I call my heterolifemate my wound. Without her it would be far easier to close out everyone and be a fortress, but she opened me up...thus, my wound.
She came into my life shortly before the catastrophic end of a very bad relationship. We had been circling each other in a wary fashion for a bit of time, starting to hang out, but the defining moment came the night my husband left me. For a bit of back story, he was very possessive and had wormed his way in with my mother and chased off most of the friends I had left after we moved from Missouri. Being naturally a bit of an introvert, I didn't develop an extensive new network of friends after the move. It also didn't help that he would get in a screaming rage if I was ten minutes late from work.
I was a manager at a Borders store, and I was supposed to go in about eleven the day after he left. I was up all night because he left no note, so I had been calling police, hospitals, his friends, and pacing the house. At one a.m. I saw he had taken all of his medications and I knew he wasn't coming back. Of course I didn't sleep after that, so I called in sick the next day. My wound was working in the back office and overheard the other manager's end of the conversation. She called me a little while later and told me she had overheard, then calmly told me she was coming over after work and spending the night.
I had a stream of visitors that evening, including a childhood nemesis-friend (complicated story) and her family, all of them mouthing platitudes about how this is going to be okay, and it's really the best thing and here's some chocolate. For months after I hated chocolate.
But I fell in love with my wound that night, though it took me months to own up to it. The minute the visitors left, she looked over at me and cracked me up with snide remarks on their platitudes and brilliant imitations of their oh-so-sorry-for-you speeches. The last thing I had wanted to hear at that point was a bunch of, well, it'll be better for you, you'll see. I GOT DUMPED. FOR A WOMAN TWICE MY AGE! He didn't leave a fucking note!
She made no drama and platted no platitudes, she slept on my couch without saying "if you need anything...blah blah." She didn't say, she did. It was so entirely what I needed.
She tempted me into playing hooky from work to run around the mall and buy clothes and new glasses for the first time in years. We took pictures of meat I threw out of the car window, back when we both ate meat. We sat alone in the house together on New Year's Y2K getting drunk and waiting to see if anything at all of interest would happen. She moved in that year, and has lasted through a million life changes. New house, those five post-divorce years when I was more insane than usual, becoming vegetarian, quitting smoking, going to pagan camp the first time and drowning my car on the way, and a bunch of other crazy adventures that add up to seven plus years of good times.
I usually stun people when I say during all this time we've never really fought. Oh, I've had times when I'm pissed at her (both justly and just because I'm screwy in the head) or she's pissed at me(ditto) but we are generally good at adjusting without fireworks. It just hurts too much when it's not right between us.
I started this post from someone asking about our relationship in a live journal group on polyamory, and besides having a sweet stroll down memory lane and making myself feel all gooshy, I wanted to take a poke at why I think our relationship works as well as it does.
1. Sex is not love. I'm straight, sucks, but I can't help it. Love is action for both of us in a lot of ways, but for us, that action is not usually cuddling and is definitely not sexual. Sometimes it's whipping up some brownies at midnight, sometimes it's getting hauled out of bed to pick up my drunk incoherent ass.
2. Because you've hooked up with someone you love AND have sex with, that doesn't mean that your non-sexual love is now an option to be tossed aside. Both of us have been ill-used this way. This society crams the idea of the sexual couple disappearing up each other's bums into some dream world of their own so hard that it's sickening. We prioritize each other, even when we are involved with sex partners.
3. Being a voyeur and having a ton of compersion helps. Just 'cuz I can't bring the sexual healing doesn't mean I can't stand it when Dr.Love brings the cure! My wound is a HOT HOT HOTTIE and I love thinking of her getting well laid with the partner/s of her choice. And overhearing it gives me the giggles/lusties. And she's not above winkling details of my sexploits out of me either. We're both hopeless pervs.
4. I almost hate this one, but it's true. Close friends she hates don't last, and vice versa. Acquaintances, occasional drinking buddies, okay, but close friends have to be chill with the psuedowife. This goes double for lovers, of course, and a billion times as much for potential live-ins.
5. We ignore society's shoulds, and have a grand time living our lives together in our way. Surprisingly, no lightning bolt or cosmic progress report has flattened us yet. Fuck everybody else if they can't take the joke.
6. Negotiate negotiate negotiate! It helps she lets me get away with swanning around like the diva I am, but I absolutely have to consider her feelings/how she will be affected in anything I choose to do. As I said, it hurts too much if things aren't right between us.