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  #421  
Old 11-27-2013, 05:06 PM
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I'm feeling much much better than I did in my previous post. I realised that the real problem is me. Whatever Hank does shouldn't influence me as much as it has done recently. Somehow I put him and our relationship on this weird pedestal where it's in the key role in making me happy. No. I can make myself happy. I can concentrate on other things. I don't need to wallow in the lack of time or other things. This change of attitude has worked really well so far. I'm happy.

Last weekend Janet was in our city. She came to our place and rory came here as well, so the four of us hung out for a few hours, then rory and me went to a party and from there to another party. Hank and Janet came to the second party as well. We had a good time both together and separately. It was really nice to get to know Janet a bit.
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  #422  
Old 11-27-2013, 07:10 PM
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I quite like having a journal with a partner - I've been insanely busy with life, but now I can just jump back in! Or, at least, that's what I'm gonna do, anyway.

I need to write about my situation with Alec. We had a Relationship Talk a couple of weeks ago. Basically, we were talking about whether we should break up or not. During The Talk we identified some issues and are currently in the process of dealing with those.

Basically, we both have needs that aren't met in this relationship. The same has, to some extent, been true for a long time, but it's possibly been getting worse and/or it's had more of an impact.

Some of it is basic incompatibilities between us. Some of it is patterns formed during our relationship, dynamics that have led to not-so-good places.

In practice, lately I've been feeling like "we have nothing to talk about" and Alec has been feeling like he misses me all the time, like he's alone in our relationship. Both of those are partially valid and partially not.

It's complicated.

Pre-Talk, I felt like the first issue is something I have no ability to change. How do you change it when you just simply don't have anything to say to each other? Of course that's an exaggeration - that was not how I felt all the time, but still, it was how I felt some of the time. But there was some perspective Alec was able to give and I've been doing a lot of thinking afterwards.

What I've never realised is how easily I've with him moved, one by one, topics under a mental category of "things I don't talk about with Alec". Not something conscious! Just, in a longer time, when I've felt like he's not interested in something I'm talking to him about (or something else to the effect) I've then stopped talking to him about it.

Now, some comes from actual differences between us, that are incompatibilities there's probably not much we can do about. But some is also stuff that he would be interested in if only I did talk to him, but I don't because I believe he isn't interested.

So, post-Talk, I've been trying to relearn to talk to him, and that's actually been really really great.

The other issue is his feeling of loneliness in our relationship. Some of it I take full responsibility for: I can readily admit that I haven't been fully present for him a lot of the time we have spent together. This has also gone the other way around (which then has led me to believe that he isn't interested in many of the things I've started to talk about with him, because he's been focusing on something else). So, I'd say this has already been getting somewhat better now that we've been talking and putting an effort into spending time together in a way that we're both present.

But then there's again compatibility issues here, too. Part of his feeling alone in our relationship comes from the fact that he's concretely alone a lot of the time. Dream City... Yeah, for me it's Dream City. For him it's just a place he's living. I've been making friends and been integrating into queer/poly communities around here, and I have Mya here, and I'm now dating Lily. With all this, I have a full life that doesn't include him. Our interests are different, our tastes in friends are different. We do still see each other, but it's not every day, maybe every other or so. Of course he could find friends here, and that's his aim. But he doesn't see poly happening for him (while he's happy for me to be), and also we've been open for about 5 years and he hasn't done much anything. With this, there's no getting around the fact that he might be happier with a mono partner.

I'll likely need to write a lot more about this, but it's complicated and there's too much for one time so I expect to continue another time.
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  #423  
Old 11-27-2013, 11:26 PM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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Glad to hear updates from both of you!

Mya--glad you are feeling better about things with Hank.

rory--sorry to hear about the challenges with Alec. Do you live with him? I haven't read the blog from the beginning. I thought you were married to him? (But maybe I am mixed up with someone else).
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  #424  
Old 11-28-2013, 03:24 AM
monkeystyle monkeystyle is offline
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Rory,

Sorry to read of your difficulties with Alec. My perspective: From your writing over the years you've made a conscious effort to give Alec no more and no less than any other partner, as its your way of handling all relationships. It seems like it's finally caught up for him, and perhaps he's ready for someone who can provide more than you're capable of. If so, that's probably good for both of you in the long run. No point in continuing a relationship where a partner is left with a mostly empty cup for the rest of their life. Too much of a burden for both, and not a very joyful commitment. Hopefully he's ready to let go and move on, and find a partner that will connect with him in a way that brings happiness to that part of his life.

