Another Fucking Learning Experience

You, dear reader, likely already know I'm poly in some degree. I'm not internet famous or even a familiar local. I don't think my neighbors even know much about me other than I have a cat who sits in my apartment window. If you're reading this its probably because you already know me in some capacity.

I use trello to organize most of my life. The things that don't go into trello end up in google calendar. Its really easy to reduce my life to a set of SCRUM boards and scheduled events.

The rise of polyamory within the last few years is often attributed to Google Calendar, as it is crazy easy to schedule a thing, share it with someone via email, and have everyone on the same page. You can even share calendars with others, just as they can with you. I've been using Google Calendar long before I started to identify as polyamorous. My caledar is now a fascinating historical record of my life: hackerspaces built, social networks developed, and even a chart of how relationships have waxed and waned.

The thing that all of these tools don't do, is work out the feelings and emotional labor needed to sustain a polyamorous lifestyle. For me, its been mostly a bumpy ride to get me to where I am today.

Most everyone who successfully practices polyamory knows that communication is the number one priority when building successful and happy polyamorous relationships. Beyond that, here are few of the things I've learned on my own:

  • Nobody does polyamory the same way as anyone else
  • "Friend" is a really murky term for me once I've really gotten to know someone.
  • I have two families: the one that raised me back in Ohio, and the one that fills my life with deep, meaningful love. There is a bit of overlap, but not a whole lot.
  • I have a strong need to express my love for those in my family as much as I can.
  • Physical intimacy is a really huge thing for me; it is absolutely essential in many of my relationships.
  • I hang on to a lot of what people say; usually when I shouldn't. Its a bad behavior of my own that gets me hurt and I need to work on that.
  • Crushes on unavailable people come and go, but the ones that don't go are especially problematic.

I'm not all that sure how to handle the last one better than I can right now. My natural response is to try and discuss it right off the bat to work out how things might mesh together in a non-romantic environment, if thats possible at all. If it isn't possible, I try to disconnect and temper my feelings for them.

Recently, I've had to discuss with someone in my family how to handle that. I've known them for over a year at this point, and it was as early as last december that I laid out my feelings for them. They're currently monogamous but professed that they might be open to the idea in the future.

Its been about 10 months since then, so I had to talk with them about how things were. This hasn't been the first talk; we've discussed the possibilities of such a thing many times during the course of our relationship. Every time I walked away feeling that maybe it'll happen but I shouldn't get my hopes up and I should really really just take it easy.

Unfortunately as of recently my feelings for them had developed to a point where the only thing I can see working out is for me to totally disconnect from them and stay away for a few months to work things out. Sounds very much like a breakup, huh?

The dynamics of the situation are turning out to be increasingly difficult. The two of us are deeply intertwined in each other's lives; we share a lot of the same social ties and are intensely active at Noisebridge. We've started an awesome IRC community together for us and our friends, share the same burning man camp, and have been talking for a while about renting some studio space in Oakland together.

Cutting of ties for a long period of time is a painful idea for the both of us. Neither of us want to do it, but we're also not sure how our relationship can change to best suit us. I'm interested in sharing some of my life with someone; he's happy to have a close friend.

"Close friend" is a very foreign word to me. I don't know what expectations to set around that description, making the whole situtation rather ambiguous.

We've agreed to talk about this two weeks from now to figure out how to go forward. I'm convinced that the only thing I can do is to take some time away and build an equally deep relationship with someone else, with the lessons I've learned from this one.

I'm polyamorous and consider a lot of people in my life to be part of my family such that I can be emotionally and physically intimate with them. When presented with a situtation of emotional intimacy but no physical intimacy, it hurts, and I want to change that. I'm not good at polyamory, but I can only get better at it.