I’ve mentioned repeatedly over the last few months that I’d really like to start dating again. But, I always conclude, I feel too sickly and low energy to date. So I shelve the idea for another few weeks. Until it starts tickling at my mind again.
For the umpteenth time in the past few months, I got that tickle again. I should be dating. Not because the universe says I should be dating, or that other people think that I should be dating, but because something inside me wants me to be dating. Given how many times I’ve gotten that urge, I decided that I needed to take some time to really sit with it and unravel what inside me was pushing at me.
So I cleared some mental space in my internal calendar, sat down, and started thinking. My little transcript is really a nearly word-for-word relay of how I do this. I talk to myself, with an open mind, reassuring myself that whatever thoughts come to the front are OK to have, and feelings I have are OK to feel. The process almost feels like using a Ouija board, if you remember those. Or, as I once saw in a dream of mine, sitting in front of a still pool of water in the forest, and watching as ideas and scenes floated to the surface in answer to questions that I asked.
If that sounds confusing, the other other thing I can say is that it’s about really letting go of expectation and seeing what comes forward when the mind is still and neutral and receptive.
me1: Ok self. Why should you be dating? You’ve tired, and you have low energy. A lot of days, just caring for yourself and doing some therapy exercises and work eats up all your energy. How can you possibly date?
me2: I’m lonely. I feel like there is something missing in my life; I need closer companionship with people other than Jon. I hunger for that.
me1: That makes sense, but you know, you have a bunch of friends and a girlfriend that you barely see. Why not make more plans with them?
me2: I could do that. And I should do that. But when I think about doing that, a little voice inside says that that won’t give me what I’m looking for, what I need.
me1: Why wouldn’t seeing your friends more give you what you need?
me2: Because what I need, or at least, what I hunger for, is another person who wants to build a life together, to live a deeply entwined life with me (and Jon, to some extent). Someone who wants to have deep emotional intimacy with me, and be in my live nearly daily, if not daily. While I love my friends, I don’t see anybody that I feel I could nurture that kind of relationship with. There are some really specific things that I’ve gotten deeply into in the last few years (like Burner culture) that my friends aren’t interested in, in the way I am.
Also…self, this is the first time in over five years that I’ve been planning the rest of my life with only one other person.
me1: Holy shit. You’re right. I hadn’t realized that. Once you and Rachel fell in love, you were planning a life with her and Rob. Then her and Rob and Jessica. Then her and Rob and Jessica and Jon and Lora. Then Jon and Lora. And now it’s you and Jon only and it feels…it feels a little empty. It feels a little unbalanced. It feels like something vital is missing.
So I sat with that for awhile. Because it’s a big truth that I didn’t realize until now.
And having had that experience, I realize that I do really want, really crave having more than one person in my life who I am deeply emotionally intimate with. Sexually intimate, romantically intimate…those I feel like I could take or leave. It would depend on the person, their chemistry/our chemistry, their needs and wants. Being intimate by living together…I think I would always want that, but I don’t know that it would be a 100% make-or-break part of being emotionally intimate on the level I desire. I suspect that I wouldn’t be make or break, though if I did become emotionally intimate with someone in my area who was dead set against living together (like a solo poly person who needs their own home, for example), I would want to see what we can do to make it possible to live closer, if not fully together.
Jon once said to me that he felt his best, like he was able to be his most authentic and strong self when he was seriously dating two people simultaneously. Before I met Jon, when I was with Rachel, and in that golden age of getting to know Rob, and then Jessica (before everything went to shit), even though I didn’t have a serious romantic partner, I felt great. I felt safe. I felt good. I felt like…you know that group exercise in trusting people, where you fall back and people link arms to catch you? I felt like we were making that for each other. That’s part of what I love about polyamory. The idea that having more people together means more hands and hearts out there to catch you when you fall. I don’t think we all have to be necessarily entwined in a certain way to have that happen. Even if I’m not close to all (or any) of my metamours, if I knew enough about them through our hinge partner and through my communication to know that they’re a steady, loving person, who is there to help catch our shared partner(s) if/when they fall, that’s all I need to know.
At the moment, I feel like I have a couple of friends who are…they’re awesome people. Truly wonderful. Issi, my girlfriend. Jo, another wonderful friend. And Richie, who is sort of my Burner-partner-in-silly-crime. Richie, for all that he’s wonderful and probably one of my best friends how, is definitely of a monogamous mindset, and also isn’t (to my knowledge) interested in community living, though I care about him deeply enough, and feel enough of a spark with him that I think it’s worthwhile to ask him his feelings on some of this. Jo, I get the feeling that we’re heading in different enough directions that having our lives match up that well probably wouldn’t work. Also, much as I love Jo, I’m really not sure (based on past experience) that I could have the intimate connection with her that I crave. It’s sort of a feeling of “you are soooo wonderful, in so many ways. But we just don’t quite match up enough for me”.
And Issi. I love her dearly. We’ve talked a few times about potentially home-buying together. But knowing a bit about what she and Jared have been thinking, in terms of places to live and what they want to do with their lives, I think we’re just a little too out of sync to make it work well.
I have a lovely rotating cast of other friends too: Lynne, Sherri, Carla, Tom, Alice, Aaron… But they’re all happy with being “just” friends. Which I’m fine with. I love what I have with each of them. I think our current groves feel good to both of us, which is why they’ve been going on and off for years as time constraints shift or loosen.
After mulling all this over, I realized that it is time to expand my relationship horizons a bit. I’d love to find more people to forge deep, intimate connections with, and maybe a person who I mesh with so strongly that they’d want to build a life together. Naturally, I need to do this slowly and cautiously, with respect to my current disabilities and make sure I communicate clearly both about my health problems and my energy problems. Happily, Poly Weekly, has done several episodes on disabilities, which I’ve been meaning to listen to.
Thinking about this and finally figuring out exactly why I was looking to meet new people has really done a lot in terms of giving me a shot of energy and excitement. One of the things I’ve been learning about in my chronic pain support group is the idea that even though people with chronic pain and disability have to curtail the level of activity/interaction they can handle, it’s often healthier to do less of a more varied number of activities you enjoy, versus eliminate many to focus solely on a few activities. Naturally this varies a lot depending on your pain level, level of disability, and how many activities you used to keep up with. But, denying myself the opportunity to search for any of the companionship and intimate friendships that I’m aching for in order to “take better care of myself” is – I think – backfiring. Having this constant yearning that I’m leaving completely unaddressed (and until recently didn’t take the time to fully suss out) is doing more to lower my energy levels than raise them.
Jon and I already talked about this, and I’ll relay his responses soon (though I will say now that they’re quite positive, so there’s no worries on that end :). But for now, I want to bask in this feeling of hope and possibility and energy and start letting the possibilities percolate in the back of my mind.