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. 🙂

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.

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.

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.

Clockwork Girl Seeks the Definition of Intimacy

I don’t write much. I always want to write more – I feel like I SHOULD write more – but I’m not exactly sure where that pressure originates.

Part of the issue is that I tend to float in and out of touch with the internet. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing of value to add to the conversation – not because what I feel isn’t important, but because sharing it adds nothing to the situation.

The other part is that I struggle to define what I hope to get out of sharing things. I could write for weeks and weeks on what I think, how I feel, what’s going through my mind, and I’m sure I’d get some comments. Maybe I’d even say something profound!

What’s the motivation, though? Is it validation? Parading my words in front of a crowd to hear the cheers of support, the laugh at a witty turn of phrase – it rings hollow for me. I don’t mind sharing my thoughts and feelings with people who genuinely want to know, but I don’t want to wave my traumas like a flag for attention.

Then again, there’s the catharsis. Letting it boil up and out and not caring who hears or sees, how ragged I look or how broken I am at that moment in time. Baring myself like that burns, but the healing is sweeter for it. Sometimes it brings new perspective, and sometimes those cheers of support are actually a balm.

I’ve started commenting more on things of late. I was pointed to a conversation where I think I had something relevant and hopefully insightful to contribute. And then I saw another, and another. I find myself sharing more and more about my life, and I don’t mind it – but I have to wonder where the “too intimate” line is and what might qualify as TMI.

I don’t actually consider sharing my life stories all that intimate. Telling others about the traumas in my life tends to shift the way people view me, and sometimes I don’t like that change. My skin crawls to think about the faces people make when I tell them about some of the more…pivotal moments. I don’t share my stories for pity. I share it for context, to give nuance to the puzzle that I am.

So I learned cut out the middle man, make it all for everybody, always. Everybody can’t turn around and tell everybody, everybody already knows, I told them. But this means there isn’t a place in my life for you or someone like you. Is it sad? Sure. But it’s a sadness I chose. – Childish Gambino, That Power

Not entirely relevant, but this always strikes me. Part of me wants to rip away the covering and let everybody see my gears at work, because then it’s all out and up to the world. Abdicating responsibility by dumping my life into the public eye and “Do as thou wilt.”

But that feels so incredibly selfish and arrogant to me. It’s screaming at everyone around me, forcing knowledge upon them without their consent. Does everyone need to know all the things all the time? Who am I to push my story to the eyes and ears of those who have no vested interest in me?

I am not a tragic figure, nor a powerful heroine. I am a creation, an awkwardly constructed framework with a personality built over and over again to try and connect with the world in a way that’s meaningful, that’s powerful. The world can already see what I am, who I am – it’s all there for those who take the time to investigate. Nothing stays hidden for long because everything’s shifting, always ticking away. Talk to me long enough and you’ll know all my secrets.

It’s not the sharing of them that’s the intimate part, though. It’s only intimate if you listen.