Abundant Living (Part II)
On the compartmentalized heart, reflective romance, and accepting good things in a harsh world.
“Your body changes everything”
It was about a month after officially ending things with L that I started seeing someone new.
As much as my affair with her had wreaked havoc on my mood and killed my sex drive, it also unlocked something revelatory in me. For all the ways that love was bad for me, it was responsible for triggering a net positive shift in how I see myself, how I feel about my body, and the kind of intimacy I need to pursue. It made me aware of certain needs that simply couldn’t be fulfilled by my long-term romantic partners because they don’t share my experience passing through the world, which just meant I needed to also be able to pursue intimacy with femmes who did.
I’ve been non-monogamous my entire adult life and with that has come a tendency to compartmentalize the ways I express love and myself. There are certain activities, truths, and interests I share with certain partners that I wouldn’t feel right sharing with others. It never means I love or want anyone more than anyone else, it’s just a different kind of connection with each lover. There’s romance in keeping those individual intimacies unique to each relationship. But when one of them ends, it hurts all the more to have lost the person connected to that part of you.
Left with that longing and not wanting to catch myself going back to L again for a pheromone kick, I got back on The Apps and in spite of all my prior experiences with online dating in Los Angeles, managed to match with someone who I not only thought was attractive, but also shared similar values and interests. Being a similarly tall, earnest dyke of gender-having experience, Shiv held many of the qualities I was looking for in a lover, on top of just being very charming. She liked horror movies and old Hollywood (impressive), was passionate about prison abolition (hot) and didn’t use social media (drop dead sexy). Most importantly, she was kind and a really good communicator with firm boundaries, which was a welcome change.
We texted non-stop for a week about our passions, our relationship with gender, the inborn homoeroticism in the films of Martin Scorsese, and how hot we found each other both physically and emotionally. She got tested, and a day or so after, she picked me up for our first date. When I got in her car, my hands were basically vibrating as I reached to interweave my fingers with her similarly lengthy delicate digits. We went to a local park together on a luckily sunny day among a rainy week, sat under a shady little tree—I don’t know what kind of tree it was because I don’t know trees—and continued the threads of our many text conversations, all the while gradually inching our bodies closer and closer until we were making out and warmly tangled up in each other’s limbs. Our similarly lanky builds made us fit so well into each other in a way neither of us seemed entirely accustomed to. When we kissed, she bit so hard that the impression of her teeth wouldn’t depart from my inner lip.
After I picked the twigs out of her bun, the two of us went back to my apartment to engage in swoony sodomy before watching The Irishman, eating pasta, and having more sex. Never before had I been matched well enough in height and shape to both successfully and enjoyably 69 with someone, and yet here was Shiv, fervently eating me out as I joyously sucked her off. As she went home, I went back to my room, hit my Double Scorpio poppers bottle, and bounced around my room while weeping to 2000s- era german electro house.
After spending nearly a year where the only humans I’d gotten to see regularly had been Nyx (my girlfriend who lives in LA), each of our respective roommates, and my mother, the sudden arrival of someone entirely new with whom I could share physical and emotional intimacy was more than I knew how to handle. I mean, we didn’t meet in a bar or a restaurant like I was accustomed to and we’d worn masks upon meeting and while walking through the park to our secluded little spot, but having something so ordinary, sweet, and fresh felt completely surreal and overwhelming.
Part of me felt bad for being excited. Recently, COVID rates in California have been out of control. I haven’t been able to see some of my partners in almost a year now because they live in different cities. Even if I am being safe, who am I to have something nice right now, while everyone else, including my loved ones, don’t have that same access? Part of me felt guilty for even needing more than my partner could give me, but maybe I just felt bad to have something good. The thing with L made sense. That love affair was an exercise in bad impulse control and reflected the state of my life. It was like an unending stress dream; it felt right to yearn for something I couldn’t have.
It doesn’t feel logical or fair to compare lovers, but it’s more than understandable to contrast the experiences you’ve had in different relationships. Shiv is completely different from L, but she makes me feel emboldened in much the same way while raising none of the same alarms. It was the parallels in life experiences and personal expression they each had in common with me that encouraged me to offer new modes of vulnerability. I’ve learned enough to recognize that sharing an experience with someone doesn’t guarantee my emotional safety or romantic compatibility, but having a lover who shares similar scars mitigates a lot of my fears and anxieties about letting mine be seen.
But things are going well and if anything, I’m trying to be at peace with just letting myself be all oxytocin-high over someone new who reciprocally adores me. After our third date, a trip to El Matador Beach with some fish burritos, we fondled each other’s junk on the drive home. It may sound silly, but in my eyes nothing embodies the spring of new romance like jerking each other off through your jeans while stuck in golden hour traffic on the PCH. Then there are new parts of me I’ve been able to access through our connection. I’ve always made playlists about or for the women I had feelings for but before now I’ve rarely received them with the same passion I give them. It’s been fun exchanging about half a dozen mixes each in the past month, developing this reciprocal conversational love language of emotions, vibes, and memories conveyed through other peoples’ words and melodies. And as I’ve learned these past few weeks, one of the greatest benefits of polyamory is finally having someone hot who will watch The Sopranos with me.
I’m smitten with Shiv, but it doesn’t detract from how I want my other partners. Since I’ve begun things with her, Nyx has noticed the general return of my libido and, more importantly, a desire to be present. Not only do we spend many of our nights cuddling and playing Final Fantasy together but I’m also just trying to be more intentional with our time together and show her my adoration. I still miss Dahlia, my long-time partner and dominant, and the way she shows her love for me by piercing my tits, covering me in my own blood, and letting me worship her feet. Going this long separated from the person I’ve been with most of my adult life has made me feel really disconnected from a major part of who I am and no amount of infatuation and affection in my proximity can really change that. In the end, I don’t like admitting that fucking and dating multiple people makes me a better partner, but having all these aspects of me seen and cared for bears significant value for me.
In the same way, new romance doesn’t actually make me stop missing L, the way she smells, or all her anime nerd tendencies. In my decade of practicing polyamory, one thing I’ve found is that people can’t be replaced in my heart as much as new lovers can meet similar needs. My affection for all my lovers and partners have helped decipher some aspects of me that others couldn’t (which is probably why I stay so close with all my ex-girlfriends still).
Is it okay to find what I need to understand myself in other people? We’re all tangled into each other, if not in a mess of soft limbs, then a cacophony of conflicting feelings and needs. In the not so distant past, I’ve overthought things, put my lovers on pedestals, and worried about every little mistake I could make that’d ruin all my relationships and lead to the future me hating the current me. But for the most part, that constant hum of anxiety isn’t here this time. I’m just working to treasure everything for however long it lasts and trying hard not to repent.