Tag Archives: communication

Be a Better Lover

It’s not about lasting longer. It’s not about a set of techniques.

I love the idea of getting someone so turned on they can’t hold back from orgasm for more than a moment. So when a man (it’s always a man) tells me he’s deliberately holding back an orgasm to “be a better lover” or “because I don’t want to be selfish,” I want to tear my hair out. “Better lover” looks like code for proving some kind of masculinity or winning an internal endurance contest, not about a partner’s pleasure. Most women don’t orgasm due to penetration alone at all–prolonging it isn’t going to eventually overcome the secret barrier to unlocking her orgasm-from-penetration, it’s just going to chafe eventually. I am one of the ones who can get off that way, but that doesn’t mean I want endless PiV intercourse (see chafing above).

Another common “better lover” technique that has to have high failure rates is taking something that worked with another partner or partners, or something seen in porn, read about in Cosmo, whatever, and ignoring its effectiveness on the actual person you’re in bed with. If a partner stops you, says or signals that something doesn’t feel good, or just doesn’t respond positively to something, odds are it’s not super amazing for that partner. And for god’s sake if your partner says “that’s not working/I don’t like that,” stop doing it. Don’t just obliviously continue. Don’t try again after a few minutes. Just stop. The last time I was with one partner he kept trying to do this uncomfortable two-finger thing to my clit while we were fucking, even after a “that’s making me cringe. Not good.” I’m not real keen on sleeping with him a next time, no matter how exciting his other partners find it. And don’t act like your partner is malfunctioning if they don’t like Magical Finger Technique #3 that was so great with your girlfriend six years ago. You wouldn’t sulk or suggest something’s wrong with a partner who doesn’t eat shrimp just because six-years-ago-girlfriend loved them, would you? Why is sex different?

If you want to be a better lover, stop listening to magazines and ads that tell you what women like or what men want. They’re useless. Listen to your partner. No woman is the amalgam Woman of a Cosmopolitan magazine poll. Ask what they want, listen to the answer, and (unless it crosses some boundary of yours) do that thing. Listen to feedback. Improve. If one of my partners did all the things that I find fucking amazing in bed to someone else, the most common response would be along the lines of “Jesus fuck what is wrong with you? Slow down! Not so hard!” If someone tried slow, sensuous, light touches with me and didn’t escalate relatively quickly…I’d probably suggest we watch a movie instead. There’s no manual. There are no cheat codes. There’s just talking and trying and finding what works.

Bogeyman in a Red Dress

If there’s one toxic, terrifying thing that (straight) monogamy normalizes, it’s the idea that a partner’s friends are a sexual or romantic threat.

You know. The idea that friendships men and women can never be “benign”. The assertion that these friendships will destroy your marriage. The idea that unless it’s couples being friends with couples as a unit, opposite-sex friendships should peter out as romantic relationships become stable. That men and women can’t be “just friends.”

I had to go three pages deep in Google to find one article saying opposite-sex friendships were sometimes maybe okay for people in relationships*, and that one still said there was always going to be sexual tension. It calls that tension and jealousy a bonus–keeps partners on their toes.

So those of you who agree with this. I got a question.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

Are you literally sexually attracted to every person of your preferred gender?

Really?

If so, don’t you dare ever call bisexuals “sex maniacs” again; your sexuality is clearly an all-encompassing fetish. Seriously. I’m a sex-blogging bisexual with an extraordinarily high sex drive and a preference for multiple partners–and the idea of being attracted to or having a potential relationship with every person I connect with as a friend, even if we restrict to similar ages, sounds absurd.

But fine. Lets say for the sake of argument that any person of one’s preferred gender is a potential partner. If circumstances were different, if they were single, if the right song had played or rain or one too many drinks had pushed them together years ago. If sometime in the future things were different. Of course there are people we wonder that about. Of course it makes sense to acknowledge that potential is there.

