“Elaine’s” Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux
The first-person testimony of “Elaine” from The Game Changer by Franklin Veaux, as interviewed by Louisa Leontiades. This edited transcript has been signed off by Elaine as fully representing her experience. Read Louisa’s notes and supporting analysis here.
Elaine: My story with him has been accounted for, but it didn’t really reflect my experience, and I don’t even think it reflected his. I think I was used as an example of what he wanted to illustrate, and not really of the relationship we actually had.
Louisa: Right. Have you—
Elaine: That was disturbing.
Louisa: You’ve read the book then.
Elaine: I’ve read the section that I was written about in. Do you know who I am in the book? I’m Elaine.
Louisa: And how does that make you feel?
Elaine: Kind of used, because…he said we had a three-year long relationship. Our relationship was one year. He said that he cried when he found out that we couldn’t have the relationship any further, but that portion of it, that was really grossly misstated, because that is not at all how it, how it went down.
He did and said things during the relationship that he probably shouldn’t have. I know he shouldn’t have. He didn’t cop to those at all. You know.
Louisa: Yeah. So, where do you want to begin?
Elaine: Well, the beginning…
Elaine: My knowledge of Franklin started, I think it was around 2000, 2001 or 2002, somewhere around there. I was on AOL in different chat rooms, exchanging games, different video games, and he was looking for beta testers for a video game [Note, the “game” is Onyx, a sex game based on Monopoly] that he had created. And I signed up for that and got access to the game by being a beta tester. And we chatted very rudimentarily, but I got to know him, and some little quirky things came up. Like he was telling me they were going to a conference, and that he was going there, and his wife was teasing him that his girlfriend would be upset that he was interested in this other woman.
And I thought, what a creep! Just because of the way he presented it, and knowing nothing at all about polyamory. Not being judgmental, but just not understanding. And the way he said it, I just thought, what a creep. And so my initial reaction to him was not good. I didn’t think well of him.
And then we started to get to know each other, and—and talked more about things. As things, you know, progressed he got to see my creativity and my mind when I would write cards that—there were cards for the game, and I contributed a, you know, a fair amount of cards that were like—you know, like in Monopoly how you have a “Do Not Pass Go,” “Do not Click,” “Two hundred dollars” or “Community chest,” and you draw a card? Cards had consequences and different things on them.
And he saw something in that, and he started talking to me you know, on that level, and he was talking for maybe a month or so, maybe less, and then things started to turn to where he was showing an interest in me. And I felt really weird about it, because I didn’t understand the parameters of his relationship.
And I told him, before this goes any further I’m talking to your wife, because you’re telling me that you’re all, you know, on the same page, but I’m personally not comfortable with that unless your wife and I are friends first, you know. So I got to talk to Celeste and get to know her, and Celeste and I became friends, actually. And I told them both that if you and Celeste ever divorce, she gets custody of me. In other words, I’m going with her, you know!
The relationship started, and it started with a clear understanding that their marriage took precedence as the number-one relationship. And at the time, I was really brokenhearted. I had gotten over a really bad breakup with someone. Did not think I was capable at all, of having feelings for anybody, and so I think I found both the distance—because they were in Florida and I was in California—and also the restricted nature of the relationship, being that I would never be a primary partner, I found that both, I think, setting expectations for me so low that I thought I could get away with having a relationship like that and not getting hurt.
I found some comfort in the fact that, well, this could never be anything, so maybe it’s safe. And anyway, we started a relationship, over text and over the phone. And you know, back then, he got a little camera set up for me so we could do like video chat? This is back in the days when you didn’t have cell phones with cameras in them. We would have to set them up on the computer. And we would do that kind of keeping in touch.
Our sexual relationship was over the phone for the most part. And also there were other, you know, I mean there are other things to it. The power play came into it, and pushing boundaries—and it was getting intense emotionally. And that’s when you know the, the “I Love You” word came up
And Celeste and I, you know, our relationship progressed. And there was a point where they were explaining their history to me, and it became an issue about saying “I love you.” And I was like, if I have those feelings for somebody and they have them for me, then I want to be in a relationship where that’s allowed to be said.
And so then it was decided that that would be allowed to be said. So there was nothing going on that everybody wasn’t on board with. So at that point I felt really assured that this was not going to get out of control, that we were all on the same page.
