The Best Life Yet

Thanks for this. Y'know, I wish the people around me thought the same way that you think about this. It seems largely unthinkable to people that I would be reconsidering this now, after marriage, and I've been almost shamed for it. And I know it's not ideal, for sure. I wish I would have had these weird feelings crop up even a few months sooner than they did. But I am where I am, and the only thing I can do is move forward; no use in expending energy on how the past could have been.

I've had enough conversations with female friends in their early to mid 30s who have never wanted children and have suddenly found themselves changing their mind about it. Although I decided at a young age that I didn't want children, it wasn't until I was in my late 30s and seeing the effects that having children had on the way some of my friends were living their lives that I felt absolutely sure about the decision.

I think that what makes the decision somewhat more tricky for women is that age really does matter. Men are not making the same unchangeable decision - and I have several male friends who became fathers in their 50s something that is almost always impossible for a woman to do.

So it seems to me that for women, 30s is often a decade of great deliberating and thought and mind changing on the subject of children. Whatever you decide will shape the rest of your life so it does need lots of thought.
 

Reverie

Active member
The past few days have been . . . interesting. Not in the sense of anything in particular happening—there's just been a lot going on in the me+me layer of things. Lots of thinking and planning and strategizing.

In the outer world, I've had a cold, and, with Dustin gone, I've mostly just been chilling at the house with Rider, working on our parts for our album. I've gotten a total of seven songs done . . . well, done-ish. There are a couple spots where I might go in and rework some stuff. Aside from that, I've been re-reading On the Road, playing with my cats, and going to bed relatively early.

Another thing is that I took the week off from drinking. It was something I'd decided to do a few weeks ago, and I was going to start last week but Dustin surprised me with some stuff he'd wanted to share with me before he left, so I pushed it to Monday. I might continue for most of next week, too, or I might not. I'm definitely going to drink next Saturday, though, because Rider and I have plans to visit a town famous for their cider. But for now, I'm dry as a bone, lol.

Now, back to the me+me stuff. And how it affects the me+others layers.

So, after the talks I had with Rider on Tuesday, during which we discussed in depth some areas of incompatibility, I started really thinking about what my contingency plan would be if we end up breaking up.

I cannot really afford my own apartment right now, not even a studio. If I had less debt I was paying every month, that'd be a different story, but it's not. My salary is plenty to cover rent on a studio apartment and "regular bills" (rent, utilities, phone, car payment and insurance, internet). My regular bills are currently only like 40% of what I take home, and if I lived alone, they'd jump to 50% but still be manageable without debt. However, 36% of what I take home goes to debt (student loans, credit cards, back taxes from when I was 1099).

That would leave only 14% for everything else, including pet food, groceries, and gas for the times I'd have what would likely still be our joint-custody car. I would pretty much literally be living just to work at that point, probably having less than $10/day to spend on food for myself. Forget Lyfting anywhere or dyeing my hair or taking trips to see my family. Forget ever being able to pay my own way on a date fancier than Starbucks. Forget camping fees or paying the meter to park in fun places. Forget even taking the subway to the central library and back. And my student loan payment is due to go up again in June.

I could try to get into a roommate situation; I'm a member of a group on Facebook that regularly posts sublets and roommate situations, and once in a while, there is one that is equal to or lower than my current rent. But like 90% of those don't accept pets. And I have four. Not to mention how fun it would be to have those four pets all living mostly in a bedroom with me. :rolleyes:

I started to piece some things together. So, my job has let me work remotely before. They know I can and will do it diligently. My mom is going through a separation and moving back into the house that she owns by herself. She half-joked over the holiday that if I was going to miss my nephew so much, I could always just come live with her. My lease is up at the end of May. Coincidentally, my sister's baby is also due in May. I have a royalty check coming at the end of March.

What if, if Rider and I break up, I talk to my boss about taking a 6-month family-related work-remotely stint? I could use my royalty check for storage and a U-Haul van. I could live with my mom for six months, throwing all my "regular bills" money toward debt to give myself a little breathing room, and I could help my sister with her toddler and the new baby in the evenings. My sister has a spare car I know she'd let me use, especially if I'm mostly using it to shuttle back and forth from my mom's place to hers to help her out for free. I'd still have a job and still have my "stuff," but I wouldn't be paying Los Angeles rent prices to hang on to them while I got my feet back under me. I figure I could pay off at least my second-largest credit card doing that for six months, if I'm careful and otherwise frugal. That'd give me an extra $150 or so to work with each month, suddenly making life seem liveable again.

Where, you might wonder, does all of this leave Rider? Well, he makes more money than I do and has considerably less debt. He can easily swing a studio apartment by himself, probably even closer to work than he is now, no longer having to take my job into consideration. I'd still be willing to pay my half of our car payment and insurance. He's got a ton of friends and several budding partners/interests now, and he'd finally have a place of his own to have overnights in.

And where, you might also wonder, does this leave Dustin? And this brings us to the second thing I've been thinking deeply about.

So, I mentioned I plan to have a discussion with Dustin about the whole troublesome text exchange we had. I've been thinking long and hard about exactly what bugs me and why, and what I want to say and do about it. I realized that, at its crux, the thing that gets to me is the disrespect. I want to only have the people in my life by choice that I know respect me, in addition to caring for me.

The kind of stuff he said to me in that recent exchange was quite disrespectful. I need to know that the person I'm with, especially, will continue to treat me with respect even if he disagrees with my opinion or choices, and even if he is altered or angry or jealous or tired. Since he has not consistently treated me with respect, I see only two possibilities: either he actually does not respect me (despite obviously loving me), or he does respect me, but there's something in him that allows him to treat with disrespect even those whom he respects, when the circumstances are just so.

I plan to do the following:

a) Ask him to look deeply inside himself to determine which it is—does he actually not respect me (for any reason, including my choices up to now)? If he looks within himself and finds that he does not respect me—for whatever reason he may have—I will leave. There's no point in my being in a relationship with someone who doesn't respect me, nor is there in him being in a relationship with someone he does not or cannot respect. If he finds that he does respect me, on to b.

b) If he finds that he does respect me, but has not been treating me respectfully, I will ask him whether he's willing to examine the fact that he is willing to treat people that he respects in a disrespectful manner sometimes. Why does he think he does it? What are the circumstances? Does he feel that it's justified? Does he think I (or anyone) should "take it"? And, lastly, is he willing to work on not doing that? (I'm not sure what the work would entail, but I assume it would be a work-in-progress kind of process and not an overnight decision to "be better" and an instant change.)

c) If he says that he's willing to do the work, then I'll explain to him that I plan to, if I see him starting to veer toward being disrespectful, tell him so. Something like this: "You are behaving disrespectfully right now. Please stop to consider that." This will be his warning, and my defending of my boundary. If, in that moment, he continues to be disrespectful, or if I find myself having to defend that boundary too many times (enough times that it doesn't seem like he's actually doing the work and improving), then I will leave.

d) If he successfully manages to improve himself in this way over the next while, and I see evidence of it over the coming months, then, if I do end up going back to my mom's for six months, I will suggest that we continue our relationship long-distance for that time period. I would be happy to visit with him if he wants to come visit, or wants to come see his family within driving distance, or if he wants to fly me out. I might even be able to swing one plane ticket myself, depending on how the numbers shake out. I am not a fan of long-distance and would not do it long-term, but this is intended to be temporary.

