Handling expectations from metamours

There is no normal for expectations.  There is a common ground among cultures, groups, communities, but there is no normal.  This morning I was reading about a clash between metamours in a polya dynamic related to expectations that weren’t met and it all boiled down to an assumed normal or standard for expectations.

In the situation, Person A was asking for advice because their Partner B had brought Metamour C to the home A and B shared.  During that time, A had been busy and had not run into C during the couple days C stayed there.  There were times they were both home, but A was in the bedroom they share with B, or in the shower, or generally not in the main living areas.  During the majority of the time A was actually not home or sleeping. C was in the guest bedroom during most of this time.  C did not take the time to seek out A and greet them while they stayed there, and A was very upset about this and felt it was an incredibly disrespectful action of C’s part.  In their perspective, C has come into their home, been eating their food, using their utilities, and had not even had the good grace to find them and greet them in exchange for this hospitality.

Many of the responses to the post took the opposite perspective, they did not feel A had any reason to be upset, but that it was C who had been wronged.  Responses found A to be inhospitable and a poor host to not have sought out C to make them feel welcome.  Rather then feel A was reasonable in their expectations of greater respect, as they saw it, from C, they felt that A was being a horrid host for not making the initial effort to verbally welcome C into their home and initiate conversation.

It all boils down to expectations, and what a person views as normal or standard.  When we acknowledge something as common, we realize it is frequent and maybe even well understood by most people.  But when we think something is normal, there is an added implication that not only is it common, but it is good, it is the right way, and a deviation from it is abnormal, often seen as incorrect.  Person A thought it was normal when coming into someones home and staying there, to make sure to greet the owner of the home, in this case that would be both A and B, so A was neglected in this.  They felt they were being gracious in letting C into their home, and in C not feeling a need to do this, C was only seeing it as B’s home, and it was an affront to A, whose home it was also.  They felt that this was a thing of such importance, that despite A having been absent or busy during much of the visit, C should have expended the extra effort to find one of the times A was around and sought them out for this customary greeting and brief moment of conversation.  Not doing so was ignoring them, which was a disrespectful slight against their hospitality.

Now it is hard to tell what Metamour C felt in this situation, since that wasn’t voiced.  Instead I can only make assumptions based on having seen this situation play out in my own life, and having been a metamour and guest in someones home, as well as having partners bring metas into the home we lived in.  Presumably C did not have the same normal.  Judging by the responses, they may have had the seemingly common expectation that since it was A and Bs home, it was on A to offer hospitality and initiate conversation and greetings if they chose.  They may also have just viewed things from a more independent perspective.  That the home is shared between A and B, that B had them over as a guest, so that was between them and B and A need not be involved if they were busy and didn’t want to interact.  In that scenario, less possessiveness or control is placed on the home and proper ways to behave when in it, because it does not matter so much that it is A’s home as well in that C is not required to interact with A while in that space.  What matters is only C being respectful of the space itself, not breaking anything for example, and spending their time with B, the one who invited them to share some of that space.  In this version of normal, A isn’t really relevant in respect of being a good host or being ignored in some gesture of impropriety, and interaction with A would only be relevant if it were agreed on by them both and then that agreement broken.

In looking further at the responses, A wasn’t willing to accept the idea that they in fact were the one who had a breach in etiquette by not initiating contact and “being a good host”.  In their normalized expectations, they had been a good host by allowing someone in their home, and for someone to put the expectation of initiating contact on them was abnormal and ridiculous.  For many responders the idea that you would not greet someone you had invited or agreed to have in your home was rude and ridiculous, and it was abnormal to put the onus of that on the other person.

So, let’s look at it with the view that no expectations are normal.  There is no right way to do things, there is sometimes a common understanding, but with that, there are also outliers.  If you have expectations and they are reinforced by your experience and upbringing and mirrored by the people around you, they are common, at least among your culture or specific community of people at the time.  If someone comes along and does not automatically do what you expect, since your expectations are no longer seen under the guise of normal and right, just common, the next default assumption is that maybe they are an outlier, they are someone who doesn’t know or share these common expectations.  Suddenly they are not doing anything wrong in this, they just either lack awareness of what you expect, or they have a different set of expectations that are common for them which can exist separately from yours.  Normal is loaded with okay vs not okay, common is something that simply varies from place to place.  Once you see it this way, it is easier to move on to how to address the situation.

Once you recognize your common expectations are not being met, and realize the person not meeting them may not be aware of them or may have a different set of common expectations, what do you do?  Well you communicate of course.  In this case, A could simply approach C and let them know that they have an expectation that anyone who is a guest in their home will take the time to seek them out and greet them.  A can explain that from their common experience, this is a way of showing respect for someones space, so not doing so makes them feel disrespected.  C may simply have had no idea, and may be surprised to find they had played a part in A feeling disrespected, and may be happy to try and meet those expectations in the future now that they know them.  C might instead have other expectations, they might explain that what is common to them is the host being the one to initiate contact and greeting, and to not do so feels inhospitable or unwelcoming to them.  If C is also able to look at things from the perspective we are using, C can realize this is also not one right or normal way, but simply what was common in their experience.  A can understand this and realize that they too may have caused C to feel unwelcoming, simply because of a mismatched set of expectations.

From that point you can move forward.  Most people can get to this point and reach a mutual understanding of where the other person is coming from and what they may feel in a situation, and how that is shaped but what is common for them.  The hardest part is what to do when your expectations still don’t match afterwards.  So, the next step, which is easier when you acknowledge that your expectations are not some one right true way, but just a variation you knew with more frequency, is to let go of those expectations.  This is a lot harder for some people then others, or for some expectations then others.  It also can really relieve a lot of hard feelings between people if you can achieve that.  So, you look at the core sources of desire behind the expectations.  A wanted to feel respected and acknowledged in their home.  When you take it down to that base emotion, you can work out a way to do that with the other person.  C might explain that they don’t feel comfortable seeking out A when A is not around for much of the time and is not in common areas of the house but still want A to feel respected and acknowledged.  Knowing that is the core motivation, they could come up with another way to do so, like bringing their own shampoo and food so they are not using the supplies A has, or leaving a card behind that thanks A for their hospitality in having them over in the home they share with B.  Or A could be like me and find it simpler to just let go of those expectations all together and decide it would feel better to handle those emotions myself and not need other’s validation to feel respected in my home.  After all, as long as the other person is not being destructive, and is aware that I live there and it is my home as well, I don’t really need them giving respect to a concept I already am secure in.