We also need to acknowledge that it’s only potential. That friends are capable of choosing to stay friends, that it’s a continual process, and what might have been or what could be are not what you choose, because you value the friendship that is. Banning people from having friends on the off chance that any given friendship could turn into a sexual or romantic relationship based on the slightest hint of desire makes no sense. Anyone with the barest shred of reasonable humanity knows better than to act on every impulse.

If someone is going to cheat,they’re willing to break the agreements of your relationship. Period. It’s not because they were tempted, it’s not because that woman they’ve known since college has been turning up the heat, inching up her skirt and moving too close by increments until he had an affair without realizing it. The cheating partner chose to cheat. Period. Every time. The person or people they cheat with may or may not have known it was an affair. They may or may not have known you existed at all. And if they knew, then yes, they did a shitty thing. But they’re an accomplice. Your partner cheated. Your partner broke an agreement with you. That is not okay. Imposing a rule isolating partners from friends isn’t going to stop them from breaking the relationship agreement and cheating, it just adds another layer of lying and hiding to the formula. If they’re willing to cheat, restricting friendships will not stop them.

Restricting any kind of access to close to half the human population (or all of it, for bi folks) is a pretty extreme form of social isolation.

Isolating partners is necessary for partner abuse. Isolating partners is a form of partner abuse.

I don’t want to hear “It’s for their own good.” You don’t make decisions for adults that are “for their own good.” That suggests they don’t have the ability to make good decisions themselves. It’s demeaning.

I don’t want to hear “It’s a slippery slope.” Your partner will either be honest with you, or they won’t. They will either respect the agreement of your sexual and romantic exclusivity, or they won’t. In either case, it’s unreasonable to ban behaviors that are not inherently problematic to prevent the risk of those that are.

I definitely don’t want to hear “They shouldn’t need anyone but me.” They shouldn’t need you. If you’re isolating your partner to ensure they can’t leave you without being totally, horribly alone, you’re abusing them.

And “It’s not that I don’t trust my partner, I don’t trust those other people” is a lie. It is that you don’t trust your partner. Your partner will not cheat accidentally. If your partner has a friend who is pursuing sex or romance despite knowing that would violate their relationship agreement, then yes, it makes sense to discuss your concerns with your partner, over how they’re setting boundaries and whether their friend respects them. It doesn’t make sense for this discussion to conclude “no friends with this whole gender, ever.”

“My partner can’t have friends of the opposite gender” means “I don’t trust my partner.” That may be fair. They may not be trustworthy. People do cheat, and lie, and the rest. The truth is, people sometimes cheat. If they do, it might mean they’re planning to leave you. It might not. (They might just be lying scumbags who feel entitled to treat partners as things. Why don’t you want them leaving again?) If they cheat, you need to decide how you want to handle that. And it’s hard. It’s fucking hard. I don’t wish it on anyone. If they leave you, of course I offer sympathies. Being dumped is horrible and you deserve ice cream…but they have every right to leave. You have every right to leave. Relationships have to be voluntary. Isolating partners to prevent them being scumbags won’t work, and preventing them leaving (probably) won’t work and it’s abusive if it does.

Oh, and polyamorous people do it, too. “You can play with/fuck/date other people but I can end it/you need my permission.” When rules for protocol surrounding a behavior become more important than the behavior itself…it leads to problems.


 

* Hello, heteronormativity! “relationship advice” is for straight people, unless it says “gay” in the title, and bisexuals just need to pretend they’re [orientation that people assume based on current partner] and use advice for that group.

Nah, Bro.

We’re talking about burlesque. He says he’s never been.I fill him in on some of the acts around town, show him a particularly creative costume.

“Wanna ask her for a threesome?” I’m jarred. Neither of us has expressed any kind of attraction to the other. It seems out of nowhere.

“She and I are just two. Sad story. And sweetie, when I sleep with straight boys they don’t get to jump straight to the boss levels. They gotta earn it.”

