There is an animal inside of me. No, I am not talking about the theory of evolution or the lizard brain. I am talking about something stronger, much more subtle and sly, and thus much more difficult to access and reckon with.
I became acutely aware of it a few days ago when, due to an unusual set of circumstances in my life, I made a new connection during a therapy session.
There has been frustration at work, problems with my flat and, amidst all this, Anita started seeing new men. You might read that and think that there is just a lot on my plate at the moment, and I would I agree with you. Normally, however, I do a pretty decent job of dealing with pressure and discomfort. Those who know me know too well I thrive in high-pressure, fast-paced environments. This time, though, something was different.
I had been talking about the challenges of the past week, re-living my irritation, disappointment and anger when, all of a sudden I heard it loud and clear: the voice in my head that is screaming “Keep the fuck off me. Keep the fuck off my den. Keep the fuck off my women”. I was petrified, yet fascinated. Career. Flat. Pretenders. It all – weirdly – made sense.
My conscious mind is completely at peace with the notion that my partner will date people as she sees fit. I am excited for Anita that, by exerting this right, she can be a truly happy and complete version of herself – and so can I. Neither she nor I would be fully ourselves if the one denied the other this fundamental freedom of expression.
Yet, a deeper part of meEvery fibre of my being gradually gears up to war and springs into attack position – an attack against nobody, because I am not actually angry at Anita, nor at the charming people she is seeing.
What I feel isn’t jealousy, but something more akin to a cry of militaristic fury, to a burning disdain – the kind of resentment one would feel towards a trespasser who did not pay their dues, or towards a subject that did not pay their tribute: “First, you have to go through me. Learn your place”.
Being non-monogamous (especially if you are a primal predator, like me) often means enduring difficult emotions and dealing with ancient instincts. Getting the balance right and weathering a primal storm while you try and keep being civil and respectful to your fellow humans can be hard.
Although your instincts may make you feel uncomfortable, perhaps even guilty, you should try and refrain from suppressing them. Clearly, I am not suggesting you should act upon them either. Rather, I am suggesting you get into the habit of finding a time and a place to let them balloon and express themselves: on your own, with your partner or with someone else. There is no silver bullet: you have to figure out what works for you.
For example, I withdraw and need to cut all contact with Anita for a few hours. It is my way of “punishing her” and putting her “in her place”. This is not something I engineered, it is something I discovered. I need time to decompress and expel testosterone. By all means, this isn’t the perfect solution – Anita still gets slightly mad at me for doing it. But her understanding of why I need to do that has made dealing with my “tantrums” much easier for both.
Some non-monogamous folk go to the gym, others arrange dates a short time from their partner’s and again others establish fixed hierarchies in their relationships.
Letting the animal out for some chest beating and ground stamping is important. It is not something you should feel guilty or embarrassed about. It is a very unique, ancient and beautiful part of who you are – although it can be quite loud at times. It is you, and it’s not going to just disappear.
You may think you are “not really non-monogamous” for feeling all this; or that speaking to your partner(s) about such contradictory emotions would somehow constitute a breach of your non-monogamous covenant. If all I just said rings a bell, you need to consciously embrace your primality and find ways of marrying it to modern life. The first and most important step is to look for the support of your romantic and sexual partners: talk to them, explain how you feel, discuss what triggers your feelings. Figuring out what you need with others can be a fun experience, particularly if your partners are primal preys. It will also pave the way for dealing with the mistakes you are (inevitably) going to make as you weather more primal storms.
You need to let the animal out, in a healthy way, or it will consume you. It will make you grow resentful and push you to retaliate against your partner(s). Ultimately, it could seriously damage your relationship(s).
There is an animal inside of you. Don’t ignore it.