I was listening to Dan Savage and Tristan Taormino talk about the short term impact of COVID on poly relationships and it was super fucking depressing because they were really emphasizing the point that “poly is on hold” and may be for quite a long time. This was just a too sobering reminder of our reality right now. Not being poly right now isn’t so terrible, it’s all the things we can’t do or be piled onto one other – and this is just another nail in the coffin.
Of all the things I’ve been missing in isolation, it’s Justina that I miss the most. This makes perfect sense – aside from Jeannie (who I’m isolated with right now) Justina is the next most important person to me right now. But there’s more than just rational longing for something I crave at play here and it recently got more complicated for me.
Two things happened with Justina recently. First, we had a very honest discussion that brought us to the conclusion that we won’t be seeing each other for at least another two months. This stings. A lot. But it also stings a lot less than holding out irrational hope that we’ll see each other sooner. Having a virtual target to focus on is actually pretty helpful.
However, this connected with the second thing has made it all a lot harder to wrap my head around than I could have imagined. The second thing is that I realized I was channeling all of my longing for other friends into missing Justina. This was unfair to her – we’re both feeling enough sadness without me pumping in a whole lot more sadness from an another source. So I’ve been trying to get a grip on these emotions and separate them.
This hasn’t made anything easier. It actually feels like my sadness has doubled now. For this post, though, I’m going to stay focused on Justina, and Jeannie, and the polyamory components of all of this.
“Forced” Monogamy & LDR
If you are poly and don’t live with all your partners, you are either currently completely solo or monogamous. I’m virtually monogamous right now as I live with Jeannie and I’m incredibly thankful that I have her, and our relationship, cause I don’t think I’d remain sane for more than a week or two if I were living alone. Anyone dating outside their home is virtually in a Long Distance Relationship (LDR) now. Even if your love interest is just across town, they might as well be on the other side of the planet since you’d only see them on a computer screen right now.
Justina and I had been doing weekly movie dates via Netflix Party. Then recently on a video chat, she asked me if we could do more video chatting – and not in place of movies, but in addition to those dates. We had a very long chat that night, and I came away with at least one epiphany: In my desire to remain connected to Justina as a lover, I may have been losing site of being her friend, And even though I value her friendship over our sexy times, that wasn’t how we were really behaving. Just talking that night, and exploring random conversational rabbit holes, really felt nice. I mean, REALLY nice.
I knew what I wanted, but…
From that moment I knew I wanted to have more virtual dates focused on just being friends. Maybe a board game or video game together. Maybe a cooking and dinner night over video chat. Definitely just more time to talk and be, well, friends!
For the last week, we’ve connected more and been wonderful friends – and it’s been great, really. Yet I’m somehow feeling even more sad right now. Much of this is situational – the pandemic is wearing on and our patience is wearing thin. It’s becoming nice outside and the activities I most want to do in nice weather aren’t likely to take place – at least not the way they used to.
I might take the weekend off to disconnect.
Justina then told me she may be taking this weekend off to disconnect – get an escape from all the screens we’re staring at right now. That’s probably a terrific idea. She’ll like get some real recharge from doing this. But as I ponder what I need to move forward, and how I should behave, I’m really struggling. Could/should I try this, too?
As I ponder this, another thought came to me. Should I try to distance myself from things that are making me sad? Generally my answer to this is NO – I’m strong and addressing sadness is important. But these are not ordinary times and I wonder if I should be considering more extraordinary actions.
Rather than spending more time with Justina, should I be spending less? I mean, I know that this isn’t what I want to do. If the time we were spending together was normal, including IRL interaction, this thought wouldn’t even cross my mind. But right now, seeing her as a two dimensional visual on a computer or phone screen, well, just isn’t cutting it. Perhaps it’s even more hurtful than helpful.
So I tried to carry this thought experiment a little further and ponder how I’m interacting with all my friends. I’m longing for connection, but even the best video chats aren’t satisfying my connection craving. They are “nice” cause I want to catch up with friends. Emotionally, though? They are leaving me wanting more. They are falling short. They may even be feeding more sadness.
And this is really scaring me.
How much emotional loss can I handle right now? So what I’m really asking myself is, should I try to milk as much (or as little) energy as I can from virtual connections right now? Or should I hunker down and isolate myself even further? The latter would remove the sadness I feel after a great call with Justina, or other friends. But can I really disconnect from the people I love this way? Can I really reduce my interactions to virtually zero?
I don’t know. I’m very confused right now. I’m very sad. And I know I’ll be OK at some time in the future. But right now it feels as though the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off with no idea when it might come back on. A lot like everything in the world right now, I guess.
Thank goodness I have Jeannie – she’s my lifeline right now. Even when she’s in her dark or sad place right now, she’s always there for me. This is the lifeline I need right now. But neither of us know how to take this from surviving to thriving. I hope we can find our way.