See Me, Hold Me, Love Me

The Politics of Receiving Love

Photo by Shahzin Shajid on Unsplash

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is… just to love and be loved in return” — Nat King Cole

We stood embracing each other, this beautiful lithe woman I adored in my arms, partially enclosed in the trench coat she was wearing. Beneath she wore only sheer lingerie, garters and stockings and high heels, and I in all black with motorcycle boots and a soft flogger on my belt. When you are morbidly obese, sometimes only shoes can make you feel sexy. We were at a “tart” party a mutual friend was hosting, and despite the theme it was very tame and relaxed. My dear friend — only a friend — had given me a back massage earlier as a birthday gift and having not been touched other than hugs for a very long time, my mind was swimming in contentment for a change.

After the massage, a few other friends had asked me if the two of us were now together, seeing each other. She was polyamorous in practice with a couple partners, but I was only in theory and I was completely single. My dear friend was always very flirty, but I knew she was uninterested and I respected and understood that. I was happy to have her as a just friend, because who could love a big fat guy? The flirting was painful to endure sometimes, but I liked spending time with her. I was incredibly lonely, but I knew how I was seen by people. I jokingly mentioned that others were asking about “us” being together, particularly due to the rather intimate position we appeared to be in. It seemed so ironic to be close to someone wanting me, but being so far away. She looked at me, smiled and said, “but we are together!”

I was beyond elated. After a painful divorce from a horrible marriage and an even worse rebound relationship, someone wanted to be with me. I walked with a big grin into another room, sat down on a wooden chair, beaming. I felt the world moving beneath me, then I realized the chair I was on was now collapsing under my own voluminous weight. Two seconds later I was mortified on the floor atop a splintered chair, promising to pay for it and hurriedly trying to get up and out of there in utter shame. My dear friend stopped me at the door to hug me, and tell me it’s okay, and that she had me and not to worry about it.

The thing is she didn’t have me, and didn’t even remember the “together” conversation the next day when I talked to her. She was bipolar, had a vague recollection of any time we spent together, and seemed startled that I would think she had been interested in me like that. I was emotionally destroyed, humiliated and that was the beginning of the end of my spending time with that group of polyamorous friends. I fell out of the tribe in a matter of weeks and went into social isolation for a few years. All I wanted was to be loved, and it was clearly beyond my reach.

Giving has always been easy for me, and they say write what you know. The thing is that I don’t know a lot about receiving. In my life I haven’t had much opportunity to receive from others. The amazing thing is how many people believe they are givers, but in reality are takers. The dynamics of my relationships and dating have dramatically changed due to losing my weight and becoming a thin man, but it’s been recently brought to my focus that I still see myself as a bit of a burden to woman I’m involved with. This is an echo of my past lack of self worth due to being fat and perceived as ugly. I’ve been asked recently, more than once, what it is that I want. I’m still trying to figure out the answer to that myself. I never felt I had the right to ask anything of anyone else. I never felt I deserved love. A lifetime of pain, loneliness and longing left deep furrows that take time to smooth out. I’m still smoothing them out.

Most of my past relationships had been so full of my making compromises, that I really only had one requirement to be in a relationship: to have someone willing to tolerate me and be with me. Often my partners would be embarrassed to be with me in public and to not show affection, or they would revel in the praise that others would give them for being generous and loving a fat guy like I was. Even in more recent times, women will often say that they would have loved me when I was bigger. It’s a sweet sentiment, but it actually stings a bit. No, they wouldn’t have loved me, I didn’t even love myself. It was loving myself that got me to lose the weight. It was loving myself that gave me the ability to truly love others. I’m all about loving others for who they are, but I deserve to be loved for who I am too.

I realize that polyamory has taught me a lot about receiving. At one point I had three partners of various degrees of seriousness. One partner was very passive and not giving in almost any way, but she’s the one that had brought me back to polyamory, and I considered that a gift of a sort. If having one person love you was good, I’d always dreamed what it would be like to have more than one person do so. Another partner was giving, but there was a transactional nature to her giving that inevitably ended our relationship. She’d been wanting a sugar daddy in reality and accidentally fell for me a very real way against her expectations. She was conflicted on wanting to use me, but also having real feelings for me, and to this day I still can’t find it in myself to completely regret my time with her as I had a lot of fun and never really was taken advantage of in any way significant way.