He may not be amenable to remaining in a relationship during this time, but since he, himself, experienced a similar ricochet home to be with family and get back on his feet during a rough period in 2015, I think he will at least empathize, which gives it a better shot, I think. Also, I would not expect him to be monogamous during this time, even if that is the shape we decide we want our relationship to take overall.

e) If our relationship survives both this establishing of boundaries and a period of long-distance during which I do what I have to do to regain my independence (and also bond with, connect with, and have a mutually helpful time with my family), then I will consider moving in with him (as he has expressed a desire for) upon my return to Los Angeles, if he still desires it. At that point, it'll probably have been closer to a year and a half we'll have been together, which seems reasonable to me.

---

The bottom line of ALL OF THIS is that I no longer feel trapped by anything. I no longer view my entire situation as a hopeless corner I have painted myself into. I see options and choices and hope, and the knowledge that, even totally bereft of partners, I will still be OK. I have family that loves me, and a job where I've built up seniority and goodwill (even if I'm terribly bored of it and might want to leave in a few years), and my pets, and my ability to think my way out of tough situations and find viable, if not ideal, solutions.

And if people judge me? For staying with Rider or not? For staying with Dustin or not? For enforcing my own boundaries that I've found to be important to me? For temporarily "failing" at adulting in the big city and running home to mommy? For doing what I find I need to do for me?

Fuck 'em. :)
 
Last edited:

Reverie

Active member
All heaviness aside, I just looked at the time and saw that Dustin's first plane is now in the air, and I had an honest-to-goodness SQUEEEEE! I'm giving him a ride home from the airport and then returning home so that I can do plant things in the morning. And then I get to see him after his day gig tomorrow and stay over for three nights! I'll squeeze the talk into one of those nights, but I have no intention of being a total downer right out of the gate.

I'd also like to take a moment to say some interesting things about Rider and Annie.

So, Rider and I had decided last week that this week would be all-music week so we could knock a bunch of work out on our album. Rider had forgotten that Annie would be leaving to go out of town yesterday and then not coming back till Monday. He expressed regrets that he hadn't scheduled a date with her this week.

She offered yesterday to come pick him up and drive him from work (instead of his usual bus to the train) for a chance to spend a few moments with him. I was kind of amazed by this because she lives over by Dustin, Rider works downtown, and we live quite a bit out of the way of the straight-shot freeway that goes from her area to downtown. During rush hour, that's gotta be absolute hell! She must really like him.

Anyway, so she's coming back Monday, and Rider asked me what my schedule was like next week. I told him that I'm definitely home Tuesday, definitely going on that trip with him Sat/Sun, and I was thinking of offering Dustin Weds, Fri, and either Mon or Thurs. Weds because I know Rider has a poly meetup, and Fri because I won't see Dustin Sat or Sun due to being gone.

Rider confers with Annie and comes back to me saying that he's going to see her Monday and Thursday. And he's scheduled a happy hour with that chick from work on Tuesday, but he'll be home later. I matched that up against my own tentative schedule, and it looked like this:

Saturday - Reverie + Dustin
Sunday - Reverie + Dustin, Rider + other interest
Monday - Rider + Annie, maybe Reverie + Dustin
Tuesday - Rider + work girl, then Rider + Reverie
Wednesday - Rider poly meetup, maybe Reverie + Dustin
Thursday - Rider + Annie, maybe Reverie + Dustin
Friday - maybe Reverie + Dustin
Saturday - Rider + Reverie trip
Sunday - Rider + Reverie trip

Hmm, I thought. If I actually hang out with Dustin on Friday. That means I'm getting roughly 3–4 hours of waking time with Rider over the span of 7 days, with possibly two three-day runs where I'm not sleeping at home.

And Rider is the one suggesting this. That's . . . odd.

I mentioned it to him, not upset, but just curious, and he said, "Well, you know, Annie's gonna have been out of town, and I won't have seen her in like 9 or 10 days, so I want to fit that in. And, of course, I can't not do my regular stuff, so . . . Hey, is it OK if I make that Thursday night an overnight where Annie stays over? Would that conflict with anything?"

"Well," I said, "I haven't even firmed up my schedule with Dustin yet. Let me see what he says."

As it turned out, Dustin had planned an overnight fishing trip with Percy for which he expects to leave early Wednesday and not be back till late Thursday, so I'll be spending those two nights at home after all. I told Rider this over IM, and he said (and I quote): "sigh"

So just in case anyone is sitting around feeling sorry for Rider in all of this weird fading of the relationship, let it be known that he seems satisfied enough having Annie around that

a) he regretted not taking a night for her out of our recording week

b) he is the one to suggest that we spend only 3–4 hours in a week's span together once I've given him my tentative schedule

c) when it's at his convenience, he no longer balks at spending three nights in a row apart; in fact, he'll suggest it happen twice in one week

d) his response to my being home on nights that he'd rather spend the night with Annie is "sigh"

I'm pretty sure if I'd done literally any of the above to him re: Dustin, he'd have been very unhappy. But when it's HIS other partner, suddenly it's a different story. I'm not pissed or jealous or anything, but I did notice, and I am . . . thoughtful.
 
Last edited:

Reverie

Active member
I realized after typing that all here that there WAS one aspect of the whole thing that was really eating at me, and that was the "sigh." So I brought it to Rider and told him it had hurt me.

He said it wasn't that he didn't want to hang out with me, but rather he was frustrated that Dustin's plans had again thwarted his first overnight with Annie. When I pointed out to him that I'd never told him that my plans were solid, so it's not like it was a cancellation/reschedule, and also that it was kind of a rude way to react, he owned it and apologized, both for hurting my feelings and for being rude.

I still feel like it's kinda splitting hairs . . . Dustin's newly discovered plans = me staying at home = him not having Annie overnight = sigh

But I do appreciate the apology, and I'm glad that I brought it to him.
 
Last edited:

Reverie

Active member
I ended up having the conversation with Dustin last night anyway. I didn't mean to, but he could tell something was on my mind and asked me, and I couldn't exactly lie to his face, so I told him I had some stuff on my mind but didn't want to go into it right after he'd just gotten home. But he said he'd rather get it out of the way than sit there wondering what it was, so I came out with it.

I did try really hard to put on a happy, chipper face, but he could tell the energy was off. Usually it flows between us like an electrical current, but I had this involuntary wall up and it was totally impeding that. Sometimes I wish I was better at faking.

The conversation was a mixed bag.

He said that of course he respects me—he loves me and he couldn't love me if he didn't respect me. But he also said that his respect for anyone, himself included, falters when he thinks they've made a bad decision.

When I told him that I thought his communication was disrespectful, he said he was pissed off at the time, so he was acting pissed off. When I suggested to him that lashing out by saying mean things and cursing might not be the best way to express anger, he asked, "why not?" and seemed genuinely confused. I told him because it's mean and it hurts people and if something hurts me, then it also hurts my feelings about the relationship.

He sighed and said, "So you've seen a side of me that you don't like. What if we're just not right for each other?" And I told him that's part of what I'm trying to figure out.

"Listen," he said, "I'd never intentionally hurt you. I wasn't saying that stuff to hurt you. Honestly, it's been almost a week, so I don't even remember exactly what I said anymore." So I reminded him.

