Going Inside

Knowing your marriage is over and feeling that your marriage is over are two very different things. In some ways, I have been “making up for lost time” over the past 8 months since Spouse and I separated. Tons of dating, tons of sex, new friends, new adventures, etc. But the pace at which I was going was unsustainable. So, the day after I finished checking the last big box on my sexual wish list, I realized it was time to slow down and do some feeling.

The weeks since have been a mixture of grief and peace, new hope and despair. I have not once questioned the decision to end my marriage, but the fact that it’s the right thing doesn’t make it an easy thing. We’re lucky in that the dissolution of our marriage has been respectful, kind, honest and mutually decided upon. But there is still hurt and pain and disappointment.

There are so many ways to understand what happened or didn’t happen. I can tell myself and others the story of my marriage in a million different iterations and they’d all be true. But trying to comprehend such a thing is both worthwhile and futile.

So I’ve retreated some. I abruptly stopped maintaining existing relationships with men, deciding that the important ones would continue to seek me out. I reasoned that just because I could sustain all of these casual relationships doesn’t mean that I should. And right when I decided that I felt at once relief and sadness and very quickly, exhaustion set in.

Having healed from one trauma before and also believing that life is nothing but a slew of traumas, I know that it isn’t a consistent upward trend. Healing comes in fits and starts and this is no different. Some days I believe the darkness is largely behind me and other days I feel as though I’ve only just begun letting it in.

But one thing is for sure, I am showing up. I am paying attention and I am letting myself feel what must be felt. There are still multiple men around, there is even a new one that I find really promising. But most nights I stay in with S and M watching Gilmore Girls and sewing. This is a moment for turning inward and I intend to embrace it fully.

I truly believe I can at once close off the borders to my body and my heart for healing purposes and keep them permeable enough to consider myself open to new and deep love. We shall see.

 

Being a Unicorn: Adventures in Emotional Tourism

In the world of kink, Unicorn is a label prescribed to people, mostly women, who enjoy or even prefer being the third in a sexual or romantic endeavor with a hetero couple. We’re called unicorns because we’re hard to find and therefore very special. When I first began my sexual exploration, I may not have described myself this way. But now, I embrace the term fully.

I don’t think that it is my defining characteristic as a person, even if we’re speaking strictly sexually. But over the last few months I have been surprised at how much I loved being the third. I have had a half a dozen threesomes with different heterosexual committed couples and each experience has been unique and beautiful. For a few hours, you get to step inside someone else’s relationship. You feel the love they have for one another in a really safe way.

When I told Spouse about this – yes, I tell him about my sexual exploits and he loves hearing – he called it emotional tourism. And I think that’s right. You get to visit a relationship, feel and enjoy and be involved in their dynamic for a short time, but you don’t have to move there. You can even visit frequently, but it isn’t your home. For me, at this moment in my life, that has been really beautiful.

I have also been lucky in never having found myself in a situation where one partner had been more or less coerced into the experience. In all cases, each partner was invested in my involvement.

Sexually, it was a wild adventure. So many hands and bodies. It can be a bit overwhelming. One of the hottest things is when a the male part of a couple teaches me how to give his woman an orgasm. Because I have not been with women outside of these experiences, I have no idea what to do with a pussy. But, I can follow instructions! And it is wildly fulfilling to give someone that intense pleasure.

Participating in threesomes, especially the experiences with women, taught me something else about sex and pleasure: it’s not hard to be “good” at sex, all you have to do is care about giving pleasure to the other person. I don’t walk around thinking about sex with women the way I do with men, but I really enjoy pleasuring women in bed because I enjoy pleasing women and people in general. It’s like giving a gift.

Each couple I was with did a really good job at making me feel both wanted and safe. I knew that I could consent or withdraw consent at any idea. This is an important dynamic when it’s essentially 2 on 1. I think I also did a really good job giving both parties in each couple equal attention. I knew that if I was in a couple and we invited a third, I would hate for that person to give one of us more attention than the other, so I tried to stay cognizant of that. It’s pretty easy really, you can always have at least a hand or something on each person.

