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. 🙂

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.

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.

LOV&

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.