Episode 1

Eve’s Relationship Testimony With Franklin Veaux

Interviewed by Louisa Leontiades on January 2, January 4 and February 2, 2019. Scroll down for audio. 

Eve:   There’s a scene early in The Game Changer. It’s an incident that Franklin likes to talk about a lot in his interviews and talks. It’s the story of him taking two girls to his prom. He has always told that story from his perspective, and we are never invited to consider it from the perspective of the girls. But we know that, well, apart from that presence in that little anecdote, they appeared to never be heard from again in his life, so he did not stay in touch with them. And as with so many things, it takes effort to actually shift your perspective from his perspective, and the way he’s told the story, to the perspective of the woman. But we can actually think about this from the perspective of those two girls.

So he, what he says is, “Oh, well, I just didn’t realize that you were only supposed to take one person to prom.”

That’s worth interrogating itself. But then he said, you know, “They both asked me, and I said yes to both of them, and didn’t think to say no to one of them.” So, basically they both showed up—I don’t know if they both went to his house, which is unusual for prom—it’s, the way he makes it sound, is that, maybe they showed up at his house, maybe they showed up at prom, and they were both there. And he said, “Oh, and they were totally fine with it.” You know? “Wasn’t I lucky? They were both totally fine with, you know, the fact that the other person was there.”

Well, if we flip our perspectives to the perspective of the girls themselves—it’s like, you’re 17, 18 years old. You probably like this guy, because you’ve asked him to prom. You ask him out to prom; he says yes. You get your dress, you’re all excited. You go out for your big date…and there’s another girl there. So, what do you do? 

Louisa:  The choice is not to go to the prom, or with him and the other girl. Which is pretty damning.

Eve:  Exactly. Your choices are not good choices. No matter what you’re feeling. If you are feeling bad, then to express what you’re feeling in that moment means making a scene, creating conflict, possibly hurting the other girl—who is innocent—and not getting your date to prom. So, you don’t have good options there. 

You know, he assumes that they were totally fine with it. But we don’t know, actually, what they were feeling. And knowing how girls are socialized, I think most likely they were not fine with it. And they smiled, and they made the best of the evening.

You know, but it’s interesting that he tells that story today as a story about polyamory, and not about consent. And he leaves out the consent angle. And the fact is, those girls did not consent to a polyamorous date. And that he doesn’t acknowledge the consent angle of that, I think is telling about how he approaches relationships, and polyamory generally. And the reason I think it’s telling is because it also reflects my experience. It is this sort of agreeing to everything and everyone, and then just waiting for the inevitable conflicts to arise, and letting the women work it out while he just sort of stands back and acts helpless. And you know, continues to do this thing of saying, oh, you know, he didn’t know that you were supposed to tell them. He didn’t know that you were supposed to get consent. You know, at 52 years old, he still doesn’t know, and he still doesn’t recognize the consent piece of that prom story.

I’m not saying that we should judge his 18-year-old self for doing a shitty thing. But what I’m saying is that the way he tells that story now is a lens into how he still thinks about relationships and consent, and approaches polyamory.

I think that—well, I can say that I have experienced what happens when you don’t go along, and when you do try to set boundaries. And it’s really, really not…pleasant. Because first of all, you have the other woman there who’s had something promised to her as well. And now there’s, you know, essentially a conflict that he’s created between two women over a limited resource. And there is intense pressure to give up what you want—give up what you were promised, and cede it to the other person, in order to be a good metamour, to be, you know, poly enough, to experience compersion, whatever. But it sort of cuts off the opportunity to feel compersion, because it’s a situation where, you know, you haven’t been asked. You’re just being forced to deal with the situation.

But also, what lesson did he take away that—from his prom? Did he take away the lesson that he could do something like this and it was the girls’ job to go along with it and make it okay? And I think he did. And I think that he has had enough experience, over, now, the last 35 years of his life, of women smoothing things over, and resolving conflicts, and giving things up, and contorting themselves to make these situations okay, that he really believes that that’s how a good poly woman should be. And If you don’t do that, and if you do try to set boundaries, or do try to assert your right to have agreements kept with you, then there’s something wrong with you.

His negs—he does neg a lot. But his negs are extremely subtle, and they are always couched in this sort of gentle, caring framework that is very, very hard to confront. You know for example, how he likes to say, “I’m not a beginner’s relationship.” That is actually a neg.

If you are the right kind of woman—and by the right kind of woman I mean a woman who is vulnerable to that specific kind of language, as I was—it puts you on the footing of trying to prove yourself. And what it means is that any time there’s conflict, any time there’s suffering, it’s extra pressure to be the one to deal with it, or roll with it, or absorb it or make it okay, because, well, you don’t want to be a beginner, do you? You knew this wasn’t a beginner’s relationship.

It’s a little bit—it’s kind of a version of “You knew the rules when you signed on.” But what it really means, I think, is “You will do all the work in this relationship.” 

Because someone who is good at polyamory should be easier to be with, right? Wouldn’t you think?

 

Yeah, so um, so it’s actually interesting. The first time I was supposed to meet him, I didn’t. That was in 2009, and I was in Portland with my friend Kiki, who was an organizer, a poly organizer up in Victoria. And she had made plans to meet him for coffee, and I decided to go with her. So we went, and we waited at the coffee shop for like an hour, I don’t know. And he never showed, and didn’t respond to text messages or anything like that. So, and I used to tease him about that later, about how the first time I was supposed to meet him, he stood me up. But it is sort of a little microcosm of what life with him is like.

The time we really met was in…I think it was the end of July, 2012. And I was in Portland for three weeks. He and I had been interacting a little bit on Facebook and Twitter for a couple months. He tweeted about a science lecture that was happening at a pub in Portland on Hawthorne Street, which became the inspiration for the name Thorntree Press—Hawthorne Press was taken.