In the end, try and distance yourself from your expectations.  Try and see them as common or uncommon variations that may be shared by many others, but are not one right way.  Detach from the concept of normalicy or something being a correct way of doing things, especially if it is a social norm that varies widely.  Communicate about any expectations, if you don’t, there will be misunderstandings.  Find the root causes and see if there are compromises that can satisfy everyone’s core wants and needs.  And let go of ones that don’t serve you or learn to manage your emotions yourself without outside validation when you need to.

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I didn’t know I’d lived so much until I reflected back

I am absolutely terrible at keeping track of time.  Not short time, like the hours in the day, but long time, like years passing by.  I think about things like when I first got on the path to stop drinking and I’m like hmm, that was a few years ago right?  A few years ago feels pretty short in my brain.  Then fb memories remind me that it was five years (and forty days) ago that I first truly acknowledged I had a problem and then took a hundred days of sobriety, which then led to learning moderation, and eventually the last year+ of complete sobriety.  Five years. When it’s a number instead of a vague concept of a few, it seems a lot longer.  Holy crap, has it really been five years?

Likewise, I often struggle with putting concrete times and dates on other big events, until I have something to measure them against.  My ex-fiance left the same year I stopped drinking, so now I know when that was.  That’s pretty exhilarating.  I love being able to concretely date the times of things better because it makes me feel more accomplished.  I’ve spent five years without a person who only saw how I could fail.  Five years later I’m sober, have gotten one degree and am working towards another, have a bunch of lovely stable relationships with fantastic communication and none of the toxicity of the ones in that older time period, have held down jobs where I literally saved lives (I mean, doggo and kitten lives, but that’s legit), and decluttered the mess of a house I once shared with him to have a home that on it’s messiest days is still eons cleaner then it ever was in it’s cleanest state before.  I’ve begun pursuing my BIG life dream of having an intentional community, and my life has been basically a whirlwind of forward momentum with a few little bumps in the road.  Oh, and I have a flat chest and facial hair now and get gendered correctly all the time, let’s not forget that.  Being able to recognize where events fit into time really helps me in feeling excited and accomplished about life, because I can see how much progress has been made.  In the day to day moments it may not feel like things are moving fast enough, but reflecting back really shows the huge transformations.

Often I look back and wonder how I’ve packed so much -stuff- into such short amounts of time.  I’ve been an adult for a bit over ten years.  I spent about three or four of those years in a drunken haze.  Yet just in that time I’ve lived with 20+ people in households of various sizes, had 20+ relationships that on average lasted a bit over 3 years, gone to 4 different schools and gotten 2 college degrees and now working on a 3rd, raised my own livestock and fed my family with the meat and eggs from them, traveled to 2 countries outside of my own and 12 states within my country, worked 9 different jobs, and tried to run my own business.  I’ve had an uncountable amount of experiences trying amazing new foods, exploring new kinks and developing deep bonds of trust, making absolutely phenomenal friendships, taking ridiculous risks and feeling ecstatically alive, and generally living life to the fullest.  And I mean, I spent quite a few years drunk on my couch and pretty much out of commission, so when I think of where I packed that all in, I can’t even really include those years.  I don’t often reflect on it all as a whole, I may think of specific moments or dwell on specific relationships, but it takes looking at it all at once to put it into perspective.

Now I know this whole post might seem like some sort of long humble brag.  First of all, there’s nothing fucking wrong with that if it is.  I am all for each person listing their accomplishments that make them feel fantastic, reading the fuck out of that list, and feeling on top of the world because they are a rad fucking person who can do anything.  And I’m happy to do that and feel no shame in celebrating what I’ve done.  But, this is more then that.  I don’t know if I’ve always come across as confident to others, but I’ve always felt I was a confident person.  I’ve realized recently that it was because I’ve gotten very good at telling myself that narrative and ignoring the parts where I felt like I wasn’t enough, or was failing somehow to do this whole life thing.  I hear those parts of my mind, I recognize them, but I didn’t let it disrupt the view I had of myself as a confident individual with great self esteem.  It was a discordant note, viewing myself one way, and feeling things that were quite to the contrary.  And therein lies the problem, I could tell myself I had great self esteem and believe it, but that didn’t actually make me feel any less shitty and like a failure when those were the messages my brain meat focused on for the day.  So instead I’m learning to recognize those, to see that I do struggle at times and I can admit that.  Oof, that vulnerability hurts.  I don’t want to be a person who has to admit that.  It is part of me though, and in recognizing that, I can begin to accept and heal parts of myself that were damaged by years of abuse, by the hands of others, and even more so by myself.  I hurt myself when I spent years being a pretty toxic being to my own body and to everyone around me.  Healing that means recognizing the time that was my reality, and how much time since I’ve begun to move on from that.  It means acknowledging all I’ve done, the amazing life I’ve led, and what I can do when I am a better little human.  Somewhere in there I might have to forgive myself for the person I was through some of the dark years, though I’m not quite there yet.  For now, I look back at time, and I build a real confidence rather then a fabricated one, through seeing the journey and really cementing in my mind how far I’ve come.

Falling in love in a series of moments

Do you fall in love all at once, or in a series of moments?

For me love has always been an unfolding series of emotions but often with a secure path.  I recognize NRE easily, and feel it pretty readily as well.  It’s the feeling of my breath catching and heart fluttering when I’m getting to know someone and they say something sweet.  It’s the tugging sensation when I’m talking to someone and they express their values and goals and I see how they reflect my own, and I want to share more of my life with them.  It’s the excitement of learning their favorite food, or what author has shaped their life, and this information being precious because it comes from them.  New relationships have a particular electric excitement to them that enhances everything, those floods of brain chemicals making me want to think about someone constantly and spend all day talking to them and exploring their mind.  I acknowledge the love and limerence I feel during that time as real and feel honest in the expression of it, while also knowing that it doesn’t always predict the shape of a long term connection or translate into a more deeply seated love.

Following the rushing torrent of NRE feels, my love often takes one of two paths.  The first path is into a comfortable realm of cozy warm feelings of contentment and comfort with a person.  I would liken my love to a warm hearth, stable and providing security, not full of intensity, but full of a consistent glow of enjoyment.  This path often runs towards a slowly deepening loyalty and commitment to a person and exploring vulnerabilities together over time as we grow close.

The second path is almost a continuation of NRE, in that it mirrors those intense rushes of emotion, the overwhelming sensations of being caught off guard and reveling in the energy of it.  Little moments become big electrical boosts in the person centered part of my psyche, thrilling me and driving me to focus intimately on those moments of exhilaration.  This often included elements of the first path as well, but has a definite aspect to it of love gathering intensity and momentum in a series of defining moments.

