Friends and lovers


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Sticking point

Turns out I might not say "I'm sorry" that often. I say it when I feel bad that I've done / omitted something, but I think that's usually when I feel culpable. Like, I made a mistake and I could have done better, in the same situation.

I haven't said an unqualified "sorry" for what happened with Lobe.

From Grotto's perspective: he told me this would hurt him. He told me not to. He begged me.

What I did: assumed it wouldn't hurt him as bad as it did (or at least, trusted that he'd get over it?), prioritised my own feelings, went ahead and did it anyway. For all intents and purposes, cheated on him. (Even though I didn't promise to respect this boundary).

Why don't I feel sorry?

I was in a mood and a headspace plus a situation that I didn't plan (in fact, did my best to plan against)... Looking back, I don't know how much differently I could have acted. I appalling misjudged shit (which I've said I'm sorry for) but what Grotto needs to hear is a simple apology. "I'm sorry, I hurt you, I did a shitty thing."

I can't say that! It doesn't feel sincere.

He needs me to feel that. He's said it's disturbing, even, that I can't say that.

I... am back reading the same articles online that I read when it happened at the start. Am I a sociopath? Do I have no capacity for remorse? Am I such a selfish bitch that I can't feel for other people? Am I so stubborn that I can't say I'm sorry?

And yet, what I think has happened here is Grotto has been (understandably) hurt, a lot, by what happened. But what happened for him is not what happened for me... I know it's like letting myself off the hook (?) but what it boils down to for me is miscommunication, misunderstandings and really, fucking, bad timing rather than me actively doing shit to trample over Grotto's feelings.

I'm frustrated. I feel we're fighting with words.

He's sifted through his emotions, and one of the sticking points for him is my lack of apology. What he needs, he says, is to hear me say sorry. He can't heal without that.

It all sounds utterly fair enough.

And yet, I feel like what's hurt him is wanting things he can't have. Like me to be perfect. Like me to always be able to behave exactly how he tells me.

He says this experience has deeply shaken his trust in me. He can't believe that I care about his feelings at all.

When I hooked up with Lobe, Grotto felt like I "erased" him, that I stopped giving a shit about how he felt.

Yeah, that happened. Of course that happened. At some point in the night, I no longer cared how my actions would affect Grotto, I just went with it because it's what I wanted. I couldn't help myself.

"I couldn't help myself"?

Am I a terrible person?

I don't know. I try to behave with integrity. Or at least, I aspire to.

I'm tending towards being quite numb right now, fundamentally unsure of myself, afraid to be because maybe I'm no good, at the core.

Grotto turned up at 1am wanting to talk. I hung out with him for about four hours... The conversation spiralled to this point (my lack of apology) and got stuck there. I couldn't handle it; I asked him to leave.

I know he's hurting. But I feel like I can't give him what he needs.

I'm not sorry for behaving the way I did.

I'm sorry that it hurt him.



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I don't understand. What happened? You didn't start hooking up with Lobe without Grotto's consent. He's just backtracking, isn't he? It's like a case of "buyer's remorse." For whatever reason, he's become dissatisfied with something, is blaming you, and wants you to make it better. Do neither of you remember this? :
Holy hell.

Grotto loves me so much.

We just chatted online, and he told me he's okay if I see where things go with Lobe.

What he needs:
- reassurance
- for me to move back soon and
- me to take care of him.

All these I can do.


I asked how long he's thought this way (some time) and whether he was sure (yes) and whether he felt pressure from me (no). He said this was coming from a place of love, because he could tell there were feelings involved.

He said he wanted a continued restriction on having casual sex with his friends, but this was an exception.

I wouldn't apologize either, considering that he told you he was okay with it. The discomfort he's feeling is not your responsibility. It's up to him to own up to it and work on it from the inside. An apology from you would only be a temporary Band-Aid anyway.
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I don't understand. What happened?

Hey, nycindie. Sorry I wasn't clearer. Grotto isn't upset about things that have happened since he said okay to this - although he does feel that I'm not always giving him enough reassurance, despite him teling me he'd need reassurance. I'm finding it hard to work out exactly what more I can do. He can't think of more things for me to do to make him feel more reassured. He just doesn't feel reassured right now. He feels very insecure in our relationship.

However, the main point is around the first time I hooked up with Lobe, which was not with Grotto's consent. (This incident.) In fact, he had explicitly told me he was not comfortable with it and that it would hurt him a lot. And I did it anyway.

I feel like the words I've used in the previous sentence should naturally flow on to me feeling guilty. I still freakin don't. I can't tell if it's a difference in how we use words... or me being a moral weasel... or what. Ech.

Thanks for your thoughts, though! It was very nice to get a response; I'm feeling pretty grim at the moment


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Sorry you're feeling grim! You are such an alive, passionate, and vivacious woman (obviously). Is it too much for him to handle at times? In your other thread you linked to, after the first time you were with Lobe, and you flew back to be with Grotto, you wrote:
My god, what a mess. But we're working through it. I'm forgiven, for a few discrete counts of idiocy. Grotto's bruised, will take a while to fully get over it, but things are much, much better. We're solid. Back on the bicycle.
He had forgiven you, made an effort to get past it, but now, six months later, is falling apart over it. When someone is upset about something that happened in the past, it means they are holding on to old hurts and not letting go. Very little will help until that person is willing to free themselves of it. You could apologize to Grotto until you are blue in the face, but he will still feel stuck and uncomfortable until he actively forgives you and is willing to wipe the slate clean. My guess is that something triggered him, or he is unhappy about something going on in his life and looking for someone or something to blame for it. I am not trying to make him out to be an ogre; I'm just saying that he has some inner work to do in order to come to terms with the incident, whether you say you are sorry or not. It seems you have been doing what he asked you to do to make up for your transgression, but he is fixated on hearing those words.
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Ah, nycindie - thanks. I appreciate your perspective, and also taking the time to speak my own words back at me.

