“How could anyone not fall in love with you?”
My husband uttered those words to me when we first opened our marriage up to the idea of polyamory. We were in bed, snuggled up, surfing the web. We had just created our first online dating profiles and found ourselves completely addicted to, and fascinated by, the world of online dating. There were SO MANY people on there. So many possibilities. An endless sea of human beings all searching for someone/something/somewhere. It was exciting and simultaneously terrifying. Feeling that fear and that uncertainty, my husband turned to me and told me, “I don’t want to lose you; I couldn’t live without you.”
We thought we were invincible, we thought we wouldn’t break. But break we did. In the most unfathomable and devastating way possible. By the end of our marriage, my husband was screaming in my face, “You are such a fuck up!!” and I was left thinking:
How could anyone fall in love with me?
Looking back now, I recognize that the words he spoke came from the lips of someone who was completely codependent and deeply insecure (I was guilty of those things as well). At the time, I thought his sentiments were both loving and romantic (if someone said they “couldn’t live without me” today, I would politely excuse myself and walk away). My ex was as naive and as enmeshed as I was, as far as our marriage went. We had no real friends; we didn’t need any because we were best friends. We had no identities outside of our relationship; we didn’t need any because nothing else mattered in life except for our family. We had COMPLETELY and totally lost ourselves and the essence of who we were. Our identities, our individual selves, disappeared as we melded more and more completely into a family unit. We ceased to exist and to see each other as a couple in love.
We made no space for connection, intimacy, play, spontaneity. And the lack of those things made space for the resentment, stagnancy, boredom, and monotony. But we didn’t think anything was wrong.
Everything was fine and nobody was happy.
It is always at this point in the story that I begin to mentally bang my head against the wall. I put my head in my hands and just shake it back and forth. I am so done with the processing, the shame, and the what-the-hell-were-we-thinking? I have exhausted all of the reasons why; why didn’t we make space for each other? Why didn’t we try to connect? When did we become so complacent that we forgot that the point of life is to really live it? We were just going through the motions. And now I am left with hurt, pain, confusion, and regret.
The kids, the marriage, etc, and etc, and blah, blah, blah.
How the hell did we not notice any of these things until it was too late?
The relationship escalator is very real. We are told to hop right on, put one foot on and then the other, and ride up; rise up to meet the standards of society. Rise up to meet engrained cultural expectations that amount to one giant load of total bullshit. We are taught to seek out love, true love, everlasting love. Find your so-called soul mate and get married, have kids, buy a house, and make loads of money.
Live together happily ever after. But we did all of those things. And we weren’t happy. Not at all.
It takes two incredibly strong, healthy, independent individuals to maintain a long-term relationship. Monogamously or not, it takes work. A lot of hard work.