Making the Butterflies Last

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 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 in the bed, and was happy to oblige when I asked him to help me test my feelings about “casual” sex.

I still have warm feelings for both of them, but 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 befriended him. Brad rarely 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, ruin his pants with grease replacing our hood vent, meet me on the side of the road when the back door fell off the food truck, or throw on an apron when we were too busy to handle a rush.

In addition to all his kind deeds, he’s always been a good mediator between Brad and I. He’s taught us all he knows about Non-Violent Communication (he read the book), and has 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 4-year-old daughter, which has been a huge help to Brad and me. It was such a relief, when my babysitter fell through for a busy food truck shift, that I had someone to call whom I not only trusted to care for Nora, but whom I knew Nora would be thrilled to hang out with.

My heart melted a few nights ago when she coyly admitted 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?”

My butterfly feelings for Ben in no way diminish my feelings for Brad. They remind me of the butterfly days with Brad… the way used to look at me in my bathing suit when we were still “just friends,” the way he pulled me in for our first kiss, and the way he snuck up behind me in the laundry room the next day, wrapped his arms around my waist and kissed my neck, before carrying me back to my apartment and tossing me on the bed.

butterflies_1200pxAfter five and a half years – four of those with a kid – it’s easy to forget how “in love” we once were… the passionate, butterflies-in-our-stomach days we’ll never get back.

I’m glad I get to experience that all over again, 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 insanely 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 and insecurities out loud, so I can acknowledge how silly they are and move past them.

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.

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