I learned so much from my cloverleaf; I’ve grown and changed in ways that make me proud. Accepting my polyamorous nature has brought about a sense of inner peace, a quiet contentment replacing much of my feelings of inadequacy and needing to constantly prove myself in everything I do. It’s interesting to compare where I am now with where I was upon accepting my submissive nature over a year ago. Although that first step furthered my self awareness and provided a firmer grasp on what my needs are, it was only a small step in the right direction compared to the life altering revelation accepting myself as polyamorous has been.
I have loved sex for as long as I can remember. I have an extremely curious nature and as soon as I was introduced to the birds and the bees I was fascinated. I started masturbating very young and at 16 when I had sex with my first boyfriend I became even more obsessed. Sex ruled my life for many years; I felt enslaved by the strength of my need for sex. I spent the majority of each day thinking about sex. Before long I was concerned that I might be a sex addict. I researched the topic and was somewhat reassured, as I enjoy sex and while I certainly felt a compulsive need for it, one of the earmarks of being an addict appeared to be not actually enjoying the experience. Still, I wanted confirmation and sought out a counselor (not for the first time). As I have encountered each and every time I’ve tried, the counselor was of no help. However, I was able to let go of my fear that I was a sex addict anyway, which pleased me.
I have to admit that I had quite the superiority complex when it came to sex. I felt able to conquer anyone, anytime. Well, men at least; when it came to women, I was clueless as to how to seduce them! Because of my arrogance, I went after nearly every man I found attractive. I succeeded the vast majority of the time, regardless of whether these men were single, in a relationship or even married. I honestly thought marriage meant nothing at all back then. When I was growing up I didn’t have a positive example of what marriage can be, of the kind of marriage I strive for every day. I find it likely that I went after married men because I was not willing to trust anyone and thus was naturally attracted to men who were generally considered unavailable. This put me in the unique position of thinking that I should feel guilty (based on cultural norms) but not actually feeling any guilt. I treated sex like a sport – it was all about power and getting what I wanted. Although I was successful, I was dying a slow and painful death inside from the utter lack of love and intimacy in my life.
When I met H, I treated him like a conquest as per my usual approach. The sex was great, the guy was BIG and I was horny as hell. The first month we slept together we went at it like rabbits; five or six times a day was the norm. H and I got serious quickly, and something intangible changed in me. I wasn’t aware it was happening until, quite suddenly, I found myself making love for the first time, no longer having sex with the goal of simply using some guy to get off. The difference was apparent to H as well; he described it as my no longer being cold and closed off. Although it was a hit to my ego to hear him describe all the sex we’d been having in that context, I really couldn’t hold it against him because I was learning, for the very first time, how to be vulnerable and open myself up to love.
H and I started swinging early in our relationship. As difficult as it was, H seemed determined to break through my walls and teach me how to trust and accept love. He was stubborn and dependable and everything I needed. I came to not only trust, but depend on him quickly. Never before had I felt unconditional love and acceptance. H’s only requirement in exchange has been that I trust him with who I really am and don’t hide from him. Thanks to this approach, I not only felt safe bearing my soul, but also my fantasies. It turned out H and I had many fantasies in common, which we decided to pursue; enter swinging. We have been swinging for a number of years now, and truly only had one negative experience. Swinging has allowed us to fulfill many fantasies and helped us feel closer to one another as well. It has consistently contributed to our happiness in our marriage.
When we got to know the other half of our cloverleaf last year, I made a conscious choice to approach our relationships with hope rather than from a place of fear. I chose to set aside my fear of rejection, of not being good enough, of being fat and ugly and not desirable, of being judged, of being abandoned and heartbroken. This was new for me; I’d never before possessed the power to set aside my own fears and not allow my actions to be controlled by said fears. I chose to open my arms, my heart and my life. I laid my soul bare with minimal prodding and waited for my lovers’ reactions. Even having done so, I was still stunned by the love and acceptance I received in return. This was an enormous breakthrough for me; prior to this, I’d honestly believed H was the only person in the world who could know the true me and still love and desire me. Now I suddenly (and quite unexpectedly!) had concrete proof that this concept was in fact not true! I am not so broken and dark, strange and twisted, dirty and sinful that I could not be loved. I could be, and in fact was, loved not only by H, but also by two other people! In this way B & his wife changed my life forever.
