And Noah speaks

I asked Noah for a guest post. So. Instead of my projecting all over him. Here is what he thinks:

 

To Krissy’s various beaus, suitors, sweeties and/or flings of the present, and possibly of the future,
I am asked for a guest post on why I am recommending a Mardi Gras month, nearly free of rules, for Krissy. To explain will require me to write a fair bit, including things I should have explained to all of you before. It is a great opportunity for me and an honor, and really past time. So: yes, and here you are.
I am specifically writing to those gentlemen (and occasionally ladies) joining me in the grand project of making Krissy happy in a lifetime-sustainable way, mostly through romantic means. I have made it a large part of my life’s work, and I’m honored to serve alongside other people doing the same. Some of the things I say here may sound a bit distressing, but understand I hold each of you in the highest esteem. I shall try to keep your distress in reading to a reasonable minimum… As long as I successfully describe the difficulties, anyway.
And let me say to those of you I have met that I’m impressed with all of you. Krissy has managed to find people with good boundaries, with a genuine interest in being good to our marriage, with a genuine interest in supporting her. Please do not take anything I say here as reflecting badly on you. You are all very clearly good people, coming to this with the very best of intentions. And if I were to chase you away for that, I would not enjoy the qualities of your successors nearly so much. I appreciate you, individually and collectively.
Those of you I’ve met are wonderful. Those of you in the future will still have been selected by Krissy, and her taste is excellent.
So: some background.
Krissy and I are easy-going, fun, sex-positive people with our flings and secondaries… And dramatic, possessive and intense with each other. This has all the obvious problems with non-monogamy that you’d expect. We were both vigorously, happily polyamorous when we got together, and after a few years of trying that while married, we shut it down and went monogamous — as much to avoid drama with each other as for any other reason.
We still spend a *huge* amount of time focusing on each other, resonating off each other, and generally having the sort of extremely enmeshed, codependent marriage that every therapist will tell you isn’t healthy. We love it, naturally. And we’d like to keep all that. It’s been a great ten-plus years.
We’re both very sensitive to our spouse being full of “energy that’s not for us.” When I come home jazzed from a date, Krissy doesn’t want to *touch* me — that’s “somebody else” energy. My reaction to her is often similar, if less intense. But the more she “glows” after a date, the more she’s unable to focus on me, so instead we do a bunch of talking through the date with the other person, and generally focusing on her and them. That’s what she’s up for at that point.
I’m more okay with that than she is — that is, she wants to leave the room and sob when I come home like that. I’m okay with some glowing, but me talking through how much she likes you gets old, as a way to spend her-and-me time. In large amounts it gets threatening, because we’ve been together over ten years — she does not, as a rule, glow like that after a date with me. The glow is about novelty, and after ten years I don’t compete well on “novelty.” Which is all as it should be. I can compete very successfully on things like “safety” and “reliability” — it was a very conscious tradeoff. Again, all as it should be.
There’s also another variation on that: sometimes she has a *bad* date and comes home vibrating with other-person energy. She didn’t get what she wanted and I’m no help with that, or something went wrong and they said something stupid, or… So, the “glowing” thing isn’t the only kind of “focused on other people, even when she’s with me” going on.
As a rule, it lasts about an evening. If she comes home from a date, it’s usually gone by morning unless it was an unusually good or bad date. Even then, it’s rarely more than a day or two.
Right now, novelty is feeling very important to Krissy. This makes a lot of sense after a few years of highly-constrained, drama-prone poly early in our marriage, followed by years of monogamy, followed by a very rocky start to the current non-monogamy.
Ah, the *current* non-monogamy…
Right now, Krissy is dating individually and I am not. Remember that bit about her being Very Not Okay with me coming home feeling like somebody else’s energy? There is absolutely no way for me to date and enjoy it much without some of that happening. More to the point, I won’t know when it *will* happen.
She has made it clear how bad that is for her. I need to at least try hard to not date individually, essentially indefinitely, to avoid an Unacceptable Outcome. Am I going to be able to be upbeat, constantly-supportive and so on about her having something I would also really like and can’t have, while simultaneously losing a bunch of my own support? We’ll see, won’t we?
(“Losing a bunch of my own support?” Yeah, when she’s glowing/moping about you guys, she’s a lot less into me — fair. It means I’m supporting *her* a lot more because bad dates need it, and a lot of my “I can do anything because the woman of my dreams is way into me” energy is out to lunch either way. I run a *lot* of my life on “Krissy likes me” energy. Again, see that enmeshed/codependent thing that we do and prefer.)
We also go out together to events/parties/etc. For a bit, that was “she’ll play with me and then maybe other people”, but at this point it’s generally that she’ll play with somebody else and I’ll play with Beautiful, who feels very non-threatening to Krissy (hey, Beautiful!) Or, in some cases, I don’t play. And that mostly needs to be how it goes. Me picking up somebody new, clicking well, coming home glowing and wanting to find ways to do more of that would be… destabilizing, in a not-okay way.
