^I'm glad you're back to the happy place.
I'm noticing a pattern. In my own head. I might have done this more (though I can't recall), but now I've caught myself twice. (This is going to be long, again, brace yourselves.)
For me, it's been obvious from the beginning of poly that I want equal relationships. I did not know, what precisely this means and what it looks like. Before poly I had the same thoughts (about a hypothetical poly situation), and I was thinking along the lines of "if there was a third person with me and Alec, maybe it would be fairest for us to get a divorce (maybe not immediately, but when the new relationship was on solid ground), so that all of us would be at the same legal standing". The idea of divorcing for that reason did make me uncomfortable, though, and nowadays I counter that thought with "even though the legal standing is important, it is not the essence of relationships, and thus we all can be happy and satisfied in the situation as it is". But I take this as an example that shows where I'm originally coming from: an extreme sense of fairness/equality.
Now, I've said this before, but this was influential: Veaux on fairness
. By fair, or equal, we don't need to mean similar
. To quote "symmetry is not the same thing as fairness
". Indeed, it isn't always fair to treat everybody the same (see his examples of this: they are good ones). His reference to our mental 5-year old screaming "it's not fair!" is a good one. Though my mental 5-year-old is, surprisingly enough, not interested in what I
want but in everything being equal between my partners. (Or, to think of it, maybe it's not so surprising that my inner child would be more inclined to please and keep everybody happy than I am consciously now as an adult.)
I'm afraid that in poly, my mental 5-year-old has the initial standing. When it's two people, I'm satisfied with any arrangement that makes both happy. My mental 5-year-old is all quiet and happy, because even in an asymmetrical situation, we are both the happiest when we get what we want. But somehow, when you throw one more person in the mix, the 5-year-old wakes up screaming, and I have to find really good arguments and explain them in a way that she understands to shut her up. That's a lot of work, I tell you. Particularly since I have to go through the same conversation with her with every little detail.
So far, I've convinced her of many things. Like, for example, it is OK for me to kiss the partner I want to kiss (assuming they have nothing against it) with the other present, without then thinking about "evening the score" by kissing the other one soon, too. I can do what feels natural, and stop keeping track. There are a lot of things like that, I can't even remember them all, because once she shuts up and you start doing it in a organic way (doing what you want because you want it), that starts to feel natural.
Now, I did have a point in this, but it gets lost in all the stuff I'm walking you through for context. I've written before that I feel pressured in the newer relationship to prove that it's as important to me as the old one. I feel that to do this I need to show that I'm prepared to change my life so that there is space for Mya and our relationship. I have no problem with doing this. However, I think there is a problem with the how
I feel I need to do this. If the way to prove her importance is to strive for symmetry, I think it will come to conflict with the wants and needs of the people involved.
Now to the pattern. 3 weeks ago, Mya was here. The time point is the one where I made a rambling post about the fairness of the sleep arrangements, wondering whether I should sleep with Alec more nights since I spend more time with Mya when awake. I didn't come to any conclusion about that (because there are so many viewpoints to "fairness" that it's not always possible to objectively define what is fair). However, after thinking about it more, I suddenly noticed the real issue, the actual reason it was on my mind: I wanted
to go to sleep with Alec that night instead of Mya (for which the most important reason was to get a longer night's sleep). This is the key to the pattern: I have a hard time recognising my own needs and wants. And there, I was unconsciously
trying to wrap what I wanted
into a nice little package of what is fair
. I wasn't aware of that at first, I was spending a long time thinking about that particular issue, until it suddenly hit me that my motivation for coming back to it was not so much in fairness, but in my own want to do in a certain way.
I say pattern, because I had a similar epiphany yesterday about another issue. Not too different, it's about sleeping arrangements, but not so much about the ones going on now (they feel pretty much all right, although I might want to think about that more), but the ones in the future, when we all are at the same city. It's 3 years away, and yet I'm coming back to them over and over. In conversations with Mya, I've expressed things like "Alec may not be happy with dividing nights 50-50", and "it might be for the common good for us to sleep a bit less with each other and a bit more with the men (since they'll be sleeping alone when we sleep together). I now realise that those things are crap. I mean, technically they are true: Alec may
not feel good about sleeping with me only every other day (and that is somewhat likely), and if the men don't enjoy sleeping alone and me and Mya are happy with fewer nights together, it might be a good solution to divide time a bit differently. But it finally hit me that those are not the reasons why this issue is on my mind. The reason is that 50-50 divide of nights is actually not what I want.
The reason for this is that I feel like sleeping together, and the same goes for many other everyday routines, is a more essential part of my relationship with Alec, than it is in my relationship with Mya. I think pillars might be a good metaphor. In my relationship with Alec, I'd say there are three main pillars to hold the relationship: one of them is physical closeness (all touch, sexual and non-sexual), the other is the everyday life we share when awake (including things like eating together, watching dvds, talking about our days), and the third is the time we share when going to bed and sleeping together. Obviously there are other aspects to our relationship, but these are really what holds us together. My relationship with Mya is different. With her, conversations and talking are maybe the most important pillar. Another important one is physical closeness, to which I inlude the both meanings of sleeping together. I do like to share everyday life with her, and I do like to have deep conversations with Alec; but the dynamics are different, so different things are essential. Thus, I think having a 50-50 divide of nights between Mya and Alec would be somewhat harmful to my relationship with Alec, while it is not essential to my relationship with Mya. Right now it feels like maybe sleeping two nights a week with Mya might work well, but obviously we'll see how everybody feels at that point.
I had a talk about this with Mya earlier, one where I was afraid (again to say this is what I want) and then cried because of relief I felt when this was no big news, and no big deal to her. She understood my reasons completely, and did not take it to mean that I care for her less or something like that. We agreed that I will try to be more conscious of the pattern, and also if she happens to notice me coming back again and again to same issue, she will ask me if there is something behind there that I would want. Happy happy.