Magical Mysterious Maybe

‎”Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~ Carl Jung

I’ve been thinking about three little words: Yes, No, and Maybe.

This article on the power of “fuck yes” really got my attention. I think of how many times I’ve had an intoxicated liaison that wasn’t a “FUCK YES!” but more of a, “Well, I don’t have anything else to do…” and how different those experiences have been compared against the rolling crescendo building in my body when I’m with someone whom every cell of my being is yearning for.

noThe “No-Way-Jose”s are always very clear to me, and if I am not interested in someone’s romantic overtures, I tell them so quite plainly and in a straightforward manner. I’m told that the word “No” was one of the first words I ever spoke, right after “Baby”, “Mama” and “Dada”. Apparently, I have always been assertive in communicating my boundaries.

And then- there’s the mysterious Maybe.

A “maybe” can be so confounding. Because we often say maybe when we mean no, or say no when we mean maybe, and hardly ever do we say maybe to really mean that we aren’t sure yet because we don’t have all the information to make an informed decision either way.

Say What You Mean, And Mean What You Say

Several months ago a friend of mine found herself as the metamor of someone I had just started seeing. We already knew we attracted a lot of the same people, so when she told me she was going for brunch with my sweetie, I asked, “Is it a date?”

“No, no” she said emphatically. ” It’s not a date. I don’t think I would date him.”

So you can imagine my surprise when, a week later, the beau in question told me how attracted he was to her and he wanted to date her- and that the feeling was mutual.


I felt a lot of anger towards her. What happened to the “I don’t want to date him”? How did that turn around? And why, as a friend, had she not thought to maybe say a few words to me after their brunch to say that, actually yeah she might want to date him too?

Honestly, if she had said that she might want to date him, or if she had texted me or called me up after their brunch and said “I know I said I wasn’t interested but that was before I got to know him and I’m actually really attracted to him” – I would have been okay with that. Really, I would have.

And for all that this friend kept saying about how much our friendship meant to her, I really had thought I could have expected more from her. I would have thought she would be the person to tell me. This certainly wasn’t something I thought I would hear from the mouth of my lover after some particularly magical and sensual afternoon delight.

I haven’t quite gotten over the shock of this. I still go back to that time in my memory and wonder how things could have played out differently, positively. I know we were both still figuring out this poly thing (heck, I think I am still figuring out), but I keep returning to this situation again and again.

Why did she do what she did? Why didn’t she speak her mind and say what she was thinking and feeling?

I can’t say for sure, though I wonder if it has to do with people pleasing. When we don’t want to ruffle feathers, we are more likely to say what we think other people want to hear, than actually express ourselves from our hearts- even if we know that it may not necessarily cause conflict to do so. Sometimes we just hold back from saying anything at all, stick our heads in the sand and hope that whatever we are feeling that’s incongruent with what we think we’re supposed to be feeling will just go away if we baton down the hatches for long enough.

But it doesn’t. It can fester. It can cause ambiguity that sews discord that in turn breeds distrust. And when you circulate with a social group of poly people who will all, inevitably, at one point or another date everyone else, that kind of discord can be a poison. And it hurts.

Taking responsibility for expressing ourselves

How do we take responsibility for the intentions we bring in to any situation- or relationship?

How do we become aware of how we express ourselves externally? How aware are we of the message we send to the people around us by the way we speak and interact?

Conscious ownership over our actions and the intention with which we move in the world and through life is a form of self-mastery. It is going to take some work. You can’t be complacent. You have to have courage in communication.

Most of all, I think we need to be able to engage in authentic dialogue within if we hope to have authentic expression on the outside.

I believe it’s healthy to question things, to assume nothing, and also to allow yourself to be present to each moment fully. That’s how we connect in with ourselves. You can call it meditation or self examination, or contemplation. It’s not about being detached from past or future, but allowing yourself to be fully You in the moment. And knowing who it is that you are.

