Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

In 7th grade I asked out a boy for the first time. (Well, I think I might have asked two boys out before that, but I can’t remember them really well. I’m pretty sure they asked me out.) His name was Brendan. He was really into Star Wars, was a great artist and was incredibly sexy. Being Latino on his mother’s side, he had an olive complexion and black hair, but his German/Irish father’s heritage had contributed his startling, light green eyes. He was my first real kiss. My first lots of things. I was intensely attracted to him and in retrospect, I probably scared the living bejeezus out of him. At some point he dumped me, or I dumped him and I still don’t remember why.
Then, I met Tony. Tony was Italian. He was a year behind me in school, but I’d read something he’d printed out in the computer lab and was impressed at his vocabulary and wit. He was tall and he looked like a very young Patrick Swayze. I was smitten, and asked him out. He said yes.
Later that spring, at the end-of-the-school-year party, Brendan told me he wanted me back. I was torn. I was still intensely attracted to him, but I’d only just started going out with Tony and I wasn’t sure what to do. I said I’d think about it over Summer break.
Then, over Summer, I went on a three week trip with my family to the Baltic. I had plenty of time to think about things. I sent a letter to Brendan. I thought about them both. I finally decided that I really did want to try going out with Tony before I made my final decision. When I got back, I went on a couple of dates with Tony. He and I got along famously. He was funny, he lived nearby, and he started to teach me how to play D&D. He was smart and cute and actually talked with me.
I decided that I would be with Tony.
And then, when school started, I broke the news to Brendan. I don’t think he took it well.
Then I spent the next couple of months dating Tony and things got very intense between us. Long hours making out in his room, his bed, the park after dark.
Then, just before Halloween, I found myself waiting after school with Brendan. There was still a connection there. I was utterly torn. Brendan and Tony occupied totally different parts of my heart. They were so different, but I was so into both of them. Feeling I had to choose between them, I began to resent Tony. I began to think of him as a barrier to being with Brendan. I started pulling away. I still liked him, but he began to grate on me, simply for not being Brendan.
Finally, I had enough. I ended things with Tony and broke his heart.
For the rest of 8th grade, Brendan and I had a legendary on again, off again relationship. We really weren’t at all compatible, but we were passionate and intense and we both loved Star Wars. Somehow that seemed like a lot at the time. Finally, at the end of the Summer after 8th grade, Brendan broke things off for good.
Today, Brendan is a videographer in Hawaii, married with twin boys. Tony is married and a chef in his father’s restaurant, and just had a baby girl.
It’s clear, looking back, that I was capable of loving both of these boys equally, and I wonder if things would have been different had I been exposed to polyamory, or at least not taken the monogamous model for granted. I caused quite a bit of heartbreak to both of them, and they to me. I was so young, but I still felt there was something wrong with the system if I had to choose to love one person over the other, when I clearly could have handled both. I think the assumption is that they wouldn’t have wanted to share me. Now, I know there are plenty of men who are able to share, however hard it is at first. Maybe teenagers are too young to handle polyamory, but I think exposing adolescents to the variety of relationship styles, teaching them relationship skills with a focus on honesty can only be a good thing.
It certainly would have helped me out back in junior high.

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I like to think of myself as a good writer. At the very least, I try to be a careful writer. I steer away from ambiguous words, and try to illustrate my point in several ways (when I have a point, that is). This prevents others from taking what I write the wrong way, or inferring something that isn’t there.

These skills are also important in relationships. Since communication is so important, it’s also important to be clear in your use of language. Euphemism, innuendo, and vague word choices can set you up for some disastrous results. I wrote about this before when talking about how “sex” can even be defined differently depending on our boundaries or by the circumstances. Ambiguity is the enemy of art, to paraphrase Stanislavski, and it’s also the enemy of healthy communication.

For example, when setting boundaries, it’s important to be clear what you mean. Saying, “I’m not interested in a serious relationship” leaves way too much room for creative interpretations. “Relationship” could mean several things, and “serious” – what the hell is that?  The person saying it could mean ” I don’t have a lot of time to devote to a partner right now, but I’d be interested in an ongoing friendship with benefits,” but to the person hearing it, it could mean “I’m just interested in having fun for tonight, be gone before breakfast,” or vice versa.  Besides, you can’t regulate something like emotional attachment. Things you can regulate are concrete things like actions, time and space constraints and priorities. Rules that work are “No dates during the week,” “Never hook up while drunk,” “No sleeping over when I’m home,” or “My primary relationship comes first over any others.” There is no wiggle room on those. They are clear, concrete and well defined.

Another example is in reporting activities to a partner. “We fooled around” could mean just kissing to one partner, but to the other could mean oral sex. But in some cases, that phrase is acceptible if there is further information included. “We fooled around, but didn’t go very far. Just some touching.” That’s still vague, but it established some clearer parameters without getting into potentially uncomforable details: at least the partner knows that there was no oral or penetrative sex. Fair enough.

