“It’s funny,” I said, “My biggest poly freak outs weren’t about sex at all.”
In olden days, there was the epic tale of The Time Seth Lent Megan My Favorite Sweater Without Asking Me. I locked myself in the bedroom and denied him entry, stating that it was limited to “people who actually care about me.” Seth slipped notes under the door, apologizing. It all seems pretty funny now, but at the time, I was devastated. How dare he give things of mine to her, personal things, clothes. And not only did he not ask, he didn’t tell me after. I only realized when I went to wear the sweater, and it was missing. It was at that moment that I felt completely interchangeable to him, as though we were a couple of Barbie dolls, and he could switch our clothes, play dress up with us on a whim.
In hindsight, it’s especially funny this bothered me. I could overlook a lot – Seth disappearing for days at a time to be with her. He was so swept away by NRE (New Relationship Energy) that I had started to feel like a ghost that haunted our apartment rather than a flesh and blood woman. And I was still disappointed that things hadn’t clicked just right between Megan and me, that she seemed to be less into me in practice than in theory. I should have cracked sooner. But no, it was this, over a freaking sweater.
When she returned it a few days later, freshly laundered, she seemed contrite, and I knew not to blame her for the oversight. I wore the sweater less after. It had become a symbol I wanted to distance myself from…and it might have been my imagination, but from that point onward, I could have sworn it smelled faintly of her. The sweater was eventually rehomed in one of the great giveaways, the paring down of my possessions in preparation for the big move to Ohio.
Most recently, I was amused to find that I felt a chord of envy about Skyspook’s first date with Sika, but instead of it being related to something sexual or emotional, something more understandable in a basic way, I found myself upset that Skyspook was likely to far outlevel me in Pokemon Go on their date and forever change the nature of our Poke Walks together. Skyspook shared this discomfort of mine with Sika (Spook cleared it with me before divulging), and as she is basically the sweetest person on the planet, she apparently suggested that perhaps she could catch Pokemon for me on the date so that I didn’t feel left out. As it turns out, Skyspook instead abstained from Poke Hunting (although I hear Sika had a great run!). But Jesus, they are both such sweeties. I’ll completely own the irrational nature of my envy twinge, and I was prepared to be outleveled.
I recounted both of these things as I caught up with another poly friend on the various haps. “It’s never about sex,” I said.
“I don’t know about that, Page,” she said, “Sometimes it is.” She’s the higher libido member of her primary partnership, and she talked about her frustration with her husband in the past when he took a girlfriend. Essentially, she had started off sex starved and unfulfilled, and that small share was effectively cut in half, perhaps even cut down by two-thirds because of the NRE pull.
Ah yes. I could relate to this, although it had been long enough that I’d put it behind me. I remember Seth crawling into bed with me in the early hours of the morning after a long date with Megan, gently putting the moves on him, desperate to reconnect sexually, only to be rebuffed. “I’m tired, and I already came once tonight.”
Skyspook, conversely, always seems game after dates – and if anything, having other women in the picture thrums up his enthusiasm. And it probably doesn’t hurt that his libido towers over Seth’s. When Skyspook and I started dating, he was lover #5, and I was having more sex with him than the other 4 combined (3 lovers with low libido and a fourth who was long distance). It’s always interesting to see how that sort of thing pans out long term. Some guys talk a big game and then they’re up for once a week max, trailing off as time goes on. Skyspook was low key about it and has been a steady, passionate, and very sexual influence on my life. There’s no sense of sexual scarcity with him.
But I can still imagine the pre-Skyspook days when I had all nature of sexual agreements and relationships and yet still found myself horny and frustrated a great deal of the time. This was not how being a busy poly lady was supposed to be. Nothing about this in the brochure.
It’s good to remember – because I never want to stop being grateful for the things I have. After all, taking things for granted is the surest way to lose them.
On the other hand, it’s terrifying to remember because it underscores that I do have much to lose, much more than I’m even consciously aware of.