Recently, well a couple of weeks ago now, I broke up with a lover. We had been together exclusively for most of a year. In many ways it had felt almost perfect. There were a lot of good, enjoyable, times and connections. We went deep, and high. I fantasized about a life together at times. But there was a key issue that we didn't agree on; monogamy.
I'm a pretty free thinker, free spirit, challenger of the status quo; and despite the fact that I've only ever been in monogamous relationships, I've come to the clarification that I want to experiment with open relating and polyamory. Essentially because that lines up with my desire to avoid being treated or treating anyone as a possession. Also I want to challenge my expectations that one person can fulfill all of my needs and desires. I don't want to put that burden on a single person.
This lover of mine and I never had a fight. We had some mildly heated discussions a few (as in 3) times over the course of a year. I respected his boundaries (which were not easy for him to define clearly), and I didn't engage with anyone else, although I discussed my desire to on occasion with him. I took the time to express how much I adored him, and wanted him to feel free too. So I decided to end our relationship, when I found myself resenting him, even guilt tripping him for not being more aggressive in bed.
It dawned on me that I was not loving him for the way he is, was; I wasn't walking my talk. I wasn't taking the time during sex to slow down and really ask "will you do _______ to me now?" I have the knowledge, and the tools, of empowered consent; asking and stating my desires, and boundaries, and yet I was still expecting him to sort of read my mind, do what I want without me requesting it. When we weren't having sex, I would kind of dance around the topic.
Essentially what happened is that early on we established a habit of interacting sexually that wasn't fully satisfying to me; but it wasn't his responsibility to figure out how to meet my needs; it's mine. It's up to me to be as clear as possible and to ask "Are you able to do this thing that I would really like?"
I walked away from that relationship wondering what went wrong. Now I know that nothing did. It was about honoring both of us: what he was willing and or able to offer, and what I desire; and the truth that they just didn't line up.
I still care very much for this man, and have no bad feelings now that I am able to recognize our unique differences. Differences are good, sameness is boring. Agreement, consent, means connection. Despite physical distance, I still feel a heart connection, not a pain where something broke.
I believe that love means that we accept people exactly as they are. If we don't, then we don't truly love them. I can fully love him now because I have no expectations of him. (This is an interesting point for future clarification)
My intention for myself is to cultivate a way of being with others, erotically, intimately, where there is no possessiveness. Where we appreciate people for who they are, and what they are, and what they bring to our lives; and let go of the rest. We don't expect or assume that they are signing up for anything that we haven't discussed, and consented to. So maybe it means appreciating someone who gives great back rubs, and another who you split rent with, and another who loves to go hiking with you, and another who shares your interest in water-sports (yes those water-sports!) Why should one relationship detract from another? Expecting that one person be your everything, share all of your interests is unfair and unlikely. They may pretend for a while, but eventually the truth will come out. I want authenticity, for myself, and all of my relationships. I want someone to say "No, I'm not into that", "No, I cant do that", "No I don't like that." Yay! Now I know that I can trust their yes as being authentic. I can trust that the person really does want to do, or try, that thing that we've discussed. I want them to be present and not disassociate or endure, put up with it. That's not fun for anyone. Full engagement is where the bliss is. Even if someone is taking pleasure in doing something to me that wasn't my request, as long as I'm consenting, I can get a lot of pleasure from allowing them to do it. Communication is key.
So, respecting each others personal preferences, and desires, may mean a necessary uncoupling. Remembering that it's because you respect each other, truly love each other, and are wanting the best for both of you, can make it a lot easier on hearts. It also means that if we see them around town, that we can smile at them, give them a hug and carry on following our bliss.