Ben is the first person I’ve developed strong, ongoing, complicated feelings for since Brad and I opened up our relationship.
My first “amorous” feelings since discovering poly were for Clark, an older, married man with grown children. I still think of him as an amazing, inspiring, wonderful human being, a very good friend, and a long-distance lover/pen pal. My second crush was on Matthew, the shy Southern mountain man, who turned out not to be so shy, and was happy to oblige when I asked him to help me test my feelings about “casual” sex.
I still have warm and fuzzy feelings about both of them. I just don’t have the chance to see either of them very often. Clark lives four hours away and will soon live across the country. I made the trip to see him twice, but visiting him regularly would be impractical.
Matthew is nearby, but cannot have guests at his home, and I don’t have enough privacy in my home for regular “casual” visits. I continue to wonder whether there is the possibility there for something more-than-casual, but I may never find out, because Brad is already uncomfortable enough with all the upheaval in our lives without introducing him to another potential new “boyfriend”… not to mention I don’t know if Matthew would be interested in that.
My communication with both of these men has slowed, by default, as I can only invest time in getting to know so many people at once.
Back to Ben. My feelings for him are becoming stronger than I’ve been able to admit to him or Brad or myself. So I’ll just do the emotionally mature thing and admit them here : )
He’s such a good person, which makes sense, or Brad wouldn’t have trusted him enough to befriend. Brad hardly trusts anyone. He’s always been there for us when we needed him, whether it was to rewire the food truck when we blew a fuse, fix the plumbing when the faucet broke off, ruin his pants with grease while replacing our hood vent, meet me on the side of the road when the back door fell off the truck, throw on an apron when we were too busy to handle a rush, etc.
In addition to all his kind deeds, he’s always been a good mediator for me and Brad. He’s taught us all he knows about Non-Violent Communication (he read the book), and he’s been able to help Brad and I get to the bottom of some of our conflicts simply by employing “active listening,” without taking sides or making judgments.
I can’t say enough about how great he is with our daughter, which has been a huge help to Brad and me, who need a break from being two of an unschooled-4-year-old’s very few friends. It was such a relief when I communicated the wrong time to our babysitter last week, before a busy shift on the food truck, that I had someone to call whom I not only trusted to care for Nora, but whom I knew Nora would feel comfortable with. My heart melted a few nights ago when she coyly admitted that she wants “to marry Ben” when she grows up, after he’d spent all evening playing Barbies with her.
I know some of you are thinking “poor Brad – how can he stand to hear her say so many nice things about another man?” I want to reemphasize what I said a couple of days ago – my feelings for Ben in no way diminish my feelings for Brad. They enhance them. They remind me of when Brad drove all the way back to work in rush hour traffic to get jumper cables for my junker car when we first met, when he drove me all over town when I didn’t have a car, when he loaned me money when I was flat broke, when he cooked me the best pasta sauce of my life from scratch for one of our first “dates,” the way he used to look at me in my bathing suit when we were “just friends,” when he snuck up behind me in the laundry room the day after our first kiss, wrapping his arms around my waist and kissing my neck before carrying me back to my apartment.
I’m glad I get to experience that all over again with someone new, without having to break up with Brad to do it.
Only this time, there is so much less pressure. I’m not looking for my one and only monogamous soulmate for life. I’m not looking for a husband or father or provider. I’m not wondering whether he’ll lose interest in me after having sex a few times because he’s scared of making a commitment no man should ever have to make. I’m not looking for “The One” – as my mom always called the mystical man who was supposed to come riding in on a white horse someday. It’s not that serious. And that’s why it’s so fun.
Sometimes I am tempted to wonder where it’s going, what will become of us all, where future lovers of his or Brad’s or mine might fit in. But I refuse to let my mind go there for too long.
I am already jealous just thinking of Ben’s future lovers, and sometimes even his old one, whom I know he still loves. It’s silly I know, but feelings don’t have to make sense, and the gurus all say I should admit my fears, jealousies and insecurities out loud, so I can acknowledge how silly they are and move past them and spend my energy enjoying my experience, rather than worrying about it.
And that’s just what I’m doing. I’m savoring it. Making the beginning last as long as I can, because it’s one of the most beautiful parts of a relationship. I’m stretching out all of the awkward first moments and spacing out the timing of our encounters, so they don’t become old too fast. Although I’ve longed to visit his half of the house every night this week, I’ve limited myself to every other night or every third night, because I can’t stand the thought of him getting tired of me.
And in the midst of my lust and longing for Ben, I am doing my best to nurture my relationship with Brad, to express how deeply I will always love and cherish him, because I know from experience that these butterflies never last. As exhilarating as these first days are, it’s the friendship that endures long after that really counts.