It’s been a year since Skyspook and I reopened our relationship.
And what am I learning, looking back on the past year?
I find more than anything that I’ve grown incredibly selfish.
It’s not that I’m selfish with my love… I love freely, finding myself charmed by and attracted to any number of individuals.
It’s that I’m selfish with my time and my loyalties.
The preciousness of time is hardly breaking news in the scheme of all things poly. It’s practically a cliché at this point. Love is infinite, but time is limited as fuck. It surely doesn’t help that I’ve spent the last few years working at a full-time position where I’m deeply unhappy and have been for some time. It’s the right thing to do for my resume, and I do some good work, but a poor fit with company culture coupled with a long commute… well, it’s a constant drain. I’m able to connect with others sporadically, and the work week is essentially off-limits to anything but the most basic of self-care and recovery from daily stress. This mostly limits my entanglements to the occasional weekend adventure. I find that I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to commit to one date a week firm – this works in the form of a few very casual arrangements with partnered poly friends that have been glorious and the occasional party makeout. But big love, big relationships? I’ve been too exhausted staving off emotional and existential crisis to pursue anything ambitious. It’s just not fair to start things. I don’t have the confidence that I’ll be able to follow through, regardless of the payoff.
Selfish with my loyalties though? That’s been a surprise. I’ve often wondered if I’m a bad friend because I’m just not as good at the unquestioning loyalty piece that some others seem to assume is part of the gig.
In my book, you can absolutely think your friend didn’t handle something well. And to feel this way and further to even speak of it, I don’t consider that a betrayal.
A lot of people say that they want friends who will tell them when they’re out of line, but I find that the same people will fly into a tizzy when you deliver the requested constructive criticism.
I don’t know. I don’t think championing everything your friend does, even when they’re out of line, is inherently virtuous. (And this includes everyone in my life, even my husband.) I want to give my friends the benefit of the doubt, especially when it’s ambiguous and I wasn’t there for whatever happened, but standing by your man or bestie or whatever Tammy Faye Bakker-like in the face of overwhelming evidence? Or feeling like you can’t say to the ones closest to you “Hey, so you know I love you, but I didn’t like how that went down, and here’s why…”?
It’s just not for me.
The trouble is… as much loyalty is demanded in friendships, the expectation for ROMANTIC relationships is even more so. At this point, I’m utterly spoiled by the kind of loyalty that I’ve fostered with Skyspook. He is a person of the highest good judgement, not to say that anyone’s is perfect, but he is an utterly reasonable, intelligent, and disciplined human being. Not only that, but we have developed the kind of rapport where we easily call one another on lapses of judgement in a way that not only does not undermine our relationship but reinforces our mutual respect. It’s stunning to me. Our values started out quite in line, and as the years have gone on, we’ve melded together even more, all the while raising our ambitions as we have progressively became more comfortable.
It is easy to trust in Skyspook’s decisions, to “take his side,” as he’s usually right or somewhat close to right. And in the event that he is off base, he’s open to that possibility, and I feel quite comfortable bringing that to his attention.
As I’ve been out and about getting to know people and dating, I’m finding that EITHER of these qualities is quite rare — good judgement and openness to criticism – let alone finding both in a single individual. And to find that in the thin slice of the population who is open to ethical non-monogamy and conversant with its customs? To demand this level of bravery, responsibility, and maturity? Forget about your unicorn. One might as well set out to find the chupacabra.
It’s an interesting change from before, back in 2009, when I first started leaving myself open to possibilities. I explored everything, spread myself incredibly thin, and woke up one day finding myself almost entirely without alone time and feeling beholden to lovers I wasn’t enjoying being with and who also didn’t seem to really appreciate or understand me. I find in 2016 that I’d rather be alone than overcommitted. I don’t want to ever be in that position where I’m dreading seeing someone, going on a date out of obligation. If that means that’s just me and the cats (in the event that Skyspook is dating quite actively and I’m not at all), then so be it.
Something important has remained the same from the great polysaturation of 2011 (when I was dating 5 people) – I am still my own primary. The big change is that I’m treating that primary a lot better.