Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

A Post-Mortem of Sorts July 26, 2008

So I ended it with M the other day. Things generally started to go south about a month and a half ago – right after we got all warm and fuzzy, it seems. Now, of course, all the little niggling doubts I had about our relationship suddenly seem like such blindingly obvious red flags. Ah well. You learn.

Basically, I no longer felt safe. I didn’t realize that was the case initially, specially since I’ve had a bit of stress piling up from various other quarters. I thought I wasn’t paying as much attention to M as before because I was tired, frazzled, upset, distracted, etc. I thought we weren’t catching up as often as before because she’d been ill and overworked. All those things were true enough, but they were excuses, not reasons.

A friend of mine once commented that your body doesn’t lie to you. I think she has a point. At least for me, physical contact hinges on trust. I can talk a good game, but if I don’t feel safe with someone, touching them, particularly intimately, is out of the question – it makes me physically ill. It’s not a pleasant reaction at the best of times, but when it’s your girlfriend that makes you recoil, it fucking hurts.

A while ago, M carelessly mentioned something I had told her in confidence in front of someone I barely knew. I don’t for a second believe that she meant any harm, but I was quite upset and she realized her mistake and apologized. It was a slip. But it shook me pretty badly – worse than I thought because, H recently reminded me that I mentioned wanting to end it when I got home that day. I had forgotten I’d said that, but it’s true and, now that I think about it, things weren’t quite the same from then on.

While the incident itself was Not Good, I think what it did was highlight the fact that there was a disconnect between us. Our attitudes towards a few important things were quite different and I found that I’d done my stupid just-smile-and-go-along-with-it thing, which is never a good idea, however easy it seems at the time. You keep hearing about boundaries, and in theory it makes perfect sense that you would identify and then defend your own, as it were. But in practice…well, the balance between patrolman and peacemaker can be a bit difficult to negotiate.

Still, M is a smart woman and realized something was up, so she asked. And the upshot of that conversation was that I no longer wanted a physical relationship with her. Which hurt her. But I think that she would have been more hurt if I hadn’t been truthful and it had all come out at some later time, so I am telling myself that it is for the best. It’s awful to be the one doing the breaking up. It’s no cakewalk to be broken up with, but I think I prefer to be on that end, really. There’s certainly less guilt involved and you don’t feel quite so much like a horrible person who apparently doesn’t care about hurting other people. Halfway through, I was wondering why on earth I was torturing her like that and almost backed down. I’m glad I didn’t, ultimately, but there was a moment there when I’d have given anything to not have said what I had. Perhaps it would have been easier if one or both of us were given to histrionics. Unfortunately, it was all calm and reasonable and I got to explain how I felt and she explained how she felt, we cried, we went home.

And so it’s done. It’s over. We will carefully avoid all contact and try not to run into each other for the time being, and hopefully, over time, she’ll be able to stand being in the same room as me. She’s a wonderful person – just not someone I should be in a relationship with.

 

A Moment July 14, 2008

Filed under: Figuring it out,Polyamory — Araliya @ 4:24 pm
Tags: ,

Someone asked me a few months ago what I ultimately wanted with my relationships, where I saw them going, etc. At the time, I had no clear idea and, for the most part, I still don’t. But the other day, A stopped by and, while I was in the other room, I heard him and H talking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the friendly, warm tone they were using made me smile. They get along. They have stuff to say to each other. They make the same kind of (awful) jokes and defend each other for making them too.

I like that. I like that very much. It makes me happy to hear them getting along. It makes me hope very very quietly – so that I don’t disturb things by pushing too hard – that this can continue indefinitely and keep growing. Growing into what exactly, I don’t know, but growing all the same.

 

Telling Friends July 8, 2008

I came out as bi and poly to a lovely friend of mine the other day who was great about it. Two things prompted my telling her. One was that it is becoming increasingly difficult not to mention A and M in conversation. They’re important to me and my relationships with them have become a big part of my life, to the extent that it is almost impossible to fill anyone in on what I’ve been ‘up to’ since the last time we met without mentioning them.

