I admit it. My virtue is running thin…transparent even. I want to do things that I know are wrong, but at this point, I’m one thigh caress shy of earning my own scarlet letter.
Can one earn a scarlet letter even if they’re not the one who’s doing the cheating? Is it kind of like guilt by association?
Are you all sitting there reading this wondering just what I’m getting at? Ok, let me explain.
You might remember my racy sexting adventures with my running friend that I wrote about several months ago in a post aptly titled “Adventures in Sexting and Why I Love The Art of the Flirt“, and if not, you should go read it now. you will love it, this I can assure you. Now, my flirty friend has a girlfriend. I know she exists, and while we’re only acquaintances, I can assess that she seems like a good human. I would never want to cause her any undue hurt. Despite this, I want to straddle her man and ride him dizzy, and this want is real and growing.
However, I also have a conscience that tells me acting on this thought is wrong. My inner cricket has spent a lot of time shaking his finger at me lately when these thoughts cross my mind. I think he’s due for a raise or something because he sure seems to be taking his job as guardian of my morality pretty damn seriously. Trust me, I’m not attempting to justify what I may or may not do in the future. I will do as I do, and the only one that has control of my choices is me. Here I am venting my inner “angel” and “devil” debate to you all. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wrestles with this inner dichotomy. Right? Anyone? Hello?
In this situation (and many like it) if something were to happen and down the line, our transgressions outted, I lose. I’ll be the slut, the bad guy, the one responsible for it all, no matter whether or not his part was equal to mine. That’s how it is, it’s the way it always has been. I’d be the Eve that made him take a bite of my apple, single-handedly destroying his virtue with single bound. The woman has always been the one to blame for it all since the beginning of time, and the man gets forgiven because “that’s just what men do”. Never mind that he would be equally responsible, or the master of his own choices. It’s this double-standard that I dislike the most. Once again, no matter what, the woman is the slut.
I risk losing more, even though I’m not the one who has monogamous commitments to another person. In that area I am scott free. I’m just not sure I’m willing to risk the possibility of being alienated by mutual friends, and being shamed with an invisible, though ever-present red letter “A” on my chest. Is the possibility of a seriously good romp worth it?
It would probably be most truthful to say that if it wasn’t for this risk, I’d have fucked him already. I still say it’s a wonder I have held out this long. My resistance is becoming less and less persistent. My excuses to avoid it are progressively becoming weaker and more lame. I want his mouth on mine and his cock buried deep inside me (I’m not picky on the orrifice, why choose just one?). The desire to have that is beginning to rise higher than my moral ceiling reaches.
I skirted last night with a near miss. I blame drinking without eating for the slight slip in my judgement, and now today I’m doing that think where I keep saying “I can’t believe you did that” under my breath to myself over and over again, and clutching my head in my hands in embarrassment. Suddenly I feel like I’m back in college. Still, my virtue remains intact, but the question is, for how much longer?
Wolves are monogamous creatures. I never knew this. I don’t know about you, but I kind of just expected that a creature that howls at the moon and races through the woods under the cover of a moonlit night to hunt it’s prey, would be anything but.
This news also strikes a cord of irony with me because an ex-long term partner used to identify heavily with wolves, and mostly because he figured they were unbridled creatures who answered to no one, and romped as they saw fit while the female wolves stayed home to watch the kids. He figured the wolf was the poster animal for polyamory. Hah, jokes on you, wolfie.
No, the gray wolf is one of only a handful of animals that pair-bond monogamously for life. You can read all about it right under the heading of Reproduction and Development in this handy dandy wiki.
I was 22 when I first heard the term “polyamory”. Up until then I figured there were three types of people: monogamous, cheaters, and swingers. Since then I have had a couple dozen or so (this might even be a slight understatement) of friends who identified as poly. I, myself, have even identified as poly during different points of my life. Usually this varied with each relationship I entered into.
Now, a lot of poly people will try to say that it’s completely different than swinging. Not really having known anyone that identified as a “swinger”, I have to say that from all of the many polyamorous folk I have known over the years, no matter how much they proudly say it’s different than swinging because of the emotional component, it is still looks pretty much like swinging. This is what most people call “sleeping around” in their twenties: you kind of have relationships with varying degrees of commitment, they may or may not last for very long, but then eventually you find “the one”, and settle down and get married. Some people just keep doing both at the same time. Trust me, it’s never as much fun as it sounds, or as you think it’s going to be. Also, a lot of people have a hard time understanding that the freedoms they expect in relationship are a two-way street. In other words, if it’s good for you, it’s good for me. Everyone plays by the same rules.