Grotto's surprised himself at how bruised he still is about this. He wanted to get over it, but he hasn't. That's part of it.

Another aspect is how things have actually grown between Lobe and I. How I've been feeling about it, and how this has impacted on the dynamics of other relationships. It's like there's another major complexity to the weather system. None of us expected how this would affect other things.

Other triggers could be how Grotto's been using substances recently. He said he's maybe been a bit too careless around some things and needs to take better care of himself. I've found him to be quite volatile of late - but it's hard to tell what's causing what.

Also, I think he expected that I would come back to this city and it would all be better. But I've found it hard to adjust. My work hasn't been too great, and I haven't been in love with the city this time around either. Grotto hates the thought of me leaving again.

Mm. I need to have more patience and gentleness towards Grotto, but I'm finding it hard. Spending time with him, in certain moods, is difficult... I feel like he's pulling me down into a hole with him. The other day, walking with him, I felt like I was a can on a string that he was dragging behind him.

I don't want to be unwell. I have to take care of my mind. I believe this is a good kind of selfish.

Grotto's talking about going to the doctor and asking about getting on anti-depressants again. He asked me to go with him, and I said I would. Mm, I'm not the greatest at supporting other people through depression. It can trigger me feeling like shit too, and then I need space. I do my best, though... ah.

Even if it was an accident, I've knocked him over, and I need to help him up as far as I can. It's not just up to him.

That said, much of the work that needs to be done - as nycindie said - are things that only Grotto can do.

I am sorry that I've made him have to spend so much energy working through this. It can't be much fun at all.


When Grotto's feeling hurt, he can throw some hard verbal punches. Sometimes, I feel like he's painting me into a corner. Making it so there's no way out but how he needs me to be.

He's a kind, reasonable person. I don't understand how this works. It brings out bad things in me. Makes me feel pretty useless.

"How can you be like this?" he asks me.

I dunno, love, this is how I am.

He's hurting, I'm hurting too. Fuck, I'm sick of this. I hope we can work through it, but I'm considering where my limits are.

Ok, gonna cook dinner! Kitchen therapy


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As some one who needs to hear the apology BEFORE any explainations/ justifications, this is a HUGH deal. My husband is like you and thinks that his explanation and the intent behind is good enough. For someone who actually needs to hear the words "I'm sorry", this just comes off as a justification. Until there is a genuine apology with NO explanation/justification, those of us who need to hear it can't move past the hurt. Our brains can't shift gears beyond the hurt until we hear a genuine apology.

You claim to be sorry that you hurt Grotto, but can't bring your self to say it. To him that says, you don't really care about him and that he was hurt. Why is it hard to say, "I'm sorry my actions hurt you, that was never, my intent"? Apologizing for hurting him, is not admitting your actions were wrong. It's necessary to put out the fire before trying determine how it started in the first place. The embers are still smoldering, go put out the fire. Then tell him, your willing to try and find the real problem and work on a solution when he is ready.


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As some one who needs to hear the apology BEFORE any explainations/ justifications, this is a HUGH deal. My husband is like you and thinks that his explanation and the intent behind is good enough. For someone who actually needs to hear the words "I'm sorry", this just comes off as a justification. Until there is a genuine apology with NO explanation/justification, those of us who need to hear it can't move past the hurt. Our brains can't shift gears beyond the hurt until we hear a genuine apology.

Thank you so much for sharing how it is for you. Yup, that sounds like how things are for Grotto too.

Why is it hard to say, "I'm sorry my actions hurt you, that was never, my intent"?

I have said that. I feel - and have said - I'm sorry that I've derailed your emotions over this. I gambled with your feelings and you got hurt. It's really shit. I never wanted to hurt you. I was careless. I'm sorry. We kinda went through this right back when it happened (in June).

Now he says the sorry he hasn't yet heard from me, the sorry he needs to hear, is a clear "sorry, I did the wrong thing." Taking responsibility for my actions. I'm not exactly sure what that means. The fact I don't know what that means, seems to disturb him. For him, it's a simple thing. To say "yeah, I was drunk, I wasn't thinking clearly, but I did a shitty thing. I fucked up."

I can't just parrot back some words that he says he needs to hear. There's nothing genuine about that...

I've talked about how I do actually feel. If what I actually feel isn't good enough for him, then I'm not sure what to do.
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Now he says the sorry he hasn't yet heard from me, the sorry he needs to hear, is a clear "sorry, I did the wrong thing." Taking responsibility for my actions. I'm not exactly sure what that means. The fact I don't know what that means, seems to disturb him. For him, it's a simple thing. To say "yeah, I was drunk, I wasn't thinking clearly, but I did a shitty thing. I fucked up."

I can't just parrot back some words that he says he needs to hear. There's nothing genuine about that...

