Kazander, I apologize in advance.
Greetings from a fellow Aquarius! I’ve been following your blog for awhile, and I love it. What you said in your post, “Being Found Out,” about monogamy really resonated with me. That conversation you had with your mom, the things you pointed out, really hit home with me.
I’ve been trying to explore polyamory with my girlfriend. We’ve been together for about a year, and she knows that I’m into poly relationships, and she’s known it from the beginning. She always said she just wasn’t sure about it, and that we’d need to take things slow.
I flirted with a few girls, got some numbers, and she seemed okay with that. She was even okay with me having sex with one of them. She said she was surprised at how she didn’t feel any jealousy at all. While we’re not technically a D/s relationship, I do sort of drive things, and she’s more passive. So she, of course, is more than welcome to get another girlfriend of her own, and she knows that. Up til now, she’s done some flirting, but that’s as far as it’s gone. She says she likes being able to flirt and not feel guilty, and that it feels really freeing, which surprised her because she expected it to make her feel anxious and uneasy.
So that’s been going well.
But the problem is that I’ve fallen in love with another girl, and I want to be in a relationship with her. And my girlfriend is really having a hard time with that. She’s worried that I’ll start to love this new girl more. She’s worried that she’ll be replaced in my heart. And nothing I can say has been able to convince her otherwise.
I love my girlfriend. I’ve even started thinking about marrying her. She brings out so much good in me, and she’s such a unique, incredible, caring soul that I could never hope to “replace” her. It’s not about that. It’s not a competition. Loving someone else will never take anything away from the love I feel for her. How can I convince her that she has nothing to be worried about?
Thank you in advance.
Hi, Miranda. Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog. It’s very flattering to know that my words resonated with you.
I need to start out by saying that I’m in the exact same boat you are (hence my apology to Kazander, there are certain things that will be acknowledged here that he knows about, but is not comfortable with).
I’m poly, Kazander was not. He knew from the beginning that I was poly, and while he didn’t love it, he respected me for being upfront and direct about it. I never intended to be monogamous with him (or anyone).
Getting pregnant and being on bedrest fucked that all to hell. At that time, I had another sub, and had met back up with the Dom I’d dated awhile back, and we were sort-of-maybe-perhaps trying to rekindle things. I’d sort of “accidentally” moved in with Kazander at that time, too. When I moved back to town with no money and no job, I stayed with my parents.
My parents were hoarders, and their house was disgusting. So Kazander let me spend the night with him every night, and in the morning, he’d go to work, and I’d go back to my parents to shower and get dressed and go out looking for a job.
I got a job a couple weeks later, working the graveyard shift. So I slept during the day. And Kazander said I could just sleep at his place while he was at work. And then, about a week after that, we both sort of realized, at the same time, that we were now living together. Despite the fact that we weren’t officially “dating.”
But he knew I had the other two men. It wasn’t until I got pregnant and couldn’t do shit that the other two sort of drifted away, and I found myself in a monogamous relationship.
During the pregnancy, I was on full bedrest and pelvic rest (ie, no orgasms. Have a fucking kid, they said. It’ll be great, they said), so the option of another sub was out of the question. And once the spawn was born, I just didn’t have the time.
So for years, we were monogamous. And that’s what he was used to, that’s what he was comfortable with. So when I broached the subject of opening our relationship up, he was nervous.
And he felt the same way your girlfriend feels. He was worried that I’d find someone more compatible, I’d find someone “better,” and leave him.
After awhile, he was alright with the idea of me having other boys. But loving them is still something he’s uncomfortable with.
And I do want to point out that my views on love aren’t quite in line with how most people seem to view it.
For example, at any given point in my adult life, I’ve been completely in love with an average of three or four people simultaneously. Right now, let’s see…. There are six. Four of them know I love them, one will absolutely never know, one I haven’t spoken to in years, one I’ve never met in person, and three have said that they love me.
