Old Attitudes and New Developments

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about our poly venture, mostly because there hasn’t been much to report. Our baby is growing (along with my belly) and we have both been too busy with our  businesses to even think about meeting people. Our OKCupid profile has been inactive for a couple of months and we have just been living our lives, spending time with our dogs (who are about to have puppies) and trying to relax when we’re not working.

However, we are still building a great foundation of openness, honesty and trust for that time when we are ready to venture out into other people’s lives (or beds, or both). Not that we have it all down yet. Right before I recently flew home to visit friends and family, I was talking to my ex-boyfriend about meeting up at a drum circle with some other friends, and I had this phone conversation right in front of my current boyfriend since I have nothing to hide and no ulterior motive–visiting with my ex is purely platonic.

However, when I got off the phone, my man asked, “Who was that?” to which I replied, “[Ex’s name].” Then he said, “Oh, that guy you fucked?” I know he does this partly to playfully irk me, but it shows his traditional attitude that anyone who previously put their penis inside his current woman is somehow an enemy. I sighed and said, “Why do you have to say it like that? We dated for two years, so yeah we had sex a couple times.”

And it’s not like this is the first time I’ve seen my ex since my man and I have been together, because I see him every time I go back to Dallas to visit, because he is a close friend of mine–and our relationship was hardly sexual even when we were together so it’s not like we’re hanging out for that reason. I think that most of the time it’s silly to cut ties with exes and have tried to remain friends with most of them when they are willing. That goes for people I’ve had casual sex and/or long-term “fuckbuddy” relationships with. To be honest, if I didn’t stay friends with people I’ve dated or slept with, I wouldn’t have many friends!

Anyhow, spending a few hours with my ex was really a non-issue, and I know his old attitude is slowly changing, but it’s something new and different to get used to. When someone has been taught that jealousy is normal and right their whole life, it’s difficult to think anything else even when presented with a new way of seeing relationships.

But the newest development in our relationship came last weekend, when my boyfriend went dancing downtown with his friends. He has been such a homebody the last few months that his friends miss him a lot and keep asking him to go out, and even still, I have to encourage him to go. He has connections at a few clubs downtown and can always get in big groups without waiting in line, and sometimes get free drinks.

Well, last Saturday he was at the club and started talking to some girls, passing joints and handing out his business cards. A couple days later, he got a text from one of the girls he smoked with, and from the first text he showed me, he has been honest with me about talking to her. They have been texting back and forth a lot over the last several days and would have met up, if she had stayed in town longer. Ironically, she’s from El Paso, Texas, same as where he is from.

He showed me her pictures and I said I thought she was cute, to which he responded sarcastically, “Oh, I’m so glad you approve.” I replied, “Would you rather I didn’t approve?” No, of course not. I asked him what it’s like to be able to talk to me about another girl, and he says he likes it that he doesn’t have to hide and lie anymore, and it’s different than any other experience with girls he’s dated in the past. He actually said, “I’m glad I have you.”

At the same time, he’s had a hard time being honest with her about our relationship. I asked him if he told her about me yet, and he said no, he didn’t want to scare her away. He even told her he doesn’t have a Facebook so she wouldn’t friend request him and see pictures of me and all the talk about our baby. Well, she found him online today and was upset that he lied to her about not having a profile. He said to me, “Most girls aren’t going to understand what you and I are doing.” I said, “Maybe, but some are. And you never know what someone’s gonna be okay with if you don’t tell them. It’s better to just be honest about it, because if you keep lying and she finds out, she will definitely be mad and probably never talk to you again.”

This is happening as I type, so the story is still developing. Hopefully he and this girl will eventually get to hang out again when she comes back to visit in March, and he won’t cause any more problems by continuing to lie about the fact that he has a girlfriend. But that’s up to him. So far they seem to be pretty excited about talking to each other and it excites me that he gets to experience a new kind of relationship that gives both of us the security we need and the freedom that we want.

Holding Hands

Fight, Full Disclosure and Forgiveness

Your heart-centered approach to other people’s problems can open a door to the possibility of greater intimacy now that the gracious Libra New Moon falls in your 8th House of Deep Sharing. Don’t let your fear of the unknown stand between you and feeling compassion for someone else. Instead, maintain a balanced approach to the mysteries of love. Exploring the uncharted shadows of a relationship isn’t as scary as it might seem at first.