The third woman, whom I’ll call Carrie, was truly a giver and it was a remarkable difference. The first time we were together in her bedroom, she asked me what I wanted and what my fantasies were. I honestly didn’t know as no one had ever asked. The nature of sex for me had always been about pleasing the woman I was with. It was done out of my caring for them, but also because I needed to keep them happy, that burden feeling again. As a thin man I realized I hadn’t taken the time to figure out what I wanted, and that I could actually ask for it. In my intimate time with Carrie and began learning about things I wanted to experience.

Since then, I’ve discovered some of the things I need from a potential partner, not necessarily want, but need. Of course there are basic things like a love of dancing and being active, that are very important to me, as well common political beliefs, interests, etc. that I would realistically want in most partners. However, the three things I need to receive are very distinct. I’ve come to realize that they are things that many other people need as well:

  1. Friendship: This seems a no-brainer, but it’s remarkable how often partners aren’t able to get along as friends. I want to like as well as love a woman in my life. The ability to drop the romantic sensibilities and just crack each other up, call out each other on their nonsense in a friendly manner, and just be able hang with the same capacity as a buddy, as well as a lover, is something I crave wholeheartedly. I want my loves to be my besties too, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
  2. Open Affection: This is a big one for me, and I’ve lived too much of my life without it. I need a woman I love to touch me, to hold my hand when we go for walks, to sit next to me just to be with me. I was her to kiss me, sometimes sweetly, often passionately, and never stop. It amazes me how quickly many relationships recede from affection to just quickies and going through the motions. I’m not against a quickie if time is of the essence, but I want the holding, the kissing, the foreplay and the afterglow. When I see older couples still touching each other, even if it’s just a hand on the other’s shoulder, I long for what they have. Even when a friend touches me in a loving way I feel it down to my core. I’ve had too many partners in my life that seemed to want to hide that I was with them, particularly when I was heavy. The pain of that distancing hurt deeply. My need for that loving physical contact with a woman can be felt as a deep ache in my being, and in the past I made very poor choices just to get a few moments of it.
  3. Reciprocity: When I look into my past relationships I see so many broken promises. I do all I can, within my means, for the people I care for and, with very rare exceptions, I keep my word. I give of myself gladly and with love, but I need to find a balance. As I touched on earlier, many people really do see themselves as givers, but I’ve met so many givers that will respond to someone else who is giving by “getting theirs for a change.” One woman won me over by simply making me a nice picnic lunch, while I had always been used to being the one that did that kind of thing. Even in sexual settings, so many partners have just lied back and enjoyed themselves without wanting to return loving acts. It is very easy to fall into the trap of expecting the next time she’ll be the giving one, until years have gone by and you feel your generosity drying up. I will not longer accept someone who won’t be giving as well as receiving.

Polyamory has been very beneficial in my life as these three things are surprisingly harder to find that I’d expected. The whole nature of serial monogamy has led to “choose two out of the three and accept that as what you get” and I can’t really live with that limitation on my happiness. Often I had affectionate partners who aren’t really friends, or giving partners who are that affectionate. At least within that, I could have enough to fulfill my needs but it can still was daunting. This had been particularly true of meeting married partners, which I later tended to avoid. In more recent days I’ve taken to friendship dating, mostly because I want to establish a connection with someone, because in many cases I can find all three things in someone as just a friend. Polyamory is really no longer part of my life.

Granted I do wish for a partner and not just a friend, but that can take a bit more time for me. Being receptive can be a struggle for me as I do take a bit of time to trust a partner. I remember being much younger seeing a Guess Jeans advertisement on a bus stop of a young woman holding a young man’s head to her stomach, and I was mesmerized by that image. It radiated such a sense of loving trust and tenderness. You may say I’ve been chasing that wish every since. But wishing doesn’t manifest change. Actions do.

I’d even begun to re-evaluate my ideas about kink. I’d starting to believe it’s time for me to be switch, try being bottom and submissive, and let someone else guide me into subspace. It was also time for me to not only be the one of service, but to also be the one served.

I think much of what I needed was to accept that I was worthy of being loved, of being befriended, touched, held and given to. The impact of most of my life as an extremely obese man has left an isolated afterimage on my subconscious, and the process of emerging from that chrysalis still continues.

I guess it’s time for me to fly like a butterfly, and receive the love I am worthy of and deserve. Time to float like a buttery fly, but no more sting for me.