In each case, I was careful to have a pretty detailed conversation in advance about what each person found compelling in this situation. I wanted to know if one person wanted to watch the other with me, or if they had a specific thing in mind, or a specific thing they didn’t want to do. These conversations are awkward at first, but get easier and are ultimately extremely necessary to the success of a multi-person sexual experience, in my opinion.

The other aspect that made these past few threesomes more like tourism was that it was very clear that this was a sexual experience, we weren’t trying to date one another. So at the base of it all, it’s a true friends-with-benefits situation.

I’m not longer on the hunt for new threesomes, but I’ll stay open to the idea, and will absolutely repeat with some of the couples I’ve been with.

Checking off my sexual wish list

About three years into my marriage, when the sex had all but stopped, I remember thinking “this is just what happens in a long term relationship”. Another few years of that and I couldn’t accept that as truth. I couldn’t accept is as my truth, anyway. So once Spouse and I finally separated and my months with Barista had come to a close, I began embarking on a something of a Rumspringa.

Beyond opening myself up to new romantic possibilities, like non monogamy, I opened up to new sexual possibilities. There were days where I felt like a 13-yr-old boy, the only thing on my mind was how, when and with whom I would secure my next orgasm.

I bought toys and branched out in the porn I watched. I sexted constantly, exchanging naughty words and (mostly) faceless sexy pics with randoms and people I knew alike. I found sexting to be an extremely exciting and also safe way to try new things. I let myself play with being submissive in bed this way, setting scenes of bondage and power play. I imagined multi-person experiences and public sex and other scenarios I knew I was unlikely to ever end up in.

I found that, for me, sex is a multi-person experience. I can masturbate to porn or a mental image, to be sure. But I so prefer to at least have another person on the other end of the phone. Just the idea that someone knows I’m touching myself and thinking of them is incredibly exciting to me.

In real life, I had a lot of firsts as well. I gave my first blow job to completion – yes, I was a 26-yr-old who had never given a blow job to completion – and literally spit the cum up on the dude’s shirt and laughed. Not my finest moment. I tried deep throating and loved it, gave a few foot jobs, also very fun. I experimented with anal play and learned I’m very into it and then had anal sex for the first time soon after! I participated in a handful of ffm threesomes, which are something of a favorite of mine. Had two mmf threesomes. Let myself be tied up a handful of times. Lots of spanking, a little light choking and lots of verbal power play. As it turns out, I am very into being called a “good girl”. I fucked older men, married men (only ones who were consensually open), men and women. All in all, there have been about 25 new people in my pants over the last 6 months.

My foray into the world of mellow kink culminated in an evening of double penetration, one dick in my pussy and one in my ass. LOVED IT.

But the strangest thing happened. I woke up the next morning feeling like I’d accomplished everything on my sexual wish list. I had been pursuing new and frequent sexual experiences in an almost manic way and all of the sudden, I felt ready to stop. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret anything I tried. In fact, I think I am likely to repeat most of it. But the fervency with which I chased those experiences left me about a month ago.

 

Envy

Martina J here.  Last month I wrote about jealousy, and meeting your metamours.

Well, it finally happened. My boyfriend Sphere finally introduced me to his other girlfriend, Blue. (He broke up with his third girlfriend, who I called Greek, before I was able to meet her.)

On Sunday Sphere and Blue went together to the weekly event in the park that we all frequent. I briefly thought about not going, since they were going together, but I refuse to deprive myself of seeing my friends and enjoying an event I went to before meeting Sphere just because he is there with his other girlfriend.

I admit it’s still strange, seeing my boyfriend spend time at and leave an event with someone else. It was very clear we were not to be hanging out there. He was with her. But I mostly wanted to hang out with my friends that day anyway; I felt satiated in the time my boyfriend and I had spent together in the days prior. So it was mostly fine.

Blue was friendly and easy to talk to. It was mostly small talk. And I see similarities in us, even during such a brief encounter. She was even wearing earrings I own. Yes, I can see why he likes her.

