5 April 2014

Knowing Your Limits

Throughout life, one is reminded to acknowledge their limitations and work within them in order to both have the maximum chance of success and not make your task an inconvenience to others. It can be difficult to translate this into your polyamorous relationships when one is constantly being reminded that love is infinite. It makes it seem as if you can have all these deeply emotionally entangled relationships which simply just work because you share this common ethos of limitless love.

I do believe that a person is capable of loving many people and there isn't an inherent limit on how much they can love one person. I'm not sure love is quantifiable in that sense to begin with. However, what had become overwhelmingly apparent to me is that the fact resources like time, money and physical space are finite means that this does have a direct effect on what you're able to realistically offer the people in your life without having to sacrifice any existing commitments. This, in turn, affects the liklihood of a relationship becoming long term, the level of emotional and practical entanglement and overall, the level of expectation and obligation you build in your intimate relationships.

When people aren't aware and working within their limitations, especially during New Relationship Energy, it's easy to both neglect your existing commitments in order to have the resources to deal with these new demands and create a level of expectation in a new relationship that simply isn't sustainable over the long term. Not unless you scale back or shed some existing commitments. Be they people, hobbies, children or social activities, something has to give in order for you to meet these new demands. This can be why some people who have the intention of a polyamorous relationship style slip into something that more closely resembles serial monogamy: every time they start a new relationship, it seems to have a devastating effect on the existing relationship and that partner eventually opts out altogether. To prevent this, one must objectively assess what commitments they have in their life (and want to keep), how much resources it will take to maintain those commitments, and finally, what they have left for commitments they'd like to make.

It's also about compatibility though. It's all very well considering what you can offer someone new, but you have to find someone who actually wants what you can offer and nothing more. Not from you at least. If your commitments mean that you'd be able to see an additional partner twice a month or so, it would probably be unwise to pursue someone who is monogamous leaning and is looking for a life partner to plan a shared future. It's just asking for trouble.

Similarly, that new person should recognise what this proposed relationship can realistically offer them and ensure that they can work within those limitations and are comfortable with getting additional needs met elsewhere. Building a relationship without acknowledging these limitations can lead to you being resentful of their existing commitments, be they people, work or hobbies. Resentment, especially of metamours and family, needs other negative emotions and simply isn't conducive with healthy polyamorous relationships. As much as I find polyamorous philosophy can be couple centric, I also feel that "thirds", "solo polys" or whatever else you want to call a person who is the potential or existing additional partner of their paramour, are often alleviated of any responsibility for the relationships they have. It's as if they don't have the accountability that others have for finding compatible partners who are able to meet their needs.

At this time, at least, I'm not able to develop another relationship that has the same level of emotional entanglement as my current relationship. I'm okay with that.

29 March 2014

Several Small Epiphanies and One Big One

The past few months have been emotionally draining, humiliating and laborious, but they might have just been worth all the turmoil in order for me to learn the things I've learnt about myself, my partner and polyamory generally.

I've always leaned towards a "spoke" style of polyamory in which relationships and partners are kept pretty separate. I leaned so far in that direction that people who wanted this kind of really inclusive family style of polyamory presented red flags. I couldn't see why you'd want that unless you wished to have some sort of control or authority over your partner's other relationships and that simply wasn't compatible with my needs. I still maintain that this style of polyamory is not for me and that it often does prompt those warning signs. What I've begin to truly acknowledge, however, is the limitations consequential to how you choose to manage and structure your polyamorous relationship style.

If I meet a person I'm interested in and they already have one or more existing relationship, it's up to me to decide if and how I can develop this budding relationship in a way that considers our existing commitments and meets some of the needs that we have of our romantic and/or sexual partners. If I decide that I'll never be comfortable sharing space with his other partner(s), then I have to accept that means I'll probably never be introduced to friends, invited to his birthday parties or interact with his family. He has to accept that whilst I'm entitled to have the boundaries I feel I need, some boundaries can actually limit the depth and perhaps longevity of our relationship and as long as all parties understand the inherent limitations that are brought about by particular relationship structures or choices , it doesn't mean the relationship is inferior or pointless. It just has constraints and acceptance of these constraints can make it easier for everyone to be content in the long term.

