In the midst of our excitement about how our lives together might play out, and our next steps, Rachel finally told me about Jessica. I don’t entirely remember how and when it came up, but I remember her first words very clearly.
She said to me that if she was going to change her life to have multiple intimate partners in it, then Jessica had to be one of them, because they were kind of soul mates.
The things that stuck with me about this, even to this day, was the hesitant way she brought it up. And the phrase “kinda soul mates”. Kinda soul mates? With Jessica? The Jessica who came over fairly regularly and (surprising to me, given the number of my friends who disliked her) seemed like a cool, interesting person and a close friend on Rachel’s, yes, but a soul mate? How was it that we’d gotten to the point where we’d been talking for months about how much we loved each other and loved living together and wanted to keep living together, and being intimately in each others lives even if we had romantic partners and Rachel was just telling me now that she also had someone in her live who was kinda her soul mate?!?!
Because Rachel was kind of cringing in on herself as she gave me this information, I did my best to stay calm. I communicated clearly that that I didn’t have a problem with there being more people in her life that she loved deeply. But I was confused that I had no idea that she had such a deep relationship with someone else and I didn’t know anything about it. And Jessica didn’t live too far from us, but she seemed to come over fairly rarely. My knowledge of Rachel and people who she loved was that she wanted to see those people as much as possible. Why did she so rarely see Jessica? Why didn’t I know about Jessica?
This was when Rachel explained to me about the hellacious time Jessica had had with her job the last few years. She also explained a bit more about the person Jessica was currently dating (and living with) and the problems there. I knew (from what Jessica had said when she was over) that there were difficulties in her relationship. I’d been present several times when Jessica cut her visit with Rachel short because her boyfriend was home alone and lonely and wouldn’t stop complaining/text bombing Jessica about how unfair it was that he was home alone while she was out having fun. It sounded like a difficult situation for Jessica to be in.
That explained Jessica’s physical absence in Rachel’s life for the past few years. But it didn’t explain why she never talked to me about Jessica, when she did talk to me about (I think) all her other intimates.
And I’ve said about a million times before, she never did explain why she didn’t tell me about Jessica sooner. I’ll never know. It does drive me a bit nuts.
This is why I ask people now, if I think I may want to have them be an intimate partner of mine, about the other people in their lives. I’m not really into “surprise” metamours.
Getting back to what happened with Jessica and Rachel, I got over my surprise. Jessica and I started spending more time together, first as friends. We started more actively cultivating a relationship together. We all spent time in different configurations – Rachel, Rob, me, and Jessica; Jessica, Rachel and me; Jessica and me; Rachel and Jessica; Jessica, Rob and me; and so on. My bond with Rachel continued to be strong, but it also started to change, slowly. Spending more time with Rachel and Jessica, and clearly being an intimate of both of them caused them to relax into some of their more natural behaviors together. And not all of those behaviors were good.
For instance, Jessica can be…how to put it…she’s not always good at speaking up for herself clearly with those that she’s the closest with. Before I got to know her well, when I saw her socially, and something happened in an interaction with another person that she didn’t like, she spoke up about it clearly and would try to resolve it. But with Rachel…at times, it seemed like she expected Rachel to read her mind and her wants. And when Rachel misread those needs and wants, Jessica pouted. Depending on how Rachel was feeling, she sometimes ignored Jessica’s pouting and sometimes would do all kinds of things to try to placate Jessica.
There were instances where I’d see Rachel looking stressed about something and I’d ask her what was going on and she’d say that she and Jessica had had a misunderstanding, and she was trying to figure out what she needed to do so that Jessica was happy with her again. I questioned that, and asked her why she didn’t either tell Jessica to clearly tell her what she needed OR if she felt like Jessica was being ridiculous (which she did at times), tell Jessica that she WAS being ridiculous and to knock it off. Rachel would brush it all aside and say something like “Oh, it’s just Jessica being Jessica. And if I don’t figure out a way to make her feel better, she’ll just get more upset and we’ll have a much worse fight”.
