A tale of two former partners

Two things happened today that I’m kind of feeling down about. One is that the guy I’ve been seeing started seeing someone else and broke off the sexual/BDSM aspect of our relationship. The other is that a friend whom I used to sleep with until he started seeing someone else is getting engaged.

As for the first guy, we had tentative plans for him to beat me today until he called me this morning to say that we would have to just hang out instead because he’s started seeing someone and doesn’t know yet if they will end up non-monogamous. I was a little more attached to him than I have been to other outside partners, and so while I’m happy for him, I’m a little disappointed on my own behalf. This is kind of the sucky thing about being in an open relationship instead of a polyamorous one, so even thought ultimately I know that poly isn’t right for me or my primary relationship right now, it still sort of stings. I’m ultimately glad for him because I know he’s been wanting someone who can be more serious with him. And it won’t change our friendship. But waking up to that news had me a little emotionally sensitive.

In that state, I checked Facebook. Here’s where I need to pause and give some backstory. Mike and I have been talking for a while about getting engaged and are planning to do so soon. We’re just waiting for our financial ducks to be a little more in a row first. And I know it’s coming, but in the meantime sometimes I get a little envious when I see friends getting engaged left and right (I’m at that age) and loudly planning their weddings on Facebook. It’s just a reminder of something that I’m eager to be doing, and all that exposure to it makes it hard to just relax about the whole issue.

More backstory: This second guy is someone I saw near the beginning of my relationship with Mike. We ended things when he started dating his current partner, but we stayed casual friends. I would have been fine about that, but I feel like the quality of our friendship suffered a bit due to it. That said, I think the two of them are a really good couple and they seem very much in love, so that’s nice to see. He told me a few weeks ago that he was planning on proposing: He showed me a picture of his grandmother’s ring and told me that he was just waiting on a time they could go to Disney World so he could propose during the fireworks. Last week he told me that it was happening soon.

In the meantime, Mike and had a couple of really good conversations about our relationship and it’s trajectory, and good things in general are happening with us. So I felt excited for him/them and wasn’t feeling envious.

But then I checked Facebook when I was already feeling kind of deprived and saw him check in at Disney and I thought “Oh, I guess that’s happening today” and all of a sudden it was just too much. It was something else that I wanted and didn’t have that other people were getting. And really, that’s the root of a lot of jealousy: Comparing your situation to that of others’. And I know it shouldn’t bother me because I’ll get there, and in the meantime things with Mike are wonderful and fulfilling and lovely. But with everything else happening in my life, I’d sort of been feeling like my relationships with Mike and with my friends were the only things I had to be happy about and now one friendship is changing (and I’m worried that it will change the friendship as well as the physical relationship) and I keep getting asked “When are you and Mike getting engaged?” because that’s the sort of thing that comes up when you are a 26-year-old in a four-year-long relationship. And the whole thing makes me want to crawl back in bed for the rest of the day.

But instead I’ll kiss Mike good bye and go hang out with that first guy because we had plans today and I want to preserve that friendship. And then I’ll check Facebook and when my friends get engaged I’ll congratulate them sincerely. And then tonight when I see Mike again I’ll hold him close and be genuinely grateful for what I have.

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Non-meh-nogamy

I haven’t written a post in forever, but I’ve had a lot going on. I’ve been dealing with a family crisis and a lot of schoolwork. I’m not depressed in the “unbearably sad for no reason” sense, but I am down often due to my circumstances. But things between Mike and I have been more than solid. He’s been incredibly supportive and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without him. I feel like we keep getting even closer as a couple
I’ve noticed something interesting about how non-monogamy is going for us. It used to be a thing, and lately, it just sort of … hasn’t? I still hang out regularly with an outside partner, sometimes in a platonic way and sometimes not, and he hasn’t slept with anyone else lately, but he did spend some time with a girl that he had considered sleeping with (I’m under the impression that a sexual relationship with her is not likely in the immediate future, but is not off the table when things in her life are more settled). And it just has seemed normal and not worth thinking much about.
And really, that’s how it’s supposed to be. It enhances each of our lives, separately and occasionally together. And sometimes non-monogamy can complicate life. But lately, it hasn’t. I haven’t been jealous or worried that there will be something to be jealous of. I’ve even had a few passing thoughts that it would be nice for Mike to find a new partner or for him to be able to see the girl I mentioned regularly if they both wanted to. I guess I feel compersion-y. There’s really nothing new or exciting that’s happening, but the huge difference between our relationship now and our relationship a year or so ago is striking. The fact that non-monogamy can be such a matter of course for me is something to celebrate.