The second reason was that a mutual friend tends to frequent a place A and I are often in and around so it’s not impossible that she will see us together at some point. If that happens, I think she would probably get in touch with our friends to tell them or ask them about what was going on, and personally I’d rather my closer friends heard about it from me first. I’d rather short-circuit any gossipy stuff where it matters. I’m not terribly concerned about what she might say to anyone she knows – that’s her prerogative – but people we both know and who matter to me I’m a little more concerned about. Of course I could just tell her, but we’re not close enough and I don’t particularly want to. It’s an effort to bring up the whole poly thing because, in the heads of the majority of the people around us, H and I have been neatly filed away as straight and monogamous for years now and attempting to change that would draw more attention to our relationship with each other than I want. And more than the attention itself, it’s the type of attention that bugs me. It’s the way people ask questions that tells you whether they’re genuinely concerned and interested or just asking because they think you’re a freak – I’ve spent enough time getting the latter for other reasons to know the difference.

So that’s two local friends who know, and a third that I shall tell at the next opportunity. There are one or two other people in particular that I want to tell, but I don’t know when or how. Otherwise, I’m fairly open and visible when I’m out with either M or A in places where acquaintances might spot us. These are not people that I have any kind of investment in so I’m not concerned about what they might think or say, though I’m happy to talk about it if asked. I doubt I will be though.  I do still hesitate to refer to either A or M when talking to people I know through work or casually, but then I don’t really mention H either to people I don’t care about to some extent, so while I may feel a twinge or two when I let something particularly relevant slide, it’s not a huge deal.

What I am still worried about – and I’ve mentioned this is previous posts – is one of H’s friends seeing me with M or A as we’re not out to them. My own friends I can deal with. His, I’m not so sure about. I know I’d feel quite defensive and I’d probably be tempted to imply that he wasn’t monogamous either just to make myself look less ‘bad’. Also, I think that in some cases M might be easier for them to handle than the idea of me being with another man because, thanks to what folks have started calling the ‘hot bi babe syndrome’, my bisexuality could be read as being about pleasing H, thereby allowing it to still fit to some degree into the whole heterosexual-men-are-the-center-of-the-universe thing. But there’s no room within that trope for my relationship with A. They couldn’t stick with the idea that I’m doing it ‘for H’ because that would make them question his orientation, which is something most of them would probably prefer only slightly to chewing lightbulbs, so they’d have to consider that I was doing it for, well, me.

(Wow. I am honestly amazed at the chorus of ugly words that started howling through my head as I typed that. Talk about conditioning.)

Also, where H could be seen as gracious and tolerant for ‘letting’ me have my cute little relationship with another woman (not to mention ‘lucky’ by some definition because the idea that he wouldn’t have sexual access to my girlfriend is too bizarre to consider), it is unlikely that he would be seen as anything but weird and possibly insane for standing by while I got involved with another man. The way I see it, that is because, au fond, women still are considered property and men are considered owners. No matter how ‘equal’ and ‘modern’ your relationship or you yourself may be, no matter whose name you take or don’t take, who does the cooking or the cleaning, who earns more, who takes care of the kids, etc., when you get right down to it, the wife is still considered the husband’s property. Oh the husband may ‘belong’ to the wife too in some ways, but really it’s only because he allows it. If he really wanted to, he could put her right back in her place, and we all know where that is.

All these assumptions make it even more difficult to explain that some of us resist the trope right down to its roots. Yes H and I are married and yes that gives us certain benefits and perks that make our lives more comfortable, but outside of that, our relationship is ours. Before I got married, my father asked me why I would willingly enter into a relationship that was inherently unequal, and I replied that it was because I knew it wouldn’t be. He was skeptical and, to be honest, I was a lot more unsure than I let on, but hey, we did it. Our relationship is our own. Neither of us falls neatly into the category of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ other than legally, and H generally avoids using the terms when he talks about us – in fact, I tend to use the former far more than he does. And our relationship happens to have grown to the point where it can accommodate my involvement with other people without that involvement threatening my relationship with H.

But while I’m secure in my relationships and in what I’m doing, I hate the idea of H being thought of badly. I know, I know. It’s the people who would do that who have the problem, not me or H (or A or M, for that matter), but it’s still hard to stomach. I also know that it hasn’t happened yet and I am probably not giving his friends enough credit, either, painting them as some kind of knuckle-dragging medieval ogres (preemptive strike, anyone?).  And yet here I am tying myself up into knots over it just the same.