Putting relationships on “hold”

I have such a visceral reaction to the phrase “put my other relationship on hold” in the poly discussion groups. It’s usually a phrase uttered when the following scenario applies:

The hinge in a “vee” has developed a solid and happy relationship with one partner that going swell, but everything in their additional relationship is falling apart. Some versions of that sentence would include “….everything in the additional relationship is falling apart because of the other one’s existence.

I’m trying desperately to stay away from calling either relationship “other” or “first” or “second” because I’m trying like hell not to imbue any of this with implied hierarchy.

My reaction is to the idea that you can put someone you say you love on “hold” because someone else you love is struggling. I don’t care where on your relationship flow chart they live.

The phone company puts me on hold. My partner does not. If you can put your relationship with me ‘on hold’ then we have no relationship. That’s how I roll.

But, I realize that this visceral reaction to this phrase stems from a past experience I had, in one of my early attempts at poly with someone who made a LOT of newbie mistakes that I see playing out again and again in the advice forums.

His relationship with me was solid. The more solid we were, the less stable she was. So when she struggled, he would “dial it back” with me in order for her to get stable again.

Guess what?

She used that. She used it regularly. Every time her jealousy would flare up, she’d have a panic attack or get herself into trouble or blatantly break one of his rules (these were both D/s relationships) and he’d dial it back with me to help her recover.

I’d complain to him and try to reason with him. “It’s like if there’s one kid who always follows the rules and another kid who’s constantly breaking them, so what you do is take away the toy from the good kid and give it to the one throwing the tantrum in order to shut them up.”

“It’s that saying that the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, but if you don’t pay attention to your other wheel you’re going to end up with a flat tire.”

He’d say he understood and things would change, but then he’d keep doing it. He’d keep rewarding her tantrums by denying me. When she felt like she’d “won” then she was fine again.

Guess what I did?

I started having panic attacks. I mean, it worked for her. Why wouldn’t it work for me? But, it backfired. I hadn’t set a precedent for having panic attacks, so when I had them I was told I was “faking” it, and to pull it together.

I wasn’t faking it. I was trying to control something I couldn’t control that I SHOULD have had some control over. The protocols and boundaries of my relationship should have been something he and I discussed and agreed upon together. Our boundaries and protocols should have been the foundation of stability upon which our unique relationship could be built independently of any other relationships he was building with anybody else.

But he kept allowing someone else to pound cracks into our foundation.

And, here’s the fun part… Usually, it’s the “primary” or the “first, and more established” partner that thinks they have a say in how their partner conducts their other affairs. In my case? I was the first one there. She came in three months after me, and it only took three months for her to completely destroy us by shedding the light how little control and integrity he really had.

So now, when I hear people wanting to put one relationship “on hold” I want to tell their seemingly dispensable partner, “RUN. RUN FAR AWAY.”

As the late Patrick Swayze declared, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

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My Bookshelf Brings All the Boys to the Yard

This post was inspired by a couple of posts I saw on FetLife about being attracted to a person by the books on their bookcase.  Since I don’t want to link to someone’s blog there without permission, and he hasn’t yet posted them publicly – for now, that’s as much attribution as I’ll give for the inspiration.


Up until about a month ago (when I moved), my bookshelf was a farce.

Someone perusing my titles might have found me eclectic and interesting and imminently fuckable because of it.

Thing is, based on those books, they’d probably meant to fuck my late husband.
It’s too bad they weren’t around to meet him, because most of those books were his. He was a voracious reader. He had 52 years on this earth to collect – and collect he did – since he never threw a damned thing away. Ever.

No, I mean, like…ever.

I went through one purge shortly after he passed. I kept my books – (and I’ll get back to that) – but I also kept a lot of his. The ones I thought were cool. The ones that attracted me to him. Had an entire room in my house dedicated to books because they were precious and I had a difficult time letting them go.

But I never read them.

If you were to look at my bookshelf….the books that were placed there by me?

Well, you’d probably want to fuck the version of me that existed 20 years ago. That’s about how long it’s been since I’d have considered myself a “voracious reader.”

Then again, you might be turned on by the fact that after so many purges, those are the ones I’ve kept. Those are the titles I want serving as the ambassadors of what you might think is my intellect, but really? It’s my sentimentality.

That’s where you find my entire collection of Star Trek novels. I was in junior high when I started reading those. They take up a lot of real estate on that shelf. I’ll likely never read them again, but I love them. I just love them for my love of the franchise they represent and deeper insights and further stories about the characters I love.

I mean, I read all the Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High books during that time, too, but even though I can remember exactly when Bruce took Jessica’s bikini top off in the ocean and the description of the water swirling up and chilling her breasts (the cornerstone of my early sexual fantasies for years) – I don’t actually HAVE any of those on my bookshelf anymore.

There’s one still on the shelf called Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, published in 1989. I read it when I was in elementary school. It was the first book of a serious nature I’d ever read – about two young girls during the Holocaust. It made an impact on me. I tried to get my parents to read it so that we could talk about it.

They didn’t. But I kept it. I still have it.