I keep thinking to myself that I have learned unequivocably that I am a monogamous creature. I’m not good at sharing unless I really am not emotionally invested in the person. I get jealous. Men want to point fingers at us women and make it like we’re the only ones who act jealous, but let me tell you from firsthand experience: men get VERY jealous. They are not immune to jealousy like they would like us to think.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a relationship with someone where we considered ourselves poly, and it was all fun and games if they were pursuing or being pursued by someone else, but the minute I was, suddenly the rules would change. Usually this meant they would find something wrong with the competing male and would either deal with this by making disparaging comments about them hoping I would lose interest, or flat out beg me not to pursue the person/relationship. It was never a reason with any solid grounds.
It was those times when I would have to remind them what was good for them was good for me. In fact, my ex-FWB even got jealous when I would go out with other male friends or potential partners, and all the while he would completely deny it! One time he called me at 11:30 at night to “see how I was doing”, when I had just told him only 4 hours earlier that I was going out with a male friend for drinks. When I didn’t answer, he called me again promptly at 9am the next morning. And when I called him on his ruse in the form of a phone call that was really meant to see if I was home (and alone) yet or not, he flat out denied it.
I get jealous. I know this about myself. I’m not going to lie or pretend I don’t. It doesn’t make me any less evolved as a person. It’s a human emotion. Own it, I do.
Still, in monogamous relationships where I have been generally happy, my mind has been known to wander, and I don’t just mean sexual fantasies. When I was dating Guitar Man for example, I really, really wanted to have sex with this guy who was in the HAI workshop we took part in on our trip to California, but I didn’t because I knew it was a momentary thing with no possibility for more, and the real possibility would be that it might ruin what we were working to build. Honestly, I still regret that I didn’t. He painted my nails for me…long story…but it was one of the sexiest experiences of my life. *sigh* Also, I’m pretty sure I hugged him while naked, but I hugged a lot of naked people that weekend, so it’s hard to be certain.
While in that same relationship with Guitar Man I also used to find all sorts of casual ways to see my ex-FWB Norris. At the time I was even going to school and had designed a project around him, so I had guaranteed myself time to spend with him. It was all very innocent because nothing ever happened, and I’m not sure I wanted it to because I have a pretty strong moral constitution, but still I needed to see him. In my head, the intentions weren’t as innocent as I wanted to pretend they were either. On the last day of the work we were doing for my project together (and just coming off the heels of Guitar Man treating me like complete shit) I straddled Norris’s erection that was bulging through his pants and kissed him until my mind told me to stop. I never told Guitar Man what had happened, let alone that I had been routinely seeing my friend.
And then there was my last relationship that I don’t speak much about. I have done very well, without much effort, to delete all memories of it from my head. It was someone I really truly loved, but still, there was FWB all the time in my head. And then, just a week before a very pivotal moment in that relationship, I ended up having lunch with Norris and then kissing him in his car, parked in a school parking lot in the corner, while it poured rain around us. It would have gone a lot further if he didn’t have people from his office calling looking for him to come handle things they couldn’t on their own. I guess I should be thankful because that probably would have been a heavy transgression on my heart.
However, the disclaimer for the above is that Guitar Man had a roving eye as well for an Australian girl at that same workshop, and the man I was last serious with was polyamorous, but only one-sided, meaning anytime I wanted a new lover he always found something wrong with them.
So, I don’t know. Maybe I am not really monogamous at all, and I am just trying to convince myself otherwise.
One of my friends told me he thought I had issues with commitment based on the types of people I chose for relationships, but I don’t think I do. I really think I have just not met the right person/s. Or, maybe if I met someone who I felt was fully committed to me, then I could be 100% fully committed to them. I’m actually a very loyal person when I feel I’m getting that loyalty in return. The question remains though, is anyone really 100% commited to one love? Does that even exist, or are we all just kidding ourselves?
I’m seriously jaded.
And sometimes, I am just a ravenous, desirous wolf who wants to howl.
This amazing blogger friend of mine, Fern, posted this that really touched me, first in a way that hit a tender spot and was uncomfortable to read, and second in a way that I then remembered how closely I could relate to.
This movie, Take This Waltz, well, the clip here sums my, and many others, experiences up in a few short beautifully composed moments of film. I recently saw this on the instant download list on my cable channel for new movies, and I passed it by when I read the synopsis because it just wasn’t a place I wanted to go emotionally. I was so done with polyamory, and those men in my life for whom I was not their only lover. I just was done with this storyline because I had lived it, and more than once.
