One night stands

Plural. I’ve had a few lately.

I’ve been trying to track down some things that I want. In life. In love. And I’m not a whole lot closer to knowing those things. But I am a little bit closer. For example, I learned I’m not really interested in one night stands.

I do like a fleeting experience or a thing that could never be. In fact, I invested quite a lot into what I called ‘travel boyfriends’ over the years when I’d travel.

But now, staying in one place, it isn’t very appealing. Particularly if non-monogamy is in play. Because, if it’s a good experience, I’d like to repeat it. And, if it’s a bad experience, then I guess that’s a one night stand? But why aim for bad experiences?

Last week I had two one-offs. The first was an older guy I met on Tinder, newly single after 7 years. Truly charming and sweet and I wanted to see him again. But later he said he wasn’t ready. I’m choosing to believe it. The second, a writer, a satirist that cycled to meet me and girlfriends late on a Saturday night. Funny, cute. I still want to see him again. But I think, for him, it was a one-night thing.

Le sigh.

It was a revelation really. The fact that I could be sexually empowered and actually that meant I could say yes & no.

What do I want?

 

*I wrote the following a few weeks ago, but didn’t feel satisfied with it, so didn’t publish. But, this isn’t a place for only finished products. So. Here it is.*

 

My therapist asked me a question last week and I feel shocked and kind of embarrassed that I had never asked it of myself. The question was: what do you want out of love and Spouse specifically.

I don’t have a full answer and I imagine it will be a moving target throughout my life. I desperately want to make lists and categories and check boxes, but only to soothe my fear of what is true: it’s a bit of a nebulous thing, subject to change and circumstance. So here it is today. What I want. We’ll save what I can offer in return for another post.

I want to have sex. I want to have a few men who love to have sex with me. I want both comfortable, satisfying sex and adventurous, wild sex. And I want all my sexual partners to be good communicators about what they want in bed.

I want emotional intimacy. I want men around me who share of themselves and with whom I can safely share. I want to lie in bed under my twinkle lights and stroke one another while we talk about love and risk and family.

I want to always be open to new things. I want to be receptive to each person and what they can show me. I want to try new things with new people for the hell of it.

I want someone to know me and me to know them, but never take that knowledge for granted.

I want someone to eat cookies in bed with and most nights, I want my bed all to myself.

I want a reliable partner. The kind that will drive you to get your tonsils out and cares for you for days.

I want to have men who challenge me and surprise me. I want men who never stop asking questions.

I want brilliant men who know when it’s annoying.

I want men who won’t let me push them around.

I want men who don’t need me but want me.

 

 

 

Sometimes you accidentally sext a total tool

Most people in my world have been super open to the idea of non-monogamy. They are adults with a nuanced view of relationships and love and sex and marriage. Well, I just got a reminder of how much this is not the norm.

Sometimes, when I have a free night and I want to get off, I will sext with a random. I’m really into dirty words and so this works for me. The other night I met this dude on Tinder and he didn’t immediately seem like a dudebro, he was cute and nice and down. So we got on snapchat and sexted. It was hot and fun.

Since my Tinder profile says I’m nonmonogamous, I sometimes get questions right away on what that means. So this dudebro knew I was married, dating and sometimes sexting. I have nothing to hide, so I told him all that. Then today, he comes at me on snapchat asking me why I’m married and why I don’t just get a divorce and why I don’t love my husband. YIKES YIKES YIKES!

This is the first time I’ve had such an intense reaction from someone. He was pissed that I don’t live with Spouse and that I was an adulterer. I’m like “YOU SEXTED ME TOO MOTHERFUCKER!”. What a fucking tool. This narrow-minded obsession with how relationships ought to be is super common, the norm, even.

He continued on asking me why I don’t just live with my husband instead of moving out and fucking guys on Tinder. He also told me that my marriage vows included fidelity. I was like “actually, we wrote our own vows and they didn’t say that” haha. WTF, though. I do not know why this person felt like they should attack me for my choices. Maybe it’s threatening to him somehow? I get that. I guess. But the vitriole, I do not get and do not accept. Jesus Fucking Christ.

I told him he was a dipshit and then blocked him. UGH. Lesson learned, be a little careful about who you talk to about this shit because you may get randomly verbally attacked by dudebros from Tinder.

Intro: Martina J & the Relationship Escalator

Hi there. So far, you’ve been reading posts from the creator of this blog, Sasha X (or, SX) the 20-something Chicago-based female recently separated from her spouse and exploring non-monogamy. Today, we introduce a new character: me.

