Wednesday was Valentine’s Day or, as I am going to call it going forward, Vanilla Day. I’ve never been much of a fan of Valentine’s. I tend to crumble under the pressure of pre-organisation anyway, so a day like V-Day when you have to be lovable and romantic just tips me over the edge. In theory I also don’t buy into the commercialism and incongruence of it: the fact that people buy cards, and gifts and book meals in over-crowded restaurants and try to prove how in love they are.
I’m also a bit annoyed that I don’t buy into it, because, after all, the sentiment is a lovely one. And actually it affected me in a way I wasn’t expecting.
The reality of starting out on a journey of non-monogamy is that it is lonely. Not physically lonely: my phone is busy and I go on a lot of dates. But I am not looking for “no strings” sex or a series of first dates and building meaningful relationships with multiple people takes time.
Conventional, monogamous dating is one thing: you go on a date, decide if your values align or if you have chemistry and if you do, you invest a significant amount of time into getting to know that person until you decide whether or not they’re someone you can picture yourself with long-term. Being upfront about non-monogamy adds some complications. Firstly, it narrows your pool quite significantly. While it is starting to be seen as a more valid choice, most people are still monogamous and, if not, many just assume that non-monogamy means non-commitment or consensual “cheating”.
But I’m looking for more than that: I’m looking for a partner. I’m looking for a special someone who feels the way I do about relationships but is still willing to commit to me. I believe that another human is not mine to possess; I believe that we should be free to explore connections with others. But I would love that to happen in a respectful, honest and open way with someone who chooses to share that journey with me. I want to be able to explore my own connections with others, perhaps with my partner too, sexually and otherwise.
This kind of relationship takes an awful lot of trust and building that level of trust takes time. Plus, I am very impatient but also very new to this… I am learning quickly but also making mistakes. Not every online connection materialises into a meeting in person and not all of those that do ever go on to become anything more than a first date. Not to mention other kinds of limitations: while I don’t believe that love is finite, time and money certainly are.
So with all this in mind, Vanilla Day made me feel lonely, a recurring theme for me at the moment, in a way that I just wasn’t expecting. Throughout the day I had some lovely messages and my housemates and I spent the evening together making pizza from scratch; we had a lovely time, talked about sex and politics, and got very merry on red wine.
I ended my day with a 1 hr 44 min call to M, one of the first people I started talking to last summer when I made the decision to jump into both non-monogamy and kink with both feet. Interestingly, M and I have only met up once, but something keeps drawing us together. He is in a long-term open relationship (the story of when I met his wife will be told in time) and was working away so staying in a hotel with some free time to talk. We caught up and talked about life in general, we giggled, and ripped Vanilla Day apart. I cried a bit and we talked some more and I cried some more. He’s been where I am and he held my emotions making me feel understood and cared for in a way that is rare. He helped me to feel grateful for what I do have, whereas my propensity can be to lament what is missing. He also made me realise that the messages I receive and the conversations I have on a daily basis are all signs of people thinking of me and caring about me. And even if I haven’t found my non-monogamous knight in shining armour yet, I am surrounded by people willing to make me a part of their day.
The biggest lessons, though: I need to be patient and appreciate all of the experiences I am having for what they are. I am having fun, I am speaking to and meeting new and interesting people all the time. I am learning my limits and pushing my boundaries and confronting previously unknown parts of myself on a daily basis. And that, after all, is why I chose this path in the first place.