Saturday, February 28, 2009


All right. Three times in the past four weeks makes it a pattern, I think.

First, there was a call from nonboyfriend that was unexpectedly friendly and even fond. He sounded almost sad when I spoke about how happy I am these days. (Of course, I didn't mention that I was also exceedingly happy when I was with him, and my contented state now still probably doesn't compare. Best not to let on too much. Because while that all is true, I'm not pining for him.)

Then there was Edward, who forced his way back in my life with a series of emails and then phone calls, usually lasting multiple hours. The sentiments were as I expected - he misses me, he loves me, so on and so forth. He made some effort to guilt-trip me that I make no apologies about having been with other people since I was last with him more than a year ago. He wants me to believe that he hasn't had sex with anyone in that entire time. Now, I generally take whatever he tells me with a grain of salt, but this is just an outright lie. One of the reasons he and I are physically compatible is a comparably insatiable sexual appetite. Just like I couldn't abstain for a year without some damn good reason to do so, neither could he. And considering before this month, we hadn't spoken since last year, there's no chance he has, either. I stubbornly refused to be guilt-tripped, pointing out that he never even discussed anything remotely resembling a relationship, let alone monogamy with me. Granted, had he done so, I more than likely wouldn't have agreed, but that's beside the point.

And just this week, a boy I was dating over break (one of the three, and the only one things definitively ended with when I left. There was a goodbye date and all) sent me a facebook message telling me he can't wait to see me again. And that he misses me. And when will I be home?

I'd noticed with this third guy that about a week earlier, his facebook relationship status had changed from "in a relationship with..." to "single." And then, like clockwork, came a message to me.

Nonboyfriend told me as much when he called me. At least there, I appreciated the honesty.

And Edward, in our last phone call, told me that a girl he'd liked as "more than just a friend" had just revealed to him that she has a boyfriend.

So, what do we have here? Three recent (but past) lovers. All suddenly single or momentarily unhappy in their relationships. And who do they call? Me.

At first, I was actually flattered. Remembering back to when I was in exclusive relationships, whenever things were going sour, the first thing I'd always think of was the last person I was happy with. So in one sense, I'm flattered to be that happy memory. I took it as a testament to the fact that my honesty and genuine attempt to be easy-going has gone over well and left much better impressions than previous monogamous relationships where I tried to be whatever my partner wanted me to be.

But somewhere around the third consecutive time this happened, I started just feeling like I'm everyone's backup. Like I'm the reinforcements. The B-team you bring in when those you really want are unwilling or unable to play. And that's much harder to take as flattering.

I'm probably making too much of this, but nevertheless, I do think it counts as a pattern. And essentially, it comes off that I'm not quite good enough to be anyone's first choice. Which sucks, no matter how enthusiastic a second choice I might be. Perhaps some of this is residual issues with nonmonogamy and having trouble moving so much that I never settle down enough to establish a "primary" relationship with any partner(s). I'm always the secret, the second-hand option. Most of the time, I'm happy to be that. And to be fair, this street goes both ways. These people aren't my primaries, either. (Perhaps with the exception of nonboyfriend, who I didn't see anyone else when I was with, not because I wasn't allowed to but because I genuinely didn't want or need to.)

Still, sometimes you just want some love. And to not be a secret. Maybe that's why the cuddling with the Viking was so surprising to me. I haven't had that in some time, either because I couldn't open up enough to be comfortable with it (Jacob is always willing to cuddle, to his credit, but I have intimacy issues with him) or because people would be silly and do things like never spend the night or insist they couldn't sleep and be touching at the same time. (Again, to nonboyfriend's credit, despite his restless sleep habits, he'd make a concerted effort to keep an arm around me. But I haven't been in bed with him in almost a year, also.)

I suppose I haven't really made any shocking revelations here. I just keep saying over and over that, well, it sucks. Because it does. I don't want to always be a backup. I think I might deserve better. Someday, I hope.


Z said...

I'm kind of terrified to even ponder where I fit it this. ;-)

Having been in the receiving and giving ends of this kinds of situations, I choose to look at it a bit differently. This is pretty much the type of stuff that you would predict as a direct result of not hooking a long awkward contract onto the front end of every interaction with other people and unnecessary hardship on the other end. If they aren't necessarily playing the same game, they are liable to find themselves stuck in a spot where their access to you is restricted, and upon leaving, things with you are status quo and ready to pick back up.

Being poly people in a (vaguely repressed) mono world, this is the stuff that happens. Look at it as being forbidden fruit, or a reliable companion-cuz second string you are not.

Amalthea said...

I think I understand your feelings here but I also imagine these patterns are more like Z said. I doubt that they consider you second string. Fro example with Edward - you yourself admit that you both fight how bad you are for one another. Sometimes you lose - and then you're back in each other's lives right? :)

Not that you shouldn't feel like you deserve more, and not that your feelings of being a little slighted aren't valid either - they are. There's likely some grain of truth in your feelings or you wouldn't be having them.

Merlin said...

You touch on a rather sensitive topic for most women with experience in non-traditional relationships. No one wants to be the backup, the one who's called when someone else isn't putting out. That is, if the goal is a monogamous relationship. If you are truly committed to polyamory, finding and enjoying multiple lovers is what you're all about, even of most of the time they go home to other women. Or men.