In February of 2010, I’m walking through the streets of Bangor late at night in 4-inch patent leather heels with a handsome man holding my hand, steadying me. He’s a friend I’ve made out with a few times. We’ve both had a fair amount of drink, left the party to take a walk for the privacy, privacy for both our words and some inevitable naughty business. Normally quite a quiet person, he opens up to me about how he grew into atheism over the course of his life, the difficulties of being raised by Pentecostal parents.
We stop on a street corner to kiss passionately. I’m freezing but don’t care. “This is amazing.” I gasp. “This moment… it’s perfect.”
And before I know it, I’m opening up to him as well, telling him about what I had found the hardest part of being monogamous for 8 years with my husband: The fact that I’d meet great people who were lonely and that I felt like I could emotionally help but that my hands were tied. I could only go so far in my connections. I couldn’t save them from their loneliness, what I really wanted to do. That was the best part of opening my marriage in the Spring of 2009. My hands were no longer tied.
It doesn’t ultimately work between the two of us, me and this man. He can barely wrap his mind around polyamory, let alone his heart. We have a few fantastic nights together, talking, making out, connecting. He’s starting to have feelings for me, and that scares him. No matter how much I reassure him, he can’t see any other ending than eventually losing me to my husband.
It hurts quite a bit at first, but I don’t fight it. Don’t see the point. He’s made me feel beautiful and sexy and special, and it’s more than enough, as much as I could see the potential for more between us. The day he breaks my heart, I go out for dinner and meet in person for the first time a woman who will become my girlfriend, and the person who will inevitably connect me to Cleveland, spinning my life off in a radically different direction, blotting the tears from my face and scrambling to fix the redness on my face minutes before driving to the cafe to meet her.
At the Halloween party later that year, he’s had a change of heart. He can do it now. He’s had time to process and understand open relationships a bit better and trust that I’d be there for him. But it’s too little, too late. I’ve moved on. My focus is 900 miles away. I’m moving to Ohio in April 2011.
A major part of what attracts me to X at first is how lonely he is – that and the attention and eloquent compliments he lavishes on me at the onset. He’s been in an open marriage for 7 years, but while his wife had a long-distance relationship with her ex-boyfriend for 4 years, his time on the dating front has been largely fraught with frustration and failure. Something within me swells up. I want to help this person. He’s kind of awkward, totally goofy, but he makes me laugh. Laugh so hard my ribs hurt.
So I leap. Give him my all. But the more attention I pay to him, the less he does to me. He only seems to want me when I’m ignoring him. When he has me, he seems indifferent, preoccupied. He wants me the most when our relationship is on the rocks, puttering along on life support. He wants me so badly that he crosses important boundaries.
I leave one day without warning. The fall out from our break-up is vicious, nasty. At one point, there’s a question of whether I will seek legal action against him.
After nearly a year of no direct contact whatsoever, I run into him. I am floored that despite everything that’s happened between us, the mutual sense of betrayal, the pain, the craziness, the drama, he leers at me. I try to avoid his gaze as much as possible, but it reads plain as day. What I see on his face is lust for me.
He wants most the things he can’t have.
I’m done trying to rescue people.
Sometimes they won’t even let you. And then even if they do, when you try, sometimes it doesn’t work.
Ultimately, we rescue ourselves, and while I’m perfectly willing to support someone as they go through that process, there’s only so much I can do for another person, monogamous or not.
I am done with the fantasy that my love is some kind of white knight, a panacea for loneliness.
Save yourselves. It’s what I had to do.