I’ve been using this blog as a place to talk about my ideas, feelings, and beliefs about relationships, but its original intention was to share a slice of a polyamorous life. So, as weird as it is to talk about nascent relationships, I’m going to tell you about one I’m really hopeful about.
Last week I realised that a new acquaintance, Sophie, and I were heading toward romantic possibilities, so we had a coffee date to talk about it. I don’t want to deal with the emotional mess that comes of waiting too long to talk about relationship structure, so I try to have this conversation really early on.
I told my delightful new friend that the reason for the coffee was just to make sure we were on the same page. The look she gave me was equal parts trepidation and uncertainty. “Are we reading the same book?” she asked.
“I like you a lot,” I told her frankly, and was rewarded with a hesitant smile. “And I’ve reached a point where I want to ask you on a date. This–”
“This isn’t a date?
“Call this a pre-date, yeah? I want to not just give you my sales pitch–” Here she laughed at me. “–but also talk to you about what an invitation like that would mean from me. So you know if you want to accept it.”
Sophie was still laughing at me. “Is this an invitation to a first date, or a marriage proposal? I’m not exactly a U-Haul lesbian.”
“That’s sort of what I want to talk to you about.” She rushed to reassure me that she wasn’t someone who rushed into things, but I waved my hand to cut her off. “I’m polyamorous, and I want to be really straightforward with you about what that means before I even ask you out on a first date. I really like you, and I want to see where things could go, but I also really respect you and I want to give you all the information before you say yes or no.” She was patient, amused. She waved me on.
The conversation lasted about three hours, many cups of tea, and a long walk. Sophie has never been in a nonmonogamous relationship. She had never considered the possibility. She was vaguely aware of swingers and “open relationships” — people who share sex outside of their emotionally monogamous relationships — but true polyamory was something she had never really heard of. She asked many questions, some of them very insightful ones that I had to really think about, but otherwise she was quiet. She seemed to be considering every word I said very carefully. It was hard to read her mood.
I basically gave her a shortened version of this post, and told her again how interested I was in her personally. I reassured her that if we were dating, she would get just as much caring and support from me as she would from a monogamous partner, that my love for others could never mean there was less love available for her. I tried to be frank about the time constraints, but told her that spending time with her would be a high priority as long as we were together. I tried to explain that I was telling her all of this not because I wanted to be super-serious right away but because it needed to be got out in the open before we even thought about becoming romantically involved, and I had been thinking those thoughts a lot recently.
I’m afraid I actually said too much. It’s a failing of mine, as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read my blog posts. I always want to be very clear about my meaning, so I tend to restate until I see a glimmer of recognition. Sophie just looked thoughtful, and said little.
Eventually even I will run out of words, and we walked in silence for a few minutes. My heart was in my throat the entire time, having no idea what she was thinking or feeling. Finally the waiting was too much, and I asked. “Thoughts? Reactions? You don’t have to decide right away, obviously.”
“I’m going to need some time to think about it,” she finally said. “It’s a lot to process. I never realised– I mean, I knew you–” She lapsed into silence again. We had nearly wound our way back to the coffeehouse when she touched my arm and made eye contact. “Thank you for being upfront with me,” she said. “I will call you when I have had some time to think about it.”
I have been checking my phone much too often the past week. Sophie and I have known each other for about a month, and for about three weeks of that we have had a conversation nearly every day. She is funny, intelligent, empathetic, driven, and an all-around wonderful person. Not knowing has driven me insane.
Finally, yesterday, I received a note from her.
I’ve thought a lot about the things you said. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
I don’t want to own you.
Being an important part of your life isn’t the same as trying to dictate the other parts of your life.
I care about you. That means wanting you to be happy. I know I make you happy. I think I’m okay with other people making you happy, too.
You say that you will make time for me.
You say that you will talk me through if I get jealous.
You say it doesn’t have to be like it was with my ex.
You say that if/when this is over, it will be because you and I decide THIS relationship doesn’t work, not because another relationship does work.
You say if I find someone new, you will be happy for me, as long as I am still with you.
I think I want to try this. I think I can do it. But I still have one more question.
Are you free for Italian food Saturday night?
I have no idea where this is going — other than to my favourite Italian place downtown — but I am excited. I have met someone incredible, and things are looking hopeful.
- Polyamory, done Leah-style! (ethicalsluttery.wordpress.com)