"I guess I was pretty harsh," he said. "But I wasn't trying to be mean. Getting that email at that exact time was everything that I exactly didn't want. I didn't want some heavy shit at the beginning of my vacation. I didn't want to have to think about your other relationship. I didn't want being preoccupied with you and the situation to distract me from focusing on my family. I thought you knew all that, but you apparently didn't. I didn't want to deal with it. It all just seemed so stupid. I thought about ending it."

I told him that I understand that he was angry and why, and I'm sorry. I recognize that it was the opposite of what he wanted, and that if he feels anger, that's fine, and I do want to know about it. It was not necessarily the ideas and feelings he communicated that bothered me, but the way that he communicated them—the words and tone (in as much as it could be read over text communication). There are other ways that he could have told me that he was unhappy, and that he wanted less information, and that he thought I was making bad choices, and that it was not a good time.

"So you're upset because I wasn't more elegant [I think he meant eloquent] with what I was saying?" he asked.

I explained that it wasn't that. That's not what I meant by word choice. I meant choosing words that still conveyed kindness and respect even when he was upset or we were disagreeing. You can tell someone to "fuck off" eloquently and in other words, but the disrespectful intention is still there.

I told him that I couldn't be happy in a relationship where I felt the possibility of being treated like that looming over my head. That, already, I was feeling inklings of censoring myself, wondering what else I might stumble into that would bring that down upon me. And that's not cool. I told him that, eventually, if that keeps happening, I won't be able to be with him.

I asked if, when he starts to feel angry about something, he could pause and think about the things he's planning to say before saying them, to see if he can find a way to express himself in a kinder way. He said he guesses that he can—that he can try, anyway. And I told him that I'm willing to warn him when it seems like he's edging up to the boundary, in case he can't see it himself, so that he can have a chance to change course.

I told him that I love him, and I want this to work. That the reason I'm telling him all this is because I know that improving this is the only way that it will work. So I'm telling him now rather than letting our connection get further damaged, and rather than just walking away. And I asked if he's willing to work on it so that we can keep our awesome connection rather than having it severed by the wall that was starting to build between us as I shielded myself for my own protection. He said that he would.

"I'll try anything for you, my princess," he said, kissing me on my head. "You're silly, though."

Mildly offended, I asked why.

"The whole situation is silly. I don't know how to act in it or what to say. And I wish you didn't sit on this for a whole week all upset."

"Well, there was nothing else I could do. I wasn't going to bring it up over FaceTime. I needed to be here next to you and be able to show you how much I love you. Plus, I didn't want to take anything else away from your vacation. I tried to wait until later this weekend, but you insisted I tell you."

"It was obvious that something was wrong," he said. "I could tell right away."

He'd started out the conversation a little stiff and prickly, but by this point, he had softened and was holding me and stroking my hair while we talked. He kissed me all over my hair and my face. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." We started making out (despite both of us pausing occasionally to cough) and ended up having a quickie before I had to return home.

Lying there in his bed all wrapped around each other, it felt like heaven. The wall was totally gone. When I looked into his deep blue eyes, I saw only peace, relaxation, and love for me.

"I love you, babes," he said. "I'm really sorry I hurt you."

"I'm sorry I upset you," I said. "And I'm sorry that we had to have a Big, Serious Talk right when you got back into town. I'm . . . I just wanted to let you know how to keep me happy, what I need. I'm trying to make it easy for you."

"Loving you is still the easiest thing I've ever done," he said.

"THIS," I said, squeezing him, "feels like it's right. So if stuff we do out of habit—stuff we can work on—is making us 'not right for each other' . . . let's see if we can fix that stuff together."

"OK," he said. "I'm in."

He offered to walk me to my car, but he was so cozy in the bed that I told him to stay put. I brought him a glass of water, turned all the lights off for him, and went home.

I feel a lot better knowing that he's willing to try and that I've outlined a plan of procedure to follow if things start to go off the rails. Of course, the plan is not guaranteed to work, but at least I have a concrete conversation I can refer to if I need it.

Once again, though, I find his outlook on things to be just different enough from my own that it's puzzling and alien to me. Like, apparently, before we discussed it, he thought that lashing out the way that he does is just normal "being angry" behavior, that there's nothing weird about it, and that it's odd that I'd take umbrage at it. And I guess, thinking about it, I know a lot of people who feel that way.

I've known plenty, plennnnnty of people who do say terrible, disrespectful things that they may or may not mean when they are angry. I saw a ton of it growing up, both in my own household and others'. I've known lots of people who have had fiery relationships where they fight like cats and dogs and yell and call each other names, even, only to make up and be sweet lovers again a few hours later or the next day. It's like all that is said in the heat of anger is excused and can be washed away with kisses. It's almost cliché.

If that's the relationship model that Dustin is used to, maybe that explains his puzzlement. But I don't think that's a viable model for me. I have a soft underbelly that is easily slashed by cruel words from people who love me. The heat of the anger and its quickness to fade does nothing to temper the lasting sting. If he needs someone who can withstand the heat and can fire flames back in turn, I am not that creature.

But if he can learn to, with a moment's pause, communicate with less harshness, then maybe this thing has a chance of flying. The love is there. The willingness to understand each other is there. And it seems like the willingness to try is there. But can a 40-year-old former dog learn new communication tricks in order to keep an otherwise good thing going? I suppose time will tell.

Anyone who might have any books or websites they can recommend on this kind of stuff—helping people learn new communication or conflict styles, handling anger, etc.—I am all ears. Also, any other insights welcome.
 
Last edited:

Noyse

Member
Differing communication styles fell my last relationship. If it's important to him he will change.

I'm more like like Dustin, and my ex was more like you. I don't mind people getting angry; I went to school to study humans, and know there are usually other factor at play, and I'm just a easy target in a moment of harsh words.

My ex sent alot of unnecessary emotional energy trying to save my feelings, and in the end that ended the relationship because of his dishonesty in a situation that he knew would hurt my feelings (but in and of itself would not have ended the relationship). For me it's an issue of trust.

Context is important here as well; once he was upset about me saying 'I wish you watched This TV Show, so I could say something funny' because what I really said was he was a bad boyfriend for not watching the show yet.

My philosophy is that a relationship is two partners agree to go to battle together: Sometimes we fight my demons, sometimes we fight your demons, and sometimes either life or a mistake cause you to injure your partner. You need to decide if this partner is worth fighting beside again. Is it a change in a move, or learning a whole new fighting style? Are you willing to put in the work?
 
I struggled with something sort of like this for a few years with my husband when my marriage was at a really bad place and I was fairly depressed. He'd get angry, raise his voice, say something (sometimes mean, sometimes not), I'd shut down, he'd get frustrated because it felt like he couldn't get mad because I physically shut down when he did, he'd apologize and forget about it, and I'd stew on it for days.

