Friday, May 4, 2012

I Do (Not)

I have a fear of commitment.

It's written on my Limit list on Fetlife.

I have run from marriage before, from the Idea of Settling Down and Having Kids. In general, when someone expresses the urge to do these things with me, it makes me very, very uncomfortable. So why, and how, you might ask, did I end up marrying Arkanum?

I can't really explain it. We are just super compatible. And I knew it early on. I know what you're thinking; NRE, the fuzzy pink stupids! Of course I knew I wanted to stay with him forevorz! But no, my friends, you only say this because you don't know me. When I say I have a fear of commitment, you are underestimating the depth of this fear. The thought of being someone's wife literally turns my stomach. I feel anxiety; my heart speeds up, my palms sweat, my breath quickens. Except Ark. When I met him, initially the magic wasn't there, I admit. I got to know him over time, and soon we were dating. When I realized I could spend the rest of my life with him I was terrified, but it made perfect sense to me. He doesn't complete me—as I've said, I am a complete person—but he does compliment me very well. He's a stable rock for me in this tumultuous sea.

I clicked with him. How long did it take for me to come to this realization? Less than a month. I wrote him a letter and held onto it for a few days. In the letter, I told him how I felt... and I asked him to marry me. I said I knew it was early and I didn't expect him to say “yes” right away. I knew I wanted him in my life and I was willing to wait.

Now, here we are, almost seven years later, together after many trials and stronger and happier than ever. I have him every day, and nothing brings me more peace.

Commitment is an issue in my other relationships. I know that in some ways, Anita feels the same way I do; “forever” is a big, scary, intimidating word. Nice in theory, but like a cage when dropped on top of you. Gabriel continuously makes me feel uncomfortable with words and gestures of commitment, though I have made it clear I don't feel comfortable with it. I need to write her a letter and talk to her about it, but the ideas and feelings aren't settled enough and I'm also afraid to approach the situation. I know she'll act hurt and it won't end well.

But I digress.

My new relationship with Dawn, someone Ark and I have known for a couple years, is gathering snow like a stone rolling down the mountain. I'm so totally and completely smitten with her. I found myself standing knee-deep in puppy love, gazing around wide-eyed and wondering how the heck I got there. In just two weeks, our friendship has blossomed and the fruit is something sweeter than I'd have ever guessed. As a general rule, I would only consider starting a relationship with someone I was already friends with, but Dawn was in that unattainable category; she isn't poly and had expressed disinterest in giving it a whirl (yet, here we are a-whirling).

Something I've realized is important in the beginning of a poly relationship is for me to find out what the other person expects. Do they expect a long-term commitment? Short-term relationship? Someone to go on dates with? Someone to fuck? Is “I love you” a hard limit? Is sex a hard limit? Are they out, are they poly, are they monog? What do they want, that I can give them?

I asked Dawn what she wanted, and her expectations were very reasonable. But then, something happened that really caught me off-guard: she returned the question. What do I want, what do I expect? I was thrown. I had to think about it for a moment.

My answer at the time had been that I want whatever I can have. Inside, what I want is different. I can't just explain it at the drop of a dime. What if the words come out wrong? What if the words come out right and it's the completely wrong thing to say?

I'm truthful. Sometimes I feel like a parrot, though. When Dawn asked what I wanted, I said the same thing I'd been hearing myself say a lot lately. “I want you to be happy,” “I'll take whatever you want to give me,” “Whatever you're comfortable with,” etc. This goes back to when I was growing up, and being constantly told I was selfish and that what I wanted was tertiary to the wants of anyone else. This isn't to say I'm not telling the truth—I do honestly want the happiness and comfort of my partner. Right now in the fragile stages of our relationship, I don't want Dawn to feel pressured into doing or committing to anything that she doesn't really want (not that I don't think she's headstrong enough to tell me to fuck off, but you never know).

That being said, I went home and kept going back to the conversation. What was said between the lines—what was left unsaid—told volumes. It was close to my heart and I wasn't sure I should talk about it. I talked to Ark about it a little, and that helped me get comfortable with it. The whole truth is that I want to keep Dawn. I want her in my life. We just work in a way that, I know, it's too soon for everyone else to see. Of course, I can't write her a letter detailing the neurotic workings of my heart, all leading up to the grand finale of a proposal—spend the rest of your life with me, I'll take care of you, I'll love you as long as I can. I can't do that. And I really can't explain to anyone why or how I feel this way, how I just know we'd work and we'd work really well.

I just got a feeling.

Re-reading some of what I just wrote, a few paragraphs back, I realized that a year or so ago, I could have written the same things about Anita. Both Ark and I really love her, we've known her for a long time (all the way back to school for me), and the three of us are highly compatible. For a while, I let myself fantasize about her being our Third. (Longtime readers will remember that I have a fluffy dream about living in a poly homestead.) But she was skittish, a flight-risk, and we were afraid to push her into anything she wasn't ready for. And though we all talked about seeing her more often, her coming to visit us, staying for a while, being more serious... and we all wanted it, or at least it was expressed that we all wanted it... it seems that Anita is more of a memory or a story. It's so sweet when we see her, but we see her so rarely that I know we've got to just accept that there won't be any more. She has other lovers now, ones that live closer to her, who she can see without the hassle of finding time off and driving hours away.

What do I dare dream, wish, hope for with Dawn? I guess my answer was the most truthful and realistic when I said that I just wanted whatever she was free to give. I dare not hope for more.

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