Am I Okay?
I've been struggling most of my life with depression. I had a really rough childhood (drugs, murder, etc), and for years I blamed my emptiness inside on those things and those people that hurt me. I'm starting to believe my problems are more with sexual /romantic frustration. Something I have never once considered before.
I've always had a feeling like I'm missing something inside. Each person I spend a significant amount of time with seems to fill some smaller part of that void. I've fallen in love many times, but I've always been the one to fall out first. I've broken up with every woman I've ever dated, for no good reason, other than the irresistible urge to become romantically interested in someone else. It doesn't matter how long I've been dating them, how well we work together, or how much I love them. No amount of emotional commitment to them could stop me from falling out of love.
I'm currently in the longest relationship of my life (3 years), and I truly love my girlfriend. About 18 months in I started feeling trapped again, I started craving the uniqueness of other people. I told her back then that we should take a break, that I needed a while to clear my head. I immediately hopped into an intimate friendship with a girl completely different. She made me feel happy in an entirely different way. But no matter how much I grew attached to her, I still longed for my girlfriend. We've done this about 4 times since then. It's like I need to take a momentary reprieve and discover some other soul. I'm addicted to making intimate connections with other human beings, learning their lives romantically and allowing them to fill another small part of the void. Recently, my frustration with how I feel, and the confusion, has been effecting my energy and sexual drive. I can't maintain erections because I feel so awful about how I feel. I don't like who I am.
I don't know. I just hop from relationship to relationship absorbing their personality and the way they make me feel, and I start longing for the uniqueness of another. I don't stop loving what comes with the current relationship, I never do. But I never feel like its enough.
My girlfriend is bisexual, and has been in many relationships with both genders. She's openly sexual, quite possibly nudist, and encourages me to explore my sexual nature (when she met me I was sexually conservative and romantically uninformed). She's taught me about all the types of gender expression and identity and sexuality. We've already determined that I'm panromantic heterosexual, through a very long and happy journey of self-discovery. I'm very attracted to men and women romantically, but have yet to encounter homoeroticism.
Today is the first day I have ever encountered polyamory. I've been reading all night of personal testimonies and resources, and I'm almost positive that's how I feel. The only conclusive thing I could come up with is what I would truly want my life to be...
I wanted all of these things BEFORE I knew what polyamory was. I never knew that other people felt this way, and that there was a community.
-I want a loving family and children
-A long-term relationship with my current girlfriend
-Another long-term individual(s) who satiate multiple romantic feelings
-Sporadic periods of meeting someone new and connecting with them romantically
-All parties to understand my sexual and romantic nature, and accept me for it
-Not to fear being judged or berated; seriously, my biggest fear is that nobody will understand and call me a cheater or say that I'm looking for free sex
The last part especially. I'm so terrified that how I feel is wrong, that I really should be okay with just one. I don't want to be seen as manipulative or corrupted. Every one of my relationships has shocked those around me when I end them. "She was so perfect for you, you two were great" is often thrown around. My close ones think I'm a deviant or a hound. I hate it.
Recently, I started talking to a woman that I met while on business upstate. I'm afraid that I've developed romantic feelings for her. And what I discovered is that 3 weeks of talking to her, I feel as romantically involved with her as with my girlfriend of 3 years, of whom I know everything about. I know I need to tell them both how I feel, but I'm so afraid of hurting them. I don't want them thinking that they as one aren't enough for me. Because there isn't a problem with either of them. There's a problem with me. I want to walk away and just sever my connection to them, to avoid hurting their sense of character. But I can't keep doing that to every relationship I have.
What can I do? How do I know if I'm really polyamorous? If things can't be salvaged with either one of them, how can I start fresh and find myself with other polyamorous people?
You know, maybe if you got to a place where you had agreed a poly or open relationship with your girlfriend, a place where it's okay to have feelings for other people and act on them, you might find all that sort of desperate edge, the urgency, the frustration, disappears. And then you'll be able to build healthy relationships with everyone. No guarantees though.
There is nothing deviant about the desire to love more than one person. While some people truly function better in a mono relationship, others do not. However, the default societal view promotes monogamy. That said, I think the high divorce rate is testament to the idea that it is far from THE perfect configuration. :)
You have described well how you feel. I do not see anything mean or manipulative in your description - more just lost. We have all been taught through society and religion that monogamy is the only way. It's not. I would suggest you keep reading. There are lots of personal blogs on this site that describe others struggles and transitions into polyamory.
I won't kid you, it is work - a lot of work. It requires that you be honest with yourself and others. It requires excellent communication skills. And lots of patience.
