All About RJ

*Note: I previously used the pseudonym “Jay” for RJ. So if you see the name Jay anywhere, don’t let it confuse you. It’s the same guy. 😉

I’ve been requested to write a post introducing my readers to my boyfriend, RJ, so here it is!

But before I get into that, I wanted to reiterate some things. If you read my last post, you know that Cory and I have decided to permanently separate. What this means for us is that we’re still best friends and life partners, and even “nesting partners” in many ways, but I also have my own apartment now and we are no longer a couple in a romantic way.

To be clear, this decision to separate has nothing to do with Jay. Well, technically it has something to do with him, because he was basically a catalyst for me to realize that my feelings for Cory are purely platonic. But I’m not leaving Cory for Jay—because I could have continued both relationships and everybody would have been happy and fine with that! We were/are polyamorous, after all.

But anyway. I know that this is a surprising thing to realize after 10 years of marriage and 14 years as a couple, that my feelings are not romantic like I thought they were all this time. But the thing is, people change and grow. Sometimes they can change and grow together as Cory and I have for many years, but sometimes they also grow in ways that are no longer compatible. Whether I have always felt platonic love for Cory, or whether it changed somewhere along the way is something I’m still analyzing, but ultimately the result is the same. We are not in love in a romantic sense, and we still love each other and care for each other deeply, but we no longer fit together as a couple.

This change isn’t a tragedy to us. We don’t see it as a sad thing or a failed marriage, but a beautiful chapter that has ended. We can celebrate it for what it was, while still moving forward onto other chapters in both of our lives.

For our family, this means I still spend my days at the house taking care of the kids, and then after Cory finishes work for the day we have a rotating schedule of some nights where he has the kids, some where I have them, and some where we spend the evening together as a family. I always go back to my apartment after the kids are in bed, where I can have time to myself, and on the weekends we both have time with the kids as well as time to ourselves. Our priority is making this change non-traumatic and comfortable for the kids, and so far, we’ve been successful at that.

Now, more about RJ!

So I met RJ while I was doing the poly dating thing, and he was guy #8 I went out with, out of ten. There were also other guys I talked to but never went out with. It was a very busy six weeks from when I decided to be poly to when I met RJ!

The two guys I went out with after him didn’t turn into anything serious, so he’s the last man standing in that sense. And since I met him, I truly haven’t wanted anybody else anyway, so it works out. We have now essentially become monogamous with each other by choice.

We met the way I met all of my other dating partners, through online dating and specifically OkCupid. He sent me an intro message, and the funny thing about this is that he doesn’t usually do that. He said that when he saw my profile he just knew he had to meet me.

The other funny thing about that is I didn’t always look at my intro messages. I got a lot of messages from matches alone, and intro messages are from people who you haven’t matched with yet. The way that the intro messages work is that you can only see one at a time, so you don’t get to move on to the next one until you either accept or decline the current one. The fact that I just so happened to decide to look at my intro messages that day, and that I just so happened to decline a few of them in order to get to RJ’s message, still feels like such a fateful series of events. It could have so easily happened that we never connected online, but thankfully, we did.

Not only that, but RJ decided to go big or go home on his intro message, and that’s the main reason I decided to respond to it.

In my profile, I had a sentence asking people to please mention manatees if they send me a message, so that I could know that they actually read my profile. That helped a lot to weed out guys who weren’t even willing to put in the two minutes to learn about me before sending me a message!

So RJ’s first message to me went something like this:

“When I see your face, it makes me want to write you love letters until you fall in love with me, and then we’ll go searching for manatees together.”

It was so silly and over the top that I just had to respond!

As soon as we started talking, we hit it off. We talked about everything from “what’s better, coffee or tea?” to “what are you looking for in a relationship right now?” We were both polyamorous, married, and parents. Our connection was instant and amazing!

We planned a date for the very next night, and by the time we met in person, we’d already been talking nonstop (well, other than pausing to sleep!) for more than 24 hours. We’ve talked every day since then, never going longer than a couple of hours between messages.

Our first date was on September 14th at Lazy Dog. We chose a location halfway in between us, since we live about an hour and a half apart. We met pretty late at night, and got snacks and talked for a long time. Then we made out in my car, as was my custom on dates. 😉

The first time we kissed will always be a powerful memory in my mind. It was magical, and it started a fire of love and passion that we’ve only continued to grow since then.  

Our second date was simply me inviting him to my house, which was the next night. He met Cory, and we played board games, then of course we had alone time and were able to get to know each other on a much more intimate level. That night also will always be a very powerful memory for me. It’s the night I really fell in love with him!

