Welcome back, blogger!

I took a bit of a hiatus, as life got a bit more chaotic than expected. A big part of that centers around a rather important move: I am now living with my double-metamour.

I’ll wait a moment for that to sink in.

My new housemate and I share not one but TWO partners, a blog (neapolitanromance.com is ours), and now we share a house as well. And soon, in all likelihood, custody of a dog. Or two. Maybe some fish. And temporarily some guinea pigs.

This is WEIRD. And really, really good – at least for me.

I live with someone who knows my life. Who knows the important people surrounding me, knows the ins and outs of my loves and my struggles to find new love in my life. Who speaks the same poly language I do, shares my desired communication skill set, and has a similar-enough-to-be-understood-but-different-enough-to-be-helpful worldview.

And she’s my FRIEND. I can talk to her about my stresses, and she gets it. I introduce new dates to her because I like having her input on potential new partners.  We have similar interests in crafts (our yarn stashes are merging), entertainment, decor (our house is…let’s call it eclectic), and similar social needs. Our new place is amazing for entertaining, and we’ve had several gatherings already – with the intent to have many, many more.

We’re still sorting all the day to day logistics out, as learning to live with someone new takes time. I’m actively seeking new partners, and we’re navigating the roommate/date territory fairly well.

I’m so grateful for her, and I’m excited for the future here.

The mystery of the date

I had a conversation last night that got me to thinking: what does one qualify as a date? When spending time with lovers and friends, how do the interactions differ in their basic frameworks? When it comes down to it, do they really differ at all?

How do you register that one on one time with someone is a date or just a friendly interaction? Does differentiating matter? If it is important to know what kind of situation it will be prior to the time spent together, how do you navigate the potentially awkward definition conversation?

I pose these questions rhetorically, but please – if you have an answer, or would like to start a conversation about it, let me know! I’d love to hear about it, even if I don’t know you. 🙂

Perfect and Complete, Lacking Nothing

I’ve been without inspiration for a good post for nearly a month now, and tonight it finally hit me. I went back to my old standby for introspection, a book called Cave of Tigers: Modern Zen Encounters. It’s full of fascinating and powerful exchanges between students and the teacher at a Zen monastery in New York.

Student: When my son was born it was obvious that he was perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Now he’s four and a half, and it’s getting so complicated that the only time he’s perfect and complete, lacking nothing, is when he’s sleeping. During the day I get very angry and frustrated with him. This is the peril. How do I deal with it?

Teacher: Are you perfect and complete, lacking nothing?

Student: Oh, no.

Teacher: That’s why he’s not.

Student: I have to start with me?

Teacher: No, you have to realize that you’re perfect and complete, lacking nothing, and then you’ll see the perfection and completeness that encompass everything.

The answer given from the teacher was beautiful. The child is still perfect and complete, lacking nothing – as is the parent. Coming to terms with that, and true understanding of that concept, changes the way we interact with the world around us. We are perfect and complete, lacking nothing, and will be just so tomorrow when we learn the next lesson and gain the next skill. We do not gather these things from others, from relationships and the adoration of others, but from acceptance of ourselves as we are. We are perfectly flawed.

This is, in my mind, a beautiful example of human wabi-sabi: the aesthetic world view that finds beauty in the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. We all have weaknesses and flaws and gaps in our knowledge and understanding. Instead of seeing those as negative, though, we can fill the spaces with compassion and love, repairing the empty cracks with gold to make a complete and unique whole. We are as flawed and lacking as we should be at this very moment, which means we are truly perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

How does this translate into relationships, though? Of course we need support and love from others. We need human contact and social interaction and emotional connections!

I don’t, however, need those connections to fill in my cracks. I need them to polish and tend to the gold I already have. I need them to hold up the mirror when I’m full of self-doubt and my mending is nothing but shiny dirt to remind me that I am strong and amazing. I also seek out partners for whom I can do the same thing – remind them how perfect they already know they are in their deepest hearts. The core of fluid steel that’s as strong and bright as it is flowing and compassionate.

It’s hard to come to terms with the concept that our flaws are perfect, and at the same time they are there to be worked on in the eternal pursuit of self-improvement. I’m struggling with this contradiction daily, and I’m working on being more conscious that others are doing the same. Not everyone sees it the same way, but we all face the same balancing act.

Living as a Single Secondary: What’s a primary, anyways?

According to the often-used definitions, I don’t have a “primary” partner. I am in a long term, committed relationship with a married man, and we are pretty firmly off the “relationship escalator”. Our dynamic will not progress in more traditional ways – marriage, living together, etc. – because that’s not the way this relationship works for us. And that’s okay.