This weekend one of those stark moments came into clarity.  I was sitting in the backseat of Hoffy’s truck as he was driving and half dozing off, as we were coming back from hanging out with some other folks in the local poly community and stuffing our faces at the buffet.  I was a bit at my limit for socialing, had been wanting to just have some space to relax alone.  Being in the truck with Hoffy driving, Kelev in the front seat, Raichu in the back with me, and music filtering through the background with no need for conversation, was peaceful.  I was thinking of how I was surprised at how comfortable I was, because I don’t normally feel comfortable with someone else driving.  Then I looked at Hoffy and was watching him drive and sing softly along to the music, and it was one of those moments where I was just overwhelmed with how much love I felt for him.  There was just this intense feeling of ‘yes, this person. This is my person, I am happy here, and this is the person I love.’ There is a feeling of certainty in those moments of intensity.  And they are amazing moments in how they have the level of excitement of NRE, but also the sheer comfortable and stable feeling of love after NRE has passed.  I was thinking about how falling in love with him is a series of moments, just ordinary moments that happen as we live life together, but that take on this intense special quality out of the blue.

It is interesting, how my brain in those moments goes ‘this is the person I love.’  It’s true, it is absolutely true in that moment, and as a whole.  It certainly isn’t exclusive though, and that is the beauty of being a polyamorist relationship anarchist to me.  I very rarely feel that sort of intensity of emotion past NRE though, with most people I settle into that comfortable hearth fire love of stability and warmth, and overwhelming moments are not a regular occurrence.  Once in a while though, the path of my love with someone takes the more passionate and extreme route, with strong surges and surprising and startling moments of energy.  I found it amusing and ironic, that the other person in my life that I’ve felt that with was sitting in the front seat beside the person I was having those thoughts about now.  And it mirrored the experience I had when I first recognized I was feeling that intensely about Kelev, also coming when I was sitting in the back seat of his truck eight years ago, watching him drive.  I always wondered why my emotional connection with him was so much more potent at times, and here I was feeling that again.

I don’t really feel passion for people easily.  I feel NRE, I feel comfortable safe feelings of love, I feel extremely potent and intense loyalty and connection and vulnerability.  But passion, that often escapes me except in rare circumstances.  My passions are often directed to my efforts to create and intentional community and dreams of such, towards my activism which is one of the most important aspects of my life, towards art and music, towards my never-ending quest for knowledge and learning.  Those things are where my passions lay, and my relationships with people are more a beautiful cozy place rather then an enormous ardent one.  I’ve found another partnership in my life that has diverged from the usual path they take for me though, that has a more passionate quality to it that is unfolding for me in that series of moments.  Those moments where I really see him, and I am quite overwhelmed and absolutely eager for that fiery intensity.  I’m amused when those moments mirror previous moments in the series that has played out in my other partnership of a similar quality.  But most of all I’m just grateful for them, and for how they show me the many ways we are able to fall in love and appreciate that multitude and the aspect of it that I’m in at the moment.

How to cultivate compersion

Compersion is the joy you experience in seeing another’s joy, often used in polyamory to explain the happy feelings you get from seeing a partner experiencing love with their other partners.  Not every polya person feels compersion, but it seems to be a goal many strive for.  It is completely normal for polyamorous, relationship anarchist, and other non-monogamous folks to struggle with jealousy, and feel hard feelings or even indifference at seeing or hearing about their partner’s happiness with other people.  What sets non-mogogamous relationships apart from monogamous ones, is instead of jealousy being seen as a testament to how much you love someone, it is viewed as a normal emotional response, but one you don’t use as an excuse for poor behavior, and one you work through in a hopefully healthy way.  A lot of non-monogamous folks aim to feel compersion, they strive for a goal of not only working through jealousy or any other hard feelings at their partner being with others, but getting a positive rush of feelings instead.  I have learned to absolutely love compersion over the years, it is an amazing heady rush of joy, and feels gratifying knowing you are feeling this wonderful joy simply for another’s happiness with no reward of your own.  In realizing how amazing it feels, I’ve tried to study it and find ways to further cultivate it within myself, and open up to feeling it more frequently.  In doing so, my jealousy has also decreased and become easier to handle each time, so that is an added bonus.

The first step in cultivating compersion is really cultivating joy from things that don’t benefit or directly effect you.  For me, I started practicing mindfulness first, learning to really live in each moment.  Then I directed that outward, I reached out for the feeling of joy in seeing happiness in others.  I would stop and watch my partners do simple things, inhale spices from a pan as they cooked and smile, lovingly arrange his wrestling figures with clear happiness in cherishing each one, get excited over a movie that was coming out that I couldn’t care less about but which clearly thrilled him, light up with a grin after they took a perfect photograph of sunlight playing on tree branches at the park.  I would look for joy in those moments, and taught my body how to respond with happiness when I just saw the people I loved experiencing their individual moments of joy.

Once I had learned to be in touch with and feel happiness when seeing the people in my life happy, compersion began to come more naturally.  When I would see a partner light up with happiness at something to do with one of their other partners, part of my reaction was to have a bodily response of joy at their joy.  At first though, that response was still small, and often overshadowed by jealousy or insecurity.  Those are powerful feelings, and it is easy to have them consume you and cause strong visceral reactions.  I had been teaching myself for years how to not lash out because of those reactions, but that was learning how to control a behavioral response, not quite eliminating the initial emotion entirely.  To handle working through those emotions I needed to really dive into the threads of them and untangle them so they could be processed and I could leave them behind me.

When I would feel jealous, I started really digging into the reasons behind it.  I asked myself what I was afraid of happening, and then what that made me afraid of, and so on, following it down the rabbit hole.  Often times it was insecurity, that someone would be a better partner then me, either sexually, emotionally, in giving advice, etc.  The scary thing was, often it could be true, I’m not super sexual with a lot of my partners, and I’m a much better person emotionally now, but I’m not the best, and when I first started doing this I was working through a lot of issues and was sometimes still kinda shitty.  So I accepted and acknowledged that.  I took into myself the fact that yes, my partners might have other partners who were better then me, in one way, or many ways.  Where did that lead?  I traced that to a fear that they would then leave more for those people.  Dissecting that it was really two fears.  The first was that they would leave me because the other person was better and that person would ask for exclusivity or they would just prefer to be with that person and not want to make time for me. The second was that in being with someone better, they would leave me because they would recognize I was shitty and not good enough for them.