I decided to go to this science pub thing, and then I asked him if he’d like to meet up for supper before the lecture. He said yes. And so we made plans to meet. And the entire time, he was using the word ‘I’, you know, “I will meet you,” and you know. And so I showed up at the restaurant where we were going to meet, and he was there with his partner, his live-in partner, Vera. And it was just a tiny, tiny, little jolt of like, “Oh, I wasn’t expecting this.” And I felt uncomfortable because he hadn’t asked, or told me. But I immediately smoothed over my discomfort, because it was a very, very minor thing. And I told myself, “Well, it’s not like this was a date. Right? We’re just two colleagues meeting.” And so I just sort of got on with it. You know, it’s just interesting to me now that I did sort of—I see that now as the first of many little tests. That particular one is just so small that it’s the sort of thing that if it happens in isolation, you would just say, “Oh, it was a mistake, or a miscommunication,” whatever, and move on.

You know, it was, it is actually normal for people to say, “Oh, hey, I’m going to bring my partner along, is that cool?” Or, you know, “My partner is coming to the lecture with me; do you mind if she comes to supper?” That’s sort of what we would call common courtesy, and it’s just a thing that he typically doesn’t do. And that plays out in his romantic relationships as well.

We went to the lecture. I ran into another friend there. We went to an after party, chatted a little bit more. About a week after that was the Curiosity launch, and I went to watch that at the planetarium with a couple of my friends. He and Vera came to that as well.

He called me and he asked me if I wanted to go to an aquarium sleepover thing that his friend was arranging. And I couldn’t do it because I had other plans—I was going camping. And then he asked me if—I can’t remember, he asked me when I was going home, and I told him. And he asked if I had time to get together before I left. I said, “Well, no I really don’t.” And he said, “Oh.” And he just sounded really, really sad when he said that. And I immediately felt sorry for him. And very flattered that he sounded so sad and disappointed. I said, “Well, okay, wait, let me see if I can figure this out.” I looked at my calendar, and I figured out that I could make time for him on my very last night in Portland. We agreed to get together that night.

He did not show up with a partner that time.

We met at a pub. We talked for awhile, and then he said, “By the way, I have such a huge crush on you.” Which I could sorta feel was coming.

I don’t remember what I said to him. You know, I think I said something like, “Well, I’m interested in getting to know you more,” or something. But at some point I took his hand, so we were like, holding hands across the table. And then at some point we agreed that we were on a date. And then we decided to get dinner. We went to the grocery store, and we bought sandwiches and strawberries, and we walked up to a park, and we ate—we had like a late-night picnic in the park.

We talked for awhile longer, and I think I asked him what he was thinking, and he said, “Well, I’m thinking about whether I should kiss you.” But he was concerned that I, you know, I lived in Canada, and he had said that he wouldn’t do any more long-distance relationships. And so he was like, “Should I do this? Should I walk away?” And I said, “Well, I think you should kiss me, because we might not even be compatible physically, so like, how are we going to know if it’s even worth considering whether to do the long-distance thing?”

So, we kissed, and it was good, and we kissed a bunch more.

And then we definitely wanted to see each other again, but I was on a train back to Vancouver. And it was the sort of thing where like, where we were just texting each other constantly for a couple of weeks. 

I mean there were a lot of good memories, obviously. Like, I wouldn’t have stayed if there—especially early on. I just felt like so, so fortunate, and he just, we just seemed so compatible. Like we, you know he told me, “We speak the same native language.” It was like he just got me. He just understood everything I said, and it was easy.

And now I, as I read about abusive relationships, and I read about certain kinds of men who mirror early in relationships, and create that feeling of “perfect” compatibility, and “you get me perfectly,” and all of that. And I don’t really know now—I mean, maybe that’s just what charisma is.

There was a great deal of cuteness. And I mean, and you can see that in a lot of his long-distance relationships. And you know, that is a lot easier to maintain in those short bursts, and to maintain the NRE over long periods of time.

It started to get, actually, really stressful really early on. But because it was so—because it was so, like, zing, like we’re so compatible, and so intense, we just get each other, it really—like it was worth putting up with a lot of shit, basically, for me.

I think now that he and I moved very, very fast. And I think that I will never move that fast again, and that I need to—I actually can’t make a decision about whether I want to get involved with someone unless I know their partners, and see them interacting, and see what their relationship is like.

This was Franklin Veaux. Right? Like, I felt like I knew him already. I’d been reading him for years, and following his blog. I took his words at face value. I believed that he was the man he presented himself as online, on his blog. So I thought I knew his ideas. I thought I knew how he was in relationships. And so I was not cautious. And also, his relationships do have a pattern of moving very, very fast, most of them. 

You can—if you go back to his blog posts at the time that he and Amber were getting involved, there’s a post where they’ve just decided that they’re interested in each other. And then two weeks later, she’s his girlfriend. And then two weeks after that, she’s his “chosen family.” A couple of months after that, she’s moving closer, and it’s just like, it’s very, very fast.

And other women I’ve talked to have described this very fast, very intense, like, connection and sort of “whomp!” So in a way, like the connection was kind of hotwired because of his charisma, and how he is, and also because, I think, it’s not uncommon for women to feel like they already have a connection to him through his writing.

But also, there was this impression that I got from Vera that she sort of wanted our connection to be hotwired in the same way? And sort of have that boom! instant intimacy. iIn a way that didn’t really give me an opportunity to consent to it. And that was very strange for me.

It’s odd. You know, I felt like she was pushing our relationship too fast given how, you know, how much time Franklin and I had actually been seeing each other. But then I also look back and I see how fast things moved between me and him in terms of emotional engagement. So, I don’t, I don’t know.

And then he and I had our second date at Polycamp. And it was, it was lovely. So he—we actually weren’t at Polycamp. He came and picked me up at Polycamp, and we went out. So he met my friends. And then we went to my mom’s place, and then we like sat out on a—she was by a lake, and we sat out on the dock, and like, talked and made out, and commented on the fact that the moon was full, and was really beautiful over the lake.

