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  #61  
Old 04-10-2013, 03:30 AM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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She thinks of me as being an exception, as we've been together more than two decades and are still investing in one another, for all our ups and downs.

So, I now find myself consoling Vix even as she turns to me for advice and perspective on what to do.

I guess it's a good thing I got my own head turned around, so I'm in a position to be useful to her.
This...is really sweet.

I actually view both of my boys as "exceptions"...or I wouldn't be with them. (I may have mentioned it before, but I really don't like 'people' as a rule...)

MrS is very good at stepping outside of himself and looking and advising me about my reactions regarding Dude...I appreciate this more than I can express.

JaneQ
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Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" Vee-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (21+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (3+ yrs) and MrS's best friend
Lotus: poly bi female, "it's complicated" relationships with Dude/JaneQ/MrS (1+ years)
TT: poly bi male, married to Lotus, FB with JaneQ
VV and MsJ: bi-women with male primaries, LTR LDR FWBs to JaneQ


My poly blogs here:
The Journey of JaneQSmythe
The Notebook of JaneQSmythe
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  #62  
Old 04-12-2013, 11:16 AM
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Default Brief Update

I don't have a lot of time to write, this morning, so I'll just give a quick update on the week.

Vix has been struggling in her reaction to Doc's revelation that he (only) "likes" her. She got her head straightened out about it a few days ago, with the insight that she had made a mistake in compressing and conforming herself to Doc's expectations, trying not to rock the boat.

She was still feeling bruised, though, and worried that there is something fundamentally wrong with her. She put this to Doc in an email, and his reply went a long way toward helping her.

Doc assured Vix that there is nothing wrong with her. It's just that he has proven himself incapable of remaining interested in anything that is not new and shiny, with the exception of a handful of longtime friends. From what Vix has told me, he seems to maintain these friendships in part by keeping his friends at some comfortable emotional distance.

In a sense, Doc has done Vix an honor by moving her into that category of friendship, which is the only way he could continue to have a relationship with her at all. Any other woman he would have just dropped.

So, as I've said, Vix is disappointed that their relationship cannot become what she'd hoped it might, but she is glad of Doc's friendship (with or without "benefits"). She only wishes she'd known all this last year, so she could have invested in the friendship rather than hoping for a deeper emotional bond with Doc.

I suppose, with enough honest communication, each relationship will find its own appropriate level.

In the mean time, I've continued to exchange emails with Metis, and we continue to confide in one another. I've also seen her, once or twice, in social contexts outside of work.

Yesterday, in an email, she asked me if I'd like to have lunch with her next week, another of our urban picnics.

Oh, be still my heart!

I still don't expect anything beyond friendship with Metis, but a small flame of hope seems still to be burning. If nothing else, I'm moved that she would take the initiative to see me.

I keep telling myself it's probably just a sign we're developing a real friendship.

Nyx and I are also trying to find some time to see one another over a meal, though our busy lives seem to keep conspiring against us. Brunch on a weekend morning seems unworkable for some time to come, so we may have to default to lunch on a weekday.

That's too bad, because it limits the amount of time we can spend talking.

Still, in all these things, I'm trying to take a long view. These are people with whom I hope to maintain some connection beyond this week or month or year, whatever form that connection takes.
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  #63  
Old 04-13-2013, 04:55 PM
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Default Negotiation

Vix and I fell into a familiar sort of conflict, yesterday, but seem to have worked through it in record time.

It's the kind of conflict that, a few months ago, would have had me steaming and stewing for days, even weeks, but we got past it in a couple of hours.

First, some background. As I've reported here, Vix has been traveling a lot, leaving me with a lot of responsibilities at home involving the household and our daughters in addition to my work and community responsibilities. I've also reported that I've started to figure out how to manage her absences not just with resignation but with intention and with some measure of joy.

Well, some time ago, Vix agreed that I should have some opportunities to travel on my own for particular purposes. In past years, I've gone off to a music camp that has been especially fulfilling for me. I won't have a chance to do that, this year, because of other plans this summer. However, I'd settled on the plan of going by myself to a music and arts festival in October.