It was challenging for me, but went well. I’m glad to have overcome that hurdle, and I made sure to tell myself afterward that I am proud of myself for being brave, and for being willing to have experiences society does not prepare us for or readily accept.

It got a little trickier later this week. Sphere and Blue are having serious issues in their relationship. In fact, they don’t even have sex anymore. Sphere told me he was feeling very sad about a difficult conversation they had on Tuesday. I tried to offer comfort, a listening ear, and support. But when he mentioned Blue is supposed to join him in going to another city for a weeklong trip to visit his family, I immediately got triggered.

I thought he was going alone. Picturing him spending an entire week with her made me so sad and jealous and envious. I cried and cried.

And then I felt even worse because here I was, attempting to support Sphere during his difficult time, but then getting upset with the details and having him need to support me.

I felt badly about being incapable of creating space for him to talk about his other relationship in that moment. I want to be supportive of all aspects of his life, but polyamory is so new to me that I found myself dealing with new information that triggered me instead of being able to just listen and support him. Ugh.

I was upset for many hours, and the entirety of the next day. Usually I can sit with things and get over it in a few hours; not so this time. He asked what he could do to make me feel better.  I told him I was, at the core, afraid he was going to decide he liked her better,  and afraid he would want to spend more time with her, leaving me feeling scarcity and loneliness. I was also feeling inadequate and insignificant, because family time is special, and I felt like he was choosing her over me. I told him I needed positive affirmations.

He obliged. He looked me square in the eyes and said it isn’t about him liking her better. I am not insignificant. He wants to have lots of special time with me in the future. He is not going anywhere.

It made me feel better. I am going through a polyamory jealousy workbook, which helped me to unpack childhood and adulthood experiences I had that inform my jealousy today, and assess whether or not my feelings are actually logical.

But at the end of the day, the feelings are just there. I have to accept them and not try to fight it. All things pass.

I am feeling a little better, and I’ve contacted a counselor with many years of experience dealing with poly relationships and am going to have a few sessions with her. It can’t hurt.

Rainy afternoon

Lately I’ve been doing a culling of my relationships. I have intentionally cut out fuck buddies who didn’t respect me. Spouse and I are over in that way, Storyteller decided to become monogamous with someone else and I even recently cut Barista out of my life, though that’s a longer story. I wanted to make space in my life for relationships with men who would respect me, and men with whom I could develop deeper connections.

So I still have a few pure friends with benefits relationships and am still seeing Feathers regularly, though the sexual relationship has really cooled lately. But what I really would like is one or a few slightly deeper connections as well. A man or men I see relatively often, with whom I can develop an emotional/romantic connection. But I’m also always looking for new and good casual sex friends.

Ad Man and I have chatted on and off on Bumble for several months now, but last weekend we decided to actually get together. He told me that while he was open to a relationship, he was really just looking for casual sex. I told him that I was really looking for a relationship, but that since I do non monogamy, I could always use another good fuck buddy so it was no problem either way. We agreed to just see how it went!

We met at 2 PM for coffee and ended up spending the next nine hours in his bed together. Not only was the sex amazing (I learned to give a foot job! Lol! More in another post), but we had an incredible time with one another in general. It was a rainy day and so we cracked the window and drank red wine in bed all afternoon while listening to the rain in the trees. We have a very similar sense of humor and just in the span of this first interaction the teasing and laughing and cuddling felt very natural.

I completely lost track of time and honestly didn’t want to leave his house at the end of the night, but I had to get home to S.

We had so much sex, I came three time and he came 6! In one instance, he came twice back to back, which I didn’t realize can even happen to dudes. And neither did he! He joked that this is like “call your doctor if your erection lasts this long” situation and that he hadn’t even jacked off this much in a day as a teenager. He really prioritized my pleasure and wanted to be sure I was getting everything I needed and more. I might be more into foot stuff than I realized.

Beyond the sex, I’m not sure what else took up all that time. There was a lot of laughter and snuggling and talking. At one time he picked up his banjo and danced around singing me songs along with Alexa, who we yelled at all afternoon. Then he sang and played Jason Isbell while I lounged in bed in the silky burnt orange nighty I’d brought along just in case. He cried when I told him about the dog I adopted at 11 who only lived until 13 and laughed when I told him my girlfriends have been trolling the 45+ crowd on Tinder with a fake profile of Topanga from Boy Meets World.