“Oh god I’m kind of afraid”

“Right answer.”

“Didn’t say I wasn’t interested”

“Damning with faint praise.”

“Just saying. I do think you’re really attractive ūüôā and I think you’d be fun!”

“Thank you, and yes, quite.” (Modesty? What’s that?)

“I’d try anything at least once.”

“See, that shows lack of imagination.”

“Want to share some imagination with me?”

We have a mutual friend who knows–well, I don’t know how much about my proclivities, but enough. (He can read this. I don’t ask whether he does.) Maybe this kid knows what he’s asking to get into, but I doubt it. So I tell him I’m into kinky stuff, that I don’t mean fuzzy handcuffs and 50 Shades of Grey. I’m not impressed with anything about his approach, but I’d be willing to at least have a frank discussion of compatibilities with a large subset of my social group.

“I kind of want to try it..” So much for frank discussion. Bear in mind that my phrase of choice was “I’m into kinky stuff.” I have no damn idea what he kind of wants to try, and I suspect he doesn’t either.

“Why?”

“Just sounds like something different. I want to see what it’s like.
I’m really interested.”

“…in you’re not sure what. For you’re not sure why. I hope you understand my skepticism.”

This approach annoys me for a few reasons. “I’ll try anything once” means “it doesn’t occur to me that you might want to try something I’m not into.”It focuses on his willingness to peruse a free sample tray of anything I can think of, and doesn’t acknowledge that creating those samples involves my time and energy and emotional labor, plus some degree of vulnerability. A person absolutely has the right to reject scenes and revoke consent, I’m not saying that planning kinky play obligates someone to go through anything with me. I am saying I’m not going to get my hopes up or waste my time and effort when I don’t see any likelihood of appreciation for any of it. I’m not in the mood to be told I’m a disgusting freak for playing with electricity, bruises, tears. I’m well past willing to deal with young men recoiling from the idea of strap-on play because they think it’s gay. He says he’ll try anything once…but that’s obvious and utter bullshit.

His vague, ill-conceived interest is 100% about using me to fulfill a curiosity. Not once does he say anything that acknowledges my enjoyment might be a factor. Sex and kink are about shared experience. Feeding off of each other, mutual enjoyment. I want to get my partners off. I expect them to want to get me off. I look for collaboration and intensity with partners. He seems to be hoping I’ll provide a service.

Last week I had pretty much completely vanilla sex…and it was good. I’d rather fuck someone with no hint of sadism or masochism or power exchange who’s clearly invested in getting me off and savoring the experience than play tour guide to the land of kink for some bro who really just hopes I’ll stop talking and get naked already.

So nah, bro. I’m good.

First

We didn’t have a plan.

I hate that.

It’s the afternoon of my last day in my hometown. I’m spending it with a very old friend, someone about whom I could easily say “we have nothing in common,” but we’re both here and I’m glad for it.

It’s a shock to see him drinking, though I know it’s not new. He laughs at that. Drinking isn’t all: apparently he’d decided–planned, even–to have sex outside of marriage. Plans fell through, but still, it was within the realm of possibilities. I ask about it–what changed, why he hadn’t sought other opportunities.

He says “It’s a lot easier for a pretty girl to just decide to have sex than for someone like me,” I know he’s turned down women before, so that isn’t all of it.

“Well, I’m right here, if you want to change that.”

His body language closes, tilts away. For a moment I’m not sure if he’s going to ask me to leave. “I can’t tell if you mean that seriously or not.”

“Yes, it’s a serious offer. I’m available, I wouldn’t want any kind of relationship–I’m driving four states away first thing in the morning.”

“What would you get out of it?”

“I like being responsible for people’s firsts–I don’t just mean sex. They look at you like you’re magic.”¬† Well, that, and I’d get laid, same as you.