It can be easy to be so concerned about preventing these boundaries from being overstepped or disallowing your existing commitments from burdening or unduly influencing the path of a newer relationship, you actually harm the nature and scope of existing relationships. It becomes as if this new person's needs trump those of anyone else and everyone should portray this priority in their expectations and actions. Of course, New Relationship Energy is heavily discussed in poly circles and this is merely an example of how NRE manifests in everyday life. I think it can be reduced in intensity by everyone being realistic about what they can offer and what they need in return and whether the limitations of this budding relationship will be an issue for the people involved.

Experience in polyamory as well as relationships generally inevitably helps one to accept the limitations of a relationship whilst still enjoying the positive aspects of your interaction with the other person. Being sex positive and comfortable in your own skin aids one's ability to revel in the delights of casual sex or sex outside the walls of a traditional monogamous commitment without shame or guilt. Though what I consider more important than being experienced or sexually liberal is refraining from going into an arrangement with the view to change it to suit your agenda or with an interpretation of other people's relationships that is based on your own reckoning and belief system. Just because you wouldn't need an additional partner if you were already really, truly and absolutely in love and committed to someone, it doesn't mean everyone else feels the same and their existing relationships are insubstantial or unfulfilling. I know that I feel more inclined to form additional relationships when the ones I already have are happy and healthy. Through these few months of conflict, seeing other people just seemed injudicious and detrimental to the health and future of the relationship I'm already in.

The last couple of months have been Hell. Sheer Hell. My trust , my self esteem and my "spiritual equilibrium" as I heard some twat call it one day, have taken a battering. But if, and that's if, we have come to the level of understanding a cooperation that we seem to have achieved, it might have been worth it. Might.

But Daddy, I'm never, ever doing it again. Not for anyone.

12 February 2014

So We Climaxed (and not in the good way)

So, we got to the crux of the issue after much miserable deliberation and angst on both sides. I completely opted for the wrong time to address some of these issues but not using my usual method of walking away from relationships where there has been contention or a compromise of trust left me unable to contend with the feelings that I had. Anyway, this is what I/we have concluded from these events.

  • The breach of trust affected me more than I admitted or perhaps realised at the time. I was used to a breach of trust being confirmation of my expectations and being quite happy to acknowledge it as an incompatibility and walk away amicably. Choosing to stay with someone who I, at this time, don't completely trust in some respects is a sizable challenge. I think, in time, we can correct this. If we keep working together.
  • I have always known that rapid change in my life has been a struggle for me to deal with, however, I didn't expect to be as affected as I have found myself to be by what I perceive as rapid change in the life of my loved ones. It does affect me negatively, though, and that may be one of the burdens of choosing to have a relationship with me. Something that I need to put on the table early on. 
  • Some aspects of my autism are still perceived as creepy, even when the person has a relatively good understanding of autism and has affection for you. Having a relationship with an autistic person isn't the same as raising an autistic child; you don't feel the same obligation to never lose your patience or snap so when you do, you don't feel the same overwhelming guilt for having done so and you don't work that much harder to understand your autistic child so it won't happen again. It's rare that you consider the onus on your autistic child to put some effort into effective communication and interaction with others, and when you do, it often provokes the guilty feeling again, 
  • I really hate when people dismiss my feelings by conflating or associating them with either autism or depression. Even if I am feeling that due to the fact I am not neurotypical or have been having some down days, it doesn't help to just file them under a diagnosis as if that makes the feeling more positive or bearable. Okay, so I don't like change because I am autistic, what are we going to do about that? We can't remove my autism but we could take steps to minimise the trauma change creates. That's if you want to be a "we", of course. Us autists can't handle instability, either, so you can't pick and choose when the two of us are "we" and when it's just you and me coexisting and trying not to be too much of a burden on one another. 
As grueling as this process was, I do think it was beneficial, we know where we are and what we need from each other - now and in the future. I wasn't being forthcoming with my feelings because I thought they would simply disappear in time. I'm know now that they won't. 

2 February 2014

Rebuilding Trust

Since the incident, things between me and Daddy have been great. We've been away and had a wonderful time, we're more open with one another, more confident about expressing our affection and we seem to be able to talk more candidly. I've realised that I'm going to often have to say things as plainly as possible, something I shy away from at times in case I offend or if I'm not sure how reasonable I'm being.