Elaine: And then I started realizing: if Franklin wanted something in the relationship, he would just sort of have that thing, and then, expect Celeste to be OK with it. And he started doing that to me as well.
And we had, because I was on birth control we had unprotected sex. And this is something he did not speak to Celeste about prior. And she was livid, because that was a boundary they had that I was not in any way shape or form, aware of… you know what I mean?
Elaine: So he was all smiles. I was feeling really disgusted and, and a little bit used, because he didn’t tell me. I don’t know if that makes sense, that I would feel used. You weren’t upfront about it, but you wanted to do it, so you didn’t tell me. And so you got to do what you wanted to do without letting me know. He didn’t pose it to me, I said, this is something Celeste and I have, you know, I haven’t cleared it with her, or talked to her about it, and it’s not—I, I didn’t even, because I—was my first relationship with somebody in a relationship, it didn’t even occur to me that those kinds of things could be issues. Whether or not you use protection—obviously. Duh.
I mean that makes sense, but it wasn’t something in that moment that I was thinking about, because honestly when he came to visit me, in that moment, I was only in the relationship with him. I wasn’t thinking about his relationships with other people. And that’s how I maintained my relationship with him, is I would just want it about me and him when we were together and not have other people involved.
And that was another boundary he kept pushing with me, was to have it involve other people or to have me think about including other people. And that was not something I was comfortable with. It was not something I ever—I’m not bisexual, and it’s not something that I wanted, but it was something that pleased him. And in a relationship with Franklin, you’re rewarded. You know, when you do things that are pleasing to him, you’re rewarded by his good behavior, good nature and good mood. And you know, he’s very childlike in his exuberance. And when you do things he’s happy about, he bubbles and looks like a child and jumps up and down, he bounces up and down on his feet. You know, he’s very happy and it, it sounds strange, but this is something that in a relationship with him that you—you want to see him be happy and get excited about things you’re doing, and it’s encouraged. So I think it’s a softer form of manipulation, but it still felt like a manipulation.
Louisa: Hmm. If there’s something that would make you hesitate about having sex with him, it doesn’t matter what it is, it really needs to be told upfront.
Elaine: Yeah. So the issue with Celeste. He talked to her and calmed her down, and they had a discussion about it, and it was cleared and everything was fine. And I was concerned about that. But then going forward the, the time that he was in person with me. Like I said, it was just, the relationship was between us. The sex was very intense and very personal, and there was a point when we were together, when he said to me and this has, this has always bothered me, because it wasn’t something I asked him, it was something he told me unsolicited—that if he had met me first he wasn’t sure that he would have been poly.
I know that might have been in the heat of the moment. He maybe didn’t mean what he said, but the fact is that he’d said it on more than one occasion to me: that our relationship was so intense, he didn’t know if he would be able to even entertain the idea of having another relationship, had he met me first. And that’s where the idea of me being a second primary started, where he wanted me to have certain powers and controls in the relationship, and started to talk about having a second primary.
And this was a boundary of Celeste’s, and not something, not something I was really pushing for because again, I’m not versed in polyamory. I’m very monogamous, and I had a relationship with him like a monogamous person in, in our relationship. But everyone else around him was with him, you know, in various stages of their relationship. But for me, it was a monogamous relationship where I allowed for the fact that he had other relationships.
And I respected them. But I mean, when he said that to me, to me that was um, that was one of the biggest violations for me, was telling me that. Because it didn’t make sense that there’s somebody really big now in the polyamory community saying something like that to me. And even in that time, in our little circle, it didn’t add up either.
Elaine: I think a good corroborator for my side of the story would be my friend Katrina, because she actually spent a lot of time speaking with Celeste and Franklin during the relationship. She actually became kind of involved, because of how confusing things got, and being that she’s my best friend. She wanted to get to know Franklin and Celeste and kind of understand the relationship so that she could help me and serve as counsel for me when things got confusing. But also to speak to, to them to understand their points of view as well.
And actually, we [Katrina and I] found something about the way he responds when you confront him. When she confronted him about what he said, he doesn’t answer you directly, but he’ll smile and just kind of let it slide by, or change the subject ever so, you know, just move it slightly away without—it’s like you wouldn’t address it. And so just by not addressing it, and by changing the subject, he could get away with not even responding. So it was like, you ask him direct questions, and he couldn’t even answer to it. But that was a little distressing because after saying something like that, that needed confrontation, we couldn’t even get him to speak to it. He admitted it, but he wouldn’t speak to it.