He’s undecided. I don’t want to push (well, I do want to, because “maybe”s drive me nuts, but I know better). So we talk about other things.¬† Fail to decide what to do about dinner, drink too much to go get anything.

His roommate texts “Almost fifteen years of this, just have sex with her already.” It should annoy me, because fifteen years ago we had zero sexual tension. Hell, last year we had zero sexual tension. But today it is on the table and I can’t help but laugh.

Eventually it’s late enough I need to think about driving home. I ask if he’s hoping he won’t have to decide, just default to “no” when I leave. He says that’s not the case. Doesn’t say what is.

“Come here.” I pull him up next to me to kiss him. This is not how I kiss. This is a shadow, not a storm. I am giving him space, asking if it’s okay without a hint of teeth or claws (yet). This is not the storm but I can feel it, am greedy for it, there is something of thunder in every moment he says yes to.

Afterwards, I worry. Was I too pressuring? Might there be psychosocial effects he wouldn’t have predicted? I’ve had a lot of partners. (He didn’t ask how many, and I’m glad, because I don’t know.) Sex is something I enjoy, and yes, it’s a big deal but there’s nothing more attached to it than that. For him, it was a first, and I’m a little unsure why he said yes to it at all, least of all to me.

Turns out he was willing to answer that in a lot of detail:

Okay, why I said yes to you.¬† Honestly, part of it was that I had already said yes to somebody else.¬† Even though that didn’t happen, the fact was that I had already made the decision that it was something I was willing to do.¬† When I agreed to it with [redacted]’s ex, it was for a few reasons.¬† I found her attractive, yes, but much more important was how we’d had such an intimate relationship for so long that I wasn’t afraid of being embarrassed with her, and we were also in no danger of either one of us falling for the other and thus complicating things.

By complete coincidence, you just happen to meet those precise criteria as well, making you exactly the one other person in my life with whom I could imagine having sex with outside a committed relationship.¬† I didn’t realize that until you made the offer.¬† In fact, it hadn’t even occurred to me before that, though it seemed immediately obvious as soon as you said something.

I wanted to quell your fears over this, too.¬† I don’t want you to worry at all about leading me to do anything I was not prepared to do.¬† I’ve said that I’m responsible for my actions and I mean it; even had you come over with the express purpose of sleeping with me and you went into full seduction mode to get what you wanted, it still would have been my decision whether or not I’d do so.¬† Girls have done that, so I know I’m capable of saying no.

What I didn’t tell you at the time is that I’d been seriously considering it since you first offered, and I decided to go through with it the moment you pulled me onto the bed.¬† The whole time you thought I was afraid to take the next step was really just me stalling for my own sake.¬† I’d made my decision, but I wanted to give myself time to see if I’d get freaked out while I still had the chance to back out.¬† I’m sorry you had to put up with my insurance plan, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t getting into something I’d regret.¬† When I finally said yes, that wasn’t me deciding I was ready to actually have sex.¬† That was me deciding I’d had enough time to change my mind on the decision I’d already come to.¬† No second guessing ever came up, no moments of serious trepidation in the hours since saying yes in my head, so I went ahead and said yes outside my head too.¬† I don’t want you to think I got caught up in the moment.¬† I decided long before the moment, then gave myself all that pre-moment time just in case.

And even though I’d never have thought of you as someone to have my first time with, in a way I’m glad that it was you.¬† You were always there for me all those years ago, even while you were going through far worse than I was.¬† Even if we’ve obviously drifted apart in the intervening years, you were probably the first person I was ever truly–albeit not physically–intimate with.¬† Somehow it feels appropriate that you were the first I was fully physically intimate with as well.¬† Perhaps that’s silly of me.

I know it wasn’t a big deal for you and I’m perfectly okay with that, but obviously it was kind of a big deal for me.¬† [Redacted] asked me today if I was happy I did it.¬† Happy is not the right word; it did not make me happy.¬† Neither did it make me unhappy.¬† Instead, I’d say I’m content with it.¬† It wasn’t some huge life-changing event or anything. I still feel like the same person, and I’m glad for that.¬† But I’m also relieved.¬† I’ve spent the last few years growing increasingly doubtful about my decision to wait, and now all that pressure, all that doubt and worry that’s been weighing on me is gone.

