Category Archives: Poly Stuff

10 Things No One Warns You About Nonmonogamy

Nonmonogamy comes with some well publicized high-risk areas. There are plenty of articles out there about overcoming insecurity and dealing with jealousy. Careful thought has been put into handling STI and pregnancy risks. And communication! I swear if I read one more article about how important honest, open communication is in poly relationships* I’m going to snap and start maniacally disclosing All The Things to random people in the streets.

But there are other things that change. Little things. Polyamory affects aspects of life that don’t seem to have anything to do with relationships at all.

For instance:

1. You will never again just share a story even tangentially related to your partners with monogamous friends.

It’s no longer possible. If they think you’re monogamous, you omit details and use creative phrasing to keep the relationship ambiguous. If you’re out, every conversation involving any of your partners becomes a conversation about their opinions and/or befuddlement about polyamory itself. I’ve been spending the night at Z and the Techie’s place a night or two a week. Sometimes a classmate will ask if I can print or bring something from home. “No, sorry, I’m not there” demands an explanation. Out or not, there’ll be questions about whether Spouse freaks out when I stay the night elsewhere.

2. The amount of time you spend doing dishes increases exponentially with each additional partner.

Spouse and I don’t live with any other partners. But Polly Pocket comes for dinner maybe twice a week, and I cook at the Techie and Z’s place twice a week, and one morning I realized that they think Monster energy drinks are breakfast so suddenly I have a massive waffle making project on my hands…on and on and on. I run the dishwasher every two days and still scrub a sink load of dishes by hand almost daily and I swear I have no idea how we use so many forks so quickly.

3. 97% of movies and TV shows will make you roll your eyes.

The other 3% have no hint of a romantic subplot***. The rest of them? You’ll be mumbling under your breath about the obvious solution to the love triangles and sexual tension. You’ll practically scream at films like Pirate Radio when our protagonist is crushed (crushed!) that the woman he falls in love-at-first-sight with has sex with someone else. She’s ruined. Purity culture! You’ll want to love Lost Girl, but you can’t because the succubus protagonist’s (literally suicidal) choice to be monogamous because that’s what good people do drives way too much of the plot.

4. If you think adapting to one person’s schedule is hard…

…try syncing your calendar with three partners, who may each have a number of other partners whose schedules need to be taken into account as well. And if your partners aren’t on similar sleep schedules? Learn to love caffeine pills. Spouse and I wake up at or before 0700 on weekdays. When I spend the night at Z and the Techie’s place, we may not collapse into bed until dawn or later. If I stay at their place on a weeknight, nevermind even attempting sleep; I’ll just write a few emails or read on the phone until it’s time to get ready for class or work.

5. The relationship webs get seriously tangled.

Incestuous is the wrong word, but it sort of conveys the right idea. Poly networks form and break multiple connections among the same handful of people. It makes sense. Unless you live somewhere with a large, dynamic, easy-to-find poly community, partners of partners are going to be the simplest way to meet other nonmonogamous folks. Once you start trying to describe those networks, it feels a little like a stand-up routine about a family reunion in Alabama**. For example: I’m seeing my Spouse’s girlfriend’s ex. I’m also seeing his girlfriend. No, not Spouse’s girlfriend, her ex-whom-I’m-seeing’s girlfriend. Oh, and she’s casual play partners with one of my play partners. No, not that “she,” the other one. Actually, nevermind; it might be easier if I drew a chart. (I did draw a chart. it’s in my about page.)

6. People expect you to be jealous

Even when you’re not.

Polly Pocket is young. She is tiny and bubbly and pretty and sweet. My female friends think this is the worst thing ever. “She’s so pretty! Aren’t you worried?”

“No.”

“What if Spouse thinks she’s prettier than you?”

“What if?”

The way they talk, it sounds like they’re only nonmonogamous so they can reaffirm that their primary partners like them best. I hope I’m wrong about that, because the idea is disgusting and they are my friends. But the conversation inevitably acts like one has to be jealous or disdainful of metamours. Nonsense.

7. “So…do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/six or more cats?” or “Are you taken?”

People try to assess availability to a relationship by asking whether you’re already in one. This should annoy monogamous people; even if being in one relationship precludes forming another, the question implies a sort of ownership****. I have a spouse, a girlfriend, and a lover. I don’t have time for another relationship, not really, but it’s nothing to do with having been claimed.

8. That sense of control? Gone.

The idea that you control your partner or they control you has to go. You don’t give permission to do things and you don’t need permission to make your own plans. You’re not “letting” each other do things, you’re acting autonomously. And dear god is it wonderful.