Okay, so the first I couldn’t really fix, if a partner who really seemed to want to be polya then decided to be exclusive with another partner and cut me out, I couldn’t change that.  If they no longer wanted to make time for me, that was their choice.  So I asked myself what would happen then?  Well, I’ve survived some wretched things, I’ve lost a relationship one of the few people I loved the most deeply and was most attached to.  I’ve dealt with abuse and trauma from relationships.  And I’ve survived a lot of non-relationship related trauma.  If I could survive that, I could survive more loss.  Once I confirmed that in myself and recognized those fears, that jealousy mostly dissipated.  When it would come up, I would just have to remind myself that I could survive whatever happened, and I could make it dissipate again.

The second fear source was still there though, what if a partner left because another partner being better just made them realize I wasn’t good enough?  I could have worked through that one the same way, but the insecurity would still have been nagging at me.  So I worked on myself as a person.  I changed anything I was not satisfied with, that made -me- feel not good enough.  I went on a rapid path of self improvement.  So now, if a partner feels I am not good enough for them, I know there is nothing in myself I would want to change because I am good enough for me.  So I can accept that, and again remind myself of my ability to survive without them, and alleviate that fear in the same way.

That path dealt with most of my jealousy, but not quite all.  The rest was born from seeing someone else getting something I wanted.  I still felt jealous at times because a partner would be sharing something of themself with another partner, and I wanted to experience that as well.  That was my last big roadblock that would rise up and drown out my compersion.  That was also probably the hardest one to deal with.  First I would look at what it was I felt I was missing or not getting enough of from them.  Once I identified what I wanted, I asked if it was feasible to get that.  For example, when one of my long distance partners was giving time to another partner, I was jealous because I wanted more time with them.  It was easier for them to give more time to the other partner who lived nearby.  I had to figure out on my own and with them, if there was a way to increase how often we saw each other.  When there was not, I had to let it go.  When that jealousy would crop up, I would remind myself that they would love to give me more of that if they could, but it wasn’t possible, and them not doing so didn’t mean any lessening of their love for me.  Sometimes I realized that my partner just wasn’t aware of or wasn’t focused on my wants, so I could simply ask for them to be met.  If I saw another partner getting a lot of affection and realized I wanted more of that, I could let my partner know I was hoping for cuddles sometime soon and ask if they could provide that.  Often that was enough to solve the issue, and I made sure to center those conversations on my wants, and not as a response to what they shared with someone else, but at an appropriate time where they could focus on what I was asking.

The really hard part came with when they didn’t want to meet those wants.  There have been times where I wanted something like more affection from a partner, saw another of their partners getting that from them, and then asked for more of that, only to be turned down.  I had to learn to accept that.  Mindfulness came back into play here, sitting with my emotions and letting them exist, and then letting them go on their way.  I learned to accept that just because I wanted something from a partner, did not mean they wanted the same with me.  Them wanting that with someone else, did not mean they would want it with me or owe it to me.  Often times it wasn’t because of anything I was doing wrong, it was out of my control, and just something I had to acknowledge, and lower my expectations for.  And again, once that was done, I could redirect myself to compersion.

Now when I see my partners being happy with other partners, it does usually fill me with joy.  I’ve taught my body how to feel happiness in their happiness, and I’ve learned the skills in handling emotions that might come in and disrupt that.  Those other feelings do still interject at times.  I have to process and handle them, especially in new situations, or ones that hit old surprising triggers I’ve forgotten about.  I try and communicate about it and work through it both with my partners and on my own.  And once it has been resolved and I’ve let those feelings go, I can once again focus on that amazing feeling of compersion.  It is a hard but worthwhile process for me, because my life used to only be filled with joy I got from how the world effected me.  Now that I feel joy from the happiness of those I love, I have a hundredfold more happiness in my life and that is an existence worth working towards.

Making a long distance relationship work

So I talked about yesterday how I decided to open up again to the idea of long distance relationships, and how I now have a few dynamics that are long distance.  Today I’m going to go over some ideas I’ve come across or come up with, in making a LDR as functional as possible.  I’ll split this into a few categories that I feel are helpful in making a LDR work well.

Expectations

LDRs can be incredibly rewarding, but they offer a lot less in terms of actual in person contact then most relationships between people who cohabitate or live close by.  For many people, a lot of a relationship is sharing experiences, intimacy, and moments of vulnerability as you go through the ups and downs of daily life. These can be a bit hard to recreate when someone isn’t there in person a lot of the time.  I think its important then to make sure your expectations are reasonable.  In a relationship with a nesting partner (person you cohabitate with) you may expect or want to depend on them to prioritize comforting you when you are not doing okay.  It is reasonable to want this as well from a long distance partner, although the comfort might take the form of a phone call, text, or video chat instead.  It is important to remember though, when you expect this of your nesting partner, you are also able to see if they are also going through a hard moment, or in the middle of something urgent, or just unable to provide that at the time.  It can be harder to see those things in a partner who is not physically there, so limiting your expectations so that you are not getting upset with a partner for not being able to provide support, when you may not have the whole picture, helps minimize conflict.  Of course if having that emotional support is important to you, and your partner is constantly falling short of providing it, you need to discuss if there is an incompatibility there.  But as a whole it tends to relieve a lot of stress on long distance relationships when we remember that the other person is living their own life that we aren’t privy to every moment of, and being generous in your compassion if they are embroiled in something else at times.

Also, different people need different levels of contact to make a relationship feel fulfilling.  Because you don’t have the convenience of knowing you live with someone, and at some point you’ll run into them on a mostly daily basis, it can be hard to know exactly when or how often you’ll connect and communicate.  It helps to define this with each other, figuring out both what you want in regards to frequency and type of communication, and what your bare minimum is to keep the relationship functional, during times where time is hard to find.

It is important to remember that every relationship has periods of greater and lesser intensity.  With a LDR, the lack of constant or in person contact can make it easier for insecurities or feelings of abandonment to take root and grow.  It is normal though for a relationship to be very intense with lots of flutters of NRE (or ORE) and overwhelming emotions at some points, and at other points to be more of a comfortable steady connection with less extreme highs.  This can manifest in periods of constant excitable conversation, and other times with somewhat less contact or contact that is more based in checking in and sharing your day than being overcome with rushes of emotion.  Accepting the waves of intensity and low-key stability as they come and go, helps in keeping an LDR functional.  Of course if you feel your partner is not keeping in touch and feel neglected it is important to speak up and ask if they can meet your needs.  But don’t worry if your communication does not always have the same highs it did when starting out, or if the emotional intensity varies some as your focus shifts between your long distance partner, and attending to things in your every day life.

