Journeys, cont. – Needs

I recognize in myself a need to be able to contain things (things being a euphemism for the discomfort of this anxiety/emotional turmoil/upheaval) in boxes, so that I can manage and deal with them in small pieces. I also recognize this is not always conducive to allowing situations to happen and grow organically, which is, in essence, unfair to the other persons involved.  I am trying to balance my need to know, and thus have things in a “box” that allows me to deal with my emotions better, with reality, their/his desire to allow things to happen as they will, and with my desire not to be controlling.  I don’t know if I am succeeding.
I said to W the other day that I needed to know what and when. Not details of the what, but what’s on the table, what is in the realm of happening and when it might be happening. This is not an effort to control him and his actions – I don’t mean to say that I want to decide if it can be only play or sex is on or off the table – I just want to be able to prepare myself for whatever it is, and I need a little bit of time to do so.  Just as his initial response is always “no” when asked about doing something, which he then may moderate as he has time to think about it, my initial response to these situations is always a knee-jerk one before I can bring myself around to being okay with it.  Also, it makes me feel as though things are being kept from me if I find out later that what I thought was A turned out to be A, B , C & D, and even more so if it was planned in advance and I was not informed. Yes, I’ll get over it, as I am aware that sometimes things happen (and I do not want to destroy all spontaneity) but my need to know what’s going on is very very high, and is important to me finding ways to cope.
Being blindsided – even unintentionally – means that I have to deal with additional negative emotions before I can even begin to address the reality of the situation.
I have two examples of this. The first happened with Ad and a girl I introduced him to (yeah it seems I am always trying to pimp my guys out.) But she had so many of his interests that I don’t share, and I liked her a lot, so it seemed a natural thing to do a little matchmaking.  They hit it off splendidly, and I really was very happy for them both. They had a date or two, but, as far as I knew, the relationship had not progressed into the sexual realm. I fully expected – and wanted – it to, but I also expected that I would know when/if that was a possibility. He is not one to jump into a sexual encounter, so I knew that if and when he decided to go there with her, it would have some meaning, and that he would let me know when things were moving beyond casual friendship.
Then one night while we were out together he casually mentioned that on their second date (almost 2 weeks previous to him mentioning it) he had bent her over, hiked her dress up, and had sex with her.  I felt betrayed and as though things had been kept from me.
I lost it. Really, really lost it.
The other time was with W. We stay in pretty much constant on-and-off contact via email throughout the day. I don’t like phones and he doesn’t text, so that is our primary mode of communication. One day, with no warning or explanation, he stopped emailing at about noon, and I didn’t hear a word from him until the next day. I was beside myself…especially when I found out the reason was that he had had someone over and they had played. I had no idea who this girl was, nor any idea that he was even thinking about playing with her. He simply stopped communicating with me at all – out of “politeness” to her.  On top of that, little extra details, such as the fact that she had stayed the night, and that he had spent a good portion of the next morning/afternoon with her, kept coming out, but not in a forthright manner.
Again, I felt deceived, blindsided, kept in the dark, and I lost it.
Both Ad and I and W and I wended our way through those difficult situations. I realized that being able to live with a situation in my head for a bit is essential to me being able to manage my negative emotions and eventually find some equanimity. Neither of the things that happened were things that I didn’t want to happen, but I need to know that’s where things are going/what’s happening so that I have time to work through my feelings.
I am almost obsessive about letting the guys know the where and what of any new spark or flirtation that comes along. If it has even a possibility of being something, I share what that something might be with them. Neither of them seems to have a need for that information, but I suppose, since I do, I always assume others do. I don’t want to blindside either of them.
I was blindsided last night. It wasn’t actually that big of a deal, and, in reality, was far closer to what I would have wanted to do in her situation than what I was under the impression was going to happen.  But I was never informed that what did happen was part of the plan, and so what I thought was going to happen was not what they had, between the three of them, planned to do.  This morning I realized that tonight – what I had thought of as their play date – is still that.  Nothing about today has changed. But last night, when I thought I was doing so well, only to feel blindsided by finding out that they had had entirely different plans than I had in my head, was really really bad. I still feel anxious and queasy. Roughly two hours sleep will do that to a person.
The worst part of all this is that when their date was over, W wrote me an amazing, wonderful, perfect email. I reallly thought – damn, this is going to work! I can do this, we can do this, I can react well and be emotionally healthy.  I felt so good about myself, about him, about us.  But all my joy in that was crushed under the weight of the negative emotions that having been kept in the dark (as I felt) engendered.
I know that he didn’t deliberately keep me in the dark – or rather he did, because he thought that when I said I didn’t want details, I meant I didn’t want to know whether or not they were going to play both nights. And it really doesn’t make that big of a difference, now that I have had time to process. As I said, if it had been me, I might have wished for the same set-up (an “intro” play session to determine if they both wanted to go forward with the “main event” the next night.) So yeah, given some time I am able to see the logic in it and even approve of it. But I had things in this box, and the box was that they would either meet for “just talk” Monday and then, if all went well, play Tuesday, or else they would meet Monday and hit it off and play Monday night – and that would be the end of it. I wouldn’t have to deal with anything else.  I could handle that, and was handling it. I had some anxiety, but I was in a good place, especially after reading W’s email.
And so I reacted. Not horrendously, I thought, but not in a positive way.
None of all this negates or invalidates what W said in his email. And tonight is still the same as I had expected. But it all feels raw, and as though I am having to slog through all this negative emotion again. I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally, and I know that my knee-jerk reaction probably spoiled W’s enthusiasm and pleasure.  Pleasure and enthusiasm in our relationship.  I can only imagine how disappointed in me he is.
I suck, the day sucks, I am shitty at this and can’t seem to help but fuck everything up.
I really don’t know where to go from here.