Now, I realize many poly relationships do have rules and a higher degree of control than mine. And there are constraints to some degree; if I have plans with someone I have a responsibility to keep them. If I’m not going to be home it’s only fair to give Spouse advance notice so he knows to make his own dinner plan or that he should expect to be spending the night alone. There’s a lot of communication that has to happen for that giving up of control to run smoothly and not make anyone miserable. But I said we weren’t going to talk about communication in this post, so we’ll leave it at that.

9. Being friends with exes becomes normal.
Because poly is rarely on the standard assumed relationship escalator, expectations and norms surrounding the life course of a relationship can be very different for poly folk. Permanence is not necessarily expected nor necessarily a sign of relationship success. If you’re already thinking about relationships differently, it’s a lot easier to realize that the end of a relationship doesn’t have to mean that one of you is a terrible person. Maybe scheduling was too complicated, or an incompatibility arose, or one of you just didn’t feel a sexual or romantic connection anymore. Granted, not all poly people can be friends with exes. Sometimes breakups still are because one or both parties did something monstrous and ending contact is for the best. And of course some monogamous folks can stay friends with exes, which is great. The point is that it’s far less likely to cause major strife in continuing or future relationships to remain friends with an ex than it is for monogamous folks to do the same. It’s rather a relief.

10. Meal planning and grocery shopping can become almost comically complex.

I keep kosher(ish) and have allergies to a couple of quite common foods. Spouse doesn’t eat onions and tries to limit dairy. Polly Pocket is easily overwhelmed by new flavors, and I’m beginning to form the impression that she’s been exposed to approximately nothing before. The Techie doesn’t care for dinners without meat, and is used to cooking robust American meals with ingredients I can’t have. Z doesn’t care for bread. When I make a grocery list for my weekly trip I take all these things into account as well as who’s eating with whom on what night, what I already have in the pantry, and what the Techie and Z are likely to have on hand. My grocery list starts with a giant chart of meals.

 


*Monogamous people, by contrast, need communicate only in the three days around the new moon, and then only by means of interpretive dance.

**In fairness to Alabama, the only time I’ve been hit on at a family reunion was in Texas.

*** Reason #843 that the Gregory Peck/Richard Basehart Moby Dick is one of the finest films I know.

****Reason #579 that normative cis het monogamous relationships are a form of power exchange that’s maybe less than completely consensual. I’m not knocking negotiated D/s, I’m talking about assumptions of power and control brought to relationships because they’re normative and never challenged or discussed by their participants.

Possession

There’s an undercurrent to monogamous norms that bothers me on a fundamental level. I’m not saying it exists in every monogamous relationship, but the idea is prevalent. It’s so ingrained in the narrative of relationships that people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the alternative at all.

The idea is that your partner is *yours*. That being in a relationship means you get to control them. It isn’t even subtle. And it’s more than a little frustrating. Folks have no hesitation about making assumptions about how a relationship works, and starting a conversation without checking those assumptions in the least. In the last month folks have said to me or my partners:

“You let your husband date another woman?”
No. Spouse dates Polly Pocket. I am happy to be in a relationship with him. His relationship with her does not diminish that. I don’t let him do a damn thing; he’s an autonomous human being.

“Can I play with Spouse?”
How the hell would I know? Ask him! I would get this, if context were different. If she were making sure we didn’t already have plans together. But she knew we didn’t. She was asking me for permission to do something with him. I can’t consent for Spouse. I can’t negotiate for him. Those conversations have nothing to do with me.

“No, you want to have sex with her and that’s okay *but*…”
There were about forty caveats. There was hemming and hawing. I felt uncomfortable enough to offer to leave the room so they could hash it out. Almost awkward enough to say nevermind the sex, it’s not worth it. They’re a married couple who are poly, but that seems to mean something very different to her.

“It’s okay, I know I’m not enough for him.”
Bless your heart dear, he don’t need you. Not enough? Is sex like oxygen now? There has to be a certain supply or he’ll fall to the floor in a dead faint and never recover? Please. He don’t need you cause he don’t need anybody. He wants more sex than you do, fine, but that ain’t nothin’ to do with you being enough. Don’t stay and be unhappy because you felt inadequate, that’s good for nobody.

“You know your man’s making out with another woman over there?”
This was said to Z, and her answer was “yep, I make out with her too.” And she did, shortly after she got back to us with drinks. Good times.

