The Best Life Yet

Hi, Reverie. I'm new to the site and newish to the poly thing (a year into it.) I'm really enjoying your blog! So much of it resonates with me... especially your 'death of romance and loss of innocence' post. In particular this part from that time period:
Reading these lists, I guess what I see is that I have some sense of loss over feeling special or wanting to feel like what he and I have/do is unique.
I've been grieving the same in my relationship with Blue. I had to euthanize one of my dogs recently. I still have another dog whom I can play ball with, pet, and snuggle with. But, doing those things with her is not the same/never will be the same as it was with Red. Even though I love her and enjoy doing those things with her, a part of me will always miss Red. Extrapolating that experience to my relationship with Blue and his relationships with other women, has helped me immensely. It's ironic to me that while I want to feel unique and special... it's extremely comforting to know that what I'm feeling and experiencing is not unique and there are others feeling/experiencing similar things :)

Also on this:
I am struggling pretty hard with knowing what "healthy" looks like anymore. Is it keeping my hard line in place to avoid opening myself up to further drama, thus walking away and letting him come back to me in his own time, if ever? Is it bending more to accommodate the possibility of coming change?

I, too, come from a place of unhealthy relationships and have really struggled with boundaries. In my previous relationships, I didn't even know what a boundary was, let alone how to enforce it. The end result was that I accepted a lot of unacceptable behaviors from my partners, and I sometimes behaved inappropriately and unacceptably to/with my partners. When I began working on me (& discovered boundaries), I went too far the othe rway.. My boundaries were unmovable, impenetrable fences. That didn't work out too well for me, either. I alienated people and damaged other relationships. Now, I think of my boundaries more as a guideline. They breathe and change as new information is received and as me/my relationships change and grow. I still sometimes struggle with whether modifying a boundary in response to a change, or sticking firm with the boundary is the better course of action. I think just knowing that whichever I choose, I can always change and choose something different has helped.

Reading your blog has really helped me clarify and work through my feelings now that Blue's started dating again. Thank you for that :)
 
PinkPig, I'm so glad that you find my blog helpful! It's something that I write mostly for me, but it warms my heart that other people find value in it!
 
Where I am right now is a very interesting spot. After I posted my last update, I had had what I thought was a genius idea: instead of any ante-upping makeup events, we could just switch the day we went to the event, and therefore maintain the original terms. The logic that I used was that if Claire had only asked for the day off when she was upset, but now she was really ready, there would be no issue there. Rider had told me he would try to think of comparable types of "proof," but he hadn't brought anything to me yet. So, I got on IM with Rider, thinking I had a flash of brilliance in this easy tweak.

Wrong again.

Rider's reaction to this suggestion was very telling. He said it was a bad idea for him to go and talk to her and adjust anything right now. I said OK, and I explained why I'd thought it was a good idea, but I was willing to drop it. I got the information from that that I needed anyway, which was that he didn't REALLY believe that she was currently ready, but only that she would try at some nebulous point in the future. I was satisfied with knowing that and using it to inform my decision making.

He, however, was NOT willing to drop it. He chased me down the street barking for a while, reiterating that it was a bad idea. I said "heard" and he just kept going and going, to the point where I felt like I should explain myself again. But he took that as argument rather than explanation, and continued reiterating his stance. I felt like we were at such communicative cross-purposes that we weren't even speaking the same language anymore. Finally, I was just like, "I don't know what you think I'm saying, but I'm actually NOT arguing with you. I said OK. I agreed not to do it, giving you what you want. What more do you need from me?" He had to go to a friend's house at that point, and said he'd come by later to talk.

When he got there, he clearly did NOT want to continue our conversation, but I had to, because I needed to know WHY he was being so weird and snappy with me lately. It was so out of character for the person I'd known for a year and a half, and it was freaking me out. What I found out changed the way that we have communicated from then on.

I was lying with my head on his chest, confessing my fears to him: I was afraid that if we didn't fix things soon, since I was supposed to be leaving as soon as possibly October, there would be no chance of his coming with me; I was afraid that if he was so willing to put Claire before me, I would have to eventually walk away; I was desperately, desperately afraid of this beautiful thing that we had ending. And instead of being supportive and kind, he got audibly frustrated again, sighing and tensing up. And so I asked him, "WHY do you sound so frustrated right now? I'm confessing fears to you. I'm not complaining or pushing any issue."

And he told me that I've just been putting him under this immense amount of pressure. And I told him that my confessing my fears was not my attempt to pressure him into doing anything. I was just telling him how I feel. And it dawned on me: I tell him that I feel or think a thing, and he takes it as my trying to coerce him into doing something about it, even though that's not my intention.

So I asked a clarifying question: when I tell you how I feel, it makes you feel pressured? And he said, "Well, yeah, because I want to be able to fix it." And I explained to him that when I am telling him how I feel, it is not a call to action. Only when I actually ask him to do something am I asking him to do something.

In this particular case, I'd asked if we could do a thing, he'd said no, and I'd said OK. Then I'd tried to explain why I had thought it was a good idea, but that was not trying to get him to change his mind—it was only explaining what my motivation had been. And then, when I'd been telling him my fears, he'd been hearing "So you HAVE TO move with me. So you HAVE TO prioritize me. So you HAVE TO find a way to vanquish my fears." But that wasn't what I'd been saying at all.

When I explained this all to him in explicit detail, he looked at first puzzled, then enormously relieved. He said that he felt like a great weight had been lifted off of him, and he couldn't believe that he hadn't seen that he'd been doing that. All that pressure was coming from INSIDE HIMSELF, not from me, so he had control of releasing it. He thanked me for being smart enough to figure that out and tell him.

I immediately felt the "resolution feeling" that I'd grown used to getting at the end of our arguments. I hadn't felt that after our V-day weekend blowup (though we'd tried to fuck our way into it). I hadn't felt that after his snapping at me on Monday. But I felt it that night after that conversation. We fixed something major that was lacking in our communication, that we hadn't even realized. And I told him that I'd try to help him remember it, by stating up front that I was only expressing my feelings, not calling him to action, if I had a negative thought or feeling that I needed to express. Maybe not forever, but at least until he got the hang of processing stuff that way.

I also decided as a result of that conversation that I would just leave the ball completely in his court when it came to stuff regarding the potential move. Previously, knowing how forgetful he can be (a problem we share), I would prod him occasionally for things like the résumé he'd said he'd give to Oona, when she had asked for it to give to her boss to get Rider on the radar for a job there. Or had asked him questions gauging his interest in a particular type of living situation, so that I could think through what it might be like when that time arrived, for budgeting purposes, etc. I decided that I would just plan completely for myself, and he could come to me if/when he thought he might be ready. If he misses that boat, he can always follow if he wants to. Or not. But I'm not going to do anything that could be misconstrued as "pressure" and I'm going to let go of my fear surrounding the idea of being without him.

I'm just going to "be here now" and wait to see if things stay peaceful.

For now, in the two days since we had that conversation, things have been really good. There have been no peeps out of Claire. Rider and I have plans through the end of the week. We've got a date on the books with Allie next weekend, and we have been communicating sporadically with Candace. We've also planned a trip to see Sam in April. I've felt more connected to Rider than I have in weeks. I still don't know where things are going to end up, but I am trying not to get too attached to any particular outcome, and I am completely focused on finding peace, living in the moment (as much as I am capable of with my future-obsessed mind), and just enjoying the ride of experiencing love.
 
Things have been good, and there have been some developments. I've spent literally every night with Rider since...well...I think it's been about two weeks now. Even after he had his talk with Claire a week ago, he came over to talk to me afterward and stayed at my place that night. It's been really nice sleeping next to him for so many nights in a row. I would think I'd reach some sort of saturation point with him, but really, the more I get of him, the more I want. We both even took off of work today and just hung out together all day, running errands and napping and such. I don't think I am capable of tiring of his company. He says he feels the same way—that I am one of only three people ever that he has been able to hang out with continuously and not get sick of. (The other two are Sam and then the girl Rider dated for seven years from 1997–2004; they actually broke up because she moved out of the country for her career, not because they had problems.)

Thursday, Rider and I had been planning to maybe see Candace, but that fell through. After being initially very bold, Candace has been playing coy for the past few days. Instead of doing that, we went to our local brewpub to meet up with a few friends. Among the friends was the couple that had been hosting the weekly jam session slash dinner party that Rider usually went to with Claire every Thursday. They had decided to stop hosting it, after a year of having people over into the wee hours every week. Instead, they invited us out for beers on neutral territory, and brought guitars. Rider also brought his guitar, and it was a whole lot of fun. The bromance is strong between Rider and the dude half of the couple. Rider and I did a super-fun rendition of Johnny Cash and June Carter's "Jackson," which actually drew a crowd and applause.

Friday night, we just made it a quiet night at home. Rider made his legendary vegetarian tacos for me, and I mixed fancy cocktails, and we practiced our original songs, and then went back to my place, where I tied Rider up and made him really happy.

Saturday, we slept in, then Rider showed me a diner I'd never been to before. It was pretty good. We had vague ideas about updating his haircolor, but we got too caught up in practicing music, and it didn't get done. We ran through nearly all the cover songs we've been practicing. We had sex for the third time in 15 hours. We had talked with Candace about maybe meeting up, but again that fell through. We ended up going out for a couple of beers with a platonic chick friend of ours, who then came back to Rider's place to jam with us and look at the moons of Jupiter through the telescope. We got to bed super, super late.

