When J and I met 6 1/2 years ago, I had this distinct feeling of absolute relief flood over me. I felt so gosh darn happy that I had met someone that I could tell I was going to be with for a long time. I had gone through a series of flings and shorter relationships after my one serious relationship ended in high school, and I was ready to just be with someone. I wanted the stability, and the depth, and I was so ready to be done with dating games. I remember when we first started seeing each other, I made a decision: I was not going to wait for him to message, or text, or call me first. I like him, I was totally into him, and I was going to let him know. I wanted to be an independent and forward person, capable of being an equal contributor to the development of a new relationship.
Since being open, I have, for the most part, dated/created relationships with other people who are familiar with or have experience with open relationships. This makes the communication around relationship formation so much easier. Most of the people I know in open relationships are used to a deeper level of honesty and have more frank and clear communication skills. This makes dating and relationship formation a less stressful experience. There is not so much of a "dating game." I like that. But the few experiences I have had (generally when I have fallen hard for someone in vanilla-land) where that isn't the case, the dating game hits me full force. And I am without strategy. Literally.
All I have in my arsenal is my intuition, honesty, and communication. My ability to play the game, with mainstream social cues and patterns of behavior, is nonexistent. I am still, like I was 6 1/2 years ago, tired and done with the game and with traditional "dating." If I like you, I'm going to tell you. If I am not interested, I am going to tell you. And because I expect the same in return, it is really challenging when I am interacting with someone playing the game. I say, nuts to the dating game.
Speaking of which, I have not been actively dating for the past few months now. I prefer just meeting people with the intention of connecting on a friend level; it doesn't happen that often where I actually feel a spark of chemistry. Also, I get burned out, sometimes, because even though many people I know are great at communication, and I try to do my best too, it can feel exhausting to communicate so much about feelings and intentions and desires and motivations and needs and etc etc. And, I get burned out on relationships not matching up for whatever reason: we want different kinds of relationships, they are attracted to me and I'm not to them, I'm attracted to them and they aren't to me, etc etc. (That last one is especially draining for me: it is relatively easy for me to put myself out there, but I haven't yet cultivated a very good mechanism for guarding my heart against rejection. I think it's happened a lot in the past year and a half. Bummer. Which reminds me of Dan Savage's advice of recognizing the common denominator of relationships: you. Am I doing something wrong? Do other women not see me as queer- do I not put out the vibe? Am I too dramatic or intense or do I not communicate very well? Or is it a bit simpler- have I just not met someone who wants similar things to me? I really don't know; maybe it's all of those things.) Right now, I think I am just in a dating lull, which is fine. Like I said to J the other night: I feel so grateful and lucky to have one amazing partner with whom I can have a connected and meaningful relationship with. Any more than that would be pretty incredible to me.