Thursday, June 15, 2006

Baths, online dating, and reconsiling polyamory

Dahlia (c) KR Silkenvoice
Click here for audio/podcast.
Bath night was delayed by one day, but it was worth it. The soap I ordered arrived, the delicious Roger&Gallet Gingember, which smells of ginger and sandalwood. While water filled the tub, I located one of my hinoki masu and opened the bottle of Taisetsu sake that had been chilling in the refrigerator. I lowered myself into the tub, leaned back, and closed my eyes. Ahhhh. The cold sake was a wonderful contrast to the hot water, and it did not take long for the combination to go to my head. No, indeed.

As I soaked, I thought about the past week or so, what I had experienced, what I had accomplished, and my interactions with my loved ones.

I had a date Monday night, a first-time date with someone I had chatted-up online. It was the first time I had done something like this, and I was a bit nervous because I've heard from women-friends that their first-dates with people they had met online rarely went well. But I wasn't terribly nervous, because M. and I clicked well, and I knew he wasn't one of those hard-up types looking for sex--he was too relaxed and comfortable with himself. So I called him and asked him if he wanted to come with me to Fry's, because I knew we both had things we wanted to pick up there. A very geek place to go on a first date, I suppose, but it worked.

When we met, the first thing I noticed about him was his smell. It was a good, healthy-male pheromone smell, with no discernable cologne. It was not an instant turn-on, but his scent was a bit distracting to me. The second thing was his hair. I could not resist the hair, I had to pull on one of the ringlets hanging down his back. The third thing was his energy, which meshed well with mine. We talked comfortably for the half hour drive there and back, and seeing as we had not run out of things to say, went for sushi. After sushi, his place for tea and conversation, and (surprise!) some lovely kisses. I really like him, and I look forward to seeng him again when he returns from his business trip.

Of course, C. knew I was going out with M., and of course I told him how well we hit it off. And of course, he was a bit irked. I told him that I'm not looking for a relationship and M. isn't looking for a relationship and seeing as how he (C.) travels so much and has such a full life with his sister's family when he is home, its not like me seeing M. occasionally (if I do) is going to interfere with my ability to see him.

This lead to a discussion last night about about how sad I find it that most people feel that adding another person to the 'loved' circle means less love for everyone in it. I asked him if the birth of his nephew Luke meant he loved his nephew Mark less. He said no.

I asked him if the birth of his sister when he was a child meant his parents loved him less. He said no, but there was an expression on his face that I recognized, because it expressed my own feelings when I was a child and they brought my infant sisters home. My family may not have loved me less, but from that day forward they sure paid a LOT more attention to my sisters than they did to me. They tried to explain to me that it had to do with being a baby, that I got the same sort of attention when I was a baby, that babies are helpless and need constant care... but the child in me only understood that she was feeling abandoned, and envious of the attention someone else was getting, attention that she wanted.

Love shared, my inner-child learned, means less for me. I think most adults, consciously or not, operate from that emotional place when it comes to relationships. And most never move from it, it seems. I've thought about how it is I managed to move past it. I talked to my therapist about it when I was going through so much angst over societal non-acceptance of my poly nature, and the conclusion I have reached is that it has to do with a capacity I have carried forward from childhood: the capacity to love.

Children love. It is what they do best. They do it with full trust and without reservation. When I hugged my niece last month for the first time in two years, I could feel the love in her. I thought it would burst from her skin if I squeezed her too hard. It pulsed in her, splattered me with messy kisses, flattered me with adoring eyes, warmed me with trusting limbs draped on me in sleep. She fell in love with me and I with her and neither of us loved anyone else less for it.

A child's capacity for love is limitless. And so is an adult's. Most just don't realize it. They still have a child's belief that time and attention equals proof of love, and love is limited by time and attention, and that competition for that limited commodity means less for them.

I soaked in the tub until the water was cool, thinking, wondering how to get across to people that love shared does not diminish. For me, Love defies the law of diminishing returns. The more I love, the more I can love. I haves o many amazing, wonderful people in my life. They enrich me, intoxicate me, challenge me. They are the hyacinths which feed my soul. If asked to choose amongst them, I would be unable to.

When I think about my last relationship, when I think about how it felt, not just being monogamous, but having my nature curbed and under attack, and living under the shroud of S's perpetual suspicion, I feel something akin to despair. I am sensual, tactile. I hug, I kiss, I touch, I smile at the people I care for. But for the most part, I had to reserve it all for S, who didn't like demonstrations of affection outside the bedroom. All those other avenues of love blockaded did not mean more love or security for S. The relationship slowly deteriorated as I withdrew more and more into myself, trying to avoid missteps that might be mis-interpreted by S. as sexual interest in someone else (Why don't you just go fuck him? was not an uncommon question).

For me, not being able to just love people the way I want (need?) to is a form of torture. I imagine what Yo-yo Ma would feel like in world in which he could only play one instrument, a single, much loved cello, despite the longing in his heart to touch other cellos and bring their voices to life. Or a chef whose only ingredient was chateaubriand. Or an artist who had the finest brushes and canvases...but only one colour of paint.
I love.
It is who I am.
It is what I do.
And C. (and a few others of my loved-ones), well, his adult mind understands my polyamorous nature. Its is inner-child that has trouble with it. Some people just can't get past their fear that sharing anything, especially someone's love, means less for them. I sure hope he can get past it though, because I'm done trying to curb the way I love in order to assuage a lover's fears. It makes me miserable. It diminishes me.

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Anonymous El Keter ben Tzadik said...

Happened upon your blog through OkCupid. Just had to let you know that this post is pretty amazing. Your thoughts on polyamory are just splendid. And the way you decribe how you feel about your capacity for love, and other people's inability to comprehend that mirrors my own feelings and struggles with the issue perfectly. Basically I couldn't have said it better myself.

11:49 PM, June 15, 2006  
Anonymous MithrilStorm said...

This concept is not only hard to understand but completely opposite of what most of us are taught through life. Growing up (in a non-commune environment ;-) you are taught that one of the ways you show your affection is with attention. The more work you put into something the better the returns so to speak. Thus, the reverse seems like a logical truth as well. Thus if someone isn't sharing what you view as your own affection with another, the instinctive reaction is jealosy which only grows into something worse. Personally, I've struggled (and continue to struggle) with this very concept. I'm getting better, but there is still a lot of wiring in there to disconnect and pull out. Your way is the better way, societies way is what we're bred and taught.

6:29 AM, June 16, 2006  
Anonymous tina (eye of His storm) said...


once again your blog ironically hit on a subject i was contemplating and discussing just yesterday. My bottom line came in so close to yours i felt compelled to comment here. When, how and why did love become something perceived to restrain? Something to find a nice little neat box to contain it, consequently defining and measured. Acknowledging that yes there are many types of love, however the "L" word is nothing to fear .. it can't be called upon or held in a protective case.. it can't be manufactured.. it just is. And it is at its best thru the spirit that lets it be. i so much appreciate your spirit Kay..

7:15 PM, June 20, 2006  
Blogger partygirljessica said...

I was nervous too when I went on my first date with a guy I had hooked up on webdate. I'm glad all turned well and had a lot of dates after that too.

6:15 AM, July 29, 2006  

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