“You got two beautiful redheads? You’s a lucky man!”
God, this one pissed me off. He’s lucky, but I’m not? She’s not? Last I checked the three of us were each with two sexy partners. Z and I aren’t the Techie’s harem. He didn’t catch us like fish and mount us on the wall. (Against the wall…that might be another story.) We’re each with him, we’re with each other, and nobody’s “got” anyone. Ain’t none of us trophies.

“Are you taken?”
God, the ways I want to answer this one. “Yes, thank God you asked, I’m a prisoner, please help!” “Oh, yes. As often as I can manage it, in ways you can hardly imagine.” I’m not quite that sarcastic, or quite that lewd. Almost, some days, but not quite. “Wrong question.” has become my go-to response, but I’ve been known to flash the wedding ring (and yes, reinforce the false assumptions about what it means) with the overly persistent.

Beyond things directed at us personally, I see things like this all the time in my Facebook feed:

20140428-010933.jpg

“How to keep your woman/man”:
Why do we need different lists for men and women? And imply all women want to cling like dryer sheets and men would rather not engage?
And don’t forget, relationships are for straight people who don’t understand each other because men and women are different species and/or lack common language. And of course, your partner is something to lure, catch, and keep, not a person to build a relationship with such that they want to be near you.

The core issue here isn’t monogamy. If two people decide to make their romantic and/or sexual bonds exclusive, good for them. The assumption, though, is toxic. The assumption is that a relationship (or at least a “serious” relationship) automatically strips a person of the right to make decisions about other relationships. The assumption (made explicit in some scripture) is that a relationship is not an agreement of two autonomous people but a single unit the members of which are incapable of decisions or actions regarding individual needs without securing the other’s permission. And all these helpful outsiders’ comments, no matter how well meaning, come from the assumption that possessive monogamy is the only valid format a relationship can hold. They undercut nonmonogamy.

disclaimer time
I’m not talking about agreed upon D/s dynamic here. Negotiated power exchange is awesome and absolutely ought to be respected. This ain’t about that. This is about norms that erase individual autonomy, that in effect project a specific power exchange onto persons in a relationship and treat them as though they fit it without bothering to treat them as individuals first. This is third parties projecting relationship norms onto everyone they meet and often refusing to listen when corrected.

What is “Normal,” Anyway?

So, you may have noticed that I’m a bit of a deviant. And by “a bit of a deviant” I mean the tagline of this blog is “sex at three standard deviations” for a reason. It’s mostly a joke. I picked three because I deviate from societal norms regarding sex in three major ways (kink, nonmonogamy, bisexuality), and threw in standard deviations on a whim/because I’m a bit of a nerd.

Figure 1: What the hell is this doing in a sex blog?
Figure 1: What the hell is this doing in a sex blog?

It still might be true, though. If you look at the normal distribution, you’ll see it’s divided into sections. If µ in the middle there is your mean, µ +/- one standard deviation is mathematically normal. If we were talking about men’s height in the US, average is about 5’10”, and a standard deviation is about 2.75″, so 68.27% of men will be between about 5’7.25″ and 6’0.75″. That’s our normal range. Between the first and second standard deviation, men who are 5’4.5″ to 5’7.25″ are likely to be considered short, while their analogues on the other side at 6’0.75″ to 6’3.5″ are tall. 95.45% of people should fall within this range. At 3 standard deviations, you’re down to 5’1.75″ or up to 6’6.25″. Only about 1/4 of a percent of men are going to be outside that range. It’s unlikely to pass without comment.

Behavior’s a bit trickier. You can’t treat a sexual identity and behaviors as just one thing, so say we take a persons kinks and preferences and plot each of them according to what proportion of the population shares them. Kissing is going to be well within the norm. Being waterboarded is going to be well outside of it. Sexual proclivities that 2.7 or fewer out of an average sample of 1000 people share are at three standard deviations.

bellcurve2
Figure 2: Placement of points does not represent the result of any research survey. Just threw ’em in at a guess for illustrative purposes.

That’s not to say a more common preference is better, or that a very uncommon one is an excuse for someone to crow about how kinky they are. It is freakish, sure, but only in the sense that it’s unusual. Value judgments based solely on how common a preference is are frankly just boring.

So what does it mean, to have a kink or preference further from the norm?

It can mean stigma.

