Metamour Desperately Wanted
I opened my existing relationship to polyamory one evening without any previous thought, discussion or organization. My partner and I were at that point in a long-distance monogamous relationship for a couple of years, but as far as that evening was going, we wouldn’t be much longer.
We both met people who attracted us more than previous encounters. Their presence was questioning the emotional exclusivity our relationship was based on. While I was suffocating my illicit feelings with pillows, my partner was breaking from the inside out. We did not speak with each other about what we were going through, until that evening when my partner asked for a break-up.
… or a pause.
… or something.
He wasn’t really sure what he wanted.
All he knew was that he didn’t want to leave me. All he knew was that he hurt and that he didn’t want to hurt anymore. His proposal to break up/pause/something didn’t come completely like a surprise. It still run me over and I knew nothing, what to expect, how he really felt. All I knew was that breaking up, or pausing, or anything along those lines did not feel right.
Breaking up is not what you want to do when you still have feelings. That is not what you want to do when you can still say “I love you” and mean it.
Sometimes couples have such diverging plans for their future that breaking up is the only option they have. Sometimes, you come to different paths, make choices that bring one to the sea and the other to the mountains and that the only solution is to part ways, but all that I had in me rebelled and kicked and screamed.
It was depressing. It was desolation. I was despairing. The distance had delivered its final blow. It did not feel like something I could have a say in, it was life deciding for us.
I didn’t want to accept that, but I had to.
After two or more rapid cycles of crying and negotiating the terms of a pause, we laid in bed, embraced, the darkness our sad companion. Suddenly I remembered a tweet (yes, a tweet) about being married and being polyamorous.
I knew nothing more about polyamory than what I had gathered from that tweet. But in that moment, when I remembered what was said about polyamory — setting the other free, but still being connected because you want to be connected, that was it, it sat with me and I saw a solution, a middle way through one suffering (breaking up) and the other (remaining together monogamously).
I told him what I knew from that tweet. It would be a euphemism to say that he was confused. Anybody would be when you present them something that defies everything you ever saw, heard or thought about lasting committed relationships. When I ran out of the 140 characters I knew, I still told him more, things I felt could apply to polyamory, things that felt to be right — that maybe emotional exclusivity is not necessary to be faithful, that maybe being faithful could be done in different ways, in ways we define ourselves.
When I was done, we lay there in silence for what felt like an eternity and two days. Suddenly giddy, he laughed and agreed.
Opening our relationship felt like breathing freely after drowning for two years.
The initial overwhelming relief and joy were probably the reason why it hurt so much when he hit it off with his colleague while I was still coming to terms to with having feelings for another. It was so fast it crushed me. It was way too fast for what I anticipated or was ready for. Jealousy wasn’t a green-eyed monster. It was all the fears I ever had, but forgot under the cosy blanket of monogamy, now magnified, crystallized, intensified.
The fear of abandonment. The fear of not being enough. The fear that in truth, I wasn’t special at all — that I was just another face in the crowd. That what characterized me, characterized other people too and that in conclusion there was nothing memorable about me.
Within a week of experiencing jealousy for the first time in that way, after sleeping with and waking to intense emotional insecurity and pain, one evening, I had this genius idea. An absolutely-no-way-in-Hell-it-could-ever-fail idea just popped in my mind. A mad feeling swept over me, my confidence swelled up, I was the queen of the universe — suddenly it was all very clear to me. I knew what I had to do.
If I got a metamour, a person I would date, kiss, sleep with, I would not be jealous anymore.
If I had first-hand experience in dating one while loving another, all my fears would simply go away. I couldn’t imagine what it is like, what it feels like, how it is to be in the position to have butterflies in your belly, to live out those butterflies while feeling devoted and continuous love at the same time.
So if I couldn’t imagine it, I may have to experience it.
It seemed like the perfect problem-solving. 100% fool-proof plan.
I made an OKC account right away to look for people, male and female (I wanted to finally explore my attraction to females). I felt elated, excited, it seemed like I was getting out there, dating. Oh God, I was really dating. Something I never did, something I thought I had evaded with my partner being my first in everything.
