I saw an article online today entitled "Long-term relationships: How to keep them fresh and exciting", and it was enough to break my month-long blogging silence (an accidental blogging silence, promise. I've been too busy with interesting things that I could be totally blogging about to actually blog about them.)
I saw this article and I didn't click on it, because my first thought was: Why the fuck would I want to do that?
I've been exploring poly more in my writing hiatus, and the jury is still out on whether or not it's for me. Not because of the jealousy factor, which is slowly coming into focus and under control with time and communication. And the fact that my partner is poly - poly as an orientation, really, more than a lifestyle - is something that has come to sit surprisingly well with me. But I'm not sure for myself (and thankfully, have zero pressure, only encouragement to explore all options and find what makes me happiest.)
I bring up the poly thing immediately on the heels of excitement in long-term relationships because the excitement of new relationships is exactly why I'm not sure that I'm a good fit for poly, or that poly is a good fit for me.
I have a sex drive that comes and goes in fits and starts. I have, over my time in the fetish community, come to embrace my sexuality, and to find myself sexy in ways I never thought possible. Bad self-esteem days aside, I would call myself sexy, or rather, I would call myself a person who is by and large comfortable with noticing and acknowledging that I feel sexy. When I am happy I dance and shimmy around my house. I relish the hips that used to cause me so much grief. I am a sexual human being, and that's a-ok.
But I don't always need sex, and I don't always need kink. I can go months without either without feeling like there is something missing from my life. And that excitement of a new partner, those butterflies in your belly and the blushing and stammering and drawing hearts in the margins of your papers?
Yeah, I'm kind of over it.
Maybe I started too early. I dated way more than I should have (and way more than my parents can ever know) through junior high and high school. I lived for that feeling of liking someone new, and all of the ensuing ups and downs. Those highs are something else - I mean, your body is undergoing actual chemical changes, for fucks sake - and the downs are staggeringly spectacular. Crushing, even. And I find the whole process incredibly exhausting.
For whatever reason, the way my brain is wired, I struggle to maintain even deep friendships. I can care very much for a person, wish them the best, be interested and invested in their lives to a degree that most people would think of as a close friendship, and... I don't feel the need to see that person. If a month or two goes by and I don't, I might think "hey, I should see if X wants to grab coffee." And if I'm feeling extra ambitious, I might in fact make plans with them for coffee.
So I didn't click on the article about excitement in long-term relationships, because I don't want that. I want what I already have (which is possibly the rarest of all phenomena in this world). I want a partner I can cuddle with all weekend, a partner I can cook for and go to concerts with, a partner I can wake up early on a Saturday morning by singing show tunes and who won't hit me too hard with a pillow in return. I want the partner I have, the one where I don't need to use my words when I get anxiety and go non-verbal, the one who knows when I need to be pinned to the bed and taken and who knows when I just need a hug instead, the one who knows where to touch and what to say without prompting or cue cards.
My brain is wired in some interesting ways that take a lot of adjustment, and maybe I'm just tired of having to explain it to people. Maybe I'm just so incredibly happy to be with someone who gets it, that the thought of having to explain myself all over again to new people is sort of exhausting. My blog is getting extensive enough that I can sometimes just direct people here, but that feels a bit like giving people super depressing and weird and non-sequitur-ridden homework if they want to get close to me (Chapter One: History of Sexual Assault. Chapter Two: Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chapter Three: Man I Fucking Love Puppies! Chapter Four: Depression and Anxiety.)
So don't get me wrong. In the moments in my life where my sex drive is high, or when I feel particularly inclined toward kink, it's incredibly nice to know there are a number of people out there interested in helping me out. It's incredibly flattering, too, which I think is one of the benefits of poly that people are too hesitant to discuss - yes, it feeds my ego, and no, there is nothing wrong with that (a year ago I would have written that it feeds my self-esteem, but I've gotten subsequently tired of the implication that ladies should only work on building their self-esteem or their confidence or their insert-self-help-buzzword-here, like if you're of the female persuasion then loving yourself should always be a chore.)
But I don't feel particularly driven to seek out those encounters frequently, and when I do and I feel butterflies creeping in, I try to scale back. For the first time, my life is full of stability, and it's a beautiful thing. The love in my long-term relationship isn't a "fresh" love, and thank fucking god. It's wonderful and calming. It's an ever-present voice in the back of my head even on my worst days that holds me and cares for me, it's a gentle hand on the back of my neck when I need to be grounded. It is slow and steady and gives me a deep well to draw from when needed.
The irony of all this, of course, is that this stability is what gives me the confidence (whoops, guess I do still like that word) to push myself farther and farther, to explore new things knowing that there's a safe harbour waiting for me at home. Having the safety of knowing I can say no and still have the most wonderful thing in the world waiting for me at home helps me know when I really, truly want to say yes.
Sex comes and goes for me, and that's okay. And I know who would be out there and interested if I needed someone. But in terms of butterflies and love and excitement, I have everything I could ever need.
With great love,