I tried to be cool. I tried to be chill. I tried to just accept what I had now, with no expectations for the future. I’d been trying to quit drinking, but every time I thought about Papa Bear and his inability to not fuck millions of girls, I wanted a drink. Or 5. And so the Friday night before our third anniversary I went over to his place, as usual. I told him I wasn’t going to quit drinking right now after all. If I was going to pretend everything was fine and I didn’t care, I’d need to numb.
Drink in hand, I asked him if he knew where the Isle of Skye was.
He responded with an enthusiastic “Yeah, I’ve been there.”
“Of course,” I laughed bitterly. Because he’s been everywhere. The Isle of Skye. Wales, London, Rome, Crete. Thailand, the Maritimes, Haida Gwaii. But never with me.
This has been a sore point between us for awhile, because when he was married, he traveled with his wife, but since he and I have been together we’ve only done road trips. He knows how wanderlust-y I am and keeps talking about us going somewhere awesome together, but it never happens.
I tell him about my plan to start aggressively saving to go away, again. I have some money in an account, but I tell him that I’ve done some research (angrily, as I’d accepted the fact that we were never going to go anywhere since I wasn’t his wife and if he couldn’t afford to take me now he wasn’t going to be able to once he had another girlfriend), and I’d found lots of cheap trips that I could save for within a year.
I said the words “By myself,” a lot.
“There’s a lot of places I can afford to go by myself.”
“I think that’s a place that would be safe to travel by myself.”
“I wouldn’t be comfortable driving to the port by myself, so I’d take a greyhound then ferry to the island.”
He asked if I still wanted him to go with me.
I said “Sure, if you want.” The unspoken message was clear: I give up. Do what you want. I’m going to live my life with or without you.
Then, working a pretty good buzz, I wondered aloud if I should join Tinder. “You know,” I said, “I only lasted about 30 seconds on there last time, but that was because I was afraid of people I know seeing my profile. Now that I’m trying to care less about what other people think, I think I’ll go ahead and join.”
And I did. Right then. I joined Tinder and immediately started swiping, completely missing the fact that I was swiping the wrong way on all the men I liked until Papa Bear showed me how to do it right.
I was kind of being a bitch. I didn’t even want to meet anyone on Tinder. Papa Bear had told me during one of our last discussions on him being way more actively poly than he is (me, preferring not to look for other partners but to be open to more love if it comes along) that he didn’t want me to feel like he was always looking, and would shut down his dating profiles. He told me he’d shut down his OkCupid, but he still had Tinder (though he was only getting men because he’d switched it to BFF mode) and I didn’t know what other apps he was using. Still, he’d made an effort, and I was kind of telling him it didn’t matter anymore. Once again, I don’t care.
He kept assuring me he wanted to be with me. Telling me the reason he hasn’t traveled with me is because he’d put the trips with his wife on his credit card and was trying to be more responsible and pay off his debt before we went away. That he wasn’t looking for other women anymore and he didn’t know what else he could do to prove that even if I didn’t care, he did.
And I just started to blubber. “Do you remember,” I asked him, “When you were still with The Wifey, and you said that if you broke up with her you’d be heart-broken, but at least you’d know you’d had a great life together and you’d always be grateful for that?”
“Yes,” he said, confused.
“Well, I don’t know if you and I are going to be able to stay together. I love you, but we might not be able to make it happen,” I sniffled. “And if we can’t, I just want to know that you and I had a great life together, while we were together. That’s why I don’t want to travel with you in a few years, I want to travel with you now. That’s why I get frustrated when we don’t go more places and do more things. Because I want to be able to look back and say, at least we had that. And if you find another serious girlfriend, that’s never going to happen because you won’t be able to afford it. So I don’t know what to do, except give up on ever having a life with you.”
“I don’t need another girlfriend,” he said, on the verge of tears.
“Yes, you do! You keep saying ‘it’s who I am, it’s who I am.’ You’ll never be happy with just me. I used to think that when we could be together all the time, you wouldn’t need anyone else. But that’s obviously not true. I’ll never be enough for you.”