And then we went back to my mom’s place, and we slept on her fold-out couch and—you know, fully clothed. We just spooned all night. And that was the first night I remember he commented that we fit together—very sweet. He dropped me off back at Polycamp, he went home. We continued to chat over text a lot.

We negotiated a schedule for their trip to Vancouver. I arranged for them to stay at the home of a friend of mine who was going to be out of town that weekend. Vera and I had negotiated the whole weekend schedule. And there was time for them to be alone—because it was also their anniversary weekend. So, they were, you know, she was sort of sacrificing her anniversary weekend to come to Vancouver, so he could see me, and she could spend time with me. But also, we wanted to make sure that they had quality time together. So there was like, a lot of them time, there was a lot of group time, there was time with me and her and Franklin, there was time with me and her and Franklin and Peter.  There was time when I, they hung out with my friends—I organized a poly-mixer thing.

He and I had one date night during that weekend. So that was going to be the night before they left on the train back to Portland. She was also going to have a date that night. So that night he and I were going to have a date; she was going to have a date with her guy. And so I asked him over text, I said, “I can spend the night with you at my friend’s house. Would you like that? You know, we can stay in the other bedroom.”

And he said, “Yes, I would.”

And I said, “Okay. Do you want me to put that into the group chat, or do you want to just tell Vera that’s happening?”

And he said, “I’ll tell her.”

So our date night comes, and I go to the house where they’re staying. And she’s getting ready for her date. And I said something about—you know about like, “So, we’re sleeping over here.”

And she was like, “What?”

And I was like, “Franklin and I talked about me spending the night here, and we were going to stay in this room.”

And he hadn’t told her.

So of course I was like, “I don’t know, I made these plans with him, and he said he would tell you.”

And she was angry at me, or not angry, but she was—her negative reaction was targeted at me, because she felt that I should have said something.

And I’m like, “But he’s your partner, and he told me that he would tell you.”

And the other thing I remember about this is, at this point—I mentioned she was getting ready for her date, and she stripped naked while we were talking, because she was changing into her date clothes. But she didn’t say anything about it.

I’m like, we’re talking and suddenly she’s naked. And I’m like, I was not expecting that. I’m not entirely comfortable with nudity. I don’t know this person that well. She didn’t ask if it was okay. But suddenly she’s naked in front of me, and I don’t know what to do.

So, I just kept talking and pretended it wasn’t happening, right? While she put on her clothes.

I don’t remember much of the conversation except that she was—

Louisa:  Naked.

Eve:   —naked. And upset about the fact that we had made these plans to spend the night without telling her.

And I remember being frustrated, one—like, I felt like it was being made my problem, and it shouldn’t have been my problem. Because I felt I had done what I was supposed to do. But also, I felt, honestly, I felt like she was overreacting. You guys are like the expert poly people. And we have our one date night, and you’re going home together, and I don’t understand, like, why it’s such a shock for me to be staying over tonight.

She went out on her date. And he and I—I made him dinner at the house. We didn’t go out. I just made him dinner, and then we made out in the bedroom, and went to sleep. I mean I, I just remember we cuddled a lot that night, and just talked.

But at some point while we were making out, she came home. We had been like, you know, giggling and stuff. And we got, he got a little bit quiet. And I remember thinking, oh, “Does he need to go say hi to her, check in with her?” But I figured, he’s her partner, he knows what their agreements are. If he wants to check in with her, he can say, “I’m just going to check in with Vera, say goodnight real quick.” But he didn’t, and so I was like, “I guess that’s not important, or part of their agreement,” right?

So I thought, apart from that hiccup with her not knowing about the thing, I thought things went fine that weekend. Like, we had all spent a lot of time together, everybody seemed to get what they needed, they went home. 

And then it turned out that she wasn’t fine. That I found out much later that—so she had wanted him to come check in with her. And he had told her that I wouldn’t like that, if he’d left. Even though he didn’t ask me, “Can I—” or tell me that he needed to do that. He didn’t say anything. He just made the assumption that I wouldn’t like it, told her, and that became part of her mental model of me. Whereas had he actually asked me, I would have been totally fine with it.

Yeah, I mean I do think that one thing is really telling. The whole like—he screwed up twice. Right? He screwed up by not telling her that he told me he’d spend the night with me. And he screwed up by not checking in with her. He shifted the second one to—well I mean the, you know the first one, like I didn’t really take the blame, but I still ended up feeling guilty for it? Even though it really wasn’t my fault. But the second one, he just very quickly shifted the responsibility to me, even with no evidence or no reason to do that, right? And she just very quickly accepted that. And that was definitely a sign of things to come. You know?

Whereas he could have just said, “Oh I’m really sorry, I didn’t know you wanted me to check in.” But that would have involved the ‘S’ word. “Sorry.”

But that became a cause of distress for her. Because not only had he not checked in with her, but now he was dating the sort of person who would be upset by him checking in with her. And I think she also thought that maybe I should have wanted to check in with her. But I’d already spent all this time with her, and it was our one date night. So I didn’t feel the need to do that, because I also was like, these are experienced poly people, you know? 

So there was some Facebook messaging back and forth about that, and she kept talking about how “dyadic” I was. And I’m like, “I don’t feel like you know me very well.” She was, “It’s a perfectly functional way of being, it’s just not how I am.” And you know, what’s funny is like, she was defining me in that way without knowing me. And I look back at my poly history before those two, and I actually had a history of a lot of group communication—with, you know, Peter and his partners and negotiation, and stuff like that. So like, I don’t think I’m especially dyadic—or was, then. But compared with her—because she really wanted to be involved in everything. Every negotiation and every conversation.

So she sent me this really long message. And then she sent me a shorter message that said, “Now I feel really vulnerable,” and I don’t remember what else she said. But I said, “We’re fine, more later, xoxo.” 

And then…that was the beginning of September. And that month I was doing a 30-day yoga challenge, so I was doing a yoga class every day. Which meant I was busy. Didn’t message her back. But I thought, like, we’d resolved the issue, we were okay. I had said “We’re okay.” But I’d also promised more later, but I didn’t follow up with that promise.

