Mixed-Orientation Relationship Struggles (Part 2 of 3)

A Quick Recap

This 3-Part Series on Mixed-Orientation Relationship Struggles is my submission for the August Carnival of Aros topic Relationships. This is part 2. Parts 1 and 3 will be linked here accordingly.

Me: Sex-Favorable Demisexual and Demiromantic; My romantic “switch” has flipped for Emily; experiencing constant impulses/urges/desires to kiss and sensually touch Emily; writing poetry as a way to express my feelings to Emily

Emily: my partner, luvtheheaven; Sex-Averse, Kissing-Averse Asexual, Demisensual, and Gray-Aromantic; experiencing alterous love for me; her Demisensual “switch” has flipped for me

Please read each of the poems below with its context in mind. The poems were written specifically for my partner, about our relationship. I know now that at times I was harsh in my poems or completely missed the mark in understanding Emily’s identities and feelings toward me. I’m far from perfect and the way I have assigned value to things like certain types of love in the past has been flawed. However, I still feel these poems are worth sharing, as part of a point of time when we were fighting to make our mixed-orientation relationship work. I hope readers will find these experiences, told in this series from only my own point of view, interesting and potentially relatable. Perhaps what I share can help others in mixed-orientation relationships.

My Struggle

As I mentioned in my last post in this series, my difficulties with certain aspects of my mixed-orientation relationship with Emily were still on my mind, even after I wrote the poem entitled “Love.” A couple weeks later I felt the need to write a new poem, again expressing my feelings the best way I knew how. In between “Love” and this new poem, my demisexual switch had indeed flipped for Emily. I had been hoping throughout the course of our relationship up until this point that it would not flip at all, because she does not and would not ever feel sexual feelings back or want to engage in anything she deemed sexual activity. Of note, my demisexual switch had never before flipped for someone who did not already have those sexual feelings for me. Still, it eventually happened in this case. I thought my urges to kiss her had been bad. All of a sudden I was having sex-related dreams most nights (not often about her, but while in bed next to her) and thinking about her subconsciously in sexual ways. The urges and impulses I started having were much more uncomfortable for me because I knew how she’d feel about them. I did admit that my switch flipped to her, and she said it was okay and that it did not impact how she felt about me. But I was still so unsure.

Also around this time a mental health professional I was seeing began strongly urging me to think critically about my relationship with Emily (as well as my relationship with my other partner, who I have not yet talked about on this blog). I had admitted to this professional that deep down I really wanted to get my emotional and sexual needs met by the same person. She began encouraging me to consider ending the relationship with Emily (and implied also the relationship with my other partner, who is non-binary and allosexual and with whom I did have a sexual relationship) and to “instead” look for someone new who would meet all of my needs. Clearly this professional did not understand polyamory very well (unlike my therapist, who is awesomely poly-friendly…and poly herself). Still, she held a position of power and authority and her words meant something to me…they impacted me in ways I did not intend for them to. So on August 12, 2019 I wrote a poem entitled “My Struggle.”

My Struggle

A couple weeks gone by
Yet still the struggle remains
I’m confused as ever
Despite our positive gains

Need to make a decision
That’s what my psychiatrist said
Meanwhile you’re fantasizing
About the day we wed

I was so excited too
Nervous, but ready to begin
But now I’m just so terrified
That I will never win

What if this means I lose you
What if my needs are never met
How could I live with myself
How could I ever forget

I can’t ask you for things
You aren’t comfortable with
I shouldn’t get my hopes up
I need to stop this myth

I want emotional connection
You provide that for me
I get the sexual elsewhere
But that’s not enough you see

I want emotional with sexual
Both of them from one source
Separate is not enough
But we can hardly alter course

With them I have the sexual
But we don’t connect like you and I
It doesn’t satisfy my need
No matter how hard I try

Maybe a third partner
Could help fill this void
But three’s a lot to balance
It could leave our relationship destroyed

So I’m left with asking
What do I really need?
I do not want to hurt you
And I don’t mean to mislead

I’m not asking you for anything
I know any change is on me
I need to learn to suppress my urges
Or to find and balance three

I’m just so concerned
About our commitment and the dreams we share
I’m afraid I’ll de-prioritize you
When you to my third I compare

If they give me emotional and sexual
All that I need and desire
Where will that leave us?
What only from you can I acquire?