My life as a single secondary has been a bit of a struggle, to be honest. I’ve spent many years feeling adrift and impermanent, and the lack of that more stable connection gets stronger every year.

What am I really looking for, though? Do I need that “primary partner” to satisfy my needs? I don’t actually think so.

This topic has been on my mind quite a bit of late, and I’ve come to a few conclusions. It’s not the romantic connection that I miss. It’s the knowledge that I’m in relationships that are actively, willfully planning for me to be around and part of them indefinitely. Finding a job that I enjoy and will stick with for more than a year or two, finding a place to live for the forseeable future instead of always looking for something newer and better, creating dynamics with friends and lovers who will consistently plan for me to be a part of their lives years down the road – these are the things I’m looking for.

My life is full of impermanence. I’m currently working for a temp agency, I’ve only been in my current living situation for about 3 months, and I sent my cat – my sole source of constant companionship throughout my life in Cleveland – to live with my mother because the new house couldn’t have her. This all boils down to a lonely sense of being set adrift on a somewhat regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my current situation! My job is fun and exciting, and they’re looking to hire me on permanently within the next month or so. My housemates are comfortable with my lifestyle and incredibly friendly. I’m meeting new people, making new friends, starting new relationships – but because all of it is still fresh I still feel quite alone sometimes.

My current partner is incredibly supportive and loving, and I am so grateful for the time, energy, and money he puts into supporting me when I need it. I’m just one part of the incredible plate of responsibilities he balances, though, and sometimes I need more than he has the bandwidth to provide. This is when I realize that my network of close, intimate friends isn’t actually all that close. The other people I rely upon for emotional support and energy tend to be scattered all over the country – and some even overseas. I’m grateful for their love and friendship, but there’s a definite lack of physical comfort in these dynamics, which contributes to the sense of isolation.

So what do I need here? What kind of dynamic am I truly seeking to meet these needs?

Surprisingly enough, I don’t think it’s necessarily a romantic one. I’m looking for permanence, not a husband, and that opens the doors wide for all kinds of options. Perhaps a more permanent roommate situation – something that is approached with due intention and respect and with the intent to be long-term. Likely the best option for such a thing would be someone whose chosen lifestyle is similar to mine. There is still the option of gaining a “primary” partner, someone willing and eager to mesh our lives together in that way. And then there’s the idea that several of my poly friends have brought up – the poly community co-op idea, where each person has their own space, but there’s a communal kitchen/living area for all to share. One friend suggested an apartment building in Chicago, another suggested a sprawling country-ish property full of tiny houses/living spaces around a main shared space – a poly compound, if you will. This idea appeals the most strongly to me, I think, because of the inherent sense of community that comes from being surrounded by people who inherently understand the way I live my life a little better while still allowing for personal, intimate space. Also, tiny houses are my favorites. 😀

I’m becoming more articulate about what the needs are that I’m trying to fill. Now I just need to find a way to do so, and find the right people to share it with.

Solo time: Why is it so hard?

Hi. I’m poly, and I like to be alone. I don’t like to do things alone, though, for some odd reason. It’s so hard to work up the motivation to go take myself to dinner, or go see a movie or anything at all without a companion. Why?

I ALWAYS enjoy it when it happens. I love the way it feels to be solo, to be independent. I love the feeling of being unhindered by someone else’s preferences, even though I rarely have strong preferences of my own anymore. I take enjoyment out of my company instead of the activity, and this means that I’ve had to get comfortable in the company of myself.

This isn’t a thing we’re socialized to do. We’re bred to be social creatures, and it’s in our DNA to seek the companionship and security of a tribe. It’s an active struggle sometimes to cope with the thought of being solo, though some of us take to it more quickly and easily than others.

I find that when I crave solo time, I tend to want to be completely alone in a room. I want quiet, Netflix, and maybe a cat. Part of it is a desire to shut off my brain with escapism, and part of it is that I actively need to not deal with people when I’m replenishing my spoons.

And yet, there’s a different kind of recharge that comes with doing things on my own. I feel more confident, more interesting because I’ve experienced things alone. I have more to talk about, more dimension because I can face the world by myself. I don’t need a posse to make things possible – I can do that on my own.

I find that sometimes I fall into the shadow of my partner and his wife. We do a lot together, and I sometimes hesitate to find my own way. They’re comfortable and safe, and the world outside is sometimes so cold and unwelcoming. As with all things in my world, though, when I change the conversation a bit it becomes much easier. The world isn’t scary – it’s new every day, with fresh things to explore. It’s not cold – it’s a puzzle to be cracked, a 3-D picture to be seen.

