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Innies, Outties & Three-Ways

This post probably isn’t anything about what you think it is, considering the title – though things that go in and out and three-ways are delightful topics, and ones I think about often. (I know, you probably thought I was talking about belly buttons, didn’t you?)

But no, this post is about introverts (innies) and extroverts (outties.) And three-ways? Three-way relationships, not sex. (Tho three-way sex is often part of this particular three-way relationship.)

Where to start…  Maybe the beginning?

So. Once upon a time I was sick. And alone, and miserable. I was also probably dropping after a weekend of fun and bondage and play.  And because I was alone, and felt needy, and didn’t get the attention I wanted, I got my feelings hurt. And…I said so. The problem is, my timing sucked. W had his own emotional shit going on, and my shit collided with his shit and…well…shit hit the fan. And went everywhere. I couldn’t know how badly it sucked, I didn’t know that the person on whom I unloaded (W) would have the emotional reaction he did, and worst of all, I wouldn’t realize the impact it would have, or be able to address it, for several days, because of this whole “innie/outtie” thing.

It was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Three really bad days, actually.

I don’t like this about myself, this neediness. Let me just stand up and say it: “Hi, my name is Jade, and I’m needy.”  I know, you’re not supposed to say that. Especially if you are an Evolved and Grown-Up Woman. I’m also going to admit something else that “strong” submissive-type women are probably going to look down their strong, independent noses at: I think that being submissive in my relationships heightens this neediness at times.  In particular, being submissive to W heightens my clinginess and neediness for him.  I am not needy in my “outside” world: with my family, workmates, or even, most times, with Ad. But I need W’s attention like a plant needs water; I wilt without it.  And when I am sick or dropping, when I feel most vulnerable, is when I am neediest.

But it is also when my own ability to think clearly is at its lowest, and when I might say things without my usual mindfulness, things that I realize (sometimes not until later) are hurtful. Like a hurt animal, feeling cornered by own careening emotions, I snap and snarl, when what I want and need most is a kind hand. (In my own defense, my “snapping and snarling” was the comment, “I can’t believe you were out here (by my house) and didn’t stop by. That hurts.”)

In this instance, what I said and what he heard were two vastly different things.

To my mind, being able to say that to him, to clearly say, “I am hurt by this,” was an act of bravery. Yes, I am very open in my communications. But I struggle with being open with my needs, when I feel that those needs might not be met. Being open with my neediness with W is a huge step forward for me, and is a mark of the trust I have in him and in our relationship. I have finally come to a place where I don’t think that he will reject me for it, where I am not afraid of rejection. Where I can be needy and know he still loves me.

Except that there’s still that little voice inside my head that is afraid of rejection.  That is absolutely convinced that this very vulnerability, this neediness, will cost me the relationships I value most in my life.  That one day the people I love will walk away because I need too much. Perhaps that is one reason that I crave BDSM play that brings me down to that level of vulnerability and neediness, because in play I am “safe.” I can be vulnerable there.  It is acceptable to be weak.  And afterward he holds me, with no recriminations for my weakness, and I know he still loves me: he shows me that he does, right then, right there. But if we are apart and I feel weak, feel needy, feel vulnerable, I am consumed by a kind of terror that this time he will say, “Enough!” and wash his hands of me.  Because outside of play space we are in the “real world,” and I know he wants (and admires) strong, capable women, not this needy one that I become at times.

But that is where this outtie and innie thing comes in.

I can’t not let him know what I am feeling.  I am not the strong silent type. I am not the type to hide away while I work through my emotions. I am not the type to be a good girl and keep it all inside. I spill it all, I vomit it out, I bleed out all over my sleeve.  That’s how  I process stuff.

(But also…if I am being completely honest with myself, I have to wonder if it (allowing him to see this in me) isn’t a kind of unconscious test. “Will he still love me?” Because somehow there is a part of me that doesn’t feel I deserve to be loved because I am So. Fucking. Needy. So I give him an out. And I say and do the very things that I assume will cause that exact thing to happen: he’ll go away, be disgusted, think I’m too damn difficult, too much effort. Self-fulfilling prophesy, anyone?)

And yet. The truth is, I am trying, honestly, to communicate my needs. I am both fearful of communicating them (and having them rejected, of being seen as weak and needy) and very aware that if I don’t communicate a) there is never a chance of having them met; and b) my head will explode.

Wait, wait…!  I meant to say that b) I need to get it out there, verbally or in writing, because that is how I process. I need to communicate. (Or my head will explode.)