Broken Heart, RepairedI didn’t plan to post my horoscope every day, but I also didn’t expect it to be so dead-on every day. Last night, we got into an argument over something trivial, but something was lurking below the surface and had been for days. Less than a year we’ve been together, but I can tell when something is off. I knew something was going on this week in his head, but didn’t have any proof of what it was. My intuition was the reason that I brought up introducing polyamory this week, and this argument was my impetus for doing something I hate to do: spy on him.

Before anyone thinks I’m a horrible person, let me explain. First of all, he has snooped through my things, logged into my email and Facebook, and even read my journals to try to find something against me, which he could never find. Secondly, the only times I’ve gone through his messages is when I’ve had a really good reason to do so, like the night I caught him trying to meet up with another woman. The way he was acting and talking on the phone to this girl made me suspicious, so after he left to meet her, I opened our shared iPad and found messages from her on his Facebook, which was still logged in.

So last night after we had our petty argument, I was alone at the house with the iPad again while he was at the gym. I opened it. First thing I saw was an email from a nearby gang bang club he was subscribed to. Needless to say, this piqued my interest. I went through the inbox and found e-mails from hundreds of people regarding a gang bang party he was organizing. That actually didn’t bother me much, it looked like he was posting this for someone else, and it was a party that was supposed to have occurred a week ago.

Then I found a message from craigslist, a girl responding to his response to a personal ad, with his phone number in it. That was what set me off. After I caught him a couple months ago, he told me nothing happened but that he would “get better” and stop lying to me and trying to hook up with girls. When I saw this email from just two days ago, I was so angry. Angry that he was still trying to find other pussy–in the casual encounters section no less–and angry that I believed that he would not try to cheat again. I’ve been with a cheater before and know they don’t change.

When he came home, coincidentally and thankfully all six of our roommates had vacated the house, and I unleashed on him. He first started explaining the gang bang party planning, and as I suspected he was doing it for someone else and it never ended up happening. I believe him about that, and it’s not what really concerned me.

I kept pressing about the other email, and at first he tried to tell me that he was recruiting girls for the party.Then he opened his email and saw the message to which I was referring, and he stopped denying it.

He said he has too much time alone at work and even though he tries to keep himself busy with cleaning and Netflix and even porn (which I have no problem with, we both watch porn together and separately), he still finds himself looking for girls. I couldn’t believe it when he actually said, “I have a problem, and I need your help.” That tore me up.

I didn’t want to forgive him. In fact, I had his clothes and shoes all in baskets and a suitcase so he could get his shit and get out faster. I swore I wouldn’t stay with a guy who lied to me and cheated on me, and pregnant or not I was fully prepared to figure out the rest of my life by myself. But when he asked for my help, I have to admit that I love him way too much to say no.

My head was so full of so many emotions and thoughts that I had a hard time finding the words. I tried to explain some of the things I’d read over the last couple of days about how important honesty and trust is, and that I would have a hard time trusting him since he has betrayed me and lied to me so much already.

He said if I could handle it, he would tell me everything from now on, and that he wouldn’t keep secrets or lie to me anymore. He also said he wanted me to go to work with him more often, not only to help his business (I do his website and marketing) but also keep him from being alone. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to believe him and trust him yet again. Honestly, I love him like crazy and don’t know what I would do without him.

At the same time, since we’ve been together, I have felt like I can’t share everything with him because there are things about my past that would make him think less of me. I also didn’t tell him about the guys I slept with before we got together, because firstly I didn’t think it was any of his business, and secondly, it wasn’t only my secrets to keep. One of the guys was a friend of his, and he found out by reading my journal. He loves to bring that up any time I talk about my mistrust for him, because I told him I never slept with anyone he knows or any of his friends. He thinks it’s no different than what he did, but it’s absolutely not the same thing.

I told him to finally be honest with me and asked if he had been with other girls. He said yes, once the night I caught him and another time before that. He says it was only two isolated incidents and he used protection both times. He asked if I wanted to know anything about it, and the only thing I wanted to know was, “Why? What is it that I’m not doing for you that you have to get somewhere else?” He said he doesn’t know, because I do everything for him.

Seriously, I do everything for him. I cook, I clean, I help with his business, I exercise and relax with him, don’t ask much, give him the freedom to go out whenever he wants, and still give him blowjobs and sex at least once a day, usually twice. Did I mention I’m also five months pregnant? What the fuck am I not doing? Why am I not good enough?

