Monday, March 30, 2009

Break-ups in non-monogamy

Given the blowout with Edward, this is something I've been thinking about lately.

I haven't actually had much cause to end any of my non-monogamous relationships. I mean, things with nonboyfriend were always knowingly short-lived, but primarily ended because we were both leaving town. As for my other partners, well, even though I've left town (admittedly with the intention of coming back), they're still my partners, for all intents and purposes. As much as one can be without being in the same state. (Something on which my views could fill an entire other entry.) The lack of breakups are also made easier by the fact that I move across the country (and sometimes across the world) every four months. It makes for an easy break with few complications.

But in about six weeks, I'm graduating college. And moving back. For good. No more packing up my life every four months, no more transient lifestyle. And consequently, no more transient relationships. It's a thought that's made me a little nervous, especially regarding a few people, like Friend, with whom my relationship has always been necessarily secretive and aided by the fact that we COULDN'T spend much time together. There's a nagging fear in the back of my mind that he won't like me or want me when he can see me any time. Then again, many of those fears were calmed with the vacation he and I took to see the Pilot, where we spent more time together than we have in the 15 years we've known each other, and managed not only to come out unscathed, but, as far as I can tell, still quite fond of one another. These are good things. And make me think that maybe such relationships will survive me being in the same place for a somewhat extended period of time. I can't decide if I think it's strange that my being in the same place would harm my relationships or not.

But then, there are of course drawbacks to going home. Some loose ends, as it were. Some I'm not particularly worried about as I'm sure they'll tie themselves up as they see fit (nonboyfriend being the only one left there, since both Edward and P have removed themselves). But there are some others that I think will likely result in me needing to end the relationship. And I'm not very good at that.

For one, I don't have a ton of practice in relationships where breaking up has even been an option (you don't exactly break-up with a fuckbuddy, a one-night-stand or a no-strings-attached FwB). And in those relationships where breaking up has happened, I'm usually the one being left. Notably, it's historically been for something I've done wrong, but nevertheless, I'm not the one having to administer "the talk." So I don't have much practice in breaking things off with people in the first place. Save for those, like Edward, who make it easy for me to just never speak to them again.

But I do have at least one relationship - although I thought I'd tied it up - that it looks like I'll have to re-affirm my breaking off of the thing. But here's the thing. To me it seems like it might be a little more complicated to do so while still sparing feelings, given my open non-monogamy views. I don't dislike this person, he's a fine guy, we just aren't an exceptionally good match. I get the impression he really likes me, which, in the first place, makes me nervous, but I also get the impression that he isn't as comfortable with my non-monogamy and sexuality as much as he finds it a novelty. He's told me that he'd harbored a crush for me for a few years and the chance to be with me was kind of the fulfillment of a fantasy... Again, something nice to say, but it raises red flags in my I-don't-want-anyone-too-close radar.

Now, I thought I had made it clear to him that we were over when I left home this past time. We went on a goodbye date and everything (his idea). He's dated someone else in the meantime (to the facebook-official level... something he wanted me to do but that I was uncomfortable with), and has since broken up with her. I don't have details on that. But he's recently started calling me again, and today he sent me a facebook message, simply saying "Just because you are incredibly gorgeous doesn't mean you get to be on my mind all the time! ;-)"

Again, nice sentiment. But concerns me. Actually, makes me a little uncomfortable. I didn't respond to it. And I'm not sure how to make it clear to him that I'm not interested in being with him again. While still sparing his feelings. Like I said, he's a fine person, I just don't want to be in a relationship with him.

But he knows I'm non-monogamous, so the "I've met someone else" or "I'm not looking for a relationship" feels disgenuine. He knows I'm in other relationships and is ostensibly OK with that, so it seems to remove some of my reason for breaking things off with him. We only had sex once while we were together before - partially because he's somewhat proper (well, until he's topping me, ha) and partially because I didn't try as hard as I could have to work around my schedule to make time for us to be alone in my apartment/bed. The sex itself was fine. I enjoyed it. But it wasn't anything particularly special. And I certainly have better sex with my other partners on a regular basis. And, quite frankly, the kind of sex I had with him (and that we talked about having) was similar to the kind of sex Jacob and I have. But it's way hotter with Jacob. Jacob is more in-tune and receptive to me and knows my body better. He does a much better job of fulfilling those desires.

But it seems a little cruel to tell him I'm dumping him because he's not "good enough" in bed. Yeah, yeah, sex is important to me, but so are people's feelings. Believe it or not.

And then there's the fact that I would, actually, like to continue seeing him as a friend. I do mean a friend without benefits, because the benefits seem to complicate things between us... but friends, nonetheless. This is probably a minor point, because, were I to actually get this far in explaining things to him and he said he didn't think we could be friends, I would live with that. It would certainly be sad to lose a friend, but frankly, I wouldn't be crushed.

But I don't know how to approach him with all this. My honesty-is-the-best-policy seems a little heartless here, since the honest truth isn't that I don't like him, just that I don't like him ENOUGH to keep him as a partner. So. What the hell do I do?

And then as I'm writing this it's sounding like I don't think I have the option to be discerning when choosing who my partners are. Hmm. Maybe Edward got to me more than I thought he did.


Amalthea said...

The major point I think you should present FIRST is this:
"because the benefits seem to complicate things between us..."

That to me seems like a very valid way to present your concerns and be honest. Not having that kind of chemistry is acceptable - and if it pisses him off and he can't stay friends because of your feelings on you two having sex... you're better off without him in your life entirely!

I completely understand about not wanting to hurt people - but remember that if you sleep with someone for that reason it's basically pity sex. Ouch. I would never want someone to have sex with me out of pity - and I doubt they would want you to do that for them either. Not to mention, I've done it before and it makes the sex 80x worse.

Z said...

I think this is just one more area where polyamory forces us to be honest about what we genuinely desire, with all the benefits and pitfalls therein. Lots of outsiders view this poly experiment as an attempt to have sex with everyone-but it is, of course, just the admission that the number and types of relationships (in the sense of interactions between people, not just romance or sex) doesn't fit into the American on-the-rails-to-lifetime-mono-marriage model. Nowhere does it say you have to sleep with all your friends, or do it forever-it simply gives you that option if you need/want it.

Merlin said...

This reminds me of my frequent observation that time is limited. Is what this man has to offer (now that you've sampled it) worth more of your time? If not, do you see any possibility that he could grow into someone you'd like to keep in your circle of lovers? If the answer to that is "no," you should feel no guilt in not spending any more time with him, and be forthright in telling him that.