While I don't have a book for you to read, what finally helped us get out of the pattern was my therapist giving me an analogy that made sense to my husband and wasn't just me saying that he couldn't get mad because I can't handle it. I grew up with neglectful parents that occasionally moved into emotionally or physical abuse. My dad abandoned us all, essentially, when I was ten. There was a lot of anger in my house, especially among the siblings closest in age to me and I was a favorite target. Anger directed at me, mostly in tone of voice and threatening body language, even now, turns on my flight or fight response and I try to flee or play dead apparently. My therapist compared it to an abused animal, who, even when out of the abusive situation, will cower and wait for the next blow to come when presented by the same stimulation of the old situation. My husband finally got why I was reacting the way I was and was able to see it logically, which helped him be able to want to change his triggering behavior (because despite everything, we do love each other and want each other in our lives somehow). Him changing that behavior helped immensely. He still gets mad but by approaching it in a calm way that doesn't trigger my flight response, we can have a productive conversation and I'm no longer left feeling like he must hate me and he doesn't feel like he's not allowed to get mad. It's made a world of difference.
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
Reverie, you're extremely articulate and have a good comprehension of your own feelings. You're able to express them quite fluently. Generally speaking, I'd say women tend to be better at that than men. However, when one is very articulate, expressive and on top of that, opinionated, it can be easy to mistake offloading your thoughts, feelings and desires for an actual discussion.

How this would manifest for me is that I'd make some sort of proposal or give my view on a current situation. My partner would respond with their views, usually expressing some doubts about how my way will work for them and I'd "listen". I'd then basically "alleviate" their concerns by telling them why their doubts and concerns are unnecessary or illogical and keep going until they stopped expressing them. I would talk, email, write letters, send articles, anything. Emails and letters seemed particularly effective because I'd feel like I could say everything I wanted to without interruption. In fact it was a way of me controlling the flow of the conversation and stating "facts" or a premise to build off which might not be true for both parties. I was literally wearing them into submission. And when they did submit, I'd think they now see my perspective and agree when actually they just got tired of explaining that they completely understand what I'm saying, they see the logic, it just isn't what they want/need and actually my continual dismissal of their feelings on their matter is becoming toxic for them. Toxic because they'd start to feel wrong for feeling the way they do since I was so very sure my way was right and could be right for them if they'd give it a chance.

When it became toxic for them, they'd often display behaviors that I'd generally count as beneath them. Not in sync with the person I met. You know, dismissive, rude, aggressive, distant, cold... and I'd see them as the aggressor. As the mean one. In truth, how some of those people behaved towards me was cruel and unacceptable, but my behavior towards them was equally unhealthy and often preceeded the new personality traits they started to show. I was bringing out the worst in them.

Long story short, I wasn't listening to my partners. I'd come away thinking we just had a productive discussion when actually there wasn't a discussion, it was me telling them why my views, feelings and desires are of greater importance and righteousness than theirs. Changing this about myself has helped my relationships no end.
 

Spork

Active member
I dunno. I think in situations like that...people are raised differently and have different parameters of normalcy, and I think that it's good that you're both trying and that neither of you is framing this in terms of right and wrong but rather "This is a thing I cannot live with from you" and compatibility or lack thereof, and there is willingness to at least try to adjust.

I'm a conflict avoider and I cannot deal with violent anger. That's not just physical violence, but things that make me feel a person isn't in control of themselves in their angry state. I think that a lot of men default to anger when they are in fact feeling other things like sadness or confusion or fear or neglect, because they're conditioned that anger is one of the "socially approved" emotions for a manly man to express.

But in a relationship where my partner would go off on me when he's feeling unhappy about something, and then once HIS mood evaporates, my memory of how it felt to hear those words is also supposed to just waft away on the breeze...it does not work that way. And furthermore, I'm not allowed to lose control of myself and act that way, so why is he? The last time I dealt with that, everything I said and did, and even things I didn't but he made up, WOULD be used against me, forever. The result was walls, walls, walls. And a feeling like every moment of vulnerability was a potential violation of my self. It's a relationship destroyer.

So I came to this conclusion, that while we cannot always control what we feel, and only somewhat more can we control what we think, we have a responsibility and obligation to control what we say and do. Zen (who is full of fascinating thoughts about this kind of stuff, often influenced by his Buddhism-sourced ideologies) believes it is more a matter of controlling what you THINK, in order to control how you feel, to get a little space between the impulse and the action like that. I'm more of the opinion that I feel whatever, then I keep quiet and process it, and eventually I'll share words or actions that hopefully I've thought out enough to be more reasonable, than just flying off the handle the moment I have the feeling or the thought. But I'm descended from almost entirely British stock and we repress and keep a stiff upper lip by habit, or so I'm told?

I can say one thing though. Drugs and alcohol have a way of demolishing any barriers we might try to put up to help us control ourselves, no matter how we go about it. Alcohol especially.
 

Reverie

Active member
Context is important here as well; once he was upset about me saying 'I wish you watched This TV Show, so I could say something funny' because what I really said was he was a bad boyfriend for not watching the show yet.

Yeah, our communication issues are really not in that vein. That sounds more to me like he was reading hidden meanings that weren't there into stuff that you're saying. I don't think we really have that problem.
 

Reverie

Active member
I struggled with something sort of like this for a few years with my husband when my marriage was at a really bad place and I was fairly depressed. He'd get angry, raise his voice, say something (sometimes mean, sometimes not), I'd shut down, he'd get frustrated because it felt like he couldn't get mad because I physically shut down when he did, he'd apologize and forget about it, and I'd stew on it for days.

While I don't have a book for you to read, what finally helped us get out of the pattern was my therapist giving me an analogy that made sense to my husband and wasn't just me saying that he couldn't get mad because I can't handle it. I grew up with neglectful parents that occasionally moved into emotionally or physical abuse. My dad abandoned us all, essentially, when I was ten. There was a lot of anger in my house, especially among the siblings closest in age to me and I was a favorite target. Anger directed at me, mostly in tone of voice and threatening body language, even now, turns on my flight or fight response and I try to flee or play dead apparently. My therapist compared it to an abused animal, who, even when out of the abusive situation, will cower and wait for the next blow to come when presented by the same stimulation of the old situation. My husband finally got why I was reacting the way I was and was able to see it logically, which helped him be able to want to change his triggering behavior (because despite everything, we do love each other and want each other in our lives somehow). Him changing that behavior helped immensely. He still gets mad but by approaching it in a calm way that doesn't trigger my flight response, we can have a productive conversation and I'm no longer left feeling like he must hate me and he doesn't feel like he's not allowed to get mad. It's made a world of difference.

Thanks, Hannah. All this is really helpful to hear and is good food for thought. I definitely do stew for days on hurtful things that were said. Learning how to let things go when the moment has passed is probably the part that is my end to work on. It's just hard for me to square in my mind "this person knowingly says things that are mean, dismissive, or hurtful" and "this person loves and respects me" and that dissonance tends to echo on for a while, causing doubts in my mind.
 

Reverie

Active member
Reverie, you're extremely articulate and have a good comprehension of your own feelings. You're able to express them quite fluently. Generally speaking, I'd say women tend to be better at that than men. However, when one is very articulate, expressive and on top of that, opinionated, it can be easy to mistake offloading your thoughts, feelings and desires for an actual discussion.