So what I didn’t know was that as I—as more and more time passed with me not messaging her, she was becoming more and more anxious. But I didn’t know that. That she was feeling rejected and like, stewing over the whole him not checking in with her thing. And—had no idea. I was just really, really busy.

We didn’t have a date again for another month after that.

 

I started to get a sense through Franklin that things were maybe, that maybe not all was well. I felt a pressing sense of, “Oh I need to get back to her,” but also not quite knowing what to say or how to do it or what she wanted. So I just sort of avoided it.

And then he came up for either three or five days at the beginning of October 2012. And that was like when we really started to like, dive into the relationship. That was when we had sex for the first time. It was, you know a lovely week.

But at the time, like, I remember—she used to have a horse that lived at her mother’s farm. And it died while he was up visiting me. And I asked him, I said, “Do you need to go home? Do you need to go be with her?” And he was like, “No.”

But she was tweeting—she was clearly in distress. Her tweets were clearly distressed. She tweeted something like, “My partner is in another city investing in another relationship that doesn’t include me.”

And I was like, oh. Is it supposed to? You know? Like, I don’t know what’s going on here. She’s unhappy.

I remember at some point having a conversation with him where he asked me, like, “Well, what’s your expectation—like, how do you like to relate to your metamours?” And I’m like, “I like to be friends with my metamours.” You know, “I feel like metamours are one of the benefits of polyamory, and, you know, I want to get to know Vera. And I need time for that relationship to build before I can feel comfortable with like, emotional intimacy with her.”

Yeah I think that conversation happened after he went back. So clearly she was concerned about the fact that like, she didn’t have as much of a relationship with me as she wanted. But for whatever reason didn’t feel like she could come back to me and say like, “Hey, can we continue that conversation that we were having last month?” And I was feeling guilty, because I felt like the ball had been left in my court and I’d dropped it.

And so I wrote her a letter. I wrote her a longhand paper letter. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I, what I was trying to convey was like, “It’s important to me to give you what you need. But I don’t understand what you need. And I need you to tell me. I’m having a hard time understanding what you want, because I feel like you’re saying that you need something, but it’s not coming out to me clearly. So can you please ask me directly? Because I want to know.” And, and also, like, “I’m having some women get together on my birthday to go to the spa in, up in Washington, and I would really like it if you could come. Would you please join us?” Cause I was like, you know, it would be great for her to spend some time with me and like, some of my other women friends.

I sent that letter to her—I mailed it. And that was in like maybe early or mid-October.

There was about a month where he and I didn’t see each other. And then at the end of, either the end of October or early November, we met up in Olympia for three days at my mom’s place. At the end of that, right before he dropped me off at the bus to go home, he handed me a letter that she had written to give to me.

The letter was long, it was like seven pages long. And it was very, I remember it was very very—it felt legalistic to me? Like it was just like, “This is what happened, and this is what you said, and this is what I said, and this—” And it was like, I felt like I was reading an affidavit. You know? And, and I was very like, what the f—what’s going on here? But even, there was a whole paragraph that was like, you know, “I have received your letter dated this date, mailed this, postmarked this date, and received on this date.” And I’m like, what? Like, I don’t understand what that means—like why this is here?

And you know, and she was like, “Your letter was incredibly triggering to me. And you’re basically telling me that you won’t do anything that I want or reach out to me,” you know, “unless I ask for it directly,” and I can’t remember what else. But there was just like, a whole bunch of accusations in it—about like, who I was and what I wanted and what kind of person I was. And I’m like, “You don’t know me. We have not had the time to get to know each other. Where is all of this coming from?”

And I now understand—or believe—that this was part of that slippery framing that Franklin does. That there were things that he was saying to her, building up this idea of me. Like the whole, “Oh she would be upset if I checked in with you” thing. But I didn’t understand it at the time.

It really hurt, because up until that point I had been someone who had always been very invested in my metamour relationships and had been close to some of my metamours and really valued that. So you know, I was much more of a kitchen-table poly type person, and I was not being read as that, and I was not being given the opportunity to define my poly style for myself. I was being told, like, “Oh, you’re like this. This is what you want,” and and then portrayed to that, like to her friends and in public.

And so I remember talking to Peter about it, and I may have shown him the letter. And he was like, “I think the four of us need to sit down together. I will mediate a conversation with you and Franklin and Vera. Let’s have, like, a Skype call.”

So I requested a Skype call with the four of us, and we had that. 

hat was when I sort of got the idea of like, “more love” that I put into More Than Two. And so that whole call I was like thinking, “more love more love more love.”

And Peter, I think, did a brilliant job of like, facilitating and being like, “There have been some misunderstandings. Let’s talk through this. And let’s like, go in a circle and have everybody talk about what they experienced and what they need.” And like, it really seemed like we reached an understanding, I think. 

But there’s actually—there’s something that happened in between that that I’m remembering now. So something else that happened that really—and this was before her letter to me. Because she mentioned it in her letter. I was overwhelmed by the idea that I had like four new metamours. And you know, that I was getting intensely involved with Franklin very quickly, and I hadn’t met them. So I wanted to connect with them, but I didn’t want to reach out to them cold.

So I, I had this conversation with Franklin where I was explaining this to him. I had a Skype call with him, and I was explaining all of this. I was like, “Would you please introduce me to your other partners and arrange for me to have Skype calls with all of them?” Cause they’re all long distance. So he agreed to do that. And I don’t remember everything that I said, but I remember feeling really, really vulnerable. 

And there was one point in the conversation at which he turned to his right, and he said something to Vera, who was sitting right next to him. And I had not known that she was there. And I was on speaker.

So I panicked. I was thinking like, “How long has she been sitting there? Was she there for the whole conversation, and why didn’t he tell me she was there?” And so I just said, “I’m going to go now.”