And that’s not even including long-familiar worries about my potential performance.¬† I know I was far from amazing, but unless you were merely an incredibly convincing actress, I feel okay about what I managed for a first time.¬† Perhaps with practice I can eventually become truly decent, though I imagine that day is still long in coming.

Whether I should have done it or not I cannot conclusively say (though I certainly don’t regret it now), but in the end that almost doesn’t matter.¬† The decision was made, it’s over, and there’s no sense worrying about it anymore.¬† So for helping me with that, I am genuinely grateful.

Oh, and it was really fun too.

All that said, I don’t want this to change our relationship because I value it greatly (yes, even despite the infrequent contact).¬† I’m fine with referencing it or joking about it or whatever; I feel no need to hide from what we did, but I also don’t want it to define our relationship.¬† I realize you probably weren’t worried about that, but I tend to overthink things.¬† I was thrilled to see you and I would have been entirely happy about that day even had we not slept together, and I’ll be just as happy to see you or talk to you again even with no expectation that it will ever happen again.

Okay, I think I’m done with this painfully long and meandering text.¬† TL;DR:¬† I loved seeing you, and I thoroughly enjoyed having sex with you.¬† I’m glad you came, and I’m glad you came.

In Time, With Trust

“I’m not saying I expect to just jump into something like that. But in time, with trust.”

But I don’t trust. I won’t trust, don’t even want to.

“I’m going to be trustworthy. What you do with that is up to you.”

You say that. You might think you mean it, even, but I can hear what you really mean. Do the right thing, the kind thing, the reasonable thing. Trust me. I’m worth it. I’ve earned it. Trust me.

I don’t. I don’t want to.

He will stand in the cold. They all do, for a little while. “Trust me,” and they’ll watch for me to open the door. “Trust me,” and they don’t understand why I haven’t yet, how I can laugh with them and flirt with them, fuck them and be fond of them but never let them in. “Trust me,” and it’s colder now, the cold that makes lips and voices and resolve crack. “Trust me,” and their blood is in the words, an offering, a plea, an accusation. “Trust me,” but I can’t. I will come outside, offer my body to keep them warm but it’s not enough. It’s not the cold, not really. They just want to see inside. To see if it’s all that they’ve imagined. “Trust me,” and I know I won’t because it does not break my heart to hear it. “Trust me,” and when I tell you the last time and the first time nearly ruined me, do you understand how sick it makes me that you expect me to just believe that you would be different?

“Trust me.” I don’t know why they want it, or what they expect to see. If they’re just curious. If because I am good–very good–at showing them how to sort and store their feelings, they think I should offer them a closet or a chest of drawers. If they just hear “I don’t trust easily” as a challenge, a way to prove they are special. I don’t know what they see but what I see is the aftermath. I see the day I am left to clean the junk of them from all my drawers, the repairs that will take years because they will have been careless.

I don’t trust easily. Asking, demanding, wheedling will not make it easier. All I see is testing doors, then. All I want to do is check the locks.

You have my permission not to love me. I am a cathedral of deadbolts, and I would rather burn myself down than change any of the locks. – Rachel McKibbens

Bluebeard’s Castle

It’s a rare thing for anyone to admit dark fantasies unfiltered. Ferns wrote about sharing them in Darker, and God, it’s beautiful. Not for me the gore but the intimacy. The vulnerability. Above all the oh-thank-fuck moment of seeing that I’m not the only person whose desires veer out to sea.

Sharing fantasies carries risk. We can horrify, alienate, become suddenly sick and dangerous in a lover’s eyes. Here’s a conundrum for you: we’re supposed to be able to open every locked door. Someday, at least, to someone. Can we? Without leaving them lost, trapped, forever changed?

