Well, I’m back. For a while I thought I wouldn’t be blogging here anymore, but I think I will. Just probably less often. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. Let me start at the beginning. I’ll give the Cliff’s Notes version.
My mental health had been good but fragile. So I thought I was doing well, but really I was just one trigger away from being very not well. That trigger came a couple of weeks ago when Mike told me about his plans for two play dates within a few days of each other. That led to a pretty bad bout of depression and anxiety. At some point, I realized: I can’t do this anymore. As much as I believe in non-monogamy, it’s not healthy for me right now. I was pretty upset by that personal revelation, but I decided to wait until after Mike’s plans and tell him and then we would figure it out from there. But before I even got the chance he approached me and said “this obviously isn’t working and it’s not good for you. What if we talked about transitioning into a more monogamous style of relationship?”
At first all I could feel was a flood of relief. But then after a day or two I started to feel kind of down about that, too. I mean, I’m not good at non-monogamy at this point in my life. It sucks, but I’m not. But I still believe in and want non-monogamy for myself as an ideal. It’s been such a big part of my life for the past three years that it’s hard to think of leaving it behind. I also felt really guilty that I was causing Mike to give up on something that important to him. I dreaded telling other people because I felt like such a failure. I was nervous about all the downsides of monogamy that I’m well aware of. It just seemed like there was no good option. Mike was feeling sort of sad and frustrated with the situation, which made me worry that he would grow to resent me over this.
After about a week of that, my anxiety was just off the chart. Mike and I still hadn’t sat down and talked through our feelings and figured out what monogamy would mean for us. I sent him an email about my initial thoughts on what I would and would not feel comfortable with and my ideas for it. I told him that all these things were negotiable, that he could still change his mind, and that he could respond whenever he felt up to it. Then we had a nice, normal day. We had lunch at a place near our apartment. We ran errands together. We got snow cones and ate them in the parking lot. I bought a therapy workbook. We watched TV at a friend’s house. As he was tucking me into bed that night we finally had the talk that I had needed. He said that we could hammer out the details of our boundaries later, but that when he read the email he felt we were on the same page.
The thing that had really stood out for him in my email was that I had asked him if we could leave open the possibility of opening up our relationship again in the future if things changed. And then he said the exact perfect thing that I hadn’t known I needed to hear. He said that there is no reason why we can’t just flop back and forth between a monogamish (thanks, Dan Savage) and an open relationship throughout our lives as one or the other works better for us at that time. And that’s it. That’s perfect. I don’t have to choose something forever. We can keep evaluating the situation and we can make decisions temporary. For the rest of our lives together. Because really, non-monogamy is great, but it’s not always a viable option for me. And we are more committed to each other than to any set of rules. I feel so much more confident and excited about my future with him without the pressure of finding some sort of solution to that conundrum.
So that’s where we are right now. We are entering a period of relative monogamy. We can still play with other people together, and some types of light play will be OK, but I can focus on improving my self-esteem and my mental health for a while without the distractions of non-monogamy. And then some time later, we will look at our relationship and ask “Are we ready to open up again?” I have no idea when that will be, but I feel good knowing that it’s coming.
I’m a little concerned about disclosing my new relationship status to other people. So far I’ve only told a couple of close friends. Both of them have been super supportive and not at all judgmental, but I’m still worried that the larger poly/non-mono/alt sex community will see this as a failure on my part. I feel like, at least from the outside, I’m clearly the bad guy here. Also, I’m debating whether I will stay involved with the local ethical non-monogamy group. I don’t want to impose on them, but I think that I could still get something from that group in terms of setting myself up for a healthier perspective on non-monogamy later. But those are pretty minor concerns compared with what I was feeling a week ago.
I will probably still blog here about issues surrounding mental health and all styles of relationships, but the content may change a little. I’m going to try to encourage a poly friend to add her perspective.