Editorial note: This entry should probably be 6 different posts. I’m probably doing myself a dis-service by not splitting these ideas up and giving some of them there own billing but I was really on fire and needed to get this stuff out of my head. I can always come back and expand upon these topics.
I think way too much. I am an over thinker. I THINK I need to keep repeating that to myself. Regardless, I also THINK I’m getting more and more shit figured out.
I can’t remember if I’ve said this before, I’m not spending the time to look while I’m on a roll, but I’ve had a great bit of difficulty being polyamorous. I’ve often said I’m super philosophicaly aligned with the idea, but terrible at execution.
Over the last 5 years I’ve made numerous connections with amazing women. The number of women I’ve “made out” with or more, by itself (not counting dates that went no where) is in the dozens. I only share that for perspective. I’m sure a have some ego in it, but I try not to think in those terms. My point is, I’m a lucky guy. I should feel that way.
However, this entire time has been filled with HUGE amounts of anxiety. That anxiety falls into at least five categories for me.
1. Anxiety driven by either not being sure that what I was doing was ok with my wife or actual negative feedback from my wife. Jealousy in poly is a thing to be dealt with, especially early, and it’s hard work. I desperately don’t want to cause my wife pain.
2. Anxiety driven by this constant recurring pattern of thinking this wasn’t the way I wanted to do ethical non-monogamy in general. I’ve often said I’d rather we swing, have threesomes or foursomes and stick together. It’s always seemed emotionally easier. This hasn’t been my wife’s preference.
3. Anxiety driven by my not finding someone emotionally available, not being able to make something stick long term. This has sometimes felt like a “keeping up with my wife thing”
4. Anxiety driven by my fear of hurting others, of not letting myself just relax and just enjoy a person even if the connection ended up being casual because I felt I hadn’t fully communicated something about where I was at emotionally.
5. Anxiety about my high libido and my fear that I’m possibly just a greedy bastard or addicted to sex/love.
I think the key to handling the first category is simply communication and time management. These are the things virtually all poly people talk about. If the lines of communication and empathy between my wife and I are open things are generally good. I can have a fair amount of angst over scheduling and checking in with my wife about plans. I still get stressed out nearly every time I need to let her know of a new date. I think this could be aided by a standing date night but that makes it hard to schedule with others. If I limit myself to a max of one evening date or sleepover a week, baring weird weeks with travel etc., that seems to feel better. But there are still times I have trouble dealing with tension I feel from my wife that seem to come from a place of my overdoing it.
Category two has been a huge one. It was my wife’s idea to start dating others, rather than swinging and I think there are multiple reasons this MO bothers me. The first has been hard for me to talk about, but I’m improving. I REALLY like threesomes with two women. Huge shock there I’m sure. “Every man’s dream” has happened for me and my wife 5 or 6 times with three different women. Our earlier tip toe into swinging yielded a number of foursomes that were fun, but not nearly as fun as FFM. It is a high I still chase. My wife has mostly decided that while she has appreciated a few of those experiences, that they are more emotionally draining for her to try and setup in a pre-meditated way. She’s not opposed if something happens organically but at this point it feels like it would have to practically fall in our lap. At one point my wife used the term misogyny to describe my motivations here and that really bothered me. She pulled back and said she thought it was too male focused, and I was like “well yeah”. But is that in and of itself bad? Anyway, threesomes and group sex are a major interest of mine still and I am getting better at admitting it, giving myself permission to like it and defend my motivations with others. More on that later.
In our last poly friendly counseling session, my wife and the counselor helped me arrive at the epiphany that there was nothing stopping me from trying to find other partners who’d be into that kind of fun. This of course is a tall order but a healthy and welcome challenge just the same. The challenge in my view is striking a balance between people who are open minded enough to truly be into it and also awesome, not imbalanced in some other way. Someone I REALLY enjoy hanging out with, this is key. I often don’t enjoy sex that feels empty or disconnected. I can enjoy it in the moment, but at times can look back on it and feel bad about it. This isn’t always true and I need to tease that out more, but it’s a decently sized worry. So I basically feel I not only need to find someone really game for it, but someone who can be a sort of proxy for my wife. Someone I feel super close to. I often said that I want there to be some love in the room.
I honestly don’t think my motivations are anti-feminist in any way. I adore women, I adore the feminine, I adore the female form. That alone doesn’t make my motives anti-feminist of course, but you know what does? Supporting and truly beleiving in enthusiastic consent and a woman’s choice to do whatever the fuck she wants. Including boning me and a woman who is a partner. I am well aware and have seen first hand what entitlement and toxic masculinity can and have done. But you know what combats those things? A super strong grounding in consent.
The third category is best addressed, I think, by addressing the others. I shouldn’t try and adopt my wife’s MO for poly. If she wants to have a single long term bofriend she loves and gets close to that is her decision. If I want to either get more comfortable with casual but not empty sex with multiple partners OR with finding a more emotionally connected partner in crime to join me in climbing mount Fuck-a-lot, that should be ok for me. But I should release this idea that I need to find a secondary partner I fall madly for. It could happen and that’s ok too, but I need to do away with this feeling I somehow need to do it in case my wife kicks me to the curb. I’ll be ok.
Number four is also about communication and time management, but in this case it’s more about my partners. I need to get more and more comfortable about being direct with them and not worrying that I might lose them if I have to tell them I can’t see them because something’s come up at home to change the schedule. I often feel like I need to have a series or checklist of things I cover with a new partner before we get close. Maybe that would help. Flaking out on people for logistical or emotional reasons is part of the game and they need to know that. I try VERY hard to respect commitments and not flake. But it can’t be avoided. Balance is key. They need to know my family comes first, whether they see me as their only partner or not, and they need to know I’m philosophically ok with hierarchy as long as I try very hard not to make someone feel secondary and give them tons of respect. I get couples privilege but I also highly value the institution of marriage. That idea, at least, I can save for another post.
The final category is perhaps the most insidious. I had someone ask me once, “Do you ever think maybe you’re just addicted to sex or sex and love?” Yes, sure I have. But the refrain that echoes for me almost directly after that idea pops in my head is something I read once. For an addiction to be an addiction it has to negatively impact your life. It has to gain all the power over you. I have felt this way in the past. During my first marriage, a marriage that ended largely because of my non-monogamous nature, I often felt addicted. I fucked people I wasn’t attracted to, I got so obsessed it effected my work negatively and I had some pretty serious scares. The thing is, that while I’m sure my wife feels I’m often way too focused on sex or relationship geek-r-y, I have yet to feel this experience has negatively impacted my life. In fact, I think it has, considering me and my history, been a tremendous growth experience and one I absolutely needed to have. That has a lot to do with getting married so young, again probably a topic to iterate over in another journal entry.
But at the end of the day, I think I’m going to have to learn to appreciate what this evolutionary journey toward polyamory has done for me. How the growth has far outweighed any moments or opportunities for negative impact. The road has been jagged but the trajectory has been positive. Maybe it’s just as simple as that.
So in summary, while I think too much, I do believe my analytical nature is getting me closer to learning to live with some sources of anxiety. Continued work on consent, time management and direct empathetic communication with both my wife and my partners will go a long way toward calming the waters. Self acceptance and having a well developed ability to defend what I enjoy about group sex and believe with respect to hierarchy will help right the ship. And finally a balanced view of how I’ve grown, will continue to grow and a focus on enjoying time with positive people, on positive outcomes will help keep me pointed in the right direction.