Let’s call me Martina J (or, MJ). I’m a friend of SX’s who lives in San Francisco. I’m also trying out non-monogamy for the first time.I am also a female, and also a twenty something. I’ll be using pseudonyms for the people I date, too. I have never been married, and all of my serious relationships have been monogamous. Yet I’ve been thinking about polyamory for the last three and a half years — or at least since that time I watched my friend’s eyes sparkle as she gave me the rundown on polyamory at my going away party, as I prepared to leave the East Coast for SF.

“Love isn’t finite!” she gushed.

I’m so thrilled SX invited me to contribute here. I started being serious about researching and practicing non-monogamy a few weeks ago. I had been dating someone I met on Tinder for 6 months. Let’s call him Designer.

Our relationship was mostly about chilling, watching TV (meh), and having sex. Really rough sex that was even sort of scary sometimes, but always safe and exciting. He was charismatic but it was clear he hadn’t met himself very deeply. He never really listened to me talk. So I was totally fine with this casual construction.

We never talked about our expectations or boundaries or goals with our relationship at all. So much went unspoken. I was pretty sure he didn’t want to be serious with me, but sometimes he would act like maybe he did. I was confused about what he wanted, but was sure I didn’t want something serious with him. He wasn’t right for me emotionally.

One night we were finally pushed to have The Conversation About How We See Us. Although neither of us was seeing anyone else, we were on the same page. We wanted it casual, open. Not trying to be serious with one another. Great. I was already going on a few other dates.

Then he got distant. Two weeks later, Designer called me up and said he didn’t want to see me anymore. He said he felt bad and guilty. He said he couldn’t get the nagging thought out of his head that we weren’t “going anywhere.” “What’s the point?” he asked. Yet he contradicted himself too, and also said he wasn’t even sure he even wanted a serious relationship! He was all over the place, and upset, and seemed quite mixed up inside. I felt badly for him. It ended up being an amicable separation.

I started reading into polyamory shortly after. I realized Designer was upset because we weren’t riding the “Relationship Escalator.” Here is how this site defines it:

Relationship Escalator: The default set of societal expectations for the proper conduct of intimate relationships. Progressive steps with clearly visible markers and a presumed structural goal of permanently monogamous (sexually and romantically exclusive), cohabitating [sic] marriage — legally sanctioned if possible. The social standard by which most people gauge whether a developing intimate relationship is significant, “serious,” good, healthy, committed or worth pursuing or continuing.

I was sort of blown away when I read this (seriously, read the whole page). Finally, language that describes why monogamous relationships have always ended up feeling like a cage to me!

I’m mostly Buddhist. I strive not to be too future-focused beyond practical life matters. I believe in the power of the present moment. So I was never upset that Designer and I weren’t “going anywhere.” I read this somewhere: If you’re having a casual fling that goes on for 3 years, who’s to say that isn’t a serious relationship, anyway? If you’re enjoying it and having fun, what’s the rub?

The relationship escalator is a personal choice, but also very, very heavily societally ingrained. It is the default social order. That’s why Designer became upset at our casual thing. He had different goals. He wants someone to ride the escalator with him. And that’s fine.

But once I had language for it, I immediately knew I wanted to eschew the relationship escalator. And I feel so peaceful. Like a weight, a burden I’ve been unknowingly carrying around for years, has been lifted.

I always knew marriage didn’t have to be a goal for me. Yet I admit I clung to marriage and at the very least, cohabiting, as potential milestones that would boost my self-worth and value. But I’ve let it go.

I don’t have to ride the relationship escalator anymore, or try to find someone to ride it with me. I can enjoy relationships for what they are, not hope and strive for more or try to mash things into boxes where they don’t fit. I can be free. I can just be.

– MJ

Livin’ that low bar lyfe

I have expressed it before and I’ll say it again: I might be married to an idiot savant. He can explain in depth disease processes and philosophy theories, but he also recently asked me where one buys stamps….

I’m not sure how much of this is him and how much is society’s low expectations of men who achieve highly in certain realms. As I’ve told other friends these stories about my genius spouse missing the most common sense, basic life management principles, I’ve learned that he’s not the only one who can’t seem to get it together.

G told me:

“I’ve been to guys houses with dishes sitting in a dying rack and a load of towels in the washer and I’m like dayyyyuuuum!”

The first year Spouse and I were together during tax season he said “oh, taxes. Is that something I should be doing?” and I thought “oh you beautiful idiot. I will take care of you.” PUKE. In my defense, I was 22 and experiencing the equivalent of ecstasy in my veins from *LOVE*.

This year, tax season is coming up and Spouse has said he will do our taxes. We’ve talked endlessly about how I unfairly managed every aspect of our practical lives our whole marriage. So, the taxes would go a long way. But I am skeptical of his ability to manage it. We have a date tonight. If he manages to file our taxes today, I swear to god I will fuck his brains out. 

