Part One ended with Alex, my new-ish lover, heading out of town for a business conference where he’d be spending time with a previous lover, Amanda.
When Alex returned from his trip, he shot me a quick text to tell me that he was home, and that he had a lot of amazing news for me. But it was going to take some explaining, so he wanted to send me a long email, detailing everything. I said that sounded great, and I looked forward to hearing it. I remember he wrote something back like “some of it may be surprising to you, but ultimately, I think you’re going to love it!”.
Holy fucking shit snacks, was he wrong.
A day or two later, I got his email. I still have his email, so I can paraphrase directly from it (rereading all of this is surprisingly painful, even years later):
He told me that his good news was that Amanda had decided to switch companies, and the most appealing company was based a town over, so she was coming to move into our area. Further, they’d had a discussion about their relationship, and decided to be primary partners to each other – and only to each other. All other relationships would be casual and/or secondary. Also, Amanda wanted to explore dominating Alex, so they thought it would be really hot if I had to request her permission to fuck Alex. Although, as this is Amanda’s first foray into poly, and she had a lot of concerns and feelings of jealousy, any sex that Alex and I had from now until some unnamed point in the future would only be also while having sex with Amanda OR Amanda had to be in the room to watch (and boy was Alex hoping we’d hit it off). Lastly, Alex had decided that he would make it clear to his company that he did really want to resettle in my area, and in order to solidify that decision, he decided to buy a home now. Amanda could live in it while he was in Europe.
This is really not what I expected to read when told that I’d be getting an amazing email. Although it is true; I was amazed. Just not in a good way.
My gut response to this new situation:
No, no, no, no, and NO.
I won’t bore you with the hours of writing that went into me figuring out why my gut said nothing but no – but it’s important to note that it took me days to figure out exactly why I felt so horrible about these developments. I would go so far as to say that I felt violated by them – an extreme word, and one that I use quite seriously. The next thing that I was originally going to write was that just because I felt violated didn’t mean that I actually was violated – but then I looked up the meaning of “violate” and felt like yep, that is pretty accurate. It did feel like my rights and privacy were ignored and taken away. When I became interested in Alex, I believed that he was an independent agent, that he made all his decisions himself, and that our relationship was ours and ours alone – not subject to scrutiny, judgement, or modification because another person’s needs, wants, or desires. Having this surprise primary person named Amanda appear completely threw me. And learning that Alex and Amanda had enough of a relationship that they would have an in-depth conversation about me and Alex’s relationship (including thinking up sexual escapes for us) totally floored me.
So I inquired about that – how the fuck did Amanda go from past lover to current primary?
It turns out that I was mistaken about the “past lover” part, in that I took that mean “previous girlfriend”, but what Alex actually meant was “person he’d been intimate with previously”. He and Amanda first got together a few months after his divorce; they’d been friends and conference buddies before then. They really hit it off, but since they lived on different coasts, they had a sort of agreement that when they were in the same city (at a conference or workshop) they would be together, but when they weren’t in the same city, they had no hold over each other. Amanda deciding to move to the area that Alex currently lived in changed everything. Alex had no idea (until this last conference) that Amanda would end up living in his area – it didn’t occur to him to mention her to me in anything more than a casual way, because as far as he knew, they were going to remain on again/off again lovers as long as they continued to met up at events and still wanted to be lovers.
That made me feel better in that at least I knew now that Alex hadn’t lied or deliberately hidden any important relationships from me. How things fell out (at least about Amanda existing) made sense now were I in his shoes, I think I’d have done much the same. What didn’t make sense, or was (at the least) presumptuous as FUCK was how my relationship with Alex would change into one where I had to ask Amanda’s permission to have sex with him – and could only do so with her either present or participating. That was nothing like the dynamic that Alex and I had already established. I felt angry and betrayed at this enormous change in the relationship between me and Alex.
When I relayed that to Alex, he apologized. He said that he’d gotten overly excited thinking about all the ways that he and I could still have a relationship, and that had always been a fantasy of his – to be controlled and “given” to people. He had gotten ahead of himself and starting talking about fantasy, before making sure that all the concrete, important facts of the situation were both laid out and amenable to me.
The most important part (he explained to me) was that he and Amanda had decided to be primaries now. Also, Amanda needed some time to get used to being polyamorous, so she didn’t want Alex having sex with anyone (in their soon-to-be home city) unless she was also present.
Now this is one of the most confusing (and to me idiotic) rules that some people put into play when they first explore polyamory – so because she’s watching, she can make sure that we…don’t get too into each other? Don’t have better sex than the sex and she and Alex have? Don’t say (or do) anything that she feels is too intimate? When I asked Alex what the reason for this rule was, his response was…quite the leap of logic. He said that Amanda totally agrees with the idea of us fucking other people separately when we’re not in the same city, but if we are in the same city, why not just always fuck people together?
