It was date night with Zen, and we were at my house watching a movie. He poured us a second glass of wine and asked, “why don’t you talk more about Boy Scout?”
I blinked at him, took a swallow of wine and then gulped down another. I didn’t want to answer his question. I was comfortable discussing our different communication styles that occasionally brought up conflict between my Boy Scout and me. Boy Scout is the strong, silent type while I am the sit-still-and-I’ll-tell-you-everything kind. Sometimes the solution is Boy Scout bending me over and fucking me until I shut up. However, I balked at pinpointing the reason why I wasn’t talking about him to Zen. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that I was following an old pattern.
When I was in a monogamous relationship, I never shared with my boyfriend that I was fucking other men. It wasn’t that I deliberately set out to cheat. The men in my life just seemed to overlap, and when I lived abroad, I had three boyfriends at the same time. They knew about each other, but we didn’t talk about it. It felt more comfortable to me (and socially acceptable) to remain silent and hope that no one got upset than to try to talk about what was going on.
When I discovered poly, my first poly relationships operated along similar lines. There wasn’t a lot of cross-communication between my boyfriends, and I tried to keep everyone compartmentalized. It still blew up in my face because of many factors, but the non-communication in a sharing paradigm was exhausting. On the surface, we were all saying “yes we share one another” but the unspoken message underneath was the opposite. I was in an acknowledged and accepted relationship on one level but seen as a threat and ultimately destructive influence at the same time. After all was said and done, I worried that maybe I wasn’t poly at all, and it took me a long time to want to try again. Then I fell in love with Liri, and despite my fears, I was trying poly again before I recognized that was what I was doing.
Poly with Liri was easy. I don’t mean “easy” as in less-significant. It’s not a battle to be with her, it’s a joy. That’s not to say that we haven’t had our bumps in the road. Like the time I met and fucked a new guy while she was out of town. I was all, “Hi, Sugar Bush! I miss you! Hey, I met the Prince of Moldavia and we had sex! It was ok! Come home soon!” It wasn’t the dude or the mediocre sex that was the issue. It was her feeling far away (she was on the West Coast) and disconnected combined with my poor impulse control that caused hurt feelings. We muddled through it, I began implementing the Six Date Rule (that’s six dates before fucking) and a couple months later I began dating Boy Scout and Zen.
My people are amazing, and their partners are also wonderful. I adore Liri’s boyfriend, so much so that we’ve had a couple threesomes. I don’t hesitate to hug and kiss him, among other more explicit things, and I love watching the two of them together both with and without clothes. I’ve hung out with Zen’s wife twice now, both with Zen and without him, and we even had a double-date with me and Zen and his wife and her boyfriend. Boy Scout has co-topped me with Liri, and both he and Zen have invited me to invite the other to social functions. So with all this great communication and compersion going on, what the hell is tripping me up?
Deep down inside at the core of me, I fear that Zen or Boy Scout or Liri will hate that I find joy in the other partner. I worry that I need to discount the other as “less than” to bolster the security of my relationship with each of them. I’m ashamed to admit that, because they’ve never asked for such a thing. Part of it is ghosts from monogamy past and part of it is an old scar from the last poly dynamic, a pattern so ingrained that it still catches me unawares. I need to let go of the idea that exclusivity equals happiness in a meaningful poly relationship. I have to trust that my people are with me because they’re happy to share me and be shared in return. Finally, I need to be ok with my choices even if they don’t all love each other. Like Zen said, “I don’t have to love the guy that my wife dates for him to be a good match for her.” Or something to that effect. (No doubt he’ll call me with the correct quote after he reads this.)
Someone remarked to me recently that this all “seems complicated.” I’ve never viewed it that way although Nikki can’t keep track of who’s in my bed when she calls me in the morning. The four of us are working well, though, and every day I’m amazed by the amount of love that overflows these relationships. In fact, my life has never been better.