This past week, I spent a couple of days with an um-friend of mine hanging out, talking, fucking, and generally having a good time. I had a lot of fun, but there were moments where I felt distinctly strange, where I felt like I didn’t know how to think about what we were doing – what it was, or what it meant, or what I could expect to happen because of it, or how I could expect to feel because of it.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten used to this feeling, and have even grown to feel a certain affection for it. It’s what happens when I end up in a relationship with someone that works or feels significantly different from any of the relationships I’ve been in before. I wrote about this sensation a while back, when I was experimenting with my first real casual relationship. The discomfort happens because I’m trying to figure out where the new relationship goes in my brain, and I don’t have a space that fits it yet. Trying to fit a square-shaped relationship into round holes in your brain is bound to feel a little funny.
I have more experience with casual relationships now than I did back when I first experienced this sensation, but all relationships are different, and most new relationships require me to carve out a somewhat new space in my brain. I like the mental digging sensation that results from this because it feels so much like learning. I like it because I know after I’m finished making the new space, that my brain will be more interesting than it was before. I won’t just be more comfortable with this new flavor of relationship, I’ll also have new perspectives from which to look on all of the other relationships I’ve been in.
It’s like trying a new kind of food. It’s hard to appreciate really good food until you have had a lot of different kinds of food. The more kinds of food you try, the more fine-tuned and interesting your perspective on all the kinds you’ve had before becomes, because you can look at them from the perspective of that new knowledge. Suddenly, there are presences and absences in everything you’ve tried before that you couldn’t see before, and the experience of all of them is richer for that awareness.
The sensation of unfamiliarity that comes with experimenting with new types of relationships can be uncomfortable at times, but it’s uncomfortable in the same way that not having the answer to an interesting question feels uncomfortable. It’s that kind of discomfort that, with time, I’ve learned to associate with being just on the cusp of discovering new and interesting things about the world. And there’s little that I enjoy more than discovering new and interesting things about the world.