Michelle 3.1… yeah, that’s a thing. The latest update to my software: Asking for What I Want.
About a month ago I was on a training call for my work as a Cuddlist and we were discussing why sometimes our male clients think it acceptable to ask for sex when we, the practitioner, have made it extremely clear that we offer a non sexual service. It was explained that men are more likely to be trained by society to ask for what they want and that women are more likely to be trained to compromise. (Excuse the very gender binary language) AND that when we automatically compromise we don’t have to know what we want. *Sigh* I found my head in a completely different conversation with itself while the training call continued.
I was kind of playing a version of “Michelle, this is your life.” I quickly accepted that I wasn’t asking for what I want, possibly anywhere in my life. Not only was I not asking others for what I want, I wasn’t even asking myself what I want. I knew where my first hang-up was.
My readers know this, I am in a regular state of evaluating what kind of relationship style I want. I’ve been really afraid to name the details of my relationship needs as I was afraid of not getting what I truly want.
I did a lot of talking and sorting and thinking. If I could design my relationship in my head, why was I so afraid to ask for it?
Today on another training call, I got my answer: “When we think that what we want doesn’t matter, we think we don’t matter.” And I want to offer that in a different order. “When we think we don’t matter, what we want won’t matter.”
*Again, I’m kind of figuring this out as I write this post. I’ve tried to write about this for weeks and I couldn’t get it right. But today it feels like it’s clicking, so I’ll continue.*
Epiphany: I didn’t trust that I mattered to him enough. That if I asked for this change, I didn’t trust that he would say yes. Which is really funny to say because at the time I remember saying that I felt like he very well could say yes. But right now, as I type this, I really didn’t trust his interest or commitment to me. And I think this is why…
We play what I call relationship leap frog. I jump ahead in the feelings department and he catches up. This has progressed from boyfriend training to graduation to where we currently are. But along the way, I always feel like I’m pulling him along. I always feel like I ask for what I need and he kind of does it but it never feels natural. It feels encouraged. He performs my instructions and not consistently. Or that’s the way it has been.
But here’s what happened. I asked for emotional monogamy and he said yes. I told him that I feel emotionally monogamous and that I want emotional monogamy in my relationship moving forward so much that I would be willing to let him go to make space for that in my life. And I really did feel that strongly. It wasn’t an ultimatum. I just wanted him to know where my head and heart were. We didn’t even talk about the answer right away. But I believe it was the following day, we had some really vulnerable conversation, and not just from my side, but also from his. He had contemplated life without me and it scared him. That was the first time he had ever shared that vulnerability with me. His emotions had always felt so inaccessible to me.
A few days later, accessing some incredibly deep feelings, I asked if I could share with him what was coming up for me? He agreed and I shared that I was angry. I wasn’t angry at him. I was angry at myself. I shared, “I’m angry that I’ve let myself beg for you to love me.” It was so hard to say. It was hard to hear, I’m sure. But it was true. I felt like I’d been holding his hand so much in this relationship. Telling him what to do to love me. Waiting for the love to feel natural from him. He always did well when I was “in his bubble” as a friend likes to call it, like physically with him, but from afar it was a constant struggle.
Something changed in those vulnerable conversations this last trip. He’s present. Like all the time. I can say with all the confidence in the world that he’s 100% with me in this relationship and I’m not having to beg him to love me. I’m inside his bubble. I can feel it. And I think there is something in this difference in behavior that makes me balk at the confidence I had that he’d say yes to my request. Because based on my feelings now for how I felt then, at that time I didn’t feel I mattered enough.
Not only did I get what I wanted because I asked for it. But because I had the guts to ask for it, I know that I matter to him. And I also matter to myself.
It’s spilled over into many areas of my life. Boundaries are what you find when you ask yourself what you want. I’m setting boundaries all around me. It’s definitely a really important update to my software.
Lastly, I want to share a great post on poly-aware monogamy. I’d say we are currently in a poly-aware, sexually open, emotionally monogamous relationship. The post helped me feel more flexible in my current need for emotional monogamy. I don’t know how long I need emotional monogamy. Right now it takes away some anxiety. Would it be different if we weren’t long distance? Maybe. Am I forever emotionally monogamous? Who knows. Does he need to be forever emotionally monogamous? I don’t think so. I think my need for him to be in practicing agreement with me is temporary. I really do. Would it be lovely if we were always in sync with each other? Of course, but that’s not how really honest, open relationships tend to work. Open and honest are my 1st priority. I want his needs to be discussed as much as mine. We are what we are, until we aren’t.