Sunday, we slept in again. We had plans to go to the long-awaited annual event that I love, but it didn't matter if we got there a little late. As chance would have it, it had gotten rained out the previous day, so Claire was indeed working to make up for the missed day. She made good on her agreement to be civil when we crossed paths, shaking my hand, though her expression was a bit strained. Still, that was Step One, and it satisfied me that she has it in her to not be a jerk. I felt a little better about my decision to stay once I saw that.

Rider and I met up with a friend of mine, a girl that I'd formerly been a little giddy over: Emily. My crush on her had faded, because she's a little young for me and definitely acts her age, but I still wanted to explore friendship with her. At one point, she thanked me profusely for having given her the advice to speak to her boyfriend about opening up their relationship so that she could be with women. She had committed monogamously to him, and she had been afraid to ask even though she really missed the sexual/romantic company of women. I had encouraged her to at least talk to him about it, and when she had, she found that he was not opposed to the idea! So good for her for finding the courage!

Later in the day, when we'd both had a couple of beverages, she confessed to "having a thing" for me. I told her that I would have to think about it. I'm really not that into her at the moment, but I could MAYBE rekindle that? But she's still kinda young for me? I didn't want to immediately write her off. I'll probably text her tomorrow, but I'm leaning no pretty hard on that one.

We also met up with Rider's friend who makes leather goods, because we'd talked about buying a set of bondage cuffs from him. He'd brought the cuffs along to the event, and they fit perfectly. Rider's are too big for me, because I am on the small-boned side, and Rider is giant. We ran into a bunch of other people that I/we know as well. It was a good time all around.

Toward the end of the day, Rider pulled me aside and thanked me for being patient and staying with him, saying that he knew it was difficult for me to take that leap of faith, and he's really glad that I was willing to do that for him. I think that was the first time that he had addressed how tough the situation had been FOR ME. It was very touching that he thought of that on his own and wanted to say it to me. For a while, it had felt like he was mostly thinking about how tough on Claire and tough on himself the situation had been, but hadn't been thinking very much of my feelings at all. It felt good to be thanked and validated.

After the event, we went back to Emily's for a single drink, then back to the same brewpub that we went to Thursday, to hang out with the same people. But this time, Allie was there! We were all so excited to see each other! I kissed her a whole bunch, and she and I were scheming about how one of these days, we're going to tie Rider up together. She seems like she's really, honest-to-goodness into both of us. It's too bad that we're all so busy that we can only see her every once in a while. We do have a date planned with her next weekend, though. Mmm!

(continued...)
 
(...continued from previous)

One stressful thing about the weekend was that while we were out on Saturday night, another friend of mine, the one I run the Girls' Night Out with, told me via IM that she was planning to kill herself. I spent a long time IMing with her while we were out, trying to talk her out of it, but in the end, there was nothing I could say. She's a very private person, and I didn't even know her real last name or address, so I couldn't call authorities or anything like that. In the end, I just had to send her as many messages as I could.

She did try to kill herself the next morning, but she didn't succeed. I didn't find out until Sunday evening, through her boyfriend. Today, Rider and I took the day off of work to gather some stuff to take to her in the hospital (vegan food, because the hospital didn't have any; a plush rabbit, because she loves rabbits; a bouquet of mini-roses), because my normal working hours would have conflicted with visiting hours. But she didn't want to see me, so Rider and I dropped the stuff off to her boyfriend to take to her.

Aside from running errands for my poor, ill friend, Rider and I spent our stolen day off being pretty lazy. We slept late and had sex, then he cooked me a huge, food-coma-inducing breakfast that we ate while we caught up on a show that we like. Later, he practiced some of the more difficult songs he's trying to learn on the guitar, while I got some writing done and chatted with my friend Georgia on IM.

Tonight is the first night in a long while that Rider is spending with Claire. Their "soft break" includes the occasional night together. He's messaged with me a little and told me that it's been going well so far. Maybe the tough part is over. I guess I won't know for sure until the next occasion that would normally turn into a custody battle, but I'm fine not thinking about that too much as long as the "good days" continue to pile up.

I guess I haven't talked much recently about how things have been going with Moss and with Jake. Things with Moss are the same as ever. We have our once-a-week Skype dates where we stare longingly at each other. After knowing each other for eight years, our dynamic doesn't change very much. Even adding sex and romance back into it eight or nine months ago hasn't rocked the boat. I get to see him in less than a month now!

Things with Jake are also good. He's coming to visit in less than two weeks, and I am very much looking forward to it. As always seems to happen, the longer that it's been since I've last seen him, the more the intensity fades. Then it always comes roaring back to life when we see each other again. I think it fades less on his side than it does on mine; he messages me more and talks about thinking about me all the time. For me, day to day, I am pretty focused on Rider, and the others cross my mind, but not with an astonishing frequency.

It's kind of strange that, right now, with Rider on his soft break with Claire, and all my love connections long distance, Rider and I are functioning almost monogamously. Of course, Rider and I both still keep in touch with our long-distance sweeties. And there is Allie, but we see her pretty rarely. But we've been spending at least PART of every day together for weeks now, and it feels...great. Not that I'd ever want to be totally monogamous with him—I'm not capable of it, and he doesn't prefer it despite being capable—but having so much of his attention to myself really feels blissful. Even with our recent rough patches, I'm so utterly smitten with him.

It has gotten me thinking about relationship structures. When not on the soft break, Rider considers Claire and me to be co-primary. He is satisfied with keeping his other connections to be more FWB than anything, even if he does feel romantically toward Kelly—he considers that connection to be "friends having fun" vs. "she's his third girlfriend."

For me, in theory, I like the idea of a lack of hierarchy or of co-primaries, but I have found that I gravitate most naturally to throwing the vast majority of my energy toward only Rider. I feel polysaturated relationship-wise even with having all my other partners long distance, and I have less than zero interest in finding new guys to date. I don't know how much of that is lingering NRE at the year mark, or if it's going to be that way permanently. I don't know if it would be different if, say, Jake lived locally. I don't know if it's tied to having mostly been in mono relationships before. What I do know is that I can (and do!) love multiple people, but I really feel happiest and most comfortable when I get to see Rider every day, and when I sleep beside him rather than alone.

Being a co-primary in a non-cohabiting situation means that USUALLY (when there is no soft break), there are some days each week that I don't see him, and some nights each week that I spend alone. And that has worked fine. I have plenty of stuff to keep me occupied. But these past couple of weeks, getting to see what it's like without that time apart, I've discovered that it's made us happier and closer. I guess hierarchy doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it—if I was a co-primary in a cohabiting situation, I would probably still get to see him every day (and I know that some people even share a bed all together!). But I have discovered that it is true that, for me, I feel better and happier the more time I spend with him.

So I guess that while there is a certain level of time that I *need* to see him in order to be happy and feel secure in the relationship, which is met within our standard structure (the non-soft-break version where he is with Claire for two nights), anything beyond that is very welcome, and is very pleasant icing on the cake. I suppose if we lived together and both worked from home and so were together 24/7, that could be possibly too much of each other. But as things stand, I am super happy to spend nearly all of my non-working time with him: sleeping, cooking/eating, pursuing hobbies together, seeing friends together, seducing people together, etc.

I don't know what it is about him, but there is just no such thing as "too much." After sex today, in the natural light streaming through the window, I was looking down at him while still straddling him. He looked peaceful, satisfied, sleepy. I told him that I was just going to be creepy and stare at him awhile, and he told me to go ahead, that I have staring privileges.

I just visually drank him in: his golden eyelashes, his invisible eyebrows, the strawberry-blonde roots showing in his hair. His relaxed, half-open half-smile, with the most adorably shaped mouth I've ever seen, like a soft "M" or a soaring gull. His crow's feet—proof that he's somehow done more than 38 years' worth of smiling in his 38 years. The very slight crookedness of his teeth, a glorious and addictive imperfection that I almost worship, barely visible between his parted lips. The fiery orange beard hairs, just slightly flecked with white. And when his eyes would open for a moment, slowly, dreamily, the pale, sea-glass-green rings of his irises would focus on me briefly before drifting closed again. I felt like he was the most beautiful creature in the world at that moment, and it stole my breath from me.

Maybe part of it was all of the time we've been spending together. Maybe part of it was finally resolving some of our communication issues. Maybe part of it was having gotten proof that things on the Claire front are actually in the process of improving. And maybe part of it was my own being extra reverent of life after hearing of my friend's brush with death. But in that moment, I felt so very lucky and happy that we are alive and together—that I get to experience anything so full of love and wonder and snapshots of bliss like that. My life is pretty damned cool.
 
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Things are still pretty good. I'm seeing Rider less this week than previous weeks, but that is to be expected. The past few weeks were kind of at maximum possible time, while this week he has his platonic "mandate," band practice for that side project, and he promised Claire he would take her out for her birthday on Friday evening.

I discovered a prickly spot in myself when he told me that, because I forgot that she's still working the event for the next two weekends, and he and I had already put a day of making music together on the books for Saturday. I thought he might be trying to pull the rug out from under me without checking with me first again. It was lame that my immediate thought was "that is totally going to bleed into our planned Saturday, and he didn't even ask me about changing our plans!" I guess I am still paranoid about that sort of thing happening left over from Christmas, which seems silly in March. I need to work on relaxing and putting that guard down.