That hurt so much more than thinking about him having sex with someone else. Why am I not good enough to provide for all his needs? What more can I do to make him want and need only me? That was the most painful part. It brings up so many feelings of inadequacy that have followed me since childhood through all my relationships. It doesn’t help that one of the biggest problems in our relationship was that he was ashamed to be with me because I’m overweight. As much as I want to believe we’ve gotten past that, his cheating brought all those feelings to the surface again and made me feel even more worthless and inadequate.

But in my rational mind, I know that it’s not because I’m inadequate or not doing enough, it’s because no one person can satisfy all of our needs all the time. I know this, I’ve talked about it before, and I even know that he can’t satisfy all my needs either, no matter how much I wish he could. He satisfies my needs for sex, security, nurturing and supports my dreams and achievements as different as they are from his. But he can’t satisfy my intellectual or emotional needs in a lot of ways, and definitely can’t satisfy the lesbian half of my personality.

I have to come to terms with this, with becoming more intimate with him, opening myself up to hearing his truth as ugly as it may be, and I have to be brave enough to share with him on the same level. It is scary, but the potential for deeper intimacy with him is exciting, too. Many of my long-term relationships were shadowed with secrets. Freedom to be myself completely, to share all of myself with him and truly know him in return is something I’ve wanted for a long time, but been to scared to ask for.

Now is the time to open our hearts. Like he said last night, every time we have a problem, we get through it and become stronger. This is truly an amazing opportunity for us to connect on a deeper level, to re-pour the foundation of trust so that we can build a solid relationship on top of it. It’s not going to be easy. There’s still some digging to be done, and some (figurative) bodies to excavate, and some repairs to complete before we can rebuild. The most important thing is that we love each other so much that we are willing and able to do the work.

Self-Evaluation from “Opening Up: A Guide To Creating And Sustaining Open Relationships”

Opening Up Cover

Opening Up: A Guide for Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

I pulled this self-evaluation from the book Opening Up: A Guide To Creating And Sustaining Open Relationships because I want to answer some of these questions in subsequent blogs, and also hear what others may have to say about these topics. I know it’s a long list and a lot to think about!

It’s funny, because I’ve been thinking about how I would react to my partner being in love with another person, and imagining how I would feel, but I’m not really going to know how I’m going to feel until it happens. Still, this is a great list of questions to ask yourself, write about, and contemplate before entering into a polyamorous or open relationship.

If you are considering an open relationship, first evaluate yourself thoroughly and honestly to determine whether venturing beyond monogamy is right for you. Here are some questions for you to contemplate, write about in a journal, or talk about with a friend, partner, or therapist:

What are your beliefs about monogamy?

• If you’ve been in monogamous relationships before, how did you feel in those relationships, and how did they work or not work for you?

• Do you believe that someone can love/be in love with more than one person at a time?

• What role does sex play in your relationships? How important is it to you? What does it mean to you?

• Can you have sex without an emotional attachment? How are sex and love related or not related?

• Have you ever had a “fuck buddy” or “friend with benefits”? What worked and didn’t work about the relationship?

If you are currently in a relationship:

• What is the state of the relationship? Does it feel stable and secure?

• What are your most common conflicts with your partner?

• Do both partners want to explore a different structure?

• Do you have sexual needs, desires, and fantasies that aren’t being fulfilled?

Imagine your partner having sex with another person. It’s important to be brutally honest, not censor yourself, and really let yourself feel what that would be like.

• What feelings does that bring up?

• What would be your worst fear?

• What would the best-case scenario for this situation look like?

• What would be an absolute deal breaker?

Imagine your partner having a relationship with another person. It’s important to be brutally honest, not censor yourself, and really let yourself feel what that would be like.

• What feelings does that bring up?

• What would be your worst fear?

• What would the best-case scenario for this situation look like?

• What would be an absolute deal breaker?

How do you handle feelings?

• Do you consider yourself a jealous person? How do you deal with intense feelings like anger, jealousy, and resentment?

• Are you able to determine what your boundaries are and communicate them to others?

• When something is bothering you, do you more often keep it to yourself or share it?

• Do you have the ability to communicate openly and honestly, even about difficult issues?

• When conflict arises, how do you usually handle it?

How available are you?

• Do you have the time to nurture and grow more than one love relationship?

• Do you have the energy to devote to several different people and juggle multiple lovers?

• Do you have access to potential partners who have nonmonogamy experience and strong relationship skills?

• Do you have the self-knowledge and communication skills to be in an open relationship?

Feel free to comment on any of these questions, and like I said, I’ll delve into my answers to them in more detail as we continue on this journey together.