Of course, even though I felt what I felt, I was hesitant to truly admit it, even to myself, at that point because it was so fast. I’d known him for less than 36 hours, and I didn’t know him well enough at that point to fully trust that he was genuine with his intentions. I wanted to trust him, but I was still scared because I’d been hurt a few times already by guys I’d dated at that point.

Needless to say, things have only progressed since those first dates. We both fell in love very quickly, and we said those words to each other a week and a half after meeting.

There are so many things to love about RJ. He’s a hopeless romantic, like me. He’s an amazing partner—very considerate, affectionate, supportive, and loving. He’s fun to be around because he’s super silly and also adventurous. He’s emotionally intelligent, and also just intelligent in general. He’s ambitious and capable. He’s a wonderful dad, and loves animals.

We enjoy a lot of things in common, too. He likes writing, watching TV and movies, eating yummy food, camping, going on walks with his dog, and listening to music. Of course, there are also ways that we’re very different. I’m very neat and organized, and I’m big on planning. He’s a bit messy, and he’s more of a dreamer than a planner. He also loves coffee, while I was more of a tea person before I met him—but he’s brought me over to his side of things in that regard! He also brought me over to the dark side when I went from being a stubborn Android user to a happy user of Apple products, because of his influence. 😉

RJ works in IT, and he does a lot of different things within that industry. Some of what he does is coding, and some of what he does is more project management, and then there are other things he does that I just don’t fully understand how to label. So I just simply say that he works in IT, and he does really well for himself and his family.

On that note, he’s currently also in the middle of separating from his wife. This, also, isn’t because of me, although I did act as a catalyst for him just as he did for me. For him, it’s been years in the making and there are more problematic dynamics at play in his marriage. Nevertheless, he hopes to have a good, friendly and caring relationship with his soon-to-be-ex-wife in the future.

His daughter is the most important factor to him in all of this, as she should be. He is doing everything he can to ensure that she is as happy and well-cared for as possible, and that he continues to be heavily involved in her life.

As a couple, RJ and I are I it for the long haul. We have plans to live together soon, and we can both see a future of loving each other for the rest of our lives. He is my life partner, lover, boyfriend, and soul mate. (I still consider Cory my life partner and platonic soul mate as well!)

So that’s pretty much everything about RJ and how my life looks with him in it. We’ve been together for over four months now, and we see each other about every other day. Every day our love grows more mature. I can’t imagine my life without him now, and I hope I never have to.

P.S. Would you look at how cute he is? Just look! *heart eyes*

Help! My Life Is Falling Apart! Just Kidding, Everything Is Fine.

Over the past six months, my husband Cory and I have been slowly separating from each other. This is not what we thought it was or what we called our transformation, at first—”separation.” I’ve said for a very long time that I would never get divorced, and even though that isn’t what’s happening technically, it is essentially the same thing without the legal and financial aspects. Cory and I are officially (though not legally) separating.

What this means, in practical terms, is that I am getting my own apartment. We are very fortunate to be able to afford this on a single income, since I am a stay-at-home mom. And on that note, I will continue to be a stay-at-home mom—I’ll just have a short commute, now! I’ve come up with a schedule that still gives us a lot of time together as a family, as well as individual time with the kids.  

Our separation also means that Cory and I have finally removed all of the romantic forms of affection from our relationship. No more kissing, cuddling, hand-holding, or anything else that either of us wouldn’t do with a platonic friend.  

How did we get here? Sometimes, I still feel shocked by how much has changed in just the past six months.

Everything started with the decision to open our marriage and become polyamorous. When we started that, we literally said the words, “This is not the beginning of the end for our marriage.” We said that we were rock solid, and you know what? We actually, truly were! But as it turns out, there are things that can separate even solid rock. Like an earthquake, for example.

When we opened our marriage, we had a lot of struggles. While we both embraced the idea very quickly as a theory, it was a harder emotional transition than we expected, in practice. Getting through those challenges was part of what pushed us to begin finding ourselves as individuals, outside of the “us” we’d been as a couple for so many years.

As we became more and more independent, we started to slowly face the reality of our true feelings for each other. Bit by bit, we peeled away things that we’d been forcing or doing out of habit for so long. We asked the hard questions, and found some hard answers.