He told me that I am enough. That I am more than enough. That I am everything. That his being polyamorous doesn’t say anything about whether I am enough. How could something about him, define me? “Furthermore, I’ve told you over and over that I’m not looking for another girlfriend. I don’t have the emotional energy. I’m not dating any of the women I’m seeing. I just like sex.”
“I’m sorry, then how is that who you are? How is that polyamory? You keep saying you’re polyamorous and it’s who you are, but I don’t get how that jives with having a constant stream of meaningless sex with women you barely know.”
He didn’t have a great answer for that. He knows he can love more than one woman at a time, but he doesn’t need to, and right now he doesn’t want to. It’s an ego boost knowing other people want him, but he admits he shouldn’t be ruled by his ego.
“Look,” I said. “I am not monogamous either. But the difference between us is that I don’t have to be with more than one person at a time to be happy. If looking for other women, or being with other women, is something you will always, always want–and not just a lifestyle you can choose to engage in or to not engage in, depending on the circumstances–then I just can’t imagine a future with you. In a decade, my kids are going to be grown up, and I am going to leave. I have spent my entire life settling for relationships that weren’t right, just because I loved the person, or because my life made it so that was the right thing to do. I’m not going to do that forever. Every day is a fight and when I’m done raising my kids, I’m done fighting. I’m done with the stress of being paired with the wrong person. I’m done with stress, period. Even if it means I move to Greece and live alone forever, at least I won’t be crying. At least I’ll have peace. At least I’ll be free.”
“But can I come? Like we talked about?”
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering who your next girlfriend is going to be, and what’s going to happen, and if its all going to be okay. I’m going to get tired. I’m going to be too old for this. I don’t want my whole life to be a house of cards that can crash down at any moment because we keep adding unknown elements. At some point, I want to know what my future is going to look like and who its going to be with, even if the answer to that is no one.”
He admits its hard for him to feel restricted, but maybe he needs to stop trying to recapture his 20’s. That he knows he will not have the energy for multiple women forever, and that when he looks at his future, all he sees is me.
I still don’t believe him, so as I drink and cry, he goes back inside and comes out with a red velvet ring box, shaped like a heart. I stare at it, stunned. He flips it open and inside is a ring. A sparkly, diamond ring. And all I can think is that the gold and the diamonds are arranged into the infinity symbol–which a lot of people think of as the symbol for polyamory, because love is infinite.
He holds out the ring and talks about how he loves me and wants to be with me forever. How no matter who he is with, it’s never been as good as when he’s with me. How we connect on so many levels and he truly believes we were made for each other. How sleeping with other women is just sex, but with me, from the very first time, he was shaken to his core and thought “holy fuck, what just happened?” That he’s never had that kind of connection with anyone else, and he’s never been so deeply in love with anyone else, and I need to believe him.
I burst into fresh tears, as the truth of the matter, the question that has been at the core of all of this, finally crystallizes in my mind.
“What happens when that’s not true anymore?” I ask, my voice breaking. “What happens when the next girl or the next girl or the next does touch you that way? What happens when you meet someone you click with more than me? What happens then?” I bawl.
And he gets it. He finally gets it.
I don’t take the ring. It doesn’t fit and the infinity symbol freaks me out and the timing is wrong. He puts it away and tells me he will get me a better one, one he hopes I will wear for the rest of my life.
And we compromise. We have twelve years until we can run away together. For the next twelve years, we can experiment and be as non-monogamous as we want. But when we are finally able to be together the way that we want to, the way that we were meant to, it is just him and me. Of course, if he falls in love with someone else before then that would complicate things. Who knows, I may like her enough to want to bring her with us. Or he may decide to stay here with her. But what I really needed to know is that someday my life will stabilize. That I will have my person (or people) and won’t need to deal with more.
Regardless, I know what I’m doing and I believe he wants to do it with me. Somehow I feel that all-elusive peace, which is all I really wanted to begin with.
So I mentioned life being fucked up. And yes, it is fucked up. Now let me tell you why.
Its no secret that my sexual relationship with The Husband is at best, uninspired, and at worst, non-existent.
