So, wait…

I hadn’t wanted to mention Carrie’s moratorium mentioned in the previous post because it was hers to discuss. I try to minimize any private information of hers that I mention here; Carrie’s a much less, er, open person than I am in most ways. I’m at my most comfortable when I’m talking about myself.

However, if you read about Carrie’s hiatus and wondered why I wasn’t more copacetic than I am, you wouldn’t be alone. I know she has, and to some extent, I’ve wondered that myself.

Part of the answer lies in that old chestnut that “poly isn’t [all] about the sex“. I’m well aware of that, on a fairly bone-deep level, and so while I understand the lifestyle better than most previously-monogamous folks, the lack of sex is not much of a comfort. Carrie still has these relationships with a romantic component, even if the foolin’ around is on hold, and outside of this primary relationship I just don’t.

And that’s another bit of it. I feel somewhat the way that I felt when I was monogamous–i.e., boxed in and optionless. My difficulties are less about what Carrie does and more about what I don’t. I feel like this is ground that I’ve covered before, but I haven’t mentioned that I live with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a complicating factor. Mine often manifests as a desire for symmetry, and anxiety if things are out of balance; this relationship feels rather wildly out of balance.

Also, her moratorium is acknowledgedly temporary. When Carrie was just continuing on with the physically intimate portions of other relationships, that was fine (for certain values of ‘fine’). It was no less difficult, but no more so. But now, we’re in this weird limbo where she’s not only not interested in other people, but officially so; however, it’s known that that will end. So, I feel some level of obligation to reciprocate by not seeing anyone else at the moment (which may be another manifestation of the OCD) while at the same time knowing that Carrie’s outside interests will reignite. Not only do I not know when, nor will I necessarily know until quite some time after, but also when it happens it will be, to an extent, because she’s less into me than she was.

This is not to say that it’s not flattering, but it’s also not comforting. It makes me feel good without making me feel better.

As an aside, occasionally when I talk to someone about these difficulties, they seem to think that they would be solved by being in a monogamous relationship. That’s not just wrong, but antipodal from right. If Carrie and I were to decide to be monogamous, I could never address these feelings. I would be stuck this way forever, with the added obligation of being everything to someone. I’ve tried that, and discovering that I can’t do it nearly tore me apart. I’m not in this kind of relationship because it was a requirement of dating Carrie; it’s equally a requirement of dating me.

That last bit hasn’t precisely served me very well, though. It’s not as if no one has expressed interest in me since Carrie and I got together; if anything, more people have. But everyone that I’ve reciprocated interest in has evaporated as soon as they found out about my pre-existing and very serious relationship. Prior, I was running into a lot of people who weren’t interested in nonmonogamy, but some were at least willing to entertain the idea when it was less concrete. A friend recently suggested that I just not tell people about the situation until/unless they express an interest in becoming monogamous, but that seems, to me, like lying by omission. Perhaps I’m just used to a certain style of dating, with which I was always uncomfortable, in which it’s assumed that everyone is looking for someone they can spend the rest of their life with unless otherwise stated. Maybe that assumption isn’t in play outside of Indiana, but I’m still leery of eliding the question of “what are you looking for?”.

And, you know, I don’t have a whole lot of outside interest right now. It’s not that I don’t get the occasional twitch of “ooh, I’d like to tap that”, but no one much is catching my interest lately, because it’s all rather absorbed in Carrie. At the same time, I feel internal pressure to see someone outside, if only to right the balance.

I’m pulled in two ways at once right now, but, in a sense luckily, I don’t have any outside options, so that particular choice is made for me.

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9 thoughts on “So, wait…

  1. I’m at my most comfortable when I’m talking about myself.
    A tributary that takes us to:
    “…But enough about me; What do
    you think of me?”

  2. Wait, you feel a level of obligation to not see anyone else right now? I thought it was just that you didn’t have anyone you wanted to see.

    For the rest of you, as I already discussed with Nick, a lot of my success in multiple relationships has been (I realize) due in part to the fact that everyone I’ve been dating has already had a preexisting primary partner. Far from bothering me, this fit perfectly with what I wanted out of relationships at the time. And still do, unless they’re Nick. I speculate that Nick needs to be surrounded less by single people than by coupled people who are interested in another relationship without feeling a need to stick a flag in his head.

    Because, you know, ouch.

  3. Sure, the sense of obligation is moot, as I don’t have anyone I want to see. It’s there, though. It’s not an intense sense, and I don’t know that it would stop me, but it’s probably enough to make me hesitant.

    I’m sorry if I hadn’t mentioned that before. I didn’t intend for you to find out here, Carrie.

  4. And now a little story about “obligation”:

    A week prior, I was approached by two different attractive women at a club. The first was much too subtle in her pass for my dense arse to recognize until quite a bit later when it finally sunk in, and she had decisively moved on. The second gal’s overture was relatively bold. She walked up to me at the bar, piled into my side and proclaimed an innocent “oops.” I smiled, and adjusted to provide little comfortable space between us, and I continued sipping my drink quietly while staring pensively through a glass wall to an adjacent dance floor. Persistent, she bridged that space in about a second, and started again conversing with me. However, music was still drowning out her wafting voice, and I assumed she wanted to get by to nab the bartender’s attention. I backed away from bar the a couple feet to give her a nook closer to bartender, and gestured with an inviting open palm to take my place. She asked if I was buying her a drink. As not my initial intent, I nearly spouted “no, actually…” and yet I stayed that thought and I held my tongue to finally reply with a “sure”. I wouldn’t begrudge a charming lady for a five dollar beverage. It became evident that she just used that angle as an excuse to continue chatting me up and repeatedly flashing a sweet toothy grin by my way every other sentence. She inquired if I were there alone and as to I reside and what my sexual preferences might be (appropriate parlance as it is awesomely gay club, emphasis *awesome*). Very thankful for the drink, she ardently insisted that she owed me at least a dance for my little token generosity. I explained that she owed me nothing and thanked her for that well meaning courtesy. Now, aside from being the world’s most accomplished cluepervious dumbass, I still could not appreciate a quid pro quo arrangement, but that’d be too much to explain in that venue. A few sips later I bid her adieu and merged with the sweaty undulating crowd. Sometime later, we found ourselves in close proximity to one another (due to Brownian motion) and she definitely took to dancing with me. It was then that I explained to her that I’m quite happy to dance with her freely (she was quite a PYT), but not under obligation of favor.

  5. Excellent story, Halo, and I think you see where I’m coming from. Or else you’ve stumbled by accident into an illustrative story; it’s one thing to choose something and another to do it out of either obligation or necessity.

  6. Ah, lawdy… recently two women who are friends with me and my wife have let me know quite openly that I can dance the horizontal samba with them if I want. Since my wife and I live apart during the week, I could do this and get away with it but I’ve chosen not to. Not because I don’t want to (they are both very attractive to me and I would have fallen over myself taking up their offers a few years ago). Not because they are my wife’s friends also (I feel that is their decision to make). So why…? it’s because I know how much it would hurt Becky if I did and it DID somehow come out, and I won’t run that risk.

    So, is that about obligation? I feel it’s rather like doing something good just because one is conscious of karma and wants to earn some points. I just can’t tell if it’s the right decision for the wrong reason, or what.

  7. Well, Robin, it seems like the right decision for the right reason, if you and your wife are monogamous. If the monogamy isn’t working for you, then I don’t know what to tell you, but I think that’s not about “obligation” in the tit-for-tat sense we were speaking of above.

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