Ooh. And the Westing Game. I loved that book. Read it so many times. It had an effect on me – there was a character who was lauded for her beauty, but she quietly hated it. She wanted to be known for who she was as a person and not respected for how pleasant her face, hair, and body were. I related so strongly to her. I tried to get my parents to read that one too.

They didn’t.

I still remember exactly where I was when I read the big reveal. Oh my goodness, that feeling of all the pieces starting to fit together. I was in an after school program at the Jewish Community Center, ignoring all my peers and huddled into one of those plastic orange chairs leaning over a low table. I raced through the last few pages and went right back to the beginning and read the whole thing again in one sitting; now with the key piece of information in mind.

I think that’s the first book I ever read multiple times. I loved it so much!

I’d loaned it out to somebody and it never made it back to me; but some time in the last year, I found a copy in a giveaway pile. It’s back on my shelf again.

Any books that have found a place onto my shelf since then were either given to me by my husband, or compulsorily purchased for high school or college courses. After all, I was an English major with an emphasis on creative writing. I liked a few of those, so those are the ones granted intentional place on my shelf.

From him: Lolita. Don Quixote. Permanent Midnight.

From School: The Awakening. Metamorphosis. House of Mirth. Geek Love.

And, of course, there’s the entire Harry Potter collection. I started reading those right after book 4 was published – devouring my cousin’s first three during a week-long family houseboat trip on the Sacramento Delta. I read 4 – 6 electronically, and pre-ordered the final book in hardcover as it came out. I read that one from cover to cover on a flight from LA to New Jersey ten years ago. I then lent my physical copies to my stepdaughter when she came of age to read them. Being a child, she loved them to the point of destruction – so the hard-bound ones that now sit on my shelf with uncracked spines in the collectible trunk were a gift (like many of the Star Trek and Doctor Who coffee table books I do already have on display) from a loving husband who enjoyed my fanaticism.

That’s about what’s on my shelf that I’d say is mine. Except the ones in my kindle and audible accounts.

There aren’t many. And there are several that are in there that I haven’t read yet. But…unless you’re looking through my phone or tablet or laptop, you won’t see an accurate representation of what I’m into today.

But, as I wrote this out, I realized that the ones you might see in my house (or in a photo of me in my house) were a bit more than simply sentimental. In many ways, the ones I kept helped to influence who I am at my core.

So maybe taking a look at my bookshelf, now that the books there are mostly mine is an accurate representation after all – maybe not of the entirety of who I am and what I’m about, but certainly there are some key elements they helped form.

Ooh. That was a fun thing to write. It even surprised me at the end.

I’m gonna go back to the beginning and read it again.

The Consequences of Consequence Free Devotion

“My partner is extremely jealous. He cheats on me. He locks his phone but insists I keep mine unlocked and that he’s allowed to check it whenever he likes. I can’t be friends on facebook with any men who aren’t related to me, I can never talk to any of my exes, and he is very secretive about wherever he goes all the time with other women.”

Fifty people immediately respond:

“This is abusive.”

“Run.”

“Get out of this.”

“One million red flags here, you should reconsider your relationship with this person.”

And the OP is dumbfounded.

“I came here to get support. I don’t understand why everyone is telling me to leave. I will never leave him no matter what. I love him. So, what can I do?”

That’s when I tap out.

I used to be that person. The “I’ll never leave him no matter what,” person. That wasn’t even in a traditionally abusive situation. That was with a person with severe substance abuse and mental disorders who loved me very much, and trusted me implicitly.

But I was miserable. His illnesses were physically crowding me out of my own space. Our sex life was a distant memory. He became a recluse that would never leave the house, leaving me to fend for myself at holidays and family gatherings, and when he would come out? He was high, incoherent, and an embarrassment I felt I had to make apologies for.

I would complain to my friends and coworkers about the mess in the house, about his uncontrollable shopping habit, about his lack of sexual interest and they would suggest to me that I consider leaving.

I’ll never leave him.

He was terrified that I would. So many times, he’d break down sobbing and inconsolable, convinced that I would wake up one day and realize he was a failure and that I could do better (his words, not mine) and that I would leave him.

Which, of course, solidified my resolve to stay.

He never changed. He was never going to change.

My leaving wouldn’t have caused him to change.

My leaving would only have (potentially) improved my own quality of life, though I would certainly have felt guilty and miserable doing it.

The truth is, as I’m writing this I can remember being her. I can remember being that one who would never leave, and I know at the very depths of my soul that I absolutely never would have. Not that version of me, anyway. He passed away, and that’s the only reason I was able to get out. I was forced out.

I didn’t love myself enough to set boundaries. I loved him so much there were no consequences if he harmed me, even in the non-traditional ways that people tend to imagine harm.

There was no magic advice that could be given that would have changed my mind. There’s nothing I’m going to ever be able to write to anybody that is going to convince them that if they are willing to accept all manner of bad behavior from their partners without any consequences to their partners, their partners are unlikely to have any motivation to change. Ever.

Why should they?

You’ll never leave them no matter what.

So, that’s where I have to tap out. That’s where I have to shut down my empathy matrix, because…believe me. I can empathize. But I can’t help. I can’t be supportive of staying in a fucked up situation, and I can’t offer the “cure” for your partner’s toxic behavior.