How this would manifest for me is that I'd make some sort of proposal or give my view on a current situation. My partner would respond with their views, usually expressing some doubts about how my way will work for them and I'd "listen". I'd then basically "alleviate" their concerns by telling them why their doubts and concerns are unnecessary or illogical and keep going until they stopped expressing them. I would talk, email, write letters, send articles, anything. Emails and letters seemed particularly effective because I'd feel like I could say everything I wanted to without interruption. In fact it was a way of me controlling the flow of the conversation and stating "facts" or a premise to build off which might not be true for both parties. I was literally wearing them into submission. And when they did submit, I'd think they now see my perspective and agree when actually they just got tired of explaining that they completely understand what I'm saying, they see the logic, it just isn't what they want/need and actually my continual dismissal of their feelings on their matter is becoming toxic for them. Toxic because they'd start to feel wrong for feeling the way they do since I was so very sure my way was right and could be right for them if they'd give it a chance.

When it became toxic for them, they'd often display behaviors that I'd generally count as beneath them. Not in sync with the person I met. You know, dismissive, rude, aggressive, distant, cold... and I'd see them as the aggressor. As the mean one. In truth, how some of those people behaved towards me was cruel and unacceptable, but my behavior towards them was equally unhealthy and often preceeded the new personality traits they started to show. I was bringing out the worst in them.

Long story short, I wasn't listening to my partners. I'd come away thinking we just had a productive discussion when actually there wasn't a discussion, it was me telling them why my views, feelings and desires are of greater importance and righteousness than theirs. Changing this about myself has helped my relationships no end.

Hi, Season. So, I've read this a couple of times and cannot seem to figure out how you're thinking it might apply to my situation. I've come up with two possibilities and the reasons why they don't, to me, seem to fit with what I've posted here, but maybe you can clarify and let me know where I might be misunderstanding

Possibility 1:

The analogy is that Dustin said rude and aggressive things because I'd kind of steamrolled over him in some way with a suggestion or proposal for a situation and then not listened to him when he told me it wasn't working for him.

I'm not sure how this possibility might apply because the trigger for him was not a big "here's how we're going to do things" kind of conversation, but rather an email in which I described how I feel the pieces of my life shifting into a different place and how I feel my romantic energy shifting almost entirely onto him, but there's a heaviness and a sadness to it for me. There was no "this is how we're going to do things" kind of thing, no call to action, and I wasn't really intending anything to come of it other than for him to know the landscape of my emotions and mind at the time.

He tells me he became angry because of the timing; it was bad timing for him to have to think about my other relationship at all, even if the content was that it seems to be waning. I didn't realize that he felt that way, so I misstepped there.

I suppose that if I stretch, the fact that I'm in another relationship at all could be interpreted as a "this is how we're going to do things" but I'm not sure that's what you meant.

Possibility 2:

The analogy is that the processing conversation after he'd said the rude and aggressive things is where I wasn't listening to him and there is further trouble to come to me down the line as a result of it.

I'm not sure how this possibility could apply because we were actually pretty collaborative in discussion here. I told him that it was hurtful and felt disrespectful to me when he told me he "could give two shits" about the stuff I'd written, and that I could "f-off if I was upset," and that I was "lost as a person" because I am in a situation and making choices that he would not have chosen if he were me. And he told me that those language choices and lashing out like that was how he expresses anger. And I asked him to work on it because it hurts me enough that it was damaging our connection. And he said that he would. We both acknowledged that maybe this is a way in which we are not compatible and may have to part ways if we can't find something that works.

So, I guess that maybe it'd be helpful for me if you could just provide clarification about where/how you meant for your situation to apply in analogy to mine, because I thought about it a while and just couldn't feel certain in any interpretation.
 

Reverie

Active member
I dunno. I think in situations like that...people are raised differently and have different parameters of normalcy, and I think that it's good that you're both trying and that neither of you is framing this in terms of right and wrong but rather "This is a thing I cannot live with from you" and compatibility or lack thereof, and there is willingness to at least try to adjust.

Yeah, I think this is good too. I mean, it still might end up not being workable, but it seems like there's at least a chance.

So I came to this conclusion, that while we cannot always control what we feel, and only somewhat more can we control what we think, we have a responsibility and obligation to control what we say and do.

This is about where I'm coming at it from. It's fine if he feels whatever he feels—even if it's white-hot anger at me. I just want to see if we can set up some kind of program we can run where part of the thinking portion of this is a pause-to-consider before saying things in a way that he knows might hurt me. I feel like it's my responsibility to be specific with him about what those things and ways might be, so that he's not blindsided by my being upset.

If he turns out to not be willing or able to do that pausing and rephrasing, then we might not be suitable for each other. If we break up over this, it's not me punishing him for doing something wrong, but instead it is me acknowledging that his needs (which might include being able to verbally explode without filter when angry) and my needs (which include feeling safe from verbal explosions in a relationship) are inherently incompatible, so we should part ways.

I can say one thing though. Drugs and alcohol have a way of demolishing any barriers we might try to put up to help us control ourselves, no matter how we go about it. Alcohol especially.

This is true. Time will tell on this one. I'm hoping that since he's willing to work on it, it can possibly become ingrained enough of a habit that it exists even when barriers and inhibitions are lowered. I think that, for everyone, there are places that they just will not go, no matter how intoxicated, and where those places are depend on morals and habits and conditioning and all kinds of factors.
 

Reverie

Active member
My past few days have been all right. Saturday, after I finished my last main post, Rider took me out to breakfast someplace new. It was decent. The decor was really cool—a vintage-style diner (but not the shiny kind) all decked out for Christmas. It had a good jukebox, too. Nothing like The Cure with breakfast. :) Rider and I got along fine. It was a pleasant time.

We ran a couple errands and then I had to get ready, whirlwind-style, to go to Dustin's. I had to pack three days' worth of clothes, plus a bunch of stuff I intended to bring over there: books I'd borrowed, one of our shared travel mugs, and the car stereo I'd been promising him for months. It felt a little silly to be packing a suitcase and a backpack for going just across town, but it was necessary. Plus I needed to bring my bike so I could get to work today. I need to get a second wardrobe or something to just keep at his place. Of course, that would overflow my one drawer I have there . . .

He texted me shortly before I left saying that he'd been ill all day and was going to lie down and to let myself in. When I got there, I found that he'd come down with some kind of a stomach thing. He didn't know whether it was food poisoning, or a stomach bug he'd caught off of his niece (who'd been puking on the trip), or he'd just dehydrated himself too much with sun and booze on the trip. He'd been struggling with both ends all day (though he still made it to his afternoon gig) and was all chapped and feverish when I found him. He said he couldn't even hold down the chicken soup that Eve had made—it came up within five minutes.

I'd brought over some gingerbread tea when he'd told me he was having tummy troubles, so the first thing I did was make that for him and put some moisturizer and chapstick on his poor, dry face. Then I went out to the store and bought pedialyte, veggie broth, fresh ginger, saltines, coconut water, and apple juice. I spent the rest of the night getting nutrients and fluids into him, chatting with him, and reading books while he dozed. At some point I administered some Advil to see if I could get his fever to break, which it eventually did. He was talking feverishly in his sleep, though. Something about a "jackrabbit heater" or "jackrabbit eater," haha.

My cold was firing up full-force too, so it was good to stay in bed. A few hours in, he said he was feeling a lot better and thanked me for being his healer. He apologized some more for upsetting me before, and, throughout the course of our conversations while we cuddled in bed, he said a bunch of things that made me realize that he was afraid I was about to break up with him. He said my being weird and withdrawn before we talked the other day really scared him. I didn't mean to be that way, but my energy was just off.