Best of luck.
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  #425  
Old 11-28-2013, 12:37 PM
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MeeraReed, thank you! Yeah, I'm married to Alec and live with him.

monkeystyle, thanks for your perspective. It may come to that, yes. We'll see.

**

I should maybe mention that I'm writing about the stuff with Alec more because I need to process it, less because I need help with making a decision. (Not that viewpoints aren't appreciated, but this is a bit sensitive so considerately, please.)

My feelings regarding the situation with Alec tend to swing a lot. It seems very strongly that there are two sides in me present simultaneously: one that is committed to a future with Alec and one that is committed to the idea of a future without him. There's sadness about the fact that the situation is what it is, that's present in the back of my mind most of the time.

It occurs to me right now that in a way that's good kind of pain.

One reason that this is a really contradictory place to be in is that there's also emotionally very good stuff at the same time interlinked with the bad. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the way we can talk about it.

I had a meltdown a few days back at a cafe. Mya was there to help me with that. I cried quite a bit, not something I usually do in a public place. I was feeling pretty hopeless about my relationship with Alec, like there's just too much difference there for it to work out in the end no matter how much we might want it to.

Yesterday, Alec and I talked once again quite explicitly about the possibility of divorce. And there's this strange thing. I feel so much better after that talk. When I say that, it sounds like I'm saying I feel it likelier that we'll stay together, but that's not the case.

I think one of the things I feel worst about, with the idea of the process of a breakup is having to do it all without him and keeping him out of the loop. Having to be dishonest. I'm thinking about this now, and what I felt worst about when having the meltdown was not really the possibility of breakup, but I felt like I can't tell Alec that I feel like it's likely. I felt like I'm being dishonest towards him if I keep that from him, but I also felt like if I do say it then that means it'll just happen right now and I don't feel ready to make that decision and I also really don't want to break up right now.

But then, as I mentioned, I did talk with Alec yesterday. He asked and so I did tell him basically everything I had thought the day before, the things I'd felt I can't tell him, that it's not rational to talk about if I don't want the breakup just to happen. That I'd felt like there's no future here. That I have a side in me that feels like it's really likely. That I want him to also be equally aware of where I am, since I want him to be able to factor that in when he thinks about his future (e.g. moving back to Home Country).

And hell, here's something I feel incredibly grateful about: he comforts me when I talk to him about feeling bad about possibly having to divorce him. We also comfort each other. We, together, talk about how we feel really really bad that it might be coming to that. And I cry or we both do and then we hug and then we joke about this and laugh, and he especially makes me laugh when I'm crying and feeling like shit. And there's just so much love here that it makes me even sadder that this might be ending because he's just such an incredible person, and at the same time it makes me feel so good, that regardless of where this is going, at the moment I have this wonderful person in my life and how we're able to talk and how our feelings, our love and caring for each other isn't conditional and tied into whether we're a couple or not.

I have no experience of breaking up with somebody. From others, I hear various experiences of it, how horrible it can be. Then again, I hear descriptions about what horrible drama poly can be, and that doesn't mean my experience of poly has to be like that when I'm doing it with the right people. And I think similarly about breaking up. Of course, anything is possible, always, but there's no reason to think those breakup horror stories will apply any more than the poly horror stories do. But I guess I have had those kind of fears; that even contemplating ending the relationship will lead to my partner turning on me or the love changing to hate or massive fights etc.

I hear people's experiences that if they are the person making the decision, they're unable to get support from other people and the person who was left gets all of the sympathies. Like there needs to be competition and sides to pick and all of that crap.

And here I am. Never mind other people; I'm sitting on the floor with him and crying because I feel bad about the fact that I maybe have to break up with him in the not-too-distant future. And he's holding me and telling me that it's alright and making me laugh and just there for me.