I was forgetting when I was the person who wanted more, who wanted someone else. I can justify my own desires and actions away with the various things that were going on in my life at that time, how I’d been and was being treated by the person I was married to at that time, or that somehow “it’s so not the same”, but it would all be a lie. An excuse.
It was exactly the same.
I was married to a man for just over a year, separated just under the wire short of 12 months. There’s a lot of back story there, but that doesn’t matter as much as this one story in particular.
In the summer of 2011, one August morning, I was yahoo messaging with my friend Norris (you all might know him from my posts here as ex-FWB). He told me how his son had said how it would be cool to get to hang with me and my daughter again sometime. I didn’t take this at face value, as Norris was fond of asking excuses about seeing me. If he wanted to see me, he would make a reason for it, it was never because he simply wanted to. I know this because he had confessed it to me before. So, I read into this, and knowing how the kids hadn’t seen one another since they were like 9 or 10 years old, this just reeked of total fabricated excuse. Hr just wanted to see me, and I wanted to see him.
I was nervous about this because of the feelings it excited in me. I wanted to squash down the desire to see him, the happiness that he was reaching out to me, and the eager anticipation with which I looked forward to it as it eventually grew closer once I finally agreed to an afternoon together. I wanted to make excuses to get out of it at first because of the awkwardness that I knew would be there. My husband would be there. They had never met one another.
It was a late August afternoon, and we were going to spend it at the pool that is in my community. It was not very hot, but we were going to eek out the very last bit of summer that was left, and enjoy that last pool day even if the water was super cold. This would be fun for the kids, and good for us, with lots of personal space.
They were late and my husband who was very fond of naps (and pretty much a slow-moving, low-energy dude), decided to leave the pool and go back to our house for one. The Norris and his son arrived after much delay. It was late afternoon and the pool was mostly in the shade now, and fairly quiet, with only a few scattered people still resting on lawn chairs in what remained of the sun.
My daughter was in the water and beckoned the son in. This left the two of us, Norris and I, to sit at a poolside table underneath the shade of the umbrella to talk alone. I had gotten out of the pool only minutes before they walked in, and I was shaking. I thought this was due to the fact that the water was now fairly frigid, and although the air was warm, there was a breeze that was constant, and the air across my goose-bumpled skin was causing me to shiver. Then moment came when I realized that this should have passed by now, as although I was bikini clad, I was wrapped up in a large towel and should have been warmed. I then not only became nervous at being in the same space together again after so long, but anxious at the realization that my trembling was now more nerves than chill. Norris sat across from me, a safe distance between us.
We talked. Nothing said was pointed or floated on any sexy innuendo, but there it was; desire. Not the kind of desire, at least for me, that would have me holding myself back from wanting more right then, in that moment, restrained merely by circumstance, but more so desire that was the kind that is omnipresent between two people who are like souls.
That desire, that uncomfortable remembering of our past, was sitting there like a third wheel between my towel-clad shivering body, and his over-sized polo shirt and wrinkled chinos. I notice these details because this is unlike him, Norris was always well dressed, and wrinkled clothing that was too big for him was never to be seen on him, ever. I worry that I look fat in my bikini as I allow myself to unfurl the towel now that my shivering has dissipated. I relax my body into the back of he chair, cross my legs, and keep worrying he thinks I look fat.
After not too long, my husband walks through the pool gate, and begins his slow walk towards us. Norris asks if this is him, and I confirm it. And then the awkward grows.
I introduce them for the first time, hands are shaked, and pleasantries exchanged. My husband says something like, “So, Portia tells me you’ve known one another for a long time”, and the conversation continues. I remember not feeling sure how to act. As much as I was angry at my husband for many things then, I was still very much in love with him. And as much as I was married and in love, I was more deeply in love with Norris.
(I almost erased “more deeply”, but that would have been a big lie, and since I am not one for lying, I left it)
I didn’t want to not be myself with my husband, didn’t want to hold back my usual affections, but I also didn’t want to be overly affectionate in front of Norris towards him either. It’s a strange feeling when you’re trying to balance the emotions of two people, well ok, three. One, I didn’t want my husband to think I was acting strange. Two, I didn’t want Norris to feel…I don’t know what…hurt? Uncomfortable? I suppose whatever the feelings he had when we had lunch one day, many years before this, when remarked at the pictures of my then ex-boyfriend and I in Hawaii still framed and on the wall in the dining room with us, after I had tried to remind myself to take them down because I knew Norris would notice.
