Love, Acceptance and Letting Go

I accept you for who you are, but I just can’t be in a relationship with you…  Are these contradictory sentiments?  If you really accept me, why can’t you love me and be with me?

I‘ve wrestled mightily with this apparent contradiction.  You see, a few years ago, I realized that a polyamorous relationship style was most compatible with my long-term happiness.  Not just that I can love more than one – I had already known that without internal controversy.  But, that loving more than one sustained me in a way that monogamy did not and could not.  I was then faced with the reality that not everyone wanted to love me as I wanted them to.  In those much darker early days, I frequently felt unaccepted and rejected.  I took more detours down shame alley than I care to remember.

Ultimately, I gathered my own footing, put shame in its rightful place, and accepted myself fully.  I began to insist that others accept me fully as well.  I was confronted with the difficult choice of either walking away from a wonderful woman or ditching polyamory.  As difficult as it was, I chose to walk away.  Rinse, wash and repeat.  Despite communicating clearly about polyamory to potential romantic partners, after these relationships became serious, I was still confronted with this same dilemma.  In short, these wonderful women suggested that if I loved them, I would forsake my polyamory for them.  My instinctive response was that if they really loved and accepted me, they would accept all of me including my polyamory.

That sounds reasonable, right? (more…)

(Re)Defining Poly

I’ve resisted coming up with a specific vision or definition for what kind of polyamory I wanted to practice.  To me, this was too similar to constructing the house of cards that I tried and failed to live up to before reinventing my life four years ago.  This house of cards was an ideal that I couldn’t live up to.  And, importantly, it was in fact never well suited for me to begin with.  It was destined to cause me great misery.  It did just that.

In choosing a polyamorous approach to relationships, I recognized there were important preferences that I needed to understand and make clear to potential partners.  It is kind of definition.  Or, perhaps more accurately, those preferences describe the ingredients that I use to define and redefine poly for myself.  The first preference to note is that I’m an emotional dater.  I don’t seem to have the capacity to have sex without forming attachment.  I don’t do casual.  I prefer emotional intensity which is reflected and reinforced in the bedroom.  So, I have a bias for deeper, longer term relationships.

Because of my emphasis on the emotional side of relationships, I also have a large openness to romantic, non-sexual poly relationships. I had a wonderful romantic non-sexual relationship with an old friend, university classmate, and spiritual guide for many years. When that relationship suddenly ended as her husband came to resent our emotional closeness, I mourned that loss as deeply as any traditional romantic relationship I’ve ever had. I find these connections deeply fulfilling. Indeed, it was the way I unknowingly “practiced” polyamory for nearly all of my active dating life.  I’ve nearly always had a very close, flirty, loving woman friend with whom I spent much time with when I wasn’t with my girlfriend.  These women were usually potential lovers that I met at the “wrong time.”  But, a few of them were also former lovers with whom the connection survived the end of the committed, sexual relationship. (more…)

Tenderhearted

There are some days when tears rest easy on the eyes.  Days when I can’t seem to grab my emotional equilibrium.  Sometimes that emotional tenderness lasts for many days.  It all started when I breezed into my therapist’s office all cocksure as if I had the world figured out.  Well, of course, you know how this ends.  His probing and probative questions did their job well.  They opened me up.  But, by doing so, they also landed me squarely on uncertain ground.  I have yet to regain my emotional footing.  And so, tears rest easy on my eyes, neither spilling forward nor retreating.

“When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something.  We might realize that this is a very vulnerable and tender place, and that tenderness can go either way.  We can shut down and feel resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing quality. ”    ―  Pema Chödrön

But, the particulars of this shifting sand aren’t really the point of me telling you this story.  It is about how intensely alone I feel at these moments.  And, the reality that it is somewhat self-inflicted.  You see, this shaky tenderness is where I feel most frightened, vulnerable. A spot where I have an excess of feeling and few answers.  It is a place where my analytical, problem solving mind has no facts from which to derive an appropriate solution.  It is even a struggle to describe the nature of the problem itself.  Words fail me.  In essence, my IQ is of little use and my EQ is unprepared, a weak muscle unaccustomed to exercise.  And so, I’m left in a battle with myself mostly unarmed. (more…)