea with us. That was fine with me, and G got the full measure of the crazy energy of the household.
I then shooed the girls off to bed - it took them fully an hour and a half to finally settle down - then G and I sat at the kitchen table and talked . . . and didn't talk . . .
We didn't have any guarantee of privacy, so we limited ourselves in the range of our non-verbal expression, but . . .
It seemed to me that something had shifted between us, that we'd made it past some threshold. We were at ease with one another, we were open to one another in a way I've seldom experienced.
I'm having trouble putting the rest into words. What I experience with G is intense, but with a warm, open, and balanced kind of intensity.
But it is intense, and it presents certain challenges to good judgment and the maintenance of boundaries.
We sat together on the couch for the last half hour or so of her visit. She was starting to feel sleepy, and needed to get home while she was still awake enough to drive.
She didn't want to go. I didn't want her to go. Technically, she could have stayed, but we would then have crossed several lines that ought not (yet) to be crossed, and that may have led us on to cross a few more, just for good measure.
(When I was at her apartment on Monday evening, her bedroom door was pointedly closed, a symbolic boundary. In fact, G and I use it as a euphemism for that very boundary: the door is still closed. Her arrangement with the "unenthusiastic" OSO - who is as close to a primary as G has - is that it's fine for her to get to know me better, but that she won't open that door with me until she's had further conversations with him. That seems perfectly reasonable to me.)
Well, "damnable good sense" (as I put it) won out, but it was a fight, and there were several reversals. In the end, it was sheer force of will, on both our parts, that got her out the door and on her way home.
Keep in mind, this was only the fifth time we'd been together, face-to-face.
I imagine it's going to get more difficult to maintain boundaries before it gets any easier.
As I say, I begin to see how difficult being poly can be.
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