When I saw this tweet from the darling and fellow Polyam Violet Fawkes, I knew I really did have to finally write this post.
As many of you know, I am in a relationship with two men who live in Germany. (I just realized it’s almost time to do another quarterly post about the polycule! Stay tuned!)
At this point, these relationships are obviously long distance since I am living in Medellin, Colombia. But when I was there in Germany and fully involved in these relationships live and in person, neither one was a very traditional relationship. I love the freedom polyamory allows me. The ability to love people right where we all are.
My boyfriend Benjamin was married when I met him. They started their polyamorous journey with me. I was the first person either of them dated alone. That was a bit scary for all of us, (I was very nervous about being the first) but as my relationship with him progressed we found our way with a lot of honesty and humor. It was pretty great. I used to go to their place in Hamburg for long weekends and we’d all have breakfast and dinner together, and sometimes do things as an “extended family” with their daughter. I loved our little polyamorous family.
Until it was gone. Their marriage started to fall apart. In the end, it had nothing to do with the polyamory, just years of things neglected and now too far along to fix. But that stress and the things he was going through, significantly changed my relationship with him and eventually ended my friendship with her. He had so much on his mind and in his heart, our relationship which was already long-distance began to feel the distance.
We saw each other even less frequently than we already were. I think we went for about 2.5 months without seeing each other at one point. Our daily chats and semi-regular phone calls became more and more sporadic. But, what do you do when your boyfriend is separating from his wife of 20+ years when your own relationship is only months old? Well, I don’t know what you would do? But what I did was hang in there. Give him his space, let him come to me when he had the emotional space to do so, check in, love him even when our relationship didn’t look like a “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationship.
That lasted a long time. Maybe too long. But what’s too long? In a lot of ways 14 months into our relationship, it is still part of the way we operate. We adapted to what was going on in his life and what he needed to get through it because that was better than not being in each other’s lives. One thing I know about love, for me, is that I don’t need that love to be returned in the same way I give it. I give it because I want to. I give it because I feel it. I give it because truly, I love to love. I told a friend just this week when he told me to be careful about a new relationship I am forming here in Medellin:
The thing about Benjamin and me and our love and polyamory? My relationship with him doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. It’s not. If we were monogamous, this relationship would never work. (Well besides the obvious part with him being married and all… LOL) He has never been able to give me “enough time” to be “my everything.” He hasn’t had enough emotional or physical bandwidth to spend a lot of time with me, not to mention even when we were in Germany we were living two hours apart and now we are thousands of miles away. If we were attempting to have a “traditional” monogamous relationship, we would not have any relationship at all.
That is not acceptable to me.
Sometimes I wobble (to borrow a really great word from @theotherlivvy). Sometimes I wish we had more. Sometimes I wish I heard from him every day, or at least even once a week. Sometimes I wish he was more like my “boyfriend” than he is. (I frequently refer to these feelings as my monogamy hangover!) But you know what? He’s not. We don’t have that relationship. But when people ask, I am confident to say that he is solidly my partner. He loves me. (Whether he says it or not.) He supports me in everything I do. He meets the needs he can for me when he can.
One of the things about being Solo Poly is that I work very hard to put myself first. The way our culture operates, that sounds so selfish, doesn’t it? Me first? But why not? I date myself. I enjoy my own company. I like to have time to write, or just watch Netflix and chill with myself (maybe a Fun Factory “friend.”) I don’t want to live with anyone; maybe someday, maybe never, but certainly for the foreseeable future traveling and living alone is what I picture for myself.
Because of this, I don’t need to have the full attention of my partners. I don’t need them to be companionate partners. I don’t need them to meet those needs that would put us on the relationship escalator and ride us to the top- married, children to death do us part! Now don’t get me wrong, when I meet a person who can be companionate? I love the heck out of them! I love spending time with my people, I love having someone who just calls up and comes over, runs little random errands with me, makes dinner and chills with my friends. I freaking love that!
But, you don’t have to be that person to be special to me. This is also why I prioritize my friendships so highly. I have these kinds of relationships in my life and don’t HAVE to seek them out in romantic relationships only. When I was in Berlin I had a girlfriend who called up and said, “I have wine, order a pizza and I’ll be right there.” We would lay on the floor and watch movies. I have another one who would come over and we snuggled on the couch to talk. Another I spent every Friday with as we explored the city and drank wine. Another would come over, bring lunch, and spend the day working quietly side by side. I have beautiful companions.
So back to Benjamin. He’s broody. He’s moody. He’s been depressed and struggling with the way his life has changed over the past year+ that we’ve been together. Sometimes I wonder how much effort it takes, really, to send a text, just to tell me he’s thinking of me. Other times I think, why do I need that? I know if he can be, he’s there if I need him. If you had read my weekly reviews on www.lustitude.com the past few weeks you would have read about how supportive he’s been. (We even have an actual date picked our for me to go visit him this fall! YAY!) How I wrote to him telling him how sad and upset I was and he stayed up late after a long day of travel to comfort me. How excited he was when I told him I was so happy dating Juanito.
He’s also one of the first people I ever opened up to about my kinky thoughts and desires. He was also exploring and we learned a lot together. He is the first man I ever allowed to see me, whole, kinky, vulnerable, open. That connection is strong and I think it helps to hold us together. It holds me to him even when things don’t feel as connected as I want them to be.
Also, as I write this I am realizing, I was ok with the distance and quietness when I had Juanito here to distract me. Now that is over (long story- another post) and I have been feeling alone, Benjamin has had some stuff going on so he’s been quiet. He was one of the first people I wanted to talk to about what happened with Juan and why. But he wasn’t around much this week. I’ve been worried about that, but I realize now that’s me trying to get him to fill this new loneliness. But that’s not his job. That’s my job. He enhances my life, doesn’t complete it. (WOW. See this is why I love to write!)
And in the same note, I sent him a message just yesterday and told him, “I miss you. I feel like I need to reconnect with you. Can we talk soon?” And his immediate response was, “Yes. Let’s talk tonight after my daughter goes to bed.” When I need him, he is there. I am learning to be able to say, I need….” And feel confident that my partners are willing to help me in that, find a way for both (all) of us to be supported and loved in this relationship.
No. If we were monogamous, he would never make the cut as my boyfriend. But then I would miss out on having this lovely, soft-spoken, sexy, supportive person in my life. One of the greatest joys I have in polyamory is being able to design my relationships and allow them to fit themselves into my life, not shoehorn them into a specific mold. I may have to remind myself of this sometimes. I may feel some kind of way occasionally, but like today, my problem was less an issue with Benjamin, and more being bored and lonely since I didn’t have my new Colombian cutie to distract me. That is not a problem with my relationship with Benjamin, it’s something I have to fix for myself.