One of my favorite things about this relationship is that he and I are so REAL with each other that we dig down deep into ourselves and each other, and it helps us to identify the ways that we are thinking about things wrong or holding on to outdated worries. It's like recently we've reached a prickly danger layer where we are tripping up each other's sore spots and stumbling over each other's flaws, but then we steady each other and figure out how to heal the underlying problems.

The main thing that I have been struggling with from time to time over the past couple of days is the impending, eventual reality of my move to Opposite Coast. This is triggered by Oona signing a lease on a new apartment, which is intended to be her stopgap apartment until I arrive...which means that in one year exactly, she'll be ready to move in with me, if I'm ready to go then. I know it's what I need to do for my career. There don't seem to be any jobs in my field for me in my current state of residence, and working from home for my company on Opposite Coast will only allow me to climb so far in the company.

I've been with them for over three years now, and they have promised me a promotion and a raise (with the option to go even further in the future), if I relocate to work in their office. So I kinda feel like I have to. I have a ton of student loan debt, a master's degree I can't seem to use anywhere local to me, and an hourly wage that puts me WELL below the median income for people of my education level (read: people with a similar student loan burden). If I don't want to be running on an economic treadmill for the rest of my life, I clearly need to move to an area with more opportunity for me, and one of those opportunities is currently a sure thing. PLUS, my best friend in the entire world lives in the city where the office is located, and has been clamoring for me to join her since before my company even moved there.

For a while, I thought I might try to stay here, because of Rider. But recent scrutiny of my budget has suggested that that is probably a Very Bad Idea. Where that leaves me is...feeling kind of stuck. Rider's job doesn't pay particularly well, and he currently works in a dying industry (though his skills translate to almost any industry), so he is hypothetically open to moving, if he found a good opportunity. He's specifically told me that he will go "if he can make it make sense for him." But he has roots here, and I can sense his reluctance to make a decision.

Most recently, he'd been taking my expressing my feelings about the situation as pressure put on him to decide RIGHT NOW and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Which is not what I mean to do by expressing my emotions; I just say things like this (verbatim):

"Every other place that I've known that I was leaving, the year between when I knew I was leaving and when I actually left felt like doing time; I couldn't wait to get out. But right now, I feel like I'm actually grieving pretty hardcore when I think about it."

Which is obviously (to me) a statement only about my emotions. But to him, there's all of this other hidden meaning bundled in there about what I expect him to do to "fix" my grief. So I've taken to prefacing the things that I say to him with a disclaimer: "These are just my feelings and not a call to any particular action." Which has gone pretty well so far. And it's not like I talk about it A LOT, but when I burst into tears hearing a song or something, it seems like it deserves explanation.

I am trying really, really hard to live in the now, and to cherish each moment for what it is. But then Oona's move and her constantly sending me little stuff about it sets me off sometimes. For the most part, though, I've been being pretty good about it. I'm giving the issue more space in this blog post than it's been taking up in my mind, only because I feel like I'd never fully explained the situation before here, and my referencing my far(ish)-off move might be confusing.

I've never been in the position before of having to choose between love and career, though I know it's a pretty common thing. The sad thing is that it's happened to Rider twice already, where he has been dating ambitious women whom he really loved, and the women's career paths took them far afield from him, and he opted not to go. In both cases, he said they cast a long shadow, and he was actually still kinda stuck on the second woman when he and I started hanging out. I don't want to be the third person who ditches him!

And for me, my pattern has always been flitting about from one coast to the other, dragging some boy with me. And the relationships have never worked out, though I can't really blame the move. If anything, I blame monogamy: meeting so many new and exciting people, and not having the freedom to explore them. I suppose it's either time for him to break his pattern, or it's time for me to break mine. Since they are opposites, we can't have it both ways.

I suppose it will turn out however it turns out. For now, I'm still concentrating on peace, concentrating on the moment, doing my stuff for me, and enjoying the love that I get to share with him nearly daily. Maybe if I can just manage to keep doing that, everything will end up how it's supposed to, however that is.
 
Follow-up to yesterday's post...

The alternate ending, wherein I choose true love over easy money:

I find some way to make Current City work after all. Over the summer, when my day job slows down, I start crawling out of my financial hole by waiting tables or tending bar in the evenings, like I did the ten years from 21 to 30. I tell my long-distance connections that I can't afford to visit them anymore—that I do love them, but the situation I'm in is too expensive to keep traveling for pleasure for a while, so I'll have to see them when I see them. I look for the rarely available more lucrative job in Current City, taking my time because I have the luxury of a steady income, a not-too-limited timeframe, and a flexible schedule for interviewing. Eventually, I find one. I keep doing my current job part-time in the evenings, replacing the service industry gig, so as a) to not leave them hanging, since I know their stuff better than anyone and b) to keep making the extra money.

Due to working two jobs, I have to somehow learn how to survive on fewer than eight hours of sleep a night; I aim for seven. But my account balances slowly start to eke closer to black. Rider and I move in together to cut costs and so that we can actually still see each other with me working so much (he has said that he would be into this). I get really good about waking up super-early and sneaking out in the mornings, and I still have time to put in two hours of my second job before he gets home. I put in an extra half-hour after kissing him hello, and then we get to spend 8:30 to midnight hanging out most nights before I need to go to sleep. Maybe he spends a night or two over at Claire’s, and those become my solo downtime evenings—I read a book, or write, or go for a run, or practice my instrument. I put a few more hours in on Saturday afternoons, but I get to sleep in and I get the rest of the weekend for unfettered reconnection time and the odd social event. We keep making music, and we make do.

Oona gets angry with me for saying I'd move and not moving, but she gets over it; after all, we've been friends for half our lives. My limiting my long-distance connections and not having time to date renders me truly functionally monogamous, but that doesn't really matter, since it's not like I have extra time for more people; at least I still have my freedom if the opportunity arises, which is likely enough for me. We still fit threesomes in on the weekend sometimes. Maybe I see Jake over the holidays, when I'm visiting my parents and he's visiting his. Maybe Moss and Oona pitch in together to surprise me with a plane ticket to Opposite Coast for my birthday. It's not like I'm ever going to stop knowing any of them after all this time.

In five years, on the cusp of 40, I've halved my debt. I've gotten used to my new schedule. I've maybe gotten a few raises. Maybe bought another old beater car to replace the one I just got when it inevitably dies. It might make sense to start putting part of that money into a mortgage or into retirement, and paying off the student loans more slowly. There might be room for a little more fun—a little more vacation—and maybe I can start doing my long-distance poly thing again. I'll be back to where I am right now, fun- and freedom-wise, but with half the debt, five more years' life experience, a network of people I've been local friends with for seven years (never had that!), and a solid relationship that I've proven to myself that I can sacrifice for.

It doesn't sound so bad. Loads of people do it. Five years will fly by, if the last two are any indication. I'm not afraid of hard work. If I made it through working full time my last year of high school, two jobs while in college, four jobs during the year I took off from college, and a bartending gig and an internship during my last semester of a rigorous grad program, I can make it through that. I just feel like maybe I would regret it forever if I didn't try.
 
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It's been a decent couple of days. Wednesday evening, Rider and I dyed his hair and practiced our original songs, and he talked me into covering a song with him that was, at that moment, the most tear-jerking song on the topic of moving and leaving someone behind. When he'd seen how it affected me emotionally, he'd wanted to capture it. Plus he said he'd been meaning to cover it for a while, since he'd liked it when he first heard it. He figured it out on guitar really fast, and then I sang along while he sang backup. We recorded it, and by the time we were on the third or fourth take, I was crying at the end of it when I got to a certain point. The tears are a little audible, but he said that makes it better. When we were done, I was too emotionally exhausted to even have sex. With the question encapsulated in a song, we were able to put it to rest, at least for the time being.

Yesterday, Rider's band practice was canceled, so he invited me over. I still had a lot of work to do, so I didn't end up going over until about 9:30. It was the anniversary of the first time we'd seen each other naked, so after we snacked and watched a bit of a show, we recreated that first experience: fooling around on the couch with the lights down and the TV glowing in the background. Of course, we went a little further this time. It was pretty romantic.

After that, Rider went to sleep, while I stayed up working late. I was so exhausted in the morning that I decided to sleep in awhile. I woke up with a wild hair to get a bunch of chores done instead of doing my actual work-work, figuring I could catch up on it tonight (which I'm just about to do). I looked into replacing the blower fan in my new/old car, which looks like a simple fix, so I ordered the part and the tools from Amazon. I've always skewed a little "handy for a girl" (as Moss once put it), but I was afraid of car stuff until I just installed my own stereo a few weeks ago. Now that that turned out well, I'm actually pretty gung-ho about giving the fan replacement a whirl.

After that, I took out all the trash and got rid of a lot of crap in my closet and a pile of stuff that had come out of my OLD car that had been sitting in the corner waiting for something to be done with it since I moved in. I cleaned my room from top to bottom, beat all the throw rugs, put laundry in, cleaned my bathroom, burned some incense, and even tidied up the nest of cords behind my computer. I have to say that my room is cleaner and more organized than it's been since I moved in! And it smells great in here, which is no small feat given ownership of three pets that spend almost all their time in my room.

Tonight, Rider is with Claire to celebrate her birthday (which is technically on Monday). He said he's going to be staying at her place and then slipping out to come over here in the wee hours of the morning, before she wakes him up with her getting ready for work at 7:00.

I've been trying to stay out of everything between the two of them as much as possible—zero volunteering of ways he could help her, way less engaging "normal friend style" when he talks about her (i.e., letting him say whatever he wants to say but not really picking up the conversation much at all), purposely forcing myself not to speak up about things like his sheets being a mess, etc.