(Wait, “not dating”, but also a specific partner I play with repeatedly? Yeah, assume I’m playing fast and loose with the word “dating” here.)
She also wants to see a lot of you folks more socially, which makes sense. That’s mixed for me — it means increasingly often, I’ll be dealing with “not about me” in my house. Like, not just “not centered on me”, but often “I need to back off from Krissy” and “me being too assertive is a problem and I need to not do it.” That’s all the obvious kinds of complicated.
I’ll plead a bit of bias on this one as well because last week had three successive days with a play event that didn’t go well, followed by a dinner at our house where she didn’t get other-people energy she wanted, followed by an long-planned-ahead playdate with extensive work and negotiation, and then sleeping apart.
We don’t sleep apart well. *I* don’t handle Krissy being disconnected from me that way well, and three days in a row is really hard. And she wants things that seem to lead inevitably to more of that, including a lot more having her lovers in our house.
Couldn’t we just *stop* this and go back to monogamy? No. Krissy has done the whole “being off with just me and platonic friends” thing quite extensively. That turns out to lead to another Unacceptable Outcome. No, as wonderfully selfish as that sounds to me right now, it’s cutting off my nose to spite my face. Or, more likely, cutting off my head to spite my nose.
Which leads to the question, if this is causing me distress, why am I suggesting a Mardi Gras month? Why am I advocating *more* of this?
Krissy says it’s to prove to myself that she’s an asshole when she’s seeing a lot of other people. And hey, maybe we’ll get some idea of how much of her seeing other people is okay with me. Hard to say.
A lot of it is trying to make this style of nonmonogamy work for the long term. The attempt may work, it may not. But I’m going to do everything I can to give it a fair shake, and I think a Mardi Gras month is going to be required for that.
I want to know how much of “novelty wins over me” is because Krissy is deprived of that novelty. Right now, it’s a *really* distinct and obvious thing. Even somebody who’s not otherwise particularly attractive is suddenly very attractive compared to time with me, because Krissy wants that and has been deprived of it for so long.
I think that highly-restricted novelty isn’t doing much to reset the clock on that. I think that having more time and fewer restrictions will help.
I also think that the disconnection will become more obvious to *her* when there’s more of it, more consistently. So that’s probably the closest to what she means when she says I just want to prove she’s an asshole.
Right now it’s hard for her to see the disconnection, because when she comes home and we mostly talk about how great her other boy is for a day or two, it feels plenty connected to *her*. She’s getting perfectly reasonable support.
But there are limits on how much of that I can do. If it happens twice a month, we’re well within my limits. If it happens twice a week, I’m going to be providing a lot less support per time; I don’t have four times as much to give, so she doesn’t get four times as much.
So perhaps it’s also to show that *I’m* an asshole when she’s constantly vibrating with other-people energy.
She’d say she already knows that. Given that I haven’t said, “look, I don’t want to hear any more about (boy)” even once during this whole thing, I’m thinking we’re both wound up about small stuff. It’s hard to have good perspective on being nasty to each other since we’re usually so over-the-top awesome. I don’t know that either of us got to the “asshole” point as most married people would measure it, not at any point in this whole business.
Well, okay. There are some particular things that I could easily paint that way. But in context it’s mostly not true.
I want Krissy to get more of a feel for getting more support from other people *instead of me*, because that’s more like the tradeoff we’re talking about. I want me to get more of a feel for what it will be like to have her lovers as a major part of our socializing — I need to figure out if *I* can do this longer-term, too. When Krissy is specifically trying for other-person energy, I have to take a big step back or she doesn’t usually get it. Having regular social gatherings at our house that work like that is… new.
I want to reset the clock on novelty, somewhat. For her to feel less restricted so that new-person sex is just less appealing. Not *un*appealing — I get it, new-person sex is awesome. But right now it’s getting an enormous boost from long deprivation. I think the boost would be smaller if it weren’t so long since she could find lovers without all the restrictions.
An unrestricted month is a chance for Krissy to maybe get some of what she’s been cut off from — at least, a little more. And it’s a chance for me to figure out how often we *can* reconnect. We figured out how to reconnect when she’s sad or angry, but not when it’s over a lover. Maybe it will get easier to do it even after she’s seen somebody else? It hasn’t before, but we haven’t tried hard. This would be a reason to try hard.
And maybe it turns out that I’m allergic to having her lovers over two days a week and I explode. That would be… sub-optimal, but this would be a much better time to learn than six or ten or twelve months from now. I truly don’t know how I’m going to respond to this being a regular, constant drumbeat in our life. But we expect Unacceptable Outcomes if we just nix it.
So… Questions from the audience?