Agree! You apologized for the unintentional hurt, but you certainly can't apologize just so he can be right. It took my husband and I a great deal of effort and counseling to finally figure out how to START to communicate. We are both good at making assumptions about what the other person understood and we are both usually WRONG. I would suspect that you guys have a great deal of miscommunications and misinterpretations of things said and not said. You may need some extra help in how to communicate with each other. Seriously, I wish I hadn't waited 20+ years to seek help.


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You may need some extra help in how to communicate with each other.

Yup, I was thinking that too. I've found some local poly-friendly counselling options to suggest if we can't get past this by ourselves.

Thanks again for your insights!


Active member
This post is exactly 10,000 characters long ;)

So, ha - I got sick of the madness. Like, almost bored with it. Hated feeling bad, hated feeling triggered, hated long gloomy stretches of time when we were circling each other with fists protecting our faces but no one throwing a punch. The emotional knot was dense. Even if we managed to tease out a little piece of it, something seemed to happen to tighten it all again. Seemed to be uphill all the way, with no respite. The potential for this pallor to stretch through the holidays depressed me.

I thought to myself - what do I want to happen? Do I really want to break up with Grotto, or do I want to work this out? Do I like him? Do I want to be with him?

Yeah, fuck it, I love the guy. He's great. I may not want to live with him, but I do want to be close to him. He is hurting right now, and is not well, and has been rough with me... But I've also been un-gentle with him. I can be harsh, holding a hard line, not really willing to let people push their fingers in my clay.

For a couple of days around Christmas I had planned to head out of town to spend time with my aunty and uncle. I didn't want to leave with things so unresolved with Grotto.

So, on a whim, I asked him out for a drink. I had a small window of time before catching a train to visit family. He met me at a bar by the train station, we shared a jug of Pimm's and I recapped where I was at. What I felt sorry for. That I wanted to work shit out. That I couldn't really apologise in the words that he wanted but I couldn't tell if this was a difference in content or phrasing.

We had to tread tentatively; the ice was thin in patches. We nearly got stuck again on whether or not I "ought to have known better". I feel I know better now, but I was dumber then and therefore acted like an idiot. I'm sorry, I was an idiot. Grotto thought that I made an avoidable mistake. I'm sorry, I did the wrong thing, I should have known better - maybe?

I wasn't inclined to try to unpack it any further, and he didn't seem to be either. I told him that I thought we were are our limit of picking this apart ourselves. We've talked so much, and it's constantly round and round the same points. I said I found some counselling options and that would be my next step rather than talking through this again.

He paused, then said: "I accept your apology. I forgive you. I will try to get over this." And I fleetingly thought, but didn't say: "you said the same thing last time." Cos really? It's not a re-run. It's as if we failed to deal to it properly initially. We underestimated the gravity, how insidious the roots.

It felt good to send him a merry Christmas text on the 25th, without any animosity between us.

My aunt wanted to me to stay at her place another night, so on the 27th Grotto came out as well. (She lives about an hour train ride out of town.) We decompressed, watched "Night Shift". On the 28th we dallied getting back home. When we got back to the city, we sat on a grass verge outside the train station and talked some more. Some complex stuff, but really good to talk it through. I ended up staying over at his place.

In retrospect, some spontaneous, yet much-needed, quality time. Phew. We're good.

A few interesting unrelated points that got rustled up during the Christmas period:

1. How do I relate to people who aren't comfortable with my non-monogamy?

From my perspective, I have no shame or problem with being open about the people who are my companions through life. But some people (mostly family members) aren't comfortable with this. My aunt who I visited at Christmas is probably the most relaxed of my parents' siblings. Last Christmas (2012), Ocean, Grotto and I spent a couple of days with her. Grotto made breakfast on Christmas day, etc. I really loved that.

This year, though, my aunt brought up the fact that she obviously prefers when Ocean's there, and doesn't relate that well with Grotto. She said "you can't expect me to feel the same way about Grotto as I do about Ocean. Ocean is perfect for you! He's always going to be number one in my heart." Now, I don't and can't expect her (or anyone else) to feel any particular way about anyone. But it made me realise that my 'other significants' can be felt as an imposition, as something to tolerate rather than rejoice in.

I've had this vibe from a cousin before. She is really open-minded and has had many partners (some when cheating on another) but she can't understand my mindset of being okay with non-monogamy. She says it makes her "deeply uncomfortable". She doesn't like seeing me with lovers other than Ocean, and while she'd like to be okay with it, she can't pretend she is - cos she isn't.

Even my brother who visited me, and who is somewhat okay about things and talks with me now and then about Grotto, surprised me by telling me "you should know I don't like to see you being affectionate with Ocean, and then being affectionate with Grotto." (This was referencing an occasion we had gone out in a big group of friends that included Ocean and Grotto.)

I'm not entirely sure how to deal with this. I mean, people's opinions are their own opinions. I'm not there to evangelise. But I feel it makes me have to decide: how much do I value their relationship? Can I do a "don't ask, don't tell" thing with them? Do I have the time?

My love life doesn't always have to be a live topic for every interaction, of course. But I am finding it increasingly hard to make time to be close to people who don't get that aspect of me. Especially if I'm going to have kids with someone else (not Ocean)! I feel I need to focus on relationships that support my journey rather than are inimical to it.