Why, then, is this so hard to remember? Why can’t I just internalize this thought process and keep this momentum going? Perhaps I just need to do it more often. Maybe I need to schedule date nights with myself to make sure I have the time and space for it. Maybe I need to take myself out to brunch and a matinee some weekend. Maybe, just maybe, I need to fall in love with myself again, and ride that NRE into habit.

Sixteen Again

I’ve recently made a conscious decision to fall in love with the world without reservation, without hesitation. I’m letting the feelings grow as they will without trying to guide them. I feel like I’m in high school all over again, but with the self-awareness to not be an utter fuckhead about life.

We all had the same overwhelming feelings growing up: the bone-deep ache of fresh attraction, the giddiness when flirtation is reciprocated, the way the world falls away at that first kiss. I’m feeling them all over again, but this time I’m not tumbling around lost in the current. I’m smooth, solid, letting them roll over me, feeling them deeply and completely, and then letting them wash away.

It’s absolutely heaven here in my inner universe, and I feel like it’s expanding at an amazing rate.

There is no pressure here. No agenda. I’m letting myself fall in love with new people, new places, the world around me. It gets easier every time, and soon I hope it becomes second nature.

The difference here is that I know what’s happening and I’m not being driven by imbalanced, raging hormones. I’m an adult, with a settled core personality, and I have the ability to separate the joy of loving someone from the relationship and agreements I have with them. I can revel in the feelings without holding that person responsible for maintaining anything for me, because expectations and relationships are agreed upon by all parties involved. My feelings, when experienced this way, are entirely internal. Sure, they inform my interactions with those around me – but loving someone doesn’t mean that being with them is a good idea, and I can separate those two things. I can love them without needing to be with them.

It’s an amazing study in loving without attachment. I’m definitely growing invested in people, and I utterly adore the thought of keeping these new people in my life for years and years to come. That’s not a requirement, though. I can experience this world of emotion inside me, inspired by these lovely people, without expecting a damn thing from anyone.

What happens when I WANT attachment, though? How do I navigate the changed landscape of a new relationship with this approach?

Consciously, intentionally, and with compassion. I know that most of the world won’t meet me on my emotional playing field, so I have to be prepared to translate the rules of my world into something compatible.  My investment grows amazingly quickly, and I have to accept that it’s incredibly unlikely that a new partner is going to get attached as quickly as I have. That’s okay! I don’t mind that, because that’s when we talk about what we want from each other – what we can provide, what we crave, what we need, and where our needs and desires intersect. Setting realistic expectations allows me the freedom to experience love freely within that framework of behavior, and I can present my love and affection in ways that my partner(s) find appropriate and meaningful.

My inner universe heavily informs my world, but it doesn’t dictate my behavior. Sixteen year old me didn’t understand the difference, but thirty year old me definitely does.

Neapolitan Romance Topic of the Month: I discovered poly…

…later than was really ideal. My relationships up to that point were generally rocky, because being monogamous felt disingenuous to me, and yet I knew of no other real options. I spent years trying to shoehorn my wants and needs into a relationship structure that just didn’t work for me. I cheated a few times, and I’m not at all proud of it.

Then I packed up my world on a whim, moved to Cleveland, and met N. He changed all my definitions for the better.

He introduced me to the concept of polyamory and why it worked for him, and suddenly the universe made sense to me. I discovered that it was actually okay for me to love more than one person at a time, and I didn’t have to make grandiose promises of eternal fidelity to make a partner happy. I could let life happen, explore what was amazing right in front of me, and make plans accordingly.

It was heaven.

My first poly experience was ideal, really, at least for a while. I started dating N, fell madly in love almost straight away, and then he introduced me to H. H was gorgeous and wickedly smart, and I fell for her in short order as well. When I wasn’t crashing with N, I was crashing with H, whose wife L was about as generous with her time and effort as I could have ever asked for in a metamour. It was an absolutely incredible introduction to the lifestyle.

These people taught me how to balance dynamics, how to talk to metamours, how to approach new relationships with openness and love, and how to truly follow my instincts for the first time in my life.

Though those relationships didn’t last, I am forever grateful for the lasting impact they had on me. The incredible warmth and openness that I experienced in my first poly relationships has helped to shape the way I approach my dynamics.


I found this in Chicago, and apparently it’s a little bit of a thing. I’ve come across pictures of other instances on Flickr, though none of the one I saw. I wish I’d snapped a phone pic of it, because I’m utterly infatuated with this concept.

I try to live my life in a state of love. Love without expectation of reward, love without demand, love without judgment. I fail abysmally at this in some ways, and I’m always trying to do better. Right? As it should be.