What we discovered is that we are better as platonic partners. The biggest strengths of our relationship are our friendship and our teamwork. The best things about us are how well we get along and enjoy each other’s company, and how well we work together in life and as parents. We are good at communicating, solving problems, making plans, and acting on them. We are good at knowing what needs to be done and doing it, in a way that allows us both to feel balanced. We balance each other’s weaknesses with our strengths. We have fun together, make each other laugh, and know each other incredibly well. We provide each other with emotional support that is invaluable.

All of those things are still true, and I hope they will never change. What is changing, though, is that we are finally accepting the reality that what we have is no longer a “marriage” in spirit. It’s still an enduring and deeply committed partnership, but it’s no longer at the same level of intimacy as it used to be. Emotionally and physically, our marriage is over.

Coming to terms with this has been confusing and difficult for me. One of my core beliefs about myself was that I would always stay happily married. I was absolutely determined for this to be the case, and truthfully, I am stubborn enough that it could have been. I could have stubbornly held on to the ideal and stayed in my marriage for the rest of my life. I could have been content that way, I truly believe that.

But ultimately, Cory and I have decided to let it go. I believe that there is more for both of us in this life, and I want us to be free to live our best lives.

Still, the incredibly stubborn side of me is finding it very hard to fully accept. I’m trying to find a way to tell my friends and family, and honestly, I am scared to do that. I feel embarrassed. I feel like they are going to judge me, and think I’m ruining my life. Sometimes I wonder if I am ruining my life. I feel like they are going to see this as a tragedy, and I feel awkward that I don’t see it as a tragedy at all. Do I fake a somber mood when I tell people? Ugh, the whole thing just gives me a whole lot of anxiety. It also makes it feel real and that is scary in its own way.

The path my life has taken now makes me question marriage and “forever” love in general. I swore many times that I would love Cory forever. And to be fair, I have not broken that vow because I do love him still. We love each other very much and care for each other deeply. That hasn’t changed.

Yet, there was a time when I felt very much “in love” with Cory, and that part has changed. So, now, when I tell my boyfriend Jay the same thing, that I love him and I always will… is that meaningless? Will I stop feeling this total adoration and desire and passion and attraction for him someday, too? The thought is frightening and saddening, because these feelings that I have for RJ are amazing. I don’t want to lose them, nor do I want to make promises that I can’t keep.

Thinking about this now, I can admit that I have no control over my feelings of attraction or desire for RJ. I can’t guarantee that they will never fade—I can only hope that they won’t. I have a hard time imagining that they ever could, simply because of how overpoweringly strong they are. I have never felt passion and need for someone like I do for RJ, and the best part is that he feels the same way for me.

But regardless of that aspect of our relationship, I can promise that I will always love him. Even if somehow our relationship lost its romantic and sexual sides, I would still love him. He has become my best friend and confidante, a person I want to spend unlimited amounts of time with, a person who knows and cares for me so deeply and who I know and care for just as much. We are partners. I will always love him and want him to be happy, and that is a promise I can keep.

The biggest comfort I have in regards to my marriage to Cory is that these things are also still true for us. Cory is still my best friend, too. He’s still a person I never get tired of spending time with. He still knows and cares for me deeply, and I feel the same for him. We are still partners.

Our song over the past year or so has been “The Bones” by Marren Morris. The song goes like this:

“We’re in the homestretch of the hard times
We took a hard left, but we’re alright
Yeah, life sure can try to put love through it, but
We built this right, so nothing’s ever gonna move it

When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter
Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
Let it rain ’cause you and I remain the same
When there ain’t a crack in the foundation
Baby, I know any storm we’re facing
Will blow right over while we stay put
The house don’t fall when the bones are good

Call it dumb luck, but baby, you and I
Can’t even mess it up, although we both try
No, it don’t always go the way we planned it
But the wolves came and went and we’re still standing.”

I love this song. It gave me and Cory strength and faith in our partnership, when things were difficult. We knew that everything would be okay, because the foundation of our relationship is strong. And this is still true. Our partnership has shifted from romantic to platonic, but it is still there and it is still strong. Did it go the way we planned it? Nope. But we’re still standing.

When I met RJ, I said I found my second soul mate. At that time, I wasn’t aware of or ready to face the truth of my feelings for Cory, so I meant that they were both my soul mates in a romantic sense. Now, I still believe that I have two soul mates. But now, I can accept and understand that not all soul mates are romantic ones. It doesn’t make a relationship any less valuable because it’s based on platonic love rather than romantic love. Love is love, and I am so thankful for how much of it I have in my life.