Clear communication means eliminating guesswork. Unless a person has all of the pertinent information, they can’t make an informed decision. And everyone has the right to make an informed decision.

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Well, that was fun.

All this complication, confusion and fretting has come to a close. For me, anyway.


New Guy was not being paranoid, and it turns out it wasn’t my fault for getting “too excited.” I wound up in the middle of another couple’s communication issues, and was actually somewhat of a victim in the whole thing. I wasn’t operating with a full set of information and therefore made assumptions based on my previous experience. Had I known the truth of the situation, I would have made different decisions.  I guess I learned not to assume that everyone’s polyamorous relationship is based on the same thing. I actually already knew that, but in the future, I will try to suss out the whole picture before I proceed and be clearer about my own expectations from the start.

So now, instead of a New Guy, I have a New Friend.

In light of this recent catastrophe, I’d like to share some of the other poly FAILs I’ve encountered along my journey.

  • There was the guy who knew I was poly, then proceded, during coitus, to ask, “Why would you want to be with anyone but me?” And it was all I could do not to push him off me and say “Actually, the fact that you’d ask that makes me not want to be with you at all.”
  • There was the fellow who,  over the course of a year of an open relationship told me repeatedly that he was not in love with me, was incapable of being in love, then broke down after I ended things with him,  telling me that he had always loved me. I did love him, but after a year of dealing with his self destructive behaviours, I couldn’t watch him abuse himself anymore. He only made things worse by trying to emotionally blackmail me with talk of love when I tried to walk away.
  • There were the many times I got attached to a lover, only to have him leave me when a “real relationship” came along.
  • Then there were all my failed attempts when, after a series of casual lovers, I thought the only solution to my craving for intimacy was to pursue a monogamous relationship with someone, in spite of the fact that I’m not, by nature, monogamous. Those did not last.

All these experiences helped me to grow and to get closer to figuring out what I want. I’m grateful now that I have a partner who supports me and loves me no matter what. Now, at the end of the day I have someone I love to come home to.

I hope that New Friend can learn from his mistakes and become a better person from this experience. And maybe, at some point, New Friend can be New Guy after all. I’m not holding my breath, though.

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A friend sent me a link to this great article by the brilliant Franklin Veaux on secondary relationships.

It explores what I think may have been the other reason I was taken aback by last night’s conversation.

You can’t always predict the natural form a relationship will take; trying to dictate the form of a relationship, or force a relationship to fit a mold that’s not natural for it, is almost certain to cause tension and stress.

I guess New Guy was trying to avoid the complications encountered by not setting boundaries, while I try to avoid complications encountered by trying to define a relationship from the outset. I’ve found that defining a relationship either way at the outset can lead to trouble down the line. However, being realistic about expectations is important too. I think it’s possible to strike a balance between the two; setting limits, but being open to changes that come along down the line.

It’s a great article and the whole site is an excellent poly resource.

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No, I’m not quitting this blog. Don’t worry. But I do want to talk about endings.

My secondary relationship reached its end, officially, just over a week ago. After not seeing each other for several weeks, I finally “called time of death” on our romantic relationship. It just wasn’t working out, and after repeated attempts to save it, I finally just gave up. As I felt I was the only one making any real effort to maintain things (whether true or not, it’s how I felt), I had to come to terms that it was no longer making me happy and to face the reality that if he wasn’t going to make the effort, then maybe he just wasn’t that into the relationship. He was asking me to lower my expectations of the relationship so far that I basically had to stop caring. And that wasn’t fun for me. Apathy is a real turn off.

C’est l’amour.

This ending made me sad, but not upset. I loved this man. I loved being in a relationship with him. He’s beautiful, we had great chemistry and he made me feel sexy (something I don’t often feel, as a mum). He was an escape from my day to day routine, but also not afraid of coming over to my house and helping out with the baby. I saw such potential in that relationship, and had such high hopes for the future. Letting go of that was hard. But in the end it was when I withdrew my emotional investment that I even knew how much I had invested.

The aftermath has left me feeling unsexy and unlovable. My libido is all but gone and I’m putting all my energy into being a mum and into trying to lose a few kilos.

I’ve started weaning my son. He’s doing well. I’m down to one breastfeed per day. He drinks milk from a cup like a champ, so I’m not too worried about that anymore. I admire women who keep going with breastfeeding, but my son doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself that much anymore. I think I realised it was time when he seemed too distracted every time I tried to offer him the bewb. He was still crying if I stopped prematurely, but now he’s stopped that. Now, I give him one long, intensive breast feed in the evening. Soon, I’ll stop offering that. The end is imminent. By the time his Birthday comes along, he’ll be done.

I’m a little sad about it, but hopefully it will  make things easier. I’ll be able to wear a real bra again and go back on normal birth control pills. I won’t have to wear easy access tops and I can even contemplate going back to work, putting my son in childcare. And I won’t have little teeth-shaped bruises on my nipples.

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