Care&Feeding What makes me tick
Recently, I did some math. I was feeling antsy about wanting to connect with a lover, but we’d been in frequent contact so I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I decided to see how much I actually talk to my partners…
First I looked through my SMS history with the partner I’d been antsy about – we’ll call him IntimatePartner1. I started noticing the time periods between contact, the duration of contact, and the ratio of my messages to his. Then I went back further.
Then, for comparison I added SMS data for IntimatePartner2.
At this point I decided to also see if I could, based on message content and/or memory, make a guess as to my mood around the contact periods.
This casual look at data reinforced things I already knew. I knew, for example, that speaking to a sexual partner every day began to feel stifling and upsetting after a while. Now it seems, however, that “a while” is somewhere around 8-9 days of continuous contact (longer than I’d expected). After about 9 days, I begin to initiate less contact and my responses become less wordy and delayed.
I also knew that the flip side, no contact, makes me antsy. The no contact window, however, was smaller than I’d thought. I assumed I wanted contact every few days. In fact, optimal contact seemed to be either very light touch daily (100 words or less in one time period call and response sequence) or more involved but every 2-3 days. After 3 days my initiation attempts seem to increase in frequency but become less specific (think of it as a crud mortar attack vs. throwing pebbles at a specific bedroom window.)
Finally, I also knew that no contact for too long makes me feel “over” a sexual interaction. Here the data I was looking at was inconclusive. I know from past experience with IntimatePartner1 that I’ve had the fear of “what if he shows up and I don’t care?” linked specifically to being out of touch, but figuring out how out of touch that means requires looking through more than the 2-3 months of data I had patience for. From past non-sexual intimate relationships I know that after about 6 -10 weeks of no-contact it becomes awkward to “catch up” on each other’s lives and we tend to rebuild from scratch.
Then I decided to throw a wild card into the mix. We’ll call her IntimateParnter3. Intimatepartner3 and I have been consistently but very infrequently sexually involved for over 6 years. The last SMS to or from IntimatePartner3 was on July 9th, before that it was May 30th. As with IntimatePartners 1&2, my communication modality with IntimatePartner3 is quite unique to her. We talk on the phone every one to two weeks. When travel prevents us from doing so, we warn each other. We also send postcards.
IntimatePartner3 is a wild card because our communication is the easiest for me, our relationship the most stable, and yet our communication least demanding. At this point I also checked chat logs, and skype and facetime accounts. I chat with IntimatePartner1, I FaceTime with IntimatePartner2, I rarely do either with IntimatePartner3.
Again, this data is far from exhaustive, but there are two things that I believe are unique to IntimatePartner3:
- Six+ years of uninterrupted contact based on a foundation of 1-2 years of proximity.
- We have a date scheduled for December of this year
IntimatePartner1 and I have known eachother for maybe 6 months less than IntimatePartner3 and I but our contact was interrupted leading me to expect future interruptions. IntimatePartner2 and I have known eachother less than a year – I have no idea what to expect there.
IntimatePartner3 and I plan to take a mini-holiday to go snow tubing and have a play date in December. I don’t know exactly when, or where we’ll go. I don’t know when our next contact will be, though I suspect before December, but I fully trust that we will have this play date. I trust it because I have 6 years of experience in which tomorrow came and then next week or next month came and we still liked each other.
So from this I learned that frequency is not king; trusting in the future is.
And now I feel like Goldilocks