My boyfriend Jasper and I are long distance and we spend a lot of time on the phone. We sometimes read each other things like Dan Savage's advice column. There is a whole category of letters known as "How'd That Happen?" explained by Savage below:
We get a lot of letters here at Savage Labs. While every letter is unique, patterns do emerge, and Wet's letter is a good example of a certain type of letter we get. The kids in the mailroom call them HTHs, or "How'd That Happen?!" letters. You see, Wet is doing this completely whack thing—pissing on himself in the bathtub as a substitute for masturbation—and like a lot of folks doing whack things, Wet has some whack concerns. He has questions about the advisability of this whack behavior—will urine damage my skin? Is there something wrong with me?—so he writes a letter. Something that he thinks, no doubt, took some courage. But in composing his letter, Wet chickens out: He fails to take responsibility for his actions, casting himself as a passive player in this bathtub drama. He may be peeing on himself, but it wasn't really his idea, he writes: "I don't know how this happened—one morning I just did it." How'd That Happen?!
When I asked Jasper for help naming this blog, How'd That Happen came up. I said, "Surely we don't want to be known as How'd That Happen? type people." but I am afraid we are. It's sort of the only thing that explains how we got here. We all just sat around wondering How'd That Happen? If there was something I would change about us, it would be that. We're all passive, we aren't always accountable, we're not proactive and intentional and worst yet sometimes we don't even wonder How'd That Happen, we just ignore that it's happening at all. I want to own up to it.
So How Did This Happen?
It was love at first sight with Herman. Of course everyone told me not to get married at 18. I got lucky, if it was a mistake it was the best one I’ve ever made. I regret not having a better idea of who I was and what I wanted in life especially in regards to non-monogamy. Then I wonder, Didn’t I? I was busy complaining about a guy I was in a long distance relationship with the night I met Herman. I was a cheater in some form or another in every romantic relationship I’ve ever been in. I didn't go out looking for it, I just never fully closed myself to connections with other people. It wasn't usually sex and the relationships I was in were never all that defined to begin with but I count it. I cheated before and after we were married which I admitted to but only afterwards. Herman asked me to end it with that guy which I did but I told him I couldn’t promise I wouldn’t cheat in the future. We struggled in those first years but just couldn’t split up over it because our love hadn’t changed and we still wanted to be together. We had endless conversations about our relationship which I can barely remember now but I remember it felt terrible and he always came away saying he felt like he wasn’t good enough. I’ve never done it for that reason, but I understand how easy it is to feel that way. I hope none of this reads like I'm making excuses for the cheating or saying I think anything I did was ok. I'm a piece of shit and I know it. From the example of marriage I had from my parents I thought you were supposed to find a person who would be EVERYTHING to you. They spent 24 hours a day together and had little or no outside social interaction. Once I was married I quickly learned that must have been why they fought so much as that is just a ridiculous amount of expectation to put on one person. In the meantime my parents divorced after 30+ years when my dad lost his mind over a woman who was the exact opposite of my mother. (that's not a judgement of the other woman or their relationship, he really lost it all on his own) All four of us worked in the same office. I learned a lot about what I think about relationships being in the middle of that. I think 30+ years of marriage can be a success if you end it or not. I learned that someone who gives you everything you've missed from one relationship doesn't make them any more perfect for you. They taught me how not to communicate. I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to become more independent and grow as my own person and quit focusing so much on “us” which wasn’t ever really the problem to begin with. There were some good monogamous years during that time and I started making new friends. Then I got closer to one of them.
Herman and I were in a much better place when we met Jasper at an event outside both of our home states. Afterward he and I kept in touch online and on the phone and began meeting up at other events with other friends from that community. The more we talked I knew in my heart I was heading for trouble and I could have cut off contact but I didn’t. I considered it cheating and felt guilty long before we had sex and before I even knew he had feelings for me, but I also never hid anything from Herman. He knew about our relationship and we talked about how close Jasper and I were, I told him I was in love with Jasper. I know we talked about it because I often wondered why Herman wasn't unhappy like he had been in the past. Seemed to good to be true. I tried to get Jasper to end it all the time because I felt it was unfair to him as well. I made it clear I would never leave Herman and had no desire to. He insisted he could make his own decisions. Jasper and I talked on the phone or online almost every night. I spent all my vacation time visiting him or him visiting us or traveling together. For years it went on that Jasper was just a part of our life and even when he wasn’t around, Herman and I considered him in our daily activities. I brought him to family functions, he met every one I know. He has a room in our house. We all talked about him moving in with us for a long time. Herman and I began to assume it would never happen because Jasper is very attached to his city. Then a couple years ago a plan was made and a date was set for the move. As it got closer I couldn’t believe it was really happening and I got very nervous about how both of them felt. I decided to have one more check in with Herman to make sure he was really ok with this and he kept saying he was but it didn’t make sense to me. So I kept pushing and hours into the conversation it hit me that he didn’t know we were sexual. I can't explain it, I sure thought we'd talked about it. Long story short, I fucked up. All of our worlds fell apart. I told Jasper what happened and that I’d be out of contact for a week while I figured out what I was doing. I intended to end it with both of them because I didn’t want to leave one for the other and I never wanted to be assumed monogamous again. Herman asked me not to go so I stayed while he worked out how he felt about it. I was still being horrible about it. I didn't understand what the difference was between the life we were living and the life Herman thought we had. Eventually I think he agreed. I don't really know what happened. I told him I wasn't going to cut Jasper out of my life for him and I definitely wasn't going to be assumed monogamous any more. But he still wanted to stay together. We had a trip all together planned just a couple weeks away and both guys decided to go ahead with it. I guess we thought we'd talk about it but we never really did. Herman and I sort of just went back to normal and he even said Jasper should still move. Jasper on the other hand did not really recover. He was obviously shocked and felt like he had lost any sense of security and acceptance with us. Maybe it wasn’t until then that we all realized we were in a situation where one person could change all of our lives so quickly. Jasper asked for some time to figure out what he wanted and then fell into a lengthy depression I think he is only recently coming out from.
I guess I fear we are there all over again. (or still?) I fear I don't know how they feel or what they really decided. I fear they are both with me because they are afraid to start over. Or because they want me to be happy or they want to be with me enough to ignore their own wants and needs. I wish for what I think "real" polyamorous people have. Honest communication, even if its ugly. I want to be clear and I want each of us to take responsibility for ourselves and our relationships and our life. I want them to work with me. Which leads to issue #2.