But. This is a low bar. Like, if my partner does something that everyone has to fucking do that I have been doing for us both for YEARS, I am going to be extremely impressed. Um. WHAT?

I’m not the only 20 something who has been partnered with a manchild and therefore lives that #lowbarlyfe.

G also said:

“Oh one time I went to this guy’s house and we were going hot tubbing and not only were his towels clean but they were folded in a cupboard. We fucked.”

How did our expectations of the men around us drop SO MUCH?

When I was dating Barista, he’d wake up before me and clean his kitchen and I’d be like “wow, he’s really got it together”. *eye roll*. I told my therapist this once she noted that I was living that #lowbarlyfe. It should not be impressive to us when men we date do the BARE MINIMUM of life management.

We should not get dripping panties when a guy says “I’ve got to go to the store to buy more body wash.” But alas, here we are. Looking for men who can do basic things like pay the rent on time and keep their spaces relatively clean.

L says:

“It’s very difficult to hook a guy with good hygiene and a design sense.

This may be the new feat for the modern woman.”

Agreed, L, agreed.

WTF is a dental dam: Or, how abstinence-only sex ed failed me

I am an adult. A sex positive adult. An open and progressive and educated adult. I have been sexually active to some extent since 2006. So how the fuck have I missed SO MUCH over the years in terms of sex education?

My first brush with misinformation causing me personal turmoil came at 14. I got pushed in a pool and ended up borrowing my boyfriend’s basketball shorts. I was wearing a thong and in my adolescent mind, I was sure I had gotten pregnant because he probably jacked off IN HIS SHORTS at some point and my thong left my vagina OPEN TO SEMEN.

After that, I figured a few things out. But still, at 19 I had another insane brush with misinformation about sex! I had full-on penetrative sex for the first time (not counting a one-time encounter with the biggest penis I’ve ever seen in high school). More on both of those another time. But, even though the guy didn’t cum – we were both halfway trying to be Mormon – I was SURE I was pregnant. Even though he didn’t cum and even though I was on birth control. I know that I could have been pregnant despite both, but those chances are TINY!

Anyway, the last few months I have been on something of a sexual rumspringa. And I thought I knew the basics about STIs and pregnancy and risk factors with different acts. Which is why I was shocked and mortified to find out how much I didn’t know when reading a book about non-monogamy.

Here’s what happened: Spouse and I decided to date again about a month ago and the intimacy we experienced in making that decision opened us up to have sex for the first time in almost a year. Before that happened, Spouse asked if I had used protection with other partners and I said yes. Because I had been using condoms with everyone but Barista, who had been tested before we had sex. Remember that Spouse is a doctor, so it was a practical and smart question. So we had condomless sex. Yay!

The next day, I read the chapter in my book about safer sex practices and was horrified to learn that dental dams are a thing! And a thing I maybe should have been using! I spent the next 24 hours doing a deep dive on sex-ed. I took my sexual health in my hands. I read up, set up an appointment for testing and started considering what my level of comfort for different risks really is.

Then I saw Spouse again. And I told him that I had not been practicing protected oral sex. He was really upset. In his mind, when he asked if I’d had protected sex, he was asking if I’d used a barrier for every single act. In my mind, it meant, did I use a condom for penis-in-vagina sex. Upon telling this story to friends, they agree with me, and knowing Spouse, they laugh at his perspective.

It’s not that we think protected oral sex is a joke. It’s not. But Spouse is a total dork. It’s one of the most endearing things about him. He’s an actual genius, but he can really miss some obvious things. And I was his first sexual partner. So, of course, he didn’t know that most people don’t use a dental dam or a condom for oral sex (though maybe more of us should). In his doctor mind, he thought “of course everyone uses all protective measures”. haha

Sweet angel.

We used a condom that night but haven’t had sex since. I told him I’d use protection with other partners in every way. And I intended to…

But after that conversation, I realized I’d like to renegotiate the oral sex thing. After talking to my NP and getting a clean bill of health STI wise (yay!), I’ve decided that if I’ve had a good talk with a partner on their history, that I don’t want to use a dental dam or a condom for oral sex. I haven’t told him this yet because we haven’t been physical again since and also, I’m a chicken shit and don’t want to have to say “no rubber between my pussy and a tongue, sorry Spouse”.

But alas, I gotta do it. Wish me luck?

My first twinge of jealousy (i think?)

As I tell people (mostly just very close friends) about my decision to try non-monogamy, the first question or comment they usually have is about jealousy. It’s a huge thing that one must sort through and deal with in order to truly live like this with the least amount of damage to all involved.