You won’t like anything else I have to say, and it will only strengthen your resolve to stay in a bad situation indefinitely.

I wouldn’t wish my way out on anybody.

The Exhibit

Is there a better museum for rare and priceless experiences than words on a page?

I could try to preserve all the details – how we began, how many strikes from which implements, how he moved me about the room, how taut the rope felt on my skin, and the way my thighs ached as I squirmed in the stress position in which he’d restrained me.

Those details may convey my surrender, but won’t capture my emotion.

I could record the hearing of footfalls and whispers, soft murmurs of interest or (possibly) admiration lingering in the hallway, and my vague awareness of some shadows in the door frame as the intensity of a final powerful orgasm ripped through my soul.

Those details may convey my vulnerability, but won’t capture our connection.

It’s just three words I’ll keep in this museum of intangible artifacts. The three words I whispered when, toward the end of our scene, he leaned down for a kiss, and warm tears escaped the outside corners of my eyes:

I missed this.

I got to play last night

Visits to the dungeon are rare these days.

I like them. The public aspect of playing in a dungeon pushes me to endure just a little bit more than I tend to at home. People are watching, after all…

And that’s how my exhibitionism works.

I got to play last night.

Thank goodness I didn’t find out until this morning that someone entered our room during our scene. My partner ushered him out without me being the wiser.

I got to play last night.

But at one point, while trying desperately to hold on to the edge of an orgasm, I growled “Please tell the people in the hallway to shut the fuck up.”

I got to play last night.

But I couldn’t wait to get home. Being in public certainly pushes me.

…But public play when the others in attendance aren’t well-versed in dungeon etiquette is pushing all the wrong buttons.

Ninety Three Seconds

I’m certain I was yammering as we walked through the door. There was a plan: to drink, to cook, to eat, and to fuck.

I had assumed in that order, and therefore, was not expecting to be held by the hair and drag/pushed into the living room. That was certainly a surprise.

But when he pulled the pillows off the sofa and dropped them to the floor before me, I had an inkling.

And when he pulled his phone out and fiddled with it after ordering me to masturbate, I had another inkling.

Some time after the orgasm, after he’d given me a taste of him, after he’d told me to get dressed and make him a drink, he’d nonchalantly told me that it’d taken me 93 seconds to orgasm.

“Because you were watching me,” I explained.

Manual override on my own could take an hour. Any sort of stimulation when he’s watching me takes significantly less time.

Dinner was decent.

It was during the fucking when I was asked how long it took me to orgasm earlier.

I don’t know how the fuck I remembered the number.

But I did. “Ninety three seconds, Sir.”

He started to smack me. Slowly, then quickly, altering speed and intensity.

And then he stopped.

“How many is that?”

Well. I don’t know. Maybe it’s like the pillows and I’d had some sort of nonverbal cue. Or maybe it’s something I always do, the counting.

“Fifty.”

I could hear him smile. I felt the swell of my own pride in getting it right.

Here’s what he doesn’t know. I think I lost count somewhere after the next 20. I dropped into some altered state for a moment and when I came back….I could have sworn we were at 83, not 93.

But those last five smacks were double handed and hit hard.

Maybe they counted for two.

What’s next?

He’d been driving at least an hour to get to my house. He’d told me before he left that he’d want a shower upon arrival, so I responded that I’d wait to take mine with him. He also usually wanted a drink, and sometimes a smoke. And at some point, we were going to have to eat.

And fuck.

“What would you like to do first?” I asked, after kissing him hello

“Pee.” He answered.

“Okay,” I answered, smiling and stepping aside so he could move past me and toward the bathroom.

When he emerged, I was waiting for him in the living room. I inched closer to him, staring into the deep blue pools of his eyes. “What would you like to do second?”

What started as a soft kiss quickly escalated. His hands were everywhere: around my throat, in my hair, clawing at my breasts and thighs. I gave him what I could, and what I couldn’t he took from me.

I paused to catch my breath. “I still need a shower,” I whispered. He chuckled, “So you’re saying you’re a dirty whore, right now.”

He spun me around and held me tightly against him with his forearm across my chest. “Yes, Sir,” I answered.

Then I was bent over a chair, my skirt hiked up. I could hear zippers and rustling. When I looked down on the floor I saw his shadow cast from the lights behind him. He’d undressed. He was walking toward me, carrying something.

I feel the first strike of the belt across my ass.

By the fifth or sixth they were making me jump.

He’s fucking me. My god, it feels amazing, but my leg is cramping up. I try to shake it out, but my calf is seizing. I tell him so.

He drags me by the hair up to the bed.

I’ve come more times than I can count. We’ve reached the point where I’ve stopped asking for permission to come and I’m growling at him, “I want it. It’s mine. I want it, now!”

I explode. I can feel him starting to twitch. He surprises me. In a flash, he’s pulled out, flung the condom off and he’s coming on me. A drop lands directly in my mouth, the rest on my neck, chest, and belly.

It takes a few minutes to regain coherent speech.

“What do you want to do third?” I ask.