Saturday, 8 June 2013

Shame and non-monogamy

I'm not the only one to get jealous.

Given the bad press non-monogamy usually gets, it's understandable that when it's working folk want the world to wise up. But lately the posts of some poly people I know have seemed unbearably smug.

Non-monogamy needs its champions but I think it's harder to talk about the negatives so many people associate with it. It's uncomfortable, the difficult feelings it brings up in many of us. There are people (like Virgil) who suffer much less from jealousy, fear of abandonment and insecurity, but I reckon the majority experience these emotions to a greater or lesser extent.

It doesn't make non-monogamy wrong. It doesn't mean we don't want to do it. But it can be hard as fuck. In not wanting to admit weakness or be seen to be vulnerable, difficult feelings are often hidden. Personally I felt ashamed of my jealousy and fear. Sadly being ashamed and not accepting them did not make the jealousy and fear go away.

"Do you have friendships in which you are always the nurturer, the free spirit, or the straight man?" I ask Stan. We are drinking coffee on a terrace in the park. A small dog ignores my crisps and gazes adoringly at Stan's sandwich. He is getting the low down on the break up.

"I just got sick of always being the one feeling bad. I think I might do better with someone else who needs a bit of reassurance and a safety net. Then again, perhaps I'm just trying to make myself feel better about my failure."

Then Stan, who looks like a handsome Bond villain and oozes positivity, wisdom and confidence (he life-coached me for a while until it became clear I didn't actually want to change at the time), totally surprises me by admitting that in his open relationship he's the jealous, fearful one.

It's such a relief to hear. I feel a new level of connection with Stan even though I've known him for years. He's let me see a new side to him and I'm grateful. I tell him about the door-slam which caused Virgil to break up with me and he says: "A door slam is a way of saying: 'Listen to me!'" I say: "My unhappiness had to be expressed somehow. It's not acceptable though. Virgil absolutely never shouts and slams doors."

Virgil has had his hair cut and looks much better. A sharp cut takes years off him. I remember how attractive I find Virgil. It's in honour of Sarah though. She's in town this weekend. He even tidied his bedroom, which he calls 'the nest' and does not allow me to see. I tell him that it is an insult to birds. I wonder if she'll be visiting him at home and whether she might stay the night now that there are no rules about that.

But I'm noticing that I don't feel nearly as jealous of Sarah now that we have split up. I told Virgil that I wouldn't accept being put second to another individual. I said that I didn't even want to be in a relationship with someone who would do that. It's bravado, I know, but it expressed a kind of personal truth that needed to be expressed. Even so, I miss him. I don't know how, but I still hope Virgil and I might find a way to be together in the future. Somehow.

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