I reassured him that while I had considered that breaking up might be an eventual outcome if we couldn't figure stuff out, I was not in this moment anywhere near wanting to break up. I want things to work out just as much has he does. He cuddled into me and looked more vulnerable than I'd ever seen him. Usually he exudes a certain strength and confidence, but curled up next to me all sick and worried about whether I still wanted to be with him, there was something child-like and almost pleading in his eyes. It brought out my nurturing side, for sure. I gave him a hundred reassurances and kisses and cuddles, and the next time I looked, the pleading was gone, replaced by joy, happiness, and satisfaction.

Around 11:00, I drank a theraflu and we turned out the lights. We didn't get out of bed till nearly noon the next day. I'd say we were in bed for a good 16–18 hours all told.

Yesterday, we woke and had morning sex. Since Dustin was feeling better and wanted to get some fresh air and sunshine, we walked down to a café to get coffee and a croissant. He was feeling so confident in his recovery that he asked that I make soup again but add more ingredients this time: tofu, coconut milk, and veggies. So we stopped at the store on the way home.

Then I decided to try installing the car stereo. It was a breeze! Way easier than I'd expected. I'd thought I was going to have to splice wires and shit, but it was just plug and play. Dustin was very happy to join the denizens of this decade and now have a bluetooth stereo instead of the radio-and-CD-only one with the non-working screen he'd had up to that point.

Then I made the soup. But pretty much as soon as he finished his bowl, his belly started doing this crazy gurgle thing. It didn't hurt, though, and he wasn't nauseated, so he still wanted to make the most of the evening. He suggested a movie.

We walked to the theater and watched a movie. Normally, we would get beer and wine at that theater, but I still didn't feel like drinking, and Dustin was trying not to as well. (The previous day of sickness was the first day in months for him.) So Dustin got a coke instead, and we had popcorn and raisinets. These things did not make his stomach happier, and by the time we made it back to his place, he just wanted to lie down and take a nap before his gig.

We did lie down, but we did not end up napping. Instead, we had sex and then we lay around chatting and giggling like little kids at a sleepover. I don't even remember what we talked about, only that I felt so close to him and it was so much fun. Eventually, he groaned and said that even though he didn't want to, it was time to go to the honky-tonk. So we did.

(continued . . .)
 

Reverie

Active member
( . . . continued from previous)

When we got to the bar, he ordered us two club sodas with bitters. He said he was intending not to drink. I was on the fence, my self-imposed week of non-drinking being up, but I was leaning no at that moment. I ended up chatting with the singer's wife while the boys set up. When I came back to the edge of the stage to kiss Dustin a couple times before they had to play, I noticed a little glass of whiskey in the corner, and kinda shrugged, figuring that Dustin had changed his mind. (Note: he'd asked me before to try to help him not drink whiskey, but I've always taken that to be a "before the fact" type of help. If he's already decided he's gonna do it, I'm not going to bug him about it.)

They started to play, and after the first song, Dustin crouched down in the corner near where the glass had been, but he was looking around all shady-like. Hmm, what is he up to, I thought. Then I realized that he probably thought he was hiding the whiskey from me. Huh.

Halfway through the set, he asked me to fetch him a whiskey and another soda and bitters, and he poured the former into the latter, apologizing to me while he did it. I shrugged and told him it's not a big deal. I really didn't care. He's a grown man, and if he wants to have a couple drinks during his gig, that's par for the course. I didn't ask him not to drink. He said for himself that he wanted to take the night off to recuperate. If he was feeling better and wanted a drink, that's his business.

After they were done playing, he came down off the stage and apologized to me again for having me get him that drink, and for drinking it. I could tell by the way he was talking like he wanted me to think that was the only one (though he didn't outright lie to me), so I just said to him, "Hey, it's not a big deal, and it's not like you didn't already have one before that."

He looked guilty and sheepish and asked how I knew.

"Uh, I saw you . . ."

And he explained that the singer had automatically brought him the drink, and when he'd told him that he was trying not to drink and had told me he wouldn't, the singer had told him just to hide it. I told him not to pin it on me whether he was "supposed to" be drinking or not. I'm not his mom. I, of all people, am not going to judge him if he changes his mind. He doesn't have to hide shit from me.

"But I told you . . ." he said.

"So, you changed your mind. That's OK," I said.

"And I promised myself . . ." he said, looking kind of ashamed.

"Then hide it from yourself, not from me," I said, joking.

Then, more seriously: "Listen, I'm not your mom. I'm not the police. You asked me to help you not drink whiskey, and I will, up to the point of reminding you if you're talking about it, but if you wanna drink it, I'm not gonna be in the position of authority figure and enforcer 'making' you not drink it 'or else.' You don't have to skulk around hiding shit from me. Hell, if I said I wasn't going to drink and then changed my mind (which has happened), I don't expect to have to hide it or to catch some kind of hell about it. I expect to be treated like an adult who is free to make my own choices, be they good or bad. And I intend to treat you the same way. For all the saying I'm 'perfect for you' that you do—do you think someone who is 'perfect for you' is going to scold and carp at you for having a glass of whiskey? Have a little faith! I'm just as likely to have one myself . . ."

I was irritated. Not at the whiskey. The whiskey was whatever. But at that whole weird dynamic of the situation. It wasn't exactly lies, but it was attempted deception. And over what? Something I wouldn't even have been mad about in the first place. I don't like being made to feel like if there are "the fun outlaws" and "the law," that I am shoved into the role of being "the law" just because I was told, voluntarily, that someone would do a thing that they no longer wanted to do. I'm a fun outlaw too, goddammit! Just because I nursed Dustin back to health the day before doesn't mean I'm suddenly "mom."

I hate having to feel like "mom" to partners. It's something I've complained about on here about Rider before, too, and now, for the very first time, I was feeling a bit of it from Dustin, too. No, I don't want to have to remind you that the chores need to be done. No, I don't want to be the drag and the setter of curfews. No, I don't want to be the authority/patsy behind whose back all the partying/fun happens. Just be an adult and take responsibility for your damned self! Do your chores, make your choices, and own those choices you've made. If there are consequences to those choices, accept them with grace. For fuck's sake. Do chicks do this stuff too, or is this mostly a dude thing? :confused:

Whatever the case, I refuse to be shoved into that role. The entire thing is sooooo silly. In the end, Dustin and I ended up getting a drink (my first in a week) and splitting it while we had this conversation, and then we rehashed it in the car on the way home.

He had more soup before bed but ended up getting sick again. It was late and we went to sleep. He still felt shitty in the morning, but I think he's feeling better now.

I'm not actively angry at him or anything, but I definitely can see how if he doesn't learn that lesson fast—to treat me as a partner and someone worth trusting with all the information, rather than someone who's going to bring the hammer down on him—I am going to be repeatedly and perhaps fatally annoyed.

All that said, we've been getting along today, and I'm spending tonight with him too.

This has all got my wheels turning about the difference between anger and annoyance. Maybe worth another post at some point, but for now, I'm just pondering on it . . .
 
Last edited:

Reverie

Active member
I'm feeling really weird about Rider right now.