He didn’t list this in his book. This is my truth. You know.
Elaine: There is a part in the book that was disturbing. He talked about how Celeste and I were thinking that he was going to cheat when he was in San Francisco, and that he was going to have sex with somebody there, and of course that wasn’t the nature of the relationship. That’s not at all what happened. He told us that she threw herself at him, and we were floored. We didn’t expect that. So I mean, even his narrative is from the innocent standpoint, and he’s a wide-eyed innocent child, and these partners kind of just wove their insecurities and their, their needs on him, and he was just simply reacting to that.
When in truth, he created a lot of the drama that followed him by the way he structured his relationships and the things he said, the promises he made, the things he shouldn’t have promised, the things he shouldn’t have done, the things he should have said. I mean he wasn’t, let’s face it, he’s not congruent. He wasn’t doing or saying what he was thinking. If he’s thinking something, you didn’t always get the true story.
And the other thing, is you say something brilliant to him, and two seconds later you’re hearing him tell your story to somebody else as if he had thought of it. And you’re like “Wow, is that all I am for you? Is like, fodder for your brilliance? You know, you’re taking things I’m proud of that I said or that I did or that I thought of, and you’re, you’re spouting them as your own.” Not even sharing them with others, because that really wasn’t a concern. But it was saying that they’re your thoughts and your feelings. You know.
And also I created a lot of material, not even for his game. But I, I created a game of my own that I gave him for Valentine’s Day. I made a BDSM card game, and when—this is going to be surprise if he finds this out—but I had, when Celeste was leaving him, I asked her to take it back, because it was so personal to me. And my fear was somehow it being shared with other people. And I didn’t trust him at that point, so I had her take it back from him. And it’s now in my possession.
The other example was when we were in a relationship and he had offered me second primary status. The one thing that Celeste agreed to was power of veto over other people. Well I never took that as something—because I never wanted to dictate his other relationships, but what I did say was I was not comfortable with him adding relationships at that point. He had me, he had Celeste, he had Maryann, there wasn’t, I mean there were other people, but I wasn’t asking him to change anything. He just asked me, he actually asked me and offered it to me, would I be comfortable in this relationship if he didn’t add any new partners.
And I said yes! Because, it’s like I could accept him as he was when I met him. Because that was who I was falling for, and that was who I was having a relationship with. So everything about him was what it was. But having that change going forward—I couldn’t have my monogamous relationship with him and things change. He could have his poly relationships that were already there, because that was who he was when I met him.
Louisa: This is the deal. Do I take it or not?
Elaine: Exactly. And I felt I could, and I for the most part did really well with it emotionally, didn’t have issues with the other partners, except for him wanting new partners. And he did the thing to me that he did to Celeste with, you know, the condoms, which was he just went ahead and started speaking with somebody else and then expected me to accept it. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t. Because that was my hard boundary. I’m not polyamorous. I’m not wired to be OK with that.
I accepted the other relationships because I took the time to respect and get to know the people in the relationships with him so that I could respect them. I wouldn’t I wouldn’t have been in a relationship with him had Celeste and I not been able to form a friendship. That was why I needed the relationship with Celeste first, so that I would feel that my relationship with him would never interfere with that.
You know what I mean? I needed to respect her first, and that worked for me. But there was one other thing, too, he offered me. He had another relationship. It was with Maryann, and she was more of like a cuddle buddy. They weren’t as intense, or more like friends, but he counted her as a relationship. And he offered to end his relationship with Maryann if it made me feel more secure. And at the time I was insecure because of a lot of other things going on. And I think I took it because he offered it to me, I’m like, “OK I’ll take it. I’ll take what you offer me.” It was because he basically said that it didn’t…it wouldn’t have… not that, not I’m not trying to make it sound like she didn’t matter to him…
Louisa: It wouldn’t have much impact on him.
Elaine: Exactly, exactly, and so if it had an impact on me to the positive, it would not upset him to let go of the relationship, as a relationship. Of course they’d still be friends, and that wasn’t even an issue. It’s just the sexual part of that relationship could be closed without it really bothering him. And I took him up on it and said yes.