One way I can understand it is that there are some relationships where I am more in it for them than for me. I don't need to share my life so much with them, to share the real things in my life. If they want to ask, they can ask. I will catch up with them because I want to be a support to them. It might make things more pressured on me, because I can't 'double up'... e.g. if I'm spending time with a partner that isn't Ocean, I can't catch up with them too at that time.

The only problem with that is it feels self-fulfilling. They never see or hear about other people in my life. They are allowed to keep their fantasy world where Ocean and I are a traditional couple. Even more, they don't get an opportunity to "acclimatise".

Now I'm thinking (for the relationships I value), I could give people that option. Do you want to meet my other partners? Do you want to hear about things that are going on for me? Or would you rather not engage with that aspect of my life (even though it's a big part of my life)? Then it's up to them if they are open to it or not.

2. Jealousy around holiday plans!

Despite some great advice I read somewhere (maybe even on this forum) that you should talk with partners well in advance about expectations around holiday plans, this year I didn't. I had been thinking of making a vegetarian Christmas spread for my aunty and uncle (my uncle is a strict vegetarian, and I am trying to eat vegetarian). I thought of inviting Grotto too. But before I could do that, he told me that he wanted to make turducken. And I knew he'd probably been invited to Bijou's, and maybe other places too. From time to time, he's done Sunday meat roasts with his flatmate, Bijou and others.

So I said nothing. I definitely wouldn't wanna be the vegetarian complication for a turducken meal... I love sharing food, and I've found it difficult to figure out the social aspects of diet choice. I also enjoy the taste of well-cooked meats (I enjoy food in general!) so it's this battle in my head as to how I walk the line. I've wavered of late but recently decided a harder line is best otherwise I just end up eating meat all the time.

Anyway. Turns out Grotto ended up at a friend's place for a vegan Christmas meal. I felt really dumb for not speaking up about my idea. And also I felt a twinge of upset, that... I dunno... the only idea he had had was a meal that I would have conflict about. On top of that was funny jealousy over his flatmate... I feel like I've invited him (the flatmate) to food at my place a few times, but he's never made it. I think it's more me having a hangup that I'm not "cool" enough for Grotto's group of friends to want to spend time with. I don't actually suggest we do things together very often. I should put myself out there more.

And talk about Christmas better next year. Ha.

3. Christmas card etiquette

After a socially tiring visit to our home city, when we had Way Too Many people to catch up with and Not Enough Time, I suggested to Ocean that we send Christmas cards to our friends in our home city, as a better way to keep in touch with them. We made a list, checked it twice ;) and decided to try our hand at screen-printing cards. They looked awesome. Grotto helped for some of it.

Making the list, I noticed a few were mutual friends with Grotto, and some of them (e.g. Grotto's ma, and his brother) would be more appropriate for the three of us to send rather than just Ocean and I. I think the easiest way would have been for all of us to just sign with a personal message whichever cards we wanted to. But it did increase the work load. Ocean had a work deadline and didn't actually have time to sign cards. So I said I would do it for both of us. However, then the ones from all three of us (Grotto, Ocean and me) looked odd. Mostly Grotto did a message from himself and then I did a message from both Ocean and me.

If there is a next time, I guess we'll just have to make sure there's enough time for everyone to sign for themselves. I was thinking of any way to make it more efficient, but I'm not sure there is. May be just another one of those times when non-monogamy is more work :p


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I'm a hinge, again

Ocean and I are heading off to the city where Lobe lives, tomorrow. The two of us (Ocean and I) are fans of an international band that's playing there, and we got tickets. I recently shared their music with Lobe, and he also likes them, so is coming to the gig with us too.

2nd Jan is Ocean and my wedding anniversary.

We'll be in the city for five nights. Lobe is really excited to see me. We've been talking of it like an occasion of "me visiting", even though it obviously will be different from me visiting by myself!

I'd like to sleep with Lobe every night apart from the 2nd (and maybe one other night) while we're there. Ocean says he's fine with this (in fact, he offered) but I'm still nervous. Ocean's been stressed over work lately and, though we've seen quite a bit of each other, we haven't had a proper date for a while now. I think we're good, but there's no substitute for quality time for settling the nerves.

The original plan was for Ocean (and possibly me and Lobe) to stay with a friend of Ocean's. However, his friend's plans have changed, and they can only put us up for a couple of nights. On top of that, Lobe has to work some of the days we're there, and it seems public transport isn't too great between Ocean's friend's house and Lobe's work.

One fallback option was for Ocean and I to stay at Lobe's place. Only problem is his place is kinda full (his brother and girlfriend are living with him at the moment), so there's only the couch. Not a big deal in itself... but Lobe knows this would also mean a lot of questions from his family (who don't really know about me, and definitely not about the whole situation.)

Lobe was initially hesitant, not wanting to go there. He said he generally prefers to keep his private life private. But on quick reflection, he said he's okay with anything.

Another fallback option was we find an affordable option for Ocean to stay somewhere nearby Lobe. I think that could also work, although there aren't any cheap places for the 3rd. But there are for the 4th and 5th, which could help ease things.

I spoke with Ocean about it this morning, and he said "I'll go for the couch." He was gearing up for a solid work day, and didn't want to get into a long conversation. I said "I know this is more complex than just you and me going away together for a holiday. Cos from Lobe and my perspective this is also us hoping to spend time together since we're long distance..." "Yup," he said.

I couldn't tell from his face or tone if he was bothered by this dynamic complicating what could have been a simpler holiday time. We were eating breakfast. He was reading the news. I rubbed my toes through his toes, and reminded myself we could talk about this later.