Dustin and Percy's fishing trip got narrowed down to a day trip, so I am indeed spending Wednesday and Thursday nights with Dustin, since Rider has a poly meetup on Weds and then a date with Annie on Thurs. Rider was stoked that Thursday could be an overnight with Annie. And, as I already wrote here, Rider was supposed to have happy hour till 8:00 with that young chick from his work today, which would have left us only about 3 hours of waking time (he wouldn't have been home till like 8:30 and I try to get to bed before midnight).

He messaged me last night close to 1:00 a.m. (I was already asleep) still out and about with Annie. They were actually, it turns out, at the bar where Dustin plays sometimes—Dustin's favorite neighborhood haunt and favorite place for a nightcap if he wants to leave the house late. And I just felt a little butt-hurt that, even knowing that we were only gonna get 3 hours together all week, he was still burning the candle at both ends the night before.

As it turns out, work-girl canceled on him, but I'm having Feelings about the whole thing. Another Rider-thing that I'm having Feelings about is that he recently posted this in a small secret poly group that he started, in response to someone's question:

I was monogamous for the early part of my life because I didn't know that polyamory was an option. I remember having a very clear thought that I am capable of loving more than one person around '99, but I didn't learn about polyamory until much later in life.

I would agree with [name] that most people don't "prefer" monogamy, but most people have been societally conditioned to think that's the only proper and correct relationship shape.

I have not done a closed triad shape. I'm not really interested in any sort of closed shape. The open aspect of polyamory is important to me.

Being able to connect with other people and not have limitations put on that connection is also very important to me.

And as I was brushing my teeth and washing my face this morning, I was thinking about it all. It made me feel so certain that I made the right choice in giving full poly back to him, but it also intensified my feelings of . . . I'm actually not 100% sure what they are right now, actually. But there are Feelings when I think back to our conversations right before getting married.

It doesn't even matter at this juncture, it being in the past, not really, but my brain and feelings keep nagging at me about the question of whether I should have taken the decision away from him and just walked away. I know that some here have been critical of my asking him whether he'd be willing to to mostly close at that time. But I honestly felt like it was the more ethical choice than just deciding unilaterally that it was over rather than giving him the option of deciding what he was up for.

Because, for me, when I read what he wrote, all I feel is sinking feelings. I have all of the same thoughts fly through me that I had back then when I was not wanting to be poly anymore: the processing is stressful, the jealousy is stressful, the never knowing whether a new person is going to get added and attendant uncertainty is stressful, and I still have no idea what is even the answer to the question of polysaturation—isn't there always a point where an individual kind of MUST become "closed" to just the partners they're already with, or dilute their time and energy into ever-more-infinitesimal portions?

I remember stressing about that so hard when I thought that never-ending novelty and variety were going to be the solutions to my libido and desire issues: in a few years, am I not just going to be in the exact same spot but with TWO unsatisfied partners?

And it's clear to me that Rider doesn't really have much of an interest in making sure that our days that we're occupying other places overlap so that we actually get quality time together. He's currently got Annie, another interest who he's had a second date with now but not kissed yet because they're both still feeling it out, a couple he's interested in that hosts one of the meetups he goes to, a boy he's been talking to on OKC, and, possibly, bad-idea work-girl.

If even one more of those things takes off in addition to Annie, it's possible that with all the other stuff he's involved in (general poly meetups, hanging with fan club friends, etc.), weeks like this week will become more the rule than the exception. If more than one of them takes off, I'm not sure how he'll get enough time with any one person.

I feel certain that if I didn't have Dustin occupying much of my bandwidth, I'd be completely miserable in this situation. Just the not knowing where things might go with any of them would probably be enough to make me feel like I had a sword hanging over my head somehow. But Rider is so happy! And I am . . . . overall OK. I'm happy for him. I'm not jealous or panicking. I am sad though. Not because of anything he's doing, per se (the butt-hurt about last night aside), more because it seems like every day that goes by, literally every day, more sand crumbles from the sandstone structure of that big and shining tower we'd built together.

So I just feel weird and sad. But at the same time, happy for him. But sad. I'm not sure how such conflicting emotions can exist in me at the same time so intensely.

Rider's writing also stirred in me some other kinds of thoughts, more past-related. It made me think about how, somewhere around six months into our dating, he'd started to become involved with Kelly. And I really tried not to be, but I was on some level hurt and offended that he already wanted to take up with someone new when our relationship was still so new. Yes, I was trying to date, too, but I was mostly doing it because I felt desperate for balance since Rider already had Claire. I was so wrapped up in Rider that it was hard for me to even really WANT anyone else. I was doing it because I felt like I had to, on some level.

I kind of had this picture in my mind of, like, OK, Rider has me + Claire, and I'll have Rider + ?? and then there will be this balance and stasis and this will all work out. Anyone who was around this blog for the 2014–2015 period, though, knows that is not at all what ended up happening. Rider took off after Kelly like a bat out of hell, even though his relationships with me and Claire were already kind of on fire just from the dynamics among the existing three of us. And his thing with Kelly inspired some of the fiercest and most terrible negative emotions I've ever had in my life.

And it suddenly dawned on me that I'm about at the same point, chronologically, with Dustin right now that I was with Rider when Kelly came on the scene. And kind of at the same point just relationship-wise, too: there's still a lot of NRE, but it's worn off enough so that we're starting to see some things that we need to determine whether they can be solved.

And, holy fuck, it feels amazing that Dustin doesn't want anyone else. That I don't have to worry about, if he goes on a road trip to hang with friends, he might come back having acquired a new long-distance girlfriendish person who will suddenly need to be taken into consideration for the next year-to-infinity. It feels amazing that he wants to just focus on us and on identifying our specific problems and figuring out whether we can figure them out, rather than distracting and cheering himself with someone new and as-yet uncomplicated.

I still, even though it's been over three years, even though I'm not jealous of any of Rider's current people, and even though I love Kelly and she's now a better friend of mine than of Rider's, I still sometimes get heart-racing anxiety when I reflect on that fall of 2014 and what a cold bucket of water that felt like, to be replaced as the new-shiny in only six months.

And I wonder how much of how the subsequent year in my emotions and my actions was reactionary to all of that—how hard I tried to "keep up" in kink things, how important it was to me to feel like the most important thing in Rider's life and find ways to prove that to myself, how I felt like I had to come along on every trip or outing lest it happen again. That, too, is really sad to me.

Rider finds a kind of freedom in poly that I never really found, I think. I don't think I ever really felt free. I felt constantly compelled: compelled to find an additional partner, compelled to keep up with Rider's other partners, compelled to compete, compelled to always be at peak attractiveness both to keep Rider impressed in comparison with others and also to attract someone new for balance, compelled to have as much information as possible at all times to be forewarned of the next Thing that might come along and wobble my scales. I think that so much of my joy at our moments and milestones was feeling some bit of validation that, for the time being, my position was not in jeopardy. But it never lasted. I don't think I fully relaxed that entire time.

Reflecting on all of that is rough, but I think it tells me a lot about myself. Not all bad things, either. Just things.
 

Reverie

Active member
In actual news (as opposed to deep-diving into the distant past), there is not much. I had a really good night with Dustin last night.

Percy actually picked me up after work, with Dustin riding shotgun, because they spur-of-the-moment wanted to do a little night-hike and I'd agreed to go along. I had been worried it would be too dark, but it was up a big hill, and the lights from the city actually reflected on the hill well enough to see despite the moon not yet being up.

