Getting there

It’s hard to post here, sometimes, when things aren’t going well.  I feel like I don’t want to air dirty laundry in public, especially when it’s not all my laundry.  So usually, when I go through these lack-of-update phases, it’s because there’s something I really ought to be talking about but don’t want to.

However, life being the pendulum that it is, things get better, and it’s easier to talk about the downswing after the upswing’s begun.

The hypothesis that Carrie and I are in an open relationship has actually been tested, and can be upgraded to theory now.  It’s been a difficult test, but not entirely for related reasons; Carrie was fairly miserable a couple of times, but that had more to do with life circumstances, I think, than her not wanting me to see other people. It’s been a rough year, and she was having a lot of trouble finding work, and feeling like she was contributing to the household.  It took a while for all of this to out, though, so I was worried that she was just depressed that I was seeing someone else, which in turn sort of soured the “oh, okay, so this can actually work” sensation that I had so needed.

We’ve had these discussions since, and things have turned upward for Carrie on the work front, so we’re in a better spot now all around.  She still seems uninterested in seeing anyone else, but at least we’re both clear that that’s not because what she really wants is monogamy.  Certainly, her shuddery reaction when I asked the question left that much clear.

Hasn’t affected my actually seeing someone else, though.  That’s gone very well.  L is fantastic, although out of town right now. She’s interning on the other coast.   She’s just been lovely and low-pressure and exactly what I needed to find–except that she found me, of course.  I’m still not so good at the “initiating contact with someone for purposes of dating” step, which is something that I need to work on.

I don’t know if other folks who are in non-monogamous situations feel the same need to occasionally attract new people that I do.  There’s a stigma associated with a need for “validation” these days, but I do think that need is… er… valid. We use the responses that other people have toward us to calibrate our sense of self, and our sense of position, and absent that feedback we lack a necessary calibrating method.  Someone who literally doesn’t care at all how other people react to them is as unbalanced as someone who puts too much emphasis on it.

I’ve wandered off point, though, which is to say that I feel like the sort of prelude to nonmonogamy is done, now that I’ve proven (to myself) that it can work (for myself). Now begins the work of actually crafting a lifestyle that feels right to me.

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8 thoughts on “Getting there

  1. I don’t know if other folks who are in non-monogamous situations feel the same need to occasionally attract new people that I do

    Oh, I totally do. And yeah, a lot of it’s about validation for me – not even “calibration”, as that implies that I might alter my self-presentation during dry spells rather than just whining about it – though I think I crave the excitement of connecting with someone new in its own right, too.

  2. “Why must the validation come from new people?”

    I don’t know? I guess it’s a different kind of validation in each case. Plus there’s a “still got it” factor to continuing to draw new people; you know that it’s not just that someone’s stuck with you because they’ve put up with you this long.

    Wbd, I think I’m talking more about calibrating expectations than about “calibrating” my own behavior. Sort of an “Oh, okay, I’m doing all right, so I’m probably above a five but nowhere near a ten, maybe a sevenish on a good day”.

  3. Someone who literally doesn’t care at all how other people react to them is as unbalanced as someone who puts too much emphasis on it.

    Agreed. I try to say: OK, clearly my own opinion of myself is the primary way I evaluate how I’m doing, but all those people out there provide a very important check. The opinion of new people I meet is also importantly different than the opinion of people I’ve known for ages, because they don’t have years of possibly-outdated backstory clouding their judgement of who I am right now.

    That said, it’s not really the reason I like meeting new people. I just do that because it’s fun, and I love learning that there are awesome people in the world who I don’t know yet.

  4. Meeting new people is great, just for the opportunity of meeting new people. But personal metrics are also useful, and the sense that someone is “into” me is something I value in and of itself.

  5. Pingback: Maintenance | Newly Open

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