And he was like, “Are you OK? What’s wrong?” And of course I’m like, she’s sitting right there, I’ve just had this like, really vulnerable, intimate conversation with you, and I don’t know if she heard the whole thing, and I’m feeling really uncomfortable, and now you’re telling me—you’re asking me to like, tell you, while she’s sitting there, how I’m feeling. And I was like “I just, I just need to go,” you know. And I just, I said goodbye, and I shut down Skype.

And then, you know, he messaged me to say, “You know, if you’re worried about Vera being in the room, she had just sat down just that moment.” So like, ok.

But like I realized, as that happened and afterward, that I did not know what their boundaries were about privacy and being in the room. And like, I thought of all these conversations we’ve had and wondered like, “Does she read his messages? Does, has she been in the room during other calls?” And I remember there was another time when I’d been on Skype with him, and she had come into the room and—again, stripped naked, right behind him, in front of the camera, without asking. And she like, she changed her clothes, but she changed her clothes specifically in that spot behind the camera, so that I saw her stripping naked and changing, and then leaving the frame again. And like, nobody asked me. Nobody—this is just a thing that happened, and it was like again, I’m like being, like my metamour is naked in front of me, and nobody asked me.

I’m already telling myself like, “Oh, I just need to be more relaxed about nudity,” or like, “Why am I upset about that?” But of course it was the consent! It wasn’t the nudity, it was the consent. And it was the lack of consideration for the fact that I might have boundaries about that.

So I just realized like, “Oh my God, I don’t know what their boundaries are. I don’t know what she has been party to before”—and it wasn’t like I’m hiding something. But it was just like, I want to know what is being revealed to her. 

And then shortly after that, I—he had shared his Google calendar with me. So I turned on his calendar for some reason. And I saw that she had logged—and I knew it was her, ‘cause she was listed as the author—every single phone and Skype call that we had ever had in our relationship. The time, the start and end time, the duration, and it was like you know, “Eve Skype.” “Eve call.” Even when they had happened when she was at work. So like she’d come home, and she had gotten enough information from him to know not just that we’d Skyped, but what time and for how long. And had logged that.

So like, so first there was the like needing to know when she’s in the room. And then there’s like the whole, “Why the fuck is she logging everything we do?” And so I had another Skype call with Franklin a day or two later. I said, “I am uncomfortable not knowing when someone else is in the room, so I need you to tell me who is in the room with you. It’s not that I am hiding something, but I just want to know who is hearing my voice. And two, what’s the deal with the calendar?”

And he was like, “Oh you know, Vera just likes to keep track of what I do. And she doesn’t have to do it if you don’t want to.”

And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m really not comfortable with that.” 

So he’s like, “It can stop.”

And I’m like, “Ok, great.”

But it really wasn’t ok. Like, she was very very upset at being told she had to stop doing that.

So during this conversation with Peter, one of the things that came up was like—and she had written about this in the letter too, and it came up in the conversation again—was like, she felt like I had been upset that she’d been in the room during that call. And I’m like, “Well it’s not that I mind you being in the room. It’s that I didn’t know, and I didn’t know how long you’d been there.” And I was like, “I just need Franklin to tell me when he’s alone, and when someone is in the room with him.” 

I had to justify that. And then she’s like “Well, why don’t you just ask when you want to be alone with him?”

And I’m like, “It’s not about that. Like it’s just about—I just want to know, you know? Who, who is he with, you know, who’s hearing—especially when I’m on speaker. But even when someone’s just hearing his side.”

And she was very, very upset about that, and never really got over it. And you know, and was convinced it was because I wanted to hide things and keep secrets.

And so like, she accepted the boundary, but never really accepted it. And like was never, never really stopped being resentful about it. And he never really proactively honoured it either. I had asked him—I was like you know, “Ok, so I want you to tell me when you’re in the room with someone. And if there’s no one in the room with you and someone comes in, if you just look up and say ‘Hello,’ then I’ll know someone’s just come into the room.”

And he did that for awhile, and then he kind of stopped. And then it became a thing where I would always have to ask him, like, when we’re on the phone, like, “Who are you with? Is someone with you?” Became like I was the sort of paranoid, controlling one—because he would just never tell me. Like even though I’d set that boundary, he did it for awhile, and then he stopped. 

And then, and the other thing was, she wanted me to explain why it was that I didn’t want her logging our calls.

So sort of, you know, again grudgingly accepted that as a boundary, but wasn’t happy about it.

Oh and then also on the call, I said, “What about my invitation to my birthday?”

And she was like, “Oh, well, I didn’t think that was sincere.”

And I’m like, “It was sincere,” like, “I wanted to spend time with you, I wanted to get to know you better. I was inviting you to my social space, with my people. And that was important to me.” And so she agreed to come to that.

And so my birthday weekend happened. And my birthday weekend was another one of those like, tightly scheduled, to the minute things that happened whenever I went to Portland, or whenever she was in the city. So it was like, I’m trying to see my friends and be with them, and like still deal with all this emotional fallout from our friend’s suicide the year before, that was affecting all of our relationships. And I wanted to celebrate my birthday, and I wanted to have a date with Franklin, and I wanted to spend time with Vera. So like every minute of the whole thing was scheduled.

So you know, so there was you know, time for me with my friends. There was group time, there was my birthday party. There was the time that Vera was going to come to the spa with me and my friends, and there was one date night for me and Franklin. This is in mid-November. 

And so we did all of that. Franklin and I had our date night—it was my last night in Portland. He was gonna take me to the train at two o’clock the next afternoon. Vera worked during the day on Tuesday, it was a Monday, I think. So I didn’t expect to see her after my birthday party.

He picked me up for our date at six o’clock. And I remember asking him, I said, “Are we expected to see Vera? Do we need to go back to the house? Is there anything—” And he was like, “No.” 

So we got dinner. We went and we had sex for like six hours in the back of his van. Then we drove to his house, and we spent the night in his van parked outside his house.

And the next day we were having sex again in the morning, and then she messaged him and asked if she could come home for lunch to spend time with us. And he asked me, and I said ok.