Yeah, while feeling quite sad, can you blame me if I also feel incredibly blessed and grateful and, as a consequence, happy?

We got married in full belief that we'd stay together for the rest of our lives. But it seems to me both of us are approaching this potential divorce with similar priorities, similar thoughts. That we love each other regardless of whether our relationship continues or not. That we want to be there for each other. That we want to be in each other's lives even if we do break up. That we'll probably always care for each other.

Of course anything can happen and if our lives grow very far apart, maybe there will be a time when some of that changes. But it makes me happy that neither of us really believes in the whole thing where the worth of a relationship is tied to whether or not people stay together. And I feel I have no more reason to distrust him now than I've had before - i.e. none whatsoever.

I feel good about the fact that if we choose to break up, we'll be able to be there for each other in building our separate lives, because both of us consider the other's happiness important as well as our own. All of this makes the prospect less The End Of Everything and more... change.
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  #426  
Old 11-29-2013, 11:53 AM
wildflowers wildflowers is offline
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Rory, are you actually unhappy/dissatisfied with your relationship with Alec on your own behalf? Or would you be comfortable with the relationship if he wasn't feeling lonely? I sense the possibility that you might decide to get divorced because he is unhappy, and worry that maybe you're taking on a decision burden that more rightly belongs to him.

On a related note (and inspired by all the talk here lately of relationship anarchy) is it possible that you have a particular image of what marriage is supposed to look like, and that some of your discomfort might be alleviated by relaxing the constraints in that image?

Sounds like the last few days you've given yourself freedom to accept and explore how you feel, and explore different shapes your relationship could take. It sounds like a very positive step. And glad for you that you're able to share that with him, rather than feeling a need to hide it. All those "things I can't talk about", whether the relationship or otherwise, can come to feel like a huge barrier.

Good luck with sorting it all out!
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  #427  
Old 12-23-2013, 02:51 PM
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I'm going to let rory continue writing about her and Alec (and anything else) when she feels like it and I'll just continue talking about my stuff.

Me and Maxine had our fourth date yesterday. She came to my place, Hank wasn't home so we had the whole apartment to ourselves. We had sex for the first time. Before that we talked about our feelings and expectations and what is all this that we're doing. And we also talked about sex, which was cool. It was really nice to have all that figured out before doing it. So where we ended up in our conversations was that friends with benefits type of arrangement might be better suited for us, at least for now. I'm just not there emotionally to want to call her a partner/girlfriend, even though I do like her and enjoy her company. She said that she's not in a place in her life right now where she could start a new full-on romantic relationship. So we both agree that FWB fits us better now. Who knows about the future though, but I'm content that we figured out how to best describe our relationship right now.

Hank's intense course is finally over! Wohoo! A couple of weeks ago we had another heavy talk and let out our negative feelings about time management, him needing his alone time and me needing time from him. I was sad, felt like we can't make this work. But then he was so sweet, so determined and motivated that we're not going to give up. We'll go to couple's counseling if need be or we'll try something else, but we can't just give up like that. I was convinced. A couple of days after that I had this sudden wave of appreciation towards him and it kinda hit me that he's a really good person in so many ways. What was I even thinking saying this might not work out! So I wrote Hank a love letter. I told him all the things I love about him, how he charmed me in the beginning and how I want us to stay together. I thanked him for staying strong when I was in a really bad place. I spent several hours writing it. It was really good to concentrate on the good things. When he read it, he was really touched. He couldn't say anything other than 'thanks' for a long time, he just kept hugging me tightly. It was a sweet moment. <3 When he was able to speak again, we talked about the good things in our relationship and the future that we do want to share with each other.

Right now I feel stable with both rory and Hank. I know I want to be with them. I believe we will make it work. I feel like I know where things are with the people I'm involved with and I like that. I'm happy.
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  #428  
Old 12-25-2013, 08:35 PM
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wildflowers, thanks for your comment!

Over the years, I've thought a lot about the issue you mention, about a particular image how marriage is supposed to look like. We've changed it a lot; ours looks quite a bit different, though when we got married (about 5 years ago), it was closer to that. That's part of what's led to this situation, really: I've not been happy in many of the ways usually associated with marriage, whereas Alec might prefer them, but has put my happiness over those preferences. Most obvious practical examples are poly/non-monogamy and its consequences - how much (little) time I spend at home, etc. Not to say he's been completely unhappy with those choices, and he's held onto the things that he's considered important, but still, the small and big things pile up and lead to a situation where he's not happy.