Usually, the question is about Spouse: will I feel jealous if he starts dating? It’s hard to answer since it hasn’t happened. Right now, I think I’d be really happy for him. He needs to have some experiences, sexual and social, to figure himself out. But I don’t really know. Maybe I’d really fucking hate it. I guess we’ll see.

But over the last few days, I had a twinge of jealousy in another, very bizarre, place. With Filmmaker! You know, the married guy I went out with a few times and had a great time and then he and his spouse realized they rushed into opening up and needed to do a bit more prep.

Well, even though Chi-town is huge, a friend of a friend matched with him on Tinder and has been texting with him. We realized it because his job is so unique. But hearing that he was still chatting with another girl made me worried that the reason he wants to just be friends does not actually have to do with him and his wife, but is simply he doesn’t want to see me romantically. He hasn’t met up with this other person and whether or not he does is not actually of interest or importance to me, unless he felt he had to pin the change on his marriage when it was actually just me. I can handle either reason, but it makes me feel bad if he felt he couldn’t be straight with me.

Ugh. I hate that I even spent the time to write that paragraph. But alas, I had a feeling, and I needed to sort it. One thing everyone seems to advise in entering nonmonogamy is that feelings will come up that don’t logically make sense to you. You need to feel them and sort them or they’ll turn into nasty and disproportionate problems.

So here is what I have learned and am feeling about this unanticipated reaction:

  1. Whatever his true reasoning for changing his mind on what he wanted for our relationship, it isn’t really my business in this instance and I can respect it. We went out exactly two times. hahaha
  2. I am actually OK with just being friends. Like, I truly feel OK about that. I enjoy his presence beyond the physical and romantic aspects and feel I can glean some insight into Spouse and people in general by talking with him.
  3. I am not immune to jealousy but am able to sort through it.

Yikes. I promised  I would be honest on this blog. So there it is. I had a bizarre feeling that I didn’t like. But I feel better now just having admitted it. More on jealousy and insecurity soon.

 

 

You didn’t hold up your end of the bargain

I ended up at Spouse’s last night, crying on the ground. I told him about Filmmaker and how I had conflated them and as I sobbed I told him I was angry that he hadn’t held up his end of our marital bargain.

So after I collapsed to the ground after having told him I’m angry that he wasn’t the partner he had promised to be, he got me a xanax, a blanket and sat down and held my head in his lap. I quietly sobbed while he stroked my hair and said, “there, there, it’s going to be OK”.

I needed that. I didn’t need a conversation at that moment, I just needed to be heard and held. I fell asleep easily and soundly next to him on the other side of our gigantic king sized bed and for once, he actually put on his goddam nose strips to keep the snoring down.

 

 

 

 

Compartmentalizing Relationships is V. Tricky

It’s easy to get excited and see only the pros of a new idea or choice. I do think I’m approaching nonmonogamy in a pretty level headed way. But love and sex are not simple and I’m not coming from a super put together romantic place anyway, given that I’d been in a sexless, lonely marriage for a few years.

So when I met Filmmaker last week, I think I saw Spouse in him. Here was a married guy, about my age, who had decided with his wife, who he loves, to try this open thing. She had developed feelings for a coworker, just like I had developed feelings for Barista. She was feeling unsatisfied because Filmmaker works so much and often travels for weeks on end, just like I was feeling lonely with a spouse who works 90 weeks. And she brought up opening up, just like I did.

And the way Filmmaker had taken it in stride, just as Spouse has. It’s an attitude and willingness to learn and self-examine that I find attractive in all kinds of people.

Although I can never know the nuances and intricacies of filmmaker and his wife’s marriage, it felt so similar to my own. We saw each other for the second time and it became clear that Filmmaker had not fully prepared for and thought about this lifestyle and was having a hard time with it. He was at my place and his wife had her coworker over at theirs.

After a few minutes of fooling around, he went flacid and asked if we could talk a minute. He told me he was having a hard time because he realized his wife was probably doing the same thing and on some level, even though he intellectually didn’t feel that was a problem, he said he felt like “that should be us”. In that moment, it didn’t actually hurt my feelings. It’s clear to me that he finds me attractive and interesting and this was only our second meeting.

So we talked for another hour and I shared with him some of my experiences and things I’d learned from reading books like “The Ethical Slut” and blogs like morethantwo.com. It was pretty clear that they had had some of the crucial conversations, but not all. And, Filmmaker is just like Spouse in that he so prefers to “go with the flow”. So it’s possible he caught a bit caught up in it without preparing or fully considering things. It also became clear that he thought opening up was going to be pretty easy since it was what they both wanted. Ha! That one made me laugh out loud, and also made me think of Spouse. It’s the kind of dumb, cute, naive thing he would say, too.