I’m an outtie. I process externally. I need to get it out to make sense of it. Usually, that happens in this space or in writing of some sort, though, rather than in speaking directly of it. Asking for what I need is just too damn scary. (Or so it feels to me.  I am learning to do so – that is part of my own effort to grow emotionally – but it is hard.)

W’s an innie, though. He needs time and space to process, before he can talk about it. And that, at times, causes me emotional trauma and angst, especially last week. It was mostly just a result of bad timing, a sequence of events (both emotional and physical) that combined to create the “Perfect Storm,” and the added stress of that whole innie and outtie thing, but…damn, it was rough.

So we spent three days in hell, and are really just now, with lots of mutual love and support – and talking – recovering emotionally. It’s been a rough patch, but I think…in the end…that we will be better for it. I think we’ve made leaps and bounds in moving towards the middle in our communication styles, and in learning to understand each other’s styles.  I also think this will help us to avoid this sort of issue in the future.

And here’s where the three-way relationship comes into play. Ad made an interesting observation during all this. We have a V, with me being the “hinge.” As such, everything revolves, in some form or other, around me (yeah yeah, it appeals to my outsized need for attention, go figure.) That’s the upside. The downside is that when there is an emotionally weighty issue, I am also involved. If it’s my issue, of course; if it’s my issue with the Guys or theirs with me, of course; but also, if they have anything going on emotionally – this time the parts of W’s issue that weren’t with me, or Ad’s recent struggle with depression, for instance – I also get the brunt of it.

But I don’t have to bear it alone. When Ad was depressed and I was dealing with that, W was there, supporting, explaining, playing devil’s advocate, letting me vent or cry or just talk when I needed to. He was there for Ad, too, without ever having talked about the issue with him, because he constantly supported Ad to me, as well as supporting my own emotional needs. And visa versa in this whole thing with W. Ad was my rock, he held me when I cried myself to sleep, he let me vent and spew all my anxiety and fears, and he constantly supported W’s need for time and space, and encouraged me to be patient.

I talk all the time about the fun sexy aspects of three-way relationships. This episode really made me appreciate a different aspect of being in a three-way relationship, and for that (as sucky as it may have been) I am grateful.

6 Comments

  1. Yes. Yes. and YES. Exactly! I am very much and outtie…and J is very much an innie…and while we dont have the 3-way that you do, I can totally empathize! I want to hash it out, right then, deal with it and be happy again, while J needs time to process…so the harder I push to have my needs met, the more he pushes back which hurts more, and creates more issues to resolve.

    Thanks for the fabulous insight!
    <3 u girlie! If you ever need a girl sounding board..I hope you'll call… xoxo to all 3 of you!

  2. Brave and lovely of you to share this here, Jade. I hear you and much appreciate your self-awareness. Big hugs.

  3. As always, a lovely and very thoughtful post :).

    • Thank you…and thank you for helping me to see all this and to understand it a bit more. You were (as always) a tremendous help and support to me! xoxo

      • Of course. For you, anything. :)

  4. I stumbled upon this article today and couldn’t leave without comment.

    Thank you so, so much for writing this! It is a tremendous relief to know I’m not the only one.

    This is precisely where I’m at: I’m a massive “outward processor” with a great need for people to process things with (writing doesn’t work as well for me as speaking does), preferably immediately, and to tell me that they still love me and still want to be around me even if my need is greater than what they can give. I work hard NOT to imagine myself as a terrible monster whose intensity/need overwhelms everyone, takes up all the space, and accidentally crosses people’s boundaries all the time. So I try to keep myself very firmly in check around other people and try to not take up ANY space – which tends to work for about five minutes and then I’m pouring it all out again because the pressure inside just got too much.

    But it’s not easy when two of the most important people in my life are equally massive “inward processors” with a great need for alone time and silent (and slow!) thinking. Because of course a No should always trump a Yes, but there still has to be room for me to at least EXPRESS my needs (even if these wonderful people can’t fulfill them). And I usually do have that space but it’s still hard to endure the recurring feeling of being too much and not getting enough on my part and the feeling of giving too little and “always” having to disappoint/frustrate me on their part. How do you handle that?

    But yes, being poly does help, and I’m super grateful that this is the framework in which we do our relationships.

    And BDSM (theoretically) also helps because it offers me a safe space to be very needy/greedy and get a whole lot of attention, while I’m relatively certain that my play partners enjoy it as well. (I say ‘theoretically’ because I don’t have a regular play partner right now, so my BDSM needs, especially the D/s ones which I can’t do casually, remain somewhat unfulfilled for the time being.)

    But yeah, it did help to know that there are others who experience this like I do because that makes me feel less monstrous. So, again, thank you for putting this out here for me to find.

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