Visibility helps with this: prevalence of LGBT persons in America varies by survey, but rests pretty firmly at or beyond 2 standard deviations (a recent Gallup poll puts the national average at 3.5%). There’s still rampant homophobia, but acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships is more common than not and trending upwards (more Gallup). Having an unusual kink or multiple partners still comes with the risk of social consequences if discovered. Normalizing a kink in terms of stigma needn’t mean convincing more people to enjoy it, just convincing them that it exists and folks who engage in it can be otherwise normal.

It can be harder to find partners who share your interests.

Again, some of this has been circumvented. We find each other. We have gay bars and clubs for those interested in same sex partners, BDSM groups for kinky folks, swingers clubs and poly meetups for swingers and poly folks respectively. We have the dark corners of the Internet. Still, less common means lower odds of meeting someone who shares whatever you’re looking for (and with whom you’re also compatible generally. That’s still important, obviously). Looking for a smart, nerdy straight or bi male to make out with? They are legion. Higher total number means higher number of potentially compatible ones. Yay! Looking for a smart, nerdy queer person who’s into waterboarding? Call me; I’m thisclose to giving up.

No partner is going to share every one of your preferences. There are too many possible variables, it’s just not going to happen. We prioritize, seek out the things without which we can’t feel satisfied with or properly connected to a partner.

It means thinking a little differently.

Being queer or poly or kinky means rejecting societal norms, to some degree. It can’t be done automatically, because the script isn’t provided for us. We have to think about it, challenge it, build our own systems and articulate our own ideas. We don’t always do the best construction, what with the lack of established blueprints and all, but we do what we can.

So what is normal anyway?

Normal is within 1 SD of the average. Normal is cisgendered and cissexual. It’s heterosexual. It’s vanilla. It’s monogamous. Normal is not better (though a certain subset of them certainly seem to think they are). Normal is not worse. Those of us who fall outside the norms aren’t anointed innovators and bringers of truth to the regular folks. It just means we’re different. Most of the time, I think I’m okay with that.

Loyal, Honest, Faithful

 

“Gotta set boundaries in life.
I’ve contemplated this whole poly/nonmonogamy thing that I’ve lived for so long.
It was a nice phase
but at the end of the day
I’m a nice girl
I’m loyal, honest, and faithful
When a man has my heart, I don’t want to look at anyone else
And I don’t give it away lightly or often.”

We aren’t close. We went out a few times, had a few scenes at parties, never really kept in touch in between. Not close enough that seeing her post this on Facebook should have led to such a strong sense of betrayal.

After all, we weren’t in a relationship. Her decision to focus on monogamy doesn’t affect me.

But her phrasing does.

“It was a nice phase.”

Nonmonogamy is not a valid long-term relationship paradigm.

It’s okay for people who aren’t looking for serious relationships. It’s sowing wild oats, having fun, but it can’t build anything real.

So many people seem to think this: that seeing and sleeping with multiple people is fine, but only until you pick one to settle down with. There’s a monogamous end-game, a belief that multiple partnerships automatically mean less.

It’s an idea that sets lovers in competition with each other for the chance to cement a relationship.

It means treating partners with less care, because no matter what we say, they’ll think the relationship can’t be important, emotionally involved, or built on real connections. It means we’re more likely to get hurt, when they decide to settle down with someone else. It means they won’t expect to have to let us down gently, will be surprised and unprepared by our reactions. To them, it’s no big deal. Be cool, it was just a thing.

If you do view nonmonogamy as a phase, or as a style not commensurate with forming ties, be up front about it. Be compassionate, if one or more partners you aren’t emotionally involved in falls for you. Don’t string anyone along, don’t lie, and don’t laugh when they offer you their hearts. It’s okay to turn it down, it’s always okay to turn them down, but gently, gently.

“I’m a nice girl.”

“Nice” girls are monogamous. Nonmonogamy is perverse, hedonistic, wanton, or cruel.

If they think nonmonogamous partners aren’t nice, what must they think of those of us who choose nonmonogamy and reaffirm that choice year after year? If we’re othered, diminished, perceived as lacking in moral capacity, how well do we expect to be treated?

I don’t trust people who say “I’m a nice person.” It’s such an easy defense to fall back on, when bad behavior is called out. They can’t deny the behavior, so they twist: “I’m not the sort of person who does that sort of thing!” They may not be malicious, but they lack the self-reflection and empathy required to score highly on the recently developed Nic’s Niceness Scale.

If you think nonmonogamous people aren’t nice, don’t date us. Don’t sleep with us. We deserve better from our partners, and you don’t want us anyway.

“I’m loyal”

Nonmonogamous people are disloyal.

