1. DOING WHAT I ALWAYS SAID I WOULD
Polyamory is a high-risk, high-reward lifestyle.
The risks, to monogamous people, are obvious. Intrinsic to polyamory, you have
- additional relationships that can upset apple carts
- heartbreak potential that isn't just magnified, it's more like cubed
- the certain exposure of every perceived inadequacy, every flaw in your relationships with your partner(s) and especially yourself
- the weird way poly has of creating ethical dilemmas you never dreamed you'd find yourself in the middle of.
I think many men actually believe that women are machines that dispense sex if you learn how to work them properly. This, needless to say, distresses and disgusts me, not least because I'm positive women think that I think that way. ESPECIALLY since I'm poly. I mean, polyamory is just another word for promiscuity, right?
I've been quote-unquote friendzoned since. I used to take such treatment -- and I've been through it a LOT -- as a binding referendum on my physical appearance, one I failed every single time. I've heard it all: "I love you like a brother" (which should be comforting to an only child, but usually has me thinking about incest taboos); "I love you, but not in that way" (ugh) and most recently, the plain truth free of euphemism: "I value our growing friendship, but I don't see anything physical developing between us".
It does sting.
Not because I had ever once thought "gee, if I do everything just right I might get to fuck this woman". Sex, for me, is NEVER an end goal, or even, properly speaking, a goal at all. I am open to giving and receiving love in whatever capacity is acceptable to my partners, and derive a lot of joy in doing so purely platonically.
But it's a limit. A hard limit.
I accept the ones society has imposed: my oft-repeated refrain that I will not interfere in committed, monogamous relationships. (Ethical dilemma: what exactly constitutes "committed"? Can I trust my partner to tell me when that state has been reached? Will she even know? Maybe her partner sees them as committed now, even if she doesn't. Am I under any obligation in that case? How would I know? And round and round in my head we go.)
It stings even more in a poly context because poly people (outside of the polyfidelitous folks in closed triads or quads) tend to have a lot fewer limits, and they're all self-imposed, not society-imposed.
I'm not sure what she actually said to me, and didn't ask for clarification lest it be seen as a protest. What I heard was "beyond a limited level of intimacy, which may be expressed a very limited number of ways, you shall not pass." And yes, that hurt. I do want to get closer to people, not further away from them. Sex, for me, is a plausible expression of a closeness that will never come in this case.
But there is nothing wrong with being friends. Nothing at all. So if I had hoped for more, eventually...does that make me a bad person? Does that make me (Jesus, no) a typical man? You get that going around in your head too.
And what do you do when you hear but I DO love you 'in that way'? How do you NOT respond to that if you feel the same yourself, emphatically? Do you accept what you hear and press for the closeness you both claim to want?
Poly people call this "processing". Both my partners call it "overthinking". I do it a LOT.
See, I've been taught that pressing is bad. Pressing is what men who objectify women do...keep fiddling with the controls and eventually the sex will spill out. And there's still a small part of me--it's smaller by the month, but it's still there--afraid to state my desires lest they be rejected. But when the desires are STRONG, they should be expressed, no? Provided I accept her response? (What if her response changes day by day?)
STOP THE WORLD I WANNA GET OFF
(get your mind out of the gutter)
I don't know where I'm going. But I'm
Who I want to be and where I want to be and doing what I always said I would and yet I feel I haven't won at all (yet)
Running for my life and never looking back in case there's someone right behind to shoot me down and say he always knew I'd fall
when the crazy wheel slows down
where will I be?
Back where I started (source)