Yesterday was a good day

Yesterday was a good day. It was the type of day that makes you optimistic for your future and content with your present.

I played with dogs and saw friends. In the afternoon another friend came over and drank tea and caught up. It was great. She’s poly, and we talked about both our relationships and futures and plans. It was a lot of fun and really clarified some things for me.

When Mike got home, we talked for a long time about money of all things. But seeing our similar desires and beliefs was really nice. It made me feel less worried about my financial future. Usually things like that make me anxious, but it didn’t. It really reminded me why I fell in love with him. After that we had sex and then ate Italian ice and watched Futurama. I went to bed feeling soothed and happy. I felt like things in my life are better than I’ve been thinking they are.

Monday meanderings

I’m feeling a bit better about all the stuff I wrote about in my last post. I analyzed a bit what appeals to me about moving towards a more poly model of relationships, and I think I can get all or almost all of that without other romantic relationships. I want to sleep with people I trust and feel comfortable with, people who are part of my life and not just an aside. I think I can do that by choosing partners more carefully. I need to sleep with actual friends and not sort-of friends or attractive potential friends. I also want to try to stick with people who are also non-monogamous because I think they will be more likely to stick around and want similar things I want.

I’m a bit worried about my mood though. I’m not sure if it’s PMS or depression, but I’ve had a lot of mood swings lately. I get irritable with Mike or I’ll be happy one minute and pissy the next. It’s really unpleasant for both of us. I’m trying to eat well and stay physically healthy and hoping that will help.

Overall, though, I feel like I spend more time happy than depressed or anxious. I re-started a hobby that I haven’t had time for lately. I’m being social. Mike and I are spending quality time together. I just feel frustrated because that level of happiness takes a lot of work and conscious balancing of productivity and leisure and emotional processing.

I’ve been feeling confused about non-monogamy. Mike and I have been in an open relationship forever. But casual sex is no longer something I’m comfortable with for myself. I don’t want monogamy, but I also need to be able to sleep with people I know and trust and can hang out with when we’re not having sex. I don’t want to sleep with someone who doesn’t have my back. That makes things complicated, though. Mike’s not comfortable with the idea of me having romantic relationships with other people, and I can completely understand that. But where does that leave us?

I suppose it means that I can have longer-term friends with benefits with an emphasis on the friend. But that’s what I’ve always been looking for and, while I have one of those now, I don’t know how long it will last due to some upheaval in his life, and it’s taken me about three years to find this situation in the first place.

I think after this ends, I’ll probably just hang back and focus on platonic friendships and my relationship with Mike. I still value non-monogamy, but after things end with my current FWB, I’m not sure if there’s another situation out there that I’ll be that comfortable with for a while.

I know this has been a bit of a whiny post. I know I’m very lucky overall. But sometimes I feel like I’m in a nether region where I can’t identify with any type of non-monogamy and it’s a bit frustrating in terms of finding partners and getting people to understand you.

How depression changed me

I’ve had depression for much of my life. Of course, I haven’t been depressed all the time for my whole life, but it’s come and gone in various degrees for as long as I can remember. But the long cycle of depression I came out of about six months or so ago was the worst I’ve ever experienced. And having really acute emotional pain on a daily basis for months and months changed me. Before, my depression sucked and often impacted my life negatively, but it didn’t consume me. When I finally came up for air it took me a while to realize that I had changed, but I had.