And she got home just as I was going in to take a shower. And she like, confronted me in my face as I was coming in the door to go the shower.

And she’s like, “You finally came to his house.”

And I was like “Y…yeah?”

And she was like, “You finally met his cat.”

Yeah?”

And she was like, she was like this, this close to me just like, you know, in my—and I’m like, what the fuck is going on? Right? And I’m like, “I’m going to go take a shower now.” And I like, beelined to the shower. 

He saw this, and they had a conversation while I was in the shower. And when I came out, she was on the couch, I think she was crying, and she apologized to me for like, attacking me the minute I came in the door.

It turned out that she was upset that we had not come home on our date night to see her. And she had expected that. But she had not asked for that. But she just expected that he would know her well enough to know that she would want that and to bring me home. Like, this is our one date night in the month that we actually have scheduled alone together. And she wanted him to bring me home so that we could all spend time—even though we already had spent time together several times over the weekend, the three of us together, and the three of us in groups.

By the way they had the puppies. And something came up with the puppies and they had to take them to the vet. So she did not go to the spa. I went with Julian and Sophia, and then Franklin and Vera drove up to the spa to pick me and Julian up and bring us back to Portland. So we spent time together in the van.

And I remember on the drive back in the van—he was in the passenger’s seat, and she was driving. And I was sitting, and they had like the radio on, and she was singing, and I was sitting down in the space between the two seats between them. And I just remember feeling like, really happy. Like “Oh, this is how it’s supposed to be.” It was like my one happy poly moment with the two of them. Like oh, we’re spending time together, and we’re doing a thing together, and it’s nice, and everybody is peaceful.

And so like, I was really blindsided, honestly, when she came home and confronted me in that way. Because from my perspective, the whole weekend had been great. Like it was exactly how it was supposed to be. We’d made a plan together, we’d stuck to it. We’d spent time together. Fucking earned my date night with him, right? And like—but no, no, that wasn’t, that wasn’t enough.

We had an argument about that. She was upset that he hadn’t known that he’d wanted me to bring me home. She was upset that our relationship had progressed to the point where it had before I’d ever been to his house.

And I’m like, “We’re long distance. What do you want me to do? This is literally the first opportunity I’ve had to come to your house.”

But also like I remember, he stayed very calm—and this is how it looked to me at the time—he stayed very calm and quiet. I was very hurt and confused. And she was getting more and more upset and spinning up, and I didn’t understand why.

I felt like we finally ended that conversation with some sort of an—I don’t know if I felt like we had an understanding or not. Like I just don’t even remember. I just remember feeling like, so blindsided. Because—it was the beginning of this feeling of like, I can never trust when things are ok. Like things felt ok, I felt like I’d done everything I was supposed to do, and I still got attacked. And I still ended up in the middle of this conflict. 

So I was coming down a few weeks later for Thanksgiving. And again it was a super tightly scheduled block of time. Again like, you know, time with my friends, group time with them, a date night for me and him. And, you know, I came to their house and helped paint, because they were working on this reno.

But before that, she messaged me on Facebook, and she was like, “I want to talk about the calendar thing again.” She’s like, “You are asking me to change my behaviour, so you need to explain to me why I need to change my behaviour.”

And I’m like, “What?”

So this is about, again, about her recording things on the calendar.

So we set up a time for the three of us to meet to talk about the calendar. Again. Like a month later, still talking about this. And we met right at the beginning of the weekend that I was there. And I just remember—I don’t really remember what was going on except that she made no sense to me at all. Like she just desperately, desperately wanted to hang onto this to this thing that she was doing and did not want to stop doing it, and couldn’t really explain to us in any way that we were, would be satisfied with, why she had to keep doing it or why we didn’t have the right to tell her to stop.

And again, like, I remember, it was sort of like me and him ganging up on her? Right? Because she was the one being irrational. And she was the one being invasive, and violating boundaries, and like, not wanting to stop, and we’re just like “What the fuck?”

And I remember feeling at the time like, Well he’s defending me, and this is good. And he’s standing up for me, and he’s setting boundaries, and this is all good.”

I was like, “Well he’s this poly guru who knows how to do this stuff, and he’s good at relationships.” And like, you know why, “What’s her problem?”

And I just kept doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing, which was like, communicate—I was still communicating with all of them as a group; we were still planning together; we were still like, agreeing on times and dates and, and things that we were going to do, and like it just kept on not being enough. And I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” I’m not connecting with her in the way she wants me to connect with her. And I don’t know what that means—and I don’t really trust her. And she’s wanting intimacy from me that we haven’t built. And that feels weird and creepy, you know?

And also, there was, there was one other thing that—that happened sometime in there. It was—it must have been in November. But I think it was after the birthday conflict.

And again I was talking to Kate about this, and she was like, “You know Eve, is it really worth it? You know, all of the stress and the processing and the ehhhh, and the—you’re only like two months into this. Is it really worth it? Like maybe you should put a pause on it.

 And I’m like, “Yeah, you know, maybe you’re right. Maybe I should.”

And so I Skyped with him, and I said, you know, “I think we should put this on hold.”

Maybe it was after the letter. I have some of this stuff scrambled. But like, I said, “Maybe we should just back off a little bit. Like, you and Vera are clearly dealing with some stuff, and you need to deal with that. And like, I don’t want to be in the middle of that, and there’s just like, there’s a lot of conflict for early in a relationship.”

And he just did that sort of like, collapsing on himself, defeated thing that—where he just, he looks like a little boy. And if you’re the right kind of woman, your heart just goes out to him. And like, how can you hurt someone when they’re doing that, you know? I started to lose my resolve.

And then he started to cry. And I was like oh…you know. It was both like, extremely flattering, and also like, “How can I do this to him?”

And so I was like, “Ok, ok. Maybe—maybe we can work something out, maybe we can figure something out.”

And so I didn’t break up with him. And we didn’t put the brakes on it. We didn’t slow things down, we didn’t put pause, we didn’t do any of that.