6 thoughts on “Journeys, cont. – Needs

  1. *hugs*
    For what it’s worth, I think you’re talking about one of the most complex and hardest things around open relationships: disclosure.
    It’s funny because I’ve realized this is a really challenging area and one you read very little about in all the “poly” books.
    It’s part of communication, but it’s a very specific aspect. And, it’s one where there can be (and are) significant differences in people’s needs. Some people want to know as much as possible while others view that as an invasion of privacy. And balancing your own needs and wants around disclosure with those of others is challenging (all the more so the more people you have involved).
    This is another place where the “translation buffer” is important.
    This is also another place where the “recovery mechanism” is important because this is an area where inadvertent stumbles are likely to happen.
    I think where you go is you let yourself feel what you feel, and remember that it wasn’t intentional. Then, later, you can talk through this and understand what new requirements this has helped you realize and make agreements around that to help prevent this from happening again.
    That’s using the “recovery mechanism” to help refine the “translation buffer”.
    Unfortunately, it seems that disclosure is something that is refined in this way. Like I say, it’s a particularly messy part of open relationships.
    But you’re on the right track and you’re doing as well as you can. Give yourself credit for that.

    1. Thank you so much for this. I really am trying not to place limits or to control these situations, and even asking for this amount of disclosure feels to me like I *am* in a way, so it’s very hard to ask for. I do know my triggers though, and this is one of them, so it seemed like maybe…we could find a way to eliminate or minimize it, without enabling those bad behaviors or reactions.
      What made all this suck so bad was that W’s emails about the situation (not the disclosure part, but how he felt about where this was taking us, how good he felt about it – and, by extension, me and our relationship) were so wonderful they brought tears to my eyes. I REALLY did think…wow! We are doing this, for reals! lol But now…I feel like I should have just shut up and “gotten over it.”

      1. I understand what you mean but I would say that you’re an extrovert: shutting up isn’t how you “get over it”. You have to talk things out to work them out.
        I saw your latest post: I’m glad things are better.

        1. ~nodding vigorously~ You are correct. I DO think stuffing it down or silencing myself wouldn’t work. I do process by verbalizing, and cope by verbalizing, so that would probably be counter-productive. We are both discussing other ways to approach it.

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