What comes to my happiness, the trend is still outwards. I'd like to change things further, mostly in terms of my own life, but I feel, in some ways, restricted because of my relationship with Alec. So, no, it's not just his unhappiness - I, too, have things I'm not getting here.

***

Alright, since I last wrote about the situation with Alec, things have evolved. Basically, the decision has been made, and we're breaking up. In practice, he's going to move to Home Country in the spring/summer: the timing is mainly due to financial reasons. We'll be together until then what comes to practical organisation of our life: nothing's really changed all that much as of now. We still live together and continue to share finances and spend time together and have sex. But emotionally and in terms of commitment, things are of course rather different already.

Both of us were really sad for a few weeks, when we were working things out, but now we're both mostly relieved. Excited, too, as morbid as that sounds. We talk a bit about how we're looking forwards to our separate lives. In some sense, this phase we're in is pretty difficult, although we get along pretty much the same as we have for a long time already, in some ways better since we're not weighed down by the non-communication, but have discussed our feelings with each other. So, we both know where we are. Then again, the emotional side - where we both feel, at times, like we're not enough for each other - that still feels bad, is sort of in existence as long as we keep living together.

And there's stuff for me, that I'm going through, that I don't feel entirely comfortable talking to him about. Not that I couldn't; I can, and have in previous similar situations done so, but right now, I sort of don't see the point since the situation is what it is.
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  #429  
Old 12-25-2013, 08:35 PM
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I want to write about sex with men.

Several interrelated, rather complicated things come together under that topic - relating to my gender discomfort/dysphoria, my relationship with Alec, and other (potential) male partners.

I'll start from One Penis Policy which Alec and I have (or it's some form of, whatever). I haven't written much about it, but here's one text from two years ago: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showp...&postcount=105

When I got together with Alec (nearly 10 years ago), we were both teenagers. Having challenged no relationship norms whatsoever, and basically no idea who we were.

It took me a few years to realise that, hey, I can be attracted to women, too! I.e. I started to identify as a bisexual woman.

A few years from that (so about 5 years ago) I noticed that I didn't feel jealous thinking about him having sex with somebody else, and told him he's free to do so. He said that he's not all that interested in doing anything himself, but if I wanted to have sex with women, he wouldn't feel jealous about that.

That context has been very relevant. Our opening up didn't come, from either of us, from desire to be with other people. We were both extremely satisfied and happy just having sex with each other, and didn't have any strong views about value of non-monogamy in itself. So the freedom was a question of "why not" rather than "need/want it".

I had a few flings before I met Mya (2,5 years ago), at which point I asked Alec if we could be poly (rather than simply sexually open). He was fine with it, and what has progressed from there can pretty much be read in this journal.

If one wants to conceptualise these things as orientations, it's become pretty clear in the last five years that Alec is mono. He's had a couple of crushes and one kiss. I'm still his only sexual partner, ever.

I used to be happily mono, and probably would've been for a while more. But during the years that has changed, and nowadays I identify very strongly as poly. I don't see myself ever agreeing to a monogamous relationship again.

The fact that he feels jealous over men and not women has been an issue on an abstract level for a good long while (I'm no fan of double standard), but then on the other hand less so, because he has tried to overcome those feelings, even though he hasn't been successful. Alec is not happy that he feels that way, but it hasn't changed. And while that whole gender-linkage bothers me, I appreciate the fact that he's honest about how he feels, and I've been able to live with the fact that the difference exists. And he's not saying I can't be with other men, he's saying that if I choose to be with other men, he can no longer continue our relationship. That may not seem like a big practical difference, but to me, there's a difference. He's not seeking to control my behaviour, he's focusing on his own and communicating his personal boundaries.

