Dating, Life, Love

The Men I’ve Loved Pt 3 ~ Polyamory

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After my divorce I dated a few men but not seriously. Most of them only lasted a couple weeks to a couple months and in retrospect I dated a handful of scrubs. I was a mother of two in my mid 20’s and didn’t know who I was, what I wanted or what I was worth. I struggled with self love after being pegged as the awful woman who broke up my own family. I struggled with time management having to co-parent part time and work full time. I struggled to stay afloat with my mid level bank job and paying bills on my own. I found solace in the new friendships that I was creating and I was trying to learn who I wanted to spend my time with. I had a couple female best friends to help me find my path. One was our nanny when my youngest was a baby and I had to go back to work. I got to keep her in the divorce. She ended up somewhat moving in with me, or rather spending all her time at my house because she didn’t want to live with her mother. She would be there when I left for work and then when I came home. We would hang out & have cocktails after work and dance to Britney Baby! She was close to my kids and it was nice to have companionship during my transition. Another one of my girls was an amazing vocalist, guitarist and cook who lived with me for about 6 months. Finally, my life long best friend who has always been my biggest moral support. 

Burning Man is a huge music & art festival in the Nevada desert that happens each year at the end of Summer. During the off season the city of Black Rock is desolate but for that one week it transforms into the 3rd largest city in Nevada. Roughly 70-80k people attend this event and they must collectively construct it from scratch. There are thousands of art structures, sound camps and other camps that offer attractions like yoga, naked yoga, healing, showers, food, workshops and so much more. Anything you want to do can be found in their Who, What, When, Where Guide (WWWW).  Each participant has to bring everything they need to survive for the week in the desert. People come from all over the world and it truly is one of the most incredible experiences on earth. My lifelong best friend started inviting me to “Burner” events that happened throughout the year in our local community. Within months I began hosting my own potlucks in the community and ended up building a theme camp my very first year at Burning Man in 2011. Soon after I was hosting my own parties and later was nominated to be on the Board for Denver Decompression 2012 which is the annual post Burning Man event that brings the community together after the dust settles. One of my fellow board members was a man who was in a sound crew by the name of Whomp Truck. This man would later become the subject of this story line. 

Whomp Truck was a mobile sound crew that would pop up in hidden places all over Denver and host Renegade parties. I had been to a couple of their events and thought they were super cool so being able to work with one of them on this event was a dream come true. After throwing that successful event I was approached by their founder who asked me to join the crew. I started going to their weekly meetings and was the only woman there. It was primarily a crew of male DJ’s & tech guys but they said they wanted someone who could help organize the crew and my background in finance & management was ideal. It took me about 3 months to feel comfortable in the group at which point I jumped right in and started contributing much of my free time & energy to the success of the crew. I asked to welcome in a couple of my Burning Man camp members who I thought were assets and we merged forces. I started welcoming more women into the group and we were nicknamed “Whompettes”. A lot of these women were girlfriends of the DJ’s who never got involved before but if there is one thing I do well, it’s bring people together and organize skill sets. We grew from 6-8 to about 20 members within my first year, all of which had something amazing to bring to the table. We were rocking hard and riding high for a couple years hosting community events, warehouse parties and sound camps at our regional burn. We even started planning our own festival which was going to require a lot of start-up capital and a lot of hard work but we were inspired to do this. We worked hard and played harder. Unfortunately when you are so close to people on such an intimate level, there can be cross over in the relationship sector. There were people who would break up and then couple up with another person in the group. There were people who casually slept together and since we were all young & beautiful we occasionally had fun with each other. Nothing was super serious and we were just enjoying the ride. 