There’s our future family together
Our deep and unmatched bond
The way I feel when I’m around you
The long texts with which you respond

There’s plenty unique about us
Even if in the end my fears won’t subside
I can’t imagine my life without you
But I can no longer keep all of this inside

I felt pretty hopeless when I sent this poem. I felt that significant people in my life (including a good friend) were pushing me to break up with Emily and more and more I was thinking that might end up being the best course of action, even if I really did not want that outcome for myself. I told Emily I felt we had three options: break up, stay together and everything stay the same, or me find a third partner. I hadn’t been actively searching for a third partner, but I had been on OKC a bit and so far I’d had no real luck. Most women and non-binary people I found that I was interested in were asexual themselves…and I knew that wasn’t going to help my situation. I was uninterested in cis men at this point, because romantically I am typically not attracted to them (e.g. my demiromantic switch has never turned on and stayed consistently on for a cis man). I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to find a third partner, even if I really wanted to, and that my options were thus to live this way, with these struggles impacting my daily life in measurable ways, or to break things off with Emily.

She responded with a lot of thoughts on the subject. She really felt that each of my options had sub-options we could consider. That nothing was as simple as I made it sound. Meanwhile, as she was explaining her thoughts via text, I felt the intense urge to express my own feelings via another poem.

Fears

“Fears” was the second poem I wrote on August 12, 2019. It’s one of my few poems that does not rhyme, though I’ve been getting more and more into that style recently. I sent this poem to Emily before really responding otherwise to the thoughts she was expressing.

Fears

I don’t know what to do
Where to go from here
I want to be with you so badly
But I’m scared we’re just fooling ourselves
That we can’t make this work
No matter how much we want it
That we’ll only hurt each other
I’ll make you feel inadequate, inferior
Broken
You’ll never quite be able to love me the way I love you
And I’ll continue having all these fantasies
These dangerous fantasies that so overwhelm and frustrate me
Even sleeping next to you no longer feels safe
I feel things when you touch me
It’s not just butterflies anymore
Things I shouldn’t feel… things that are wrong
Touching you comes at a price
And always with a risk
Being near you makes me want you more
But being apart causes me to yearn as well
It’s not always sexual…
Sometimes it’s just romantic
Just kissing, hand holding, loving caresses
But then the caresses I imagine shift
Targeted slightly differently
Sexually maybe?
Not on sexual body parts
It’s the way the caresses happen
How they are meant to feel
And so I fear touching you at all
Even in romantic ways…
Cuddling is mostly safe
But massages, foot rubs
Those were risks
When I imagined what I’d get out of them
It was always you feeling a certain type of pleasure
Reacting a certain way
Maybe making certain sounds
Wishes I fear are too sexual
Boundaries I fear I’ll cross
My body responds to you
In ways I fear to explain
Biologically I know how much I want you
Mentally I’m more and more sure
It’s not unbearable
But it’s not easy
To be around you, touch you
When I know we’ll never touch that way
Not that I’d want to
While you’re so averse
I can barely bring myself to consider kissing you
Knowing your feelings on that
I respect you so much
Value you so highly
Your comfort and consent mean everything to me
So why can’t I control my base urges?
The images that flow through my head
Make me “feel so damn sick and dirty”
But also desire and affection
…and dread

In this poem I quoted a line of dialogue from a movie that has meant so much to me, “The Children’s Hour.” I actually quoted the same line of dialogue in an earlier poem, “My Confession,” from Part 1 of this series. I may write a whole post about that movie in the future.

Emily’s very first response to this poem was:

“Your feelings aren’t wrong. Having sexual desire is a normal part of the adult human experience and why an asexual like me would feel broken, because I’m so abnormal for not feeling any of it.”

Of course my first response to that was “You’re not abnormal.” I felt that had too negative a connotation. But her response reminded me of how my own struggles were impacting her. That particularly felt awful. Throughout sharing these poems with Emily I was eventually made aware that she had cried frequently. She does cry “easily,” according to her, but that doesn’t take away my deep feelings of shame and guilt for causing my partner to feel things that led to negative/unhappy tears. She began talking about her perhaps being able to “compromise” on certain things, while also making it clear she would never feel the things I might wish she felt or verbalize the sounds she assumed I was referring to in my poem. She maintained that my fantasies of her are not “wrong” and that she wished me masturbating to thoughts of her could be enough. Unfortunately part of my own demisexual identity is that I rarely ever masturbate and when I do I need to be very disconnected from my fantasies. I can’t usually be in them at all. And thinking of her alone or with someone else just seemed too difficult and uncomfortable to imagine. She also expressed hope that perhaps I could find a third partner to fulfill the needs of mine that she cannot fulfill due to being a sex-averse asexual.

I ultimately fell asleep before responding to Emily. One of her last sentiments before she went to sleep herself has especially stuck with me:

”I want to build an entire life with you. I want you as my partner in all the big and small ways, but if keeping up this level of full commitment and emotional intimacy is going to always be too hard for you… Well that is hard for me to know where we should begin to change any of that.”

