I just want to say to women, ‘Be yourself – it’s the inner beauty that counts. You are your own best friend, the key to your own happiness, and as soon as you understand that – and it takes a few heartbreaks – you can be happy.’
–Cherie Lunghi, actress
I’ve been trying to find love for as long as I can remember.
In fact, I’ve been searching since the first grade. I recall a boy in my class named Jeremy blowing kisses at me and giving me pet names like “baby” while I giggle innocently. The excitement and honor of being someone’s beloved is exhilarating for a seven-year-old kid, given the fact that my parents don’t know about my boyfriend.
Fast forward to my adulthood. That giddy feeling associated with having a love interest has never gone away. I still get swept up in the electric intensity that comes with new relationship energy. When I’m with that person, I think about them, their feel of their hand against my skin, the exhilaration that rushes through my body when their lips touch mine as they smear my lipstick. The way we exchange glances as if we’re the only two people in the room.
I love every moment of these encounters, yet hate them at the same time. As much as I enjoy the chemistry I experience when me and the potential partner are near each other, I know that it will dissipate as quickly as it has started. Because once the brain settles and the dopamine decreases, reality sets in and I realize that the person I’ve fallen for is a mass illusion. And I tend to keep it going by becoming some sort of chameleon, molding myself into anything my crush is into at the time—or try to anyway. Regardless of my discomfort, I would just follow their lead in hopes of getting companionship.
An example of this is me trying my hands at “being poly.” I would date poly people—usually someone with a primary partner—and pose as a complacent, open-minded secondary. I’d tell my potentials that I’m willing to work around their time schedule and that of their partner’s. That I’m ok with seeing them once or twice a week and that it’s perfectly fine with them having partners outside of the relationship even though we’re dating.
The truth, though, is that I don’t even have the patience or mindset to be a secondary partner. If I’m going to be honest with myself, I am a very much a monogamous woman. By the end of the day, I don’t even see myself with multiple people (when in a romantic relationship with a poly person, they are the ONLY one I’m intimate with). Despite knowing this fact, I would continue to play this role in hopes that I would get a relationship out of it. Friends worry about me, telling me that it may not be the best idea to date poly men, but I brush it off and assure them that I’m perfectly ok with participating in this soon-to-be dysfunctional arrangement.
Alas, the typical result is my continuously falling for and chasing after the emotionally unattached poly nerdy guy who would rather dip their entire selves into the pool of poly fuckery than establish an actual relationship with me. What’s worse is that I’ve become attached to them within moments of them telling me that I shouldn’t have expectations. Because the feelings are intense on my end still, I do and say whatever I need to in order make them stay. When I don’t get my way, I personalize it, thinking I’ve done something wrong. Or become envious of the person who has the same type of relationship I desire to have. Or depressed to the point of having suicide ideations.
This has happened a few times and the situation begins the same: I develop an instant crush on someone who spend their time with me, tell me what I want to hear, imagine myself being with them even if they’re poly. The raw intensity quickly fades on their end when I express that I will ultimately want more, but continues for me. My stomach is tied in knots as I cry about them not wanting me until a friend acts as a voice of reason, making me snap out of it.
I don’t even know how any of this nonsense started. I DO acknowledge that this behavior is one of the many reasons why I’ve been single all these years. I would drag myself to death hanging on to failing partnerships in attempts to make it work. And it hurts because I feel that I’m a loving and very honorable human being—the type who would give my partner the world—and I don’t understand why the poly men have never wanted to take me up on my offer.
At least that’s the story I’ve told myself.
But it’s ultimately not about them but about how I view myself. I don’t feel…I just want to be seen as a person of worth in the eyes of whomever I’m spending my time with. Time. That’s what this whole mess is about honestly: someone’s time and competing for it. As a child, I would compete with my father’s partners or his need to leave or my mother’s God or her partners. I’d fight as hard as I could, but I’d ALWAYS lose and wonder what else I had to do to make my parents see me. This is no different from me getting involved with emotionally unavailable poly people and swingers. I have often felt that I was competing for time and affection with the other sexual partners, but walking away depressed after losing yet another battle that reaffirms the false belief that I’m not worth the time, effort, and trust needed to build a successful long term relationship. These other people are lovable and trustworthly, but I’m not.
I want to shake this feeling of not being good enough as much as I can and as quickly as possible. Not only do I want to enter a romantic relationship without having unrealistic expectations, but because I’m so tired of this internal struggle to gain self-esteem and conformations from those who aren’t trying to establish a life with me.
Please note, Readers, that I’ve nothing against the poly lifestyle itself, as I’m just speaking from my angle. I know poly couples personally and it works for them because they are wired to live that way. I, on the other hand, have never felt authentic every time I’ve attempted it and find that my experiences with poly have been completely shitty because I’ve settled for less than what I deserved in order to feel loved. But the lifestyle is not the issue, but what it represents for me: the decade long competition to be deemed worthy.
One that I have to walk away and heal from in order to become truly happy.