I puzzled and puzzed till my puzzler was sore . . .
Well, this does seem to be a week for trying to puzzle things out.
Because of an exchange on another thread ("Boundary Dispute"), I've started trying to figure out why it is I've had more and more doubts about my own capacity to be polyamorous, more and more of a sense that I should either settle for or embrace de facto monogamy, whatever Vix may choose to do.
Note that this is an exercise in explanation, not justification; what I offer below are possible causes of my doubts, not reasons why they are to be taken seriously.
In other words, this could just be a matter of diagnosing a pathology from which I suffer.
At the moment, I can identify several possible sources of doubt. They are not mutually exclusive.
1) I'm depressed.
The fact is that I have been struggling with depression and anxiety since August, at the latest. I have better weeks and worse weeks, but the general trend has been downward an inward. I've become withdrawn and detached.
I recently rediscovered the Pink Floyd song, "Comfortably Numb," and latched onto it as my current anthem.
(How sad is that? I mean, really!)
Seen from the bottom of a thirty-foot well, the world does not exactly abound in possibilities for warmth and human connection. From such a perspective, I do not seem to myself worthy of intimacy with anyone, maybe not even myself.
That may be part of it. But, also:
2) I'm busy.
I've said this before, but I have a lot on my plate. I have professional commitments from which I have been too easily distracted in the past; if anything, I should be spending more of my time focused on my work, at least in part so I can open up opportunities to get out of this city that is killing my wife.
(In fact, I should be working right now!)
I have commitments to my children. I have a number of active commitments to a community of which Vix and I are part.
There isn't much left, after all of that. If I give time and attention to a new relationship, one or another of those plates might drop.
3) I'm flawed.
I also suggested in a previous post that I may be constitutionally incapable of getting really close to another person. I may have managed an approximation of simulacrum of intimacy with Vix, but only after 20 years of struggle, and then not without inflicting some damage on her. I don't open up easily, I don't trust easily, I'm too easily distracted, and I tend to withdraw into myself too quickly. (See no. 1, above.)
The roots of my impairment may be psychological, or neurological, or both. Or maybe it's just a set of bad habits I've cultivated, if you want to get all Aristotelian about it.
(And who doesn't want to get all Aristotelian?)
4) I'm a victim of circumstance.
The unhappy truth is that the women I might want to get close to have no reason to want to be close to me. As a 40-something married guy with two kids and a lot of strange quirks, I'm not exactly a prize. In fact, my interest in them would probably come across as creepy.
To go with the squirrel-feeding metaphor, I've gotten to the park too late, and the squirrels are all too busy elsewhere to notice the stale cracker I have to offer them.
5) I hold myself to be bound by ethical principles.
This one is slightly more serious, for me, and I've been giving it more and more thought.
I am committed always to respecting other people, treating them as ends in themselves, never merely as means to my own ends, if you want to get all Kantian about it.
(And who doesn't want to get all Kantian?)
Given my circumstances and all my other commitments, it's hard to see how I could give another partner her due. It would be too easy to slip into taking her for granted, using her as a means toward some end of my own . . . and too easy to be used as a means to someone else's ends (a "special treat", for example).
I worry a lot about equity, about fairness, about respect, and it's hard to see how I could have another relationship in a way that would honor all those values, given all the other constraints under which I'm working.
6) I'm uptight.
I can already hear the protests from some on this forum, words I've read before in response to other things I've written: I should get over myself, relax, open up, not be such a prude or a prig or a prick or anything else starting with pr-.
I'm not sure I can get over myself, and I'm not altogether sure I should.
So, six possible causes. Any combination of them might explain my growing doubts, or there might be something else altogether at work here. Maybe I'm just being contrary?
And where does all this leave me?
Well, at the moment, it leaves me with a stack of essays that still need to be graded . . .
Last edited by hyperskeptic; 03-06-2013 at 04:48 PM.