There are fantasies I don’t talk about. They frighten me. They go dark places I’ve never dared tell a partner about. I get off imagining games I never intend to play (but oh, God, do I want to).

How do I talk about the things I hide?

How far can Judith walk in Bluebeard’s castle?

I’ve been texting someone I knew a long time ago. Intensely. Pulling at each other with so much greed across two thousand miles that insist later, later, patience, later. So what do we have to share but photographs and fantasies? And while we can’t touch, do we have to worry so much about what could be real and reasonable? There’s some caution. It’s hard to hit send without wondering, is this what you want? will you still want me when you’ve seen the torture chamber, the armory, the treasury all shining with blood? But there’s a thrill to it, isn’t there?

I’m greedy. He offers a fantasy: Please select a level of violence from 1 to 10, with 1 being vanilla and 10 being emergency services.

I suggested seven. I know it’s asking to open a door, anything over five, and I wonder if he will. What he told me was hot enough to make me tremble (though I’d have likely ranked it at a four). But he also said this: “seven sounds reasonable. I don’t have any that are ten, I don’t think.”

And here I check the locks. Because I do. I have tens and twelves and maybe a fifteen. Do you think violence stops at EMS? That there’s no want feral enough to raze and ruin until there’s nothing left to save? How many stories do we have where desire ends in death, in war?

Will you still want me when you’ve seen the torture chamber? The armory?

We all have locked rooms. They keep us safe. Time and pain and betrayals make us wary of letting people in. Who has the keys to which of our doors, who may walk where unsupervised, how do we handle it when someone tries a door to a room we aren’t ready to invite them into?

It isn’t just violence that hides. There are fantasies I’d rank an eight on that scale but never voice, one that grazes ten that I have. There are other kinds of darkness, thoughts that dare not be illuminated. And always when they cross my mind there’s that terrified flicker behind them–what if I were to say them aloud? What if I were one day to cross that unspeakable line? What would it take?


 

If you’re interested in fiction that plays on the darkest edge of the erotic, some of the stories in Joel Lane’s The Lost District can take you there.

Bartok’s opera of Bluebeard’s Castle is well worth a listen, if you’re wondering about those doors and keys. It is genuinely chilling, exactly as it should be.

Keep Private Lives Private

“Why label it? Keep private lives private. It’s none of anybody’s business.”

I talk about bisexuality a lot. It’s relevant to my work and current research as well as personally important. It makes my family uncomfortable. Why do I have to bring it up? Why talk about it? Why do we even need the word bisexual, who needs labels, can’t people just live their private lives privately and leave the normal folk out of it?

This argument has lost a great deal of its power against mainstream monogamous gay and lesbian couples. They form meaningful long term relationships, get married, have kids. While homophobia remains pervasive, the particular argument that it doesn’t need to be discussed–keep the x-rated stuff in the bedroom thanks–has been delegitimized. Homosexuality is (again largely, not universally) recognized as a full social experience with the kind of reach that can’t simply be confined to the bedroom. It is just as patently absurd to ask a gay man not to mention his partner in casual conversation as it would be to tell a straight man not to bring up his girlfriend in the same context. Most of the contexts in which we mention partners are not sexual. If they were, no one would ever ever meet their in-laws.

Bisexuality, on the other hand, remains sexualized. Asking us to remain in the closet because private lives should be private is only reasonable given one or more of several false and very offensive assumptions:

1 We do not have the full, rich social experience of relationships such as straight or gay people do. We have only frivolous/deviant sexual ones.

2 If we have a long-term monogamous relationship with a person of another gender, we are heterosexual. If we have a long-term monogamous relationship with a person of our own gender, we are homosexual. If we are polyamorous, it is held up as proof that we can’t commit/are promiscuous.

