Strong Relationships Can Wait
Are you familiar with the beginning stages of a romantic or sexual relationship where you’re totally head-over-heels for the other person, mildly-to-severely obsessed, and all you want to do is be with the other person? And if you’re not with your new lover, all you want to do is talk about your new lover to other people? And everything ou does is perfect?
When you’re polyamorous (as I am), sometimes when this happens, it’s your long-term partner who feels this way about someone else. And some poly people get quite upset by this. When their partner gets all obsessed over someone else, they feel betrayed or ignored or disrespected or whatever. I like to snarkily call these people “monogamous”.
Here’s the thing: that fluttery-tummy, starry-eyed part of a relationship is involuntary, temporary, and valuable. It’s so, so fleeting, which means you need to experience it as much as you can in the moment. And it’s vitally important: it’s the building blocks of the new relationship, it infuses passion into your life, and it’s just plain fun. And you can’t choose when it happens, and once it’s over you can’t get it back.
For all these reasons, it’s imperative to me that I honor this time when it happens for someone I love. If my partner falls head-over-heels for someone and doesn’t notice that I exist for 6 months, that’s okay. If all he wants to talk about day and night is someone else, that’s okay. If our plans are suddenly on hold and our schedule rearranged to make room for his interest in another person, that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay – I really enjoy it. I love the sparkle in my lover’s eye when he’s giddy over a new lover. I know the sheer pleasure of beginning a new relationship, and I revel in seeing someone I love having that experience, too.
When I hear other poly [sic] people talking about how upset they get when their partner ignores them for a new person, they and their relationships sound fragile to me. I don’t “feel ignored” if my partner has a new interest, as if I were a houseplant that needed regular watering. I am not betrayed by his interest, because as poly people we have mutually agreed that those interests will arise and be pursued. I am not disrespected, because together we respect the strong emotions of attraction, sex, and love.
And at the end of the day, our relationship is strong. Six months from now, I will still be here, he will still be here, we will still be together, and our love with still be strong. The googly-eyed beginning of another relationship is fleeting, but our partnership is not. Our relationship deserves to be treated like the solid, lasting foundation it is. The new sparkly stage deserves to be treated like the passionate, in-the-moment wonderfulness that it is.
There are a lot of parallels between this polyamorous philosophy of mine and my experience of having a baby.
I am in the active process of falling in love with Dylan. I want to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with him. I memorize his face and trace his toes and smell his breath and gaze deeply into his eyes. I think he is the most fascinating thing in the entire universe. I don’t want to go anywhere without him or do anything that excludes him or talk to anyone who doesn’t want to talk about him.
Occasionally I’ll read something aimed at new parents, and I will spot advice for how to keep peace in your relationship when there’s a new baby. Are you spending enough time with your partner? Are you having enough sex? Is your partner getting enough of your attention? Are you obsessively talking about the baby too much? Blah, blah, blah.
At first I wondered if I should be thinking about these things, because, well, no, we’re not having that much sex. Yes, all I want to talk about is Dylan. Yes, I’d rather hang out with Dylan than with Joshua. Yes, I barely notice Joshua is here sometimes. Oh, no! Better make sure I… wait a minute!
This time with Dylan is fleeting. His babyhood is painfully short. I will never get another chance to experience these joyful moments. And more importantly, Dylan actually needs me right now. His strong connection with me is important to his development. Joshua doesn’t need me, and my relationship with Joshua is not so fragile that certain aspects of it can’t wait for awhile. We don’t need to schedule “us time”. My time with Dylan is “us time”, because that time and that process of falling in love and caring for Dylan honors our relationship and the things we both think are important.
And at the end of the day, our relationship is strong. Later, when Dylan is older, I will still be here, Joshua will still be here, we will still be together, and our love will still be strong. Dylan’s babyhood is fleeting, but my partnership with Joshua is not. Dylan deserves all the love and attention I have to give him, and my relationship with Joshua deserves to be treated like the solid, lasting foundation it is. It is the foundation that has brought forth this new life, that nurtures it, and that holds all three of us up.