By Kendra Holliday | April 6, 2018
Ed Note: I’ve had many woman exploring polyamory contact me lately expressing their gut-wrenching emotions surrounding sharing their partner. I asked one permission to share her story with others, as it will no doubt comfort those going through the same thing.
I started reading about polyamory a couple of years ago. It started out of curiosity, but on the backdrop of “Oh, I could never do that.”
As that backdrop fell away, I found that this kind of lifestyle made more and more sense to me. I’d never had a long term relationship, and the idea of appreciating connections on all levels really appealed to me.
I decided to try it out. I joined OKCupid, and I went on dates with a couple of guys who were in open marriages…nothing really panned out there. Then I exchanged messages with someone who was smart, interesting, and poly.
On our first date (in a coffee shop), we ended up talking for over two hours. We hit it off immediately, plus I found him incredibly attractive. There was a point in the date where we both looked at each other and seemed to both think, “This is going really well!”
We started seeing each other regularly. The sex was (is) mind-blowing. So was (is) our mental connection. Slowly and organically we realized: holy fuck, we’re in love.
We became a “couple”. We aren’t out as non-monogamous to many people. Some of my friends know–they’ve known I identified as non-mono even before I met him–but discussing my relationship with my mono friends has proved…troubling. I have tried to cultivate more poly friends as resources, and the online communities have certainly been helpful.
He has had a lot more experience with polyamory than I have. As I grew closer with him, I started getting nervous because…he was still going out on dates and I didn’t want to. He was still having sex with play partners from his past, while I found myself turned off to my previous play partners. Sex with an intense emotional connection was the only kind of sex I craved, and these previous partners and I did not have that.
He was very patient and loving with me–he knew I was having a hard time with it, and he even stopped seeing other women for a little while so we could work things out. We discussed why I felt the way I did…at length. I decided that I wanted to know more about his other dates, and after lots of introspection and talking, I realized that I felt left out.
Eventually he found that he felt restricted, and this was something I feared the most: keeping him from doing things he wanted to do. Still, that voice in my head was saying:
You’ll never be enough.
Wait a second, brain-voice, what about all that stuff about infinite love we learned?
Brain-voice: Fuck THAT. You’re just not enough. You never will be. For anyone.
Goddamnit. I know this isn’t true. I know this man loves me, and that I love him. Why can’t I be compersive, like he is? Why can’t I be excited for him? Why don’t I want to have sex with anyone else? What. The fuck. Is wrong with me??
He has a friend visiting from out of town this weekend, someone he knows from the internet, who he has never met in person before. They’ve had an online flirtation for a while, and she’ll be staying at his place for the weekend. I’ve been dreading this for months. The thought of her sleeping next to him in his bed, of them cuddling (let alone fucking) makes me want to tear my hair out. I’m tired of crying about it. He’s been so kind, reminding me how much I mean to him and how special I am…but all of that runs off of me when I see them kissing in my mind.
But come Thursday morning, when I leave his place to go to work after spending the night there, knowing this woman will soon be showing up later that day to stay there for three nights, I will say to him: “Goodbye honey. I hope you have a wonderful time. I love you.” And I will walk out the door, and get in my car, and fucking bawl and probably bang my head on the steering wheel.
Because compersion is a practice. Like yoga, which I hated when I first started, I’m bending myself into shapes I’m not used to. It’s not comfortable, and I want to just quit, truth be told. The tiny nugget of joy I have at this situation is surrounded by hot, seething fear and hurt. To extract this kernel, I will have to go through lava. I have to practice. But I know the more I practice, the better I’ll be at it. And ultimately it will make me a better person.
But for now, it fucking sucks ass.