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Matt and I are pretty much broken up as a romantic couple. We no longer have a sexual or romantic relationship. But it is not a painful separation, or even really a separation as such. We are still good friends who live together (and plan to continue doing so) and sleep in the same bed most nights, as chastely as a couple of prepubescent straight girls at a sleepover. We still love each other very much, and what we have settled into is more of a lessening of pain than a cause of it.

We are seeing other people, as they say (though we were doing that already for awhile). Matt is seeing K. pretty much exclusively and monogamously, though, which has a lot to do with our breakup, though the causes and effects are muddled. I am seeing both perruche_verte and Michael seriously, but obviously not exclusively, and various others occasionally.

Matt is no longer attracted to me (I was never quite his type physically to begin with, and have become less so), which is one of the other big issues. Yeah, you don't have to tell me how weird that is. And I have no interest in going where I'm not wanted. Being desired is such an important thing to me.

The other thing is that my "promiscuity" bothered Matt when we opened our relationship. I don't get irrational jealousy, and I feel comfortable with having sex with anyone I would be friends with, unless there's a good reason not to. I have done the monogamy thing when it was important to those I loved, but it is not me, and I don't know if I want to do it again. I am quite comfortable commiting to people I love, but I feel better loving others too at the same time. I have enough love.

So, to a lot of people in my life (like you readers of my LJ), this is not a hard thing to say, but just a complicated one. But I don't know what to say to people like much of my family and co-workers, people who don't know a lot about my relationship, but know Matt and I have moved in together and are assuming it is a monogamous relationship, and expecting that will naturally lead to marriage and perhaps children. How do we "come out" as what we are? I would like to be able to be open about all my relationships and not make people think they are more or less than they are.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
stonescorpion
Dec. 10th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
Endings.
Hey Sharla,

Wow. Yeah, I was kind of getting the vibe that things weren't all right between you and Matt when I last saw you. I just didn't know what to say or how to say it. Kind of like you are feeling now.

My advice, don't say anything to family and co workers. If they ask how things are with you, just say "Fine."

If you MUST go into detail, tell them you and Matt are now just roommates, and you're both seeing other people. You need not tell them HOW MANY.

Most people do not get the concepts of open relationship and multiple partners. It's just too much for them.

I saw documentary on Swingers once "Sex with Strangers", and it featured a young married couple who had to tell the womans mother they were swingers. (Why, I don't know. They just felt they should.) They calmly sat her down and explained things to her. Explained they weren't whores or slut, or dirty. That they were protected, and honest with each other, that they kept their sex life far removed for their child, that they carefully choose anyone they were with, etc....

You can TRY that, but I have a feeling family members will not be very understanding. Remember, that couple was married. You're still unwed. Soooo in most closed minds, you'll be unfairly labeled a slut.

Which is bullshit and just another way of saying "You should not be doing anything WE disapprove of". To hell with them. Live your life without needing any explainations.

Good luck. And I hope things don't get to strained between you and Matt.

Scorp
grenacia
Dec. 10th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Endings.
Things have been okay lately between me and Matt, just a bit weird, and different. And I don't feel the need to tell everyone everything. Just that Matt and I are still happily living together, but as friends rather than lovers, and we are seeing other people. And that is hard for me to do. It was hard to talk to Matt about it too, it sort of gradually happened before it was really talked about. I was hurt and angry when I first was made to realize how Matt feels about me now, but I'm long over it.
ignusfaatus
Dec. 10th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
such potential for rejection at home! I dont think what your doing is so weird. and if I worked with you and you casually explained it I bet I could fill in the peices. I suppose you could walk around with a parrot on your shoulder... but I might be one of the few who knows what that means. :)
charliecopper
Dec. 10th, 2005 06:37 pm (UTC)
I agree with stonescorpion about telling people. I wish that people would react differently but I'm afraid that you'll get bad reactions from "conventional" people. Sometimes people who "mean well" and aren't particularly judgemental still don't "get it." That said, you have a right to be as open as you want, I just don't want you to have to suffer too many negative consequences for that openness.

I'm really glad that the changes in your relationship haven't been painful and that you and Matt are maintaining a friendship that means a lot to both of you.
eatsoylentgreen
Dec. 10th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
I see the whole "coming out" and "being open with everyone" as a sign of misplaced pride... I see it when I see people talking about being a Methodist or a church member... whenever I see someone saying "I am a this" I raise my eyebrows and try to hold my tongue to keep from offending them.

Because I will offend people. Saying that you are a something means that A: your audience cares (in this case, that we care who you're sleeping with) and B: that we care about your philosophies, in this case, sexual philosophies.

I think you should talk about these things only to people who really, really care about you, and just say the statements of fact. That you and he aren't having sex any more, by his choice. And that he loves someone else, if you believe that's true. (I have my own guesses as to Matt's mental state)

And if that seems troubling to your listener, well, that's because it is. Take care, Sharla.
charliecopper
Dec. 10th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
Hm, I see what you're saying about "misplaced pride" - I've certainly run into people who seem to love to shout "I am poly!" or "I am pagan!" or "I am Christian!" or whatever when it doesn't have anything to do with anything we're talking about. Those people often seem to simply want everyone to know/think that they are "special"/"different," when really they're just annoying.

However, I disagree that anytime someone is open about their relationships is an instance of that annoying "misplaced pride." (And maybe since this isn't usually a situation of people saying "I am this" then it's not what you're talking about.) Around workplaces, family gatherings, all kinds of places, aquaintances make small talk about what they did over the weekend, about vacation plans, about important events in the lives of loved ones, and to choose to censor oneself around this conversation can be a difficult decision necessary to avoid negative consequences.