In the mean time, Vix is looking at the end of her opportunities to go to Europe, which is very important to her. (She spent part of her childhood in France, and feels very much at home on the Continent.) This is not do to recent changes in her relationship with Doc - changes which seem to be resolving themselves in the direction of a steadfast friendship - but because Doc will be moving back to the States.

October is really her last chance for a long visit in Europe, and there are a number of events she was planning to attend with Doc that month.

Now, we had been negotiating all of this, but perhaps without the focus and intention it needed. I never entered the music festival onto our shared calendar, and Vix was somewhat vague on when it was supposed to be. In the mean time, there were other complications in the Fall that needed negotiating, such that Vix's own plans changed several times.

The last I knew, though, she would be getting back from Europe some days before I was to leave for the festival.

Well, as I was finishing some work at home yesterday afternoon, Vix came into my office to tell me how excited she was that she could extend her stay in Europe a few more days to attend an especially choice event with Doc.

(I've written about some of this before, on other threads. These events are certainly a lot of fun for Vix, but they are also important for her development in an avocation she finds especially fulfilling. Also, as I've said, this may be her last chance for a very long time to attend such an event in Europe.)

I pointed out that the festival was that weekend, and suddenly we found ourselves back in the conflict we'd had some weeks ago, about which I wrote in yet another thread: What to do with the girls?

I have a strong sense of responsibility toward the girls. At least, I think it irresponsible to fob them off on friends while Vix and I go off and have fun. Knowing myself as I do, I know I wouldn't be able fully to enjoy the music festival - which is in the mountains, some hours from here by car, in a place that likely has spotty cell phone coverage, at best! - knowing the girls were back home with no other family around.

I am not willing to bend on this point, at least not for something that's really just fun, really just for my own enjoyment. If it were a business trip, that might be another matter.

So, we were at an impasse: it seemed I would have to deny Vix her last chance in Europe, or I would have to deny myself the chance to go to the music festival on my own.

My old bitterness and grumpiness came out and mixed with Vix's raw emotional state, this week of all weeks, when she's just trying to recover from recent developments with Doc.

Anyway, things were tense for an hour or two. Finally, after dinner, we had a chance to talk it out. I expressed how I was feeling about it, described what a struggle it was to hold these feelings at arms length so I could scrutinize them properly.

I was feeling basically disrespected. Vix clearly thinks my sense of responsibility toward the girls is irrational, almost pathological, and had told me so with some animus. She had even appealed to the girls themselves: even they would think I was being irrational.

That was a low blow, that was!

Anyway, we talked it out, examining the conversation itself and the raw feelings, apologizing for argumentative overreach where apology was called for.

I came around to a solution, which is imperfect but which at least doesn't leave one or both of us fundamentally aggrieved.

Vix will plan to stay in Europe that extra three days - a last hurrah - while I'll plan to take the girls with me to the festival. It's not what I was thinking it would be, but I can still get a lot out of the experience, and the girls will likely have a blast. We know many families who are likely to be there, so I'll likely be able to arrange a degree of independence while I'm there.

In the mean time, I'll be on the look-out for other opportunities I might want to take to get away on my own, and I'll be sure to stake my claim by getting them on our shared calendar right away.