But that’s the thing. I don’t need to tell them. My default plan is to not tell someone that I love them. In fact, of the four who know how I feel, there was always a reason I said it to them.
For example, when I said it to Kazander, we were talking about something deep and difficult for him to talk about. There was a lull in the conversation, and I came up behind him and hugged him and asked, “Are we dating?”
He said, “I don’t know, why?”
“Because I kind of love you.”
And he surprised the hell out of me by doing something I’ve never known anyone else to do.
I fall in love fast, people. Like, really fast. I obviously don’t expect the people I’m with to feel the same way that fast. And part of the reason why I’ve avoided saying it is because I don’t want there to be that pressure for them to lie. I’d fallen in love with him long before this conversation, but that’s when I told him.
But he said, “That means a lot to me. More than you know. But I’m just not ready to say it.”
I was impressed. I told him that was fine, I didn’t need him to say it, but I would keep telling him.
And I did. But I always stuck something after it, so there wouldn’t be that awkward silence, and he wouldn’t be pressured to say it back. He’d be getting ready for work and I’d say, “I love you, have a good day! Text me on your break.”
He’d reply, “Thanks, I will.”
And that was great with me. I didn’t need him to say it. It never bothered me that he didn’t say it. It was another couple of months before he said it back, and not once during that time did I start feeling uneasy. My love is not conditional on whether it’s reciprocated, or whether it’s vocalized. That has no bearing on the way I feel.
When I tell someone I love them, and know that they don’t feel the same way, I always put something after it, so they don’t feel that pressure to acknowledge it. As long as they know it, I’m satisfied.
So love is not a two-way street, as far as I’m concerned. Or, it doesn’t have to be. That requirement sort of makes love seem shallow, doesn’t it? Like, “I love you only if you love me back. And if you don’t love me back, then I’ll throw a fit or whatever, because how dare you not give me something in return for my love!”
Yeah, no. That’s not my thing. That’s not the kind of love I want to give, and that’s not the kind of love I want to receive.
I also don’t look at love as a measurable, concrete thing. Love is an abstract emotion, an extremely irrational one. It doesn’t always make sense, it’s not able to be controlled by our intellectual brains, and it makes some of the smartest people do some of the stupidest things.
Love is not concrete. Love is not quantifiable. It’s like fire.
No, not the whole my-love-for-you-burns-like-fire nonsense. That’s not love. That’s infatuation and lust.
But do you ever go to church? Did you ever go as a kid?
I’m Catholic, and there was something I heard in Mass when I was young that really stuck with me. It was at the Easter Vigil Mass (the night before Easter). In Catholicism, there’s this thing called the Easter Candle (or Paschal Candle). It’s this huge, gargantuan fucking thing (the Catholic Church doesn’t really do anything small) that’s like seven feet tall. It’s a big ass white candle that they light at almost every Mass, and at every Baptism throughout the year. Then, on the next Easter, they get a new giant fucking candle and do the whole thing all over again.
But here’s what stuck with me. My church has this big fire pit, where a fire is lit before Mass, blessed to represent Jesus’ love banishing the darkness (bear with me, I have a point, I promise), and then the Easter Candle is lit from that fire and carried into the church, which is pitch black.
Everyone is given these little candles, and the priest lights his candle from the Easter Candle, then passes it on, and passes it on, and passes it on. He walks down each row, lighting someone else’s candle, and then they light the person next to them, and so on, and so on, until there are some 500 candles lit in the darkness.
It looks really fucking cool, y’all.
But I think I was maybe 6 or 7, somewhere around there, when the priest walked up to the altar after everyone had lit their candles. He said that Jesus loves each and every one of us with His whole heart (meaning He loves me with His whole heart, and He loves you with His whole heart, and He loves your mom, and your cousin, and that douchebag who cut you off with His whole heart). It’s all complete. It’s not like slices of a pie that you have to share with other people.