A person can have multiple loyalties. Most do. Partners, family, friends, communities to which they belong, communities with whom they’re allied. Loyalty need not be exclusionary, and indeed, exclusionary loyalty often reflects a moral judgment on the excluded party. Think divorced parents: the ones that demand exclusionary loyalty want their kids to pick sides. Those who ask for loyalty that can be inclusive do not. It’s a less self-centered, more positive, less jealous way of thinking.

Anyone who doesn’t believe it’s necessary to be loyal to–that is, supportive of–all of their partners has no business forming partnerships in the first place.

If you think nonmonogamous people are disloyal, don’t date us. Don’t sleep with us. We deserve better than someone who will rescind loyalty once they find the “right” partner, and you don’t want us anyway.

“I’m honest”

Nonmonogamous people are dishonest.

I have trust issues. They’ve been validated, over and over again. I’ve been told Odysseus-level lies about relationships, seen promises broken and cowardly silences maintained. And every time a lie about partners has come up and I’ve gotten any kind of explanation for it, it’s been the same: “I thought you/she/they would leave if you/she/they knew about each other.” It’s because people assume that exclusivity is desired that they feel the need to hide the lack of it at all. It’s not okay, this assumption. It’s all kinds of insulting to those of us who truly don’t desire exclusivity. We’ve said we’re poly, we’ve said what that means, and you choose to believe–what? That it’s a lie? A trick? A trap? A self-delusion? Why would a person want to be in a relationship with someone they believed was lying about their entire relationship paradigm? The point of this, though, is that the lies aren’t caused by polyamorous ideas. They’re caused by monogamous ideas incompatible with polyamory. It’s a blood transfusion being rejected; the ideas are toxic in polyamorous context*.

If you think nonmonogamous people are dishonest, don’t date us. Don’t sleep with us. We deserve partners who will respect us and interact with us as individuals, and you don’t want us anyway.

“I’m faithful”

Nonmonogamous people are unfaithful.

This overlaps strongly with loyalty, but I’m addressing it separately anyway. Let’s talk about what being faithful actually means. It means constant, steadfast allegiance or affection. It means devotion, religious or human. It means dutiful and true to its object. Faithfulness does include exclusivity to one’s partner if that’s what a couple agrees to. Dutiful and true, to whatever agreement the relationship is based on. For those of us who are not monogamous, faithful means something else. It means steadfast affection, approaching our partners within a caring framework, and maintaining the ethical duties we all have to our partners. Those duties just don’t happen to include sexual or romantic exclusivity.

If you think nonmonogamous people are unfaithful, don’t date us. Don’t sleep with us. We don’t want the stress and misery that come with your misconceptions about our relationships, and you don’t want us anyway.

“When a man has my heart, I don’t want to look at anyone else. I don’t give it away lightly or often.”

Nonmonogamous people give their love lightly, often.

Love does not work that way. Our hearts are fragile. Poly people may share ours with more than one person at a time, that’s all. It’s still thrilling and frightening and terrible to fall in love**. Heartbreak still hits hard, and still makes us cautious of getting close to another person again. When someone has my heart, it doesn’t mean I forget or stop caring about others. It means that this person, no matter what, will be a priority. It means I will take time and effort to make them a part of my life as long as they want to have a place there. It means I will not take their presence for granted, will always be grateful for the moments they choose to share.

If you think nonmonogamous people feel love differently, or less, please think again. We may not fall in love with every partner. We may not fall in love with you. But we might. We deserve not to be treated as objects, even if we aren’t in love. You deserve not to be treated as an object, even if you aren’t in love.

 

* Note that I said in a polyamorous context. The ideas work fine in their own system–your blood for the most part is safe and healthy in your own body. The transfusion of those ideas to a system with which it is incompatible is what causes harm here. I’m not calling monogamy a disease or unnatural or toxic, I am saying that a simple incompatibility exists between some of its core precepts and the healthy practice of nonmonogamy.

**I do not have a healthy relationship with this process. Your mileage may vary.

DISCLAIMER

I don’t speak for all the poly people. Some folks probably think I’m wrong to varying degrees. That’s cool. Best to have a conversation about it before starting a relationship though, yeah?

Omne Trium Perfectum

She’s fucking me hard. Every thrust forces my face down on his cock, further than I think I can handle. With every thrust he tightens his grip on my hair. I’m choking. My throat tries to scream but there’s no air to scream with and his cock is gagging me. She’s fucking me hard and I can’t breathe and he’s groaning softly underneath me and it’s all too much, exquisitely too much. I pull my face away from him, struggle up to my hands gasping for air. “Sorry,” I mumble, and he laughs. “You think you have something to be sorry for?” His fingers fill my mouth before I can answer, not that I could have answered anyway.

