Fear limits the love you can share. Fear limits the love you can accept. Whereas fear limits, love expands. Where fear pulls us back, love draws us closer. Where fear sees risks, love sees possibilities. I don’t mean to imply that they are opposites or mirror each other. The absence of fear doesn’t equal the presence of love. It is perhaps better to think of fear as being an unsupportive condition for the growth of love. In spite of its significant dangers, fear is a valuable and frequent human emotion. There’s a pretty big difference between the useful kind of fear (like the spike we get when we see a large bear at the edge of our camp site) from the fear that gets triggered by the emotional traumas that we carry with us from our past. John Gottman calls the latter enduring vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, we confuse the two in everyday life. (more…)
I awoke with a start, instantly alert
Heart pumping, pupils dilated scanning
Still dark and deep quiet disconcerts
Fear perches between my dreams and awakening
Here we sit, the fear that knows my fears
The piercing eye and judging hand take steady aim
On hopes and loves, and all that matters, and new frontiers
Disheartened by praise then blame, malaise and shame
Unexpectedly, instead of hiding, I turn to embrace
Without need for words nor charm nor deflecting gaze
I accept my fear, uncertain is even the worst case
Life has sharp edges, living fully cuts both ways
It has been painful. And, it seemed that I couldn’t manage a full year without one of these issues cropping up. I was disillusioned and heartbroken. I wondered why I was doing it so wrong. Some of these folks were new to poly. Only dating experienced poly people (the no newb rule) is only partially effective – as it didn’t help me in two of the four cases above. They were more experienced in poly than I was. I couldn’t suss out a pattern to help me select more judiciously.
I decided on two things about a year ago and I’ve essentially stuck to them. The first, and probably most important thing, is that I decided that a broken heart isn’t the thing I’m most afraid of. I must “love with abandon.” A broken heart is not desirable but well worth the risk. So, I need to place my bets on compatibility, chemistry and mutual investment. Poly is only one element in that complex equation. (more…)
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.
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?
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…)