Polyamory During The Pandemic: It’s Getting Rougher

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

If I’m smart, whenever I’m visiting a sweetie, the last thing I say to them before the kiss goodbye is this:

“Can we schedule our next meeting?”

Because most of my poly partners live out of town. I don’t get to see them that often – every few months, if I’m lucky. And after we part, there’s that sharp ache of missing them fresh, their scent still on my clothing, their marks still on my skin –

I need to know when I’ll be seeing them again. That becomes a lighthouse in that personalized loneliness, that odd vacant headspace where I have my wife and my friends and my dog but not someone who is vital to me.

And when I feel that gap, I think: September. September is a long way off. But that’s when I will next be in their arms.

Except right now, July is a long way off. My next book is due to release on July 28th, and that date might as well be Futurama for all I can tell. September? God, that’s an unknown country, the summer is like hiking the Oregon Trail without a wagon, best not to make too many plans.

And the casualty of all that uncertainty?

Seeing my partners.

Right now, I have a wife who is both a heart patient and technically a senior citizen (when did 61 not seem particularly old?), so getting COVID has a high chance of killing her – we can’t risk it. We are those old fogeys still wearing masks everywhere and wiping handed to us by outsiders with Clorox wipes, even though everyone’s mostly stopped that the way we were all really into Pokemon Go for a couple of months and then let it go.

I can’t risk bringing COVID home.

So when will I see my partners?

The sane answer right now is “After they develop and release a COVID-19 vaccine,” which at best will be next February, and might actually be “never.”

Right now, my poly looks like “Possibly purely emotional connections, forever.”

And that. Is. Painful.

I’ve reacted to that poorly – initially the pandemic was a flood of pictures sent out, all sorts of “Hi I’m here where are you how are you doing let’s remember our faces.” But as the reality has ground its way into my skin like a lit cigarette, I’ve stopped doing that – seeing their faces on my phone just reminds me how I can’t see their faces for probably another year minimum, no kisses, no hugs, no sitting on the lawn socially distanced because they’d have to drive here from Chicago or Michigan or New York to do just that, and long-distance poly is really fucking hard right now.

I’ve been withdrawing. Missing them so keenly that just talking to them has become low-level painful – kind of the way that smelling food when you’re starving can be worse than no food, because that memory, no matter how faint, makes you ravenous for a thing you cannot have.

That’s not where I want to be, of course. So I’m talking to my therapist about ways to ameliorate the lack of physical closeness when a lot of cybersex just reminds me that there’s no actual sex in the near future, and it saddens me. Video chats help a bit, but they’re also exhausting for an introvert. Maybe new rituals can help.

But right now, each month of the pandemic has been learning a whole new way of life, and that’s exhausting. The monstrous thing is that my partners have become the biggest symbol of how not normal things are, the signal that we may never return to anything like we had before, and it’s not fair but then again they are the biggest portion of my life that I cannot touch right now.

I miss you. I love you. I need you.

But the world is keeping us apart right now.

And it’s unfair. It’s so, so fucking unfair.

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