My self confidence was shot

Spending more than a year with your brain bombarding you with the message that you are ugly and worthless and unlovable is pretty hard to recover from. Even after my depression subsided, I still had a much lower self confidence than I had before. I had gained a little bit of weight, which didn’t help because it’s long been a sore spot for me. I also felt less capable, less kind, less competent than before. It’s something I’m working on in therapy and with my actions, but it is taking me a long time to undo the damage. Part of how I’m recovering is just by living my life like the person I want to be and hoping that my brain catches up.

My priorities were different

I used to be a fairly ambitious person. I wanted a job that was important and had an impact on people and was difficult to succeed in. That ideal job changed a few times, but I always wanted to have professional adventures and be well respected, and that always made me lean towards professions that are very time consuming. After my bad depression, though, I started to focus more on building a life that was pleasant on a day-to-day basis. My priorities shifted and I became much more concerned with a  good work/life balance. Now I’m in grad school for a profession that is meaningful but not all-consuming. I focus more on my family and home life. I prioritize Mike and our dog. I make time to spend with friends. I talk to my mom on the phone as much as I can. I try to do things that make me happy, like blogging and cooking.  My ideal life looks radically different than it did three years ago. Now I want to be a person with a job that doesn’t feel like a chore, with a lot of friends and loved ones, with the time to have fulfilling hobbies.

I take better care of my health

When my depression got bad, I sort of let it. I put off going to see a psychiatrist until it was intolerable. It took me a while to get off my ass and find a therapist I clicked with. Now I’m on top of that shit! I had been off of medication for a while, but a few months ago I started to feel a little down again for no reason and I thought my depression was coming back. So I saw my psychiatrist and he put me on a low dose of a medication that has worked for me in the past. It’s been very helpful in keeping me normal. I exercise more. I see my therapist regularly. I’m more aware of what I need to do to be OK and I do it as best I can. That doesn’t mean I’ll never be depressed again; I probably will. But with any luck, next time won’t be so bad because I already have a system in place for taking care of myself.

I hate depression, and being depressed was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. I don’t think anyone comes out of something like that completely unscathed. I see that period of my life as a dark chasm that separates a more carefree time from my adult life. I mentally separate things into before, during and after. But some of the changes that came out of it were positive, and I’m working on the ones that weren’t.

Shut up, brain

I over think things a lot. Sometimes when I try to communicate I get anxious and think about all my word choices too hard and do I let there be an uncomfortable silence after or do I change the subject abruptly or what? I’m an awkward person.

Today I hung out with that friend I’ve been seeing sexually. We just hung out for an hour and chatted and I pet his cats. No big deal. Then later tonight he texted me and asked if I wanted to watch a TV show tomorrow at his place and I said yes because I like the show and want to be more social and I enjoy this dude’s company.

But then I started to worry that if I hang out with him two days in a row Mike will be jealous or think that I’m really serious about this guy or something and I got anxious about telling him. But the thing is, I’m not falling in love with this guy. I like him and care about him, but that’s not new. I’m seeing him two days in a row out of coincidence and because he’s my friend. And if Mike weren’t busy he’d be welcome to join us.

I wonder if I’m doing Mike a disservice by being that anxious about simple communications. He’s a reasonable person and he trusts me. There’s no reason to think he’s going to panic for no reason. It’s patronizing or demeaning or something. Maybe. I’m letting a combination of irrational fears and baggage from previous relationships complicate this one. I don’t really know what to do other than remind myself that I’m being silly and try to act like a normal human. Now I just need to figure out how normal humans act.

This isn’t a huge deal. Mike and I are doing well. We’re solid and happy and this is just a minor case of my anxiety taking a non-issue and turning it into an issue. But it would really be nice if my brain functioned normally.

 

ETA: I talked to Mike and, as I suspected, this was just an irrational fear. He was never upset about it and was very supportive of me going out and being social.