Consensually non-monogamous

That’s a term I’ve been grappling with.

It’s what she currently is, and she’s not looking for a serious monogamous relationship right now. I can’t go in looking to change that – it wouldn’t be fair for her or for me.

Isn’t that just a fancy term for dating?” a friend of mine echoed my questions.
I guess if you’re just dating around, it’s a phase. But if you’re consensually non-monogamous, it technically implies this is not a phase – it’s permanent.

I’ve been reading up a lot about non-monogamy. It requires a lot of communication from both sides – much more honesty and checking in and self awareness than traditionally monogamous arrangements. One of the things people in or getting into monogamous relationships struggle with is jealousy, which comes hand in hand with insecurity. And the question “why am I not enough?” – which I have been struggling with.

I also learned about compersion – the ability to be happy for your partner when they sleep with or date someone else. I don’t know if it’s innate or if it can be learned, but if I’m to be with this girl, I’ll need to at least try to… “compert”.

She’s still seeing at least one other girl. And it eats me up inside. But that’s my own fault. It’ll take a while to adjust these expectations. She’s been very clear from the start.

We’ll just be cute together until then.

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It’s her.

This is intensely new for me.

The first time I met her, I had my eyes set on someone else. Naturally I paid little attention to her, attractive as she was. I must embarrassingly confess, what attention I did give to her was initiated out of spite for the other girl.

I didn’t see her again for three months after.

In between, I did end up following her on Instagram, but alas, no followback. This alone was a notable detail, not for its ability to prod at the biggest of egos, but for what happened in September. When we did meet again, it was in a non-queer setting – I was with my planners at Hanlan’s Point, celebrating a birthday. I spotted her friend, whom I met her through, and went over to say hi / chat. I kept it brief.

But a few days later, she followed me back on Instagram. Maybe it’s a petty, millennial-minded thing to even think, but… the petty millennial-minded side of me tells me that I even crossed her mind following that interaction. I was grasping at straws here.

I still didn’t pursue her. I don’t know why.

When I did message her, it was completely innocent and from a genuine place:

“Where’d you get your hair done? It looks amazing!” And I meant it. And I meant it in a non-flirtatious way.

We talked a bit but it died down after a few days. I don’t recall how, but we started talking again.

After a few weeks of daily texting, the topic of art came up and I found out more about her – she works as a social worker but that was after she dropped out of OCAD for illustration. She’s been getting back into art with doodles at her neighbourhood cafe. I told her I’ve fallen off my art-gallery game and that we should go art gallery hopping.

And so we did. I had so much fun the entire day, from when we met and her bike lock was fucked up; to discovering that we actually knew a lot of the same things, like local artists; to dropping into vintage stores and learning more about her what she likes through casual conversation; to stumbling into the infamous Harry Potter store; to learning that she loved candles, skulls, and taxidermy, and that there was a Rosemary+Salt scented candle that she really loved; to spontaneous Grand Electric Tacos; to stumbling into a bike repair and coffee shop tucked into a residential neighbourhood and getting her a temporary lock from the goodness of the mechanic’s heart; to her lingering hand when we hugged goodbye.

I had such a good, cute time, I texted her almost immediately, before I even got home. We were already planning out our next “hang”. But it definitely felt more like a date than anything.


 

I went to New York the weekend after and stumbled onto a farmer’s market. At the essential oils stall, I was fixated on an oil burner. Deliberated it for a good 15 minutes (“am I moving too fast? Will she even like it? Should I spend this money on her? Does she even like me??”) before committing to buying it.

I gave it to her the next weekend I saw her, along with my mom’s chocolates. “She gave me too many and I can’t finish them all” was my half-excuse. She loved it.

We walked around Kensington and I decided to bring her to Fika. Despite having been in this cafe three or four times, I had no idea there was a patio in the back….

And to our delight, a hammock.

So of course we lay there for a while. And we talked. Then, for a bit, lay side by side in silence. Looking up at the clouds and blue sky. And it was comfortable silence.

We hung around a bit more, went into different stores. Then we went to Poetry Jazz Cafe where her cousin works, and she bought me a ginger beer – made in house. It was absolutely delicious and packed a punch.

We parted ways. And I texted her as soon as I got home.

I told her the hammock was my favourite part.

She told me it was hers too.


 

Our mutual friend had a movie screening that she invited me to. Her best friend and their partner were also attending. It would’ve definitely been a double date. But both of them ended up cancelling, gradually. I wasn’t going to bail on her.

A few hours before meeting up, she texted me “Hey I know you have to work tomorrow, but do you wanna grab a drink after the movie?”

