We’re All In This Thing Together
Posted on November 23rd, 2009 in Mating And Relating, Polyamory, Three's Company
“He practically lives at my house” I remarked the other day to a friend during conversation. Even when he’s not here, you’d not know it. His socks, and other items of clothing, are regularly found mixed in with the rest of the laundry that languishes, unfolded, on one of the spare beds. When I do eventually get around to the folding, his things end up in a basket in his room, primarily due to the fact that I haven’t gotten around to putting hangers in his closet.
If all goes according to plan, Aiden will be moving in with Jack and the kids and I between now and the end of January. When exactly that will happen depends primarily on when he finds a job in or near the city where we live.
Yes, you read that correctly the first time, he’s moving in.
Before you call me mental, threaten to lynch me, burn me at the stake, or tell me that my marriage is doomed to the fiery pits of hell, close your eyes and count backwards from ten.
This whole thing has been in the works for a while now, but I was reluctant to mention it until it was a certainty. There are several reasons for that, not the least of which is opening myself up to criticism and downright nastiness on the wisdom of shacking up with somebody I’ve known just over four months.
Yes, I’m sure it seems quick to many of you, and it probably is, but you know me and patience. We don’t even belong in the same paragraph together. Probably not even the same blog post for that matter. There is also the fact that I don’t personally believe that knowing someone for a longer period of time means that you are more likely to succeed in living together.
Take V and I, for instance. I’ve known her for nearly 12 years. We shared a room together at boarding school. Yet having her live here last year was at times, very challenging. We got angry at each other, suffered misunderstandings and miscommunications. There were times when I feared our friendship would suffer, but you know what? It didn’t. We talked and communicated like ADULTS, since we both have the capacity to do that, and we worked our shit out. We didn’t let it fester, we didn’t lash out irrationally, we didn’t pull any passive-aggressive bullshit. It was uncomfortable and it sucked sometimes, but we were committed to making things work.
I believe that the success or failure of co-habitation depends largely on several factors, such as the compatibility of the individuals in terms of their needs and wants within the relationship. There must also be very clear communication from all involved in terms of their expectations, which although nasty sounding, are unavoidable. For example, I expect that if Jack or Aiden is supposed to be home within a certain time range, and they aren’t going to manage it, that they will call or text me so that I don’t worry about them. Even though I do my best to refrain from forming expectations, at times it’s much more constructive to acknowledge and discuss them, in order to keep clear of disaster. If Aiden moved in here with the expectation that I would bring him breakfast in bed every morning, it would be important for him to express that expectation to me beforehand so that could either agree to fulfill it, or explain to him why I couldn’t. While that particular example likely seems ridiculous, many others are not. I think that discussing as many expectations as possible beforehand, and deciding which can be met and which are unreasonable, vastly increases the likelihood of success.
Lets say that in order for me to function happily as a person I needed 10 minutes of quiet time to myself every morning when I wake up, and every night before bed. If I don’t bother mentioning that to Jack and Aiden, then it would be unfair to get irritated with either of them for interrupting me to talk or cuddle during that time. That may seem obvious, but in the moment, it often isn’t, and we start expecting the people we love to magically start reading minds because we figure “they should know us”. It’s really, really easy to begin thinking that our needs or wants should be obvious to the people we live with, as if it’s displayed in LCD across our foreheads at any given time. This is simply not the case. It’s far more effective to simply ask for what you want, or for what you need. You’re much more likely to get it, believe me. If you have a need or want that you haven’t bothered expressing, and you don’t get it, you have no right to pout or pitch a fit. I learned this lesson the difficult way when V lived here, and fortunately I only had to learn it once.
Jack and I gained an enormous amount of knowledge while sharing our home with V. When we entered into that arrangement we didn’t really understand the complexities of co-habitating with another adult, as we’ve only shared space with each other for the past eight years. It wasn’t as easy or simple as we’d thought it would be. As much as V and I are practically the same person, we do have some differences. I had no idea how moody she was, and she had no idea what a clutter-bug I could be. When you’re not around someone all the time, there are things you don’t know about them, even after being best friends for over a decade. I’m a terribly obnoxious morning person, while she prefers that nobody attempt to engage her in conversation for at least half an hour after she wakes. Jack and I have grown so used to each other, and adapted to the others differences so thoroughly, that it doesn’t require thought and effort anymore. We just live in this comfortable state of being, where we automatically know and accommodate certain things about each other. It’s sort of like dancing with the same partner for a long time. Pretty soon you can predict each others movements with such accuracy that you become like one fluid entity. No thought is required, no toes get stepped on, and it all becomes second-nature. Then you add someone else into the mix and it’s like starting all over from scratch again. Not only do you have to learn to accommodate that person, new aspects of your established partner will come to the surface, and you will have to adapt to those as well.
How will conflicts be solved? How will decisions get made? If Jack and Aiden have a disagreement will they work it out between them, or will I be expected to mediate? Are we going to decide things by consensus? How will chores be divided? What about schedules, and time as a group versus ‘couples time’ with each of the guys? Not to mention parenting the children, and what role Aiden will fall into with them?
All of these questions, and many more, have already been considered and in many cases discussed. I think that it’s important for Jack and Aiden and I to sit down in a group sometime very soon and have a “Family Meeting” as it were, to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Having talked with each of them about this at length, I believe we are, but having group dialog about it before the move sets a good precedent for future family meetings.
I am self-aware enough to realize that I am not easy to live with. I can generally tell, after spending time with them both in my own space and in theirs, if I can live with another person. That practically never happens. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of people I am certain I could live fairly peaceably with, and Aiden just happens to make the short list. I’ve never really dated anyone else that I could imagine living with, at least not for any significant period of time. We’ve never even casually entertained the idea of inviting any of our past loves to move in with us before. For reasons I can’t totally explain, I just feel like this is going to work, and so we’re going to give it a go and see what happens.
There will be more on this in the weeks to come. I have lots more that I could say on the subject, but it’s getting late and I’ve got things to do. I’ve actually managed to be pretty good today, so I don’t want to mess with that by not finishing my chores.