I felt like I was walking on a high wire above the ring, trying desperately to find the balance that would keep this whole event pleasant and sociable.
It was around 5 o’clock by this time and I decided that perhaps we should all go back to he house so I could start on dinner. I had invited them to stay for burgers and such a last BBQ ha-rah of the fading summer. The kids climb out of the pool, and we all meander back to the house.
The real mind blower came when I was in the kitchen making the salad, and Norris and Husband and both kids, were both out in the back yard at the picnic table just jabbering away together famously. My husband was getting more time to talk to the person I wanted to be talking to and spending time with.
The night was fun. Dinner was great, conversations flowed effortlessly, dessert was had and martial arts movies introduced. At one point Norris was sitting on the sofa and I sat down next to him, nt close, but close enough, and he shot off that thing like he was shot froma cannon! He offered my husband the seat. It was a large sofa, and there was more than enough room for all of us on it comfortably.
Goodbyes were made around 8:30 ish.
After the door closed, my daughter whisked me upstairs and told me “You made the wrong choice. That was the guy you should have married!”, and this just messed with me because that was the guy I wanted to marry, but he never asked.
The husband, well, later that night he asked me if Norris and I had ever slept together, and I blushed like a school girl embarrassed by the surprise questioning, and said “Yes, but that was a long time ago”. He told me he could tell the minute he walked inside the pool gate and saw us. He said he could tell just from the way we were sitting, how we were with one another. I was unsure how he could tell that from two people not even sitting beside one another, with a whole table separating them for safety. I don’t know what he saw. Maybe he made that up, maybe he really saw something I was unaware of. He said two people can’t be sitting together like we were when you’ve never been intimate with each other before. I don’t know. I didn’t see what he saw. I only felt what I was feeling. I’m not sure what the tell-tale sign was. I wouldn’t have thought, looking at us, that we were anything more than friends.
The next two weeks were pure emotional upheaval. I was getting my period and blamed my irrational thoughts on that emotional unraveling that sometimes comes with that time of the month. I told myself to take a deep breath and relax, but all I could think about was Norris. He was all I thought about, all I wanted to think about.
My husband, who I knew really didn’t love me (and that’s not a made up feeling to help me excuse my own, it just was…he was pining for his ex-wife…for the life he screwed up), was just not paying attention because it was evident that something was stirring madly inside me. I played the song that Norris had once told me made him think of me, over and over and over again on YouTube. I sang it in the shower, while cooking dinner. I was preoccupied. I was running around the track at he Y fueled by a desperate fire inside me that would not let me go, that incessantly tossed my heart about, a fragile paper heart, floating on the heat of something that was once in a way, could’ve been, but never could be now.
And he had turned me away anyway a year earlier. Norris told me he loved me, always had loved me but could never bring himself to tell me, and then after he finally told me, told me all the reasons why we could never be. What was I thinking?
I was going mad.
I needed to be alone to talk myself off this emotional ledge.
I was guilty of the very thing I hated my husband for. I made every excuse to justify how what I was feeling, thinking, wanting, yearning for was somehow different from what I hated my husband for feeling towards his ex-wife, and although yes, there are circumstances and back story here that you would probably agree that I was MORE than justified too in my thoughts, but even in the light of all that murky dark, we would both be wrong because it was all in secret, all kept neatly hidden.
I was now no different.
When I did have the chance to act though, one year earlier (and only a month before my wedding date), when he called me one night and wanted to whisk me away for a quickie, I said no. I didn’t want to either, I wanted to say hell yes, yes yes, but I didn’t. At least I have that integrity of my heart.
We are not as perfect as we would like to imagine. Our lives are not all cut and dry, clean and neat, like we would like to pretend. Our real emotions our deepest thoughts and most secret yearnings are no different, or any less unscathed than those of our neighbors. We can judge. We can sit back and say what someone has is better, or more perfect, but it never is.
I knew my husband and his previous wife long before he became my one-year husband. On the outside looking in, I thought what they shared was perfect, and how that was the kind of love I wanted. I was never more wrong in al my life. 13 years after meeting them I knew it was the FARTHEST thing from what I ever wanted in a relationship.
I’m ready to watch that movie now. I also don’t want to go there again.
So you know, my divorce had nothing to do with the events of this August afternoon, or any day after involving Norris, or my feelings for him. That story can come another day.
I don’t miss my ex-husband for a minute, but I miss Norris every day.