Tag Archives: relationship

Poly people

Those of you who either aren’t single or don’t live near or in an urban area may not be familar (I am just guessing here so correct me nicely if I’m wrong) with the “poly” lifestyle that has become more prevalent or at least more out in the open. Basically, it means having sexual/romantic attachments with two or more people at the same time – or being open to it – where everybody involved is supposed to know (differentiating it from cheating or affairs).

Before you think I’m going to tell you some juicy secret about me, let me assure you I am not! It’s on my mind though, and is from time to time because I’m curious about relationships and how people live, as well as how social mores change. When I was a child I never heard of any such thing and would not have understood if I had. I mean even sex without marriage was a foreign idea to child-me and shocking even. (I was both sheltered and naive.)

Many years back I was seeing a man who, starting early in our dating, “talked” about the polyamorous life. This was rather odd because the man himself seemed ill-suited to it and even pushed me for emotional and other commitments to him that I wasn’t prepared to give. I wasn’t seeing anyone else but did not relinquish the right by promising total loyalty to him. (You must trust that I had my reasons not to and was wisely not rushing anywhere I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go). I never really understood why he ever brought the subject up at all; he seemed theoretically interested in the subject but not at all interested in practicing it (at least at that time when he knew and was seeing me).

While I’m at this topic let me introduce a great word coined by sex writer Dan Savage, “monogamish” which is when two people are mostly monogamous with one another. That is, they have a primary relationship but it is acceptable for each to have other sexual relationships as well. The pair might have certain rules they’re expected to honor; “none of my friends”,  or “only when you’re on business trips”, or “I don’t want to know the details” for examples.

And yet again while I’m on this subject, let me introduce – if you don’t know it (I didn’t till a few years ago) – the word for being happy your partner is having sexual/romantic fun with other people, “compersion.” I gotta tell you, even though it doesn’t involve me and isn’t really my business to have an opinion, I don’t like this word or its concept. There’s something about it that strikes me as a bit smug and affected; as if a person is so evolved that they are above petty feelings like jealousy and competitiveness, and can afford to be sexually and emotionally magnanimous. I dunno – it just seems like a bit much. This probably isn’t helped by my introduction to the word by a man who told me he had felt “joyful compersion” when his girlfriend was sleeping with other guys – that is until she and her other guy fell in love and ran off. I don’t think I had the sympathetic response probably sought. I was thinking, “What did you expect??”

Anyway, I did no research to write this post. I don’t feel like it and if you want to learn more, Google awaits! This leads me to a thought that only occurred to me yesterday. I wondered what kind of people would be most inclined toward polyamorous relationships. See, I was specifically thinking they probably didn’t grow up in a big family where you could call little your own and were forced to share all the time or worse, get nothing. Where you rarely got to be the Center of Attention and had to compete for most everything, even kinda crummy stuff.  I concluded this must be why I’m a poor candidate for a polyamorous life!

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Relationship 1.0 2.0 3.0?

I’ve been thinking about posts, one in particular, by Deb, where she talks about her marriage. I don’t think I’m in any position to dispense advice. But thoughts, those I do have.

I don’t know what it’s like to be married a long time and not happy in that relationship. I did, however, watch my parents in that life. And I watch other people’s relationships and marriages. I’m innately curious about how other people live, and especially about the dynamics of love and of family (with the thought that two people can comprise a family).

Is there anything more important than the single person you choose to live your life with? Your partner? It just seems to me that the chosen person holds the key to everything vital. There are those people, who live together, who are married, but effectively go their own ways, and lead lives apart from one another. But most people are powerfully involved with their partner – and more importantly, most people are powerfully affected by their partner.

The other person in your life can build you up, tear you down, add to your happiness, or steal your happiness. They can make you laugh or they can make you despair. They can slowly, gradually, even imperceptibly, change who you are till you become a far greater version of yourself than you might have been alone – or conversely, a shadow of who you once were.

As I say, I’ve no long relationship to bring into the conversation. Still, I speak from my point of view. When I am involved, it is inherently my nature to become deeply invested. I am hyper-aware of the people in my life. I can’t help it. In the past, I have become more invested in some people than warranted. Like, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being little invested and 10 being overwhelming invested, I’d invest 8 where I probably should have invested 5 or 6. That is, the person wasn’t necessarily someone I shouldn’t know or be involved with, but the DEGREE was at issue. I didn’t get that at the time. I had more of a one-size-fits-all approach.

I wasn’t naive – I didn’t let things go too far in that I felt helpless or emotionally dependent to the extent I made irrevocable decisions not in my interest. Ones I would have paid dearly for, ones I’d STILL be paying for had I let them go forward. But I look back, and I see myself trying to pound square pegs into round holes. What a fat waste of time. And really – did I have it to waste? Does anyone?