We did end up fucking and that was nice. I finished myself with a toy, which apparently he had never had a woman do. The truth is, I’m just now getting confident enough with certain partners where I feel like I can be like “that was great, but I think I can cum, will you watch me and talk dirty to me while I do”. That isn’t something I would do with Spouse or any partner before him. But it’s wildly empowering and Filmmaker was all about it.

Anyway, we ended that encounter with sort of an understanding that he really had some work to do, but if he decided to continue on this path, we’d like to keep seeing each other. Well, in the days since he’s had a lot of ups and downs. But finally, he and his wife decided to slow things down, do some reading and thinking and feeling before continuing on this path.

I wish I could know how she was feelings, but I can’t. I wonder if she is thinking “get with the program dude” or like “you didn’t think to consider this more fully before saying ok?” or “but I really still want to pursue my coworker”. Or maybe they are truly in the kind of marriage that doesn’t have the amount of damage mine did when making this shift and so slowing down is actually mutually beneficial and more important that individual needs for now.

When he told me this yesterday, I was intellectually 100% fine with it. Even happy for him, because he’s doing it so intentionally. And, I had only seen him twice. But. He’s lovely and because he reminded me of Spouse so much, I got pretty invested too quickly. So, emotionally, it stung a bit.

Because I want to believe that this choice will be the solution to the issues in my marriage, even though I know that’s insane. And I’m trying to parse out the difference between the issues with my marriage and the issues/challenges with nonmonogamy in general and whether I can and should make either work. And that’s just gonna take time. And this experience sort of poked holes in the fantasy I have of how this is all gonna shake out.

Between that convo and coming down from the adrenaline of just having spoken publicly for my job, I had a bit of a breakdown. I walked back to my hotel and curled up in bed for a good, long cry. I really needed it. It was International Women’s Day and I wasn’t feeling particularly powerful. But then again, there is power in vulnerability and power in making choices for your own life.

There is also power in relying on your support network, so I proceeded to text G, J (my big brother), Storyteller and Feathers all with some variation on the theme and with varying details of “I’m having a rough day”. G and she sent me the most soothing, lovely texts and told me just to feel it. She encouraged me to order room service and watch a silly movie, which I did. J told me exactly what food I should order from the city I was in, ever the self soothing expert. I told Storyteller my heart hurt and he asked how it hurt and I said in the “I’m a failure and going to be alone forever” kind of way. I’m so dramatic. *eye role*. But alas, he sent me this lovely journal. I just asked Feathers for a meme, of which he seems to have an endless supply. He sent me several politically themed oddball ones that really made me laugh.

I have so much love in my life.

Filmmaker and I agreed to see if we could just become friends, which I feel very comfortable with. He is very interesting and nice to be around and because we’re both going through a similar experience, I think we’ll be invaluable resources for one another. No hard feelings towards him, and another layer off the onion of my feelings towards Spouse.

 

Rolling the Tinder dice in a new city

I’m in the South now on a business trip and I decided to roll the Tinder dice and see what happened. I spent about an hour swiping yesterday and got a handful of interesting matches. Because my profile mentions nonmonogamy and I am a relatively attractive woman, I do pretty well for myself on dating apps. I think people read that as “dtf”. Which, sometimes, I am.

Anyway, decided to meet up with one of the dudes last night. I had been drinking and we flirty texted. He invited me to adult bingo at a bar, I told him there’s no Lyft here and I can’t remember my Uber password. So he came to meet me in front of my hotel. It’s warm here, so we sat on some steps in front of a chain-type yoga studio.

He was very cute and we definitely hit it off physically.. but, his name was the same as Spouse’s. And, he was my size (5’4″). And I felt like I needed someone who could pick me up and really fuck me. Also, someone that didn’t make me think of Spouse. So, we made out like teenagers in the street. It definitely made me think I could get into semi-public sex.

So, we made out like teenagers in the street. It definitely made me think I could get into semi-public sex. We felt each other up a bit and in between all that we chatted about mindfulness and Dan Savage. He’s a furniture designer from NYC, here on a job. He had candy in his pockets. All in all, a very nice hour or so before I retreated to my room.

We ended up finishing up the night with a very graphic (and including graphics) sexting session. I am a big fan of this kind of thing. The sick part, though, is that this person has the same name as Spouse. So as I’m receiving messages, I’m partway tricking myself into believing I’m having a sexy exchanged with him. I don’t know what to make of that, but I don’t want to think too hard about it. Back to Chicago tomorrow.