There is no shortage of love in this world, only blockage of it. The more you share it, the more you gain it. When you share love, it expands, it doesn’t contract. It cannot be subtracted from. It cannot be lost. It can only be gained, and added to. Not diminished.
When a person loves a second or third person, her love for the first person is multiplied, not divided. I’m thinking firstly about how my love for Brad has only grown since we opened our relationship to the possibility of polyamory, but I am also thinking even of my first boyfriend – Robbie, and every love I’ve had since him.
I was only 18 when I first loved Robbie, and 23 or 24 when I decided it was time to push him out of my heart to make room for a new love. I imagined that my second love – Josh – took Robbie’s place – that the hole he left had been filled. And I didn’t want that stopper to ever come unplugged, or I’d be empty again… I thought.
But of course, it did. And for a while, I imagined I was empty, diminished, and less than whole. When Brad came along I perceived him to complete me again. Love is always wild and crazy in the beginning and makes you feel like it’s all you’re ever going to need.
The main difference between Brad and my first two boyfriends was an accidental pregnancy that sealed the deal – it made him my other half for life by default, in my mind.
Little had I learned, the pressures of forced monogamy and economic co-dependence (not to mention parenthood) can quickly transform that lovin’ feeling into unidentifiable resentment. Nothing kills desire like being utterly dependent upon and therefore controlled by each other.
It took us four years to realize that we couldn’t truly love each other without the freedom to leave each other, and the freedom to fall in love with others. No one can love properly when they feel trapped.
And now that we’ve been acknowledging and respecting each other’s autonomy (freedom to love others and freedom to leave) for more than a year now, we love and appreciate each other more than ever.
Wednesday, 8 am
If you’ve never made love to two people you care about, back to back, you haven’t fully lived.
I don’t even know what to say right now… I’m almost speechless. I feel like life can’t get much better than it is right now. But since it keeps surprising me, I’m sure it will.
It was almost two weeks after our first encounter before I made my way back into Ben’s bed. I hadn’t so much as touched him since that night Brad had us hold hands on the couch.
Brad had tried to pawn me off on Ben several times since then, as my excessive hugs are always smothering to him. “Why don’t you go hug Ben?” Brad said Sunday night, as I nuzzled my head into his shoulder on the couch.
But for some strange reason, I could barely bring myself to sit next to Ben, much less hug him. “Ben, would you like a hug?” Brad asked on my behalf. “Sure,” Ben answered.
“There you have it,” Brad said. “You want a hug, Ben wants a hug, I don’t want a hug. So, just go hug him.”
“No, Brad!” I protested.
“Because it’s awkward. I’m not comfortable with Ben yet. I’m comfortable with you. And I don’t even know if Ben really wants a hug, or if he’s just saying yes because he feels pressured and sorry for me.”
After talking in circles for a while, I said, “Ok, fine. I’ll hug Ben.”
“I don’t want one anymore,” Ben smirked.
“What??” I said, indignantly.
“I don’t want a pity hug.”
“But that’s what I was afraid you were offering me,” I said. “That’s the only reason I said no.”
“Only now am I realizing what I was afraid of…”
After about an hour of ridiculous conversations, and after Brad and our daughter fell asleep, I messaged Ben asking for one more chance at a hug, telling him I only turned it down because I was afraid. Only now am I realizing what I was afraid of.
I was afraid of that electric pulsing feeling I got the last time I touched him – the time Brad made us hold hands on the couch… that feeling that told me a hug with Ben couldn’t be just a hug… that it would send us right back into the throes of passion that started this whole confusing, beautiful mess.
And it did.
I once thought that the first time hearing Brad have sex with someone he actually had feelings for would be the hardest, but now I imagine, the second and third times will be harder. I’m pretty sure that’s how Brad is feeling about me and Ben now. Because, although the first time is an adrenaline rush, a shock of emotions from all over the spectrum, it is still a question mark.
When your partner has sex with someone else for the first time, you have no idea how it’s going to turn out – whether it’ll turn awkward and they’ll never speak to each other again, or whether it’ll bring them closer together. But by the second, and especially third time (unless it’s a strictly casual arrangement), I imagine you’re wondering if your partner is falling in love with this new person.
So last night, Ben and I had sex for the third time. Brad was having a hard enough time coping with the emotions after round two, so I have no idea how he’s feeling today.
It might be particularly hard for him to understand because he and I had the most amazing sex we’d ever had twice yesterday before I tip-toed across the house to Ben’s quarters last night. I know he’s expressed feelings of inadequacy in the past, when I wrote a post about how female primates are wired for orgasm after orgasm after orgasm, preferably delivered by a long line of males. He said even though he understood it biologically and scientifically, emotionally it was difficult for him to accept that sex with him alone was not “enough” for me.
But lately, I’m learning not to think in terms of how much is “enough.” I’m learning to live in infinite abundance – no matter how many, or few, lovers are in my life.
For a moment, I was tempted to think, “Well, I was almost complete with Brad and our daughter, and now I’m more complete with Ben in my life.” But then I thought, “When will I be fully complete? When Brad has a live-in girlfriend too? When we have a little tribe of four adults and a handful of kids? When four turns into five? Six? Seven? When all seven of us have outside, occasional and long-distance lovers on the side?”
And now I realize, I am complete. I’ve always been complete since the day I was born. And the best way for me to maintain my sense of completeness, is by not thinking of someone else as my other half, or third, or quarter. Instead I will think of all my lovers as unique and beautiful stars, each burning with their own fires, whom I collide and make fireworks with as often as it feels natural, whom I hold and love physically for as long as I need to, and in my heart, forever.
So to Robbie and Josh and, most importantly at the moment, Brad, I will love you always. My heart is big enough for all of you, and with each new love, it gets bigger. Each new love makes me love and appreciate each of you more.