The less communication aspect of it is that if Rider complains to me about her, with a mixed statement like "I had fun last night, but [thing that she did] made me grumpy this morning" (which he has), I just say, "I'm glad you had fun." If he tells me about their change in plans (that will in no way affect me, such as a venue change, which happened tonight), I just say, "Enjoy your night at [location]." It's kind of weird, because I'm used to being in best-friend mode with Rider, and it's a forced bit of distance not to engage and want to know absolutely everything, but I feel like with the distance, I will be less emotionally invested in whatever negative thing may come up next.

The refraining from care-taking aspect of it is that I'm just not bothering to game out how things will affect her anymore. I'm just living my own life and advocating for my own wants and needs, and leaving it to Rider to tell me "no" if he thinks something will negatively affect her. I will try to make plans with him whenever I feel like it, without any thought whatsoever as to how much time she has or hasn't gotten. I'll not take any especial care not to leave my stuff around his apartment—I'll treat it like I'd treat the home of any other boyfriend. She has made it very clear to me in response to my letter (relayed never directly to me, but through various third-party avenues) that she disliked rather than appreciated any effort that I made in her favor, so I will make no further effort. It's less exhausting this way, anyway, having one fewer person's feelings to take into account.

And speaking of internal changes, something really interesting has been happening to me over the past couple of weeks:

I've noticed that a lot of things that I encounter in everyday life seem to lately be related to perception and perspective. I feel like I am becoming more sensitive to the ways in which perception and perspective can be so very subjective. Two people can hear the same piece of music and one might hear a harmonic where the other doesn't. They might look at a(n infamous) photo and see different colors. They might read the same paragraphs and extract two totally different meanings. They might have a spoken conversation and each thinks that the other says something totally different than what s/he means. They might be in the same room, and one feels that it's cold, while the other thinks that it's hot.

All of this put together makes it seem like it is really possible to live a similar life to someone else, externally, but EXPERIENCE that life in a wholly different way. It's almost incredible to me that anyone ever agrees on anything! This line of thinking had three effects on me:

1) I felt wildly grateful that I have Rider, whose experience of the world seems to be MOSTLY in line with mine. Instead of feeling residual hurt and worry that he'd been interpreting some of my communication differently than how I'd meant it, I felt relieved that this recent batch was only the first time, that it hadn't happened more often.

2) I felt an increase in empathy for other people in general, in that even though I might not know EXACTLY what they're feeling, I can probably figure out based on their reaction how they are experiencing a thing, even if it's different than how I am experiencing it. This has resulted in my feeling really weird when people are being negative about other people. Case in point: Oona came to me with some gossip about a former friend of hers gaining a bunch of weight:

Oona: Diana looks like she's gained about 15 pounds! I suppose it was bound to catch up with her sometime.

Reverie: Well, she was pretty thin before, so she probably can handle it well.

Oona: Well, she used to have a really cute body, but I think she doesn't look as good with the extra weight. I'm so glad that neither you or I tend to fat.

Reverie: Speaking of extra weight, I *do* still have about two to seven pounds that I'd care to drop.

I didn't realize until well AFTER the conversation, because it had been so automatic, that I'd defended the girl and then, when that hadn't worked, I'd deflected the negative gossip. It just hadn't really felt right being party to a conversation where someone (even someone that Oona doesn't like and who'd behaved abhorrently before) was being criticized for something that, for all I know, she can't help.

3) It made me realize just how important it is for ME to look out for ME. Because no one else can do it for me. Even people who might want to, or who might try to, none of them really can know what it is that *I* need and how *I* see the world. Not even the most well-meaning people. So there is a two-pronged effect on this one...

a. Pay close attention to when people might be trying to help, even if they flub it, and be grateful for their INTENTION.

b. Do not hesitate to live my life just as I would live it, as long as I am not doing anything that is purposely or through unreasonable negligence harming anyone else. This is kind of where my "refraining from care-taking for Rider and Claire" comes in. I am responsible ONLY for taking care of Reverie-things, and for not being a jerk to people. I am NOT responsible for Rider-things or for making sure that my life, as normally lived, doesn't spill over onto Claire. So I will conduct my relationship as I would conduct a Reverie/Rider relationship if there were no Claire, and whatever happens on the other side of that has nothing to do with me. This includes regular Facebook activity, party and event attendance, etc. I deserve to live the life that I want, and other people will either fit into that, or they won't. I'm learning how to make peace with the idea that even if I want people to fit, they indeed may not, even if this ends up including Rider eventually.

Aaand, so those are Reverie's Deep Thoughts for the week. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Allie had to cancel on us for tomorrow due to stuff related to her new job, so we've moved our day-drinking date (previously planned on Sunday) to tomorrow, and moved our music-making extravaganza to Sunday. The reasoning for the original schedule had been that we wanted to be perky and sober for Allie, but it makes more sense to tear it up on Saturday than on Sunday. The place we're going tomorrow is a really cool spot that I've been three times, but Rider never has—shockingly, since he's lived here for like 13 years, and I only for two. I'm stoked to get to show HIM something for once!

OK, time to chat with Moss and then get my remaining work done. I'm sure I'll have a fun update once the weekend is over!
 
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Things have been pretty normal, which is good. Early Saturday morning, Rider left Claire's and crawled into bed with me. We slept for a few more hours, woke feeling very rested, and had some sexytimes before heading out for the day. Our day-drinking date was a success. Rider really liked hanging out at the new spot I showed him. We had lots of good conversation, ate pizza, and tried new beers. He got tipsy to the point of being adorable, so I offered to drive. We went back to his place and played some music. He wanted to go to the drive-in theater in the evening; he'd been supposed to do that with Claire the night before, but she'd changed her mind, so he was still itching to go. The movie we saw was terrible, but in kind of a funny way. It was a fun date.

After the movie that night, I tied him up and we had a really, really good time in bed. I think it was probably quite late by the time we went to sleep, but it was totally worth it. He's so much fun to play with!

We slept in, but not too late, had some more sex, then grabbed brunch. The rest of the day was pretty lazy, aside from me fixing my fan in my car. I fell asleep on the early side, but woke up at some bizarre hour wanting more sex, so we did. Rider was very glad, as he'd been a bit disappointed when we'd gone to sleep without playing, after talking it up all day. I cuddled back into him and we went back to sleep.

Today is Claire's birthday, so he's out with her and I guess some friends of hers. I'd thought I wouldn't get to see him at all, but I'd mentioned something over IM about craving chocolate, and he surprised me by knocking on my door with a fancy box of truffles for me and giving me some kisses. He also made a playlist for me. We were missing the crap out of each other while at work today, so the playlist was one way he was dealing with it.

I debated for a while whether I should wish Claire a happy birthday or not. On the one hand, it seemed like a nice, polite gesture that might work toward our goal of creating and maintaining cordiality—after all, who could object to that?—and also fall within my recent spectrum of not getting involved in any of their stuff, since it is a Claire-only topic. On the other hand, I'm a bit gun-shy about initiating any contact with her after everything that has happened. In the end, politeness won out, and I posted a simple "Happy Birthday! :)" on her Facebook page, like I do for all of my acquaintances. She deleted it! Either that or Facebook ate it, but I think she deleted it. I really think she must just out-and-out hate me or something. Sigh. This does not bode well for any kind of progress, but for now, I am just sitting tight.

Another occurrence of note is that the friend that I met Rider through has organized a benefit show for a child whose mother just died from cancer, and she has asked me to accompany Rider onstage for a few songs. Eek! My official public debut! I am beyond nervous. I'm more of a songwriter (words and melody) than a singer, though I do try and am getting better as time wears on. I have no illusions about having much talent in that arena, though. I'm just worried that people will think that I suck, but I guess we were heading for public performance anyway, and this week is as good a time as any. Still, eek!

For the most part, Rider and I managed to stay away from super-heavy conversations this weekend. We've touched on some serious topics, but they were all good-serious, not tough-serious. He told me that his mom and her boyfriend are trying to plan a visit here (they live about five hours away by car), and I've never met her before. I'm excited to meet her!

He also spent a lot of time this weekend talking about how much he values our connection; he said that I am everything he's ever been looking for in a woman, and more, and that we're so compatible on every level that it blows his mind regularly. I feel so lucky that he seems to feel just as strongly for me as I do for him. We were talking about how amazing our sex life is, and he said that he never, ever feels like sex is "work" with me, like he sometimes does/has with other partners. And well it shouldn't! I think sex should always be fun! The things that he does with/to/for me just work for me, and vice versa, so it would seem.

On non-Rider fronts, Jake will be here in less than a week. I am looking forward to seeing him and having fun with him, but I'm a bit nervous about explaining to him that I don't think I can continue to see him as often as I have been the past six months. Being realistic about my budget has made it clear to me that I can't be jaunting off to Hometown every couple of months, and I'm not sure what kind of connection I can sustain with Jake without relatively frequent visits, since my interest in him cools so much when I haven't seen him for a while. I have one remaining visit scheduled for June, but I don't even know where he's moving after graduation—it's likely to be even farther away. Between the distance and the fact that the sex still isn't great and the fact that he was kind of hinting around about wanting to be monogamous maybe...I'm just not sure it's going to work out for the long term. We'll see how I feel after his actual visit.