In a post* over two years ago I wrote:

* if you follow the link, note S = Ocean and C = Grotto
Now and then I still need that almost non-rational reassurance, but it's far less often than before. We actually developed a speed solution for when I need reassurance. It's kind of embarrassing but it works...

When we're over talking and I just need a strong sign from him that things are cool, I flap my arms like a penguin and make this little growl-whine noise, and he pats me on the head and says "pats pats" (like "there there"), then we laugh at ourselves and kiss and we're done!

I had a moment last night that I did the penguin (a side-ways, miniature version, lying next to Ocean in bed!) when I was trying to sort out the accommodational logistics of the holiday, after hearing from Ocean's friend that there'd been a change of plans from their end. Wow, been a long time since I've needed to whip out that one!

It's only now and then that I feel the pressures of being in a 'hinge' position. Maybe it's a constant dynamic, but for me it only manifests in immediate situations where practicalities or expectations have the potential for getting messy. I find it very difficult not to emotionally take on the full responsibility for everything working out. I know I need to relax, and let people speak and negotiate for themselves. But, being in the middle, it's hard to shrug off the sense that you are being looked to for cues as to how things are going to work. Maybe it's a real thing, maybe it has to be this way.

I do my best. Try not to fret.

What's good is the first night I'm sleeping with Lobe, probably at his place (while Ocean is by himself at his friend's place). Then I will spend the 2nd night (Ocean & my anniversary) with him, probably without Lobe there. Then there's just three more days together at Lobe's place (including concert night, omg, hinge dancing! haha, I really didn't think this through did I?)

Both Lobe and Ocean are really chilled people. Ocean said he will unfortunately most likely have research work to do on holiday anyway (unfinished bizniz). So much of this may be a non-issue.

This is why people are monogamous ;) j/k

Breathe. It's all good.


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It's times like these that my brain starts thinking of 20 different options on how we can do things and I start to fret about how it effects everyone. I finally learned that it's much better to just turn to my husband and say, here's the problem... let me know what you come up with for a solution. This way he's not confused by all my "options" and I know he's ok with the solution.


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Nice option, SNeacail! :) I use that strategy too, though sometimes it seems much more convenient for everyone if I figure out some possible solutions first, for other people to choose from. Hmm. Perhaps I could scale back even further though! Something to think about for future similar situations.

I've had an immense few days in relationship land. Since New Year, really. (By the way, happy 2014, everyone!)

One notable event: Lobe drunkenly broke up with me on Friday night. Standing on the platform at midnight, waiting for a train home, he says: "I think we're done here. I'm sorry. I'm not cut out for this." It was the emotional equivalent of walking into a glass wall. Fucking hurts, in case you have the luck of not knowing this.

I couldn't properly talk with him about it at the time, because he was in a very fucked up mood. He feels things in quite a monogamous way, and his favourite way of communicating is in person, more touch than words, so long-distance non-monogamy is a somewhat nightmare scenario for him. I could tell he was speaking from a place of (totally justifiable!) fear, and also anger and resentment...

I also wasn't sure how much to take him at his word. Was the alcohol making him say things in a skewed way, out of perspective with the wider emotional context? Or was it facilitating him finally being able to say something he needed to say, something he meant to say, something I need to accept? I couldn't tell. (In the end, both were true in their own way.)

Anyway, this was one of the worst nights of my life. At the time I actually ran through nights that had been worse for me, than this, and I couldn't think of many. Maybe two or three. Damn. One reason it hurt so mcuh was related to another 'notable event', the previous night, which I will probably write about later.


By early morning, Lobe had sobered up, and we'd touched enough to start making sense of things. We had un-break-up sex. Then the rest of the weekend was good, though tender.

Ocean was a trooper, through it all.

Ocean & I back to the other city today. If you are losing track of where and who and what, don't worry... so am I ;) More tales soon.


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Ha, nycindie - be careful what you wish for ;)

First fortnight of 2014 was a crazed smear of relationship stuff. How did we end up with the laundry in such a convuluted bundle? Pant legs tangled in bra straps, socks in the pillowcases and shirts buttoned into each other... fuck.

I wrote through some of the hardest parts, but am keeping it to myself for now.

What I like about having a plurality of intimate connections is it keeps me coming back to the only solid thing: myself, how I'm grounded.

Yes, we can support and care for each other. We can co-create, laze in hammocks with our eyes closed and dream visions together, build towers like we're children, block by wooden block til they're taller than any of us, taller than all of us combined, as high as we can reach together, balanced on shoulders, backs and knees. Or perhaps we're adults today, sharing the serious fun of engineers and architects, with one blank scroll and several sharp-pointed pens. We can make a poem that way, too.

But when it comes to responsibility, integrity and authenticity, when it comes to "staying true" to a path, the path is mine alone.

So we travel together. For a short while, a long while, or the end of our journeying? See how we go.
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Ocean's in our home country. He went over a week ago, to hang out with one of his best friends who was home for the holidays. We have other friends getting married there in a fortnight, and instead of flying back and forth, he decided to work from there for a few weeks. So I've been home alone! It's really wonderful. I've had some quite dark patches, but all good shadows to work through.

Haven't seen too much of Grotto. I caught up with him on Monday, and again today. Things are really good between us. He's working through his shit. We're communicating better. Still has potentialy for volatility, but it seems to be settling down.

