This is the sixth in a series of entries about the little parts of polyamory, from individual perspectives.
I was nervous about meeting my wife’s girlfriend for the first time. Because I thought that their relationship was the begging of the end of my marriage.
In nearly all of my relationships, both mono and poly, same-sex attraction has been an element. I have been dumped on a number of occasions for women. A big part of my college triad flying into bits was that they wanted to change the relationship to be just about them. Everyone that I’m seeing now is on the bisexual spectrum somewhere.
I went through a year of my life where I thought I had this weird power to turn women into lesbians by hugging them. This is completely fucking ridiculous of course, and has to do with the people I am attracted to instead of anything I was or was not doing. But it can be disconcerting to have a long streak of crushes come out of the closet at the mere hint of feeling attracted to them.
So when my wife told me about her girlfriend, I was totally triggered by their relationship. I know that popular culture says that I was supposed to be really into the idea of my wife dating another woman, but to me it was full of spookiness and ethereal threats.
I took it into therapy, and hacked at it from a bunch of different angles for more than a month. I talked about it with my girlfriend, who was patient enough to hold my hand while I talked it out and cried it out on her. I talked to friends of mine about what was going on, and the ones that knew my old shit nodded and smiled and tried to get me out of my old pattern. And it took me about a month before I felt I had processed my patterns enough that I was okay meeting her.
Of course it was awesome, because she’s really great. I like spending time with her. I like when she is over at the house. I like the happiness that it brings to my wife, and how that makes our relationship better. It was my first true encounter with compersion with my wife, and I loved it.
But my wife’s girlfriend has a small problem. She likes to raid our kitchen. If she’s hungry and someone is around and awake, she’ll totally ask if it is okay to have some food. But if there is no one awake in the house when she’s hungry, she totally goes and raids the pantry. And she was eating all of our good granola bars.
Instead of having a conversation about eating the good granola bars (like they probably should have), my wife went out and bought some generic granola bars, and left them in plain sight. And her girlfriend totally went for them, leaving the expensive ones safe in the cupboard. Everyone was happy.
I was telling this story the other night to a bunch of friends. I love to tell it because I find it hilarious the way that my wife conducted that small little sliver of their relationship. But I’ve been thinking about it over the last few days, and I realized that the telling of that story is the way that I frame conversations about their relationship, and how I got through those insecurities and triggers.
Because before I even get to tell people about the granola bars, I’m talking about my feelings, my worries, and my way of approaching them. The granola bar story becomes a decoy of its own, and it provides a cover for me to be able to talk about my insecurity and the corresponding compersion. Sometimes I need to remember that I put in the work, and ended up with this really nice part of my life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is also a structure for me to be more open with others, and get their comments, and hear their stories. And that allows me to learn from them, so that the next time I find myself triggered and insecure, I have more information to work from.
I’m happy to do the work. But sometimes I need a decoy.