I bought Moss's birthday present today. I'm having it shipped to him. It's a new car stereo, because that's what he wanted. I'm getting decently excited about going to see him. We're supposed to go camping. Oona was supposed to meet up with us for a drink one night, but she's had to cancel, as she was going to cash in a sick day, but had to spend it towards her move instead.

Speaking of Oona, she's over the moon about this new boyfriend of hers. I've never seen her this happy before. I can't wait to eventually meet him. She's even pickier than I am, so he's gotta be a real good one to have her this smitten.

Umm, what else?

Rider has been texting with Candace. Apparently, she's looking for a boyfriend right now too. I know Rider would apply for the position if he weren't already so polysaturated. He said he thinks she's more into me than into him anyway. But he said she's looking for something open, so hopefully, even if she finds someone, she'll still be able to play with us. Which hasn't happened yet, but the odds seem good. I wanna make out with her hardcore.

Allie's still been too busy with work to hang out. Knowing our scheduling luck so far, she'll be available some weird night, like the night Rider's mom is supposed to hang out or something. I miss her. I want her cuddles, and to be sandwiched between her and Rider.

Sam was totally cool about my canceling my trip to see him this past weekend. Originally it was going to be that Rider would spend the whole weekend with Claire, but whatever this break thing they're doing made that not happen, plus things had been dodgy with Rider and me for a bit, and so I'd told Sam that I felt like I needed to stick close to home for a while. He totally understood. I think he even seemed a little relieved to see that I would prioritize my relationship with Rider rather than further rock a rocking boat to go visit him. Rider and I are going to see him in mid-April. I love it when we all spend time together, even if it means a much smaller chance of sex with Sam for me. Those two together are magical company to be in.

I suppose that's about it for my updates. I'm going to get some sleep and hope that I have good news from Rider in the morning about whether we can squeeze an extra practice in tomorrow night to prep for the show on Friday. Really, I need all the practice I can get!
 
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Over on this thread, I decided to call for some general opinions on metamour relations, so that I could work through my ongoing discomfort with the Claire situation.

If TL;DR the thread, the summary is basically that I came to discover that a sense of welcoming and community in my greater polyships is a need that I have to feel comfortable in this lifestyle, and it's a need that currently isn't being met in the situation I'm in. My efforts to squeak by at a bare minimum, hoping for change, have left me feeling stressed, depleted, and more obsessive and negative than I'd normally be, since these heretofore unrecognized needs weren't being met. The bottom line is that I probably should have stuck to my guns when it came to the question of breaking up with Rider a few weeks back, and even though things have been actually REALLY GOOD between the two of us since then, the overall situation is still untenable for me and causes me to spiral off into crazytown at the least provocation.

Therefore, at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will be ending things. It won't be super-super-soon, because in order to maintain the best-friendship that pre-dated the relationship, I want to time it for minimal disruption of music plans, plans for us to visit with our other lovers (I with Jake and Moss; he with Kelly), etc. (Unless something goes totally off the rails; if there's a big debacle of some sort, I imagine I'll end things sooner.) I'm still enjoying my time with him, with a sense of bittersweetness. He's still showing me the ropes (literally, haha!) on some neat kinky stuff, and I'm still thoroughly enjoying our sex life, his companionship, our creative endeavors, etc.

I had a brief conversation with him about how I feel, a) because I'm no good at keeping secrets from him, b) because I wanted to let him decide if he wants to continue in this eventually expiring capacity, and c) so that when I do decide it's time to pull the plug completely, it doesn't come flying at him from the clear blue sky when things have otherwise seemed great. I certainly neither want to shock him out of his shoes or to do a slow freeze-out. He emphatically did want to continue dating until my carefully chosen plug-pulling point; I just needed to be up front with him about the fact that the current configuration is not a forever thing, so that we can both start planning our lives accordingly. So now, we can just enjoy our remaining time in relative peace.

I can relax and pay zero attention to what's going on with him and Claire, because I will soon not be involved in the situation anymore, whatever comes of it. We can just hang out, with no more conversations about the future. We can make music, fool around, etc., and get used to the idea of being just friends again, without planning our lives together as lovers. It will just be what it is. He is almost certainly harboring a hope that I will spontaneously change my mind, but he knows exactly what it will take to actually change it, and he didn't volunteer to do that thing, so I am just resting easy in my knowledge that *I* am being completely above-board and have laid all my cards on the table, and *he* is making the choices he's making, for better or worse, as a grown person who is responsible for himself. WHEN I don't change my mind, he can't say I wasn't honest with him.

As for the day-to-day stuff, it has been good. Rider ended up crawling into bed with me super-early Tuesday morning before work. He can't sleep in at Claire's like he can at my place, so he's gotten into the habit of going from there to here around dawn and getting a few more hours of shut-eye with me. Tuesday night, we practiced music, ate leftover pizza, and had some good sex.

Last night, I had the brief convo with him, right at the beginning of the night to make sure he wanted to keep going with the rest of the night. It was pretty mellow, and we were off doing other stuff before too long.

We'd gotten an invite from Allie to stop by the brewery (where she works) to hang out with her and her aunt and uncle who were in town. We had a beer there with her and kissed her goodbye before heading back to Rider's. I made a most delicious curry (if I do say so myself), and we scarfed it down while watching a show, then decided to do a bit of dress rehearsal for the show on Friday.

Boy am I glad that we did that! I haven't had much experience standing in front of a microphone at all, and it really threw me off my game! Usually, when we practice, I'm sitting on a little folding chair, no microphone. I screwed up songs that I've been getting right most of the time for months now. It made me feel very sheepish. Rider told me we can do it again tonight. The show's tomorrow night. EEEEEEEEK!

After practice, we went back to my house and I tied Rider up, and we had another foray into strap-on sex. He's an old hand at that sort of thing, but I'm brand new at it. It was a lot of fun! I like all of the new tricks he's teaching me. It's so exciting to have what seems like countless options for ways of having sexy fun together. And he's a great partner for trying new things, because he's really experienced, really enthusiastic, really low-pressure, and just really fun!

Tonight, more music, more curry (leftovers), more sex, more luxurious sleepytimes. And tomorrow, the show! And Saturday, a brewery event! And Sunday, Jake arrives and we take a mini-roadtrip! It's gonna be an eventful few days!
 
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This post doesn't have much to do with poly but I just had to distract myself. I am DYING of nervousness about the show tonight. Rider and I had another rehearsal last night, and I did pretty well. Still, I had dreams all night that everything was going wrong before the show—I had glue in my hair, my makeup was peeling off of my face like a mask, stuff kept keeping me from being able to get there on time, etc.

We've got a handful of songs prepared: four originals and two covers. We'll probably play only three or four songs, but we have extras on hand in case people want more. As I've mentioned, I don't consider myself much of a singer, so I'm terrified that it'll be like that scene in The Little Mermaid where all the fish show up at the end of "Under the Sea" and point to the rock and she's not there and they get sad and swim away...except they'll all be looking at me waiting for me to do something awesome and then I open my mouth, and I'm just little ol' disappointing me, and they get sad and walk away.

I did trim my bangs and pick out a fun outfit in a style that I call "Princess of Punk": an above-the-knee, teal, satin, leopard-print prom dress paired with fishnets, combat boots, and leather/plastic jewelry, to un-fancy it a bit. So at least I'll be something nice to look at, even if I'm not much to hear. :p

Guys, I am SO EXCITED AND SO NERVOUS! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!
 
Break a leg, Reverie -- your outfit sounds hot and I know you're going to be great. Nobody's going to wander away sadly. Even if you're not Emmylou Harris up there, people really want performers to succeed, and I think you'll find that your reviews are more glowing than you would have given yourself, when all is sung and done. :p
 
Break a leg, Reverie -- your outfit sounds hot and I know you're going to be great. Nobody's going to wander away sadly. Even if you're not Emmylou Harris up there, people really want performers to succeed, and I think you'll find that your reviews are more glowing than you would have given yourself, when all is sung and done.

Thanks, thirteenth! Indeed, everyone was much more charitable to me than I was to myself. It was a blast, and after being super nervous and shaky for the first couple of songs, I eventually relaxed and did a little better.

Right now, I am suffering from an incredibly brutal hangover. Jake is in town, and he is such a terrible influence! He's only been here since Sunday morning, and he is leaving tomorrow. I will be sad to see him go, but my liver won't be. He's out drinking again right now, and I stayed home to work and recuperate. That man is a beast when it comes to alcohol tolerance, and I cannot keep up, so I'm in bed while he parties it up. He should be returning soon to crawl in with me and watch movies. For now, I laze and type this summary.

It has been an extraordinarily eventful few days. Friday night after the show, Rider and I and a couple of friends went out for a beer, then we went back to Rider's for an impromptu house party. It was me, Rider, the smokin' hot Pablo, our friend Erica, and Erica's former neighbor Alan, whom I met for the first time that night. At some point, it became clear to me that literally everyone in the room wanted to fuck me. Erica told me that Pablo was bummed because it seemed like I wanted Alan, and I kinda did, but not that night—too soon. Truly, I wanted them all except Erica, which is why what happened after Pablo and Alan left was weird.

So, Erica is a sweet, super-intelligent, super-successful Colombian girl. I think she's fantastic, but she's nowhere near being physically my type. She obviously has a major crush on me, and, as it turns out, on Rider too. Late that night, when it was just Rider, Erica, and me remaining, Erica asked if she could kiss me, and...I just said sure. Because I really like her as a person, and I wanted to make her happy. Not "taking one for the team," because Rider isn't into her either, but "taking one for the friend"? So we were all kissing, and we double-checked with her about a million times that what we were doing was OK, because Erica is married and her husband was not there.