But there’s more. Love AND. Love and respect. Love and joy. Sometimes, love and pain.

I revel in being able to love as my heart chooses. Sometimes I may actually be a bit reckless with it, but I’ve never regretted it. Not once.

I came back from my little vacation with LOV& on my heart and on my skin. Maybe I should ink it permanently, somewhere small yet visible, as a constant reminder of what I live my life to do.

There’s a hole in my love bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

In chatting with a friend, I realized something that’s holding me back at times from being more authentic and free with my emotions. I want so badly to pour my love back into the world, and yet I keep running into situations where I struggle to find the resources.

That’s because there’s probably a hole in my love bucket, and I’m struggling to fill it effectively.

My partner is amazing. He works so hard to give me what I need, and as the sole provider of partner-centered emotional and romantic support in my life, he does a damned good job. Unfortunately, I’m a part of a rather full plate belonging to a partner who doesn’t naturally speak my love language, and it’s sometimes just not enough to refill what’s been spent.

In addition, I find that when I’m off-kilter or ill at ease, my bucket doesn’t stay full the same way. I can’t retain the energy I receive as long, and I have to keep coming back for more frequent refills. This is not uncommon, but it’s definitely a contributor to my struggles.

I depend so heavily on connection with people to recharge. I find the most fulfilling and useful source of emotional energy is spending time with one or more of a select handful of intimates, rather than larger crowds. This is why I still call my best friend from high school with troubles that don’t actually make sense to her, as she’s not at all poly or even terribly kinky: she accepts the fact that these things are a bit of a foreign concept for her, she accepts my descriptions and feelings without hesitation, and has years of experience in finding ways to support me and make me feel better.

My issue is that I’m struggling to get this filled locally, and I have seen too much of the bottom of the bucket of late.

Connecting with new people is consistently challenging for me. I’m not a particularly private soul – as mentioned in other writings, I don’t actually find discussing my life in all its ups and downs to be a terribly intimate act in and of itself. I do, however, find it a huge challenge to create that intimate feeling. It’s easy to tell a sad story and have someone reach out emotionally to me. It’s much more challenging to actually feel the ping come back and understand that the person I’m speaking to may actually have a deeper concern for my personal well-being, not just as a character in the story I’ve just told.

A fairly new acquaintance showed a radical talent for creating this intimate space for me, and I’m rather floored by how easily it seemed to appear. Perhaps this is from extensive practice, perhaps something else – I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that after spending time in that space, I came back to my world with a renewed energy and wielding a full-to-the-brim bucket. This wasn’t a permanent state, and I can definitely feel it leaking a bit, but it was an amazing reminder that I CAN refill my bucket effectively. I just need to work harder at finding useful ways of doing so.

“Take the weakest thing in you / And then beat the bastards with it”

In case y’all couldn’t tell, I’ve been percolating on the concepts of attachment and investment lately, and that ties into how I process and express love in my life.

Stars is one of my favorite bands, and I’ve been listening to their two more recent albums at work of late. This song is from The North, and though I fell in love with it the first time I heard it I think it’s become even more relevant to my thoughts this week. I’m claiming it as my anthem.

“Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love
So you can let go when you give it”

There are two incredibly powerful concepts there that have been smacking me around a bit, and I think maybe writing them out could help me settle them down.

What is the weakest thing in me? Is it how much I crave connection? The sense that for a moment, I’m the only thing someone sees? Is it the horrible, sneering voice that still pops up sometimes to remind me that everything I have and everything I am could be taken away in an instant? Or is it my insecurities – the fear that I’m not actually the person I’m trying to be, that it’s just a farce and that someday the facade will crumble, showing the world the cold, lonely creature inside?

It doesn’t actually matter which one is my truest weak spot, because they’re all BULLSHIT. They’re natural cracks in the foundation, and we all have them. They’re real enough in that we have to deal with them, but as a general rule they’re not actually founded in reality. So why not turn these dark little monsters into weapons in their own war? Taking ownership of my fears, my insecurities, lets me wield them against each other to remind me how weak they are. For that sneering voice, the sweetest revenge is a life well lived, and I’m working towards that more each day.

Taking care of these insecurities makes it easier to practice the kind of love I strive to live. The cracks make it harder to accept love as genuinely given, and harder still to keep hold of it when it’s not actively being pushed at me. And seriously, if you’re like me and you’ve tried to love the world without being able to keep hold of some yourself, it doesn’t work very well.

I’m still working on those cracks. Found a couple tonight that needed tending, and it’s amazing the difference that a little maintenance can make. Taking care of them, though, lets me work on living as I desire: open, fearless, and with a bottomless well of love.