I went for a swim yesterday, and a run today. It's been an age since I made time for those things. I do a lot of walking about in my daily life, and sex is good exercise, but there's nothing like repetitive foot falls or swim strokes to centre the mind.

Lobe's visiting me next weekend! There's some chance Grotto will be away, but if not, there may be a three-of-us catching up thing. A big topic that we Need to talk about Before we have any (more (yeah)) Accidents is: kids. Not sure it'll be the right time for that discussion, but it has to happen at some point.

Both Grotto and I underestimated how much work we'd have to do, to keep our shit together through all of this. Got more of a sense of things now. Slower. Pacing. Enough time to talk, touch, reassure, play. Space. Softness. Speaking up earlier rather than later. Pre-emptive, erring on the side of sharing.

Grotto's forming a game plan for talking with one of his close friends (a mutual friend of Lobe and Grotto's) about what's been going on. He wants to do this for various reasons. This friend currently lives in the same city as us, but is shifting cities soon to move in with Lobe. This somewhat increases the complications of the "where to live" question, because Lobe won't be free to relocate for at least a year. But, more pressingly, it will mean the cat will be out of the bag anyway, if I visit Lobe after this friend moves up (unless we sneak about, which Grotto wouldn't want, and - obviously - neither would Lobe or I.)

Grotto also wants to do it so he can move past this stage. Being open with his friends about the Lobe situation has been freaking him out quite a bit. A few friends know, but not the very inner circle yet. Last weekend, Grotto had a particularly bad time with one friend who scratched open the scars, made him revisit the hurt feelings and such. Some of the bruising is still tender... but we're mending.

One thing that apparently helped was me saying to Grotto that we couldn't go back, only forwards. But we did have a choice in how we went forwards. This inspired him do some thinking about how he wanted things to be. He has a lot of love for both me and Lobe, but he oscillates between feeling generous and caring towards us, to feeling fearful and selfish. I think that's normal... life's always a bit like that. Just sometimes big shakes can make us cycle faster or more violently, I think.

Anyway. Unless I royally fuck this up, I think the worst of it's over :)


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Lobe is visiting on Friday. Four sleeps, four sleeps! I am continuously finding myself tangled up with lust over him, like my paths are strewn with fishing nets. This desire? I cannot ignore or evade, it catches my ankles if I try to run.

He just texted me, as I typed the above. Evidently having booked flights:

"Btw, Friday, 8pm, I'm in [the city I live in]"


"Friday, 9pm, I'm in you"

Ah, fuck... I keel.

It's only been a week since I last saw him. (I was visiting last weekend, and I left on the Monday). Jesus! So frantic. I didn't think I had the time or energy for this. How is the rest of my life not suffering?

And yet, it's enabling me. Like how a workshift can invigorate the 'free time' of your day. Like eggwhites, I'm folding this energy into my other passions. A delicate business. I'm hopeful.

I want to be strong enough for this, productive enough to deserve the downtime. I don't want to abandon my own projects. But it doesn't feel like that kind of dynamic, anyway. Lobe, Grotto, Ocean have their own interests, the machines they tinker away at. Yes, play time together can sometimes distract, but in the end we respect and give support to each other's pursuits. Y'know, how friendship works :)


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One from the back catalogue

I said the first two weeks of 2014 were hectic in relationship land. This one was a biggie. I didn't share on this blog right away because I wanted to talk things through with Grotto and Lobe first, and process it a bit more myself.

There's no crisis at present. Tape around the crime scene reads "Caution: To be discussed".

Wrote this flying back from visiting Lobe around New Years (6 Jan):

I'm bleeding. It's both a disappointment and a reprieve: Not This Month. My period's a few days early --- also a blessing, of sorts.

Lobe and I may have slipped up this visit. I'm not sure. I fear yes, but I can't figure it out. Need to talk with Grotto. Ah, more, again.

A couple of months ago (maybe; my sense of time is a bit out of whack at the moment) I had a direct conversation with Grotto about his feelings re: Lobe coming inside me. Before that discussion, both Grotto and Lobe had separately mentioned to me an openness to a co-operative rather than competitive family making, more than one dad in the delivery room & such.

So, how serious was this? I asked Grotto. He said yes, in theory, but he was not yet comfortable with going there. He needed more time to process. He said he was open to it in principle, but thought (very correctly) that we should all chat first about how that would work in practice. Make sure we were all on the same page.

Since then, Grotto and I have talked about the issue a couple more times, but mostly we've been focusing on sorting other aspects of our relationship.

The most recent time this topic came up with Grotto was a few days before Christmas (I think). We had just teased out a bit more of the tension between us, and we had very loving sex on the couch. He came inside me, then we held each other and talked some more.

One thing I brought up was how it felt a bit territorial, for Grotto to come inside me when there was a current boundary in place against the same happening with Lobe. I felt a bit like a claimed country, with my body being owned in a way I wasn't entirely comfortable with.

I knew there was nothing territorial about Grotto's intent. It was more that the situation itself had that inherent imbalance. We decided to put the issue of pregnancy to one side, in order to focus on other things we needed to work through. This would include Grotto not coming inside me until we'd figured out the whole Grotto-me-Lobe baby dynamic.

