I’m sitting in my living room drinking tea and dipping a bagel into a small mount of za’atar on my plate. Later, I might go over to his house to watch a movie, or I might stay in my pajamas until it’s time to go out for cocktails with a couple of friends who live nearby. And I feel…happy? Self-satisfied?
A while ago I decided to try monogamy. I said I thought I might like it, but really I was harboring a lot of fear-fear that I would cheat on my partner in a sort of auto-pilot. Fear that the autonomy I kept talking about doesn’t really exist. Fear that…I don’t know, of the boogy man mostly. You know what? I fucking love it.
When my poly friends tell me their scheduling woes, I nod sympathetically on the outside while nodding “yes, I’m so glad to be rid of that” on the inside. When my friends talk about relationship hierarchy, I actually care a lot…one of the reasons I decided against the “we’ll just have this out of town girlfriend on the side who doesn’t want to live with us” solution is that I didn’t, in my heart of hearts, believe anyone really didn’t want to be cared for and so it felt unethical to be part of someone’s “I’ll take what I can get.” But I’m still delighted that this isn’t my problem to deal with.
When it comes time for gossip I let the ball drop, I’m sorry. I’m dating this dude, he’s nice, I’m still dating him. How’s your metamour’s cat?
But there are some common concerns-couched-as-questions that I thought I’d answer:
You must still have scheduling woes?!
Yes, of course, we’re working adults. But think of, say planning a meeting at work. Is there a difference between the complexity of planning a multi-stakeholder working group and planning a review session with the person who sits next to you? Yeah, so I’m planning with one person who more or less sits next to me.
One person can’t meet all your needs!
You’re right. Now explain to me, slowly, how you think monogamy works? Really though, I got this most recently from a woman I was driving home from a party, but it was followed up by “but some monogamous people still cuddle with their friends so that’s ok.” Maybe her needs are different than mine. This person I’m dating meets most of my sexual and almost all my intimate touch needs. I say “most” and “almost all” because I’m making space for pornography, this blog, frivolous shoe purchases which for me are tied to sexuality, hugging friends and family members, holding hands with people during difficult conversations, etc. I have many other needs, they are met through friendships, hobbies, work, family, etc. The point is, I don’t feel deprived. I sometimes feel slightly awkward when I have dinner with my male friends alone and then I tell my partner and I get over it.
Do you miss it?
I actually miss metamour relationship more than I miss dating lots of people. By which I mean, I miss having a sort of haram women’s space were we are connected in a more than casual way. I address this by spending more time with women in my family, dragging my partner to couple events where I can spent time with other people’s wives being wife-ish, and organizing girls night.
And one question no body asked – did anything surprise you?
Yes! I was really concerned when I suddenly started thinking a lot about my exes. Some with relief, “that person wasn’t for me, I’m glad I didn’t marry him.” Others with sadness, “that person was amazing and I was too young at 23 and didn’t know how to date or communicate with him.” But apparently this sort of chapter closing is normal? I’m really glad I have the past experience to learn and grow from, and it’s not like I didn’t know I still harbored feelings for one of my exes (not to mention some “I exploded that relationship because I was in the middle of my first year of grad school and losing my shit” guilt). But harboring feelings is one thing, apologizing might be appropriate even, but it’s very unlikely that there’s a there there, so I guess in some ways I’m reacting to what feels like the finality of it.
There’s a lot of monogamous to poly transition lit, has anyone gone the other way? Did the experience surprise you?
I’m drinking cider, must be Fall, though I did get to the beach today.
I haven’t logged into this blog in a couple months, so imagine my surprise when I log in and realize people are still reading. I love the Internet because it lets us share knowledge and confirm that whatever is on our minds in a common experience. Apparently the knowledge y’all are looking to me for is all about chastity :-p
Anyway, if you’ve been waiting for a comment to be approved I’m sorry for the delay, and thank you for your kind words. If you’re looking for an update, here’s what I was going to post…
I went to yoga tonight and we were in lunges, bending into our front knees, figuring out where our stomachs and pelvises were, raising hands over head, pushing shoulders down, opening heart – “Stable core, vulnerable heart.” Basic, physical advice on holding the pose and not falling over and also the biggest coolest thing I learned about myself over the years.
I used to think that lovingkindness had a lot in common with doormat. You can see how I’d make the mistake, what with talk of forgiving and letting go. I had a yoga teacher in 2006 who told me if enlightenment was what I’d described it as – people wandering about unattached to anything or anyone, unwilling to stand up for themselves or have their needs met – we’d have enlightenment wards in the hospitals.
No, it turns out lovingkindness, vulnerability, whatever you want to call it, is something I find at the end of a lot of work. It’s something I’m still easily knocked out of, if I’m scared for example, or stressed, I have to remind myself and sometimes I forget to remind myself :-) But it turns out that vulnerability is actually born out of learning how to create safe, stable, sustainable core spaces in my life. It’s not in lieu of having my needs met, it’s not about putting other people’s needs first, it’s about feeling grounded enough that if I swap someone else into the center of my universe it doesn’t negate my feelings or remove my ability to have my needs met.
Maybe it’s a type of feeling whole. I don’t know. It feels really new still…like when you almost but not quite yet understand a math problem.
