I’ve had the good fortune to experience beautiful, positive feelings in my sexual adventuring. Some of the most intense positive emotions of my life, in fact. When I allowed affection, play, and passion to mingle with a larger audience, my life began to percolate with happiness and excitement. It’s heady stuff.
And then, there’s the flip side. Jealousy, resentment, and impossible sadness. I’ve felt these emotions more acutely than I did while monogamous. Opening a marriage also opens up the possibility for intense change.
It sucks to go through it, and really sucks to watch a partner contend with crappy feelings … especially when you’ve had a hand in eliciting those feelings.
There’s a vast landscape of possible screw-ups: miscommunication, unreasonable expectations, and simple ignorance. Climb in to my head during a big emotional shit-storm and you’d see me grappling with all kinds of big ideas, reasons-for-my-pain, and new-age answer hunting.
At the end of the day, there’s only one thing that will bring me down to “pity party” levels of low: not being chosen.
Not being chosen. It hurts as much as it did when I was nine-years-old and wasn’t invited to Suzy’s skating party. Or when I was Sophomore in High School and my Senior boyfriend invited a pretty, popular girl in his class to prom instead of me. Despite my grown-up-knowings-of-things, I get emotional whenever I’m passed over. Everyone does.
Early on in our sexual adventuring, my husband and I met a couple. They were (and still are) wonderful and we shared amazing chemistry (still do). (I can’t emphasize enough how rare it is to find four people who get along well sexually and personally. Rare.) We were inseparable, smitten. Then one night at the club we all frequented, they chose another couple. I was crushed. You could hear my heart breaking on the dance floor. Our friends, seasoned veterans in the swinging world, chose another couple to play with, at a sex club, and I was bereft. Holy moly, logic does not play in to equations of the heart!
They would choose others again, so did we, but this first time was a blow. I felt the gravity of not being chosen that night, and I’ve felt it again and again since, under myriad circumstances.
I only have half the power. When I avail myself to someone, I am subject to the outcome of whether or not they choose me back. If I’m chosen, I’m filled up. When I’m not chosen, I am left vulnerable and incomplete. I chose you, but you didn’t choose me … and now I’m helpless.
In theory, I could argue, cajole, or chase that f-er down and make him choose me. I’ll tell you though, I’ve argued my way back to the front of the line before and it’s not the same. There’s drama, grief, undo hardship, and bad feelings.
So, I’m left sitting with the pain of the un-chosen. It is the reasonable and humane thing to do. As wise Tim Kelly (www.timkellycounseling.com) would say, “Let it suck.” I can’t harass the person in to choosing me. Not only does it reflect poorly on me as a grown-ass human, but it disrupts future possibilities of being chosen.
There are times when I don’t choose my husband. Sometimes when I choose to be with another man my husband feels vulnerable and helpless. Despite the fact that we practice ethical non-monogamy, it sucks not being chosen. We know what the other is doing and with whom, we have experience, we have understanding, we have communication, and there are still times when I walk out the door and my husband feels a pang of “what about me?”
This begs the question, why court these feelings? Why open myself, my husband, and my lovers to this kind of heartache?
Like I said, I’ve experienced some of the most intense positive emotions of my life in the past five years. But the real growth that I’ve experienced is born solely from the crap: from loneliness, uncertainty, and heartache.
I am grateful for the crap. I am OK not chosen, it forces me to choose myself.