 

How I discovered Celeste’s blog really early in the relationship—and I mean, really early. Like, including those posts where you know, he was gaslighting and abusing her. And I remember the feeling of like, my heart pounding in my ears, and my blood rushing and feeling alarmed at what I was reading.

So I’ve been trying to think about, like well—because I squelched that, I like pushed it back. I overrode that fear response that I had when I saw that. And then again, when I brought it up with him when he came out, and I said, “I found your wife’s blog from when you divorced.” And he was like—I, I don’t remember how he responded. And it’s one of those conversations where—because it was so slippery it’s hard to remember exactly what he said, or how he responded?

But, you know, I started justifying it right away, even before he did. And I was like, “Well, you know, I figured that people are not themselves during breakups, and both of you were really in a lot of pain.”

And then he said, “Yeah, you know, I never read any of her blog posts, I don’t even know what she said about me.”

And I was like, “But you were on her blog posts commenting. And having arguments with people.”

He did the slippery-slidey thing where he sort of just—I don’t remember what he did, but he made it go away. And he never addressed that. He never, like, really said that he had done it or that he’d not done it. The conversation just sort of went somewhere else after that.

But you know, I was trying to think about what sort of mental gymnastics did I do to, to deflect what I saw on that blog? And I think that what it was, is, I believed that I was special. You know? I believed that he would not do to me what he’d done to her. Or that there must have been something wrong with her, that she brought out that behaviour. But I would not bring out that behaviour.

And I think that that was also how I justified what I saw him doing to Vera, was—there was part of me that was like, “I would not want to be treated this way. But I won’t be, because I’m different.”

He was telling me at that point, “You and I speak the same native language. Vera and I don’t.” And he would say the same thing about Celeste, that he and Celeste had not spoken the same language. But he and I speak the same native language, and we just get each other. And he kept saying how incredibly compatible we were.

And, and I was like, “We’re so compatible, we speak the same language, we just get each other. He won’t ever—he won’t ever act that way with me.” And you know, if he’s acting that way with them, it must be something they’re doing.

Somehow it made it okay. Like I had to make it okay in my mind somehow that he had done these things. And, and I had to make it so that it was not part of his character. So it was not part of the good guy that I saw in him.

I think I believed somehow that he must have been driven to it. Or that they were so unreasonable and controlling that he just had—there are a million justifications. ANd you know, they are so unreasonable and controlling that, you know, he just broke, or he just had to do—you know, I don’t know.

But it didn’t occur to me until I was well out of the relationship that he might be abusive, and that he might have a history of abuse. Even when I was saying that he was gaslighting me, I did not equate that to abuse, or to him being abusive. I always thought it was something he didn’t know that he was doing, or that he was doing unintentionally.

So I thought—you know we had that meeting at McMenamins in Portland. That conversation happened at the very beginning of my trip. And then the rest of the trip happened according to plan. I saw everyone I was supposed to see, we had our date. We had group time, I went over and I helped them paint their house. So it went fairly well, all things considered, so far as things between us went well. And I left feeling like, oh that had been sort of a success.

I didn’t see him at all during the month of December 2012. And then Peter and I both went to Portland for a week around New Year’s. And we stayed with our friends down there. And again, we had made a very carefully orchestrated plan, where each night was agreed who would be where, and who would see whom. I was holding my traditional New Year’s Day dinner at my friend’s house, and I had invited them to come to that.

So we had our dinner at my friend’s house. And I remember my friend before the dinner saying, “You’re not bringing poly drama into my house, are you?”

And I was like, “No, no it’s fine. Everybody’s fine. We’ve worked it all out. They’ll—everyone will be well behaved.”

So dinner went well. We played a board game. Everybody’s getting up to leave. The following night was my last night in Portland, and it was supposed to be my and Franklin’s other date night. And then the next day I was going home.

And Vera was sitting at the table, and she said, “So when can I see you? When can I make some time to spend time with you?”

And I was like, “Well, tomorrow night’s my date night with Franklin, and then I’m going home. So I guess it’ll have to be the next time I’m in Portland.”

And she was like, “That’s not going to be good enough for me.”

I was like, “What do you mean?”

And she basically was saying that she needed to spend more time with me. And I was like, “We talked about all of this. Like, we planned this all out. We all agreed to the schedule, I thought. And now you’re adding this other requirement at the last minute, there isn’t time for.”

And she would not accept it. She was very insistent that I had to make time for her. That she was not getting enough of my time, not getting enough interaction with me. And I was like, “We are long distance. I have family here, I have friends, I have stuff I have to take care of. I’m making time for you, but I can’t do it to the degree that you are expecting.” 

And it escalated very quickly. My feeling was she was not accepting my boundaries, and she was making demands that I couldn’t accommodate, and not accepting that I was saying no. And Peter came over and tried to intervene. He tried to mediate.

I remember we were arguing in the dining room. And I was feeling embarrassed, because I had told my friend, “Oh no no no! There won’t be any poly drama tonight!” And here we were in their dining room. And so I asked that we go downstairs to continue the conversation.

I don’t remember exactly how it escalated. But I remember her being—I want to say angry, but I actually can’t name what emotions she was feeling. She was very distraught. I was very distraught. I felt like she had impossible expectations that I could not meet, and that I had been trying and trying and trying and continually failing to meet her expectations. And she felt like I had not been trying at all.

And that hurt me, because I was like, “You can’t see that I’m trying and the energy I’m putting into making this relationship work.” And I told her that I didn’t feel safe around her. And she said that that wasn’t her, that was my experience in past poly relationships. So okay, she tried to gaslight me there—but at the time I, it didn’t work as gaslighting because I didn’t accept her definition of my reality in the way that I would accept his definition of my reality. It just made me angry, because I felt like she had no right to tell me why I felt that way.

It got very very heated. And I remember at one point, Franklin looking at her and saying, “I’ve seen the way you’re behaving before. This is how Celeste behaved.”