It’s about this post by Timoni about her love for the Internet, which I read in the same week as Dangerous Lilly’s post about the history of sex blogs. It’s about my worlds colliding, and “I was there” meeting “what happens next?” It’s about missing San Francisco so bad that it hurts. Physically. But leaving still being the right thing in that moment in time.
It’s about that moment, in 2008, when someone I knew from the Internet met me in person and took me to Google – the physical place that provides the infrastructure for our most random questions. I loved that moment. I still love it because it made the Internet real and physical.
I treasure it like my memories of smothering the dial-up modem under a pillow so I could get online in the middle of the night without waking my parents. As an adult I find it a little funny that the incredible power of the Internet was so very lost on me. I took for granted talking to people on the other side of the world, it just seemed normal. Of course it did, right? I didn’t have a before time. I just had the beeping of the dial-up and ways to get around it.
But what does happen next? This blog, this experience, maybe even this format – it’s played out. I’ve learned so much from it, but it’s not what I’m passionate about anymore. I want to spend my time learning about how better understanding the data we generate can teach us about ourselves, unlock hidden patterns, and allow us to make conscious decisions about privacy and sharing. I’m not sure where that happens, but I don’t think it happens here.
So goodbye for now. Thanks for reading, responding, engaging, and letting me be a part of it. I will miss you with the same longing as I miss sipping Blue Bottle on the Embarcadero, but I am very excited about what’s to come.
I haven’t written in a really long time, I think because I’ve had a hard time untangling where to start and where to go from there.
I’m thinking about game theory and the underpinnings of trust and generosity. I’m slogging through Buy vs Rent math and realizing that in my indecision I am doing both the work of finding a condo and that of finding an apartment. I’m having a house warming for the house I’ll be moving out of shortly…because if life has taught me one thing it’s that everything is sufficiently unpredictable that the perfect time will not come.
But I had some thoughts on trust, which are that building trust is fundamentally about taking a risk and waiting. On the company or community scale it’s about giving users something of value and not asking for a lot back right away, and on a company scale that’s just dandy. But on an individual scale it gets hard, in order to trust you have to get some goodies, have a nice experience of that, have that be reliable in some fashion, and then, ok, you’ll trust the other person. But to be trusted you have to blindly give others goodies (stuff, snacks, time, attention, etc) ask for nothing back, and after a while they’ll trust you.
Somehow, despite sounding like opposite processes, people manage to trust and be trusted all the time. And often it just works. Magic. So I’ve been thinking about that, and about how to be open and giving without being a doormat and what the context for all this looks like.
And then spring sprang.
I walked out of my house one morning and it was in the 50s and sunny. And suddenly my entire experience of San Francisco made sense. I was happy. I trusted the universe and I believed, from the bottom of my heart, that people are good and that an app could change the world. I was in love with everything around me. Things started to click into place. I stopped to ask myself, “why am I struggling?”
People talk about leaning in, or the wisdom of no escape, but what I really want to talk about is intentionality. If I am doing something I want to do it fully, deeply, and honestly. I don’t want to compromise. I can embrace what the universe offers, and approach it with curiosity and openness, or I can go do something else entirely. But I don’t get to stay and struggle. I don’t get to “put up with” or “make do.” That’s not the life I’m going for and that’s not fair to the beautiful, amazing people who share this world with me.
Every time I see “you’re not queer enough” or “you’re not kinky enough” all I want to is put up another sign on my proverbial front lawn that says “have the sex you want, with the people you love, and if you have the energy create the space for others to do the same.”
Sometimes I also want to stand on my front lawn and scream “who the hell cares!” But I don’t, because sex is actually really important. And group belonging can be very important. So this whole thing breaks my heart from all directions. And then I remember that time a friend and I had an argument about it, and he was sitting on the stairs later, trying to pacify me I think, and he says “it’s bad for everyone but for some people the good outweighs the bad.” And that’s true, but what he missed was that my heart broke in that moment. Sex is powerful and intimate and beautiful. It has the power to connect us and make use feel whole. People risk beating and jail time for the right to have sex they want with the people they love. And you want to take this precious, beautiful thing and put it in a place that’s “bad for everyone”? No. We can do better.
That friend was defending the BDSM scene. But then I see people who realize that the BDSM scene is sorta a cult of personality, or it’s broken in some way. Specifically it’s broken in that it hides abuse and puts itself out there as the only place to have safe kinky sex at the same time. So people try to break away from that, but then they police their new borders even more thoroughly. It’s the lavender menace all over again.
So I guess what I really want to say is that people have been trying to tell others how to have sex for 5000 years. Just because they are a leather title holder or they are a radical anti-bdsm queer fairy, doesn’t give them any more say-so about what you and your partner do wherever you do it.
Another friend told me a while back that “there is no such thing as radical sex.” You can work for cultural change, you can try to change social views such that everyone feels accepted and open about their sexuality. You can work to educate people about consent and change the frameworks we use to talk about it. But when the bedroom door closes, whatever you do, it’s about you and the person or people you’re with, and it’s normal and perfect.
I’m thinking about the ways I’ve changed, and the things I notice now too. Yesterday I went to a small experimental electronica dance party – it was lovely and perfect. Hope you all are having a good weekend :)