“Can we talk about this sex party we’re going to in a couple of weeks?” I said to my partner. “I’m kind of anxious about some things.”
My anxiety spanned a whole range of things. I could feel them scampering about in my brain like prickly little beetles:
how I might feel, all the possible reactions I might have to untold scenarios involving people we haven’t met yet,
imaginary disasters, like coming on my period suddenly or overdosing on a random dose of a drug I wasn’t even going to plan on taking.
Awkward moments. Flip outs, panic attacks, trauma triggers. Seeing an ex. Being left alone.
My partner stopped me.
“I feel like this always happens before a party. You always want to talk about everything that could go wrong. It makes me so anxious I don’t want to go… To be honest, it kind of ruins it for me a bit.”
I stared at him, a bit crestfallen. He doesn’t want to listen to my anxieties?
He went on, “Can’t we talk instead about what we want to happen? All the cool, sexy things we might get to do?”
I was quiet for a long time. Realising:
He was right. I was looking at the party from the wrong starting point. From a ‘closed’ place.
Like it was a big, scary locked door. The bad, evil door, that looms up surrounded by spooky music in a horror movie. The closed door that makes you scream at the heroine: don’t go in there!
So, out of fear, I was ‘shutting it down’. Seeing all the potential ways I could lose. Get hurt. Kind of like I was going around shutting down all the open places: heart, mind, body. All closed.
It would be way better for me to imagine the party as a garden, with an open gate.
Sure, I may not know what’s behind it. And for sure… I need to make sure I know a few things about the garden before I just wander in off the street.
But I can be curious, and a little excited, to go inside and look around. Nothing inherently scary about a garden. And no need to overthink, or overplan for, an amble around a garden. I can always leave. Right?
The “open” approach to polyamory
When I weigh up a potential connection, or discuss one of Jack’s potential dates, it’s easy to find all the ways it might fail.
She might do this. They might say that. They might not want this. It might all go wrong. I might get hurt. We might get hurt. Our relationship might be damaged.
That’s what I do. All the time.
But what about all the ways it might succeed? Why don’t I spend time thinking about that too?
Dreaming. Fantasising about the opportunities.
All the fun. The flirting. The touching. The laughter. The connection. The sexual pleasure. The learning and growing.
The compersion when my partner meets someone and I get to feel so happy for them.
I feel some pride in being risk aware sometimes on the scene. As a know-it-all, there’s a certain feeling I get when I spot THE POTENTIAL HAZARDS in a situation, and I’m not proud of it, but it’s kind of a satisfied feeling. Polyamory and sexual experimentation and kink all demand a good awareness of what could go wrong. Sexual, mental and physical health and safety issues… there’s a certain status you get from spotting problems in a conversation, like, I know all the things that could go wrong, cause I’m experienced and I know my shit.
But I need to link that kind of thinking with some sort of action: here’s what I’ll/we’ll do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Even though, it’s not my first rodeo anymore… The skill I haven’t yet got down, is knowing when the risks are real, and when to voice them, and how to voice them. I’m not that experienced yet to be as good at that as I want to be.
There needs to be a reflection stage- before I voice the worry to Jack and make my closed-off-ness, his problem.
How likely is this, really, to happen?
Is this a fair assumption based on what I know?
Can I really mitigate this risk?Is this within my scope? Is this ‘someone else’s shit?
‘Do I need to trust that ‘someone else’ to handle it?
Otherwise, it’s like I’m unbalancing my view of what’s ahead and taking the ‘closed stance’ for no real reason.
I reduce my options to “do nothing, go nowhere, stay here where it’s safe”.
I’m also getting way too hung up on stuff that isn’t mine. On occasion, I’m done that at the expense of myself. The last sex party I went to I didn’t get what I wanted out of it because I wasn’t adequately prepped in my head to approach women. I spent all the time beforehand worrying, as Jack pointed out. Not enough time being open in my head about all the exciting possibilities that could be in store.
There’s an open gate, right there, if I look for it.