It was especially endearing since I knew she was very introverted. It was a deliberate move.

We met up, took two seats in the back of the theatre. I told her “I don’t remember the last time I went to a theatre and watched a movie”.

“What did you do the last time you went to a theatre?” she smiled.

I smiled and shied away.

It was her last night in Toronto, before going to Japan. For two weeks.


 

She almost walked into a wall. It was really cute.

She almost walked into the elevator handrails. It was really cute.

 


 

She walked me to the bottom of my condo. We were both abuzz with the alcohol in our systems. It was two hours later than I anticipated leaving – we were swayed by our new friend, who offered to buy us drinks.

“Well, this is me,” my drunk ass fell back on cheesy lines from even cheesier TV dramas. I looked at her sadly. She was going to Japan two days later.

“What?” She asked softly. But the smile I saw for a split second told me she knew.

It’s a little blurry what happened here but I told her I was sad she was leaving.

“What are you gonna do about it?” She hushed her voice, the smile showing more.

In a tipsy stupor, I shot from the heart: “… I’m just gonna kiss you”. And I went for it.

And we made out for half an hour at the bottom of my condo.


 

“I’ve been wanting to kiss you for a really long time, you have no idea”

Being on the receiving end of that text put me on cloud ten for the next 48 hours.

🙂


 

We texted every day for the next two weeks.

I’d wake up to photos she’d send me. I’d reply with Good morning. We’d chat for a few hours until it was her bedtime, on the other side of the world. We’d say Good night.

She’d wake up to a photo or message from me. She’s reply with Good morning. We’d chat for a few hours until it was my bedtime. We’d say Good night.


 

I delayed publishing this post for over a week. But, she came back on Saturday. What happened next is for the next post.

This is the first time I haven’t overthought someone. I’m keeping a proper and intentional lid on the overthinking. It got me this far. If I overthought like before, I’d have fixated on the fact that she’s probably leaving for Vancouver in a year. And I would’ve detached.

But she’s far too special. I’d be a fucking idiot not to take this chance… Love is not a balloon or elastic band. There’s no breaking point. Love is a muscle that you flex and grow. And if you hurt yourself, you heal, and you grow and persist.


 

We’re so different, but our core values and humour are the same. I learn so much from her, and I just want to make her happy. I was walking down the street for the first time last week, and it hit me: I finally truly understand on an emotional level what that lyric means “I was made for loving you”.

It’s too early to be using such strong words, but it’s how I feel.

I plan on surprising her. Next weekend, I’m going to rent a car and drive her out to see one of her favourite bands. I’m so excited. I just hope I can get tickets to this sold out show.

Storytelling

storytelling

I’m getting better at storytelling.

Per the McKinsey workshop, storytelling is constructed on content, tone, and body language. The biggest praise came on my content, although I did get compliments on tone. I know my content is great – my stories, compared to those of so many around me, are so interesting – crazy even. I had them on the edge of their seats – and this was just a 3 minute story that was part of a work shop.

Anyways, the point of this blog is to note my progress in this goal of mine – being better at story telling.

Also, this blog is getting stale and I need to commit better to writing weekly.

Little Me

I had a bad night on Saturday.

I’d spent the whole day with my brother, showing him around downtown so he wouldn’t be alone uptown. It was a nice and mellow days, and ended with dessert crepes. He left around 9pm and I was alone at home.

I was unwinding with Netflix and tabs of random Chrome searches in front of me and before I knew it, I’d slipped under a veil. I felt like something internal was pulling me in, down. And I hadn’t even noticed until I was ruminating in shitty thoughts, like I was readying myself to drown, like all hope was lost, and everything I had done/accomplished was futile.

Maybe it was loneliness. It’s probably loneliness-related.

I messaged J to make her aware that I would possibly cancel on our plans for the next day.

And for some reason I messaged A. They are a social worker and I felt they would be equipped to help. Even if not then, at least they’d provide resources and I’d have a direction to move in. And they’d hold me accountable.

I got through the night, put myself to bed.

J was sweet. She said she completely understood needing that alone time. Despite last minute cancellations, she dropped by at the end of the day with cupcakes. I was touched.

Today is Tuesday. A messaged me a spreadsheet to resources. And it started a conversation.

They told me a bit about their past, ways of coping and addressing these issues. One exercise was a “Little me, Big me” message, where you first write as “Little me”, which is supposed to encompass all emotions and irrational feelings in their rawest form, and voice our your feelings. “Big me” then responds by validating these emotions and rationalizing everything. It’s similar to me writing out my emotions, but there’s empathy involved.