Daddy has also made a clear effort not to repeat the mistake again. I can see that he has really thought about how to avoid that sorry of potentially sticky situation and has actively taken steps to demonstrate his new perspective to me. I appreciate it, I do. It's just difficult not to bring it up and remind him of the harm it caused at the time. Especially when recently, it seemed as if he was kind of questioning why I would consider forgiving (for want of a better word) Mr Lovely (who has ventured back to polyamory and is newly single) and seeing him again as friends (with benefits).

I know that dragging up the misdemeanors of your partner, especially when they've obviously tried to rectify the situation isn't a conducive thing to do, but I find it so hypocritical when people think it's acceptable for you to extend your forgiving nature to them but then insinuate that others don't deserve additional opportunities to make things right. That's when it becomes hard to not throw things in their face and remind them of what you've done for them and how it wasn't easy at the time and often isn't easy now to swallow what went down.

I do talk about it. Sometimes in jest and sometimes seriously. He doesn't try and defend his actions at the time, credit to him, but I think I try to prompt him into doing that. I feel resentful about not being able to express the grudge that I'm carrying. That's the truth, I want to still be annoyed.

12 January 2014

The Bang Zone

Think Friend Zone; you know when that person you are interested in feels that you are only compatible for a friendship? The Bang Zone is sort of adjacent to that. It's when someone feels you are only compatible for a sexually focused relationship.

Now, for some people, the very act of being Bang Zoned is inherently offensive. Just like some people take great offence to being Friend Zoned because they obviously feel that friendship is a poor substitute for a romantic and/or sexual relationship. Those who are offended by being Bang Zoned feel that viewing them as only "good enough" to have sex with is insulting. I can only surmise this comes from a sex negative belief that casual sexually focused relationships themselves are demeaning to anyone who partakes in them.I can understand the frustration and disappointment of someone not reciprocating the lustful, affectionate feelings you have for them but it doesn't mean that friendships are inferior to romantic connections or that sexually focused relationships are designed to demean and devalue the people in them. 

The only problem I  have with the Bang Zone is when people are dishonest about Bang Zoning you. You're speaking to a guy, or maybe you've already met up with them and done the deed, they insist that they are open to "something serious" and they aren't only interested in having sex with you but every time you attempt to shift the focus off of sex, they seem despondent and disinterested. I totally appreciate that just because someone is looking for a serious relationship, it doesn't mean that they are not open to more casual relationships and it certainly doesn't mean that they have to pursue a serious relationship with you. It's when people are deceitful and dishonest about what they are seeking from you that it bothers me. 

There are periods in my life when I am open to casual relationships. I currently don't have the resources to spend on relationships I know will never be more than the most casual of fuck buddies. I don't believe there is anything wrong with sexually focused relationships, random sex, one night stands or anything else as long as it is consensual and the people involved are doing it because it makes them happy rather than some ulterior motive. I just don't really have the energy for them at the moment. I'm happy to meet new people, have sex with them if we both want that, hang out and build a friendship before we look at anything else, but if I know that even that will be difficult to develop and maintain, I'd rather keep my resources for more poignant and generally fulfilling relationships at this time. 

The issue is that people who are not going to be honest about the fact they have Bang Zoned you due to the fact that they put their need to have sex with you above your right to give enthusiastic informed consent for sex, aren't going to respond to my usual communicative style which basically involves forthright and concise dialogue. If I ask whether I have been Bang Zoned, they are likely to say "No" and you are left to decide whether they are just really sexually motivated and require sex early on to bond in a way that progresses to something more entangled, or whether they have actually Bang Zoned you. I don't like to reject people just because they are extremely sexually motivated, primarily because it adds to our compatibility but nor do I want to waste an inordinate amount of resources on someone who has kept me in the Bang Zone all along. 

I think what further complicates this issue, is the rampant sex negativity in society. The people that Bang Zone are reluctant to admit that they only see themselves having a sexual relationship with someone else. They don't want to be seen as shallow or predatory in the way that people who are highly sexually motivated often are. This makes communicating efficiently harder. The person who has Bang Zoned you often does like you and have some regard for you, they just don't see the two of you being compatible for a long term, committed romantic relationship and don't know how to express that without it seeming to be a slur on you or an aspersion on their character. 

So, people, lets just be honest about what we want from one another instead of worrying about what people might think about your desires. There is nothing wrong with wanting sexually focused relationships and there is nothing wrong with not wanting them either. Let's allow everyone to make the informed choices that are right for them by being forthcoming in your communication and not misleading them in order to get what you want. Let's be adults about this, really.