I am struggling to understand relationships right now. I won’t act oblivious as to why I am struggling: I was dumped a few months ago. But if you ask this man, let’s call him Harrison, he will say he didn’t dump me because we were never in a relationship. Those words “never in a relationship” seek to invalidate about five and a half months of deeply intimate conversations, sex, and even an out of state trip where I met his family (as a friend (his words, not mine)). Hours and hours of late night conversations, working out together, shared meals and movies, interacting with each other’s kids, cuddling, talks about dreams and hopes and fears…you know, relationship stuff. But he gets to claim it was never a relationship…and he gets to walk away with a clean heart about his actions, not even to remain my friend.
What. The. Fuck.
If that wasn’t a relationship, then what the heck is? Are relationships based on intent? Ah yes, intent. Harrison liked to throw that word around too. His intent was to just enjoy whatever the non-relationship was (as long as it fell within terms that he was comfortable with (read: I gave a lot of time, emotion, assistance, etc, and there was little to no reciprocation from him when I needed it directed my way)). So if relationships are based on intent, then his intention was to just ride the wave of everything I offered him until he had to give an inch in my direction. His words were “I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t pursue you. I just thought ‘Why not?’ But I can’t give you what you want.”
Why not? I have about seven months of shit I want to forget as a solid start of “why not”. You know what sucks about getting to know someone? You now know weird stuff like how their mom cooked eggs on Sunday mornings. And when you break up, you still remember the random stuff that is taking up valuable mental real estate. Such crap.
So back to what makes a relationship. Intent? Intent to what? Not everyone wants a marriage. Not everyone wants a baby. Personally, I want NONE of the above. I don’t want marriage, I don’t want more kids, and I have a dog so raising puppies is out. So if intent drives a relationship, do people who don’t intend to marry or have a baby not get to qualify their interactions with others as relationships?
Every interaction we have is a relationship. From your coffee guys (shoutout to Quentin and Pete!) to the lover you whisper sweet nothings to in the middle of the night, they are all relationships. Not all relationships are supposed to be forever, and not all relationships are good. Why do humans try to pair everyone off and limit interactions with people outside of the pairing? Why do we refuse to call any connection (physical or emotional) outside of that pairing a relationship? Is it sex that validates a relationship? Are we emotionally starving ourselves by limiting relationship connections, even platonic ones?
My intent was to love and be loved. And I guess I love like a fucking chemical fire.
I won’t be oblivious to the fact that I am also struggling with my relationship identity. If you have ever had a conversation with me about me, or if you’ve followed the blog, you probably know that I came out as polyamorous in 2016. One of the driving forces of me “coming out” was that I had been in a relationship with someone while I was married to Matrix (with Matrix’s knowledge and understanding). What I didn’t know was that my boyfriend, Rod, was married to another woman for three of the four years we were together. Rod was betting on me never admitting that I was seeing someone besides my husband to hide the fact that he was actually cheating on his wife. He was downplaying our relationship because he didn’t want to have to admit he was seeing a married woman. Around his friends, I thought I was his girlfriend, because that’s how he treated me. His friends, who knew about the wife, thought I was just a whore he was using. He was safe…until I mentioned that I was seeing Rod to one of our mutual friends who didn’t know the deal, which was to keep Rod’s wife a secret from me. Everything came out, and I was left looking like a fucking idiot, and not a lot of sympathy flooded my way…because what right did I have to be heartbroken if I was already married?
So that’s when I came out. 2016. I needed support, and not just from my husband and my close friends who knew about my two relationships, to get over YEARS of deceitful behavior from a man I had known and trusted for over six years. I needed a circle of people to understand and help support me through something that destroyed my ability to trust. I needed to educate people about the misconceptions of polyamory and how honest and ethical it was (lots of trial and error on my part here). And I tried to answer as many questions as possible from y’all with complete honesty about polyamory and my experiences.
And then I started dating someone else, who I enjoyed two intense but loving years with as a couple…but that relationship was hard work. Polyamory was extremely hard work…and I started to doubt I was polyamorous. I have no doubt that I can emotionally love more than one person…but should I? Emotional connections and relationships are easy for me to maintain multiples of. But sexual connections? Not if I hope to have an emotional connection on top of it. Maybe it’s society pressuring sexual monogamy? Maybe it’s my religious upbringing that I have tried so hard get away from? I have no idea. I just know that for the past few years, I have felt stuck in a weird no-man’s land between sexual monogamy and polyamory.
I kept trying to force myself into monogamy (emotional and physical) before I would realize that I needed and wanted more emotional connections and then I would move back to polyamory. Physical monogamy is moderately easy for me. Emotional monogamy is 10/10 hard for me. This yo-yo between my desires for physical monogamy and emotional polyamory filled me with guilt and anxiety about what the fuck I was doing. Maybe I just didn’t know how to have a full and fulfilling platonic relationship (false, I do know how to have those; I have lots.) So I kept thinking, what the fuck am I?
When I started “dating” Harrison (super huge eye-roll), we had multiple conversations about monogamy and love. I decided I wanted to leave polyamory behind completely (I was already sexually monogamous). I deleted or hid the polyamory stuff on the blog. I was completely dedicated to Harrison. And guess what? My life got SO easy. Because people equate polyamory with being sexually easy, not even remotely grasping that the basis that everything should probably be done and experienced in love. So once I told people I was monogamous, suddenly I could fucking breathe without men trying to use me as their emotional wife or an easy lay. I FUCKING LOVED PEOPLE LEAVING ME ALONE. Monogamy in its strictest form (no emotional or physical connections to anyone else) was great.
Because herein lies the dilemma with being a married polyamorous woman: The only men who are willing to date a married woman are not exactly good men. Rod hid me and made me the other woman without my knowledge. Harrison said we were never in a relationship because he never wanted to admit he had a sexual relationship with a married woman, even if she was sexually monogamous with him. Harrison would have preferred to hide me like Rod did to protect himself from social persecution (I’m guessing here; we don’t speak so I can’t ask him, nor do I want to know his reasons for social cowardice while reaping the rewards behind closed doors, plus he would need to be honest with himself). And I would constantly have a myriad of men come to me expecting to fill some sort of emotional void they had in their relationship, but of course they wouldn’t tell their wives or girlfriends.
So what is a relationship? If it doesn’t take sex to validate a relationship, then I have lots of connections to men and women, but they aren’t deep. If it does take sex to validate a relationship, I am very much alone. And that’s what I want. I have nothing to offer anyone after Harrison. I had an entire relationship invalidated in a one fell swoop and I was back to getting told that my feelings about being hurt were invalid. Harrison walked away from me in every form effortlessly. So I don’t want a relationship. I don’t want any deep connections to anyone if people can so easily end a friendship (which, guess what, Harrison, is a type of a relationship!). It took years for me to open back up and trust again after Rod broke the trust. So this time? Why do I need any relationships other than platonic ones? I owe nothing to anyone. I have nothing to give.
So am I monogamous? Am I polyamorous? All I know is that I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to know or care right now. Obviously I’m hurt. I made a drastic shift in my perception towards monogamy with Harrison as the tipping point. But I want to be alone and be left alone. Relationships should be based on respect, understanding, fun, open communication, and trust. I have no trust, so I have no right to be in a romantic relationship.
Thank god for decent friends. Those are the relationships I cherish. I appreciate y’all.