I couldn’t help but think, when they were giving me a personal example, that Little Me needed to fucking get over it. My immediate reaction was one of frustration and impatience. I told A, adding it was probably something I should tell a therapist/counsellor.

I’ve been pretty vocal about needing to voice out your feelings and engaging in dialogue, primarily to avoid conflict and blowing up relationships. But I guess despite my writing out my thoughts, I haven’t been aware of the emotional side of my relationship with myself – I haven’t been empathetic with my own feelings. I’ve been rather cold, actually, rationalizing them primarily for the sake of making them go away, permanently. A healthier approach would be to recognize these feelings and rationalize their existence, and… And then what? I suppose they won’t really go away.

Well the inner child in me is feeling abandoned by those around me. My friends are all either coupled or too busy for me. Or the ones I actually care to be around are too busy. I feel disappointed because I think I’m always there for them – whenever they need it. Where are they when I need them? Why can’t they tell that I need them? I feel angry. I also feel lonely. And I‘m frustrated that I let myself keep going back to those who treat me so disposably. Do I think so little of myself that I hold out for those who don’t have me as a priority in their lives? Why do I let myself get strung along by those who don’t have me as number one?

Big me: Nobody is anybody’s number one. Despite what social media, pop culture, or society tells you. Nobody is anybody’s number one, at least not permanently. Number ones do an entire village’s worth of work – to provide emotional support, financial support, physical labour, fun and fulfillment, and dependence, all while maintaining desirability. This is atypical of relationships. Different groups satisfy these realms of life – a single person cannot possibly provide all this (and more). So to ask so much of your close friends, let alone partner, is unreasonable. And remember to not have these expectations of your partner. At best, it will end in divorce.

Adjust your expectations. They have their own lives. They are making themselves better people. (And if you want to think selfishly, they will be better for when they do connect with you.) If you need them – truly need them – they will be there. You just have to voice it – you know you have to ask for help when you need it. What matters is they actually pick up, when you ask for help. And deep down, you know they will.

You take time to make yourself better, and you go about it vocally too. Don’t be selfish about what you preach – give them space to make themselves better.


That was therapeutic. I’ve always been very good at consoling and talking my friends out of their bad situations – so I’ve come off as self-possessed to many of them. What they don’t know is I don’t typically use this to this extent on myself. This exercise was good in separating my emotional-irrational from my logical-rational. There is no weakness in either side, but they need to be balanced out…

Patience and progress, Little me. Your friends are here for you. I am here for you.

Systems.

Adults know everything. They are objectively correct and the systems that they have in place are not arbitrary, they are scientific.

You do not question them. You respect systems and the decisions of adults. We were not religious, but filial piety was as close to God as we’d have ourselves believe.

Life carries itself out within the walls of these systems.

Anytime I came close to these walls as a child, I was harshly disciplined. And you don’t get to ask why. “That’s just how it is.” “You just can’t.” Said mom and dad.

You don’t get to think outside the systems. It’s not like in North America or Europe, where at at least “creativity” was a commonly exchanged word. I still don’t know what “creativity” is in Chinese.


Within my social circle, I am one of the more curious ones – and my curiosity is nuanced. I’m always asking “how?” – particularly with people, and how they came to be. What happened in their childhood that made them this way? How conducive were their parents in honing this skill? What fleeting character in their life drew them in this direction?

What was the system within which they grew up like, that shaped them to be this way? I want the whole picture.

In my first year of coming out, it was an incredible amount of self-reflection and questioning my own becoming – to what extent did my unique ‘system of systems’ craft me to develop these ticks, quirks, habits, annoyances, insecurities? I needed to figure out why I was profoundly irritated by certain things, why I sought to detach as much as I could from others, why I felt so misunderstood and the differences between me and my closest friends. I was obsessed. And I documented it all here.

And it’s been hella disappointing. Cultural values, socioeconomic hierarchies, social mores and taboos have all shaped the way I think. And as I’ve met more and more queers, I’ve found a significantly larger amount of common ground with several of the gaysians I’ve met than with most others – and I’m talking depth as much as breadth. The way we think is so similar and as refreshing as this is, it’s also astounding. And the systems within which we grew up are so similar – nuanced, but similar. And I attribute the similiarities in the way we think to the commonalities in our childhood systems. We have parallel sources of shame.

So I’ve found myself analyzing why.

And it’s not helped my overthinking.

It wasn’t until recently that I contrasted my childhood faith in systems with my disdain for how they’ve failed so many of us in so many ways.