After roughly two weeks and two failed dates (of which one didn’t even happen), I threw my arms up into the air and gave up. As fast as that, I gave up. It was taking up too much time, time I really didn’t have, and it wasn’t giving me the immediate results I wanted. I felt irritated and disappointed by my unreal expectations of finding someone immediately.
Somehow I envisioned that it was far easier and far faster to find someone I remotely liked and that if I relaxed the right way, talked the right way, I would find a person to snuggle with in no time.
Of course things don’t happen like that with that mindset. You can’t press a matter so hard for it to come out in any way remotely good.
And that was it. That was when the realization came to me. It didn’t creep up on me, it hit me, it outright bitch-slapped me right across my face.
Delia, what are you doing?
I was looking for someone to prove something.
I was afraid that my partner might be lying to himself about being capable of loving two people at once.
I was afraid that one day he would realize that, leave me, and I would be alone.
I was afraid that he was lying to me, because he in fact stopped loving me, but that he was postponing our break up until I could find someone else, so that he can leave me then in the arms and comfort of another person with a clear conscience.
I was afraid that, actually, in truth, for real, polyamory was not possible. I was afraid it was a mass lie everybody, the most weather-worn and the freshest of polys told themselves.
I wanted to have a metamour to find out if loving or caring for two at once was at all emotionally possible. If I saw it was possible, I could be calm and discard all of my fears — it would mean my partner could claim he still loved me, it would be true that he loved me. If I saw it was not possible — well, I’d know that my partner would go away, but in that case, I would have someone with me.
But the thing is — all of what I said above in the last paragraph is both ridiculous and cruel.
First, you can’t judge someone’s internal emotional clockwork based on your own. If I saw that I was capable of loving two or more simultaneously, that makes absolutely no statement about him being or not being able to love in that way.
Second, if my partner was lying to me and postponing a break-up, it would be a situation I have to discuss with him and myself, first and foremost with myself, and not through the means of having someone’s arms around me as an emotional teddy bear.
I was not acting ethically. I wanted to use someone’s attraction to me to not be alone when the feared inevitable happened. I wanted to objectify someone.
I felt selfish. I was disgusted with myself. I realized that I was actually looking for a person I would use to fend off my fears of loneliness. I wanted to, basically, just have any kind of emotional relationship to guard myself from potentially ending up being single again.
I was looking for someone to hold me because I didn’t know how to hold myself.
I didn’t only fear an inevitable break-up, I wanted someone to validate my existence by liking me. I realized that, beneath wanting to prove polyamory, beneath wanting a safety-blanket, I wanted someone to make me feel good about myself.
That just stung hard. Understanding this objectification I wanted to make people go through stung hard. I learned something ugly about myself and it was, well, ugly.
Fear, insecurity, a lack of self-esteem and other similar reasons are not good reasons for wanting to find a partner/lover/metamour/younameit. I believe that, in such a state of mind, I would have attracted or accepted people that would have liked messed-up-me, not me; or I would have attracted people who could take advantage of messed-up-me and messed-up-me would not discern kindness from opportunism.
People are not instruments to use. They are humans, worthy of love, affection, care and other nice, nice things. They are worthy of other humans who know that they are people with feelings and actual thoughts.
I realized I had to first settle my own internal world before letting another complex conscious being, another complex and intricate inner world approach and enter my own. I realized that I had to sort myself out before entering the intricate and infinitely unique world of another.
I decided I should give myself time and prioritize, emotionally as well as rationally.
I understood that at that moment in which I was frantically looking for someone to validate me I had overwhelmingly lots of work. I was in between phases of my life, between schools, and I was also juggling work and studies — I was not in a position where dating could or should be a priority.
I understood that I simply did not have time to wander around with people I deliberately met to fulfill a need that is downright selfish and utilitarian, a need that, at the very base, is objectifying them.
I knew that there would be a time where I could focus on meeting people — but that time was not a week after opening to poly.