As I say, I'm not entirely satisfied with this solution. Part of me still feels a little bit put-upon. Still, the fact that we worked through something of an implosion in about two hours is an accomplishment in itself.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-13-2013 at 07:52 PM.
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  #64  
Old 04-14-2013, 02:30 PM
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I would think that children can only benefit from seeing their parents have fun and pursue things they love just for the sheer sake of enjoying themselves. Most people I know who had parents that gave themselves permission to enjoy life, really appreciate that and treasure it. Yes, they need to know that the grown-ups in charge will take care of them, and of what needs to be done. But it's a good thing to also observe that being an adult isn't always about mundane, everyday responsibilities. Makes growing up a much more palatable goal, methinks.
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  #65  
Old 04-14-2013, 02:47 PM
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I would think that children can only benefit from seeing their parents have fun and pursue things they love just for the sheer sake of enjoying themselves. Most people I know who had parents that gave themselves permission to enjoy life, really appreciate that and treasure it. Yes, they need to know that the grown-ups in charge will take care of them, and of what needs to be done. But it's a good thing to also observe that being an adult isn't always about mundane, everyday responsibilities. Makes growing up a much more palatable goal, methinks.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I have no trouble doing things for the sake of having fun. I have gone off to music camp on my own, for example, and the girls have seen me pursue my interests in music all the time, which is certainly not a matter of grim duty! It serves no serious or professional purpose whatsoever.

The girls often come with us to events similar to the music festival I'd like to attend, where they have a lot of fun and they get see Vix and me - and lots of other (supposed) grown-ups - enjoying ourselves immensely.

What gets me, though, is my sense that Vix and I shouldn't both go off having fun at the same time, leaving the girls behind without a way of getting in contact with one of us or having one of us available in case of emergency. We don't have any other family in the area, and I'm not comfortable transferring these kinds of responsibilities to friends.

Vix thinks this is irrational. I honestly don't care what she thinks of it. This is my own sense of my responsibilities as a parent.

As the girls get older, I'll probably be more willing to consider leaving them behind. But, for now, I'm just not.

I just have to deal with the consequences of taking this particular stand.

In this case, taking the girls with me to the music festival in the fall isn't really such a terrible compromise. There is a lot at the festival for people of all ages, so they really will have a great time.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-14-2013 at 03:45 PM.
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  #66  
Old 04-15-2013, 12:34 AM
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What gets me, though, is my sense that Vix and I shouldn't both go off having fun at the same time, leaving the girls behind without a way of getting in contact with one of us or having one of us available in case of emergency.
I see. I think I misunderstood. Well, it doesn't matter what I think, but I half-agree with you. While I agree that it would be a little crazy to go away with no means of being in contact for emergencies, I think it's fine to leave them in the care of someone trustworthy while you and Vix are away on a grownups-only vacation or separately doing things for fun.

It also makes me sad that wouldn't feel comfy leaving them with good friends. Is that because you don't have friends you feel close enough to, or that you would rather not "impose?" My mother was a single mom and used to have my sister and I sleep over at friends' places if she wanted to go to a dance or event at Parents Without Partners. Hey, we loved sleeping on blankets on the living room floor and watching tv way later than we normally would! I remember when I was small, there was an emergency (my mother was hospitalized for a few weeks) and my sister and I were about 7 and 8. My grandmother lived with us but wasn't well enough to watch us, so stayed with the next door neighbors who were our good friends. They drove us to see my mother, made sure we ate dinner, etc. My mother didn't really have that many friends, and hated imposing on anyone (I was never even allowed to have dinner at any of my friends' houses because she felt I would be an imposition on their parents), but still, other neighbors pitched in to help us, out of concern. Kids being as resilient as they are, we rolled with it, and it was all fine.

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In this case, taking the girls with me to the music festival in the fall isn't really such a terrible compromise. There is a lot at the festival for people of all ages, so they really will have a great time.
Well, that's great!!!
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Last edited by nycindie; 04-15-2013 at 12:41 AM.
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  #67  
Old 04-18-2013, 12:21 AM
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Default Forensics

So, Vix is still coping with the fall-out from Doc's recent revelation that he likes her . . . whatever that means. But, at the moment Doc is traveling and will be out of contact for about two weeks.

Vix is using the time to conduct an investigation, using an unexpected forensic tool. The thing about LDRs in the Information Age is that they tend to leave a record of themselves: nearly all of Vix's relationship with Doc is recorded as a series of emails that stretches back for more than a year.

She hasn't yet completed the investigation - she is, at this moment, reading through last October and into November - but Vix has learned a great deal from the process. She has seen several distinct turning points in their relationship, points at which the tone and terms of Doc's notes to her shifts, and shifts again. He passed from initial interest to full-on infatuation - with expressions of high emotion and promises for the future - to a retreat to practical arrangements . . . to "I like you."