Her lips are soft. She’s gentler than I’m used to. I’m trying not to smother her, resisting the temptation to make her struggle and writhe underneath me. Gentle is new, different, but then so is she, so is all of this and I’m mesmerized. All this softness can’t do more than tease but God, she doesn’t know that and for once I don’t want to say anything. Her eyes are closed. She looks focused. If she enjoys this half as much as I do then I don’t want her to change a thing. The mattress shifts a moment before I feel his hand on my hip. Her jaw slips open a fraction. Her tongue is suddenly insistent, her whimpers muffled by my cunt. Then he’s fucking her and her mouth presses into me harder. He sinks his teeth into my side, sends a shock through me from his mouth to hers. There are sounds, maybe even words coming from my throat but I don’t much care. She moans, her fingernails digging into my thighs, and it sends me over the edge.

I’m lying on top of her. She kisses slow and soft and earnest. I’m hungry for her, impatient. My teeth find her lips, her jaw, her throat. I don’t bite, just graze and drag my teeth across her. I glance up when my mouth reaches her breast. “Biting okay?” “Yes.” I bite her, not hard, not hard enough for the guttural sound in her throat and the sudden arch of her back. His fingers slide into me before I can pause to see what he’s done to her. He fucks both of us with his fingers while we writhe into each other. Her hand finds mine, brings it to her throat. I tighten my fingers, feel her shiver under the pressure. Her face changes, turns serene, almost vulnerable. I let go of her throat, feel her first shuddering gasp before I run my fingertips across her cheekbones, lips, and chin. We’re both breathing hard. I don’t know if I want to kiss her or keep watching her face. She meets my eyes. “Tell me when you’re close.” I nod. I’m already there, holding back because I want to feel this tension a moment longer. Now I realize she’s holding back for me, I want to draw it out further. I want to see her struggle against it. It doesn’t last long; I want to see her come. I say “just about now,” and within a moment I’m screaming and shivering. Her own shivering and moans follow. I kiss her, if you can call it kissing to devour the sounds she makes like this.

I straddle his face. She straddles his hips. At first she’s punching me, light blows to the scapula while we start to move. Then her hands are on my shoulders, pulling me to lean back. She bites my neck, slides one hand around my chest to pinch at a nipple. He bites down on my clit and I can’t think at all; I’m all spine and pain and too much pleasure. He bites harder, too hard. I’m shrieking in pain, twisting and pulling my body away which only makes it worse. This is too much, far too much. There’s a plea to make him stop just behind the next scream. I’m sure of it. I have no time to say it between one orgasm and the next.

We collapse. We had to, eventually. It’s been a long night, from dinner to hot tub to a long talk about the three of us, about how it’s going to work. Whether it can work at all. We don’t know, but the chemistry’s there and we do want to try. If the sex is any indicator, it’s worth trying.

For the best

“I never lost interest. You were the one who disappeared for months without a word.”

“Yeah, I know. It was probably for the best though.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, if I’d been distracted all the time–not that you’re a bad distraction–I’d never have been able to patch things up with Z.”

I see. I don’t have anything to say to that. I’m bruised from calf to shoulder, constellations of tiny black marks shining over my hips. My fingers probe them absently. I want to feel this as pain but I don’t; the beating went on too long and all I can feel now is a dull ache.

It was probably for the best.

I wonder if this is the first honest thing he’s said to me. I wonder why I’m not angry. I wonder if he has any idea what he just said.

He lied for so long. He may not even know how many lies he told, if it’s as automatic as it seems. He stopped talking for so long. He wasn’t here to see the panic, how easily I was reduced to hyperventilation and fear, how every word, every glance is chased by distorted shadows of ulterior motive. It was probably for the best for him. Not for me.

It takes a moment to parse how I feel. Pythons uncurl from defensive knots in my gut. Nausea, and a frightening sense of vulnerability. Except I’m not; for now, anyway, there’s nothing to fear. He’s just let me know he doesn’t care. He looks at me and I don’t know what he sees but it’s not human. I can be discarded, and he’ll sleep well. I can hold that close. It will keep me from doing anything stupid. For the first time in a long time, I can relax.