I make decisions all the time about how much to reveal, when my coworkers ask about my weekend, I choose not to tell them that I had a fun date with my boyfriend, because they know that I am married and I don't want to get into the questions/gossip/etc. that this would cause around the office. At the same time, I don't hide that I went out with a friend and don't shy from using pronouns that indicate his gender (which isn't really an issue, considering my bisexuality, but for people who live in a mostly mono-sexual monogamous headspace me going out alone with a man has the potential to be scandelous, whereas me going out with a woman would be "normal"). When people ask direct questions I always tell the truth (after checking to make sure that the person really wants to know), but people rarely ask direct questions. Generally, people (except fot those who really care about each other, like you say) don't really care about the details of each other's lives.
eatsoylentgreen
Dec. 10th, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC)
hear hear. I like every word you wrote. I'm also espressomilitia on okcupid, hello hello.

I like that you concentrated on what you did. You can always talk about things you've done, and things you like.

Once I told someone that I'm always singing. She asked "Oh, are you a vocalist?" and I replied "Well, I like to sing!"

With self editing, I consider first if the other person is really listening, because quite often they're not. Second, I decide "will saying this benefit me, or them?" Often it won't. Saying that someone's a pagan, or a Methodist, or a church member, fails both tests.

But, I've heard that I don't talk enough, especially from ranty teenagers, the kind who talk over each other. (You'll notice I didn't say they're wrong to do so, or even to describe "what kind of person I am," just what I do.)

Do you think Sharla could put a label on her relationship, one that makes any sense at all to others? (I would argue the purpose of speaking is to make oneself understood, and is that going to happen?)

In my philosophies (here's where I should probably start censoring myself!) I believe there's two statuses, married and unmarried. A different, and wholly personal status is "in love" or "not in love": we can only say that about ourselves, and guess it in others.
charliecopper
Dec. 10th, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

I've put the pieces together and I think I almost met you last night at a recital. These are small circles we run in, it seems.

No, I don't think that there's really any label that would make sense to describe her relationship, or mine, or a lot of people's, for that matter. I agree that to make people understand complex relationships is a very difficult business, and should not be entered into lightly.

Re: statuses: I guess I like to think about the axes of behavior, identity, and desire/fantasy (Klein's axes of sexual orientation, but I think they apply to a lot of other areas of life too). Combine these with legal, social, religious, economic, and other ways in which we categorize ourselves and our relationships and it becomes clear (or at least seems to me) that every person and every relationship is very complex. Someone saying "what they are" is usually an expression of identity, seperate from behavior, and sometimes seperate from desire (although sometimes it's actually an expression of desire rather than identity, but that's a whole other bag of worms). Like you, I think, I prefer most of the time to stick with "I am a person who does this" since I feel like that's a lot easier to understand (and perhaps more importantly, less easy to misunderstand) than "I am this." It's why my partner and I like "consensual non-monogamy" as opposed to "polyamory" or "swinging" or whatever. Sometimes labels make things easier, although usually it's best if they're just a starting point.
floydcollins
Dec. 10th, 2005 10:18 pm (UTC)
Regarding "declaring". Stating "I am poly" publicly is also a sign-post for others, saying that if they want to disclose, you're a safe and welcoming person to do it with. It also says, "I want to talk about sexual / relationship politics". The interlocutor can choose to engage those tropes or not. They just pretend they didn't hear you (common in Minnesota!), and it's like it never happened.

On the specific question, S and M appear to be in a phase where they are kindly, friendly, caring roommates. If people ask, why hide (since S tends to be a discloser), but no need to bring it up, probably.
perruche_verte
Dec. 11th, 2005 12:01 am (UTC)
Sweetheart, since you chose to leave this post public, please don't worry about what your family and co-workers think. They probably know all they care to know by now.

Long ago I began to compartmentalize my life to the point that my right hand isn't always sure what my left is doing. I can tell you more about that later, if you like, but the gist of it, like everyone else said: Don't hurt people, including yourself. Don't lie, but don't tell people things they really don't need to hear.

Two thoughts for further discussion, paraphrased from what a couple of teachers have said or written (they're bookends, in a way):

-Part of our suffering is our craving to prove that we're individuals.
-What other people think about you is really none of your business.
grenacia
Dec. 11th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
Those people don't read my LJ. Or if they do, they must be doing it in secret, and I'm not sure how they happened to find it. I'm curious to hear about this compartmentalization sometime. I think I can see it in you somewhat.
dj_lefreak
Dec. 11th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC)
There are few feelings greater that being excepted for who we are. For being honest about our life and identity and having that honestly appreciated and our life validated by another person.

But really the only person whose expectance we need is our own. The only person who can really give us validation is our self. First we must "come out" to ourselves and we must continue to uncover our true identity knowing that the person we are becoming is the person we truly are and that the person we are is wonderful and beautiful in every way.

So "come out" whenever and where ever it seems appropriate or necessary but do it knowing that you already have all the validation you need.
grenacia
Dec. 11th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
In "coming out" advice, people seem to have focused the most on the polyamory aspect. I was really thinking more of the other things that are strange about our relationship. Matt feels a little strange around my family lately. Quite awhile ago he had to tell his mother about our open relationship, because she had gotten the impression he was cheating on me. But we haven't really told family about our strange, broken up but still together status.

The other thing is, in this holiday season, I would like to be able to invite a boyfriend along to some of those holiday gatherings where it is perfectly acceptable to bring along a friend. But that might turn out to be an awkward situation requiring some hasty explanation to old friends who don't know the current personal details of my life.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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