I have PTSD. I’m a naturally anxious person. At night, while some count sheep, I count the many ways in which things can go wrong. When I started dating a polyamorous guy, insecurities seemed inevitable (more so than usual; I’m monogamous). Surprisingly, the experience has been much better than any of my previous “relationships.”
I met CJ on Tinder. I’ve avoided relationships since finishing therapy because I’m not in that headspace. Or perhaps it’s my default mode. I’d swipe right (a rarity in itself), meet up for drinks, get sufficiently (but not too) drunk and hook up. Rinse, repeat. Sometimes the guys were interesting enough for a couple of beers to do the job, and sometimes they were so mind-numbingly boring that I needed something stronger.
CJ fell under the “very interesting” category: He’s half-Irish, half-Indian, has traveled a lot, and lived all over the world. He reads books (hard to come by nowadays), has an accent (raised in the UK), and has a deep voice that’ll do well in a nature documentary. The only catch is that he’s polyamorous. Which, from what I understand, means he’s with multiple people at the same time. He gets to know, sleep with, and date multiple people concurrently.
I, on the other hand, have never been with the same person more than twice since my last relationship ended. That was four years ago.
Initially, my insecurities ballooned more than usual — he was interesting enough for me to want to hang out with sober and even hook up with sober, but nights when he had other plans, my mind played out worst-case scenario after worst-case scenario. The relationship ran its course.
Here’s what I learned from dating a polyamorous guy.
You have to work through your own insecurities
It wasn’t until an early Saturday morning when I was analyzing a text exchange I had with CJ — yes, a text exchange — with a friend when I realized this wasn’t healthy. This wasn’t who I was at work, or with friends; this wasn’t who I was going to be in my personal life. I’d driven myself crazy, in the past, dissecting my flaws. Not being witty enough, pretty enough, or thin enough — there’s no end to not feeling like enough for someone else. There’s elating liberation in self-acceptance: My love of baking means I’ll always have a bit of a tummy — and that’s okay.
Openness is key
The trust thing is not my forte. I self-sabotage perfectly good situations because I’m suspicious of them.
CJ being poly meant I’d stalk his Tinder a lot initially, wondering when his distance was going to update because he’d checked Tinder from work, home, or somewhere in between.
CJ’s an open person, the no-filter open sort. Initially, he’d volunteer information about women he’d been with without my asking. And while that might sound crazy to some, I take comfort in knowing I have all the facts: It gives my brainless room to invent things.
Knowing still stings at times
When he got back from a trip to Bali, CJ told me he’d kissed a girl but they hadn’t had sex because something was off about her. He walked her to her hotel room, and she said she’d like to invite him in but she couldn’t. “I think she had a boyfriend,” he said to me when we got home, “Either way, we didn’t have sex.” I remember that hurting. It wasn’t that he’d made out with someone else that bothered me; rather that I hadn’t seen him for over a week, and we were going to get naked ourselves.
It’s okay to be vulnerable
I told CJ about my anxieties, and the PTSD, a month into knowing him. I’m not sure if his openness prompted me to open up, or if I’d rationalized that for me to be able to fully communicate my anxieties with him, he had to know certain things about my past.
Being vulnerable takes guts, and time, so I’m secretly proud of myself for letting someone in.