Last week I talked about Ben as my high school sweetheart and everything that means to me. Now I want to share a little bit more about my relationship with Tom in this ongoing Pride month series.
Maggie and I spent years joking that we could trade husbands on date night since Tom and I had a shared taste in movies (Ahem, we’re both big Harry Potter fans), while the same can be said about Maggie and Ben’s shared interests.
So it wasn’t entirely surprising when Tom and I took time to discover our shared interests for ourselves. I think what was most surprising was that Tom and I have very similar relationship styles. We had the same ideas about the goals of the relationship. We both knew that if this was going to be a thing, we wanted it to be serious. We weren’t looking for a fling and we were both cautious and guarded at first.
Since then we’ve found it easy and natural to support each other in various adventures and exploring different interests. My favourite example is my increasing interest in Tom’s demolition derby hobby. I had been watching his runs for a couple years – Ben and I liked coming out to support him and Maggie. I knew from watching that it looked like a lot of fun and I’d love to be more involved. I didn’t really know how to make the jump from the stands in to the ring, though. With Tom, I’ve been able to explore this interest.
We’ve also found a shared interest in hiking and exploring the area around us. While our partners love a high paced weekend Tom and I like our weekends interesting, but not stressful. We’ve found this balance in each other.
Where I talk about my relationship with Ben being one where we grew together, Tom has shown me a different side of my potential and encouraged me to pursue things that interest me with less consideration for what fits with who I thought I was. It’s been easy to support new interests for each other and give each other space to change our minds about how we think of ourselves.
This has allowed us to explore a shared interest in hiking. If you don’t know me personally you might not realize but I sunburn basically as soon as my skin becomes aware that it’s sunny and I’ve left the house. I also attract mosquitos at an alarming rate and am somewhat allergic to their bites. I was perfectly fine being “indoorsy” and relating to the outdoors mostly through the “Planet Earth” series from the comfort of my couch.
With a little help from sunscreen, bug spray and google maps Tom and I have slowly begun exploring our local hiking trails. I am finding I really enjoy it. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised since I was a girl guide but I guess I left the “loves hiking” part of myself as a childhood memory, until now.
I think when we were monogamous we had both settled on the idea that we knew ourselves and the lives that we had created. I was indoorsy, kinda nerdy, really liked creative activities even if I never showed a special talent for the visual arts, and at heart, a crazy cat lady.
All of those things are still true but when I reconsidered my ideas about love and relationships I found a bit of a cascade effect that helped me constructively reconsider my ideas about my identity and interests. I discovered that I still really want to learn and the adrenaline junkie in me (a long standing relationship with thrill rides), is a little crazier than any of us thought.
Tom also has new or different ways of addressing how I need to be supported. When I talk about Polyamory I talk about having the opportunity to let partners who excel at meeting certain needs help you with them, and not forcing them to be something they aren’t for other needs. I should say that what Tom has shown me is that he can address the same needs as Maggie and Ben, for example, but he has his own way of understanding and addressing the need. It’s helpful to have this kind of support – really helpful.
I’ve talked before on this blog about struggling with self consciousness and weight loss efforts. If I’ve said something negative about myself Ben has always been quick to tell me I’m beautiful and deny the negative charge. This has always been helpful and I’ve always appreciated his support. Tom surprised me with a slightly different phrase – he never denied the size of my body but he reminded me that he finds me attractive. I never really thought about what positive comments I need to hear from people supporting me because really, I hated needing help from others to build up my confidence. I always wished I never needed their reassurance instead of thinking about what kind of reassurance I needed. Both are needed and valuable and having different perspectives or ideas of what to say when I’m struggling has been a blessing.
Falling in love with Tom has taught me to embrace and explore so much more than a new way of thinking about love and relationships. He’s supported and encouraged a new way of thinking about myself and my identity. He’s been my partner in adventures big and small, so I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Thanks for reading the 2nd of 3 relationship reflections. =)