That’s the reason I became non-monogamous in the first place–because after a years of not having my needs met, I was done. We came to this arrangement because if I didn’t start getting laid, our marriage would have ended anyway.
A couple months ago, I had a talk with him. It wasn’t one of our usual screaming matches about him not being into me. It was more just an inquiry. I asked him, “Do you not like sex?” And he doesn’t.
He said that realization didn’t click until the moment I asked. And honestly I was flabbergasted. How the HELL had he not realized this before? How can this possibly be the very first time he ever thought about this? We’d fought like cats and dogs. We’d both totally lost our self-esteem. We redefined our entire marriage around this problem and he’d never stop to ask himself if he likes sex???? What the actual fuck???
I asked him to explain, and he said he often enjoys it, but during almost every encounter there’s a moment of panic or a feeling that he really doesn’t like, and that makes it hard to enjoy the rest of it.
He said he never realized because he thought that everyone likes sex. It just never crossed his mind that the reason we had these problems was because he didn’t.
I let some time pass. But I couldn’t help thinking “This marriage is probably dead.”
(Stay Tuned for Part 2).
So here I am–back, and not knowing where to start. I should probably start with the reason that I’m back, which is–I feel like I would like to implode my entire life. What does that mean? What am I saying?
Just that I am sick of being who I am–or pretending to be who people believe me to be–and I want out. Permanently. I want to take out a billboard and tell the world everything about me, and ex-communicate anyone who doesn’t like it.
Ex-communication–such a harsh act. Yet for some reason it’s what I crave. Last year Tyler Glenn came out with an Album called Ex-Communication, themed around his act of coming out of the closet and leaving the Mormon church. It’s not exactly my preferred style of music, but certain songs of his, I love. Not just because of clever lines like “I found myself when I lost my faith,” but because he was brave enough to write and record them. He gave no shits. HE ex-communitated no one–yet made it clear that anyone who didn’t support him could fuck right off. He was done hiding.
I can’t explain what hiding has done to me. The fact that I feel like I am always looking over my shoulder, afraid of what others might see, the questions they might raise, the conclusions they might draw.
Am I a cheating whore? My husband a poor, blind schmuck? My children, doomed to be scarred? Am I a pervert, who has no preference for whether she fucks men or women, as long as she is fucking? A sex-addict who will go there with whomever? A heartless bitch who must not love anyone at all, if she is unwilling to remain faithful? It’s all open to speculation. The world stands in judgement. And who am I? Just a woman who is tired of hiding, tired of shame, tired of pain. A woman who has been through a fucking lot in the last few years, and just wants to take a deep breath and be herself. A woman who, by many standards, is selfish, yet still feels like she is sacrificing herself in order to not hurt others.
Who am I? I have no fucking idea.
More to come.
I didn’t get in trouble at work. The big wigs contacted Boss Man that Sunday night for reasons that had nothing to do with him or me. Yet I can’t help thinking how reckless we were. Almost like we wanted to get caught, lying on the stairs with his fingers inside me, hiding in the kitchen pressed up against the wall.
Why did I do this? I still don’t know.
Am I just not used to being happy, so I feel like I need to court misery? Maybe I don’t know myself without it. Maybe I think that happiness will never last, so I need to keep pain around as a constant. And yet, its not like my life was perfect. Things with the husband are a constant work in progress, work can be stressful, there is never enough money and my kids are more of a handful than I have hands for.
Maybe I entertained a fantasy that he and his girlfriend would break up, and then he would come back to me and stay with me for longer this time. Not forever–never forever, he wouldn’t have it, he needs a partner who is all his. But maybe I thought we could be together, learn from each other, have something that we could look back on one day and smile about. One of those break-up that transitions nicely into a friendship between a couple who “remains close.”
But am I close with any of my exes, still? I want to be, so badly, but they won’t have me, not even as a friend. My first love who I think should be over it enough by now to be able to chat with me, will not talk to me. I wish I knew why–it was over more than a decade ago–but she says she can’t. She won’t be my friend.
