I don’t currently have a therapist, so occasionally I make do by using this space. Is it self-therapy? Is that even practical? Maybe, maybe not. Right now it’s all I have. I’m trying to grok a number of complex things at the moment, so this is likely to be inscrutable or otherwise uninteresting. It’s more for me than it is for others. Here be dragons, you’ve been warned.
Something I’ve been considering looking into lately is the concept of nonmonogamy, polyamory or any other apt descriptor for maintaining relationships between multiple people. It’s starkly different from anything I’ve practiced before. I’ve always found myself in committed monogamous relationships with pretty firm beliefs of what fidelity between two people means. Right now I’m thinking about delving into some hypothetical scenario where I’d engage in intimacy and affection of a sexual and emotional manner with multiple partners. It’s a 180° from my previous experience but that in itself doesn’t immediately make it a wrong or right turn. It’s a serious decision which demands consideration, understanding and intense scrutinising of one’s own emotions and values. It’s tough, guys.
It’s equal parts fair and unfair to say that this impulse has come from my relationship. To clarify, my girlfriend is polyamorous, I’ve never been as such. Any decisions I’m making towards reframing my relationship parameters are self-directed. There’s no pressure from her either way. She’s supportive and welcoming of my decision to explore, but equally supportive if I decide that nonmonogamy isn’t for me. You don’t know unless you try and it’d be foolish to try before examining my response to these ideas and how I’d likely react. My girlfriend has lent me a book and I’m pecking at it piece by piece. Reading, considering, mulling things over. It’s effectively making me reconsider held notions and values that I’ve maintained through inertia rather than informed choice. Let me acknowledge something, I’m taking the first step. For all I know I’ll walk a couple of metres, decide the path isn’t right for me and turn back around. Alternatively I might notice something along the walk that piques my interest and pulls me further in. At this stage I’d be a moron to expect to know how this will end. That’s why we have time, experience and communication.
Right now though it’s like forcing a block of cheese through a sieve. Little bits find their way through to the other side while the bulk feels itself pressed against a narrow gap. There’s recognition that in front of me is a vast space in which I won’t feel as confined and constricted, but an understanding that fitting through that gap means going through a potentially painful process. Right now this is manifesting as reading something, examining how this would make me feel in the context of a relationship, coming up against a difficult emotional block, then being seized by the desire to bash my head against a wall.
Why is it that I’m considering polyamory? I’d be lying if I said it had nothing to do with my girlfriend. The relationship was formed with the knowledge and understanding that she’s polyamorous. I’m totally fine with her having multiple partners and I’m in no way trying to change or affect this. It’s the form of relationship that works best for her, she doesn’t feel confined by restricting her love to one person. I’m not trying to “turn her monogamous” or anything. Fuck off. I don’t see any problems with how she’s operating, so there’ll be no misguided attempt to make her “see the error of her ways” or anything. Why would I ever seek to make her compromise her happiness? She’s respectful and practices open, honest communication. She lets me know where I stand and is doing an unbelievable job of being emotionally available for me. I never feel like her attention or affections are fragmented while we’re together and I don’t believe that her love, manifested in multiple partners, is any less sincere or earnest than anything I’ve ever felt.
On the other hand, I’m aware of how I engage in relationships. I find people who I want to be around. If I’m really into someone I like spending time with that person and feel that if I’m with one of my best friends, the concept of tiring of that person is anathema (how long have I been waiting to bust out that gem? Sorry, already started my Seinfeld New Year’s Resolution). If I’m in love, I seek to spend as much time as I can engaging in that intimacy and soaking up those affectionate feelings. I don’t think I’m emotionally needy (I could be, that’s your call), but I draw energy from that closeness and the feelings of affirmation I get from being able to make people happy. However accommodating and available my girlfriend is, there’s no way she can be ever present if she’s engaged with multiple partners. It’d be selfish of me to expect that. Because of how I’m used to conducting myself in monogamous relationships I have these held expectations of having that kind of presence on tap. I haven’t had any concerns in this department as of yet, but is part of me looking towards polyamory as a way of shoring up what I see as a potential deficiency in availability? If I can’t meet my emotional needs from the one person, will I fill that gap with others?
That sounds like I’d just be using polyamory as a way to compensate, which hardly sounds healthy or ideal. So let’s reframe this in a way I can understand it. I know that in most relationships I’ve always felt like something was missing. I’ve found the things that have appealed to me and thought that as long as I had a much higher concentration of my desires than things I missed, I was doing alright. There have been a number of potential partners I’ve discarded because they didn’t share my particular sense of humour or there were topics I found myself unable to talk about. What if I had the potential to find those emotional, intellectual or sexual comforts with someone else? Framing is important here. Loving partners for what they offer means I’m not looking down at anyone for what they don’t do, but acknowledging how someone else better exemplifies those characteristics. Loving each person because of what makes them special, rather than what doesn’t.
I’ve always felt that everyone has multi-faceted personalities and connecting with a variety of people gives you the ability to engage in different parts of yourself. Different relationships have helped me discover things I love about myself in different ways. Having multiple relationships would allow me to indulge in each of those different “versions” of me, none less or more true than one another, simultaneously co-existing depending on how my current company was stimulating me. That’s exciting. Really exciting. I’ve had partners who’ve allowed me to feel cuddly or cute, childlike and playful. I’ve had partners who’ve allowed me to feel clever, perverse, cynical, dark and naughty. I’ve had partners who’ve made me feel desired, sexy, kind and helpful. I don’t know that I’ve had a partner who allows me to be all of these things. They’re all aspects I love about myself and I’d seek to embody, but it’s a lot to expect one person to be able to facilitate that. I know that despite my fervent wishes, I’d have trouble being everything that somebody else needed. There are personality traits that I simply don’t possess. Why would I demand somebody else to be someone I know I couldn’t? That’s selfish, unfair. Finding those desired traits in multiple people though would allow me to experience everything I sought while easing the disappointment I felt at having to “sacrifice” elements of myself by limiting myself to one person.
That’s probably enough for now. I feel better than I did, but that’s barely a drop in the ocean. I haven’t even touched on unpacking jealousy or what fidelity would meant to me in this context. The tricky stuff. Baby steps at first, but I’ve got some work to do. Excuse me while I go read some more then imagine what’s on the other side of that sieve.