Because love is a perfect emotion inside an imperfect vessel. It’s not love that gets jealous. It’s people. People let fear taint their love, and it becomes jealousy, and possessiveness, and insecurity.
Love is perfect, and immeasurable. And it can never be diminished. Just as the room got brighter the more the flame was shared, love gets stronger and brighter the more it’s given. It was never meant to be limited, and trying to limit it makes it, and our capacity to feel it, weaker.
And holy hell, that stuck with me. Now, was he talking about polyamory when he said that? I’m willing to bet not. But as I grew up, that really had a big effect on the way I view love. And the point is that it’s not a competition. The love you feel for one partner will not be diminished by loving another. It will be strengthened.
Because, if you think about it, we already know this with every other kind of love. You love your friends, and you know that loving another friend doesn’t diminish the way you feel for the ones you have. The same goes for kids. Family. Pets.
Only romantic love is limited. And why? Because we feel like we have to possess and own each other in an unhealthy way. We are quite literally telling our partners, “I love you, I adore you, I admire and respect you, but you are not allowed to feel this way about anyone but me. And if you do, even though it’s something irrational, that you cannot control, then you will have betrayed me. I am holding you to this impossibly high standard, and forcing you to try and deny your own heart, because I want to possess you and am uncomfortable with the idea of not having that power over you. I rely on you to make me feel special, to feel validated, rather than fostering my own self confidence. So you must always live up to those expectations, and you must never fail.”
No. Good God, no. Who decided that this was the only acceptable way of loving each other? Love is not meant to be limited. We can’t control the way we feel about people. We cannot stop ourselves from falling in love. But despite having no control over it, we have somehow failed our partners. So we hide it. We conceal it. We try to pretend it doesn’t exist. We lie about it, to ourselves and to the ones we love.
Love is bigger than that. Love is bigger than what we allow it to be.
If you look at love like that, like a light to be shared instead of a box to be filled, how could you not love many, and love deeply?
So how do you convince your girlfriend of that?
Well, you don’t. Not really. I mean, you can tell her the things I’ve said here. But we’re talking about the rational versus the irrational here. She may understand all that intellectually, but emotionally she may struggle.
All you can do is show her. And be patient with her. For someone who has grown up thinking that love is rigid, only meant for one person, it’s a difficult adjustment. She may wonder why she’s “not enough” for you, and she may not really be able to grasp that love just doesn’t work that way. She may feel insecure, and jealous, and afraid that she’ll lose you.
It takes time for someone to learn to let go of the idea that love has to be limited, controlled, and regulated. We as a species aren’t monogamous by nature (and monogamy as a societal norm is a relatively recent practice, in the scope of human history), but society has pounded into her head that if you love someone else, you can’t love her completely.
When that’s all you’re ever exposed to, it can be extremely difficult to step outside what you know.
It takes time. And a lot of reassurance.
And the only way you can really help her is to show her that loving someone else doesn’t diminish the way you feel for her.
That won’t be an easy process. Expect her to be unsure, expect her to be anxious, or upset. And be there for her, show her that she’s not losing anything by giving you the freedom you’re asking for.
And it’s important to acknowledge that some people just can’t make that step, no matter how much they may want to, no matter how hard they may try. They can just never be comfortable with polyamory.
If your girlfriend gets to that point, you need to ask yourself some pretty hard questions. How important is it to you to be able to love freely, rather than feeling caged and locked down? Is that something you can give up?
It’s important to note that, in my experience, giving it up (“it” being poly, D/s, BDSM, or really anything that plays an important role in someone’s identity) has never worked for more than a few years. Trust me, I know. I’ve tried it. When you don’t have freedom to be yourself, to be your complete self, you start to feel caged in.
When you start to feel caged in, you start wanting to run.
You’re an Aquarius. You know that feeling. You know how badly we handle that feeling. And you know how long relationships tend to last once we’ve reached that point.
So you need to figure this out before you marry her. Don’t even think about marrying her until you’ve figured this out.