Whether it’s our voices muted by helicopter parenting, or our inability to make decisions by way of one-way parental trust, or our inability to form healthy attachments to other people as a result of abandonment… we’re all victims of our circumstances. We’re all victims of our systems.

Trying Something New

“How would you feel about just staying friends? Would you be able to do that?”

I grimaced – it meant she had little faith that my feelings were reciprocated. Discomfort also arose from me not having an answer ready. I would probably be okay – she is optimistic, career-driven, gay, and is a connection on the west coast. She’s already offered free accommodation and to be my personal Uber driver and she’ll “take me to do all the outdoorsy shit and I’ll hate her for it but my instagram aesthetic will be strong”.

“I have a crazy story to tell you” She said.

My heart started beating real fast.

“I have a feeling I’ll be back in a year. Maybe two. Vancouver won’t be permanent.”

I delighted with her, in her revelation. But beneath, I yearned to know why… not why she had this feeling… but why she would tell me this. Why would you dangle hope in front of me, when I don’t even know how you feel about me?

Then a week ago, she asked for my address. I gave it. Then my postal code. I gave it. And she bought me her favourite book.

Bruh.

I’m tired. She’s seeing someone else. I can’t stomach it.

Usually I would detach. Oh it would be emotional violence.

But I want to try something new (partially because I genuinely believe I am better than the person she’s currently seeing, if we’re being brutally honest). I want to persist. She’s a friend worth keeping, I’d like to think. So I’ll bite my tongue.

I’ll persist, with hope.

This is fine dog in burning house .jpeg

Violent Cycle

And next thing you know, we’re texting every day. I know a lot about her. She’s poured unto me everything beneath her skin; I’ve laid upon her some of my deepest thoughts and insecurities. I’ve carved a dependence into her life. You would think this is a double-ended sword but familiarity makes me immune. I know this old tune and how it goes and there’s a bitterness to it.

Then it’s just a matter of time before my wandering eyes spot a scapegoat.

And then I detach, violently.

I’ve afforded them no explanation. If they cared they would dig deeper.

I’ve also afforded them an explanation. The ends don’t justify the means. 

I’ve done this before. It’s muscle memory by now.


 

I feel great. I haven’t spoken to this one in a week. It was painful when she followed up after three days and asked “are we not okay?”. It’s best we give each other space. I get over feelings systematically. Her – not so much.

I’m only now wondering how it’s like on the other end. I’ve never been on that side before. How does it feel to have someone so close pull away so abruptly?

We didn’t have a future together – what are we even doing? Why are we wasting our Now when we have no Later? Let’s just move on.

I’m great at cutting people off. I’ve told her this. I’ve gotten good. It’s not healthy. “Am I next?” she joked. I don’t remember what I said.


 

I think I need counselling.

Pain in Omission

Perhaps it’s my own fault for spilling my guts to people I trust – I tell them everything. I believe in being on the same page with people close in my life; it’s rooted in my belief that the root of all conflict is a build-up of misunderstanding and one way to avoid that is to be on the same page as often as possible. Also, sometimes it is only in hindsight that you realize the extravagance of a story is best conveyed when the audience is living along the same timeline as you.

But what I’ve noticed is few things sting harder than when you find out way after that the person you’ve confided in has been omitting the fact that they’ve been hooking up with someone else. It feels like a violent act of betrayal. I don’t feel safe in a lot of people and I invest a lot of time and emotional energy in people that I do feel safe in, by telling them about my life, asking about and listening to theirs. So learning about this feels like suddenly the safety has been stripped and you’re left free-falling.

I’m not enough of a drama queen to say that it feels like everything I’ve known is a lie… but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, for a hot minute, feel that way.

Taking a step back, I was going to write this post anyway. I’d been mulling it over.

What I didn’t expect was for it to happen again just as my WordPress page had loaded.

Here’s a shortened version of yesterday:

Queer park hang out went well. The weather wasn’t perfect so many didn’t show, but I was thoroughly impressed that about 15 or 20 queers powered through. It was a good time, I met some new queers and primarily hung out with familiar faces.

It was lovely hanging out in person with Birthday girl, S. She’s a fantastic conversationalist and I feel fairly comfortable with her. We’ve already established that we function and think along the same frequency. I’ve been burned several times by falling for the idea of people (as a result of the better half of our interactions being online) so I’ve developed a strong aversion to committing to the idea of someone if we don’t see each other in person. She remembered to bring a book, as did I. She gave me The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, acknowledging that neither of us were fiction readers but “this was so good I read it in 3 days”. She rolled her eyes at the story, set in pre-revolutionary China, being written by a white woman – which I found charming. She’s at least a lil woke.

