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 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.



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