So while my relationship with Rachel continued to have clear communication and good boundaries and no mind games, I became increasingly aware that her relationship with Jessica didn’t always have those things. That made me feel really uncomfortable. It made me feel badly for Rachel, that she was willing to put up with that kind of bullshit. It also made me worry that those kinds of behaviors would slowly seem “normal” to Rachel and she’d start doing them to me (she didn’t, surprisingly). It also worried me because I was growing closer and closer to Jessica, and I wondered if she’d start to try to pull that shit with me (she did, unfortunately).
Somewhere during this time, I also met Jon. I think it was shortly before I began to have concerns about Rachel and Jessica’s relationship, and some of Jessica’s behaviors. Meeting Jon and falling hard for him meant that there was less time for me to spend with Rachel and Jessica. With Rachel, this wasn’t too much of a problem. She’d picked up a major project at work that had caused her to travel regularly. So our time together was very scheduled and there were large, clear blocks of time when she wasn’t in town. With Jon, as he was already dating Lora (and had fluctuating work hours), there was also a lot of time when he wasn’t available. So dating him didn’t squeeze my time with Jessica much. And when Jessica started dating George a few months later (she had finally broken up with that other guy a few months prior), that also limited our time together. I would say though that the biggest limit to our time together was our jobs. We both worked long hours, and often had to stay late at the last minute to finish projects. One of the best things about my relationship with Jessica (and with Rachel, Rob, and Jon too) is that all of them took their jobs seriously, and we all had the same feelings about long hours sometimes being necessary. This wasn’t the case with a number of my previous relationships. So it felt good to be with a group of people who were on the same page about that.
As amazing as it may sound, though I was dating/having intimate relationships with so many people, we generally managed to all see each other as much as we needed to, to feel like we were continuing to get to know each other and see how we felt about each other. Those times were initially all positive, which is why we started talking about buying a home together.
During this time, Rachel, Rob and I also moved in together. That was Step One of our plan to all buy a home together. First, we wanted to make sure that Rachel, Rob and I could live well together.
Sadly, it didn’t work out. As I’ve mentioned before, Rob is very much a loner. I (as you might have imagined) loved having people over and having lots of time with my friends. The home that we lived in just didn’t have enough space in it for me to have friends over without Rob feeling trapped and surrounded by too many people. And for me, having people over less often so that Rob felt comfortable caused me to feel isolated and like I couldn’t have people over in my own home as much as I wanted to. Rachel was really torn by this, as she could see that it was hard on both Rob and me. And neither of us had unreasonable expectations. They just weren’t compatible.
So we separated homes. Rob and Rachel moved nearby. It was an extremely hard time for me, for all of us really. Rob felt just as badly as I did that we couldn’t work something out together. For the first time in years, I had no roommates, nobody I was living with. I missed Rachel horribly. And I felt…it’s hard to describe how I felt. Rachel and Rob wanted to have children together, so it made sense to me (it’s always made sense to me) that she would move out with me to stay living with him. I’ve truly never resented or disagreed with that decision. But at the same time, it hurt terribly. My heart felt broken. And even though it was a painful decision for all of us, none of us really took much time to grieve over our splitting homes, because we all viewed it as a temporary thing. We were, after all, going to buy a home together. So we were going to live together again, even if it was in separate units.
I really think, looking back, that none of us took the time to properly talk that through, and how that felt. I think that separating homes and not spending any time afterwards talking about the repercussions it had on our feelings was a mistake. I think that it substantially damaged the relationship between Rachel and I, and though we both felt that, we didn’t do anything to bring ourselves closer together again. Why didn’t we? I honestly don’t know. I think some of it was that we kept all insisting that it wasn’t a big deal because we were all going to buy a home together. I think we kept our eyes fastened too stubbornly on the future to focus on the present and making sure the present was healthy.
It was during this time that my relationship with Jessica also began to fall apart. The past few months she’d started acting more and more controlling towards me. Concurrently with Rob and Rachel moving out was the huge holiday fight between me, Jon and Lora as well as the unethical and manipulative “advice” that Jessica was trying to push on me, to get rid of Lora.
My most important relationships had suddenly gone from amazing and blessed to rife with pain and questionable ethics. Reeling from Rachel and Rob moving out while dealing with the huge blowout between me, Jon and Lora and being stunned and disgusted by Jessica’s manipulative ideas was…a lot. Too much, probably. And it was about to get worse, which I’ll discuss in Part Three.