I was on Lexapro (an SSRI) for about a year for anxiety (related to body image and the fact that I started having panic attacks while driving and related to death)- coincidentally, the same year I was not posting on here. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, and it’s still not entirely clear to me what I want to say.
During the year I was on Lexapro, J started dating my best friend. I think I surprised everyone when I didn’t have any huge reaction or need for reassurances from J or her. It was relatively easy for me, which at the time I chalked up to the fact that because she is my best friend, I felt highly secure, respected, and heard, and confident in my ability to communicate with both her and J when things came up. I think these things are true, and now I am also wondering if being on meds gave me a boost in managing intrusive and obsessive thoughts related to jealous feelings. I went off of Lexapro in late September, hopeful that my year of medication had perhaps reset some of my brain chemistry. I went back on it a month ago after a really hard weekend of body image anxiety and some ramping up of anxiety related to poly stuff.
My fear is this: do I need to be on medication in order to be a “successful” poly partner? (Which also clearly begs the question- what does “successful” even mean?) It has given me an extra hand in managing my hard feelings- I still have hard feelings, but the thoughts are less intrusive and obsessive and I’m more calm even in the midst of having shit feelings. In the fall when I was off of them, I managed things just fine- I also, however, was in full blown NRE with my boifriend. NRE is like the highest dose of Lexapro I can imagine being on. Things were easy because I was loving the shit out of him and my life. Now that my relationship with him has cooled off a bit, and things have heated up between J and his person/my best friend, I’ve noticed an increase in my shit feelings.
Now that I’m back on Lexapro, things are starting to feel more even again. I like it. Part of me is fine with the idea of being on it for my whole life (why should my relationships and life be so much harder if they don’t have to be?) and part of me hates that idea.
I’m curious about the prevalence of anti anxiety mediation use among folks in poly/open relationships. I’d imagine it parallels use in the general population, and I would never suggest that poly people are more anxious. I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole life, and my feelings of jealousy were perhaps more intense when I was in monogamous relationships than they are now, and I’m also highly conscious of the fact that being part of marginalized communities increases one’s sense of otherness. Anxiety can heighten when you need to be more on guard about who is going to include you and exclude you, and if you’re constantly trying to navigate who knows all of you and who doesn’t.
Can feel incredibly difficult at times. Here’s a little window:
“We have one night off together in the next two weeks? Can we have date night then? Or are your seeing your other person? If you can’t see her another night I’ll come home early a different night. I think I’ll see my other person Tuesday- can you come home early Wednesday? Oh wait, never mind- he has a kink night. Can we switch our night to Wednesday? Are you sure?”
I think we can all feel more irritated trying to schedule time with each other, rather than excited. Eventually, once the dust has settled and time is blocked on the calendar, I feel everyone in my little polycule relax into themselves and each other and time becomes a huge gift. We have space carved out just for us to to do whatever we want- talk, watch TV, exercise, fuck, shower, cuddle, walk the dogs, drink, hot tub, fight, make up, kiss, and love each other.
Poly folks often joke that Google Calendar must have been created by someone poly, and I’d agree. It’s an invaluable tool (as long as it’s used effectively and well). I love being able to see my various date times scheduled, even if it’s just a day or two ahead of time. I feel secure and relaxed, knowing that spending time with me is important to my partners and that we value spending time together. It goes a ways in preventing scheduling conflict (again, as long as it’s used well) and hurt feelings.
Cheers to time management! And using a calendar! And love!
Just came across this new 8 episode webseries, Unicornland, and watched all of it today. I highly recommend it: it centers around a single person’s experience of dating/having sex with couples, and over half the cast are people of color, trans, genderqueer, and people with disabilities. There are moments of awkward, awesomeness, hilarity, and tenderness, and it is pretty astonishing to me how much the writer and producers packed in each episode (which lasts 2-7 minutes long). Check it out!
And, if you haven’t watched the short series “Easy” on Netflix- do that, too! The wide range sexuality and love experiences that show portrays is similarly great. And, there is one episode that features Orlando Bloom as part of a threesome- hot!!
And, recently, I finally watched the film “Throuple“- it’s quirky and cute and bittersweet, and includes a few solid interactions among the characters that address some common poly myths.
“You Me Her” is a relatively new TV show that features a couple dating a third, set in Portland! I have only watched the first couple of episodes, but plan to watch more soon- I also recommend!
It’s so fun how media around open relationships, poly, and nonmonogamy has exploded in the last few years. If you aren’t familiar with the Poly in the Media blog, you should be! It inspires hope to see how often and in what capacity ethically open/nonmonogamous relationships are being described and showcased, and how the quality of that coverage is increasing.
I read Jiz Lee’s Coming out Like a Porn Star over spring break and was so happy I finally had some time for pleasure reading. This book totally delivered on being thought-provoking, insightful, and providing diverse and unique perspectives from a wide range of people, and reignited my thoughts about my own coming out questions related to dancing. If you’re looking to expand your understanding of what it means to work in the porn industry and how workers negotiate and navigate the coming out process (to family, friends, lovers, kids, straight jobs/employers, the world) I highly recommend this anthology.
For me, I think about:
Who is safe to come out to as a stripper? Do I have a sense already of their sex work politics? How risky is this? What is the likelihood that this relationship is at risk if I come out?
When does someone deserve to know, or when have they earned the intimacy in their relationship with me to know?
What are the potential consequences, negative and positive, of coming out? And in what domains- professionally, socially, romantically, mentally, emotionally, etc?
What are my values? How does coming out fit in, or not, with my values?
Largely my coming out experiences have been positive (socially). Academically and professionally, my experiences have been mixed, with a heavy dose of awful (if you’ve been reading my blog for years you know the story). Some family knows (some because I told them and some because they found out through my blog), and some family doesn’t (as far as I know). It’s a constant negotiation I process of who gets to know when and how and why and for whose benefit and at what cost, and certainly reminds me of my coming out process as queer and poly (and I can imagine may be similar to a trans person’s coming out process).
Talk before you leave about the following questions (super solid answers are not needed but the conversation should be started and some hypotheticals discussed):
- What kind of 1:1 time does each dyad need and want? How much? Where? When? Will sex be involved?
- What kinda of things does the third person need and want when the other dyad is having 1:1 time?
- What are sleeping arrangements like?
- What dynamic are we presenting (verbally, through body language, etc) to our family members that we are staying with and visiting? How much will we tell them? What is our story?
- How will we address hurt feelings and miscommunication as various dyads and as a group of three?
And try to keep the following in mind:
- Traveling as a group of three likely means that 1:1 time is not inherently built in. At least on my trip, the default was that the three of us would be together.
- Traveling as three, instead of two, changes the dynamic in new and positive ways. Remember why you love having this other person around? Now you get to experience them in a new way.
- This is an opportunity to test your coping and communication skills, and to test your sense of flexibility. Mantra: my relationship is a vehicle for personal growth.
- You are invested in everyone’s happiness, needs, and wants. You have a right to voice your needs and wants and comfort levels, and you are responsible to hearing others’ as well.
Clearly, this was a new experience for all of us. There were some rough spots and some really great spots and I’m super grateful that we had the opportunity to experience something new and growth-inducing.