And I remember feeling like, this weird feeling of like, triumph. Like “Yes! He’s naming it.” Like, she’s the bad one. She’s the one who’s being controlling and unreasonable—because Celeste had been set up as the bogeyman, right? Nobody wanted to be like Celeste. Celeste was the one he left. Celeste who was the one whose rules hurt everybody so much. None of us wanted to be like her, so none of us wanted to make rules, or even set boundaries or ask for limits, because that would be too much like her. Or like, be controlling in any way.

Again, I do not know what she experienced, but had I been in that position and he had said that to me, I would have experienced that as a threat. He was doing that hard, cold, sharp, emotionless, logical—like he was just like, staring at her, and he was hard. And she was melting down, she was dissolving.  She just fell apart.

So they finally went home, and I remember he had been—oh this was another, this was another thing. So the following night was supposed to be our date night. But that night—and again we, I thought we had agreed. I thought this was in writing. The plan that I understood was that they were going to come to dinner, and then he and I were going to spend that night together after she went home.

But when they got there, at some point in the evening, I said, “How is Vera getting home?” And it became clear that she did not realize that he had made plans to spend that night with me, and that he was not in fact going home with her. And of course, they had not talked in advance about logistics for the evening, or how she might get home if he was going to stay with me. So he was going to have to take her home.

So she was again blindsided by that, and I was blindsided by her being blindsided. And so, you know, after this big fight, he went home with her, and he’s like, “I can’t come back. I need to stay with her.”

And then my friend James, who was the one I had promised there would be no poly drama to, said, “You should cancel your date with Franklin and make a date with Vera.”

And I didn’t want to. I felt like Franklin and I got so little time already. I mean, you know, yes, I had just spent two days with him. But before that I hadn’t seen him in a month. But I saw the wisdom of what James was saying, and I decided, “Well, I can change my train so I can stay an extra night, and I’ll spend the night, I’ll get together with Vera.” And then Franklin and I could move our date to the following night. 

So, so I wrote to Vera and I said—and she agreed to that.

So we went out. And it went fine. Spent time together, we got to know each other a little better. He and I had our date the following night. And that was also good. And things seemed to be, I think, fairly uneventful, actually, for a couple months after that.

And—like what was happening, though, was that I was becoming really sensitized to conflict with her. So like even when things were going well—because there had been, by that point, enough situations where I would feel like things were going well and then, boom! they weren’t, and they exploded. That even when things were going well, I was always waiting for them to go wrong. And so I was always on edge around her. I was always anxious around her, I was always feeling like I wasn’t doing the right thing. I just didn’t trust her. You know, I didn’t trust that anything was, like, safe.

I remember Peter—we went back down in March for our friend David’s retirement. Peter said, “OK, so we’re going down. I want to meet with Franklin and Vera at the beginning of this trip. I want us to all sit down together and go over the entire plan for the weekend, so that everybody is on the same page about what is happening.” Cause he didn’t want a repeat of New Year’s Day.

And then when we met, we met at a diner near their house when Peter and I first got to Portland. And she was very defensive at the meeting. She was like, “I don’t understand why, why we’re here. I don’t know why I’ve been asked to come here.” And Peter was like, “I just really want to make sure that everybody—that our expectations are set, and that everybody knows and agrees about what is going to be happening.”

So we went over the plans for the whole weekend. And there was a surprise, which was that two friends of mine had invited me to brunch, and I had invited Franklin to come with me so that they could meet him, and I had not invited Vera to that. 

So she was upset at not being invited, and she was upset that he had agreed to go without her. And then I thought it was unreasonable that she would think that he would not go to brunch without her. And so they ended up going outside and arguing for a while.

But we did, you know, get through the weekend plan. And she messaged later to say, “I now recognize that you were trying to help, and trying to, you know, care for my feelings. And I didn’t understand that. And so thank you for doing that.” So I don’t think, apart from the bit of conflict about the brunch, there was anything bad that happened.

And you know it’s really interesting because I ended up—It was sometime in April, we got together one more time in April. At my mother’s place, we went together to the Procession of the Species, which is a parade that happens in Olympia. And so, you know, she got to spend time with my mother, and we all got to spend time together.

And I don’t actually remember there being any particular conflict on that weekend. And yet it was actually within a month after that that I ended up finally deciding that I, I couldn’t have contact with her anymore. And I don’t even remember what the trigger was. I don’t remember exactly how it went wrong.

But after that I was just like, “I’m done.” I am done trying. I cannot communicate with her. I never know when I’m going to set her off. I never know when my words are going to be twisted against me. Nothing I do is ever good enough.

And at the same time, I was hearing sideways things from people online that were indicating that she was saying elsewhere that I wasn’t trying, that I didn’t want to get to know her, that I was cutting her out. And I was like, “Holy shit. I have been trying so hard!”

And so there was just a point at which—and there wasn’t even a big explosion, it was just like, “I’ve had enough. I can’t do this anymore.” And I told Franklin that I wanted to go zero-sum, and that I didn’t want to have to deal with Vera anymore, and I blocked her on Facebook. And that was it. That was the end of it.

And that was sometime in early, late spring, early summer 2013. And, you know, and it’s funny, even as late as just a couple of months before the end of our relationship, I talked to Franklin about that. I asked him, I was like, “I feel like I tried so hard to connect with her and form a relationship. And nothing just ever worked. And was it enough?”

And he said, “You did more than anyone could rightly have expected of you. And there were some things that happened in the early part of our relationship that were really, really not okay.”

And that was his story before our relationship ended. And I am sure it has completely changed now. And of course he said those things to me in private. I can’t prove that he said them, but that was what he said to me, you know: “You did more than anyone could have fairly expected of you. And a lot of things happened that really weren’t ok.”

So yeah, I felt like I couldn’t continue to survive in a relationship with him if I had to keep pouring energy into that relationship with her, because it just was energy that was never seen, never recognized, never really reciprocated, and then never came back to me in any meaningful way.

Listen on Soundcloud