I’m having trouble, dear Internets, with a partner who seems to have become too clingy and with whom I seem unable to communicate.
At first, as is usually the case, things were lovely. We spent tons of time together, couldn’t get enough of each other, couldn’t wait to see each other again.
I should have seen the problem coming though. While I did definitely get swept away, I continued seeing my other partners regularly. I may have been a bit quiet and a bit tired when we got together, but I like to think that they know I love them regardless of my energy levels. I suppose it helps that they’re introverted and have generally lower energy levels than I do anyway.
My new partner, on the other hand, did not have the same kind of relationships. NP’s partner was both glad of the time off and expected to feel rejected and lonely at times, because hey, that’s what happens when your partner starts a new relationship. Consequently, NP had all this time for me and while I made time for NP, I was aware that at some point I’d have to get back to work.
My fault. NP was sometimes hostile towards my work, and I’d let it slide. This was new and, I thought, not a real problem. H had been there since before the project started, and S had come in at the very beginning. Both of them have always been supportive and have always understood that sometimes, my work means I can’t spend time with them, can’t get to things I said I’d get to, or simply can’t pull myself out of work and engage day-to-day stuff. They are awesome about it. Rather than give me flak about being absent, I get praise and support for working, getting stuff done, etc. While it’s hard for me to be without them – or be with them while not really being there – and I’m guessing it is for them too at times, it is something they accept and work around. They have plenty else to keep themselves occupied, be it other partners, work, or their other myriad interests.
NP has other interests, but doesn’t seem keen on any of them. The Relationship seems to be it. And that is a big problem, because I simply can’t give it and NP the amount of time and energy that seems to be required. It’s just not possible – or at least, not sustainable in the long term.
It is also now that the sex-induced haze has lifted that I am starting to wonder what kind of staying power the relationship has. I am beginning to think that our admittedly amazing ability to communicate sexually does not actually translate to the other areas of our lives. We seem at cross purposes so often when it comes to talking about things, mostly because NP’s model for communication seems mostly composed of hints and subtext and guilt trips, while mine tends more towards jus saying what you mean and being as honest as possible about why you want what you do. It’s not that NP’s fundamentally dishonest or that I am fundamentally honest or the ‘better person’ or any of that. NP’s other relationship has been going for a long time and that is their primary mode of communication. It seems to work well enough for them, so even though it would drive me completely insane, I can’t really say it’s any worse than what I do.
But as I said, it does drive me completely insane when I run into it. I don’t think it is appropriate for an adult to scold another adult, I don’t think it is ok to guilt people into doing things, I don’t think it is realisitic to expect people to know what you want without being told or reminded, and I definitely don’t think it is ok to be passive aggressive. And yet, not only do I have to deal with some of this, I am expected to behave in this way. This means that some of the things I say or the questions I ask are read as passive-aggressive or controlling or guilting when there is no such intent behind them. This means that the response I get to such questions are therefore fake apologies or sarcasm or other nastiness instead of a straightforward response. Since I don’t expect all this crap, I get thrown off and wonder what went wrong, why NP is upset or feeling attacked or attacking me. It fucks with my head.
I don’t know what to do, really. We’ve had a couple of talks about the whole communication style thing and NP’s taken on board the fact that I don’t do manipulation and passive-aggression. It’s not totally ok yet, but NP’s making an effort and has started to see where and why our conversations go off the rails.
But the clinginess. What do I do about that? Showing up at my place unannounced, showing up at my workplace unannounced, showing up when I’m working from home…it all makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t want NP to feel unwelcome in my home, but sometimes I really want my keys back. I live with H and my home is our space. S is welcome in it, as are her partners, my friends and other family are welcome, and NP is too, but all the time? And without warning? I feel completely at home in S’s house, but I wouldn’t just let myself in uninvited and sit there all day.
I know I’m making NP sound creepy, and that’s not what I actually think. I’m just irritated that my spaces are not being respected and that I am not being left the hell alone to do my work or just be alone. I wouldn’t put up with this in a monogamous relationship, and yet here I am struggling with it in a poly relationship.
At least I’ve learnt something. Once upon a time, I thought that constant, unregulated contact with someone I loved wouldn’t be so bad. I was very, very wrong.