There was always one guy in the group who I was interested in more seriously, however. He was the first man I worked with during Denver Decompression and he was the one I saw as someone I could actually date. We hooked up a few times over the years but he was never serious about me, or anyone for that matter. He wasn’t in an emotional place for a relationship so we just remained friends with occasional benefits. After about 3 years of working together & occasional hook ups, I flat out told him I cared about him and we were young so I wouldn’t mind if he saw other people but I wanted something more. At that time a lot of our friends were exploring polyamory and I was curious about it. Monogamy didn’t work for my husband and I wondered if it was reasonable for people to only be with one person for life. Unfortunately when I confessed this, he freaked out a bit and told me he didn’t have those feelings for me and never would. He broke my heart that day and despite having to work with him I cut my friendship off with him. I hardly would look at him during our meetings and wouldn’t hug him when I left. It took 3 months of the “cold shoulder” for him to pull me aside and tell me he was sorry, he was wrong and he just got nervous. This man had just spent the last year struggling with Cancer, going through chemo and having to come to terms with the possibility of dying at such a young age. He was in recovery but he feared that he wouldn’t be around long enough to start a relationship with me. He then said that he did want something more serious and was ready to do this with me. This all seemed too good to be true and I was cautious so I suggested we start slow and maybe try polyamory. I knew him closely for years and I knew that he loved the ladies so I didn’t want to expect too much from him, other than honesty and companionship. We then embarked on an open relationship and the one agreement we had established was that we would always communicate and never lie to each other. 

Things were light & fun in the beginning. We were spending more time together and getting to know each other more intimately. I didn’t date any other guys because I hadn’t met anyone that I was interested in but he went on a couple dates with other girls, none of which he slept with but he was always honest with me about where he was. Then one day he sat me down and said we needed to talk. He said he met a girl that he really liked and wanted to pursue her. I said alright, this is what we agreed on and I wasn’t going to stop him. I said I wanted to meet her so we could all be friends and be on the same page. Once we established that we were all on board and willing to try polyamory, and once everyone cleared STD testing, we moved forward. The day after he slept with her he came to me and said he didn’t know if he wanted to do this.. He claimed the sex was bad and that he wanted to just be with me. I told him absolutely not. He doesn’t get to sleep with a woman and then just dump her. As tempting as it was to just claim him as my own, I wouldn’t allow this. He had said this was what he wanted so he needed to give it more time in my opinion. In retrospect I regret saying that as what followed was a very difficult time in my life, however I also know after years of processing this that I am grateful how things ended up.

Within just a few weeks she was making demands that I felt were unreasonable. She said that since she still lived at home with her parents and I had my own house, that his bed should be their intimate space while my bed should be his & my intimate space. I had major problems with this considering that I had known him for years and she just met him, she was not about to kick me out of his bed now. But I caved and I let it happen and that was my first mistake. From there, things just got worse… She confessed that she was Bi-polar 2 and for this reason she needed more attention than me. We tried to agree on how to divide up our time together but she would pull him away during our designated time together whenever she had a “breakdown” and needed him. She started making agreements with him behind closed doors that didn’t involve me and he began directly breaking agreements that we had already made. He would tell me one thing and then go back to her and change his feelings. Then come back to me with her various demands. I felt like this woman was controlling my life and I hated every second of it. He told me he loved me and then a week later told her he loved her. As much as I wanted him to honor his feelings, this made his confession of love for me feel shallow and seem like it was too little, too late. He bought us both jewelry for Christmas which she proudly broadcasted on social media and this made his gift to me seem generic. She and I tried to spend time together but it was difficult as we both seemed to want to be the alpha. I tried bringing literature into things and suggested we all read a book on Polyamory together. We never made it through the book and things just got more difficult.

Earlier that year I had uprooted my career in the financial industry to pursue my passion in event production. I only worked odd jobs & bartending for 9 months while I tried to find the perfect job which caused me to go into quite a bit of debt. I had finally gotten firm footing when my landlord notified me that after living in my house for 4 years I would need to move as he was selling. I had a short time to find a new place and the housing market in Denver had skyrocketed so finding another 3 bedroom house for $1000 per month was highly unlikely. When I told my boyfriend he said we should find a house together. I asked him how she would feel about this and he said it’s his decision and would talk to her. Then came back to me a week later and said we all needed to discuss this and she had some concerns. Suddenly I found myself promising that she could also move in with us and that we were all going to look for a place together. Since his lease wasn’t up for a couple months we decided I would temporarily move my things into storage at our warehouse where we kept all our sound equipment. Then I would live in a friend’s attic while my kids would stay with my co-parent until his lease was up. I put my whole life on pause for this man. 

