“If I had to use one word to describe you, it’s ‘catalyst’ …” said the friend-zoned, brilliant, lovely, blue-eyed. blonde, former model in her late 20s, sitting across the table from me, yesterday evening, about 14 hours ago. She was buying me dinner at an elegant bistro in downtown Reno.
Two hours prior, she was dancing solo — joyously sashaying, basically — through a gallery at the Nevada art museum, with a museum employee looking on with a sheepish, happy smile, and me trying to contrast this with the earnest, sad girl who suffered from depression when I met her, approximately a year ago. With many detours, this essay celebrates her journey but it also explains polyamory.
She and I are each infatuated with a different girl, respectively. For each of us, that other girl is not a viable option currently, so we decided we’d dress up as sexily as if we were on a date with the girl we’re each respectively in love with, and at least go have a fun time together. We did, and we indeed had fun.
Cerebral Shy Girls
My friend is a cerebral shy girl. So am I. So is the girl with whom I’m in love. So is almost every girlfriend I’ve ever had. So is my current long-distance girlfriend whom I haven’t seen in more than 18 months yet we also love each other, in our own way. Yes, I’m polyamorous — I love my girlfriend and I’m also in love with another girl. Being polyamorous is a large part of today’s story. So is the concept of being a cerebral shy girl.
I’ve been trying to understand cerebral shy girls ever since I realized that we seem to be a structurally different sub-category of being, with our own highly unusual and complex way of thinking that’s so deeply cerebral that it’s fundamentally different from typical people. Some of us have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Perhaps many or most of us are on the spectrum. I suspect that I am, too.
We’re told that we overthink things — and by typical standards, we certainly do. We’re not just different cerebrally, but also emotionally. Even at a primary level, we feel with an intensity that seems unique in all the world, but then at a secondary level, we also feel strongly about how we feel, and often there’s a third level, which is how we feel about the first and second level.
An example might be when a cerebral shy girl is having a sexual experience, such as me, last time when I was being pleasured by a nice gentleman. My mind was all over the place. I was thinking of the girl I’m in love with, of former lovers, of so many things … and I introspectively realized I was doing all that, and I felt a sense of joy and satisfaction at having such a complex mind. It could have been very different too. The guy I’m with might have asked what I was thinking of, insisted I mentally focus on him, or I might have felt guilty about not doing so and then started wondering what was wrong with me for not being able to just superficially enjoy the sensations.
Cerebral shy girls tend to have a layer-cake of mental complexity that, by my standards, is delightful but by typical standards is abhorrent. Guys who hate complexity in girls consider us the worst type of girl — the personification of someone who is more trouble than she’s worth, and after screwing us once or twice, the guy is emotionally gone and, if it’s viable, then also geographically gone soon after.
A cerebral shy girl tends to have a hard time connecting emotionally with anyone except another cerebral girl. Until then, we feel desperately lonely and misunderstood, hating ourselves for being unable to connect with typical people, or even with cerebral guys.
For a cerebral shy girl, the shyness is a consequence of feeling unwilling to experience failure yet again when trying to socially (and better yet, emotionally) connect. That reluctance, of course, isolates us more yet, and it’s a downward spiral. The problem starts early on — early teenage years, I conclude — and it tends to get worse from then on.
I’m new at approaching this methodically though in an unstructured way, I’ve been dating and enjoying the company of cerebral shy girls ever since I was 19. In each case I can think of, it’s safe to say that the romance was life-changing for the other girl because she had finally found a kindred spirit after a lonely life, as almost always was the case for the cerebral shy girls with whom I was in romances.
Did these romances last? Only one has, so far. Percentage-wise, that’s a very low amount. Broadly, romances with me have most typically ended because the girl is bi and wanted to see what a socially respectable, official, monogamous dynamic with a guy would be like, or because of money issues, or because I’m poly-amorous, or because I was transitioning as a trans girl and was myself depressed and overwhelmed to the point where I wasn’t a good-enough partner, or because I initiated the break-up because I classified the other girl as being abusive toward me.
My long-distance girlfriend and I have had been together, so to speak, for half a dozen years. In person, we’ve had amazing adventures together, and magnificently sexy times. In person or long-distance, we’ve also been there for each other in very difficult times. She’s currently having a difficult time and I’m being supportive to her in a way that, her feedback suggests, is approximately perfect.
Things with her started well, and they continued well. When she and I first discussed the viability of a relationship dynamic, I was clear it’d be a long-distance dynamic, and I was also firmly told that she had no patience for someone who didn’t accept her being polyamorous nor someone who wasn’t also personally polyamorous. At the time I already had one other girlfriend, so it all fitted and worked beautifully. We each got our emotional and sexual needs met well enough without any one of us feeling obligated had to be absolutely everything to our girlfriend. And of course, we all were aware of each other, got along well, and had met in person. I suppose cheating and polyamory can be compatible but I avoid that — I choose to be open about it.