The first lover I took after I was married, who was my best friend in jr. high, disappeared without a trace after our week of passion and presumably doesn’t care whether or not I’m alive. Sugar Daddy, he was never my friend, and I don’t talk to him because all he wants from me is sex and submission. Boss Man is my friend, first and foremost–one of my closest, one of my dearest. I know part of what I wanted was a lover who still wanted me in their life, even after the romance was over.
Was it worth it, though? God, it feels like it wasn’t. It feels like nothing could be worth feeling this way. Nothing is worth hiding in the locker room at work, sobbing and gasping into his chest while he rubs slow circles on my back and I beg him to tell me why losing something that never had a shot hurts so goddamn much.
He says we met at the wrong time, but at least we met. I’m glad we met too, but should I have slept with him, even once? Maybe. I did recover from that, even though it hurt. But after he had a girlfriend? No. No, it did nothing but fuck with me. And yet, at the time, there was something so sublime about finally knowing that he loved me back. That he feels our connection as deeply as I do. That he wishes to god we’d met ten years ago. That I will always also be his one that got away.
Of course, that changes nothing. Because we’re still not together, and we never will be again. Because he loves Tinder Girl and she wants to marry him and have his kid. Because even if they broke up, a few more months or a year with him would not change the ending. He will always end up with someone else. Better now than later.
I want to find another job. I never planned to stay for more than a year anyway. Its time to move on professionally, and he is the only reason I haven’t. And now he is my motivation for getting away as soon as possible. Its impossible, and it hurts, and it broke us both.
He has a girlfriend. If things go the way they plan for them to, he will marry her and make a baby with her. And she’ll never know how he cheated, and that is my biggest regret. It’s gross. I feel gross. If I can’t live with it, how will he? Just another question I don’t really know the answer to.
I really want to believe that I’ve learned my lesson. I do believe I’ve learned it. That I won’t enter into something doomed again because I don’t know that the experience is worth the heartbreak. Love is not rare and precious. I could fall in love with someone new every year, but that doesn’t mean that I should if it’s not right. I also want to believe that I’ll never get involved again with someone who is cheating, regardless of the passion.
I hope I have a good memory. I hope I remember this pain for the rest of my life. I hope I never go there again.
We are falling so hard. It is intoxicating and devastating. It’s a gigantic, impossible bruise of a love. It is never going to end in anything but heartbreak. There is literally no rhyme or reason to it–I want to ask “Why?” but there’s no point.
“At another time, in another place…” He keeps saying. At another time, in another place, we would be something legendary.
But he is still monogamous at heart (even if not in action, at this point) and I am still not. Well, actually, chances are if a genie promised me my ideal relationship scenario, I would have a perfect, intense love with one person. And that love would last forever and we’d never even want to look at anyone else. But I don’t have a genie. So this is my life and these are my choices. My love for my husband and for Papa Bear preclude my being able to indulge my love for Boss Man, who wants me all to himself. I can’t say anything at all about it, because he deserves to have the kind of “one and only” love he’s looking for. And he loves Tinder Girl, and she loves him. And yet.
The fire between us when our eyes meet across the room. Our little stolen touches–to tuck a tag, or a not so innocent brush by as we cross paths.
His hands on my face at the end of the day, kissing me goodbye. His pulling the car over when we drive together for work, allowing me to jump into his lap and take his mouth.
Me in his bed. Me in his shower. His cock in my mouth. His head between my legs. Him inside me.
The rumours we now ignore, because none of them know what they’re talking about. In his words “They talk of lust, not love.”
And we are so impossibly in love. The kind that is going to spread, like flames, up the walls of our lives, and burn it all to the ground if we don’t stop it.
I think we might be.
The view from Papa Bear’s high rise is magnificent. I love sitting in this comfy lounge chair, watching the sun come up, watching the sun go down, watching the city lights at night, or the mist rising over the skyline in mid-morning.
I love our quiet time. I love drinking my coffee while he makes bacon, or just snuggling together and enjoying the fact that we have nowhere to be and nothing to do.
I love our little happy place at the top of the world.