I spent the last hour or so lying next to Brad, face nuzzled into his back, arms wrapped as tightly around his chest as I could hold them. He resisted at first, but after I produced a few tears and sniffles, he gave in and let me have my way.
I needed it. I know it’s not healthy, but I was feeling extra insecure. I just needed to hold him.
After his body went limp and he started snoring, I knew I could stay as long as I wanted, without him pushing me away. I took deep breaths of him and savored his smell. I caressed his soft arm and kissed the back of his neck. After a long time, I took deeper breaths, preparing myself to let go. I always feel better when I’m the one who gets to let go, in my time, without being shaken off.
I’m still trying to figure out what I was getting so worked up about. It was like the feeling I had with my first two boyfriends right around the time I realized our relationships wouldn’t last forever. It was the feeling of holding-on-for-dear-life to something you know you’re going to lose.
But the funny thing is, this time, I’m not afraid of losing my boyfriend. I’m just afraid of losing things the way they are – the status quo. I’m afraid of change on the one hand even though, on the other hand, I’m dying for it. I’m afraid of sharing my single, solitary life partner, my boyfriend, my best friend.
I’m not afraid of him having sex with other women – I’ve already heard that happen once, and it hardly phased me. The strip club didn’t bother me either. I found it to be a huge turn on, in fact. Even his dinner date with my dancer friend didn’t bother me. He could have sex with dozens of women, in front of me – I’d probably enjoy watching. But the idea that someday he might connect to a woman on an emotional level – that she might become his confidant and one of his best friends, like me – scares me.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not afraid of being afraid. It doesn’t make me want to do polyamory any less. It’s just I’m feeling the fear right now. I’m walking myself through it.
Strangely enough, what triggered all these emotions was me getting back on Tinder, the online dating website, tonight. I’d cancelled my account shortly after my girlfriends had created it last week, just after my first “match” messaged me. I’m not sure if we’re still going on a date next week, but I got tired of worrying about it. I’m not monogamous after all, so why was I quitting after talking to one guy?
About an hour after I signed back up tonight, I had accumulated seven matches, with messages from five of them. And now a second man has agreed to go out with me.
I told Brad I want to go out on as many dates with as many different guys as I can. He seemed a little bewildered and slightly annoyed by the proposal.
“This is the whole point of polyamory,” I said. “Let’s not get hung up on one other guy or girl. Let’s broaden our horizons. Let’s make as many connections as we can to enrich and balance our lives.”
That was about the time he decided it was time for bed and that he’d like not to be touched anymore tonight. I know he’ll feel better in the morning. I think he’s partly feeling down because he was hoping to go on his second date with Kitty tonight. She was too tired.
He thought their first date went really well last week. They ended up going to a restaurant after all, and Brad said he really enjoyed talking to her. I don’t know how she feels about the whole thing. I’m really hoping for Brad’s sake that she likes him and goes out with him again, but I’m going to try not to interfere anymore.
The weird thing is I don’t know what I want out of all this. All I know is what I don’t want – smothering, relationship-killing codependence, which is what all of my monogamous relationships have tended to end up in.
When I first told my sister about my desire to try polyamory, she was devastated for me. In a pitiful tone, she told me how she’d secretly always feared I might’ve ended up with Brad just because we got pregnant, and that he might not have been “the one.”
Contrary to her belief, I don’t want to try polyamory because I don’t love Brad enough. I want to do it because I’m terrified of loving him too much. I don’t want us to be each other’s everything. It’s too much pressure. It hurts too much to have all your happiness depend on one other person.
I know someone’s about to say “well, your happiness should actually come from within… you should really learn to be happy on your own…” Thank you Buddha. I know that.
My point is, I don’t want to be a hermit. I don’t want to live alone. I don’t want to be independent. I’ve tried that. I know it’s not sustainable. People need people.
I also don’t want to live my life emotionally chained to my “other half,” which is really what most monogamous partners become – halves of each other. I don’t see how any two people who’ve committed to never be physically or emotionally intimate with anyone else, until death do them part, could not become codependent.
What I want is interdependence. I don’t know exactly how that looks yet, and I’m definitely nervous to find out, but I’m pretty sure it’s what I need. Brad and I each have a lot of needs – emotional, physical and spiritual – and I think it’s silly to pretend that one person could or should meet them all.