At that time he & I were also neck deep in planning our first festival together for Whomp Truck. We were spending most of our time together working on the project and the other half of our time trying to make things work with her. I felt like it was all work and no play. When the festival was shut down by law enforcement, which is an entirely different story for another day, all shit hit the fan. We lost $30,000 of the money we had saved up for this event because we still had to pay out all our artists and were unable to get back deposits for infrastructure, porto potties, ice and the like. There was a lot of tension leading up to this event and I had expressed to the group how risky it was to proceed, but to no avail, we pushed forward despite the many hang ups and we lost everything, including our reputation. The group was heartbroken and people started to blame each other. Later that month my boyfriend, my metamour (my lover’s other lover in poly terms) and another couple from the crew went on a planned vacation to Shambala, a festival in Canada. I was left back home to pick up the pieces of the failed festival and also try and find a place for us to live. When he came back 2 weeks later everything was different. When he left he told me that I was his “Primary” which was something that was a huge point of contention between all of us as we read the book together. Supposedly, there is a primary relationship and a secondary relationship in the poly realm and he could never decide which one of us was his primary. I always hated the terms but this was something she said was a concern of hers if he & I both moved in together, she would default to the secondary. I could understand that as I never liked the idea of being “second” either so I never asked him to pick me, despite the fact we were both board members in our crew and making real life & business decisions together, I never wanted to make her feel lesser. He was my primary and that’s all I knew. When he came back however he sat me down and said that she was now his primary. He said things have developed between them so quickly and that our relationship was tumultuous. He said that I would still be his girlfriend but that this needed to be established. I felt utterly betrayed by him. After years of friendship and working together, he treated me in ways that I would never allow him to treat another woman and I couldn’t help but feel like she was manipulating him to make these decisions. I knew that minute that there was no way I would accept this and no way that I would move in together under these terms. I felt like he led me down a path, made promises and then abandoned me when I needed him the most. It took me one week to finally come to terms with the fact that I had to not only break up with him but also I had to break up with my sound crew. I had invested so much of my money, time & energy into others with nothing to show for it. Things were falling apart on all aspects and I needed to extract myself so I could figure out MY life & needs for once. I was living in an attic waiting on a man who would only disappoint me and the crew was fragmenting. I helped the crew settle their expenses but made it clear that I would no longer be a part of things. I left my career, lost my love & the person who was supposed to be my best friend, my tribe, my home and the creative project that I was passionate about all in one year. I was left broken and homeless.

It took me years to fully process how much this experience hurt me. I have not spoken to this ex-boyfriend since I left the crew. He ended up marrying the other woman and I believe they are still together. It’s hard for me to say I am “happy for them” but I will say that I am extremely happy for myself having gotten out of that situation. In retrospect I wanted to be with him so much that I sacrificed my needs. I learned so much from going through that and trying to see if polyamory worked for me. I can now say with confidence that I am wired monogamous. Energy is sacred and I like to share mine with one person and the energy exchange must be equal. I also can not allow any woman (or man) to control my life. I think all relationships require compromise but I’ve found that it’s hard enough to negotiate terms with one partner, let alone many. I also know that when I have sex with someone I become bonded to them and don’t need to look further. I want to feel safe in a relationship and not have to wonder if they are looking elsewhere. I don’t judge anyone who chooses polyamory and I understand from what I learned that some people are wired that way and there is nothing wrong with it. Many species have multiple partners and a healthy sex life should be a personal journey. It took hands on experience for me to know what I was looking for romantically and this was a part of my journey.