Rituals

Relationships tend to develop rituals over time, either out of habit, or constructed intentionally between partners.  Rituals can be especially helpful in LDRs, in having something to help you reconnect when you see each other, or in having something to do together during the time you are apart.

I try and say good morning to my partner Hoffy every morning, and good night before going to sleep at night.  This is a ritual we didn’t plan, but that developed from how our communication took shape early on.  It is something I can look forward to, I love waking up to a good morning message from him, or getting up early enough I can send one first.  It helps me connect with him from the very start of my day, and that helps facilitate sharing more of my day in conversation as it progresses.  When I say goodnight, though he often goes to bed a few hours before me, it comforts me to know we are thinking of each other at the start and finish of our days, even if we aren’t able to see each other in person for those moments.  I feel like this ritual helps keep our relationship healthy and make it a little easier with the distance between us.

That said, it is important again to keep reasonable expectations, ones your partner is okay with, and to be compassionate when what they can provide or commit to does vary.  In one of my very first LDRs as a young teen, I used to say goodnight to my partner Kyuu every night before bed as well.  The difference there was that I struggled a lot with insecurity about the distance, so I elevated that ritual in my mind and clung to it for reassurance.  It led to me being controlling, and getting upset with them if saying goodnight to each other was not the very last thing we did before going to sleep.  I was trying to recreate the feeling of actually going to sleep next to each other, but instead I just made it so we had to constantly coordinate sleep schedules whether that worked for us or not, and prevented him from having other conversations once I was asleep, or else I would get upset.  It was not something I would have taken to that extreme in an in person dynamic, but having that distance, especially because I had other insecurities at the time and was worried about abandonment or betrayals due to past experiences, I turned what could have been a lovely confirming ritual into a issue of control and tension.  That is something to definitely avoid doing, rituals should be enjoyable and not create extra pressure or be a medium for exercising control.

These days, sometimes Hoffy falls asleep before saying goodnight to me.  Occasionally I’m the one who falls asleep before I remember to text a goodnight.  While we never agreed on the ritual as a specific commitment we made to each other, we usually apologize for this in the morning if it happens.  There is an understanding that this is a thing we try and do because it feels good for both of us, and that we are sorry if we miss out on this particular shared moment.  But there is also no control or upset outburst if it is not fulfilled, no massive significance attached to the ritual that there would be a -something must be wrong- moment of fear or anger if life happens and someone just falls asleep.  This kind of understanding and flexibility within the structure of this little ritual helps to keep it as something enjoyable without any pressure or tension attached.

Other good confirming rituals are ones shared during the times you are able to be together.  Shara and I always cook something when they visit, or go out to eat one of our favorite foods.  Often we make onigiri together, one of my favorites, but a recipe I just can’t seem to get to taste quite as good without them here.  We also often watch Love It or List It, a somewhat ridiculous guilty pleasure show that we enjoy poking fun at together.  Having these comfortable routines we settle into with each other brings stability to the times we share, and creates the feeling of the same comfortable safeness that I feel with partners I do cohabitate with.

Ways to connect over distance

One of the hardest things in LDRs is how to connect over the distance.  Many LDRs start with talking online, and progress through messaging, talking on the phone, or videochat, between the periods of in person contact.  After a while things can get a little stale with what to constantly talk about.  It makes sense, in person relationships are often built on shared experiences and physical intimacy as well as on conversation.  It can be hard to figure out what else to build a foundation on over distance, aside from conversation, which can be hard to keep up to a very active engaging level during busy times.  Here are some ideas of other ways to connect and share experiences over distance.

Watch tv or movies together – you can coordinate this by choosing a show or movie that you both have on DVD or on netflix and starting it at the same time while on the phone or videochat, or by using an app such as Rabbit, watch2gether, or gaze.

Write letters or share a journal – while texting or messaging is the norm in LDRs and you usually have the option of daily contact, there is something the just feels really good about reading a letter or written message from someone (assuming their handwriting is better than mine and you can read it).  Writing letters to each other or having a notebook you each keep and write in for a few days or weeks before mailing it back to the other person, can offer a wonderful way to share your thoughts with a bit of extra excitement attached.

Play games together – My housemates are long distance at the moment while one of them is on tour, and they often play Overwatch together as a way to connect.  They play while in person together as well, as gaming with a partner is often a great shared hobby.  If you aren’t really into gaming, or the same games, there still may be some fun games you can try together.  Facebook has some fun games like words with friends and draw something, which can just be a great way to enjoy something fun with a partner that you can play on and off throughout any day.

Have online date nights – you can get really creative with this.  I like to suggest picking a recipe you can both make, making it together while chatting or on the phone, then setting up a videochat to eat dinner together and watch a movie or play a game afterwards.  Really though, you can do a lot of creative things with an online date.  Videochat on your phones and each go for a walk, showing each other the sites around your neighborhood.  Bring your laptop or phone to a coffee shop and chat and send pictures over coffee and ask each other all sorts of dorky first date sort of questions, you may already know the answers if you’ve known each other a long time, but it can be fun to see how they’ve changed.

These are just a few suggestions for ways you can cultivate experiences together over distance.  I highly recommend folks who are in a long distance relationship who are struggling with ways to connect pursue further resources as well.  Here are a couple that have been recommended to me and that I’ve found useful.  And good luck, I’ve found my LDRs to be incredibly fulfilling and I hope you find joy in any you pursue!

https://www.lovingfromadistance.com/

https://surviveldr.com/

 

 

 

Deciding to get into a long distance relationship

Some of my first serious relationships were long distance.  It was hard, but as a teenager it was a little easier, simply because I was still living with my parents and stuck going to high school every day, so living with a partner or having the freedom to go out on adventures any time we wanted wasn’t an option.  So I had a few relationships that involved eight hour phone conversations through the whole night, ending sleepily as the sun rose.  Figuring out how to use a webcam in the early days of chat messengers, and sometimes leaving it on as we went to sleep so we could see each others peaceful faces during the night if we woke up.  It was hard at times, I was deeply lonely and felt very isolated, and we would eagerly count down the days until they could visit.  When we fought, because in at least one dynamic we had our share of problems and fights were unfortunately frequent, there was no ability to offer physical comfort or intimacy to mend our closeness afterwards.