Before getting to know B & his wife, sex had always come easily for me. I was ready to go anytime, anywhere with virtually anyone. This was great when H and I were swinging as I could easily shed my insecurities and enjoy sex for the physical sensation without any emotional consequences. Having never made love with anyone other than H, I could easily enjoy myself with others without any impact on what H and I have between us. This changed while we were involved in our cloverleaf. As I opened up to B & his wife, I fell in love with them both, and they with me. Soon I was no longer having sex with them, but truly making love. B is a possessive and jealous guy. I hate to admit it, but those characteristics made me feel special. B didn’t want to share me, didn’t want me to want any other man, didn’t want me to even casually notice other men. Over the weeks we were involved, I adjusted to his desires and let go of my passing interest in Mr. Casual Friday and my desire to swing. Considering the emotional turbulence during our time together, I felt like I already had my hands full! I was emotionally maxed out – I really felt I couldn’t possibly handle anything more. Because of this, I was genuine when I told B I didn’t want anything or anyone more. I was more than happy to stop swinging and checking people out; I just wanted to float on the feeling of being loved by three different people at once.
In time my cloverleaf fell apart, and I was devastated. I still struggle with it; this is not made any easier by seeing B at work day after day, week after week. Honestly though, it’s getting easier. While I always hope time heals all wounds, I don’t think time is what I owe my improvement to. Rather, I’m seeing more and more clearly how many signs there were that B & his wife were not right for me (us). They are not people I respect. I don’t agree with their morals (or lack thereof), their parenting decisions, or how they treat one another. They are not open and honest with one another the way H and I are. Now don’t think I’m preaching here – I freely admit H and I have difficulty communicating at times and we will probably be working on improving our communication for the rest of our lives. But we try; we try to be open, and honest, and to really understand one another. We don’t hide difficult things or bury them under convenient lies. This is what B and his wife do. As much as I wanted the fantasy of the four of us together, the reality was not a healthy network. And in the end, I am so grateful to have my life and my marriage than to live as they do.
As juvenile as it sounds, I did have a couple of post-break up songs. As much as I don’t like Taylor Swift as a person, her music often speaks to me. Blank Space felt so fitting in the aftermath, as if it was written about me and where I was in my life. I won’t ever hear that song and not think of my cloverleaf and the love I enjoyed for so short a time. I really struggled to redefine myself as half of a partnership with H instead of part of a network of four. H and I talked about swinging; he wanted to go back to it and I didn’t know what I wanted. I did know that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t even having sex with H for a long time; I was nearly too heartbroken to function on the most basic levels. I changed so much through the experience of allowing myself to be loved by and loving people other than H. In fact, I changed so much I felt like I was suddenly high up on the edge of a tall building swaying in the wind with no foundation. It really took me a lot of time (more time even than the cloverleaf was together) to figure out where my foundation was and what it looks like, who I am at that basic level. Sex and love are key components of my foundational self, and I didn’t know how to compose that new foundation at first.
As I started to let go of some of my grief, I came to realize that going forward, sex and intimacy are irrevocably connected for me. Where in the past I had casual/meaningless sex with no personal or emotional connection or even interaction with my partner(s); then developed intimacy with H and continued to have sex with others completely divorced from my intimacy with H (even if I was having sex with others at the same time as H); now sex has meaning I’d never known before. H and I have only played once since the cloverleaf dissolved, and it was with a new guy we’d never met before. I wasn’t attracted to him at all and I had to get drunk before I could go through with it. I enjoyed it some, but mostly it was just a haze that felt okay. It wasn’t particularly exciting and I was absolutely not willing to have a repeat experience with that guy. I came away from that experience clear that I do want to continue swinging, but I need at least some basic connection with our play partners. I need to be attracted to them, I need to like them. I don’t need to be their best friend, but my days of enjoying anonymous sex with strangers are behind me I do believe.
