I started out the month of April deciding I would try to be celibate for 30 days. Things on the romantic front were more stressful than pleasurable. Worry and confusion about dynamics and intentions had taken over my brain in ways I didn’t like. I needed a reset before launching into Spring. I made it exactly two weeks, but in that time, I realized a few important things:
I can’t do casual sex. Maybe if I connect with someone once and then decide it’s best to keep it friendly and take sex off the table, it remains casual. Beyond that, I develop feelings. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, and lighthearted sexual fun will continue to have its time and place in my life, but I know to avoid trying to build space with people who prefer casual arrangements.
I’m getting really good at letting go of connections and relationships that challenge my boundaries in an unhealthy way. I’ve been clear and kind while telling people that the timing isn’t right, or that the chemistry isn’t working, or that I want something deeper.
In the past, I’ve tried to make pieces fit, or make concessions, and these relationships always end with me feeling hurt and mistrustful. I trust myself to choose well. I trust my intuition to illuminate things I should see while deciding whether or not to create space for someone.
Nobody is perfect. The later we are into adulthood, the more hurt and complexity we all carry around with us. It’s impossible to meet people without baggage. I think the key lies in choosing people whose luggage compliments your own. Our life experiences can create strength and support for someone else. These lessons help refine our awareness of what we need.
I’m deeply drawn to seekers who strive to understand their own minds and hearts. People who want to be better, and who want to live deeply in their emotions. Those people are going to be the ones who will at least try to weather the storms with their partner.
I am ambiamorous. This is a new term in the lexicon of loving that I discovered recently. Someone who is ambiamorous is equally as comfortable in a polyamorous relationship as they are in a monogamous relationship. If they meet a partner who is poly, they feel good about exploring that. If love leads them to someone with monogamous leanings, they can exist this way too. So, if y’all were looking to slap some labels on me, please make sure this one is included. (I’m a queer, cis, pagan, single mom, ambiamorous femme)
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted in the bedroom. I did not. If you’d asked me in March what my ideal partner could bring to the party when it comes to sex, I would have said something like, “I need someone who will lovingly dominate me and explore some kink with me”. Or, “I need a horned god who will worship me like a goddess and I will return this adoration”.
Recently, I had a revelation. I became aware of the affectations I carry into new sexual space, and was rather stunned by this. I thought I was genuine, but I think it was bravado. Now, I want someone who I can arrive with in sexual space and be entirely open; free of preset ideas around what I need, ready to discover what that moment, and that shared energy reveals. I want someone who will meet me at the fire, take my hand and walk with me through it to the other side, grounded and present, and ready to explore any place we desire.
It’s okay to be scared. I’ve been through a lot, and I don’t mean over the course of this last year. It’s hard for me to trust romantic partners. It’s scary for me to believe that they are sincere and invested in building something real with me. It makes complete sense that I’d be afraid to be vulnerable again, but I don’t think this means I’m not ready to try.
According to certain psychological frameworks, I’m an anxious attached person. This means I need reassurance. I may get emotional/weepy when it feels really connected and real. I will still have my own world of interests and things to do, so I’m not worried about being clingy, but I will need to be reminded with words and gestures of how cherished I am. I give a lot of that sort of thing, so I don’t think it’s a big ask. I need to know I’m safe.
The right person will understand this and will be okay with holding my hand until we’re through the forest of newness and uncertainty.
It’s okay to wait. Or not. I don’t know if we’re all like this, but there comes a time in the getting to know a potential lover when I really must know how physically compatible we are. I love good chemistry, and usually if it’s strong while everyone’s clothes are on, it continues to be strong in other circumstances. However, there are those occasions when this is not the case, and this disconnect continues to happen beyond that ‘first time’ which is often a little awkward and a tad uncertain. It’s okay to let that chemistry build before you see how it translates to naked time, but it’s also okay to arrive at naked time sooner rather than later in the interest of researching an investment.
I can ask for what I need. I’ve been seeing someone for a few months who I’m quite fond of. It’s low key, and he was really clear on his own capacity for relationship. We aren’t looking for the same thing, ultimately, but I enjoy his company and he’s become a dear friend. Before I declared my sexual hiatus, I asked him for two very specific things if we are to resume that aspect of our relationship. How I follow through with this will reflect how well I honor my boundaries. Those boundaries, I realize, are everything. They are subject to shifting, and changing, but when I know they are firm I cannot ignore them because they help me create the safety I deserve.
Emotional safety is everything. What do I mean by emotional safety? I mean that I know I can trust my partner. I can lean into them when I need care and support. That I believe in my bones they are on my team and have my best interests in mind. That they will share their own inner world and their struggles with me. That they won’t be afraid to let me know who they are and what they need. That I can be exactly who I am and be loved for all that I have to offer, PLUS all that I have to work through. That I will work hard to be worthy of their love, by being as authentic and vulnerable as I can be, while trusting that they are doing the same.
The early stages should be fun. This period of discovering another person should be wondrous, and delightful. The only thing that should cause tension is the anticipation of that next moment. It should feel like forward motion, and delicious curiosity. It should be a slow burn until both parties are truly sure they want to sink deeper. It should not include anxiously fretting over where you stand, wondering why you have a weird feeling about the other person, wanting more and not being met, or reading text messages obsessively to try to decipher what is actually being said.
On Sunday I had brunch with my darling cousin Alex. How I love to talk with her. We discussed how each of us has our own mountain of stuff to deal with, and how life throws all kinds of things at us. How building relationship can really illuminate complex pieces of who we are. We agreed that at the end of the day, all we can really hope for is someone who will try. Try to create a home, with loving space to share. Try to face the hurdles together. Try to build each other up and see each other realize our dreams. Try to understand and offer loving support when the other person is struggling. Try, and keep trying because it’s a safe place to try.
Not bad for two weeks, right? I mean, these things were already percolating in there, but there was suddenly more space for me to see what was swirling around. It’s like watching the stars sometimes, these little flashes that twinkle around in my brain.
This kind of clarity seemed sharper when I removed an element that was creating more of an energy drain than any kind of positive force. So much of my identity is tied to understanding sexuality, which I won’t apologize for, but it was kind of amazing to see what happened when I shifted that energy back into myself instead of out into the world.
Sometimes a great, big, inhale is all we need.