2a If we end a relationship with a person of one gender, and the next one that develops is with a person of a different gender, we “left him for a woman/left her for a man!” This is said even if months of being single elapse between. Inevitably, people will argue that the former relationship ended because we were “really straight/really gay” all along.

2b If we end a relationship with a person of one gender and the next relationship that develops is with a person who shares that gender, we’re told we’re definitely only interested in that gender.

3 Any casual statement that hints at attraction to a gender other than that of our current partner reveals intent to leave or cheat on that partner. This includes, but is not limited to, such normal everyday activities as referring to exes in conversation, commenting on the attractiveness of actors/actresses, and having an authentic response to the constant barrage of gendered and sexualized messages in advertising, tv and film plots, and pretty much everything else.

Finally, bi people often date straight or gay people. Society assumes people are attracted to only one gender. “Why use a label” means “don’t come out even to your partners.” Keep it in the bedroom, in a locked box under the bed and never, ever share who you are even with those you love.

Eschewing labels is only a useful strategy for people who have no need of labels; that is, about whom incorrect assumptions are not made. If we do not name ourselves, others will not stop pushing these assumptions about our behavior and moral character. The only effect not identifying as bi would have is to prevent us talking about the stigmas we face and the effects they have.

Coming out isn’t making public what should be private. It isn’t sexual at all. Sexuality pervades nearly every aspect of life. Relationships are our conversation, gossip, stress; they’re fundamental to film plots and nearly every song; they significantly impact our social standing. People make assumptions: that whoever they meet is straight, generally, or that they’re monosexually attracted to whatever gender their current partner is. It’s possible to let these assumptions slide, and sometimes safer (I’m not attacking people who choose not to come out; that’s no one’s call but their own). The assumptions aren’t made with intent to harm. There’s no intent to them at all. But they do complicate the landscape that we have to navigate every day. So nah, I’m gonna keep talking about it.

In which I fail, and fail, and fail

“Did you want to try to have sex, before I go?”

I don’t know. That is, I don’t, but I don’t know why I don’t. I’m frustrated and lonely and I crave sexual touch. It’s been months. “I don’t know. No, I think–” I’m inarticulate, nervous. Is it going to be a fight, if we don’t? Is it going to be a fight if we do?

“It doesn’t have to be like standard PIV. You could fuck me, or try punching or electricity. If you need to feel in control.”

My gut twists. I don’t want, not at all. It’s visceral, shocking. I am not like this. I’m babbling. I say definitely no but I’m trying to explain and it doesn’t make sense. I have to say it three times before he understands.

“What about just kissing? You like kissing.”

I do. It’s been months. I feel pressured and miserable and scared mostly, afraid because there’s a delay between reaction and reason. I can feel it, the gap. What I want/don’t want is inchoate and the words I give it feel like excuses, like lies.

I’m trying. I don’t want to say no because I want to want it, because I think maybe the fear will dissipate and excitement can take its place if I just try. Like riding a roller coaster.

It doesn’t work, the kissing. I try. My body wants to fold into itself, there’s no enjoyment, but I try. And then I can’t. I bury my face in his shoulder and apologize.

Questions. “Why” and “what’s going on” and on and on. It feels like pressure. I feel like I deserve it. I snap at him. I don’t want questions I just want to curl up quiet and alone. He deserves answers, it isn’t fair, but my mind isn’t clear enough. So I snap. So we fight.

He only suggested it because I said I was frustrated the night before. He thought I was pressuring him. I thought he was pressuring me. He pulls apart my words and calls them inconsistent. I don’t see it, don’t know how to explain.

This is what I mean by not working.

Missing Piece

I’m lonely. I miss you.

The words are wrong. How do you say them? To whom? Words communicate. Loneliness is is what happens when you can’t. We have a word for which there can be no word. It feels broken to say, a message without a receiver, but what else can you do? You say them. Not to communicate, to confess.

I’m lonely. I miss you. Pointless. Utterly pointless.