I have learned. I began, in my relationships, to dial back my investment to more appropriate levels. To look closely at someone and where I truly thought they belonged in my life. I sometimes use the metaphor of a house. That is, you are the house. You decide how far into your house someone should be allowed to come. Some people don’t make it past the front door. Their behavior, demeanor, and attitude make clear this is a person that shouldn’t cross your threshold. Which isn’t to say, they won’t TRY. Others are permitted into the foyer and if they act right there, you might invite them to sit down or enter the living room. And so on as it goes.

Some relationships aren’t meant to go beyond certain levels. And to try to push them, or more importantly I find as a woman, to ALLOW someone else to push them past that point, can be a huge mistake with deep consequences. There are those who ultimately raise families with people they should have stopped seeing after the second date.

The trouble also, is once someone is deeply ensconced in a relationship and simultaneously unhappy, it can be difficult to tell if any subsequent dissatisfaction can be genuinely attributed to the other person. The partner can sometimes be viewed as a scapegoat, i.e., “I’m not happy, therefore it must be your fault.” I know that if I am unhappy in a relationship, I become consumed with that feeling. I mean, it can be hard to tell what is fair, or not fair, to lay at the other person’s feet when you’re in the thick of it.

Increasingly, as I became aware of these things I am writing about, I put them into effect in my relationships. I did not get “swept away” or allow myself to be corralled by someone else’s agenda. I don’t know the extent that other women are susceptible to that but by and large, I’d say women are generally more vulnerable to going along with someone else’s plan than are men. We permit ourselves to be flattered or talked into questionable relationships, and later, to stay in them past the point they either suit or serve us. Not always, but often enough that it is a phenomenon. I see it.

First, as I said, I dialed back my involvement in relationships where over-involvement wasn’t warranted or WASN’T WARRANTED YET. But more importantly, I cleared the decks and my mind in such a way, that I no longer could attribute happiness or lack there of, to anyone but me. This is a scary undertaking and yet, so well worth it, I’ve found. I returned the focus to center. The fact is, I began to treat myself more like the way I always wanted to be treated in relationships. Nothing extravagant, just improved. I found I had a better idea of how to treat me than other people did. Or at least those I’d had relationships with in the past. I effectively stopped waiting on other people, real and imagined.

All blame and all credit is now at my feet. The time and energy I put into other people (where I shouldn’t have or not as much), I took back and put into me. Again – you’d not necessarily be all that impressed with what I’ve managed, but for me, it’s huge. I see so very clearly that I am the best investment I’ve got. I’m the investment that needs to last, to go the distance. And if I’m stingy with myself, I will pay. It’s taken me a very long time so see that. And really believe it. I never used to look at things that way, which is to say, realistically. But I don’t mean realistically in the no-fun-at-all way (“realistically” sounds so dry & boring to my own ears, but that’s not how it feels). Look, if I still thought about things the way I did at 20 or 30 or approached my relationships the same way I did then, that would be a problem!

The things I’m telling you about are ongoing. But the direction seems right. I like it.

Things Men Have Said To Me (#11)

We’d been seeing each other about 2 months. Previously in conversation, I’d told him that for holidays I needed one of two things: to be with people I cared about OR an activity I’d enjoy.

HIM (informing): “My sister has invited us for Christmas with my family. I told her we would come.” (I had not met them.)

ME: “You can’t answer for me. ….And how is that one of the two things I said I needed for a holiday?”

HIM: (no response)

Addiction in relationships

It was years ago, back when I thought, oh I don’t know what the hell I thought. That I could get through to him? Get him to understand? See?

An active addiction always comes between people in a relationship. In effect, two people reaching toward one another, will be thwarted by the presence of an addiction. They have to reach around it. This is what I tried to tell him. I even drew a picture that looked like this:
P_20141124_094136
Addiction doesn’t necessarily resemble a loaf of French bread, but you get the idea – I am confident, Reader, that you do. He didn’t get it. As I redid my illustration to show it here, I see something in it I’d not considered before; it’s hard to tell if the addict is really reaching for the other person – or the “fix.”

Things Men Have Said To Me (#8)

(We were in our early thirties and in a serious relationship, but it didn’t seem to be going anywhere.)

HIM: “You’re the one.”

ME: “The one what?”

(His response was so vague I can’t remember it well enough to write it here!)

Older guys

A post I wrote recently got me to thinking about older men, specifically older ones I encountered when I was still quite young. As a teen, I thought guys out of high school and beyond were intimidating. Why, they looked like grownups. Even factoring in that guys that age back then would likely have been more mature than their present-day counterparts (not a swipe at younger guys today but a reflection on the fact that 20’s then is like thirties now and so on, given increased life span, each stage taking longer, etc.), the idea that they were really so worldly or grownup is laughable.


