Ands, Not Ors

I have been dating a new man for just shy of a month. I am naming him Duke because we both have an insatiable love of mayo. He so much so that he orders Duke’s online and keeps a healthy stash in his pantry. If you don’t know Duke’s mayo, it’s a Southern institution born and raised in Greenville, SC.

This isn’t really a story about Duke, but rather about my surprise at where my brain is with regard to relationships.

I was jolted on a recent date with Duke – well they are all recent really – we’ve only had four of them! We had just had a fun romp in bed and were lying there afterward chatting. Even though it’s early days, I have found that now that we are long-time adults serious relationship conversations can start happening pretty early in the association.

So we were lying there naked on our backs next to each other and somehow the topic turned to ‘us’. I can’t remember how it got there, but only what he said.

“Well this can only go so far because you are married.”

At that moment, I was overwhelmed with both sadness at the comment and relief that it was pitch black in the room because my eyes started to well up.

Part of it was for sure baggage from a previous relationship that broke up about a year ago. I haven’t written much about him – it still makes me sad and I haven’t quite processed it all, but essentially that guy had the same line of thinking. If I can’t have all of you to myself in a monogamous relationship then I don’t want you at all OR the only thing to work toward in a romantic relationship is marriage.

Those thoughts have haunted me since that break up. He threw away a deep honest love because he couldn’t see any grey or didn’t want to because he thought it would be too complicated or he couldn’t see a way he could get all his needs met. Well fuck that – sometimes things don’t come to you in neat little packages and they are hard – I would say especially the worthwhile things. In my (angrier) opinion, the weak MF just gave up because it was too hard.

The implicit idea of possession within monogamy always pisses me off. My husband isn’t mine – I am not his. We are still independent people – for me, the two did not become one when we married. We are not assets, possessions or trophies of the other. I have heard this statement too many times to count and I’m sure I will again.

“Wow, it’s so great that your husband let’s you do this.” [implied: date other men]

You can fuck all the way off with that!

My husband doesn’t “let” me do anything. I don’t “let” him do anything. We have a connected, communicative relationship where we really listen to the other person’s needs, wants and feelings – and really care about hearing what they have to say. Then we create a path or a space together so that the other person can feel comfortable and supported and confident in pursuing those needs, wants and desires. Each person is heard, validated and respected. It takes continuous communication, honesty and above all the truest love that comes from a place where you, with all your being, want the other person to be happy and fulfilled in whatever they want to pursue.

Back to the bedroom: I also realized in that moment just how much I had unwound my brain in the past 7 1/2 years with regard to all types of relationships, but particularly intimate ones. My thought patterns don’t have two lanes – black or white. I see infinite possibilities – a beautiful grassy plain in front of me with no worn paths, no trees or rocks defining the way. I can walk in literally any direction.

This obviously took conscious work I wanted to do. Sometimes I forget I live in a monogamous world. My brain just doesn’t think like that anymore. With everyone who comes into my life, I assess in the beginning how and where the relationship/association is or where I can see it may be going or just go with the flow and don’t think about it all. But always with the idea to “Let Relationships Be Where They Are.” Not to force or push in a direction, but rather try to be open to receive the person as they are and vice versa and see how we naturally fit together. The fit can also change over time – friends become lovers, lovers move to the friend zone. Some friends become make out buds without intercourse. Some lovers are just fun acquaintance hook ups.

The monogamous world we’ve all been brought up in doesn’t allow for all this grey area. It once did a long time ago, but I don’t want to get into a history lesson.

Why couldn’t Duke and I have a long-term relationship? We are prisoners of our own thinking sometimes.

Instead of confronting him with that question, I expressed just a sliver of what I was looking for. Maybe he would start to see things differently over time. It is definitely too early to tell, but I’m just putting myself out there.

I told him I was interested in one long term relationship with someone, and then I stepped out on the potential plank just a bit. I added that I could see the possible…maybe…potential in him for me – not knowing of course if he saw anything remotely like what I did. He’s 70 years old, a semi-retired pilot, widowed for 20 years and never remarried, no kids. He had had a long term girlfriend before, but they never lived together. He’s got a very active social life, including four planes and is always flying near and far to visit friends and fly in airshows. He’s still besties with his ex-GF – they even share one of those planes together. All of this is exciting to me that we could be a complement to each other’s otherwise full and fulfilled lives.

But will he be open enough to see the potential? I can see the challenge – 70 years of thinking like a monogamist.

I am also not in any way disparaging monogamy. I hope none of this comes across that way. I just truly believe that if people were exposed to the possibility of ENM, learned how it could work successfully, ethically and with respect and then given the freedom to pursue their true heart and mind, the world would be a more magical, happy place. Some would still choose monogamy, some wouldn’t.

Before we left the bed, Duke said, “You are really pulling at my heart strings. I really like you.”

Well I hope with time, talk and trust, I can help bring his mind along with his heart.

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