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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Meeting Your Metamours

Hi there. It’s me again, Martina J.  Let’s talk meeting metamours, and hostile metamours.

I started exploring polyamory seriously two months ago, when I met a wonderful man, let’s call him Sphere. I had seen him around the park at a weekly event we both frequent on Saturdays, let’s call the event Meetup. I constantly asked my friends, “Does anyone know who that cute guy is?”

Sphere ended up finding me on OkCupid, and we connected there. I didn’t have the guts to go up to him in person! I’m so, so, so glad he found me otherwise 🙂

I haven’t been this into someone in a really, really long time. I will spare you the gushy details.

Sphere has two other partners. One is a girlfriend of four years, let’s call her Blue; the other he’s been dating about a year, let’s call her Greek. The three of them often hang out together at Meetup.

Around the time of our second date, I told Sphere I was going to Meetup. Sphere called me to let me know Blue was going to be there that day, and she was very unhappy about him seeing me and did not want to meet or be friendly with me. I decided not to go.

Although Meetup is a public event and lots of my friends attend, and I have so, so much fun there, I ended up avoiding it for about two months. I wanted to avoid the awkwardness of interacting with my metamour (Greek), and being in close proximity to a second, hostile metamour (Blue).

The whole thing felt intimidating to me. Sphere assured me Blue’s negative feelings were not personal, it was more a reflection that their relationship was on the rocks and starting to unwind. He said that if I ended up at Meetup and Greek was there, she’d likely want to meet me and be friendly, though.

Although not ideal, it felt like avoiding Meetup was the right choice to give Blue space, and to make sure I was in a place where I’d be comfortable meeting Greek.

I have given meeting my metamour a lot of thought. The last time Sphere and I talked about me meeting Greek, I told him I was unsure about meeting her and felt intimidated. I wanted to cry thinking about it, in fact. But a week or so later I came around to the idea and wanted to at least be introduced.

I finally decided to go to the Meetup event this weekend. I had woken up in Sphere’s bed and knew he had plans with Greek that day, so I figured they wouldn’t be at Meetup.

Yet when I arrived to meet a friend, she happened to be sitting right next to Blue.

Blue’s unfriendliness cast a rather distracting and uncomfortable shadow over me all day. I enjoyed myself regardless, but then Sphere showed up with Greek in tow. He approached me, and said he’d like to facilitate an introduction with me and Greek. I said yes. I felt as ready as I could be.

But Sphere never did it! What followed was a very awkward hour of watching Sphere sit and talk to Blue, and presumably Greek, although I still am unsure which woman Greek was within the group of people at the park.

Sphere said bye to me without another word about my metamours. I left the park feeling horrible, and guilty, and rejected, and disrespected, and confused, and upset. I’ve been feeling that way ever since. I’m hiding in a private room at work right now to cry a bit.

It’s brought up a lot of new feelings. I can see clearly from Blue’s behavior that being a hostile, unfriendly metamour creates negativity for all parties, and I don’t want that. That’s why I want to be friendly with Greek, as challenging as it may be. Yet I’m also working on unlearning 25 years of feeling possessive over men I date, and that is no small thing to work through.

But I want so badly to be okay with all of it! To meet my metamours and be fine with it. I want to be chill and free and not give any fucks about the other women my partner is seeing.

But, the limbic system (the part of the brain that regulates emotions) can’t just be shut off when you want it to stop giving you feels. I am trying to be compassionate with myself while I work through difficult emotions, but I admit I’ve been having silly thoughts, too: Does my upset about this and intimidation about meeting Greek indicate I’m not really poly? Am I really cut out for this? Am I working against my inherent nature?

I want badly to be polyamorous, to be open and to be free and to allow my partners to be free, and so I know I will find a way to be okay with this. But I’m so upset with Sphere for not facilitating this interaction and making it easier on me. I would have loved to build a bridge and cut through some of the internal tension and anticipation I’ve been feeling about meeting my metamour.  

I plan to see Sphere today and talk to him about it. I’ll write an update as things progress. For now, I know that I am working toward a place where I will feel peaceful about meeting my metamours, and navigating the complexity of emotion that comes with it, and wherever I am in the process right now is okay. I am being compassionate with myself.

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.