Monday, August 4, 2008

"Relationship Broken, Add More People," or, "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger"

Master and I have agreed that we can play around with people (short of actual sexual intercourse) while we're apart, as long as we clear it with each other beforehand. Master mentioned one woman in particular - a former girlfriend of his - that he was considering playing with, and I told him that was fine. A day or two later, Master told me of a party he went to that this woman hosted, where he said he got a bit sloshed and ended up messing around with her. When I asked him for more details on the extent of his escapade, he reassured me, "Nothing you wouldn't approve of." I assumed (my first mistake) that he meant some fondling and making out. Okay, no problem.

Later that night, I learned that Master and the woman did significantly more than fondle and make out. They didn't break our rule of no sex, but they came closer than I realized I was comfortable with.

Well, shit.

I'm sure that Master got exasperated with me during the ensuing long telephone conversation. Why was I upset now? I hadn't been upset before - what had changed? I'm not sure. A lot of it was good, old-fashioned jealousy: this woman was doing things with Master that I'd give my right hand to do right now (well, I hyperbolize, but you get the idea), and Master was having fun partying while I was stuck being bored and employed full-time. But then, I've dealt with enviousness stemming from not having fun while Master is before, over things as banal as him going to a movie while I'm stuck at work for the evening.

Another reason, I think, that I was having problems was because I've never met this woman at all, and Master has only mentioned her once or twice in passing. When Master does things with M, I don't have as much jealousy because I've been around the two of them and I can see, quite plainly, how much Master cares about her. I care about her, too. Though Master tells me that the other woman was important to him, on the other hand, it's hard for me to conceptualize when I've been given very little indication of it. So when Master engages in activities with her that I view as very special and indicative of our closeness, and I can't see that he is also close to her, it feels to me like he's cheapening what we have.

I know, I know - it's all very convoluted and not very rational. Unfortunately, that knowledge didn't make it any easier to shake the profound feeling of uneasiness that I had.

Well, Master and I talked. And talked and talked. We went in a lot of circles; I seemed to be stuck in a rut of moroseness. Despite all my openness and willingness over polyamoury, I couldn't seem to get over this one little thing. Finally, I said, "I guess I still have a long way to go, huh?"

"You have come a long way. Remember last year? You spent the night crying because I danced with C instead of you, and you and I weren't even together yet!"

That flash of perspective suddenly made me feel a lot better. He was right! Why was I so insecure then? Because I didn't know if Master really wanted to be with me. Now I'm sure of it - it's one of the few things in life I'm absolutely, completely positive of. So why should I get so hung up over one drunken incident that I'd even agreed to beforehand? It wasn't a complete, magical turn-around, but it helped a lot to realize that I'm a much stronger, more confident person and more more secure in my relationship - and it's partially because, I think, of my efforts to be polyamorous.

I'm certain that I'm not inherently monogamous. I'm also certain that I'm not inherently polyamorous. What's "natural" for me - and for most other people, I'm sure - is to sleep around as much as I want while keeping my partner(s) exclusive to me, which is the most evolutionarily advantageous technique. For obvious reasons, however, this is simply not possible in reality. So I have a choice: I can either suppress my wanderlust and become monogamous, or suppress my possessiveness and become polyamorous. Most people take the former route, probably because it's generally easier.

Because let's face it - being poly is fucking hard. Not only does it fly in the face of our selfish, insecure nature, but it requires a level of dedication to your relationship(s) that many people can find exhausting. You must communicate with your partner more openly and more clearly, especially concerning those ever-muddled emotions. You must subject yourself to rigorous self-examination to determine what your boundaries really are and what you're willing to do to make your relationship(s) work. And, of course, whenever there are more people there are more possibilities for misunderstandings and hurt feelings and just plain wankery.

For a lot of people, the rewards aren't worth the effort. They're content with one person in their life, and are willing to sacrifice the occasional romp in the hay to keep that one special person close. This is a perfectly legitimate way to live. However, I don't think it it fits me for a couple of reasons. For one, I'm pansexual, and I like feminine aspects just as much as masculine aspects. I want to keep in touch with that part of my sexual identity, which is most easily accomplished by playing with women as well as men. For two, Master and I are in a long-distance relationship part of the year, and we're both very physical (ok, sexual) people. If we can't get that physical aspect from each other for three months at a time, it only makes sense to look elsewhere for relief.

So I self-examine. I pick apart at my nebulous masses of feelings and dredge the depths of my vocabulary to put words to what emotions I find. I confront parts of myself that are unpleasant in an attempt to conquer and subdue them. And I share parts of myself with Master that I haven't shared with anyone before, often not even myself.

It can be painful at times, but I think that this rigorous self-discipline has actually helped me - not only in my relationship with Master, but in general. Yeah, it's pretty kitschy to say so, but I think polyamoury has made me into a better person. Of course, I still have a long way to go (the road of self-improvement is neverending), but looking back at where I was from where I am now does give me hope.

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