I was able to talk to my best friend the next day, who felt I did not need to make a big decision about whether or not to end the relationship right away. The advice was to wait and assess. It was much more comforting advice than I had been given before that. I also decided I would definitely begin pursuing finding and dating a third person more actively.

Want/Need

Emily and I began discussing more of the aftermath of the poem “Fears.” She expressed that she would be okay with much less touch (though she did not want our touch amount to go down to 0), but that she enjoyed touching/cuddling me more because of how much she knew I enjoyed it. While she was messaging I was again writing another poem. I felt so confused within myself. So unsure of what I wanted and needed. The result is this poem, “Want/Need,” written August 13, 2019.

Want/Need

What do I want?
What do I need?
From this relationship
For you and me

I want to be wanted
Not sexually
But to be desired
For emotional intimacy

I want you to need me
Not to live, breathe
But to be fully fulfilled
Happy and complete

You can be okay alone
Of course, you’re resilient
But maybe better with me
Loss lonely, more content

I want to do something for you
Have a purpose in your life
More than just a co-parent
I want to add something unique

I need to be needed
In some way, somehow
To add value to your life
Make it easier for you

I need to know you care
About me in a special way
More than anyone else
Deeply alterous love

For you to be my primary
My co-parent, life partner
I want our bond to be
Uniquely strong and special

I need to know you want that too
Actively, passionately
A real and true desire
To be close to me

Of course you can have alone time
Hobbies, friends, and all
But I want you to miss me
Long to be with me

Want to be together
Even working independently
But in the same room
Enjoying each other’s company

Maybe I want more though?
For you to find me attractive
To love me romantically
To truly enjoy my touch

But do I need those things?
Or can I live without them?
How much is necessary?
Versus just wishful thinking?

Wants are not needs
But my needs are confusing
Don’t know where to start
Determining the truth behind them

Maybe you can help me
Discover what is essential
Separate want from need
Look at the relationship’s potential

My Commitment

While I was writing “Want/Need,” Emily was expressing some sentiments via text. Some of the things that really struck me are below.

”You’re afraid that I don’t even want as much emotionally as you do…but I’m very afraid that you think our relationship isn’t worth being in for you, that I’m not enough for you, that you need me to feel ways I can’t and/or don’t feel. I feel so much love for you but somehow you don’t feel it’s enough, and that hurts.”

”Meeting you and dating you has filled a void I’ve needed filled for a long time in my life. I’m so grateful and happy to be in this relationship with you. You give me so much more than I dated to dream for in a partner, things that I didn’t know I’d appreciate so much, etc and I’m terrified of losing all that.”

I wrote this next poem, “My Commitment,” on August 14, 2019, in response to some of her sentiments.

My Commitment

I’m so sorry
For the things I’ve said
How I’ve made you feel
The worries going through your head

I never meant to imply
That you’re not enough for me
That I need more than you provide
That maybe we shouldn’t be

When honestly you’re everything
I really, truly desire
And this whole situation
Just is not so dire

I don’t want to lose you
Or the future we’ve planned
I want us to go through life together
Proverbially hand in hand

You’ll be an amazing parent
And I want to be by your side
Raising kids together
To each other being tied

I still do have some worries
Some concerns and apprehensions
But you’re helping me through
Easing all my tensions

I know that you love me
I can see it in your smile
The way your concerned eyes look at me
How you’ll touch me for a while

Your love for me is alterous
That used to feel lacking
But now I know the difference
Is hardly worth noting

What matters is its strength
And I know your love is strong
You care about me so intensely
You’ve cared all along

We’re so compatible
There’s so much that we share
Our world views are so similar
Our connection is so rare

The way I can talk so openly
So honestly with you
How you truly understand me
And empathize with me too

The way you express your concern
Touching me lovingly, gently
Assuring me of your feelings
Looking at me so intently

I love you more than I can say
Even in this form
You create such joy inside me
Make my whole body warm

I am committed to you
To continuing all of this
To creating our family together
To finding relationship bliss

I shared this particular poem with Emily in person (whereas most of my poems, posted here and elsewhere, I have shared with her via message). The poem helped both of us feel better and more grounded in our relationship. We began discussing the potential “compromises” she felt she could make. I started feeling excited again, this time for the possibility that I may be able to get some of my more basic sexually-adjacent needs met by Emily.

Soon after this poem we began experimenting with some things Emily either hadn’t ever tried, or hadn’t tried in a number of years. We really branched into new territory here, for both of us (as I was unused to stopping at certain points, and she was unused to going so far in certain ways). But I’ll say more about all of that later…in Part 3!

2 thoughts on “Mixed-Orientation Relationship Struggles (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Mixed-Orientation Relationship Struggles (Part 1 of 3) – The Demi Deviant

  2. Pingback: August 2019 Roundup: “Relationships” – A Carnival of Aros

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