I don’t say anything. I unfold to rest in a long sprawl with my head on his shoulder. Nothing’s changed. I’m still unhappy, still care too much, still thinking thinking thinking as though it will do any good. But I’ve remembered how to move under my own power rather than succumbing to the whirlpool of his, and that’s something.

Nice Shoes

This woman fascinates me.

Let’s just call her Z. We’ve been spending a lot of time together. It’s a little awkward: she’s still seeing and living with the Techie, so I find myself trying to steer around my own emotional context when he becomes the topic of conversation. The night of awful conversation and confrontation seems to have knocked down a lot of barriers to completely frank conversation, so shy and awkward as we are, we’re still communicating more than I manage with most people. It’s kind of awesome. She’s super awesome.

I’m pretty damn attracted to her.

We played a bit, before all the nonsense went down in December. She and the Techie co-topped me one night, and we played around with clothespin zippers at a party. She made it clear her interest in doing toppy things at me wasn’t sexual. So we hang out, dye each other’s hair, bake, rearrange the house, talk too late. On Valentine’s day I brought her chocolate and the world’s most awkward card and we spent the evening alphabetizing erotic magnetic poetry. The last week or two, I’ve been over there late–I spent the night last Wednesday, and was there until almost 0300 this Monday. This meant seeing the Techie, which (damn it) is actually not awkward or unpleasant at all.

She’s gotten flirtatious. I figured this was a sign of her being more comfortable around me, not actual attraction, but I enjoy it anyway. I texted about having brownies in bed, joked that if I joined a monastery but could still have this kind of unabashed hedonism in the bedroom, that’d actually be kind of okay.

Z: “Or you could come over here…(this is my less than subtle attempt at seduction)” … “I even have a nun costume!”

Me: “yes you do. You have been quite clear previously about not having sexual interest in me. So this is my confused face.”

Z: “People change, and attractions. The more I get to know you, the more intimate the non sexual relationship becomes, the physical attraction has always been there, but the sexual attraction is new.”

Me: “…processing error…” [I’m so eloquent]

Z: ” >_> I uh…I’m…dammit.
That is…
I mean…
Nice shoes, wanna fuck?”

The thing is, I do. I probably shouldn’t, but I do. Because she makes me smile. Because she’s covered in ink (I can’t resist body art). Because she’s beyond resilient and I am completely in awe of her. Because anyone who can enjoy standing in front of a refrigerator alphabetizing magnets with me for over an hour is definitely my type.

I probably shouldn’t. Because she’s having continuing issues with the Techie, and while I’m not remotely interested in monogamy, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to form a new relationship if an existing one is thoroughly problematic. Because she lives with him, and I’m a little paranoid that if we were involved he might either become awkward and distant again or overly keen. Because I’m anxious and afraid.

We revisited the conversation, decided to put it on hold until her relationship with the Techie is more stable. It’s the right idea, but still frustrating and unnerving.

So of course we’re going to a play party tomorrow. We’ll hash out what I ought to bring in case we want to scene (now that I’ve organized all the toys). The plan is that I’ll likely spend the night in their spare room again.

Apparently I am very fond of subjecting myself to massive amounts of temptation.

Sleeping Arrangements

It doesn’t have to be a problem. It shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s a problem.

Spouse has been seeing this girl a few months now. The young one who used to date the Techie. Let’s call her Polly Pocket: she is adorable and just about pocket-sized.

We’re all going to a play party tomorrow night. We’re going to be out late–some parties I’ve barely hit the front door by dawn–and it doesn’t make sense to drive her all the way home and then turn around and go back to our place.

There are two logical options. (1) We can all take one car, Polly Pocket can come home with us, she and Spouse can share the bed and I can sleep in the living room. (2) We can take two cars, Spouse can go back to Polly Pocket’s place and spend the night, and I can come home and have the whole bed to myself.

Spouse wants to invent options 3-7 and get upset at me for not liking them. Option 3: we all three share a bed. Hell no. We tried it when she crashed here after the Techie debacle. I got up and moved to the couch. Too crowded, and I’m not a cuddler, and there was unfamiliar movement and breathing…ugh. There are very few people with whom I can share a bed and not be miserable. All of them are either partners/former partners or my sister. Option 4: Polly Pocket and I share the bed, Spouse takes the couch. This is ridiculous. They are both snuggly types, I am not. He is in a relationship with her, I am not. I don’t want to share personal space that closely with someone I’m not in a relationship with. Option 5: make Polly Pocket take the couch. I guess we could, but again with the snuggle compatibility and I don’t want to make her feel exiled. Option 6: I get the bed, they inflate the air mattress and sleep on the living room floor. This makes sense if I am an evil and insane person who will make Spouse and his partner sleep on a glorified pool raft that is likely to be punctured by bad cats in the night. Since I’m not, and it isn’t cat-proof, and loud to set up, and also this idea is crazy…no. Option 7: “I just can’t date anyone else this is too complicated.” *facepalm*