Since then, Grotto and I have healed, deeply. We had an achingly close New Year's Eve: pitchforks deep into the caked mud of us, uprooting chunks of dense matter, clearing the ground. Big love, so big. The springtime felt light and fresh. The breeze was a life-giving breath.

I left Grotto in the morning on New Year's Day. He was a happy bug asleep in his bed. Ocean and I were flying out that afternoon. Before I left Grotto's place, I thought of revisiting the issue of pregnancy with him, but I didn't want to put another heavy issue on the end of a beautiful night. Clarity is best practice, I know. But sometimes you don't have the right moment.

Lobe and I had gotten close to the line at times, but had managed to respect the boundary so far. What I gambled on is that we could hold off this time too, until I had talked with Grotto properly. Reasonable enough, right?



Turns out the biological imperative had other ideas. We sailed way too close to the current and got dragged out twice, maybe three times. Yup, I don't even know how many times. The first time was mainly my recklessness. I was on top, stopped caring. Oh my god, I am unused to being this much of an animal. It is wonderful but also unnerving!

As soon as it happened, I realised that I may have fucked up AGAIN. Played 'let's make fire' with Grotto's emotions AGAIN. How could I do this, right after we'd been through a hellish few weeks?

But, hmm... maybe not. Maybe it's not so bad. I actually have no idea.

Was the boundary still in force? Yes, officially. No doubt about it. We have not had the discussion required to remove the boundary.

Would breaching the boundary hurt Grotto? I don't know. Given the very recent distress Grotto had been feeling, fresh punches to old bruises re: my boundary breaching with Lobe six months ago, this could be a very sensitive spot.

On the other hand, things feel very very different between Grotto and I now. We've sorted out a lot, if not all, of what was ailing us. I can imagine this being a non-issue for Grotto as much as I can imagine it being a major issue.

The fact that I don't know, means I've fucked up, I think! I knew this the first time it happened, and I said so. I said, "I actually don't know how Grotto will feel about this. I'm either on or over the line for him. This should not happen again unless I have talked things through with Grotto."

The second (and possible third) time, I actually don't know what happened. Things got confused, and if at all it was more Lobe's fault. That said, both of us share general responsibility for cultivating an environment not very conducive to always behaving well. Hmm...

A couple of points to give more context here.

First, Grotto and I (at least) are not the kind of folks who require strict adherence to rules. In almost everything, we are fluid and forgiving, respectful of each other's autonomy, taking responsibility for speaking up about our own needs and fears and desires. We are also bold experimenters, accepting risks and blind chance as a healthy part of daily life.

So while this might seem like a crazy situation to some people, to be "going with the flow" about an issue as serious as starting a family, it's somewhat typical for us.

Second, Lobe and I are physical. We mate. Oh yes, we make love, we have tenderness, we hold each other, we are playful and rough and all the rest. But there's a very powerful, base frequency which is simply: go. Fucking, go. And because of who he is, and how I feel about him, I have no defences against going there, no reservations at all. And he feels the same way. Despite how complex the practicalities, with other partners, long-distance, etc , there comes a point where we have nothing with any grip on us at all.

Ah, Christ.

On top of this, Lobe knows that this is the simplest path for him to make sense of us. That drive, at least, has a straight-forward trajectory. Thinking things through keeps getting clogged up: there's no logic to this, it's stupid. He should be avoiding this situation altogether. There are few reasons to have hope, few rational pegs to reassure him that this machine can hold its integrity. It's scary. And yet, he knows, fundamentally knows, that we can make it work.

Getting from here (being physically apart) to there (being phyically together) requires a leap of faith that his mind is unwilling to choose for itself. To be reckless as to pregnancy is him, jumping. And here I am, catching him.

But no, not just him and me. There's Grotto too, and Ocean. This could be so loving and supportive, if we do it right.

More conversations, most certainly more.

Update (7 Jan):

Talked with Grotto. Things are OKAY. He wasn't hurt or upset, although we acknowledged how much easier it was as a situation, because I'd already got my period. Bullet: dodged.

Grotto's vascillating at the moment about wanting kids or not. He thought he wanted to, but the reality of it is hitting him sometimes and freaking him out. He needs more time, he wants to feel stable before deciding to do this.

He's being surprisingly sensible! It's for the best, really. Seems wise. More than that, he says, it's necessary for his mental health.

Also, he is nervous that he will be rushed into things. That I will want kids with Lobe and just go ahead with that and leave him behind.

That sounds gross, and not something I'd want to do. On the other hand... what if that is what I want? I can't promise to save my body for someone, indefinitely. I'm not a personal baby making machine that you can reserve for if / when you're ready.

I know that's a harsh way of putting it, but I guess I'm aware that I need to be careful what I commit to people. Grotto has my heart. My love and my care. My support and admiration. I love how we talk, how we touch, how we untangle each other.

But sometimes he does move slower than me. A lot slower. And sometimes he says "let's do it" to something and then later, changes his mind. I know he'd prefer if I wasn't so much on the move always. If I could slow down and be more accommodating of his lumbering pace.

I'm the kind of person who sets off on her own adventures, and is happy for the company of anyone who wants to join, but also happy to be alone. I'm not so great at waiting for people who are unsure of what they want, or who are dragging their feet. An impatient imp.

Gah, I'm not sure how to deal with this.

Things with Lobe are new! I've only known him for about eight months!

I haven't told Lobe that I've got my period yet. I know I should tell him; he'd want to know. But I don't feel like talking about this long distance. I want to hold him, or at least see him, when I tell him. It isn't a big deal, on the surface, but there are emotions.