I said them anyway.

Scenes from a Break-Up

Z and I broke up. It wasn’t pretty. The conversation followed a couple of weeks of silence and a passive-aggressive facebook post, so it was obvious where it was going to lead. Still. It wasn’t pretty.

Z: “I assumed you were lying and trying to manipulate me.”

I understand this fear. I don’t understand how it excuses her lying to and manipulating me. She feels paranoia and mistrust, she decided it was true, she decided not to say it, and she decided to treat me differently based on those feelings. She decided I was lying to her. That I wasn’t invested in a relationship with her. She closed off to the relationship in response to that fear. She didn’t tell me. It’s long standing (I’ve written about it before), and we’d discussed it more than once at length.

Z: “So if I think you’re manipulative, I shouldn’t stay in a relationship, but you don’t trust either of us. Shouldn’t you not be in a relationship?”

She may be right. My trust issues are severe. I’ve hidden things I shouldn’t, and a part of the problem that led to this most recent mess came out of that. I wasn’t being open about my mental state or the effects of illness. I’m not being open about them here, even, and you folks don’t know who I am. I hide in closets sometimes, or in my car. It’s probably not healthy.

The difference, as I see it, is how we respond to fear. I am always afraid. Anyone who is allowed to get close is close enough to cause hurt, and that thought is never far away. I try not to make decisions based on fear. If I have to–if I can’t think straight anymore and terror becomes certainty and the floor falls out–it’s not an excuse to attack. It’s not an excuse to lie. It means I’m leaving.

Z: “Every time you say you want someone else, what I hear is ‘not enough, not enough, not enough.'”

This wasn’t directed towards me. It’s not the first time she’s said it. Not enough. That may be what she hears, but that’s not what is being said. I’ve always found this line of thinking particularly childish and narcissistic. “If same-sex marriages are legitimized, my heterosexual marriage means less.” “If you’re bi, you can only half-like me.” “If you want other partners, it’s because you don’t want me.” No. No. NO. Look, I get that we’re told to believe this basically from birth, because that’s a major tenet of the theory of One True Love. In reality? “I want to be in another relationship also” doesn’t say she’s not enough. It doesn’t mention her at all. The need to make herself the subject of a sentence or topic that has nothing to do with her is kind of baffling.

Also, she was dating both of us. Does she translate her own behavior the same way? Were we each not enough for her? Or did she never consider us to be in a relationship?

Z: “You’re saying this is all my fault.”

I wasn’t, and I don’t believe that. “I’m saying your choices and your behavior are your fault. And my behavior is mine.” If she doesn’t tell me there’s a problem, she’s not giving me the option of addressing it. But that doesn’t erase anything I’ve done wrong, of course not.

Me: “You’re important¬† to me. I’d like to know we could still spend time together, but I don’t see how a romantic relationship could work.”

Z: “It can’t.”

I respect the hell out of her for being blunt there. I should have been, and I chickened out; softened it to uncertainty even though there was no doubt that this needed to end.¬† Maybe I felt I’d been harsh and unkind enough in the hours leading to this, but more likely it was plain cowardice. It is not kind to leave the burden of saying what needs said on someone else, and I did.

 

As we left it, she and the Techie are still together. In theory, so are he and I. I’m wary: if she can’t be happy with polyamory and he can’t be happy with monogamy, it seems to be a pretty clear recipe for misery unless one of them changes their mind or they split up. In the meantime, I’m in a real good spot for collateral damage. But that’s hardly new.

 

Obviously this is only a few snippets of the conversation, the comments that most upset me. Obviously this is only my interpretation and perspective. I’m upset. These are patterns I don’t find acceptable and I am known for showing little compassion and no flexibility when faced with things I don’t find acceptable. It means there’s a fundamental incompatibility. It doesn’t mean she’s a monster or a villain or a Bad Person. I’m not interested in any support/commentary that feels the need to say she is.