And I thought maybe that would give me some security, and also there’s a reason for this. But Katrina was also a part of that, where he had said it to her as well. Then when we brought it up to him it was like, he did the blinking-eyes-wide, I don’t know what you’re talking about thing. And it’s like but you’re the one that brought it up! It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to just straight up ask him to end a relationship with someone else. That’s not what I would have thought of. But if you’re offering it to me as a way to make me feel secure, then I figure you wouldn’t offer it if it wasn’t something that you wanted to do. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t ask him, but if you’re offering it? And so, Katrina was involved in that too; that was something else she can speak to.
The reason that he even brought that up, or that I was insecure, is that Franklin had a way of not spending enough time with any of his partners. And I think Celeste had to make certain rules so that she would at least get to be in the same room with him a certain amount of time, and other partners as well. But me being a long distance, tertiary, you know, removed partner, I felt like I needed to know that I’d spend a certain amount of time with him, or at least touch base with him. And this is again back when texting was just starting. And so I even suggested that we get texting services on our phones, so we could text each other to keep in touch. And he didn’t want to do that. Can you believe it, this is before Franklin texted. This is, this is going back in time, so he would e-mail me things, and we would talk through e-mail occasionally, but yeah I wanted to find a way to stay in touch, to feel connected. And that was something that I was struggling with. And I think that he was slipping away further and further from the relationship while trying to feign these comforts for me that he wasn’t genuine about. So all of this was just adding to my misery.
And there was a time when Celeste couldn’t take it anymore, that he was doing this to me, because we did have a friendship. And part of her decision to end it was what he was trying to offer me that was in conflict with what they had. And the other part of her ending the relationship—she did end our relationship, but I really feel it was Franklin that ended it, because he wasn’t calling me, and I’d call her crying. And she got sick of me calling her crying. And she’s like “That’s it. I can’t take it anymore if you’re not going to be in a relationship with Elaine, you need to put an end to it.” So that’s what the veto was. It was her calling enough enough. And that’s how it went down.
She did it for reasons—that she saw what was going on on their side, that he was lying to me. Telling me things that he still, you know, wanted me to believe, but that he wasn’t acting like were true on on from what she observed.
Louisa: He also has a history of letting other people do the dirty work so he can play the victim.
Elaine: And that’s exactly what it was, and he was in the car with Amber playing the victim as he was letting me know that we couldn’t be in a relationship. So I didn’t—when I read that, him falling apart, his body dropping in front of—bullcrap! If you wanted to be in a relationship with me, he, all he had to do was quit lying to me, spending more time with me, and Celeste wouldn’t have ended the relationship. Her concern was mostly me. It was him as well, but it was me, it was the fact that he was telling me things he shouldn’t have been. And it was mostly that she was hurt that I was hurt.
Louisa: I’ve been rereading The Game Changer. But I’m reading it with such different eyes, and within the layers there is a real story of a man who is desperately lonely, or a boy who was desperately lonely, and then found that he could be looked after by being helpless.
Elaine: And so my, my, my description of his boyish exuberance wasn’t lost on you. You know what I’m talking about, because that is very much who he is, and who he, or who he was at that time, anyway. I have not spoken to him since—I reached out a few times just because there were things that made sense that I would ask him about, computer-related things, that is our connection, and I barely got two words from him.
And that was also disturbing to me, because in the book he talks about how he was devastated. Well his marriage is over! If he was so devastated, and I was so important to him, he could have reached out to me and at least had a friendship with me, or when I reached out to him, been more cordial to me rather than treating me like a stranger. He’s so compartmentalized our relationship, that he went from telling me he’s—would question his polyamorous relationships based on our connection, and that he wanted me to be a second primary, and then not speak to me again. Or, I mean, it’s just, it’s crazy to me. None of it. Something is not right, either what he’s reporting about our relationship is not true of him, or what he told me at the time was a lie, or that he can so well compartmentalize, that he can feel things and then completely abandon those beliefs. Because his actions don’t prove up his words. And that’s always been my complaint with him, is he’ll say something, and then it’s like, well where’s the proof?
Louisa: It’s a horrible thing, when Lily first contacted me. What I said was, “I believe you.” But somehow in my heart, what I wanted to believe, that this was not intentional or or conscious, like it was just like a nice guy who had made a few wrong steps. That’s, you know, I just hoped. I hoped. But as I’ve heard more and more stories, each of them corroborating a different aspect, but still the same truth, like yours.
Louisa: It’s just—the veil falls away from your eyes.
Elaine: Yeah. Yeah.