One of the reasons I've had very few practical problems with it has been that my sexual orientation has been changing. For several years, I had zero interest in having male sexual partners (though my relationship with Alec has been sexual all the while - but being closed off to new male partners is a much simpler thing than making choices regarding sex in an existing relationship - and the latter has gone through a lot of changes in ways we have sex to accommodate my personal mental/identity changes). This has been linked to changes in my gender identity, I have identified, more or less, as trans for the last 3 years - not as female but not as male, either, though I've continued going by female pronouns etc. In any case, regarding the restriction of men, for me, it's been practically a non-issue for a long time.

However, not so much nowadays. I've felt more gender discomfort lately, and I am seriously considering transitioning. Also wondering if I might be transman rather than transgender (non-binary, as I've so far thought myself as). And with that, with identifying less and less as a woman, have come changes to who I want to have sex with. I continue wanting women, but I also now want men. I just don't want straight sex with men. I want gay sex with men.

When these things have changed and continue to change, there are some rather strong implications to my relationship with Alec (also there are other things to write about relating to them, but since I started writing about Alec, I'll continue about that).

Since I started seeing myself as trans, I've had less and less straight sex. Nowadays, I have that very rarely, and when I do, it's never a good idea. Now, this has required a lot of mental adjustment, some physical, and some relationship adjustment. (With Alec, mostly; when Mya started a relationship with me, she already knew I'm trans to the extent that it applied at the time.)

Alec cannot really understand gender discomfort at all (which bothers me but hasn't bothered me enough to actually end the relationship) He's more or less adjusted to any practical requests I've had, and we've managed to change our sex life to accommodate my preferences and his. Mostly, the practical things.

Thing is, as I feel more like a man, it bothers me more that he sees me as a woman. It has bothered me before, but to a lesser extent. To him, nothing really exists between man and woman, that he can emotionally relate to at all, that is. He accepts that I feel that way, as my experience, but still, it's not real to him outside my head. In things other than sex, he sees me primarily as a person, which is great, and pretty much what I always want. But in the realm of sex, it's more of a problem.

If using labels, which don't really represent the complexity of reality, the problem becomes kind of obvious: he's a straight man and I'm not a woman. Or, as it seems to be moving towards: he's a straight man and I'm a man. Not physically, as of yet, but... I suppose it's a good thing we're breaking up, since that would likely become more of an issue.

But yeah; how this all relates to issues that are going on with Alec right now, despite the fact that we're breaking up; several ways.

I want sex with him. We'll continue having sex until we break up, unless I make some radical changes to that. I don't want to, since, well, I'm enjoying it (physically, very much; mentally, some days but not so much others). I recognise that it's not all that healthy for me, on the days when it's not mentally good, but I can't also always tell when it's one of those days and when not. And stopping would be a really big deal and I don't really even have energy to contemplate it. But, now, this is the reality we'll live in, for the next few months.

I am thinking about sex with other men. A lot. I'm open to the idea of having new male sexual partners - queer/bi/gay men. Now, I'm mostly not open to it in practice at the moment, since I have discomfort about my body (plus most gay men, at least, wouldn't of course be interested in having sex with me as long as I look like a woman). But I see men, in a different way than I have done in years. Which, of course, in itself isn't a problem for Alec (I'm obviously free to flirt etc. as much as I want).

So, in concrete ways, it's not a big issue. He doesn't feel comfortable if I have sex with other men, I'm not (yet) ready to have sex with other men. But still. I can't realistically share that excitement of the potential, and expect him to be enthusiastic or have compersion (e.g. "Wow that guy I know is hot and god I wonder if we could fuck at some point, wouldn't that be just awesome!"). That bothers me (which may be unreasonable, I'm well aware, but it still bothers me). And the lack of freedom to decide, one of these days, that yes, now I want to; that bothers me.

So, concretely, no problem at the moment: he's not comfortable with me having sex with other men; I'm not comfortable having sex with other men right now. And, yeah, I'll be able to wait until we've broken up, with that. It would be a total jerk move not to.

But a part of me desires all that freedom. Resents the fact that us being together limits it.

Then again. We don't have money to break up - all the costs that relate to the practical realities of it - not until about four months from now. And that, I suppose, is the crux of the issue. Not the concrete reality of it, that I can handle; the awareness that we're stuck in this situation regardless of how we feel about it.