She's had girl permissions since I've known her (I actually met her and Rider the same night a couple years ago), but she and her husband had a OPP. She'd told me a couple weeks ago that that had been relaxed, and reiterated that that night. She said she wanted to go slow and not do much. So, we kind of had a "threesome lite"; both she and I kept our panties on, and she wanted to give Rider a handjob. I helped. Rider and I played with her tits, which are insanely huge. After Rider came, we all passed out. She slipped out in the morning, and we thought everything was all well and good.

However, in the afternoon, Rider and I started getting a barrage of angry messages from Erica's husband, about how she cheated with us and why didn't we verify what she was saying with him. Well, duh, because when someone is an autonomous adult and a good friend, you take them at their word! According to her, they'd had a miscommunication, and she was apologizing profusely for the drama that her husband was throwing at us. I felt bad for her, but there's nothing we could have done, really. I hope they work their shit out. They've been together for like 11 years. So, that was all unpleasant.

Saturday night was Rider's and my "sexiversary," which we celebrated by going to an event at the brewery that was the same event that we went to last year. We hung out with some friends and had a good time. I had to make it a pretty early night because Jake was flying in early Sunday.

When Jake arrived, he and I immediately hit the road for a mini-roadtrip. We went to the same vacation spot that I went with Rider a few weeks ago, but only for an overnight. We had a fantastic time, even though we didn't have sex and Jake was unfortunately suffering from tooth pain that he can't get fixed until he gets back home. He's been spending this entire trip gobbling Aleve and trying to drink himself numb.

When we got back into town last night, we went straight to Rider's. Rider surprised us with Jake's favorite drinks and vegan burritos. He really is a sweet man. We took out the telescope, so that Jake could see the moons of Jupiter. Then we hit the town. The boys were putting on a show of kissing for me in the bar, even though they are both quite straight. It was adorable. Rider was hitting it off with a hot black girl while Jake and I chatted. At some point, we left the bar, left the girl, and went back to Rider's house, and Rider and I performed a couple of songs for Jake. Jake and I stumbled back to my place to sleep off the booze. Still no sex. It's totally hilarious to me that we have such amazing times together and are so hot for each other but we so rarely get around to sex. He was being pretty amorous this morning, but I felt so ill that there was just no chance.

He's checking out one more bar that I told him about before heading back here on foot. Rider just stopped by with some Gatorade and coconut water to try to help me feel human. I'm pretty certain that Jake will be completely wasted by the time he gets here, a true Irishman on St. Paddy's. Rider's offered his futon and TV for a three-person cuddle puddle this evening, if Jake and I want it, but I'm not sure what Jake will want to do when he gets back. I'm definitely in no shape to do much of anything. I may just take a nap until he gets here, haha. I cannot party quite so hard.
 
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The night of my last post, Jake got back soon after. He was quite tipsy, and telling me of his wandering adventures, and saying how much he loves Rider, and how glad he is that Rider is so welcoming to him and so nice to me. I messaged Rider and told him that Jake and I wouldn't be coming over; we were just going to keep it lazy. We kissed a little and put on an episode of the old Cosmos on YouTube, and I massaged Jake until we both fell asleep. He said the massage was pleasantly distracting from the mouth pain. We slept for nearly 12 hours, which we both needed.

Yesterday, I took my laptop to a pub, so I could work while he watched a soccer match he was interested in. He was clearly in so much pain he could barely stand it, but he still refused to be taken to a hospital, because he was afraid of the resulting bills. His appointment at his local clinic is tomorrow. He was trying very hard to hide the pain, but I could tell. He apologized via text from the plane for lying to me about how bad it hurt, and said he'd never lie to me again.

We spent our last hour together in a park not far from the airport, watching the sun set and talking about how rough it is to have people you love that live 1000 miles away. I told him that I'm not going to be able to afford to come see him as much as I otherwise would (and as I have been), but we still agreed to be at the very least friends, and almost certainly lovers when we are able to see each other—whenever that will be. It was very tender and bittersweet, and I get such a thrill holding his hand and looking into his eyes.

When I got back from the airport, I went straight to Rider's. He and I arrived at about the same time, and we created a feast from the leftovers we'd accumulated over the weekend. We lay in front of the TV and traded massages, then had seriously mind-blowing sex. We've lately been doing this thing that I heard about on the Poly Weekly podcast, where the first step to tantra is to stare into each other's eyes for three minutes every day we see each other, and it's supposed to make sex even better. Not that Rider and I need a lot of help in that department, but it seemed worth a try, because sex can ALWAYS be better. I'm not sure if it was the three days without either of us having sex with anyone or if the three-minute thing has been working, but it was some of the best sex I've ever had—we both were basically animals, and when it was over, we were just soaked in sweat, muttering "wow."

As we got all cuddly and ready for sleep, and I was trying to remember what all plans we had made for this weekend (drawing a blank on Friday), Rider started talking to me about Claire. I'd made a point of not asking about her, and he hadn't brought the topic up since he and I had had our talk about how this situation has a limited lifespan. He said that he wasn't originally going to say anything about it to me, but it feels better to talk to me about things, so I said OK, and listened.

He said that she had messaged him because she'd thought she'd hear from him after the weekend, since the event she'd been working weekends was finally over. She'd figured he'd want to make plans for next weekend, and when she hadn't heard from him, and since things had been weird lately (citing them not having sex on her birthday), she wanted to know if they needed to have "a talk" and so he was planning on talking to her the next day (today). Sticking to my non-involvement policy, I just told him that I trust him to do whatever it is that he needs to do to make himself happy, and for the time being, we left it there and went to sleep.

This morning, I saw the event on Facebook that was our forgotten Friday plan, so I messaged him about it. He said he didn't know how his talk with Claire would go tonight, and that he might need to make plans with her for Friday. I told him sure—his time is his own, and he can do with it what he wants—but that I would miss him, since I've been with Jake so many of the past few days, and we're both going to be out of town (with Kelly and Moss, respectively) for most of the next week. But I can go to the event by myself, if need be. I told him that since I didn't know (and wasn't asking) how he WANTED his conversation with Claire to go, I'd just remain open and flexible about the whole thing, and he could tell me about Friday when he knows.

He then asked permission to tell me how he feels about the whole thing, so again, I listened. To paraphrase:

He is on the fence about whether he just wants to end things with her. He has two opposing columns:

A) Their soft break gave him a chance to have some mental space to realize that he and she are ultimately growing in different directions. He actually really enjoyed his time apart from her, because it meant he was not suffering scheduling push-pull, and because it meant that our time (his and mine) got to be more frequent and unstructured, which was pleasant for him. He is beginning to feel like she is more a part of his past than of his present.

B) If they break up, she will not want to be his friend, and because he loves her, he will miss seeing her sometimes. He does not want to feel like a bad guy for breaking up with her despite her complying with his initial requested compromises. He fears that a breakup may be rash, because there is a chance that the disconnect that he feels from her has more to do with a lack of time spent than with any actual flaw in their relationship.

So, he's going to spend the day soul-searching AGAIN about what to do, and if he DOES decide to break up with her, he has asked me to be around to console him tonight, which, of course, I am willing to do. I feel calm about the whole thing. Having drawn my own boundaries around what I will tolerate from the situation, and it having an ending point (I have decided on mid-May, since that's when we're going to be done with all of our plans; I am not making new plans past that point), whether he stays with her or not is not the determining factor for whether there will be drama in MY life.

He was looking to me for some kind of guidance or feedback on the situation, and I told him that I think that ruminating on his ethical dilemmas and on his own WANTS and NEEDS is the tool that he needs to make this decision on his own. After all, he already knows which direction I am biased in at this point, and that I am not an impartial judge. He knows what kind of feedback he would hear from me, but I am not going to push him into making a decision. I've made mine. Now he needs to make his.

For today, I'm going to get work done, drink coffee with chocolate soy milk, chat with Oona after her haircut, and pet my animals. And if Rider comes over crying later, I'm going to comfort him.
 
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It happened. Rider and Claire broke up last night. Because of my policy of staying out of it, I really had no idea what his final decision was when he went to meet her after work. I was on a phone call with Oona when I got the message: "It's over. Can I come over right now?"

When he arrived, I could tell he'd been crying, but he didn't seem actively distraught, just pretty glum. He flopped down on my bed, and I cuddled him for a while. He explained what had happened, with the odd tear dribbling out, while I stroked his hair. Apparently, they had both shown up to their talk with the same thing on their mind: it just wasn't working for either of them anymore. He'd walked in determined to end it, and she had too. They'd talked for about an hour over a single beer, cried a bit, hugged goodbye, and that was the end of it.

He said it went as well as it possibly could have. The fact that it was mutual helped. The fact that they'd been spending less time together helped. And the fact that they were choosing to end it before it got bitter also helped. He said he'd felt like they were on the verge of that, and he was glad they'd been able to head it off at the pass. He felt sad. And he felt relieved. It had taken almost exactly as long for them to be done with each other this time as it had the first time they'd been together: a few months shy of two years.