It just all felt rather magical and shielded and I’m still a bit starry eyed from it, 5 days later.

By the end of the night, we both expressed that although the pretense of meeting was casual sex, we were maybe feeling more and wanted to spend more time together. We shall see.

More Adventurous

There is a song by Rilo Kiley called More Adventurous that has a line referencing a Frank O’Hara poem.

The Rilo Kiley song says:

“I read with every broken heart, we should become more adventurous.”

The Frank O’Hara poem says:

“Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days there’ll be nothing left with which to venture forth.”

For years, this idea has described me. I’ve always felt like a fearless lover. When my heart breaks, I do not feel deterred, I feel determined. Maybe I’m a masochist. Or an optimist. Or maybe something about the ups and downs of love feel like truly being alive.

So now, as I sit in the discomfort of such a huge shift as an ended marriage, the fragility of my heart may truly allow another person or persons to enter it.

Yes, I’ve been dating throughout the separation. But the day Spouse and I decided to end our marriage and transition into simply best friends and co dog parents, I felt this calmness wash over me. It felt clear to me. I was free and my best friend supports me completely in finding the happiness and love I want in my life.

That night I met up with a new person, a beautiful Frenchman who had expressed an interest in a friends with benefits relationship where we could explore sexually together. He was specifically interested in threesomes and “swaps”, the former I have done and enjoyed, the latter seemed new and exciting. Before meeting we clarified that we both wanted to start as friends with benefits and then be open to something more if it felt right. Because sex is so important to me right now, this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

So we met and he was charming and handsome, honest and reserved with a truly European sensibility. We went back to his and had sex a few times. All I can say is I don’t know any American men who do it that way. He was passionate and intense, insistent upon a lot of kissing and full embraces. A true love making experience, even though it got relatively rough. During and in between each time he would say he wanted to fuck me all night and wanted me to come over every night. At the end he asked me to stay the night and I did for a few hours, only waking to go home to my dog, S.

It’s difficult for me to fall asleep, but since that night I’ve fallen asleep in his bed half a dozen times. Something about being with him keeps me present, comfortable and entranced. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a fully put together adult. Meaning he has a great job, knows how to dress himself (think a slightly more European J-crew look) and keeps his life and space organized. He is also not a big partier.

I came over one after a work gala he had planned and attended for work and caught him still in his tux. WOW. He had taken another woman to the gala as we had only met several days prior, but it flattered me he didn’t go home with her and came to me instead. When he mentioned her, I got a pang of jealousy. He saw it and teased me. I had literally just told him I could not see him the next night due to another date. I’m unsure whether the jealousy had to do with wanting to attend a gala with him or because I may be developing more substantial feelings towards him. It passed quickly, but it isn’t something I’ve felt a lot of since I’ve been dating again.

Our time together is still very sexual and there is still talk of a third, etc. But there seems to be something else developing there as well. I drove him to the airport, for example, because we wanted a bit more time together before he left town for work. Something a fuck buddy may or may not really do. He asks a lot of questions about non monogamy and how the time I spend with him is different than the time I spend with other men. I’m not exactly sure what to make of that.

In any case, too soon to be too worried about any of this. But I do feel as though the vulnerability and freedom elicited by deciding to end my marriage is contributing to my openness to a new relationship that could be more than casual or purely sex based. We seem to have the same ideas on the best ways to spend time: nice music, a mellow lounge or low-key bar, the orchestra or Opera in Grant park, reading poetry to one another, and lots and lots of very passionate sex.

It does cross my mind that the feelings I’m developing for him could end in heartbreak. But I think that’s what makes them matter! And the fact that I can even start to feel this way again with anyone gives me hope for my ability to find love again.

 

 

 

 

The End

I married Spouse with a sincere belief that we would grow old together, husband and wife. But alas, it isn’t true. Instead, we will grow old together as dear friends, confidants and one another’s constant champion. I imagine that will look differently over the years.

