Moving Past Bad Experiences
We’ve all been there at one point in our live or another; the date that doesn’t work out, the job interview that pans, the attempted hookup with another couple that ends with everybody frustrated. Okay, maybe we haven’t all had that last experience, but you get my point already, right? Sometimes, despite the best laid plans, despite the best intentions, and despite the best effort… things don’t work out. How we deal with these times determines how we bounce back from them. Moving forward isn’t an option, after all; we must, or we get left behind. So how, then, do we recover from something that leaves us embarrassed, confused, hurt, crushed, or destroyed?
Everybody has a different coping mechanism, and not everybody applies the same mechanism to every scenario. Life is filled with disappointment in all forms after all, and I know I react much differently to a favorite sports team losing than I do to a date going badly. I expect most reasonable people behave in similar fashions, although I cannot guarantee this applies to the die-hard baseball or football fans I’ve seen sink into depressions because the team lost one lousy game.
When it comes to being Single, Poly, or a Swinger the bad date brings with it the added element of a missed (or botched) sexual opportunity. It may not be the first date, second date, or even tenth date, but at some point in the dating process the comes the expectation of mutual sexual congress. The anticipation grows, the expectations rise, and eventually the clothing falls. With this heightened element comes the heightened perception of risk, reward, and failure. We come away from a successful encounter feeling like we have accomplished something incredible and worthwhile. There is potential for More, in whatever form that may take. Conversely, an unsuccessful encounter leaves us lost, bewildered, or worse. We question ourselves, our choice in potential Other, the venue, the timing, the conversation, etc. Success breeds success, they say, and every time we miss that mark the self-doubt kicks in and establishes yet another foot-hold. Both cycles become self-fulfilling prophecies. The trick, then, is to actively focus on creating the cycle we want while avoiding that which we do not desire.
Obviously, this is not as easy as it sounds. Active thought and behavioral interference is required to “break out of the slump”, and realizing when and where to apply changes is not always easy. The most common technique referenced it to try to actively notice every time a negative thought is had, and replace that with a positive thought. No self berating for having the negative thought, just a simple one to one replacement ratio of negative with positive. No, it’s not easy. I don’t do it all the time, nor even, I think, more than half the time, but I’m working at it to make myself better at it.
Mrs. AP and I have had two instances in the past year where what we thought would turn into something good or better fizzled out without any notification to us that things hadn’t gone as well as we thought. We had a date with a fine man we found on OKCupid, and it seemed to us (or at least to me) that everything had gone well. We laughed, we joked, we flirted, we talked of all our common interests, and we had good coffee together. After the date, though, we heard nothing from him. No more messages on OKCupid, no more IMs… it was if he vanished. We still don’t know why things didn’t proceed. We cannot dwell on it, though; the way I see it, if we didn’t work out it was because something between us all didn’t quite feel right, and none of us want to see anything forced.
The second instance came after our evening and night over at our friend’s house that resulted in some really hot sex between us all. Mrs. AP has known this friend for a decade or more, and they’ve both circle around flirting with each other even when they were each dating other people. It seemed to me that everything went very well indeed, and I certainly look back on the night fondly. Sadly, we heard nothing from him for a week, and when we finally did get a response from him, he informed us that he had decided to get back into the dating game. We’re both still a little angry at him for the way he handled the lack of communication with us, and frankly we both feel a little used by the whole thing. This, too, we know we need to overcome and move beyond. Baggage, as they say, is best used when traveling.
Rejection will come for us more in the future, I’m sure. As we grow more confident in our ability to walk into a place like Eyz Wide Shut and hook up with a hot single guy or a sexy couple, we will find potential partners with whom we’d like to play but who have no interest in us. It will happen. Karen Blue and Rebecca Ammon have both been in The Lifestyle and visiting Eyz Wide Shut longer than Mrs. AP and I, and they’ve both mentioned still having trouble not personalizing and internalizing being rejected or having to reject someone. It happens and we’ll just have to find our coping and recovery systems.
But what about when there isn’t rejection and things just go south? I had an encounter with another guy once where I very clearly laid down the ground rules that oral play was fine but he had to stay away from my ass. Despite repeated warnings from me when he tried to violate that rule — and me! — he still insisted on trying to slip in a finger or two. I ended up leaving him twitching as I twisted my body away from his, brought him to the edge of orgasm, and then let go to watch him pulse and throb and very slowly leak all over himself as his cum flowed out of him like syrup from a maple tree. I got dressed while he struggled to clean himself up and I left, never to see him again. He pushed me, failed to respect me, and violated the trust I placed in him during an intimate encounter. I didn’t, don’t, and won’t stand for that sort of behavior with myself, and especially not with Mrs. AP. When we set limits we expect those limits to be followed, always. Should something like that ever happen with somebody else, we’ll end the session right then and there, or at least step back and review the rules.
What we will not do is withdraw entirely from living the life we choose to lead. Not everybody is going to be a good match. Not everybody is going to be a good playmate. And not every situation will end with everybody feeling content to stay friends afterward, or even ever speak again. That is part of the risk of embarking on this journey of being ethically non-monogamous. Nevertheless, it is a risk I am willing to take.
Besides, the rewards can be quite … satisfying.
Stay SINful, friends.