Crushes

My partner and I recently spent some time talking about our crushes. We’ve reached a point in our relationship where feelings for other people are not a threat, instead we view them as simply a natural part of being human. No matter what your relationship status or orientation you will be attracted to somebody besides your partner. That attraction will also take many forms from carnal sexual to even love. This is normal, this is natural, and to deny it causes unnecessary stress to yourself and your relationships. That is why my partner and I choose to openly discuss our crushes and determine whether or not any steps need to be taken beyond discussion.

In our recent discussion we realized that crushes kind of manifest themselves in some different ways. Though we both have celebrity crushes (Ke$ha… swoon). My partners crushes tend to be towards females, casual flirts (like a particular employee at a grocery store), or non-sexual male crushes. Her crushes tend to be more fantasy based, something that in reality couldn’t happen. At least this is my interpretation of her thoughts, I’m sure she will correct me if/when I’m wrong.

For me crushes tend to fall into two categories: celebrity/fantasy and real people I know. The real people I know are those who I actually think something physical (at least) could happen if the situation was right. Whether they are friends or colleagues, these are people I find myself attracted to on several levels that part of me hopes will manifest itself in some way in the future. My partner knows the names of my crushes, and I think that helps prevent any problems. She knows that if anything were to be developed she would know about it and would be likely invited. Communication is so key.

During our discussion we also discovered what we call “couple crushes”. These are feelings for two people as a unit (though the attraction may work them as individuals as well). Couple crushes may not be as sexual for me as other crushes but they certainly can have that element, particularly as discussions of being more intimate with others continues to come up. A “couple crush” seems like the ideal way to slowly transition into more intimate and sexual encounters because there is an attraction, trust can be built, and an established friendship can prevent awkwardness or misunderstanding if things don’t work out.

I think all relationships benefit when we acknowledge that crushes exist but are not a threat when they aren’t hidden. Problems only arise when there is deception or people feel the need to hide their normal and natural feelings. When my partner crushes on someone I smile and talk to her about it, and she does the same to me. Maybe these crushes will manifest into something, but it is more likely they won’t. To me the unknown is often much scarier than the known, openness and honesty breeds trust and love… we are humans, we have feelings, and those feelings extend to many people at many times. Love is not something that can be, or should be, caged in.

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Compersion

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While at the EFF a couple of weeks ago I was introduced to the word “compersion“. Microsoft Word is putting a red squiggly line under it so obviously Bill Gates doesn’t know the word either but luckily Wikipedia is up to speed. In the poly community it is often considered the opposite of jealousy, the specific definition varies slightly but my favorite is “A feeling of joy when a loved one invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship”. It’s about experiencing authentic joy and happiness when someone you love and care for has found a connection with another.

While I have felt twinges of this before I really am kind of basking in it right now. One of my partners has given me great news, she will be travelling soon to see a new interest and is very excited about it. I care for her deeply and I am really quite joyous that she has this opportunity. Many would feel jealous knowing that someone they care about has romantic feelings for another and may be having sex with them but jealousy, like all emotions, are in the realm of the mind and completely within our control. I’m not immune to knee-jerk jealous reactions but my primary response to hearing that any of my partners have a romantic connection with another is joy.