I refuse to see the end of our marriage as a failure. Quite the opposite, in fact.

At the beginning, we fell in love quickly, madly and without hesitation. We founded and ran an advocacy group in our conservative college town and community. We held hands and walked together away from a religion and culture we now condemn. We gave one another the confidence and bravery to be the truest versions ourselves.

The first night we kissed, he was about to drive me home for the night when he came around to my side of the car, opened the door and asked me to please get out. He said he couldn’t wait and he pulled me close to kiss me as the first snowfall of the season began around us. The first time we had sex, I cried. It wasn’t my first time, but it felt as though it was.

For months, I would lay naked in bed, watching him play guitar and sing Iron and Wine or Sufjan Stevens and he would pick me wildflowers on the way to my house each day in spring. We spent hours on his roof discussing philosophy, poetry and religion. We both felt fully seen for the first time in our lives.

We were married  barefoot in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains not 8 months after meeting. We wrote our own vows and my pastor grandmother officiated as we stood beneath an arch Spouse and brothers had built from found wood in the mountains.

We moved in together and out of state simultaneously after that. We were so poor we had to borrow $400 from his parents just to buy a bed. We laid on a pile of blankets in our living room for months, referring to it as our couch. That first year of marriage was bliss and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. He built us a raised bed in the front yard and we adopted a dog together.

But then we began to grow up and through the things of life. Spouse embarked on the arduous and in my opinion, abusive, path of medical education while I held many jobs and finished my undergraduate degree. We supported one another the best we could. There was always love and respect and a good degree of emotional connection through these challenging years. But we were also growing into ourselves. And that means figuring out how we wanted to live and what kinds of things we could give and needed to get within a romantic relationship.

I don’t feel that I can pinpoint a moment where our marriage headed south, because it really didn’t. Part of our vows had a promise in it to hold the space for one another to grow and change as individuals and I feel proud to say that for the most part, we did do that. There is more to it than this, but I think it boils down to the fact that we just aren’t what one another’s needs anymore. Not in this way.

So even though I am palpably feeling the heart break of the end of our marriage these days, I find solace in the knowledge that a broken heart has cracks in through which more love can enter. And in the end, I still have my best friend and words cannot express how grateful I am for him.

Relief

We sat on my porch to discuss the disentanglement of our finances a few Sundays ago. It was just getting warm and he brought beer to ease us through a very annoying but important step we’d been intending to take for a while. We’d been discussing counseling a while. It was clear that although non monogamy seemed to be a good thing for me, it wasn’t solving the problems that existed in our relationship. So the conversation started there. Should we do counseling? What do we want out of that exactly?

Then sheepishly, Spouse said “I mean, maybe this is crazy, but what if we were just best friends?” I immediately began to cry. These were the words I’d said over and over to my therapist. What if this marriage that made so much sense at one time didn’t have to end in divorce and hate? What if we could transition into best friends? That’s the part of our relationship that always felt seamless. It’s the whole reason this separation and the last few years have been largely peaceful and always respectful.

I responded through my tears “that’s what I want to do too!”. He began crying too and saying “oh honey” in the most tender, loving voice. It’s the voice that soothed me when I worried I had said something dumb or wanted something dumb. It’s the voice that held me during many a panic attack, late night school work complaining and every other life hurdle Spouse has held me through.

I climbed onto his lap the way I always do after we’ve reconnected and we held one another on the porch for a long time, just sitting in the relief and love at the idea that our marriage the way it was is truly over, and that’s OK.

After a long while he said “you know what this makes me think? I want to hear about your boyfriends.” What a strange sentence to come out of my husband’s mouth. But it was the final piece to things. I could finally let him in on my whole self again, the way best friends do. It’s true that he may never meet another partner of mine and I will probably never discuss sex with him in that way. But, I spent the next 20 minutes debriefing him on the wild ride of the previous six months.

