TO: MY WIFE's RECENT EX-GF,
Reading this will contain stuff you can't unlearn!
Don't read if you don't want to know!!!! STOP NOW, GO BACK, DO NOT COLLECT $200
Don't whine to me later if you proceed anyways!
You have been warned!
So, I came out to my parents a couple weeks ago, and one of the things that concerned them was the idea that we were playing with fire...and the inherent instability they see in this kind of lifestyle. I did my best to be reassuring, although my own dating life is mostly stable due to lack of activity, and my wife was humming along at the time with a relationship of a few years.
And then it all exploded.
I’ll mostly gloss over my own search for other relationships, as it’s not overly notable in and of itself. It’s been running its typical glacial pace, where I know plenty of poly people, some of them quite cool, but anyone close I know is not compatible, or not interested. There were a couple lately that seemed to be positive enough to allow me to dare to hope…and cut contact just as suddenly. And in particular friend that briefly seemed to want to try for something more (which was originally supposed to be a whole other blog about communication since her and my ideas of a dating anniversary would have been off by a couple months if we had ever reached any) and then suddenly I got the ever familiar “You’re not pretty enough”
. (The actual words used are usually something to the effect of “I’m not attracted to you”
or “I don’t have those kinds of feelings for you”
It’s not an unfamiliar phenomenon for me, and I’m trying not to dwell on it like I did in my teens. After all, it’s not something I have any control over...I can’t “fix” the fact that I don’t turn a particular persons crank. Chemistry is a funny thing, and doesn’t really allow for one sided reactions. And it’s something I suffer from too, I’ve been told there are some people who’d be interested in me (they never talk to me about this, so I usually figure it’s just my wife starting rumours to make me feel better) but it’s the flip side where I’m not that interested in them.
The funny part was that I then got the speech a second time within a week from another friend. I’d decided a while ago that gf or not, I should probably be nurturing my local friendships a bit more than I have been. So I’d been asking this one friend out for beer a couple times, something a couple years overdue, but it was a change to our former routine of just meeting up at community events. She was thankfully very direct about it, and I almost cut her off in the middle of the intro sentence to tell her it was ok. She is after all an attractive woman, and having known her as long as I had, I know she’s exactly the kind awesome I’d date given half the chance. Of course knowing her as long as I have, I also know she’s way too busy to have time for what I’d need, and given her preferences, I never figured I’d be the sort she’d ever be able to take seriously anyways.
Of course being used to the speech and liking to hear it are also two different things. To some extent rejection is still rejection and no matter how many times I have to take a bite of that particular shit sandwich, I still want to take a moment to get some mouth rinse afterwards. I didn’t really have that chance this time around...
In the midst of all my own shenanigans, my wife started developing feelings for someone else. The full story of that is her own tale to tell, but there are aspects which I’ll hash out here anyways since they may be relevant to my own processing of the events, starting with probably the key difference in her previous poly relationships, this one is a guy. Crap...I guess it’s time to test the theory!
Now this guy I actually knew from the community, and he’d been around for a while. Unlike most of the fellows who vie for my wife’s affections in the typical vulgar or desperate “what can I do to get my dick wet” OKC kind of way, my wife had been hanging around with this guy for a while, and the attraction developing wasn’t surprising, and seemed to be developing without intent out of a viable and legitimate friendship...the kind of organic process my wife likes. I don’t think I was actually that surprised about it when she told me. And intellectually, it didn’t take me too long to figure out that this guy might be a good prospect.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my wife’s distrust about guys in particular previously. Although I thought I had processed the idea of her being with a guy in terms of deleting the patriarchal scripts that society programs us with, I know better than to trust the majority of guys in their intentions. There’s way too many out there just looking for a quick lay, and that’s not what she wants. She deserves better. So it may all be well and good that I decided in my head that I should be ok with her being with another man, but does it really mean anything if neither her nor I seemed to ever seriously consider the possibility that it could ever actually happen? That no guy was *really* likely to both be the exception to the rule of hound-dogs and also have mutual chemistry with her. Yet now, here he is
...I guess unicorn hunters can rejoice, because the very existence of this improbity guy will make unicorns seem downright common!
I could say my initial reaction was entirely mellow and smooth, compersion-y, and according to plan. No, it wasn’t. A lot of the scripted programming came back. Previous suitors were never very threatening to me, because they had never passed that acid test of not asking about sex within some fairly short period. And the one guy who had in the last few years, there was no mutual attraction. One suitor who I had even I thought sounded cool, stood her up...thrice
! But this guy, I already liked as a friend, and I think that’s where the problem came in. I knew enough about him and other relationships to end up with a weird view about him, and in some ways or aspects he excels better than I do. I could recognize the source of these things as envy, which was simple enough. But it formed in my mind as a possible threat, area’s where he might end up being the “better option” as it were, and the archaic mono-marriage-oriented programming kicked in all over the place.
The fact that this fellow is already married didn’t assuage anything either. That aspect was probably instigated by the number of loveless & sex-less marriages that have been lurking around my periphery lately. We see the stories here, and out in the community, and even with mono friends where spouses stop being intimate with each other, but stay together for a variety of reasons. So lurking in the back of my mind was the question, could this be the BBD that causes my wife to lose interest in me? Is there an off-ramp here to a dead-end sexless marriage that I need to worry about?
So went the conversation with my wife when I finally got that all sorted in my head. It didn’t actually take very long, a day or two maybe. The amount of time I’ve spent in the last few years learning about poly, and reading other peoples stories, etc. lent a great deal to being about to dig out the roots of most of these things fairly quickly. I was able to express my concerns to my wife, and she replied:
YEAH BIATCH! NOW YOU KNOW HOW I FELT when YOU started dating another WOMAN! EAT IT SUCKA!
No, seriously, she never said that.
able to give me the reassurances I needed to clear up my anxieties. The conversation was much different this time that it was when I started dating K, and night and day different that it would have been when we started this journey. I think we’ve dispensed with a lot of our old tools, and truly embraced some newer ones. There was never a discussion of veto, or even slowing down (She was already moving well slow enough for her own reasons) and when I looked for reassurance, I wasn’t even looking for promises or guarantees that the nightmare dead-end/BBD scenarios wouldn’t happen. I needed her to acknowledge what my fears were and where they were from, and I needed a commitment to talk to me if symptoms of the BBD scenario started appearing, in advance of getting to a point of no return. She was more than happy to provide, and with that, I was content
Or was I? There was somewhat a safety valve again. Similar to the wife-dating-guys scenario in the first place. Why worry about something that would never happen? Why would I have asked her to slow down? My Meta would probably do that for me?! In poly of course it wasn’t just going to be about my wife and I...while we’ve let go of needing to approve each other partners, she still had to get permission from her gf. Getting that permission was going to be somewhat tenuous, and probably not quick at coming. So part of me was able to rest easy in the knowledge that I’d have time to process anyways, without having to make the demand for time myself.
Did I mention earlier about an explosion?