A Look Back at 2021

In the past year, I didn’t post much here on I Do… Now What? It was a busy year! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

In January, not much happened except that I spent a lot of time managing my horse, Apple. We moved her a few times, trying out different boarding facilities, and I also did a lot of training sessions and lessons with her in the beginning of the year.

In February and March, I taught my final Hypnobabies class, after which I “retired” as a Hypnobabies instructor in favor of focusing on completing and teaching my own birth education course, which is called Better Birthing. I completed building my comprehensive online course and launched it, which was a big accomplishment for me.

In March, we got our puppy Moosey. He’s now fully grown and he’s very sweet, a fast learner, and gets along amazingly well with Macy. He is still learning manners, potty training, and respecting personal space, but I’m confident that after he gets through his teenage stage he will be a well-behaved dog.

In April, Cory and I got our first Covid vaccinations which we were very excited about! That month is also when we got our pony, AJ, and decided to start trying to sell our horse, Apple. We were able to find a new home for Apple fairly quickly, which was a relief.  

In May, our kitty Luna passed away. She had chronic asthma which was no longer responding to treatment, so we chose to end her suffering. We said goodbye in the comfort of our own home with a mobile vet.

In June, we started trying to put Cody and Abi in some extracurricular activities to help them socialize. Unfortunately, Cody was not into it, and while Abigail loved her dance classes and gymnastics, we only continued for a few months because of concerns about Covid resurging. That month, I also started fostering kittens through a local rescue, which I did for a few months and plan to possibly do again in the future.

In July, I turned 29. We rehomed our parakeets, Oliver and Oakley, who absolutely hated me and would not let me touch them. I’d been accepting that they’d just be cage-bound and that was fine, but at this point I finally decided that everyone would probably be happier if we found them a different home, and the home I found for them is a great one.

At the very end of July, Cory and I decided to “open” our marriage and we became polyamorous. That was a big shift, needless to say!

In August, we both started dating other people and the poly adventures began. Cody finished homeschool Kindergarten, and then after a short break I started first grade with him. At the end of the month Cory turned 30.

In September, Abigail turned four. I also met my boyfriend, RJ and we fell in love.

In October, Amelia turned one and Cody turned seven. We rehomed our bunnies as well, Kit and Karma, because my allergies were becoming less bearable. As always, I found them an amazing home where I know they will be loved and well-cared-for. On Halloween, I went to an exotic bird store just for fun to play with the parrots, and accidently fell in love with a cockatiel. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and ended up buying him later. I’ve named him Pikachu, and he is a wonderful bird. He’s very friendly, cuddly, and makes many lovely sounds (as well as some that aren’t as lovely, but that’s part of the deal with birds).

In November, Cody got his first Covid vaccine, and we started catching the kids up on their vaccines for school as well, since we had at that point decided to be done with homeschooling after this school year. That’s right, my kiddos are going to public school next year! Hallelujah!

In December, we ended up selling our pony, AJ. We are now horseless and for the time being that feels like the best thing for us. Ultimately, neither Apple nor AJ were the well-behaved trail horse that I was looking for when I started this journey. Both had training and behavioral issues that I wasn’t motivated to take on, and while I learned a ton from my brief time as a horse owner, I am glad to be done with that for now.

In December I also met my new puppy, Pepper. I know, I know—another dog? Yes, another dog.

As you may have noticed, most of my updates this year are involving animals. We started the year with one dog, two cats, two birds, two bunnies, and a horse. We ended the year with two dogs (and one puppy on hold at the shelter), one cat, and a bird. Why so much pet shuffling? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s the long explanation of how it all happened:

While I really enjoyed having Macy as our only dog, which was the situation for about eight months, I fell in love with my parents’ new puppy in February. She was their second dog of the same breed, which is an American Bully, and both the puppy and their adult dog are absolutely wonderful. I found myself with a burning desire to have an American Bully of my own.

For background info, Macy is an American Staffordshire Terrier, and both breeds fall under the category colloquially known as “pit bulls.” However, American Bullies are a newer breed and they are specifically bred for their incredibly gentle and calm demeanor. That’s what I fell in love with and that’s exactly what I got in Moosey. He’s still an adolescent, so he can definitely have moments of being extremely, well, bullish. He’s bowled people over a few times, which of course is not ideal! But, he’s slowly learning to behave himself a little more politely, and is overall the sweetest and cuddliest of dogs. I know when he grows up he will be more gentle and well-behaved—but even as an energetic pup, he’s a total sweetheart. We love our Moose!