8 thoughts on “And Noah speaks

  1. Quiet One

    When start dating someone who is new to poly this is exactly what I do. I throw them in the deep end. My experience is that the fear is worse than the reality.

    Sometimes it takes longer than a month but eventually as I keep coming back time and time again that insecurity dissipates in my newly poly partner.

    I’ve been meaning to touch base with you but I don’t feel this is the right place. I’ll probably message you on OKC when I have the time. Right now I have to get back to work…

    Reply
  2. Michelle

    I am wired so, so, so differently that a lot of this is hard for me to understand. I find you both so fascinating.

    I’m thrilled when my partners go on dates with other people, sleep with other people, or fall in love. I like having breaks from my partners where I get to stretch out in bed, enjoy some quiet time, and not feel pressured to go to social things if I’m not up for it. I’m only not thrilled if I think the other person is specifically unhealthy for either of us (hard drug use is a big one, as is getting the feeling the other person resents *me*), or if I am specifically rejected/abandoned.

    I think I’m also unusual as a poly person that generally speaking, I expect my core needs to be met by any/all romantic partners. I need to be separately fully compatible with anyone I date, if that makes sense. I learned many years ago that I can’t piece together one good relationship from three people I’m 30% compatible with , if that makes sense. It’s fine if there’s just different things and interests and preferences people bring to the table though, as long as they’re not core needs. I’d be happy with one person I could have tea with, and another person I go out to eat with, and another person I can enjoy cooking with. I don’t think I could date a vanilla person, even if I had a different very kinky partner. I couldn’t date someone without kissing, and I probably couldn’t date someone without it at least theoretically being OK for me to spend the night (logistics are a bitch and it’s tough to afford guest rooms in the Bay Area). Conversely I’m OK with different partners having different life goals as long as our values are more or less the same; I’ve loved being a ‘secondary’ even though I don’t practice hierarchical poly myself.

    Anyway I think I fundamentally don’t quite understand what you two are doing right now, but I hope you are able to come up with something that works and feels healthy to each of you.

    Reply
    1. Quiet One

      You and I do poly pretty much the same way Michelle. I think Krissy and Noah may get there some day. There is always a certain amount of turmoil in the transition.

      What Noah is doing here is incredibly brave, most don’t volunteer to dive into the deep end.

      Reply
      1. Noah

        It’s hard to imagine us getting there to the same extent. Partly, we’re both really, really screwed if this whole “being married” thing doesn’t work out. We have a number of “no, really, this just has to work” projects together. Kids are just the most obvious of those.

        And both of us are, honestly, kind of assholes about how we date other people, and both *very* touchy about how the other dates other people. In theory, that could change. In practice… I don’t know. It’s pretty hard to imagine.

        I’m not actually easygoing. I’m default-cheerful, and I’m apathetic about 95% of the world, which works out great as long as you don’t fuck with the other 5%.

        Krissy is very solidly in the 5%.

        Pity my poor coworkers – I go back and forth between the best guy to work with and the worst, depending whether you tread badly on other parts of that 5%.

        Reply
        1. Quiet One

          It takes time possibly years of this to get to the point where the rules become less necessary. It’s a matter of feeling comfortable and safe. Noah has accomplished this with one person he’s seeing. Maybe some day there will come another.

          Reply
      1. Noah

        I’m fine with some of that. I also go with you to a lot of social events. Dance stuff is hard, because you don’t want to go to dance events where I learn first (like the West Coast Swing we did) or stuff we learn together (Saddle Rack.) And with the stuff you learn first, I pretty much need to sit on the sidelines for most of it — you would rather dance with people that already know it, and so would pretty much everybody else there, as it worked at The Starry Plough, Friday Night Waltz, St Stephen’s Green and so on when I/we tried it.

        Reply
  3. Blacksheep

    You guys are really lucky to have each other, and I truly believe that you will figure out parameters that work.

    Reply

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