He'd realized it needed to happen when he'd gotten that message from her Wednesday morning that had asked why he hadn't messaged her to set up plans, and the reason had been that he didn't really WANT to. He didn't get excited about the idea of seeing her anymore, most of their more recent hangouts had been kind of boring and weird, and their sex life had fallen off. He didn't feel like there was much to look forward to. He had been keeping things going with her and making plans with her because he felt like he SHOULD, not because he really wanted to. I hadn't known anything about this other than the little he'd told me over the past 36 hours, so I guess he processed it all over the course of my non-involvement policy. It actually makes me really happy that he was indeed not dragging me into it for the most part, after I'd expressed a desire to be detached from it.

Much of the rest of our remaining "conversation" last night was my listening sympathetically while he reminisced about how they met and how things had gone when they ended it the first time, and while he explained how much different and more adult about the whole thing they'd been during this version of the breakup. We went out for diner food and coffee, then came back and he tossed back a whiskey shot, then we just lay in bed and he talked and I listened.

It got late, and we got tired, and both of us kind of half-assedly wanted sex, but we decided to get extra sleep and make up for it this weekend instead. I'm super excited about all of our plans for this weekend, even Sunday, which we've devoted to cleaning out Rider's closets and organizing his house. I bought stuff to make mango margaritas. Other than that, we are going to a show and to THREE house parties. Since when did I become popular? LOL. It's all Rider's fault. I had literally three friends in my last city, and here, I am slowly getting to know EVERYONE.

As for where things go from here, Rider and I discussed that, for now, we're taking a break from local dating to just relax and be together for a while. He wants some time to lick his wounds and process the end of his relationship (just like he would if he'd gone from partnered to single), and I've already been polysaturated for quite some time with just him and my long-distance connections. We're not going to stop playing with others recreationally, visiting our long-distance people, or seizing opportunities if they come up, but rightthisverysecond neither of us is looking for new people to date, and we both feel satisfied.

Though the V we started with is over, we're both still poly, and if lightning strikes somewhere, we're both completely free to pursue whatever we want. Both of us have promised that, because it's what both of us want, from here on out, neither of us is going to get involved with anyone who can't accept the other partners in the relationship. Not that they have to be best buddies, but they do have to at least be friendly and willing to hang around, the way that Moss and Jake and Kelly are. And if this narrows our dating pool, so be it. We've both agreed that it's not the number of partners for us, but about being able to have the freedom to explore someone when that someone feels right. For me, someone could never "feel right" who couldn't accept Rider. Quality over quantity, all the way. (With no offense meant to others who have a different definition of "quality"—to each, their own.)

Edited to add:

Rider DID, over the course of our conversation, both apologize to me for not doing this sooner when it really needed to be done AND thank me for sticking around even though he had let his dysfunctional relationship bleed all over me. I, for my part, apologized for ever sticking my nose in and trying to "help" at the beginning, when it's likely this thing would have died on its own much earlier if I hadn't been coaching him behind the scenes. So, I think we're at peace now. We've all messed up, but we feel like we're exactly where we should be. And I have a feeling it really will be The Best Life Yet.
 
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Wow, Reverie, I'm happy for you and Rider, to have gotten past this Claire situation and to once again have a future together.

Both of us have promised that, because it's what both of us want, from here on out, neither of us is going to get involved with anyone who can't accept the other partners in the relationship. Not that they have to be best buddies, but they do have to at least be friendly and willing to hang around...

I know there was a lot of disagreement about this sentiment in the thread you started about being liked by metamours, but I am 100% in agreement. I could never do poly differently than this. I would find it totally toxic and find it impossible to trust or respect my partner if he had other partners who treated you the way Claire treated you.
 
This weekend was fun, strange, and productive. Friday night, Rider and I went out to watch a friend perform. She did really well, and we had a lot of fun. Our new acquaintance Alan came out to meet us. He seems like a good dude, and he is obviously VERY interested in me, but he's kind of awkward, and...I don't know...I feel like he probably likes me more than I really want to be messing with right now, given my desire to kind of bundle in with Rider and be one-on-one for a while. He is cute, though.

I just feel so polysaturated even with only one local person and making time to chat online with my long-distance people. I almost feel like Rider and I have entered a new phase of NRE with these changes. We just want to gobble each other up completely and it leaves no time for anything else. We are going away for other visits at the end of this week, though.

Friday after the show, we went back to my place and had some great kinky sex. Without another local primary in the picture, we've decided to be fluid-bonded with each other and keep using protection when we play with others. He was surprisingly eager for this—surprising because he's one of those people who has always said that he has no problem with protection and has insisted on it even when other women wanted to go without, even in LTRs. He's just so certain that he doesn't want to be a father that he takes no chances. But I have an IUD and he knows for a fact (i.e., trusts me) that I would terminate if I'm in the unlucky 0.4%, so I guess he feels comfortable doing that for the first time in his life.

Saturday, we spent the first part of the day doing the lazy weekend thing: sleeping in, diner food, etc. Then we ran some errands and stopped in to Rider's friend's party. It was a day party, so things were pretty much wound down by the time we got there. Neither of us knew anyone but the hostess, but it was still fun. Rider played a game of chess, and I had a fascinating conversation with an entomologist slash fellow fantasy fiction enthusiast. They seemed like an intelligent, earnest crowd—my kind of people.

Then we stopped home to play some music and change clothes for the next party. It was a pajama birthday party with a bonfire. Rider and I made the mistake of eating Taco Bell, and it put us into such a deep food coma that it felt like there must have been roofies in the food. We ended up sneaking away to the yoga room around midnight for a nap, then coming back out to the common areas and literally sleeping the rest of the party away on the couch. Our friend covered us with a blanket and turned out the light at the end of the night, telling us we could stay as long as we wanted and to let ourselves out. It was a bit embarrassing, but Rider has known these friends for something like 12 or 13 years, so they are basically family to him and didn't seem to mind. Still, sleeping through a party? I felt like the epitome of lame. We ended up driving home around 5:30 in the morning and then sleeping from 6–12. I guess we really, really needed the rest after the week we'd had.

Yesterday (Sunday) I cooked a big breakfast and we watched some of a show we like, then we cranked our asses into gear for a long day of spring cleaning. We were supposed to stop in to yet another party, but we didn't make it because of how much there was to do. Rider has historically been a bit of a packrat, and over the year and a half of our friendship, I've been gently guiding him to whittle his possessions down a bit. A few weeks ago, I'd volunteered to help him clean his closets out, so that he'd have someplace to put the stuff that was occupying all the corners of his rooms, and he'd said that sounded great. We'd set a date for it, which was yesterday, and boy was that a job.

We pulled everything out of his two large closets and out from under his bed. I helped him sort everything into keep/trash/donate/return-to-owner piles. The resulting trash pile took up half the living room, and thankfully, it was trash night, so we walked up and down the street, stuffing bags into neighboring cans. The resulting donation pile took up the entire hatchback of my car—more stuff than I moved across the country with a couple years ago! I think he got rid of more clothes and shoes than I actually own.

While he moved his desk and untangled cords and wires and dusted under there, I scrubbed the bathroom. We swept and mopped everywhere in the back of the house, including under the bed (purging quite a bit of Claire-hair in the process). He took everything off of the overflowing bookshelf in the living room, donated the vast majority of it, and wiped it down. Then we put all the remaining possessions back in their new homes. It was a real task and took us about nine hours! I felt like a decluttering doula, assisting him with the expulsion of half a lifetime's worth of detritus.

There are only a few things left to do tonight: a couple of cupboards in the kitchen to go through, a few boxes from the closet that still need to be sorted, etc. Then we are going to burn some sage and put on a specially designed "new beginnings" playlist and luxuriate in the peaceful product of all the housecleaning (physical and spiritual) that we have done in the past few days.

Thursday, Rider leaves for a roadtrip to a long weekend with Kelly, and Friday, I leave on a plane to celebrate Moss's 40th with him on a camping trip. Rider and I will be spending nearly a week apart—a rarity for us—but I just know that we will be joyously reunited when I get back into town next Tuesday night. My extra nights out of town will also give Rider a bit of solo time to chill in his newly cleaned space, which will doubtless be good for his processing of the ending of his relationship with Claire. It seems healthy for him to have some downtime free of me or Kelly so that he can work through whatever's in there rather than just bandaging over it with other ladies.

I, myself, have been walking on air. I don't think I realized exactly how heavy that whole thing had been for me: making the decision to end things, knowing I was staring down the termination point, layer upon layer of building frustration and resentment. It was to the point where I'd started to want to cry every time I looked at Rider—where every moment was becoming bittersweet instead of just sweet.

Now, for the first time, we're getting to live our relationship completely out loud and in color, with no worries of rocking any boats or muting and subduing future plans because "what about Claire"? It's like there was this flood of energy being held back that is now gushing forth, and every time I look at him, I just feel unbridled glee. Our first year was a magical, super-charged, tough, and tumultuous journey...but somehow we've come out on the other side of the tough and tumultuous to find even more magic and electricity than was there at the beginning.

I'm sure there will be other problems down the road eventually, but for now, the future seems so fresh and sparkly and wide open. The possibilities seem limitless, the love boundless, and the villagers are dancing in the streets instead of eyeing the sky for dragon-fire.
 
Rider had a bit of a rough night last night, at least the early part. He and I had made plans to eat and make some progress on the few remaining tasks for the spring cleaning, then burn some sage and listen to a "spring cleaning" playlist. Claire had messaged him asking that he stop by her house and get a box of his stuff that she'd left outside. When he got there, he discovered that among the things he was expecting (guitar, toiletries, clothes), there was the present she'd ordered him for Christmas that had arrived very late—coincidentally just last week. Her kindness in giving it to him even though they'd broken up really touched him and set his emotions all off-kilter.