Now, I adopted Pepper just a few days ago, and the main reason was that I wanted a small dog again. She’s a Pomeranian and American Eskimo Dog mix, very similar to our old dog Sky. I had hesitated getting another small dog because of the situation with our old dog Lila and Macy. They did not get along and we ultimately had to rehome Lila, which broke my heart. But in Pepper’s case, I specifically looked for a particular personality which is submissive but not overly fearful when meeting other dogs. They met before we adopted her, and it went great. Since I brought Pepper home, she’s gotten along perfectly with both Macy and Moosey. Moosey is a little rough at times for her, but personality-wise, they are an excellent match. Moosey gets along with any dog he’s ever met, so that’s no surprise!

As far as re-homing our parakeets and bunnies, those were both decisions that we didn’t take lightly, but ultimately, we knew that both our family and the animals would be better off by re-homing. I have very high standards when it comes to finding new homes for any of my pets, and in both cases I was sure that the people I chose would take just as good care of them as I did.

The Apple and AJ situation was more complicated. Apple was supposed to be my trail horse, but she had a lot more training issues and personality quirks than I was really prepared to deal with as a relatively beginner-level rider. While I did end up gaining a lot of valuable experience from her, and I got to the point where I felt confident handling and riding her, I still wanted another horse that would be better suited for the kids to ride and enjoy. I decided to go with a pony since I felt it would be less intimidating for the kids to ride.

When I bought AJ, I thought he was going to be the perfect, mellow, trail pony for both me and the kids. I decided to sell Apple because AJ was big enough for me to ride, and two horses was a lot, both financially and time-and-effort-wise. I found Apple a home that was committed to continuing her training, and I feel good about where she ended up.

Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that AJ also had more training issues and personality quirks than I expected, so riding him on the trail was a huge challenge. Still, AJ has a wonderful personality and is incredibly sweet and affectionate, and I was able to just enjoy spending time with him and putting the kids on him for rides around the arena for a few months. By the end of the year, though, I decided that financially it would be better to find him a new home. He is now the pony of a sweet little girl who is learning horsemanship—and he lives in pasture with other horses, and an experienced owner. I am very happy with his new home.

I’ve already explained the sad situation with Luna, and the unexpected situation with Pikachu, so that’s all of it! It’s been a lot of changes to our little “zoo” but ultimately, my goal is now to keep our number of pets stable. Animals are a lot of work to take care of, not to mention expensive. My plate is full! Now I just need to avoid visiting pet stores at all costs! 😉

The animal lover in me is always battling the practical side of me, which knows that I would regret getting any more pets at this point. But Pika and Pepper are truly special animals, and I don’t regret adding them to my family. I really did fall in love with both of them upon first contact! Out of all the cockatiels in the store, Pika was the one who clearly wanted me to pick her up, and then didn’t want me to put her down when it was time to go. She also snuggled on my chest and make happy chirping noises at me, and really, who could resist such tactics?! As the saying goes, “I choose you, Pikachu!” We both chose each other, it would seem.

Pepper was just a happy little face looking back at me from her kennel at the animal shelter, and when I took her out for a visit she immediately jumped into my lap and wanted to stay there. I figured she was always that friendly—until I saw how she tried to run away from the shelter volunteer who came to put her back! It turns out, she is friendly, but she’s also cautious, and for whatever reason she just trusted and bonded to me right away. Since I’ve brought her home, she has been amazingly well-behaved and is learning the house rules extremely quickly. She’s also a snuggle bug and a wonderful companion. <3

Anyway. That’s been my year. My word of the year for 2021 was “balance” and I found a lot of different applications for that as the year progressed. Balance has been important in managing three children, especially getting through the very challenging high-need-baby-stage (which has now transitioned to the high-need-toddler-stage).

Balance has also been very important in my poly journey, as one can probably imagine. Managing multiple relationships at once, while also taking care of my family and home, has been quite the balancing act!

Balance, for me, has meant knowing when to say “no” or “goodbye,” and put certain things down, so that I can better focus on the things that I want to keep in my life. Balance has also meant letting go of perfectionism, and knowing that my best is really enough.

As I go into the year 2022, I feel the word “becoming” speaking to me the loudest. There have been so many changes in my life in the past six months alone, and they are all part of something new—a new stage of my life. I feel like I am finally becoming more truly myself. And this year, I can’t wait to start living that out more and more each day. As always, I’m excited to see what the next year holds!

Happy New Year to everyone out there! I hope this year holds wonderful things for you.