Monday, July 12, 2010


I am having a lot of difficulty with the concept of needs. So much of the reading I've been doing about conscious relationship, polyamory, self-love, etc. talks about needs, meeting our own needs as well as communicating our needs so that they can be met by our partners. But there is no real definition of a need vs. a desire. I am really struggling to understand what my needs actually are and how important they are. Is having most of my perceived needs met more important than being in a loving relationship that meets some of them?

As human beings we have basic needs. There are survival needs: food, shelter, clothing, etc. For a vibrant life, there are also needs for self-care and connection to other human beings (to be witnessed and intimacy through conversation and touch). But beyond that, can anything else be called a need?

If I am a healthy single person with friends and community but not dating, then anything that would be called a relationship need is null and void. I can live without sex with another person. I can live without romantic intimacy. I can live without the validation. I can live without everything that comes from romantic involvement. So what are my needs in romantic relationship and how many of them should I expect to be met by someone I'm dating vs. a boy/girl-friend vs. a life partner?

Over the last two weeks Knight and I have had a series of situations involving poor communication around the changes and losses taking place in our relationship in order to accommodate his relationship with Rose. I have been trying to determine what I need in order to feel emotionally safe and cared for in an intimate relationship with him (or anyone). One need I have established is to feel considered and included in decisions that affect our relationship and time together.

On the heels of our emotional heaviness, this weekend was the first kid-free weekend that Knight chose to spend with his other lover. We have spent all of his kid-free weekends together since our relationship began, except for the couple weeks between "breaking up" and coming together in this new relationship.

What I am learning about my experience of transitioning from a full-time life-partner relationship into part-time poly-dating relationship is that it isn't just the lost time that is difficult to adjust to, but his inaccessibility during that time. I can't call him for any reason, no matter what's unfolding in my life (unless it's an absolute emergency). I can't flirt by text with him when I'm feeling loving or sexual. Nor can I call on him when I am having a difficult day. He is inaccessible because he needs to protect his relationship with another. We have been communicating nearly every day of our relationship and now even that is decreased by this new relationship.

What caused me suffering this weekend was that after spending 7 hours cleaning and packing my house on Saturday and again on Sunday, I was extremely tired and sore and all I needed (desired?) was to be witnessed and held by Knight. I needed to be naked and raw with someone, witnessed and held in my experience, and he is the only person with whom I have that level of intimacy. But he wasn't available. I couldn't even reach out to tell him what I was experiencing. I was alone.

In the moment it felt like a need and I suffered for not having it met. But here I am on the other side, still a whole person (yet sad and confused because the man I love wasn't there for me). So was it need? Or just a desire? Is it a temporary feeling that will shift over time as I continue to share him? Or do I need a partner who is more accessible to me?

I am caught up in sadness and confusion (amplified by exhaustion and physical pain) and likely to darken our date tonight with my grief over the changes that keep happening to our relationship. This was the man I was going to share a life and a home with. Now I have to accept that not only is that dream not coming true, but I am losing time, accessibility and intimacy with Knight because of what he is choosing to give his other relationship.

I have a lot of questions coming up for me around the sort of poly arrangement that Knight desires to live and whether partnership could ever be an option. Can one be a life-partner if they are only sharing half their life -- half their time and accessibility, half their resources available for intimate relationship?

Knight talks a lot about desiring to treat us both like whole people. But I don't experience my wholeness being honored when I can only have my needs met on our date nights and the rest of the time I am on my a single person. How do I continue to be completely vulnerable and open with someone in a part-time relationship whom I cannot depend on except when time is scheduled? Do I truly desire to?

I have been a single mother, navigating life on my own and for other human beings, since I was 17 years old. Even within my so-called marriage I was alone in significant ways -- the only (4.5 out of 7 years) or primary breadwinner and the only one to keep the house and family functioning while my ex-husband played on his computer all day and night. I very strongly desire a life-partner -- someone to share the day-to-day joys and responsibilities of family, someone to share community with, someone to provide support when life gets rough, and someone who desires to meet most of my emotional needs in intimate relationship. I desire to have someone I know will at least strive to be there when I'm falling apart. I also desire to go as deep into conscious and spiritual partnership as possible. I just don't know how that's possible in a part-time relationship.

I am deeply concerned that no matter how much Knight and I love each other, we just may not be compatible in our desires for relationship or structures of polyamory. I am not giving up yet. I am just trying to see the truth of the situation.

1 comment:

KL said...

Ah. I've tried polyamory, April, and found that it is incredibly difficult for even the most highly evolved, loving, given, generous, honest person to maintain. Someone is excluded. Someone is loved more. I personally will never choose that again. I hope you are protecting what you hold dear for yourself. Seems these are good questions you are asking...