Spouse keeps saying it doesn’t seem fair to kick me out of the bed. He isn’t kicking me out, he’s not listening when I say I don’t want to be there. And yeah, this would’ve been more navigable if we still had a two-bedroom apartment, but we don’t. Sometimes I’m going to have to move over a little to make room for other people in Spouse’s life. It shouldn’t be a problem.

So why is it a problem?

Please let me just say “no.”

I’m sorry.

I’d have said it earlier if I’d known you were flirting.

I’m really dense about these things.

I think we’re better as friends.

Yes, I do like spending time with you.

No, it’s not because you’re fat or short or whatever it is you’re insecure about.

Yes, I think you’re pretty.

Why does it matter why?

I think we’re better as friends.

Maybe I’m happy with the way we are.

Maybe I don’t want to have sex with every friend I find attractive.

Maybe I’m scared of getting closer to you.

Maybe I don’t want to be closer to you.

Maybe I don’t have time.

Maybe I’m picky.

Maybe a more intimate relationship wouldn’t work because we’re glaringly incompatible.

Maybe not all relationships need to level up to maximum intimacy. You won’t get an XP bonus.

Maybe it doesn’t matter why.

Maybe you’re just not special.

Fuck, there’s no nice way to say that, is there.

I mean it when I say I’m glad to see you.

I smile when you text just to say hi.

I like you just fine.

But–

I could say the same about almost everyone in our social circle.

Maybe you’re just not special.

If you’re not special

(breath catching in my throat, fingertips twitching towards you almost without thinking, when my phone buzzes I hope it’s you, I call you before my own mother when something exciting happens in my life, on my mind like Willie Nelson *special*)

Don’t make me tell you.

Don’t make me hurt you.

Please let me just say “no.”

It doesn’t matter why.

I don’t want it. You can’t change my mind and I don’t want you changing yourself.

I like you as you are.

I like us as we are.

Please let me just say “no.”

Object

I don’t want to be treated as a sex object.

You might think that’s rather obvious, but it took me a long time to realize. I’m a very sexual person. Sex relieves stress, provides a space where I don’t have to think or worry or second guess every damn thing. With the right rapport, my focus shifts from mostly mind to nearly all body. Those times, I don’t care if you prefer William Hartnell to Tom Baker or what changes you think would most improve SNAP or what to do for dinner. All I care about is your body crashing into mine, a clawing fighting howling storm of limbs and breath and sweat and who knows, who cares whether that scream came from your throat or mine?

If we connect that well, I sure as hell ain’t thinking of you as an object. I don’t care if you look like a model. I’m not interested in shape so much as synapses. I want your reactions, your wide-eyed gasping for breath, your words pleading growling laughing in my ear. I want the unique perfume of your skin, the taste of your mouth, the peculiar intensity of your hands so unlike anyone else’s.

Right now, this is why I’m not falling into bed with anyone new. A few friends have offered (one lovely man often and creatively, the poor dear). I’m not pretty, really, but I am a tall, thin ginger with great shoes. It’s enough to get noticed at the club. I could be playing at parties. It would be easy. But I don’t want to play with, for instance, the submissive man who isn’t interested in pain but loves bondage and humiliation. Who thinks any scene would be a fantasy come to life just because he’s impressed by my figure in a corset. It unnerves me to think how quickly that interest would fade once the make-up’s washed off, or if I smiled and they saw the scars. I don’t want to be interactive porn. We’d both walk away disappointed.

I’m too cautious, right now, to stop thinking. With Spouse, or if the Fireman and wife were around, sure. But I don’t think I can let my guard down enough to feel muscles better and nerves more with someone new. The Fireman’s wife says it’s sad, that I’m with just Spouse while he’s seeing other people. It’s unusual, certainly. The circumstances–my split with the Techie so close to Spouse starting to see the Techie’s ex–could have been better. But no, it isn’t sad. It would be sad to seek out a partner just for the sake of having one, to treat someone else as an object or to be treated like one.

Now if I could just convince my brain to stop thinking it would be highly entertaining to tease and/or electrocute friends, that’d help.