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.

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

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.

 

 

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.

 

I’m not as good at Tinder as I think I am

So after Spouse and I initially split, I began dating Barista, with whom I’d become obsessed. More on him another day. It didn’t last, though. But I’m still crossing my fingers for a casual sexual relationship. Once we split, I finally joined Tinder. It took me a week or two to get up the courage to meet up with anyone. But I finally connected with Storyteller, it was a great first date that ended up with him staying over.

After such a great first Tinder experience, I was certain that I was good at Tinder. So the next night I matched with someone who also works in advocacy. He seemed cute enough and we messaged a while about politics and advocacy. We realized that his nonprofit is near my place and figuring I was on a lucky streak, I decided to do a wild thing and invite him over to spend the night and walk to work in the morning.

I give him my address and he says “one more thing before I come”. Fuck. What is he about to say to me? “I’m 5’6”” he says.

Well fuck. I don’t think this is a problem. I am 5’ 4”. So I tell him that and say, come anyway. Well, it turns out not only was he 5’6”, but he was dorky, neurotic and talkative 5’ 6”. But now I’ve invited this stranger who I do not want to get with to spend the night in my bed and walk to his job in the morning. Fuck. So we lay down in my bed. Oh yeah. One more thing, I had expressed a desire for him to read my poetry in bed. Which is something that Spouse sometimes does and Storyteller always does.

So he awkwardly pulls out his copy of Carl Sandburg collected poems and begins reading to me. After one poem he says “I am not going to sleep with my pants on” and I say “yeah, totally” while he awkwardly shimmies out of his jeans. I also asked him if he wanted some pot and he said “not unless you want me to get real paranoid”, which is funny. But wasn’t right in that moment.

Then, after dropping trou, dropping, breaking and then finally putting back together and plugging his phone in and getting back in my bed, I swiftly pretended to fall asleep. I do not fall asleep easily. So I was play sleeping, like a cartoon. Awk. Ward. Lesson learned. Not all Tinder dates are good.  And don’t ever invite a random to your house late at night. Because that’s insane.

I sort of just ignored him after that night. Sadly, I do wish to work with him and his nonprofit professionally. And also, I stole his Carl Sandburg collection.

 

Well, he just walked into the coffee shop I am working out of and I am fully pretending I do not recognize him. I do not respect myself right now.

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