She did have to leave early for a birthday dinner, but I’m somewhat glad. This, without a doubt, comes from insecurity, but I’m secretly glad she didn’t meet other gays – or, other gays didn’t meet her. Insecurity tells me others will go after her. Not that I don’t like a little competition, but definitely not when it comes to girls. We all just want someone we can be safe in, don’t we? I digress af.

But back to the (real) story.

Towards the end of the hang, she left quite abruptly, to go for a “talk”. It seemed like the two people around her knew exactly what it was about,and I was taken aback as she hadn’t told me. When I got home later that night, I messaged her “you had to go for a serious talk?”

“yes”

And it came out. She’d been hooking up with one of my friends.

Free-falling.

Why was this never mentioned, while I had been busy confiding in her? I always ask how her day is. Why was this deliberately omitted?

It hurt.

Perhaps it was a mix of being exhausted and still being slightly drunk, but I had to let her know I was hurt. Not by the fact that she had been hooking up with my friend, but the fact that she lied by omission.

We went back and forth.

Then I said “okay. Let’s be open. Do you still have feelings for me?”

“We’ve had this conversation before.

I’d be lying if I said no.”

My heart sank.

I didn’t know what to say or do.

Dread. Disappointment. Why hasn’t she moved on??? Does this mean we can’t be friends???

She asked if my feelings for her were gone. “They’re not completely gone. But knowing who you are dating or seeing helps to mitigate them.” The latter I’m sure she knows.

After much back and forth, we’ve agreed to be more open with each other.

It’s one thing to agree to do something, but quite another to actually do it. I don’t really want to see how this goes. I don’t want to talk to her. She’s not good for me.

I need to fucking move on.

Now, whenever I think about her, our conversation comes to mind and immediately, a feel dread clenching my chest, pulling downwards.

We’re fucking tragic.

Even before pressing Publish, I know this was a poorly written post. But there’s way too much emotion. Not to mention I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over three weeks.

Fucking hell.

Growth

This time last year I would’ve been hard-pressed if asked to name more than 7 queer friends. Hell, I had to recruit a girl I’d met on Tinder to join my queer ultimate frisbee team.

So imagine my shock when, after sending out Facebook event invites for a queer park hang, the RSVP list spat out a tally of 65 queer females. And this wasn’t even counting the queers who I had either forgotten or deliberately did not invite.

After months of floating the idea of a queer park hang oriented towards ultimate frisbee,  I decided to overcome the unnerving unknown of there being too few gays who would actually enjoy ultimate frisbee. I bit the bullet when I was most tired on a Thursday night, quickly drafted an event description, and sent out a swath of invitations.

I began remembering others who I’d missed and added them. Then BYOQ-style, people started inviting their own queer friends. I had amassed 90 (plus an additional 11 who cannot make it). Just under a third had committed ‘Yes’, a little less had thrown in a non-committal ‘Maybe’.

I’m excited, I really am. It’s a little tiring always having to meet gays in alcohol-themed settings. I love sports and I love park beers (beer is fine – hard liquor is a different story). Only a dollop of queerness could make these two things better.


A recurring theme in my life is meeting people when it’s too late.

In hindsight, it was sheer luck that her birthday caught my eye on Facebook – I’m usually rather oblivious and indifferent. And it was more luck that led me to privately messaging her “Hey, happy birthday!”.

“Thanks! How are things going with you?”

A deliberate opening.

We’ve been talking every day since for the past few weeks. A week into it, I learned she had recently become single.

Good. I never liked her ex.

I didn’t expect to get along so well with her though. I have such an appreciation for and attraction towards good conversationalists*.

* I’ve noticed someone who is a great conversationalist in-person is not always such over social media or online communication. The same is for the other way around. This is worth noting. 

So it really sucks that she’s moving to the west coast in a few weeks.

A week into talking, she’s already opened her doors for a visit if I ever go. It doesn’t feel like a complete loss, but I am rather disappointed she’s leaving. I would’ve loved to get to know her more. Her association with a certain couple of people had me weary and dulled my interest in approaching her, but she’s a fantastic, career-driven person and we have very similar taste in books and humour. We’re both fascinated by growth and challenging ourselves. She’s very into motivational speakers and clearly a very resilient person. She’s just good vibes all around.

I’ll see her this weekend for my meetup. Beyond our dynamic, I’m excited for the event itself.