Vix and I have had an interesting time kicking around hypotheses to explain the shift. Either there was nothing of love left on Doc's part when the first excitement was over, or there was love left but Doc was afraid of it and shut it down, or there was love left but Doc didn't recognize it as such, or . . .

Perhaps more urgent, though, is the effect all this is having on Vix. She is convinced it will have been a useful exercise, in the end. At the moment, though, it's tumultuous and painful. I told her I had been tempted to characterize it as a post mortem, but it's really more like a vivisection.

As she read through the record of last Spring, she came up to the point at which I was starting to become fairly surly and withdrawn about the whole thing. She remembered vividly what a struggle it was for her to remain committed to our relationship when I was in such a bad state and Doc was offering her so much . . . that had her in knots today.

It does bring up what has long been a difficult subject for us, though. For her health and for other reasons, Vix very much needs for us to leave this city far behind. We need to move north, preferably to New England, but really anywhere the air is clearer and winters are harsher and drier. She also needs to move to someplace where she would be willing to invest in building something for herself, a project or a set of projects that are meaningful to her and will give her life more meaning.

For many reasons, she pretty much hates the region in which we now live, and is unwilling to invest anything in a place that is - due to pollution, climate, and other factors - gradually and inexorably killing her.

One problem has been that, whenever this comes up, I start to get tangled up in my own emotional response, based on past choices and miscommunications that landed us here (for my career), and initially landed us in an unhealthy house (out of which we moved nearly three years ago), and so on: guilt and shame and impatience (oh, just get over it!) and anxiety and fear of my own inadequacy and . . .

So, I would clam up and withdraw, and not do what needs to be done to advance my career enough to be movable, and feed further into Vix's growing desperation to get out.

Not a good cycle.

Well, when this came up again today in a text conversation with Vix, I caught myself starting to react . . . and the stability engine kicked in. I grabbed the response and held it away from myself, so I could examine it.

I tried to assure Vix I was doing this, and that I just needed some time to complete my own investigation. I think she is so accustomed to my heretofore usual reaction, though, that it continued to upset her.

Late this afternoon, all of what she's feeling was pouring out as she talked to me. She was weeping and describing her frustration and dismay at the state I was in for so much of last year, and with our ongoing situation; she poured out her hopelessness and sense of emptiness.

And here's the amazing thing: I didn't take any of it personally. I didn't get my back up, or get defensive, or guilty, or grumpy. I let her pour it out; I held her as she wept, and I assured her I would work on my own reactions, and we could work on our plan for what to do next.

There are very real problems. There aren't a lot of academic job openings at my level in my field, even in a good year. There hasn't been a good year in quite some time.

Still, it's time to start investing more seriously in making myself movable, maybe even poachable, and in stripping down our household to make it lighter and more portable.

As for Vix and Doc, I hope Vix finds some resolution at the end of her investigation, but she may have a long road, even when Doc is back from his travels. She won't really be able to find out some of what she needs to know until she sees Doc face-to-face again this summer.

----
In the mean time, I had lunch with Metis earlier this week . . . and she's already suggested lunch again next week. (Part of me thinks: hmmmm . . . The rest of me is simply gratified that she seems willing to invest in friendship with me, which is very sweet, all around.)

I'm also scheduled to have lunch with Nyx on Friday. (Hi, Nyx! I can hardly wait!)

And I may have a chance to sneak off on my own to one day of a music festival in the mountains this Saturday. (Not the same festival I wrote about a few days ago; another one.)
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  #68  
Old 04-28-2013, 06:56 PM
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Default Date Night!

Our girls were invited to a sleep-over with friends, last night, so Vix and I had some time to ourselves.

We went out to dinner at one of the many restaurants in town we hadn't visited yet, a higher-end Mediterranean place that serves really excellent food without being too pretentious about it.