Seriously? How does that even make sense? It’s ok to have separate relationships with other people once your physical separation is >x (let’s call it x, I don’t know what the hell else to call it), but if it’s <x then all sex must happen together? Because when the distance is <x you mind-meld and become the same person? Or is it that jealousy and insecurity have a finite distance, so for any sex that happens at >x distance, there is no jealousy? Does he actually not see a difference in sexual experiences between himself and another person versus sex with himself, Amanda, and another person?
Oh wait, but it gets better…
He told me that in order to grow trust and make the idea of him having sex with other people more comfortable, Amanda needs the two of them to have sex with other people together FIRST, before they do things separately. Seeing Alex fuck someone else, with Amanda there, but her seeing that she is still treated as the primary person will give her confidence. That makes sense to him as the best way to proceed.
I guess it’s good at it makes sense them them, at least? Because I’m not sure how having sex in front of her builds her confidence. How do you “still treat her as the primary partner” while fucking someone else? Do you maintain eye contact with her the entire time? Only yell her name? Stop fucking to get her a glass of water if she needs one?
All sarcasm aside, I really truly want to know how you treat someone as a primary person while having sex with another person – and most especially, how you do that will still treating that other person (they one you’re having sex with) as though you value and enjoy their company and want to also treat their needs with respect and car. And I want to know this in writing. Not by trying it, because I feel like that’s a powder keg just waiting for a spark.
There was yet more…amazing…new information that he related to me:
He also told Amanda that he wasn’t 100% comfortable with this. He understand her desire to ‘build trust’ (to use Amanda’s words), but if she was truly OK with Alex sleeping with others, she should be OK with that now. And they needed to schedule a threesome ASAP, so that if this wasn’t right for her, she and Alex wouldn’t waste time together, since it is something that he requires. And Alex wasn’t going to accept promises of ‘one day in the future but not now’, since he didn’t trust that. A “future of 3 months was OK” to him but ‘sometime next year’ was not acceptable.
Oh man…where to start with this…I’m on the fence here. On one hand, it sounds like good, honest communication between the two of them. Given that I have some deal-breakers for my relationships (don’t we all?), I can totally understand Alex wanting to make sure that Amanda is OK with threesomes, if those are a deal-breaker for him relationship-wise (For the record, he and I had already had a conversation about threesomes where I said I’d had them and loved them. I’m so glad (yes, sarcasm) that my word was good enough that he wasn’t worried about my threesome friendliness. Or maybe that’s only an issue when it’s his primary?).
Buuuuuuuuut “schedule a threesome ASAP?”. Yeah, totally, I have my, you know, threesome buddy who’s always up to help guide a n00b through threesomeland. This fabulous person magically has chemistry with all the people that I have chemistry with – and vice versa. Also s/he can change gender as needed to suit all sexual preferences and is always up for sex with new people! So I’m going to schedule that to happen from 9:07 to 12:23 next Thursday.
And to think, Alex by himself had sounded like such a delightful person. The person writing these emails seemed to only have a tenuous relationship to the person that I’d been getting to know the past six months. I guess that’s why people say that time is always the only way to really get to know a person – you never know what insanity will pop up once people get a little more comfortable.
Given all this new (batshit crazy) information, I told Alex that I felt like I needed some time to mull over if any of this was acceptable to me, or if we should just end our relationship now. That I didn’t straight out say “ok, good luck with all that, we’re done” is probably a sign that *I* wasn’t thinking entirely straight at that time. I think some of it was the numbness I felt from all this new…stuff. And some of it was that we’d had such good chemistry on so many fronts – maybe this was all just a crazy, blip that could be weathered and eventually turn into a funny story about the rocky road we’d weathered together in the beginning – who’d of thunk it would turn into a blog post about how not to start a polyamorous relationship some years down the line?
Alex wanted me to know that he knew it was a lot, and he also felt badly that it was a huge shift in thinking and expectations for me and that the first few months (at least) would mainly be about getting Amanda comfortable with polyamory. But he really cared about me, and he wasn’t willing to put the relationship that he and I had on hold forever. He was absolutely committed to having some kind of relationship with me, and though we needed to rethink what that relationship would be like, if I was still interested, he was still very interested and badly wanted this to work. He also thought it might be a good idea if Amanda and I met, so we could start the lay the groundwork for at least getting to know each other as people. I agreed, and said that if Amanda was taking such a large part in the decision-making when it came to my relationship with Alex, then we should meet ASAP.
So when Amanda came to visit the area a week later, we all got together.
And as this post has turned into a behemoth, I’ll save what happened then for Part 3.