Just because you can date everyone doesn’t mean you should

*originally published Friday, February 24, 2017

Since I last wrote, I’ve stumbled across the most magnificent way to live and love. It’s called ethical non monogamy, sometimes polyamory. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and I’m still defining exactly what it means for me. But it has changed everything.

Spouse and I are dating again, in this format. For me, that means I am also dating other men. For us, it means the pressure is off and we can begin to repair and rebuild our relationship in a way that is safe and comfortable and truly meets both our needs.

The way that Spouse and I are dating now feels a lot like when we were first dating. We had recently left Mormonism and so every relationship decision was no longer dictated by an outside force. We could decide exactly how we wanted it to look. Sometime along the way of our four-year traditional monogamous marriage, the intentionality we brought to our relationship was not so present. We fell back into bad habits, old patterns from our upbringings in our families of origin and our conservative culture. We just got lazy.

But now, we’ve agreed to throw out all the rules and redefine our relationship just in terms of one another. It is freeing and comforting and exciting. I’ll tell the story of how this happened another time, but tonight I wanted to tell you about all the wonderful men in my life. It appears I have a type. Dark hair, beards, very intelligent and nerdy.

There is Spouse, of course. He knows me so well and we truly are best friends. We are working to rekindle the romantic part of our relationship and heal some of the damage done. He is a physician and excellent amateur chef.

Then there is Feathers, who also does the non monogamous thing with a primary partner. He’s confident and curious and laid back. He’s also a big dork. He remembers everything and likes to classify plants and birds and insects. He works at an elementary school for disabled kids, teaches after school painting classes to underprivileged kids and is working to start up a natural perfumes company (chemistry and physics are his favorite challenge of the moment). He makes me smile and is a big help in navigating this new lifestyle.

There is also Storyteller, who is a PhD in human-computer interaction. He’s also in an improv troop and writes poetry. He reads me poetry to fall asleep and is very emotionally intelligent.

The newest who I’ve only seen once is Urban Planner, he’s a comic book, political and trivia dork. Fabulous conversation. Similar interests and very laid back demeanor. I’m hoping to see him again and it seems he’d like that too, but we shall see.

Last but not least are the purely sex men. One is the person I dated for a while right after the split, Barista. I had many firsts with him. Sexual and otherwise. Breaking up with him was hard and now he’s come back into my life as a friend and occasional hookup and it’s a beautiful thing. The other is Chef, a very new find where the expectation is very clear, we will be fuck buddies and that’s all. This is who I really see myself exploring my sexuality with.

And if you’re thinking this sounds like a lot, you’re right. It is. And that’s why I’m home on a Friday recharging my social batteries. I imagine some of these will fizzle or end and I’ll find a nice equilibrium.

For now I’m really excited about embarking on a path that feels really true to me. And I’m excited to have found a way to share it with the world, albeit anonymously.

Questions? Email me at patternsandroutines@gmail.com and I’ll answer at some point.

*names changed

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I’m giving myself a pass

I can only let a little in a time. I read and write and cry. But then I have to eat and medicate and focus on new men.

It’s 4:40 AM and I’ve spent the last two hours really in it. I let my mind go all the way from “what would it take to repair the damage done” to “what would a divorce look like”, and it was not a fun thought experiment.

Most days, I live in a kind of fantasy world where I live this pseudo-single life. I’m dating and I’m working and I’m trying to focus on myself. But nothing can really happen, I can’t really move forward or work things out. That’s been ok and good. But tonight, for the first time I had a moment where I thought, rather I felt, “this limbo is untenable”. Before tonight I had been telling myself I could maintain this in-between life for quite a while and that was comforting. No need to make decisions now. Just keep on keeping on. I think I can keep living in that world for a while longer, thank god. I’m not ready for what has to happen next.

I can sell myself quite a story. It’s pretty cool; I believe everything I tell myself. It’s why I was able to stay in an unfulfilling marriage for so long. That only ended because the disconnect between my story and my experience was so great that my mind gave way to my actual experience. And the experience was: I’m extremely lonely and unhappy in this marriage. That seeped in here and there over the years and it was only once I fully gave way to the pain of my actual experience that I found the courage to do something about it.

I think it’s similar now. I’m telling myself a fabulous story about how good this separation is. And it’s not a lie. This is a good separation and I’m confident it is the right thing. But I’m lying to myself in thinking it’s maintainable for much longer and that became clear tonight, just for a moment, when my true experience poked through. And it fucking hurt. Luckily, it’s gonna take some more time for my experience to catch up to my story.

So my new plan? Give myself a pass.

It’s 5 AM now. Tomorrow is shot and that’s ok. This separation is not going to be the time when I find myself and lose weight and start getting up at a reasonable hour. It’s not the time for me to learn to cook and learn French. Right now is the time for survival and that is something I know a lot about.

When I was in the initial phase of recovering after being sexually assaulted, I took the advice of a therapist of just giving myself a pass. I let myself do whatever it was I needed to do to get by. In that time it meant drinking on an empty stomach, copious television, some risky sexual behavior and lots and lots of sleep. It also meant some serious reliance on support networks of friends and family who would love me unconditionally. But the most empowering thing I did was document the whole thing fearlessly and then share it freely.

So while the coping mechanisms this time around are different, Tinder is enough of an ego boost and safe sex is just as effective a distraction and television never fails me, I’m still going to document this journey fearlessly and share it freely.

So if you’re new here, thank you for reading. Something about sharing this with you is invaluable to me. I hope you’ll stick around for the funny and sometimes sad stories about coping and the inevitable difficulty that will come when my experience pushes through my story.

Tonight’s coping? Drinks with great girls. Toyed with the idea of a threesome I’ve been invited to and now, Freaks and Geeks until I finally pass out.

It’s harder now that I know what it should feel like

the ceiling curves and I didn’t notice for three months

firing off chances and reaches at thumb’s pace

why can’t I just have someone to read to me
it’s difficult to describe without ascribing
it’s hard to write without a cohesive finisher
it’s unsettling to be “in” it all the time

for such a strong willed person I sure do
live at the whim of others

I don’t trust a word you say. not really. even though I told you I did.
it’s harder now that I know what it should feel like