Once I had my first relationship in college, where we moved in together within the first week, long distance became harder.  I got used to a constant presence of a partner, the ability to take an impromptu midnight run to Taco Hell, or walk through the woods together when we needed an escape from the world, and share a moment of intimacy on the bank of a stream. I got used to sharing a bed, something which I was extremely attached to for many years after, until I re-discovered my ability to be independent and learned the equal joys of sleeping alone sometimes. I had a few long distance dynamics in my early adulthood, but after a couple years I decided I wasn’t willing to put myself through the inevitably painful part of missing someone so much and struggling to connect in every day life.  I set a boundary, I would not do long distance relationshipping anymore.  I kept to it for quite a few years.  The most I was willing to do was start relationships that were long distance for a short time, with the goal of quickly narrowing the distance and moving in together.  Not a hard thing to do since I had an ever fluctuating household of partners and friends, and we always managed to cram another person in when the need arose.

Well, that changed again, probably when my partner Shara went from living with me, to moving back to their hometown a couple hours away.  Our relationship improved in some ways, they were in a place that was healthier for them when back home with their group of friends, and we worked hard on figuring out a communication level and visit schedule that worked for us.  Because it was an already established relationship of a few years at that time, I was willing to put in what it took to make long distance work.  Then I got involved with Kwik, a partner in Canada.  I hadn’t considered beginning a long distance relationship that I knew would stay long distance, but I decided on a whim to give it a try and was happy with how it functioned.  When I met Hoffy this past year, I had already changed my views and was willing to get into LDRs again, and I’m glad for it, because that has grown into one of the most impactful relationships of my life.  So, I do long distance relationships again.  They are not easy, they require a lot of dedication to work well at times, but for the right person I have found it is worth it for me.

I think it also might be easier when polyamorous, or a relationship anarchist.  Polyamory accepts more then one relationship at a time.  With a long distance relationship, a lot of the struggle is often a lack of physical affection and intimacy, and not being able to share little every day moments as well.  If you have the possibility of a relationship in your life that already provides those things, it can be easier to not feel starved for them when getting into an LDR.  Of course you may miss those things with that particular partner, but you don’t get so touch starved overall that it impacts your mental health even more.  As a relationship anarchist, relationships are custom build from the ground up, made to fit the needs of the people involved with a respect for autonomy, and limiting expectations only to what both are comfortable committing to.  Because of this absolute possibility of fluidity in structure, you can go into a dynamic with the knowledge that you will see someone infrequently, but leaving behind societal and cultural expectations that a relationship is less valuable if you don’t cohabitate or spend time together daily.  While not having certain regular daily interactions may still be painful, you remove the societal expectation that things must be a certain way to be valid or real, so that pain is not compounded upon.

Tomorrow I’ll go into ideas I’ve compiled over the years for making LDRs work well.  I’ve found them to be a very integral part of my happiness because of the wonderful partners I have, and am grateful I opened back up to the idea.  Still, they are difficult, and I hope I can offer some helpful suggestions on how to connect more with someone even when not there in person.

Finding purpose in polyamory – how love spirals outwards

Not everyone can understand the purpose of polyamory, why someone would want to have multiple relationships to begin with.  I rebel against the very idea of institutionalized monogamy, but I recognize that some people just prefer a deep romantic closeness with only one individual, and that is fine.  Aside from the fact that at my very core I have never been able to regulate the wonder in my heart for closeness and vulnerability and adoration and love to one solitary person, I also am so grateful for the beautiful moments I find in polyamory that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

This morning I was laying in bed, having already gotten up to feed all the critters, clean the litter boxes and ferret cage, let the dogs outside to work off some energy.  I got back into bed to snuggle up to Kelev, who almost always sleeps later than I do, and was softly snoring in a way that melts my heart.  I love how when he’s sleeping, when I tell him I love him he always says it back, even though he’ll have no memory of it when he wakes.  This morning I was watching him sleep and whispering sweet nothings to him about how he’s a glorious demon ascended into human flesh, his black heart wreathed in flamed and filled with the power of the millions of souls he’s devoured.  You know, the usual romantic stuff.  We may have a slightly twisted view of romance, but who’s going to judge? He smiled and softly woofed at me in his sleep.  The moment was just so precious and I texted Hoffy about it, wanting to share my warm-fuzzy-joy-feels.

Think about what you value in partnership.  The amazing connection with someone where you want to tell them everything that is good in your life, every spark of joy just bubbles over and you want to share it with someone you adore.  The vulnerability and closeness you have with someone with whom you can share your sappiest feelings, who can hear about your squishy bright happy feels and will celebrate them with you.  Think about those tender moments of seeing someone you love so peaceful, with their hair all messy as they sleep, all the worlds troubles smoothed away with rest.  I am so grateful to be able to share the most loving and sweet moments of my life that bring me the most joy, with more people who I share that love and joy with as well.  To revel in the sheer happiness of love with equally loving and accepting people that I am vulnerable and open with.  I wonder who monogamous people tell those moments to?  Do they have a best friend who they feel the same intense closeness with that they do with their partner, who they can share those happy feelings with, who will feel warm and fuzzy at the adorableness of it all instead of rolling their eyes?  I sure hope so.

Yesterday I was talking with my partner D.  We recently got involved in a DD/lg kink dynamic, and she also got involved with Kelev as well.  She has a long distance romance with the Brit, as I’ve taken to referring to him in my mind, a fantastic individual with a voice that makes me melt a little.  She was telling me of a conversation she was having with him, and he made a joke about my love of his accent.  The way he described me in this little snapshot of humor she shared with me was absolutely spot on.  It was so absolutely sweet, the exchange they had, that he had remembered me in it, that she had then shared it with me.  The humor spiraled outwards, and I was graced with being a part of it.

That is what I love about polyamory.  There are so many wonderful moments shared between people who love each other intensely and sweetly, and in sharing my heart with so many people and having partners who do the same, the joy spirals outward.  When we tell each other exuberantly about a snapshot moment of love, and when it is received lovingly and happily as well, it just compounds those emotions.  I don’t have less love for any one partner because I share my heart with many, I have a thousand more opportunities each day for that love to be multiplied as moments are shared and enjoyed in this outward spiral of connection and acceptance.  That is the purpose of polyamory to me.  Just as one of the beauties in cultivating a garden is sharing the fruits of your labor with family, I cultivate each relationship with healthy respect and passion and communication and vulnerability.  And I am able to share what grows of those seeds far beyond just the person I grew them with.  That bounty of love is available to nourish us all through the hard times and invigorate us to grow more in the good times. It all spirals outwards, and I hope if you are on this journey as well, one day that spiral reaches you.

Facing judgement for non-traditional relationships

When folks ask about large scale changes in the dynamics of my polycule, often its simply interest in my personal life, because the asker is someone I’m close to.  Often is curiosity, humans lives are interesting and how we relate to others is one of the most interesting aspects of them.  I’m a nosy little fuck, so I completely understand why someone would want to know details of my personal life to satisfy their own curiosity.  Sometimes though, especially with large changes that face a certain amount of societal judgement, it is hard not to feel as though someone is asking so they can pass their own judgement on a person, usually not positive.