(I don't think the terms "remoulade", "reduction", "confit" or "amuse bouche" appeared anywhere on the menu.)

Over dinner, we talked about future plans, about how we're going to manage to get out of this city and move back up north . . . perhaps in stages. In talking about our plans so calmly, over such a meal, we were able to re-establish the sense that our life together is a collaborative project, and that we should work with rather than against one another.

One wrinkle in the conversation is that Vix is late for her period. She usually has a fairly short cycle, but day 28 came and went this past week. We weren't sure if we might have another, very serious set of decisions to be making very soon.

The thing is, Vix is old enough that she is entering into perimenopause, so irregular periods are to be expected, at some point. And, really, she didn't feel pregnant, and we have been careful - um, more or less - with birth control.

On the way home, we stopped by the drug store to pick up a test.

The test was negative, with a fairly small chance of error.

Our minds set at ease, we watched a movie, then were somewhat more careful about birth control after that . . . and this morning, too.

For some reason, I'm feeling contented today, as if all is right with the world.

I wonder why that is?

In the mean time, my friendship with Metis seems to be deepening. We met for lunch, last week; we sat outside and talked for nearly two hours.

Later that day, I wrote an email to ask if she'd be interested in getting together for something other than lunch. She would, and suggested the possibility of meeting one evening at a place with live music.

I'm still trying very hard not to read too much into all of this, simply to be happy that she is willing to spend time with me and that she seems to be as interested in getting to know me as I am interested in getting to know her.

I see the possibility of an enduring friendship with her, whatever else we may be to one another, by and by.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:49 AM
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Default Forensics Report

I neglected to give an update on Vix's investigation into her relationship with Doc. She finished reading through her email correspondence with him quite some time ago and, although it was wrenching, she seems to be the better for it.

I think the worst of it, for me, was the half day in which Vix turned on herself, placing all the responsibility for the failures of communication and understanding between her and Doc squarely on her own shoulders. She was awash in shame and guilt, then, and even wrote a note to Doc - who, at the time, was still incommunicado - apologizing for having missed his clear signals last fall that the shine was already wearing off and he was pulling back into more of a friendship.

That was a bad half day. It was also somewhat surprising in that, the night before, she had been placing all the responsibility squarely on Doc's shoulders - his immaturity, his lack of communication, his stunted emotional state, and so on.

The day after the low point, Vix read a little further on in their correspondence, and begin to see further mixed signals from Doc, much more the sense that Doc was - knowingly or not - stringing her along or, at least, feeding into her deeper love for him just to keep her from walking away from him.

Within a few days after that, her reading of the correspondence done, Vix began to settle into a clearer picture of the ways in which responsibility for miscommunication was shared between them. She also began to separate herself more from Doc, emotionally. She still cares for him, still values the friendship, still intends to spend time with him and, when he's back in the States, pursue some projects of mutual interest with him, but she sees more clearly his very serious limitations in his capacity to relate to other people.

She compared him to a toddler in a sandbox: he wants someone to play alongside him, or even just in the same box, but not to get too close or too personal, not to interact very directly.

We had a good laugh over that image . . . though I hasten to say it wasn't a mean-spirited laugh. It was more the laughter of recognition and, for Vix, it was laughter with a lot of affection in it.

The thing is, Doc really, really wants Vix to stay in the sandbox with him. It's important to him. And, within limits, Vix is willing to visit the sandbox again, to see what might be made of a friendship with Doc.

She says she's starting from square one, with no assumptions or expectations. I doubt it's that easy, but Vix has resolved to make it so, and I've learned to step out of the way when she has that look in her eye.

Doc started to come back into communications range a few days ago. Unprompted, having not yet read all the notes Vix had written in the mean time, he acknowledge his own responsibility for the misunderstanding between them regarding the terms and limits of their relationship.

He's at home now, in Europe, and so Vix should start to get a fuller picture as their correspondence resumes.