That includes the girl I’m in love with. I wasn’t aware of her until my long-distance girlfriend brought her to my attention. She’s lovely and talented but most of my friends are lovely bi or lesbian current or former models, dancers or sex workers — so it takes much more than beauty and talent to pivotally interest me. I didn’t give her much thought until I saw a videotape of how she conducted herself in an interview, and then I began to focus on her intensely, and it snowballed from there, I’ve been focused on her ever since. At some point, my long-distance girlfriend and I had a long and positive conversation about that, and she is happy for me, and encouraging me. I love that.
How does this all tie in together? Well, a year ago, my lovely dinner companion of last night considered herself monogamous, straight, in a committed-for-life relationship with a guy, and mentally unwell. She felt hopelessly naive in a cruel and dishonest world. She felt rudderless as to a life direction, and she suffered from debilitating depression. Seeing counselors helped only to some extent. She traveled far and wide to cheer herself up, and she tried hard to be supportive of her guy, but deep down she remained fundamentally depressed.
Several of my friend are counselors, and I’m not — but I’ve discussed depression with my counselor friends to the point where I concluded that, while it’s a miserable downward spiral. its root cause tends to be a brain-chemical issue, and/or that the person is really is in so unhappy a life situation that being depressed is actually the properly-calibrated emotional reaction thereto. As it turns out, the latter mostly was the cause of my friend’s depression, though once a month the brain-chemical issue also contributed significantly.
I classified her as a cerebral shy girl within seconds of meeting her. She had the dazzling, disarming smile that I’ve come to recognize as the hallmark of someone who has found that to be a useful social construct. My own smile is also in that category and it gets me many compliments, and to my credit I’ve managed to not respond with how I feel then: “thanks, but it’s just a coping mechanism, really.”
As our friendship progressed, we talked for hours. Our first friend-zone date started in the early evening, included a trip to a bookstore and buying some books and then sitting in a parked car, overlooking the city lights, and talking until almost 2 a.m.
As we continued to interact, I focused on her, solo. I never met the guy in her life nor did I want to. I only socialized with her, solo. I hypothesized that she needed private cultural space, one social area where she could be herself, without having to bring her dynamic with the guy along into that intellectual and emotional space.
The conversations, emails and text messages became more and more intense and introspective. Her mood started becoming more and more positive.
At some point, she announced she finally understands and likes her own way of thinking, accepting it as opposed to resenting herself. She announced she had chosen to pursue a particular profession and had enrolled for a university degree toward that. She announced that she realized she’s not straight. She told the guy in her life they should see other people. She started focusing on a girl romantically, and she read books that essentially focused on the importance of joy and love. Then, she told the guy in her life they should see only other people. Much as she is in love with one particular girl, she’s also emotionally attracted to two separate guys, and somehow she’s openly managing all that, and she’s the most joyous person I’ve seen in a long time.
I’m still the only other cerebral shy girl she knows, but she understand herself as such now and she knows there’s nothing wrong with her. She’s just different from typical people — and in her and my opinion, better too.
She loves being free to love and explore girls, and other people — emotionally, sexually — ideally both in combination.
Sitting on a park bench at 11 p.m. last night, she expounded on the joy of life, and how free she feels, and how being able to guiltlessly love and enjoy more than one person is a large part of that. We hugged often, and chatted happily for hours. Our friend-zone date started at 5:30 p.m. and went until midnight but it felt like only two hours had gone by.
The Limits of Polyamory
So, why, since she and I are each polyamorous, and we like girls, and she’s wonderful, and she seems to be such a good fit for me in many ways, and vice versa, plus we already like each other and love each other as friends … why don’t we become a romantic item?
Because polyamory doesn’t imply an infinite capacity. For her, she’s enjoying the abundance of variety and opportunity for joy and love, all around her. Maybe she might value me in her life as such, but I tend to be an overpowering presence as such and I tend to crowd out others so that doesn’t fit her kid-in-a-candy-store mindset.
“She doesn’t fit” basically describes my unwillingness too. I already have a long-distance girlfriend and I’m already intensely focused on another cerebral shy girl, and I’m enjoying that, and I intend to continue. That’s as much as I choose to take on. Emotionally, there just isn’t room for one more intense dynamic. If I focused on someone else like that, it’d distract me from what I’d rather do: focus mainly on the girl with whom I’m in love.
So it turns out that being polyamorous doesn’t imply infinite capacity. It just means that the number of people on whom we can focus romantically isn’t limited to “1.”