Percy's actually starting to grow on me. He's an odd duck, but he's sweet. He spent most of the hike agonizing about what to do about the girl he's been seeing and asking our more-elder advice. He said he's also been talking to his therapist about it. Dustin told me that Percy has actually quit drinking, which is interesting news because Percy is one of the persons most likely to text Dustin randomly and lure him out on a bender. I am curious to see if it lasts.

After the hike, the three of us went grocery shopping and then Percy dropped us off at Dustin's. The grocery store stocked mead! I freaking love mead, and I could not resist the temptation. Dustin had never tried it, but he'd heard me talking about it a bunch before, so he wanted to. It was actually him who noticed it in the store and suggested we get it.

When we got back to the house, I opened the mead and then cooked dinner, which, to keep Dustin's sad belly from becoming sadder again, was very simple: just shrimp in veggie broth with ginger slices, and a toasted baguette to dip in it. Right before we ate, Dustin surprised me with something he'd made for me, which was very, very sweet: he'd hand-picked a bunch of perfect, tiny seashells and coral fragments from the beach when he was on vacation, and he'd gotten a pretty round cruet bottle with a long, thin neck and dropped the shells into the bottle. It came out so pretty, and it was such a creative and romantic gift. He handed it to me and said, "hand-picked, just for you, wishing you were there with me the entire time." I was very touched. We cheersed with the mead.

Dustin loved the mead! We enjoyed a night of very responsible drinking, for once, very slowly splitting the bottle over the course of the entire evening, taking our last sips slightly before bed. While eating and drinking, we revisited the whole "trying to hide the booze" thing from the previous night, and he apologized and said he'd just felt bad, especially putting it in my face when I hadn't had a drink all week, but he understands why the hiding it would bother me more than the drinking itself. I reiterated that I have no desire to ever become "the law" to him. He seemed understanding enough of that that my irritation finally melted away.

After dinner, he wanted to have sex, but I wanted a shower first. So I showered off while he did some reading, and then I surprised him with some lingerie that I'd been hiding in my drawer. We had the house to ourselves for once (having passed Derek on his way out the door to Eve's for the night when we arrived), so it seemed the perfect time. Dustin went down on me a while and then we had sex on the couch, and he was so excited that he came almost instantly. He felt bad about it, but I thought it was hot that he couldn't contain himself.

Afterward, we just lay around talking about stuff we're into sexually. We really hadn't ever had much of a specific conversation about that; we'd only sort of felt each other out and gone for stuff and found that the stuff we'd tried turned us both on a lot. The conversation was very interesting. Dustin did say he was into group sex, which I knew he'd done before but I didn't know if it was experimentation or something he was actually into. He said obviously the public sex thing that we have done before. He said it really turned him on that I looked like a whore in the lingerie, but that it was cool that he could go down on me and he wouldn't on an actual prostitute.

I, in turn, shared with him how hot I found it when he takes control and holds me down and positions me and tells me what to do. And he asked about the slapping and choking that he'd tried a little bit of at the beginning, and I said that light slapping and hard spanking are OK, but no hard slapping, and a hand on the neck is OK, but no choking. I confessed to him that I'd never liked any slapping or hand on the neck until he'd done it to me—for some reason it just worked with him and it never had with anyone else before who had tried it or asked about it.

We talked about possibly going to some of the stripper shops nearby and finding me some more cheap lingerie, if he was so into that, and he sounded excited about it.

All the talking made him riled up again, so we went to the bedroom and had more sex. He did a little bit of the slapping and it was really hot. It actually triggered my orgasm, which surprised me. And then he fucked me for a really long time but couldn't come again himself, so when he got tired, we just flopped down and cuddled a while. The fucking was amazing, though, and turning to look at him when he was behind me, I was just electrified by how hot he looked.

As a brief tangent, something I hadn't mentioned here, I don't think, was an interaction I'd had with my mom regarding Dustin, while I was back East. She'd looked at a picture I showed her of him and said, "How old is he? He looks old!" (My mom is not always the queen of tact, if you can't tell.)

Slightly offended, I'd sputtered, "He's only 40—four years older than me and actually younger than Rider! [pause to recover from the shock] He's just worked in the sun a lot, when he was on the farm. 😐 " And she'd apologized and said she hadn't meant anything bad by it, she was just wondering.

But the thing is, I really like the bit of sun-weathering on his face. I like how much the corners of his eyes crinkle when he's happy. I think the silver that is woven through his golden blonde is foxy. I don't mind his high hairline and love kissing him all over his creased brow. He's lived a ton in his 40 years (he jokes he's fit four lifetimes in already), and he looks it, and I love it. I think he looks hot as fuck.

There's also an interesting-contrast factor: his body hasn't seen nearly as much sun, and it is unlined, muscular, and compact. He's got colorful tattoos on his upper arms and a four-inch wide band of bracelets around his wrist that stay there always and just exactly the right amount of body hair and maybe a little beer belly but nothing outside of the realm of cuteness. His body looks every inch a mostly fit, youngish rock star with impossible sex stamina, and I love it. I think that is hot as fuck too.

And when I watch him when he's fucking me, my mind just goes kind of haywire from all the hotness. He fixes his eyes directly on mine if he can see them, and sneers a little or smiles a little, and leans down to kiss me greedily, eyes still open, never breaking rhythm, and I just die. OK, tangent over, lol.

After sex and cuddling, Dustin wanted me to show him how to make the chai I'd made him the other day. He'd bought a box of chai tea bags, and I showed him how I do it. He's in love with that stuff, haha.

We sat down to watch our favorite cooking show, with our chai and a chocolate bar and the last of the mead, and we traded foot rubs and commented busily on the stuff that was going on in the show. I was just so happy and so content, and I was just kind of marveling at it as the show ended, when he read my mind and said it aloud:

"I love nights like this with you. We do all the best things. We hiked and grocery shopped and cooked and I read. We had great sex and foot rubs and watched our show. We even drank, but it was something delicious and it was not to excess—I don't think either of us ever even got tipsy. And now we're going to go to bed and it's at a decent hour since we both have to get up early in the morning."

"And you gave me that cool seashell thing," I added. "And we had the chai and chocolate! And we talked about all kinds of stuff!"

"Mm-hmm. And lots of snuggles and kisses," he said, kissing me.

"Snuggle-love-and-kiss," I replied (which is our inside joke about what Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street sounds like it should actually be).

It's so much goodness—so impossibly much. I've never encountered anything like it, how a sequence of events so simple could be so perfect and so exactly what we both want. It's part NRE, yes, but it's more than that. I hope we can figure out how to keep it.
 

Reverie

Active member
In other sudden news, Rider just had an impromptu lunch date with his other interest girl when she reached out to him spur of the moment. I guess I should give her a name? Even though they haven't made out yet, he's been spending more time with her, so if I want to talk about her, I guess I should have some way to do that. :rolleyes: I'll call her Iris. Anyway, he said it was "really fun," and he's glad she thought of him.
 

Reverie

Active member
I was just thinking about how I really care about a lot of the people on here, even though I don't know them in real life. When I don't hear from them for a while, I worry about them. And when they are struggling, I feel for them. And when they are happy, I'm happy for them. I've never really had internet-only friends before, but I kinda feel like I do for the first time!
 
Top