Vix is currently packing for a week away from home. She'll be one state away, touring around in pursuit of her avocation. Still buzzing from our date night, I'm generally quite calm about this absence . . . except that my younger daughter fell this weekend and seems to have fractured a bone in her wrist.

So, I spent a few hours in with her in the emergency room this evening, and now need to make arrangements to get her to an orthopedist in the next few days . . . amidst grading and meetings and after-school activities for the girls and . . .

I am staying calm. I am staying calm. I am staying calm. I am staying calm . . .

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 04-29-2013 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 05-29-2013, 03:45 AM
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Default A Friendly Case of NRE

I've mainly been lurking on the forum, lately, too busy with stuff out in the real world to spend much time writing here in the unreal one.

Really, though, it hasn't seemed to me that there's been much to tell.

I'm still working through the same issues with Vix. She's away, now, on tour. In fact, we all traveled as a family to a festival about 10 hours from here, then parted ways there. She'll be back next week, with only two or three days to turn around and fly with the girls to Europe. I'll join them two weeks after that.

As before, parting was hard - a feeling of desolation crept over me for a while - but actually living through her absence isn't so bad. At least I know she's gong to be doing something of her own, something she finds satisfying, something that earns her the respect of her peers.

But there is one change that has been sneaking up me: my relationship with Metis has been deepening into a close and trusting kind of friendship. We get together when we can - once, now, we managed to arrange to have dinner together, followed by a walk in the park - and we have confided in one another more and more.

We also write back and forth every day: sometimes long emails, sometimes short ones, sometimes just links to things we found online we found funny or intriguing or annoying. When I was away this past weekend, with no possibility of email, we kept up a long - if intermittent - text conversation.

In a sense, our friendship is asymmetrical.

I'm still very much in love with her, and I've let her know I'm open to what most people would call a "romantic" relationship with her.

In reply, she's told me that she looks to me more like a father figure. Not precisely that, though; maybe something more like a mentor or advisor. She says she's never had the kind of support or acceptance from any of the men in her life that she gets from me. What she's told me of her father and of her mom's subsequent live-in boyfriend makes me think that's true.

She apologized for saying she looks to me as something like a father figure, concerned I might think it was twisted, that I might think she was dragging me into some sort of bizarre psychodrama.

Really, I didn't take it that way at all. I did tell her I would rather she didn't frame our relationship in father-daughter terms, given the unfortunate spin that would put on the intensity of my feelings for her. But I am happy to offer support and acceptance and perspective for as long as she needs them.

I also told her that I think of her as my equal: I'm muddling through just like she is, and it might help us both to muddle through together for a while.

Anyway, Metis and I worked through all this a couple of weeks ago, and have seen one another a couple of times since, and just continued with our confidences as before.

I think ours has the potential of being an enduring sort of friendship.

Here's the thing, though. At the moment, my affection for Metis is overwhelming me. I think of her all the time, and I'm eager to find opportunities to be with her (which is not an easy thing), or even just to communicate with her.

I'm awash in a friendly case of NRE.

To my delight, Metis often initiates email or text exchanges, and she has said she wants us to find time to be together. It would seem I am nearly as important to her as she is to me, though maybe for different reasons.

I'm trying very hard not to be so overwhelmed by my affection that I lose sight of the established boundaries of our relationship. After our walk in the park, Metis hugged me; that is the currently agreed limit of our physical relationship.

I just ache to kiss her and hold her, though, simply in order to express the depth of my feeling for her. I really haven't thought much past that, and none of the physical stuff is an end in itself; certainly, I care about her and respect her enough never to pressure her into moving the established boundary.

She has enough struggles with anxiety and stress in her life without me adding to them by pushing her into something she wouldn't otherwise agree to.

It's a little uncomfortable, this intensity of feeling, this near obsession with Metis, but mostly I don't find anything tragic in the asymmetry of our relationship.

I have to struggle some with the strength of my affection, but the result is that my relationship with Metis has an immediacy and an intensity to it that is thrilling and indescribably sweet.

I got it bad, and that's all right.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 05-29-2013 at 12:21 PM.
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