PQ 9.11 — Do I feel that my partner considers me inferior to him or his other partners?

3 people wearing medals standing on a winners' podium. Instead of standing in ranked places, first, second, and third, all 3 winners are standing atop the #1 platform
Image by Iztok Fink / CC BY

PQ 9.11 — Do I feel that my partner considers me inferior to him or his other partners?

*

“I wasn’t sure who… you were with,” the new girl says hesitantly, with a gentle emphasis on the last word. Her eyes dart from Skyspook to CC and back again.

I haven’t made it easy on her. I’ve been affectionate with both all night. Married for years, Skyspook and I move in a kind of sync that only comes with deep practice. We finish each other’s sentences. Always seem to know where the other is going. It’s a deep affection. The easy rhythm of Old Relationship Energy.

But CC and I? Well, we’re in Googly Eye Land. A cloud of NRE. I keep trying not to stare at him. And failing miserably. Plus, he’s doing his winking thing. The exaggerated way he does it, where he looks just like an emoji. And I keep cracking up.

My girlfriend Ro is one of the organizers of this kink meetup. So she’s fluttering around the bar making sure everyone’s attended to. But once she comes close into my orbit, I pull Ro in for a long, lingering hug that causes the dudebros at the adjacent table to do a double take.

So I get why the new girl is confused about me and what my story is.

“Husband, boyfriend, girlfriend,” I say, pointing to Skyspook, CC, and Ro, respectively.

“Ohhh…” the new girl says. And once it sinks in, she adds, “Oh?”

I point to Skyspook. “My Dom.” And then to CC. “My submissive.”

Her eyes widen. “A Dom and a sub? How does that work?”

“Really well,” CC replies. “I keep thinking that if I can get a submissive who can Dom Skyspook that the circle will be complete.”

“Not likely,” Skyspook says, laughing into his drink. Skyspook really doesn’t like being told what to do.

And it’s at this moment, seeing my life through someone else’s eyes, that I really get an idea of how outside of social norms we all are.

The new girl is non-monogamous, too. She’s been in an open relationship herself for a couple of years but isn’t really webbed up. And she’s not at all used to spending time around people who are.

We all do the best we can to explain various dynamics of the others hanging out with us at the bar. At moments, I feel like I’m launching into a “begat” litany in the Bible, explaining lineage.

Not Exactly Twelve Ounces, But Fulfilling

As I’m walking home later, I’m happy that she didn’t know. Couldn’t figure out the categories. The hierarchy. The pecking order.

Because I’m the friendly neighborhood relationship anarchist. I don’t spend a lot time placing my partners on an Olympic style podium. “And in third place, earning the bronze medal…”

No.

It’s not me.

Sure, the reality is that I have different relationships with all three of them. Different levels of entanglement. Histories. Dynamics.

It’s not egalitarian the way that each can of Diet Pepsi has exactly 12 ounces.

But the differences aren’t readily apparent to an observer. And I don’t treat any of them like they’re inferior. Or less fulfilling to be with.

*

This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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