This is something I encounter more these days as a relationship anarchist.  My dynamics are tailored to fit what both individuals in them want and need at the time,  and are fluid, so they can shift as our needs change.  This has served to create great dynamics with a much higher degree of comfort and intimacy, because we can establish trust that we truly respect and nurture each others needs and wants.  It has also served to create greater longevity, because needing to change the structure of a dynamic does not as often necessitate that it end, simply that it change shape.

When Kelev confronted me with his decision to move out, that was a moment that may have well shattered many typical monogamous or relationship escalator based mono or polya dynamics.  In fact, despite us practicing relationship anarchy and having been fluid in the past about -big- things, such as sleeping arrangements, relationship titles, kink dynamics, and room sharing, he was scared to bring it up.  I had proved again and again in practice that I was more then happy to adapt to dynamic changes, and our emotional connection would endure and strengthen through them.  But society is not as flexible, so even with years of past experience of me being understanding and adaptable, he had many more years of societal conditioning that this was something you are broken up with for. This is a thing that causes people to walk away, that will create enough anger for someone to cut you out of their life, etc.  When he expressed the fear that I would do those things, I immediately supplied reassurance, but it was sadly not hard for me to see the origins of those fears.  So many people are willing to toss a wonderfully functional healthy dynamic to the curb simply because it does not take the perfect shape they always dreamed of, or disappoints certain expectations.  I support realizing what you do need to have a relationship be worth while and having boundaries for yourself of course.  But with polya folks where often you do not live with -every single one- of your partners, there is still a large contingent who would end things if a nesting partner suddenly stopped nesting, because they center their needs for that relationship in particular, over their connection with the person.  They would rather attach themselves to the role they fit that person into, than attach to the person themselves in a way that allows people to grow and change while maintaining intimacy.  So even within a very fluid and adaptable dynamic, there is still sometimes fear of judgement.

It isn’t surprising then, that when people ask about those kind of large scale changes, the sort that often spell doom in society’s rigid relationship structures, I wonder how what I say will be twisted around into a negative judgement.  When I told my parents about his decision, I did so with considerable apprehension, ready to leap to his defense.  I knew his decision was not a betrayal, it was not a reflection of any damage or cracks in our relationship, but I also was prepared for it to be seen that way and to fight those assumptions off.  I was waiting for them to suddenly see him as less of a partner, and terrified they would treat him as such, especially knowing how much their love and acceptance has always meant to him.  I felt like I had to balance my words just right, find the exact placement for them when giving my explanations, so that the message could be conveyed with absolute understanding.

I suppose what it came down to was, our relationship was not existing in a vacuum between the two of us.  We had built a beautiful dynamic from the ground up, tossing off societal norms and deciding to love each other completely without rigid rules and structure and expectations that would stifle our growth.  We wanted to be able to change and grow as individuals, have fluctuating needs in the moment, and enhance our intimacy by embracing that in each other and providing support and companionship through those changes.  But other people in our lives related to our relationship, they had ties of love and family and friendship to our dynamic as well as to us as individuals.  So, while we had dropped the silly notion that society should tell us certain changes should feel like our relationship was less strong or one had committed a betrayal, they may not have done that emotional work and might feel for us, something we had decided made no sense for us to feel.  You see this often with polyamorous people just coming out. Their friends decide to feel righteous anger and indignation for them, for their spouse cheating on them, despite the couple having done the emotional work to detach feelings of betrayal from the idea of sexual or romantic fidelity.

This all results in a feeling I’ve had with big relationship shifts, like deciding to un-title things, deciding not to cohabitate, deciding to have a platonic dynamic, that I must justify and defend these choices to people in my life so that my partner is not judged harshly for them.  Or at times, so that I am not.  Sometimes it is a matter of finding reasons that allow it to be understandable or forgivable to people who do not relationship the way we do.  Sometimes there are no explanations that would fit into societal norms, so that isn’t possible.  When that is the case, what I really am asking of people is that they do the emotional work we have done, not nearly to the same extent, but enough so to look upon us favorably for the love and intimacy we share, instead of condemning one or the other or both partners for violating a societal taboo of what happily-ever-after must look like.  It is their right to choose not to do that work and pass judgement instead, but I always hope that won’t be the case.  Because if you do bend your mind to step into our wonderful fluid polyamorous or relationship anarchist world for a moment, you will find not only the relief of not having to judge harshly the “betrayals” that are hurting no one, but you may also get to enjoy some of the beautiful growth and personal discovery that makes this life worthwhile for us.

Breaking cohabitation – transitioning from living together to living apart

Major changes can make or break a relationship, and often the choice to live together is one of the big changes that can really show you if you can make a dynamic work with a person. But what about deciding not to cohabitate after having lived together?  That is a decision you rarely hear talked about, because it does not follow the traditional relationship escalator.  Can a relationship survive that sort of decision?  Does it mean the relationship is failing in some way?  Or is it possible it can even be a good thing? This is my story with that transition and what I learned from it.

A stable partnership

I’ve talked before about Kelev, the partner I have been with for eight years now.  We’ve been a central focus in each others lives basically since the start of the relationship.  He moved in about a year after we met, although I really count it happening even before that, since he pretty much started living with me about four months in to the relationship, it just took a little longer before a room opened up in my house and he moved his stuff over.  He was there through the house hunting six years ago, and the purchase of our home, the repairs, the experiment with urban farming, and all the ups and downs.  He supported me through me ex-fiance’s departure, through two years of school to become a certified vet tech, though alcoholism and overcoming it, through a job that felt like hell for a year as I worked to support us with my new career.  We share a bank account, four cats and three dogs, and eight years of amazing memories.

The unexpected announcement

This August Kelev approached me and told me he would be moving back to his Dad’s place, a couple miles across town.  My first reaction, after a bit of shock, because we had frequently confirmed a desire for the cohabitation to be a life long thing, was to try and understand why.  His reasons made sense to me, a mixture of needing to help his family, and a need for some sort of radical change in his life.  Especially with the monotony of daily life now that he couldn’t work, and often couldn’t move around well, I understood why it was so overbearing to be stuck in the same place day in and day out with no change.  To me, that wouldn’t be living, I thrive on radical change for my own growth.  On top of that, he was someone who had spent his lifetime moving every few years, I couldn’t relate to that personally since my childhood was largely stable and my own period of moving a lot was the first time in college.  Still, even without a personal reference, I could empathize with how it wasn’t easy after a life fueled by transitions and new beginnings, to settle down and have that feeling stagnate until you craved it. I also completely understood wanting to help his family, and to be able to spend time renewing his closeness with them.  It wasn’t that we didn’t see them on occasion at our home, but it was short visits that lacked the real depth you have when you are around someone every day.  I confirmed that there wasn’t a dysfunction in our relationship, and he was able to reassure me of that, along with the reassurance that he had every intention to move back within a year or two, and certainly was still 100% on board with our dreams to build a community together in the coming years and move there.  Still, it was terrifying.  I imagine when relationship dysfunction is the cause, it is even more uncertain and nerve wracking, but as is, this was a huge unexpected shift in how our relationship had been shaped almost from the beginning.

