Moving Forward

Today I leave the Midwest for Rainy City. I’ll be back in a month for my graduation, and to finish packing up my apartment (really, to finish getting rid of stuff, mainly kitchenware; most of the things I’m keeping are already packed), but in a way, this is it.

There are a lot of heavy thoughts on my mind. Coming out to my parents is the big one. It’s not going to go well, but I can’t live like this indefinitely.

I hate that my parents think of Ember as a guy who’s just been stringing me along, not making an honest woman out of my by marrying me. He is my first true best friend and my first true love, and even if he never becomes my husband, even if someday he becomes someone else’s husband or the father to someone else’s children, the bond we have is strong and deep and we know each other so well.

I also hate that my parents have no idea how much Catalyst means to me. We have not had as much time together as Ember and I have, have not spent six years influencing our growth into the people we are now. But the people we are met two years ago, and we clicked in a way we never expected. We see in each other a life partner, someone we can build a life with together in a way that is mutually fulfilling and satisfying.

So today I take another step forward, going to Rainy City and beginning my search for somewhere to live with Catalyst and Dreamer. Someday in the future, maybe in the late summer, maybe in the fall, maybe later, I take a different step, and come out to my mother.

Back in the USA

I spent the 7th through the 14th on a small caribbean island, vacationing with Catalyst and Dreamer, and also a good portion of my family. My two oldest brothers are already married, and as of Saturday, my third older brother is now also married. :) There were definitely a few “So it’s your turn now, right?” comments throughout the week, but it was not overbearing.

I do wish Ember had been able to join us, but it was a good week. I grew up near the equator, and spending most of my weekends in my parents’ home town, which is by the beach; this means that warm, beach vacations are an interesting combination of something exotic and different from my everyday life, but also familiar and homey.

Considering Catalyst, Dreamer and I are planning to move in together in June, I’m glad that it went well. I suppose a stronger test would have included us actually traveling together, and sharing just one hotel room the entire time, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I’m also really happy that my family liked them, even though my brothers are the only ones, so far, who know that I’m dating Catalyst.

I have a lot of thoughts from that week, some happy, some sad, but I’m in the middle of recuperating from having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted (on the 15th), and trying to find the energy to pack up my apartment before disappearing for a month (and I’ll be back for less than a week, one final time, for my graduation and to finish clearing out my apartment).

Successful Relationships?

What marks a successful relationship? What’s wrong with ending a relationship? One aspect of polyamory – the way some people practice it – that I’m having trouble really embracing, is the concept of free-form, free-range relationships, that you just let evolve, no pressure to conform to a particular desired “outcome.”

On some level I get it. I’ve had short term, more casual relationships that have ended, or shifted into friendship, and I don’t feel like I failed at them. These relationships were all understood, from the beginning, to be very low key, and not very long term. I enjoyed them while they lasted, and I’m very happy with the remaining connections I’ve gained.

Those kinds of relationships were admittedly what I was looking for when I finally decided to actively date, and they were how I expected polyamory would look for me. A strong, baseship relationship with Ember, and then lots of satellite connections.

But to me, there really are levels of commitment (and maybe commitment is the wrong word here, but I don’t know what else to use). Some people don’t do hierarchy, and I agree that the words Primary and Secondary are problematic, but I simply don’t want to be close to everyone I like, the way that I’m close to Ember and Catalyst. There’s a limit to how many people I can maintain this level of relationship with, to how many people I can fit in a house, to how many times I want to tell the little stories of my days.

There are, I think (given the existence of solo polyamory), people who don’t want that kind of daily, living together (or enmeshed from a distance) relationship with anyone, at least, not in a romantic way. But if you do want that, then I really do think there’s a limit to the number of partners of that sort that you can maintain at a given time. For some people that’s one. For others? Three? Four? Five? Who knows.

And with that kind of relationship, it’s really hard for me to be okay with the idea of it ending some day. It’s hard for me to think of moving in with someone while being unclear as to whether I think I want to grow old with them, whether I want them to take care of me if I’m ever terminally ill, or me to take care of them. It’s hard for me to have a “Well, let’s just see what happens” attitude, to a relationship with someone I connect with every day and am weaving into the fabric of my life.

Relationships end. Good relationships end, and can still be considered good relationships. I am okay acknowledging that. And yet still, I feel like there’s a difference between “I love you, and I want to spend my life with you. Maybe it won’t work out, but let’s try.” and “I love you, so let’s see where we end up.”

Discovering Polyamory

I honestly don’t remember when I first discovered the concept of polyamory, or the word. I discovered an old journal entry that proves I knew the word when I was fourteen or fifteen, but I have no idea where I found it.

My first thoughts were when I was realizing that I was bisexual. By the time I was 13, I remember wondering if maybe, when I got married, I could have a girlfriend on the side. Best of both worlds!

Then, around the age of 14, I started reading the Laurell K Hamilton “Anita Blake” books, and I loved the way the werewolf packs functioned. I liked the idea of a pack of people who were freely physical with and closely connected to each other. Many of them paired up romantically with just one person, but there were still very close bonds among everyone. I liked that idea. That idea of something… not quite as platonic as family, but just as important.

And then my thoughts on open relationships faded to the background, until Ember.

I have said before, and I still believe, that I would be okay being in a monogamous relationship. However, there are still aspects of the spirit of polyamory that I would expect even if I decide to be with only one person. I crush on people often, sometimes very briefly, sometimes for much longer, and I enjoy it. When I was single, I’d usually have at least one painful, drawn out crush, but ever since I’ve been in a relationship, I’ve learned to just enjoy them and be okay with unrequited attraction (being poly doesn’t mean I can or want to act on every single crush I have).

If I were monogamous, I’d need my crushes to be okay. I’d need to not have to hide it when I think someone I work with is cute. I’d want to flirt a little bit on occasion. To go out dancing with other people. To openly pine after fictional characters in TV shows and movies. As a teenager, I used to hope for a bisexual boyfriend, because then I could happily share all my crushes and favorite eye candy!

Some people have a strong drive to consummate their attraction to others, and really have a hard time being with just one person for a long time. Me? It doesn’t really take much for me to feel like I’ve explored someone new to an exciting and satisfactory level, but I bet even what I crave is more than what a lot of people are comfortable with.

I’ve decided to stop dating, by the way, and I don’t know if this will be forever. I’m not expecting it to be, but you never know what will happen. I think that it’s only fair to new partners to be at a stable place with your existing relationships, and while my relationships with Ember and Catalyst are for the most part strong and healthy, they’re not exactly stable right now. There’s a lot of growing and adjusting pains right now. And then there’s my career, which is practically a relationship in a way, and then maybe, someday, children. I intend to flirt and make friends, and maybe there will be the occasional casual dalliance, but no open ended dating, not for a while.

Not intentionally, not without really being sure that my life can handle it.