Last edited by rory; 12-25-2013 at 08:40 PM.
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  #430  
Old 12-25-2013, 09:42 PM
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Another thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is relationship escalator and what I kinds of relationships I want.

Here's a great article about relationship escalator:
http://solopoly.net/2012/11/29/ridin...alator-or-not/

So far, I have mostly only experience of relationships where I jump right into the deep end. I have previously challenged many of the separate escalator steps: things like whether or not people necessarily have to move in together, or get married, etc. But I notice that I've been in that mindset, where a (romantic) relationship is "going somewhere"... Where it's "moving forwards" even if there's no specific endpoint to which it has to come to.

This is general contemplation, but also relates to Lily, whom I started seeing a few months back. Lily is great, I am very much enjoying dating her. I can see continuing that for a long time, as long as we both like spending time together.

However, with her, or I think anybody else I may start seeing in the future, I don't want that whole escalator thing. I'm open to possibilities in relationships. I'm open to commitment, if that's what the people involved want. I'm open to being/becoming family (in the chosen poly family sense); in fact it's great if I've got people in my life I feel that way about and who feel that way about me. [This also relates to metamours, and I'm increasingly feeling like Hank is part of my family, nowadays. Which is totally great! But, sidetracking.]

I had somewhat of an epiphany about this a month or so ago. One that seems so very obvious now, but still I hadn't really applied it previously, because I've been committed to the idea of egalitarian relationships (as opposed to hierarchy). Which, by the way, I still support, but I'm going beyond that oppositional framework.

The epiphany: in a relationship, I can want only some things and not others just because I feel like it. Compromise/flexibility/fairness are such obvious starting points for me that I don't really challenge them all that often. But now I'm rethinking it from those frameworks towards compatibility.

To me, compatibility has referred to things each person needs, not so much to things they want. Or, actually, right now I'm realising that it's been imbalanced: I've thought of my own mostly as referring to needs, but the other person's as referring to both as far as possible.

This is incoherent in my head as an abstract, but I'll try to write about concrete things.

When I meet somebody I like, it feels natural to me to show that feeling. If I like somebody, there's no strict division usually between romantic/platonic/sexual, in terms of the feelings I have, more in terms of depth of feelings; whether a relationship with a specific person becomes any/all of those depends more of the dynamics between us.

So, if I like a person enough, I'm quite open to different forms of sharing intimacy - but the specifics vary. It's natural for me to be open about myself if the other person is the same way/open to that. And It's natural for me to express it openly when I like somebody and how much I like them, the ways in which I do it depend on what the other person is comfortable with and seems open to, including romantic/sexual.

I want all that, I don't want to artificially restrict it, only based on how the people involved feel about it. But I feel many labels carry expectations which set artificial expectations on it.

For example, while I want to remain open to doing sexual things with people if/when all involved feel like it, I don't want to start with expectations that we should be a major part of meeting each others' sexual needs, especially not when I'm in such complex places with my own gender&sexuality currently. If, then, it happens that with somebody we end up being really sexually compatible and just want to have sex all the time, sure. But if it turns out we only feel like it occasionally (a few times a year), it doesn't devalue the relationship in any way. But if I agree with somebody "you're my partner", usually with that agreement there come expectations about that kind of thing (amongst others).

But yeah, I quite like the idea of not having to be going somewhere, just seeing what we both want. And that content of what we want can, then, include absolutely anything - also any of the usual relationship steps. That is, we can jump onto the escalator, or take stairs, if we get the feeling that that's what we want to do. But having sex/feelings/involvement/labels doesn't mean that we are automatically on the escalator.

What comes to Lily, I'm really happy to see her whenever we both feel like it, without any pressure to make plans or do something specific. So far it's pretty infrequent (compared to what I'm used to in relationships and likely compared to cultural relationship norms), a few times a month. But we talk and I like her, so I'm also not opposed to using the term girlfriend/partner about her, when practical. Just, conceptualising that label (as there is nothing practical, say, between FWB and partner) to also include less sharing of lives or time than I'm used to with Mya and Alec. I'm not that interested in the label, more interested in the content of it all.

So, that's what I want; content-based-relationships.

Last edited by rory; 12-25-2013 at 09:48 PM.
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