This desire for connection with others extends outside of my sex life. Although I let go of my crush on Mr. Casual Friday when the cloverleaf was together, I never stopped genuinely liking and respecting him. I decided to take a chance and start letting him know how much I appreciate him, the things he’s taught me and done to help me. He was very responsive; he complemented me in kind and initiated more and more conversation of a personal nature between us. Pretty soon I spoke to him a minimum of twice a day, and typically more times than that. The unit we work in does fraud investigations, so one of the downfalls is I’m surrounded by coworkers who ask a lot of questions. This makes me uncomfortable as I’ve spent my whole life trying to hide most things of any importance about me and my life. When I talk to Mr. Casual Friday though, I want to answer his questions. I want to let him in, let him know me. The problem is I haven’t let go of my fear of being rejected for who I am, what I’ve been through and what I’ve done. This is someone I work with and my career is in its infancy. I can’t afford to cast myself in a negative light. My work is a small community and careers have been very publicly destroyed many times before due to personal information.
I trust Mr. Casual Friday professionally, and I believe he is a kind, caring and trustworthy person. Unfortunately, under the circumstances, I don’t feel that is enough to divulge the kind of information that would come up in answering some of his questions with “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. We had fallen into the pattern of talking multiple times a day, every day for several months. I truly enjoyed talking to him, and my interest in him personally was not just sexual. I want to talk to him all day, every day. I want us to be friends – real friends, not just casual, coworker I-know-you type of “friends”. I let this desire impact my actions; otherwise, I would have never allowed myself to spend so much time talking to someone about non-work related topics. Then, a few weeks ago, in the middle of a conversation he asked, almost rhetorically, “How did you get to be so wise?” I wanted more than anything in that moment to lay my soul bare before him, to weave for him my story and how I came to be who I am now. How I fought, pulled myself up by my bootstraps, how I’ve always wanted to be better, to be more, to be happy and kind and loving. But I couldn’t. Instead I misdirected him to believe that I’m just well-read (a suggestion he himself conveniently provided). I didn’t outright lie, I just carefully manipulated him into taking that as my answer to his question. As soon as that happened I felt guilty and ended the conversation as quickly as I could without being obvious. That was the end of our personal conversations.
I’m certain Mr. Casual Friday has felt my withdraw; he has admitted on a few different occasions that he enjoys seeing me/talking to me and misses me when I’m gone. I wish I could explain why I hit the brakes, but that would defeat the purpose of all of my hard work misdirecting him over the last year plus that we’ve worked together. Each day I have to fight the urge to go to him just to talk. Conversely, when I do need to talk to him for work related purposes, I have to gather up all my willpower to do so. I want to run away; in fact, I almost always email him now even though he sits 20 steps from my desk. I know I’m allowing fear and cowardice to dictate my actions, I’m just not sure of a better way. I ran in to him in the lobby today when I was headed for a walk on my break and he was heading in from walking on his break, and he more or less cornered me and forced a short conversation on me. I ended up saying exactly two words and silently shrugging through the rest of what he said, not even responding verbally to any of his questions after the initial one. I’ve pulled the silent act on him many times before, and he always pushes a little, seems confused and then says he is going to let it go/leave it there and goes on about his business. I wish we were real life friends and he could push past my silence to learn my vulnerabilities. As if I didn’t feel guilty enough for my long-term misdirection (bordering on lies) and abruptly cutting virtually all contact between us, now I also feel guilty for effectively shutting him down and all but ignoring him when he reaches out to me.
Mr. Casual Friday is the type of guy that, while I’m sexually attracted to him and would LOVE to get him in bed, I’d rather establish friendship and emotional intimacy with him. I want to be able to see him outside of work; I want to be friends; I want to truly know each other and be able to go to one another for support. I have no idea why I’m so fixated on this guy – even if he wasn’t more than twice my age and married, he is a Jehovah’s Witness. I don’t know how closely he follows the tenets of his religion, but I find it highly unlikely he would feel the type of friendship I want would be appropriate between us. On the opposite end of the spectrum is my friend C (click to read my previous post about her). We are friends and we definitely have sexual chemistry, even though she doesn’t seem to want to go through with anything she starts (yes, she is indeed still quite handsy). She knows a lot about my life and my marriage. I feel like we have built up a fair amount of intimacy over the years we’ve been close, yet I can’t get what I can’t help but want when she’s so hot and always groping, kissing and teasing me! The girl is a huge flirt and I don’t even know what to do with our relationship! I’d drag her in to my bed and tell her to just enjoy herself, but I really don’t know if she’d want that. She is so confusing. At least I’ve learned that I am capable of establishing intimacy under a variety of circumstances. Now I just need to use my head and let good, honest people into my life and my heart. Here’s hoping for the best going forward!