On Keeping my Eyes Open

Each time a lover tells me they enjoy staring into each other’s eyes while having sex, I feel like a fraud. Like, I talk a good game about vulnerability, and I feel comfortable being naked or with their hands deep up in me, or even admitting to them I have body image issues. But when it comes to looking into their eyes mid-coitus … I chicken out. I giggle. I close my eyes. I turn away.

***

And any other time, when we’re just cuddling or engaged in a deep conversation, I can stare into their eyes all day.

I understand that we get to know people slowly: one sentence, one touch, one laugh at a time. Each shared moment with a lover is a reassurance that they’re into me. They like what’s going on. I trust (more or less) in the process.

During sex, with my eyes closed, I trust the feel of their body, the sound of their breath, their moans, the feel of their heat against my skin, the pressure of our mouths pressed together. But our eyes meeting, for whatever reason, feels like asking everything at once:

Do you accept all of me? The girl with the messed up hair and the face that gets too red? The scared girl? The girl full of needs? The girl that likes you and imagines future dates? The girl who wants you to feel cared for? The girl who wants to feel cared for in return?

***

Because I so often keep my eyes closed, especially with new partners, I miss out on the most intimate way they could communicate, “You’re beautiful, desired, and cared for.”

I miss out because I’m afraid.

***

A couple of years ago, a really intense and wonderful first date ended with the two of us making out in my car outside their apartment. They pulled away and asked me to look at them. They held my face in their hands, and I held their gaze, afraid but trusting. They looked at me intensely, full of lust, then they pulled me in again for another kiss. I felt wanted. I felt relieved.

The next time I saw them, they told me we’d moved too fast, and that I wanted too much. They decided we should start out as friends and go from there. What I heard was that was too much. My desire was too much.

I asked them about the eye contact we’d shared and what it had meant. They shrugged and said, “Oh I do that with everyone.”

Not only was I too much, but I felt like nothing special.

***

To be vulnerable is always risky. How do you learn to trust without opening your heart up a crack at a time? How do you know who to trust without giving them a chance?

I take more risks by being sexually or romantically intimate with multiple people.

I could just fuck, close-hearted. I could use people for the experience. But that doesn’t interest me at all.

I could be monogamous, building greater trust with just one person. But that’s not my calling.

My calling is to be brave. For whatever reason, I believe I’m supposed to continue exploring the boundaries of polyamorous love.

I have a few loved ones that I feel so accepted by that eye-contact is not an issue, but I’m not done adding people into my love fold. I’m still dating; still exploring.

And I think to be fair to these few people who I’m getting to know, I need to trust them enough to keep my eyes open.

I need to give them a chance to accept me.

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