The take-home message for me is that we really shouldn't do this long-distance!

Grotto and I had a few times when he came inside me, when the two of us were long-distance but one was visiting the other. It wasn't the greatest, the days afterwards... I definitely felt the distance.

So if this is going to work, really, we'll need to move to the same city first I think. And at the very least, Grotto, Lobe and I have to talk about this together, properly. Sensible is a good thing. This is a major life challenge we'd be embarking upon. Despite any confidence or optimism we may have about muddling through, we should be smarter than this. We are smarter than this. C'mon, brain!


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& another update from early Jan

I had a frank conversation with Plinth about my capacity for connection with him these days, i.e. as a friend, with a friendship that could express itself in many ways perhaps, but definitely no expectations for sex. This had been panicking me somewhat, so it was good to get it straight.

I set up a date night with him for soon afterwards. I wanted to get closure to the conversation, to check in that everything was okay. We caught up with a mutual friend for drinks, and had lively conversation and flirty touching at the bar table. Then the two of us walked to the river and watched the fire flares along the river bank, drank wine and talked. I stayed over at his place, and we fell asleep watching a movie. Kisses, cuddles, and cosy bedtime. Mellow.

Sex, especially penetrative sex, does not come easily to me. I mean, fuck, yeah it does, but on the other hand, it doesn't. It isn't a simple thing. For a relationship to be a safe sexual space for me, it can take a lot of work. I need to really feel the connection.

My first few sexual experiences were abusive ones. The first especially so, when I was a child. I've worked through a lot of things, but still, there are trigger points.

Also, I don't seek out casual sex just to get off. Well, I do... Hmm. How to explain.

Yeah, I love sex, I love the release of sex and the joy of sex, but it's an energy I am careful with. If I'm horny, I possibly could call a friend / fuck buddy just to get off, but I'd rather not. The uncertainty of how that would feel, emotionally, makes it too much of a risk sometimes. And in any case, I don't prioritise sex as an activity, very much. Or at least, I'd rather manage it myself (masturbation, fantasies) rather than involve other people in getting sexual release, if that's the only purpose of the connection.

I think it's in part because I've experienced my appetite for sex increasing the more I feed it... It really feels like there's no end to it sometimes. So, if I start getting in the habit of having sex for fun, I fear I'll invade the time I'd rather spend doing other things. Life goals, and such.

The situation is different when sex in a relationship is cultivating the connection, and contributing energy to other things in my life. It's hard to explain well, and I know it sounds a bit heavy on sex. Like sex is only useful when it's in service of other ("higher"?) aims. I don't mean it like that. Sex for sex's sake is like learning for learning's sake. A pleasure, a joy, and not something I would condemn. But I have limited patience for it, personally.

Maybe I need to be more patient. Maybe it's a hangup from my Catholic upbringing. Not sure. I'm open to shifting on this!

But yeah, right now, it's taking a lot of work to establish healthy dynamics between Grotto, Lobe and myself. We have some significant terrain to chart. I had to admit: I don't have the capacity for developing a healthy sexual relationship with Plinth as well.

I felt shit that this could come across as "sorry, Plinth, I have someone in my life I like better than you, I don't have time for us anymore." As if I'm upgrading from him. He said he didn't see it like that at all. He knows I love him and I care about our relationship. Whether or not we have sex doesn't change this.

Interestingly, last night, fucking Grotto, I had moments when I wished Plinth was there too. We've had some hot threesomes. It's funny how I think I'd be able to handle that better than one-on-one sex. Not sure if it would be weird for Plinth, if I made that distinction. Anyway. No doubt I'll find out, if the situation ever presents itself.


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My friends, my friends

So many posts from me today, I wonder what I'm procrastinating from ;)

Actually, I think it's just that I've finally got around to catching up on correspondence, blogging here, and various other scrivenings.

I've been thinking directly about friendship these days. Some thoughts triggered by listening to Theme Time Radio Hour: Friends & Neighbours by Bob Dylan. Do I understand what friendship means? My experience of friendship has been a plethora of looser connections, rather than a few, close friends. I certainly have friendships that run deep, friends I've tethered rafts with through rough waters, but I couldn't point to many that are "best friends". And I don't have a circle of friends as such; most of my friends don't know each other very well.

I try to be open to new people, hospitable to travellers, and be ever conscious of how I might be prejudiced against or deprioritise the needs of someone just because they are unfamiliar to me. This tendency, to have a heart for all, can sometimes stop me from truly appreciating the friendship connections that are precious to me. The friendships I treasure in my life.

I should make time for those friends the way I make time for lovers, because they are like lovers to me. We share a potent intimacy, even if there is no sexual aspect.

The other night, I had a "date" with a close friend, who lives overseas. We chatted online and he said he was making ambrosia. He also said that he'd finally watched a movie I had recommended to him years ago ('The Fall' - which, by the way, is one of the most visually stunning movies I have seen in my life. And I liked the story too.) Anyway. As a reward, I told him that the next movie I watch will be one of his choosing. (He picked 'The Secret in Their Eyes', if you're curious). I also felt inspired to make ambrosia too... So we had parallel ambrosia, and I watched the film he'd picked.

I really think those moments of relating are as important to me, and as important to how I am and how I love, than anything I've written here about sexual partners.