Adapting to change

Kelev moved out in August.  Through a series of other events living up, my need for more space, other housemates needs for more independence, or housemates moving to live with other partners, I ended up with the house completely to myself when he left.  I had largely worked through my codependency issues after my ex-fiance left, but it was my first time living completely alone.  That was both exhilarating and terrifying. It was lovely not having to worry to close the bathroom door (although that did increase the rate of cats-on-lap while using the toilet), but it was a bit uncomfortable at night knowing that no one else was home if someone broke in, or I somehow injured myself in my profound clumsiness.  The first couple weeks I kept very busy, I filled the emptiness in my life with action, mostly around the house to keep it functional.  Another big part of this change was that since I had been the one who attended school or worked, Kelev was the one who took care of our home, so suddenly I was figuring out how obnoxious it was to take out the trash, or scrambling around to get home by five to feed the critters in the evening. It’s strange how loading the dishwasher and then unloading it in the morning, or cleaning the cat boxes daily, made me feel more like an adult then bringing home a paycheck ever had.  It was the consistency, if I did not do every task, it just did not get done, so I made checklists and reminders and tried my best to keep on top of it all. After the first few weeks, when the new routine became, well, routine, I began to do a lot of introspection.  I worked a lot on myself, fostering greater independence and self confidence, and trying to really see what areas of my brain meats could use some improving. I also after a time began to discover both a great love of quiet and aloneness, a relaxation into it that I hadn’t experienced since I really began having adult relationships and always having someone around.  I enjoyed sitting with those moments, and also with the loneliness that sometimes came with them.  It was a relief to not have an easy access point to fill my loneliness with, and to instead have to become comfortable with being silent with my own self by necessity.  I did then in October have more housemates move in, other founders of the community who had traveled back to this side of the country so we could begin further working on that dream.  But the short period I had of living on my own is something I think I will cherish for the rest of my life, even if I may not pursue doing so again.

The effect, what our relationship has become

If you’re facing a recent split in cohabitation with a partner, or it’s on the table, this might be the part you really have been wondering about, how did it effect our relationship?  It was such a huge change.  We have gone through many times where we tweaked our dynamic, added a title here, took off all titles there, removed a bdsm component, got involved with other partners, added a bdsm component, stopped sharing a bed every night, experimented with sharing a bedroom, and so on.  Most of those changes had some effect on our interactions, but none permeated our daily lives so completely as this change.

There was a lot that I really learned to love about this.  I found that the time we spent together was often more exciting, more filled with laughter and emotional intensity, because suddenly it was a commodity that wasn’t always readily available.  Visiting his place at Dad’s felt like an adventure, lounging on his bed with his stereo blasting Alice Cooper or Hailstorm while while he fiddled with his wrestling figures and I read a book, reminded me so much of my teenage years visiting a friend or boyfriend’s house, and I felt younger and more alive.  Talking on the phone was a fun new treat, now we had hilarious conversations, sometimes with his sister or niece joining in from his side of the phone, where before phone conversations were mostly limited to checking if I needed to pick up groceries on the way home from work.  The whole experience really had a very youthful feel.  I also found a lot of joy in the separation of  time-to-social and time-to-alone.  I savored the drives home from Dad’s, as I could lose myself in music and appreciate the transition from the warm loved feeling of their home and being near my partner, to the clear peaceful emptiness of being alone again.  And something kind of magical happened, we started really doing things that we hadn’t before.  Our relationship was always so saturated with the every day, we were comfortable in spending hours relaxing while he watched tv and I played on my phone or read a book, and going out seemed like a difficult task, a departure from the comfortable and usual.  Once he moved it, it suddenly opened up a door for all sorts of new experiences.  We went to a concert together for the first time, the aquarium, tried new restaurants, and began going out to community events that we usually would have just been too tired and too low on spoons for.  I also began going to things on my own, without the guilt that I was leaving him home alone (though he never minded and would encourage me to go), I was able to have my own adventures and feel like I could really decided to spend my time however I chose in any moment.  I still choose to spend a good bit of that time with him, our emotional intensity is on an upswing and I’m loving the increased connection that has come of this venture, but I also am nurturing myself as a separate person more, so I bring more stories and experience to the table of our dynamic each day.

There are downsides though.  Sometimes the cats do something hilarious, or I manage to make a spectacular mistake in my clumsiness or absent mindedness, and while I try and remember it to tell him when we talk later, I know many moments are lost in the day and never get shared.  It’s sad, those little things, relatively unimportant, but also the fabric that makes up the majority of the day, are not longer all a shared part of our tapestry.  I wish that every surprised laugh as the cat falls off the counter or I drop my phone in the litter box, could be followed by looking up and meeting his eyes and seeing the laugh lines crinkle as he laughs with me (or at me).  I miss his snores at night.  I never have trouble falling asleep, but I wake early and often with panic attacks, and that noise was my comfort for many years.  Though, the nights he is here each week I just savor it more, my gruff lullaby that says everything is okay.  I worry about his health, it has been getting worse over the years and often I’ve taken the role of remembering the doctor’s instructions and making sure they are applied.  I still go to every appointment and try to remind him of what he needs to do when we get back, but I have a nervous inkling always in the back of my mind that things are slipping through the cracks and one day it will be something important.  My health is also not as good as it was.  I love to cook, but I have much more trouble motivating myself to do so just for myself.  My new housemates are wonderful, but they can cook, so while I do make family meals at times, I’m not -needed- to.  Having Kelev to take care of and cook healthy food for, really helped me stick to eating better as well.  Mostly though, I just miss the endless opportunity.  When someone is there almost every moment, there are no barriers to making each day a love affair or an adventure with them.  I didn’t take advantage of that very often when we lived together and I’ve learned to cherish now what I once took for granted.  That lesson though is something I am every grateful for, because when he does move back in, I will strive not to take those opportunities for granted again and will make every day a wonder.