When I arrived, he was putting his laundry away and was noticeably disturbed. He showed me the gift, which was very pretty, and I hugged him a while. He seemed to be having a tougher time of it than he had over recent days, and he was being a little more curt and closed off than usual. He did enjoy dinner, though, and then we busted a bunch more cleaning out of the way. As the cleaning process wore on, it seemed to unwind him a bit. There was some sighing here and there as he found and put away her pot-smoking supplies and when he realized that his drill was missing and remembered that he left it at her place. I focused on my tasks and gave him emotional space, figuring that if he wanted to talk, he would. I suppose they'll need to make another trade of belongings down the road.

I got the kitchen sparkling clean, we installed a stemware rack under his cupboard, he organized all of his gaming systems in the living room (winding up all the cords and everything), and we vacuumed up a hellacious number of dustbunnies. I swept and mopped everywhere except for under the drum set he's selling. There are still a few boxes that he needs to go through, but we decided to leave that for another day. We lit the sage, and I carried it around the house to add a layer of nice, homey smell on top of the smell of cleaning supplies. Then we flopped out on his bed and cuddled and listened to the playlist. By that point, his blues seemed to be chased away again. We smiled and giggled and yawned. We did our three-minute eye-gazing. We had great sex, and then we went the fuck to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, it was so nice to wake up to a clean, nearly completely organized space. I did a few more small things before heading home to get my work done. Tonight, I have a videochat with Moss planned (even though I'll be seeing him on Friday), because we've had to skip the last two, and I miss him. I'm starting to get super-excited about camping with him this weekend. It's been FAR too long since I've been camping; I think the last time was December 2012. And it's been since 2010 since I've been camping with Moss, in particular. He's a fun guy to camp with. He grew up in the country, so he's pretty outdoorsy. I enjoy getting my sunshine fix with him, since the outdoorsy, sunshiney stuff isn't really Rider's bag. (Though Rider does swear that he likes to camp, and that we'll get around to it at some point.)

Rider is also getting very, very excited about his trip to see Kelly. They are finally going to have actual sex, and they are renting a hotel room near the "going out" area of the town where she lives—I'll call it Football Town, since that's what Rider usually goes up there for, and how he met Kelly in the first place. I'm happy for him that he's getting to have this adventure. He's been SO patient! He first wanted to go up there as early as January, but at the time, there was no good weekend for it that wouldn't have tipped some sort of weirdness into the tenuous balance that he had between Claire and me. This trip has been on the books since early December.

It makes for convenient scheduling that we can each visit our out-of-town sweeties on the same weekend. I think it will make us miss each other less than we would otherwise, because we'll both be distracted. Although I do want to see pictures. Supposedly, Kelly, a hobbyist body-builder, can now lift more than Rider weighs (both because she's gotten stronger, and because he's lost some weight), so if she bench presses him or something, I will definitely need a picture of that!
 
This morning, I said goodbye to Rider for six days and some change. He leaves straight from work to drive the five-ish hours to Football Town to hang out with Kelly for a long weekend. Tomorrow, I board a plane at noon to go to Opposite Coast to visit Moss, and I won't be back until super late-night on Tuesday. I was feeling a bit melancholy about it last night, as it got closer to bedtime, but then we did our three minutes and during it I meditated on how important it is that we have these separate adventures.

One of the reasons that I know that poly is right for me is that monogamy expressly is NOT. I know that (for me) monogamy breeds frustration, discontent, and boredom, eventually. I know that sexual variety and adventure are needs of mine. And I know that, for me, the quickest way to cure "grass-is-greener syndrome" is to get out there and explore different pastures. So far, I've always been joyous to return to my home pasture with Rider, because nothing else has even come close to the vivid green of the grass we grow together. And he feels the same way.

Both of us are an odd dichotomy of prone to super-interconnectedness while also placing a very high value on freedom and autonomy. So we go explore our freedom and exercise our autonomy, and it strengthens, rather than diminishes, our interconnectedness when we return. He's easier for me to relate to than anyone else I've ever known, so when I go out into the world and interact with other people, even people I've known for years like Moss or Jake, it's a bit like riding a bike up a hill—good for the heart, and it gets me places, but it's not always easy. When I'm back with Rider again, it's like an exhilarating downhill coast that allows me to catch my breath, rest my muscles, and feel the wind in my hair. But I could never really appreciate the ease of that coasting without having first struggled up the hill to begin with.

Interacting with others is valuable and refreshing in its own right, too, of course. I get things from my connections to Jake, Moss, and Sam that I don't get from Rider in such quantity. I return from these excursions having been stimulated in different ways and having had different parts of my brain exercised. I am sure that it's the same for Rider with Kelly.

So, we shall spend time apart, and we shall miss each other (we have both already confessed via IM to missing each other fiercely and neither of us has actually even left town yet), but we will both come back refreshed and overjoyed to see each other, and full of new experiences to talk about to inject interest into the day-to-day conversations. He and I haven't exactly run out of things to talk about or anything like that (our IM tally is now over 97k and we live two blocks from each other and see each other just about every day), but it is always fun to discuss something new and out of the ordinary. Plus, it gives us a chance to work on those important poly skills of navigating through whatever small bits of jealousy might exist, developing compersion, and learning more about ourselves and each other. Therefore, time apart = good thing, even if it has a rough side in the moment.

After the three minutes and meditating on this idea, I felt quite a bit better, but Rider still sensed my melancholy, and he asked me if I felt OK. For a little while, we lay there discussing it, and I explained to him my thoughts on the matter. He agreed with me wholeheartedly, and we both expressed our gratitude at having someone else who understands: both how difficult the separation can feel and how necessary it is for our long-term survival together. We then had totally out-of-this-world sex and fell into a deep and restful sleep. I am lucky, lucky, lucky!

As for other poly stuff, Rider is healing up nicely from his break with Claire. Apart from his moment of sadness the other night when he picked his stuff up from her, he hasn't really seemed down at all. Our friend Henry stopped by last night since he had to come to our town for work, and Rider started talking to him about it when I got up to go to the bathroom, then they continued when I returned. Rider looked a bit rueful when Henry said that he'd seen that coming a mile away. Henry had hung out with Rider and Claire quite a bit, and he had even dated Claire's best friend briefly. That Henry'd pegged their dynamic as leading to an end when Rider himself hadn't seen it seemed to chagrin Rider—I guess no one likes to be the last to realize something. Rider had also talked to me about it some a couple of days ago, and he had a very "it was for the best" resigned-sounding tone to his voice. I am happy for him that he appears to be healing so cleanly and swiftly, as I love him very much and hate it when he hurts.

I was able to IM for a while with Sam on Tuesday, which was nice. Last I'd talked to him, it had been to cancel coming to see him Claire's birthday weekend, since she and Rider weren't going to be hanging out much and things between Rider and me were rocky. We'd set a visit date for Rider and I to go to Sam's house next month, but then we hadn't been in touch after that. I found myself missing him on Tuesday, so I'd messaged him and apologized for staying out of touch for a few weeks. I explained what had been going on, about the breakup and the tough spot I'd been in with Rider, etc.

Sam was thrilled to hear that Rider and Claire had broken up, since he had never liked her, and he was also very happy that our plans to visit are still on. We talked about all kinds of stuff: my plans to visit Moss, the music we're going to make when Rider and I come visit, recipes for Thai food, cleaning and decluttering (Sam is another notorious packrat, and he had apparently done a purge at the same time that I'd helped Rider do one), the possibility of the Opposite Coast move, and so much more. It was the best IM conversation I've had with him in a long while. I love getting to talk to him, even if it is rather few and far between for the most part. Rider also chatted with him today, and he said he's going to set up the guest house on his property as a makeshift music studio so that we can all record together when we visit. I am beyond excited!

It's a testament to the individuality of my connections to each of my long-distance partners how different I feel about each of them after a long absence. With Moss, my feelings remain constant—I neither miss him more nor less as time wears on since we last saw each other; it's just kind of a thing of mellow casualness. With Jake, I miss him most right when I am about to part from him, and then for a day or so afterward, and it slowly tapers off to where he barely crosses my mind, but then it comes roaring back again the moment I see him. With Sam, I'm usually wistful to see him go, but relieved to have Rider to myself again, but then as time passes, I gradually miss him more and more until I've built up quite the thirst to see him again and get a thrill when thinking about him...but then interacting with him again is a bit awkward at first.

Another thing that happened was that I exchanged email letters with my mom. She and I don't correspond much, but I gave her a decent-length update on what I've been up to. Her reply was pretty brief, but she didn't seem to mind that I mentioned Rider, Jake, and Moss in my letter. Slowly but surely, I think she's coming around to accepting everything. She did say it was "a nice letter" and said something kind about Rider.

Oh! And I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier in the blog, but Rider wrote me a song last week! No one had ever written me a song before! He wrote it Monday night before Jake and I got back from our mini-vacation, and sent me the .mp3 last Tuesday. I listened to it while Jake was on his walking adventure. Rider performed it live for me over the weekend, and again for Henry and me last night. It is the sweetest song, all about how we may roam the rest of the world but home for him is here with me, and the sound of my voice will always lead him back again. It's such a beautiful, sentimental song. I totally wept a little the first time he played it for me. I wrote him a song about a year ago, and he'd been promising me an answering song, and he finally got around to it! I was beyond thrilled. I love the fact that we create together and also for each other. We are each other's muse.
 
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