But yes, you're okay.
I'm a little confused. You say early on that you "fall out of love" with people, but then later it sounds as if you maintain at least some feeling of love, you're just looking for more.
When you say "fall out of love" (if this description is accurate) what does that actually mean to you?
How do you feel about your current girlfriend and your relationship to her now, if you take out the worries about being involved with other people?
Then, when you say at the end that you "feel as romantically involved" with the new woman you've known for 3 weeks, what does that mean?
I think what I'm asking here is for a better sense of what you're looking for. Not that I really need to know that, of course, but it's helpful for you if you can articulate it for yourself.
I'm also struck by your comments about each relationship filling a bit of a void. I wonder whether relationships can truly fill it, and I think that might be worth thinking about.
Still, it seems like the concept and practice of polyamory might give you some comfort or self-acceptance, so I am happy for you that you feel you are figuring something out. The judgement you've been facing from yourself and others sounds like quite a burden.
But, and there is always a 'but'! Poly won't fix deeper relationship and personal concerns. You might find yourself in multiple relationships but with the same difficulties - just with more people.
If you feel a void in yourself, the thing is, other people cannot fill this void. It can feel temporarily like they are fitting in the places where you lack *something* but this is not real. It's a chemical endorphin illusion which wears off as you have discovered. Now this does not mean that your love is not real or that your lovers have not loved you back. It just means that what ails you cannot be fixed by the presence or love of another person. This does not make you unusual or broken or sick. Many,many people feel a void, including myself. But feeding the void from the outside never works to fill it. Think of it as a black hole that will never close, never be 'full' but constantly consumes.
To fill the void, you have to do something paradoxical. Stop feeding it. And start to understand it. Why is it there? What purpose does it serve in your life? What feelings is the void keeping at bay? Emptiness is a fine survival mechanism in difficult times. It protects you emotionally and mentally. But once one has survived and gotten away from the bad situation, it becomes a poor strategy to live in the world.
You might need to revisit your childhood to begin working on understanding the void. I'm sorry you endured that. It was not right and you did not deserve it. I'm glad you survived.
Poly might work for you. But it cannot fill your void. Relationships ideally help us become the best version of ourselves. But they cannot fix or heal us. Our loved ones can support our healing, encourage us, listen to our pain and troubles, and be at our side but they are not the cure. They are the reward, the carrot in my mind. I want healthy, happy relationships so I try to do the work necessary to get that outcome. I fail a lot at this. It's hard. But I've learned that it is necessary for my own growth and happiness. So I keep trying.
I wish you the best.
I assume you have sought medical attention for the depression part of it.
The remaining "empty" thing... how are you in your spiritual health? You could assess where you are at there --
There's nothing wrong with being poly. You probably are. But it is possible you are poly AND you have poor spiritual health.
Just like "retail therapy" and shopping til you drop will fill the void of poor spiritual health only but for so long?
Using "dating lots of people" to help fill the void will only work but for so long. The brain chemistry of NRE wears off in 6 - 24 mos ish. If you are looking for another "hit" to help lift you up, it's only going to last but for so long. You seem to have experienced that already and you seem to crave something else.
So... maybe try uplift in other ways too? Still see your GF and whoever it is you want to date, but take the time to tend to your own spiritual health so your spiritual wellness can improve and you don't struggle with that "empty" thing?
One realization has been that some things can only be learned by love, through love and in a loving environment. As an adult that can only be reached in a romantic relationship - or that is my experience, anyway. Other types of connection between people do not offer enough intimacy for this kind of profound repairing of damages that have happened in the past. Human beings need physical intimacy for… well becoming and being humans.
If we did not get that sort of intimacy as young children, we will grow up lacking something - with a void inside of us.
I was lucky enough to have this moral change from “only absolute monogamy is good in the eyes of God” to cherishing the abundance of love (polyamory) before I ever had any romantic relationships. And yes, my romantic and sexual relationships have been a long journey into myself. Through them I have learned who I really am and that I am a beautiful and worthy human being. Most people learn these as children but not all of us are as lucky.
I'm going to return to this post and actually reply to many of you. I just wanted to say that I'm reading all of your feedback and it's truly appreciated.
I gathered the strength I needed to talk everything out with the loved ones in my life and hopefully try to find some kind of peace in it. I'm starting that today with a talk with my girlfriend and friends (separately).
I understand that I have a long journey of self-discovery and I'm going to need some restructuring in my life to promote the changes that may happen.
I'm sure I'll return tonight with many more points of interest to seek out guidance. Thank you all so much so far.
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