“That’s not a real thing!”

When the girlfriend and I got together, she was fascinated by my poly past. She had no idea polyamory really existed. She vaguely had a concept of swinging existing. Anyone who has read Penthouse Letters knows kind of vaguely that swinging exists. But since she has been exposed to polyamory, she is starting to see poly people in her normal life.
I should step back for a moment and explain that somehow, despite her agnosticism and her sex positivity, she has quite a lot of friends who are strongly, deeply Christian and were virgins until their wedding nights. They quote scripture in their emails to her and post obnoxious right-ist propaganda on the Facebook. They use phrases like, “I don’t want to know,” all the time. I can’t stand any of them.
We’ve started on the Fisher-Price My First Non-Monogamous Experience playset. We’ve been to a couple of cuddle parties together. Guess what! There are poly people there! We’re both writing novels at the moment (and mine, for what it’s worth, features a main cast of characters who are what I consider to be very realistically poly) and someone in her writers group outed herself as poly. A coworker of mine who she has gotten to know a bit said that she has experience with a bunch of people who are poly or otherwise non-monogamous. We’ve been attending a variety of meetups, and we’ve met all kinds of people who are all kinds of non-monogamous. All her life, she didn’t know that we existed, that this existed. Now she’s running into it everywhere.
She’s realized now that this is, in fact, “a real thing.” She’s seeing that while monogamy is the norm, there are plenty of non-traditional units (be they families or whatever) out there. Her horizons are expanding and with her newly opened eyes, she is expressing her amazement at all of these people who enjoy their lives without constraint.
In general, we all know that polyamorous people are more open with their feelings, with their sexuality, and are much more emotionally honest than the average heteronormal white middle class folk she’s been exposed to. She isn’t used to grownups expressing themselves to this level of freedom and honesty.
Every time she goes to hang out with her “normal” friends, she comes back very upset. They are very closed-minded and passive-aggressive and judgy. Yet every time we go to an “Authentic Games” event or a cuddle party or any event where intellectual or emotionally-mature people are, she always marvels at how real and deep those people are.
It’s doing me a lot of good to be involved with and connected to good, solid people, too. I always feel fortunate to be among those who can take me as I am. It is so much easier to connect with someone who is willing to receive you than it is to connect with someone who is walled off and defensive and xenophobic.
And I have to give the girlfriend credit: she is progressing along her journey of discovery with a better velocity than I am progressing through my journey of recovery. This evening was the third time she reminded me that a girl I think I have a crush on will be at an event we’re going to this week. It’s nice to have her support.
Still, I haven’t made a move yet. I don’t think that it’s right for me to act on anything, to expect that level of trust, until I am completely, 100% willing and open to giving that same trust back. The last time I went on a new poly date, I had scheduled it for the same night my primary partner at the time had a date with her other boyfriend. She knew the whole plan, the whole setup, and said she was fine with everything and then she went mental the night it happened.
I feel like I am back at the beginning. I’m reminded of when we first started down this path and my ex-wife told me she wanted us to do this, to open our marriage. I was certain it was a trap and that there would be trouble for me. Then I had years of trouble because people were not okay with things they said they were okay with. I’m still struggling with it. I’m shell-shocked from so many times of setting rules and setting expectations only to find out after the fact that someone is upset with me for doing something they agreed it was okay to do. This is where my trust issues come from. Without complete trust in one another, this will never work.
I know, you come here for poly advice and for fun and sexy poly adventures. What the hell is all of this self-doubt about? Why am I having to constantly hear about trust issues? I want to hear about four-way dates and how you went to trivia with your girlfriend’s husband and all of that stuff. Believe me, those are the stories I want to tell.
But sometimes we need to remember that we’re still real people. We get hurt. We have to recover. Then we can move on. And once I have moved on, I’ll get back into helping you figure out how to help the mundies accept that you have other partners and how to introduce yourself to your boyfriend’s wife for the first time. After all, deep down, I’m still a man whore.
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