Monogamy. It was a family expectation; I am ticking off the black sheep boxes as I never really managed to fully ascribe to the 1 person for 1 person adage. I found many people of many genders attractive and, slowly, I began to explore that. I started with challenging the convention in the only way I knew how; cheating. Monogamy was the standard so there was no other way. But the drama of it was, just that, drama. If I liked the look of a person, I had to be quiet, sneaky and deceitful. It was exciting but also it made me feel physically sick. This feeling is so normalized; feeling an unbalanced level of discomfort for the sake of a little excitement. Like riding a rollercoaster with a malfunctioning harness; nothing is supposed to feel so emotionally risky that it is completely unsafe! When I started dating there was a 10+ year slew of 1-2-1 relationships was mundane. And was seriously destroying my self-esteem. I felt like a bad guy constantly for having even a minor attraction to anyone other than my partner never mind flirting or making out with them. So, at the end of one particularly long-term ‘Happily Ever After’ relationship, I began openly dating whoever and whenever. And it was great! Until I fell in love with a guy and *BAM* old habits die hard. I didn’t desire monogamy; I was a massive flirt, I was hyper-sexual, I love a good smooch and a fumble on the dance floor. But here I was again romantically enmeshed with one person.
At 29, I fully understood that I was bi. I was absolutely open to open relationships; maybe even polyamory. But I had some caveats. One was I wanted to know how and why my partner selected others; knowing we both shared the same values around moral, sexual and emotional safety. For example, if my partner wanted to do the nasty with a sexually irresponsible neo-nazi who really hated Scottish people and were generally an all-out asshole? No. I would not be okay with that. If my partner wanted to get it with a serial monogamist prone to catching intense feels and doomed to misery as they wouldn’t be able to have exclusivity? I would not be okay with that. No ex’s. And I don’t fuck my friends so that excludes them from the party too. I really don’t enjoy one night stands myself, probably due to the secretive or shame element, but the idea of waking up to another person to communicate with outside of my relationship with my partner is stimulating to me. The second was full disclosure. Going on a date? Awesome. Tell me. Had a one night stand? Cool. Tell me. Cut up because a person decided you weren’t it for the? Shame. Tell me. My ex, along with his many other foibles, seemed to thrive on the particular chaos caused by non-disclosure. I feel like he enjoyed the underhanded nature of cheating and how it caused emotional unbalance in people. In fact, there wasn’t a single relationship in his past that he hadn’t cheated in or created the illusion of cheating based on how much he was desired vs. how little he desired exclusivity with a partner. After the relationship ended I learned that the intensity of these desires was a one-sided fiction on his behalf.
However he played the part of regretful wolf hound so well; Coming home with his tail between his legs after a night out of clearly just being on the pull, committed to apologising after the fact. There was absolutely no need at all. We even talked openly about why there was no need. But more and more often, he would openly flout trust making for awkward encounters with strangers, limiting me making connections with other people. Fuelled by alcohol, he would share intimate thoughts and feelings about our relationship with complete no-bodies that he would elect to never see again due to their ‘obsessive’ nature. Then there was the drunken, abusive ranting I was subjected to in the aftermath due to his needless guilt!
He also seemed to struggle with the self-esteem drop that came from me being attracted to other people; Men in particular. And didn’t I feel the brunt of it. His suspicion filtering into me, translating back to him. We would talk about involving other partners (with the caveats), and then he would be in a different postcode not playing by the rules, and then behaving like the wounded party.
Furthermore, if I didn’t respond with immediate admonishment (and especially if I responded with any genuine curiosity) he would immediately accuse me of jealousy or begin viciously comparing me to these women, directly drawing my insecurities to the forefront namely their success in their chosen careers, their financial position (all previous attempts by comparing appearances would fall flat as there was no higher critique of myself in that respect than my own…which I regularly dismissed anyway).
I didn’t realise how broken I was romantically by my Ex until I watched my recent partner flirt and make-out with all bases of trust covered; Introductions were made, pleasantries were exchanged, reassurances given, not to mention the accumulation of trust and respect that one would expect in a relationship.
I was jealous.
Not of the person they were making out with. Not of the fact that I wasn’t involved. I was jealous of my partner. That used to be me! Sexual, flirtatious, gorgeous, and achieving carnal fulfilment with the security of an emotionally intimate relationship to return to.
My ex totally fucked with my sexual chemistry. Being forced into a monogamous box by someone I loved and trusted, he would then proceed to kick that box across the hallway when he wanted to catch some strange or screw an ex purely for the drama that came from lying to me about it or comparing me to the other party.
I was also still petrified that the ideal circumstances were going to end with my partner viciously turning on me, deliberately citing my insecurities as reasons for turning to someone else rather than for the enjoyment of the situation itself.
This seems to have produced this absolute shit show of sexual disfunction in me; I am addicted to that toxic cycle with him. The thought of sex often repulses me. And I am not asexual. And that crushes me completely. I feel desire, I am capable of those feelings until it comes to the crunch. Even when enjoying myself by myself I can suddenly become shy, nauseous and my brain automatically returns to the last time I felt sexually secure. You guessed it; with my abuser. And that puts a stopper in everything because any situation involving him would end with profound physical and mental torment.
I am working hard to challenge all elements of my PTSD. Living in wise-mind, attempting mindfulness, and maintaining a validating level of judgement and critique.
But I confess that I miss the spontaneity of human attraction and sexual connection without the extreme boundaries and sub-concious hyper caution!