I gave him the basics of the important men. Barista, who he knows. We laughed cause he of course had picked up on the fact that we had probably dated. I told him about Storyteller and Filmmaker and Feathers. The most bizarre thing was that it actually felt normal and comfortable. I know that as we navigate going forward things will not always be this easy, but it felt nice to let my best friend in on my life completely.

Since then my world has opened. I spend some nights crying. I spend some nights with new loves. But I’m feeling it all.

 

The end is nearly as beautiful as the beginning.

It’s been six months since my spouse and I decided to separate. It’s been painful and good and sad and exciting and all kinds of other things. We finally came to a place we both feel good about. We are going to let the romantic and sexual part of our relationship go. We’ll continue to be best friends, co dog parents and in some ways, partners. We are both relieved and feel calm about this decision. I don’t regret one day of our marriage the way it was and I think I’ll always love him. Those of you who know Spouse can understand why. He’s truly a remarkable person and I feel lucky to have shared five years with him. We grew up together. Got each other through degrees and jobs and moves and truly breaking with our families of origin. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in all of that. And so even though we’re planning to stay legally married for the time being and there is some chance there will be romance or sex or love in that way again someday, this is very much the end of our marriage as it was.

I am happy to say I’m discovering and deepening female friendships, truly developing myself as an independent woman and enjoying some new romances. I am also able to enjoy Spouse again for the person that he is and not resent him for the partner that he couldn’t be. This decision has freed me to truly start looking for the love and partner(s) I need. But it’s also very emotional and sad.

I haven’t been writing much lately because it’s a lot to live. But tonight I found myself crying in bed and just really wanted to say these things to someone.

Jealousy, Comparison Brain, and Possessiveness

Martina J here again. Yesterday I was all worked up about a rather negative experience I had when I found myself in a situation where I was at the same event as my partner, Sphere, and my metamours, who he failed to introduce me to. The situation left me feeling a great big ball of complex, new, negative emotions: guilt, sadness, jealousy, fear, disrespect.

I took time for some self-care yesterday – left work to have a cry in the park and unpacked what really was making me upset about the situation: fear that my partner likes his other partners more than me. 

As soon as I had the thought I found it silly. Of course love doesn’t work like that. I immediately thought about the nonsexual relationships that matter to me most: my sister and my best friend. I don’t love my sister more than I love my best friend. I love them both equally and fully. This is something I need to keep reminding myself as I work on undoing 25 years of social conditioning that has convinced me love is zero-sum. It’s not.

Sphere and I had a long and productive talk yesterday. He owned up to his mistake in failing to facilitate an intro. He listened attentively and offered compassion. I expressed my struggles dealing with jealousy, unlearning possessiveness, and “comparison brain”: comparing my metamours to myself, worrying they are better than me.

I told him I’m realizing the whole “one true love” message that comes along with monogamy is actually a logical fallacy. Why? Because it presupposes that someone might choose you, and only you, because you are somehow “the best.” But none of us really are “the best.” None of us are better than anyone else inherently. We are all made of the same star stuff. We are all different but valuable. Wanting to be “the best” or “number one” is just the ego talking.

I’ve said it before, but I find polyamory to overlap with Buddhism quite a bit. When it comes to jealousy, part of my worry is my partner liking someone else more than me. The other part of that worry is fear of abandonment (he’ll like my metamour more than me and he’ll leave me), which is actually a future-focused thought. Buddhism teaches us to be in the present moment as much as we possibly can, to eschew future-focused thoughts, because they create anxiety and do not serve our well-being.

Sphere said he used to be where I am — totally new to all this. He used to struggle with the same aspects of polyamory that I’m struggling with. He said he made it a personal, self-development goal to practice poly. He said that while he still struggles and has jealous or challenging feelings come up sometimes, it does get easier. He said he now experiences compersion, or a happy feeling when his partner spends time with or finds someone else they really love.

I’m making polyamory a self-development goal, too. I’m working on manifesting compersion. I just ordered a few more books on the issue and am committed to working through my comparison brain, jealousy, and possessiveness.

And someday soon, I’ll meet my metamours, and it will be just fine. Because they’re not better than me, or taking anything away from me.