One summer when I was 15ish, a guy 3 years older, who had a reputation as a flirt decided to bestow his attentions on me one afternoon at the public swimming pool. It amounted to holding me in is arms in the water, tossing me around, and so forth for a long time. Playful, not icky or pushy, if a bit too much considering we had no prior relationship. I was flattered as hell. An older boy focusing on me. I remember he walked me home and that was that (although 3 years later, after I’d graduated high school, the two of us did have a serious, memorable, if fairly brief relationship).


In high school, I rode a bus to and from school. One of our drivers was an attractive, mustachioed guy in his twenties. After school let out, a bunch of buses followed one another down the main drag leading away from the building. One day a girl I didn’t know, sitting at the back of the bus ahead of ours began flirting wildly with our driver, blowing kisses and more. She really went for it, to a degree that pretty much shocked me at the time, particularly because she was so brazen and in full view of everybody on our bus. With the distraction, it’s a wonder our driver didn’t careen his busload of high school kids off the road. In retrospect, maybe this girl felt brave because she was at a safe distance from our driver. I really don’t know. The incident made quite the impression on me, though, because I couldn’t imagine coming on like that with a guy clearly out of high school, clearly older.


I did meet an older guy at a dance but the circumstances were different. Through older siblings, I knew a member of a band that was going to perform at a dance at my high school. I may have even had a small part in the arrangements because beforehand I talked on the phone with another band member who I did not know. We seemed to have a friendly rapport. At any rate, we met in person, if briefly, at the dance. I remember having a good time and enjoying the band.

Apparently though, it was another girl who caught the band guy’s attention that night. One of those high school girls who seems older than high school if you know what I mean (I was not such a girl). She was very pretty, popular, and acted like she was 25 or so. I learned about this after the fact when talking on the phone with band guy. He seemed to want my advice and I liked the attention. I wasn’t used to that from an older guy, being treated as an equal. He hadn’t gotten the girl’s information, however, and needed me as a conduit. His thought was that I should approach the girl at school and get her phone number for him (since he couldn’t go waltzing into the high school looking for her). I wanted to help but no way was I going to walk up to a strange girl and request her phone number. Without telling him first, I found her in a group of friends and instead gave her HIS phone number, saying he wants you to have this. Guess it worked out, because I stopped hearing from band guy and later heard the two married.


I knew I turned a corner, when, after graduating from high school, I and two older sisters went to a party hosted by people one of them knew. My sister was forever scouting about for an eligible man to date and this time was no different. There was one particular guy that was attractive and charming with us all. He commented that I seemed especially young – and in that group, I was – but when there was a lull outside and we momentarily found ourselves alone, it was me he kissed. Maybe I should have kept my yap shut later when we girls rehashed the party and my man-hunting sister claimed this particular guy was interested in her. But I didn’t. I set her straight. I never saw the guy again, but the barrier was crossed; older guys were starting to look different to me now.

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. (or Ms.) Narcissist

In my time I’ve known more than a person or two who were a strange combination of self-loathing and entitlement, the two bookends of narcissism. It seems counterintuitive at first – isn’t narcissism about grandiosity, extreme self involvement and self-love? – until you consider that self loathing is STILL self-involvement. The person telling you how stupid they are, what a fuck-up, such an idiot, who hates their life, and so on, is coming from a me, me, me point of view. They are STILL taking up your time and attention (whether you’d be using that time to do notably better things or merely watching Judge Judy is not the point). They are STILL not focusing on you or anyone else. Even a pitiful “I don’t deserve someone as good and wonderful as you,” if that particular tidbit is included, (or maybe “I’m not as strong/good/kind/honest/[insert word] as you are”), isn’t really about you at all, so much as a ploy for your sympathies and a pretty fair indication the narcissistic person sees those traits in you and aims to exploit them. Because what’s the next scene that’s supposed to follow? The part where you reassure them and build them up of course! (There goes your evening, afternoon, hour, day, whatever.) Whoever says, “Yeah, you are an idiot” and walks away?

Besides, if you deal with people like this, the flip side always shows itself in short order. They go right back to hurting people, doing selfish, oblivious things, running their own agendas, and taking real umbrage (or feigning cluelessness) if anybody points it out or has a problem with it. Bring up a problem or concern and watch how fast you’re suddenly in a conversation that is once again about their woes, interests, or issues.

One of the typical gimmicks of the narcissist is to do whatever they feel like whenever they feel like it – no matter who it impacts – yet act as if everything is normal. Perfectly designed to throw other people off their game and make them question what they know. The best defense is a good, narcissistic offense, no? The people around them are the ones feeling something is very wrong with this picture: Did he really do that? Did she really say that? Is this the same person who was crying and going on about how “rotten” they are? How they wanted to be different? Oh my yes it is.