Having An Authentic Dialogue with Yourself

It could be argued that being Singleish is a way of avoiding responsibility in relationships. Heck, being poly could be seen as a way of avoiding responsibility. The more on the promiscuous side of the spectrum you sit, the more tempting it is to treat relationships as disposable. I can hold myself guilty of that- of taking things for granted and not having the maturity and wisdom to exercise responsibility for the relationships I’ve been in.

But- as much as poly can potentially be a breeding ground for disposability and avoiding relationship responsibility, I also think it can lead to learning relationship responsibility in a whole new way.

We support one another the best, I think, when we are clear with ourselves in our own journey. When we are proactive in owning our own shit, and astute and self-aware enough to not take on anyone else’s caca. It takes a tremendous dedication to working with one’s self. Me- I like to journal. I enjoy the self-dialogue that grows organically from the stream of consciousness flow that simply seeks to express where I’m at internally, in my relationship to my body, my heart, my mind: in relationship to Me.

I’ve found that when I’m doing that work- regardless of whether or not I feel like I’m actually making progress- I am so much more connected to myself, honest and authentic with myself, and able to be honest and authentic with others far more readily.

I think I have come a long way in how I say- and how I hear- the words No, Yes, and Maybe. I’m working on making sure that when I say them, that I really do mean them, and really do feel them. And gradually, I’m learning to find out what those words mean for other people, and how comfortable they are saying them to me with honesty. Will I ever get it all figured out? Maybe. That’s certainly something I can work towards. I kinda like the ambiguity that comes with a true maybe. It means- the future’s unpredictable, don’t get complacent. If I want it to be a Yes, I’m gonna have to work on myself to make it a Yes. Heck, some of the most rewarding and enjoyable and meaningful experiences of my life have come about because I took the time to explore the Maybe.

As Miranda has reminded me, sitting in the space of Maybe takes a commitment to the moment, to how you are feeling in that moment, if you want to discover whether it’s a No or a Yes. And, since no two moments are ever the same, it also requires a willingness to embrace change.

7 thoughts on “Magical Mysterious Maybe

  1. “Maybe” or any combination of words that could be construed as maybe can give a person some space to make a final decision. Like your friend who said she didn’t want to date your sweetie? I can understand why you were shocked… but perhaps you kinda forgot that people can and do change their minds. When she was talking to you, her words to you read like a maybe to me.

    Yes, no, maybe; all of these words are not always locked in lead and are subject to change at any time and for any reason, even those reasons that may not make sense to us – and they might not because we’re not the ones effecting the changes.

    Yes, one must choose their words carefully and even add a little something to make sure what was said is what was meant, like, saying, “Maybe… I don’t know” to the “Are you gonna date him” question.

    But one must also listen carefully as well…

    • Very true. What bothered me about the incident with that friend was that she used the word no when she meant maybe, and then *didnt communicate* when it changed to a Yes. We totally have permission to change our minds! Just nice to let people know that if it might affect them!

      • Was she supposed to come back and tell you that she wanted to date him? At what point did she change her mind and decide that, yes, she wanted to date him as much as he wanted to date her? Did she make that final decision to date him when they went out? Have you ever said yes or no when your mind was thinking maybe? Have you definitively said any of these words – and then changed your mind – and then not communicated the change right then and there?

        These are questions to ask yourself, of course. People say no when they mean maybe all of the time… and when this happens and you hear the maybe, that’s when you say to yourself, “Uh-huh… sure…” then wait to see what happens next.

        That way, when you find out what happened, you aren’t all that surprised or shocked. And a lot of this also depends on how well you know the person, too. So did you take her at her word when she said no to dating him… or did you have a thought that she would like to date him? You know your sweetie (I assume); could he have changed her mind about dating each other in some way?

  2. Here’s where I have trouble:

    1. It usually takes me meeting and talking to someone a few times before I decide whether I’m actually attracted to them enough to want to tell them I’m interested. If I am interested, I don’t have a problem saying so — I’m used to being the initiator, and that usually works out pretty well for me. Although I’m also fine with taking no for an answer. I don’t tend to nurture secret crushes, they usually leave me feeling crappy.

    So I rarely have an outright “yes!” at first meeting. My yeses tend to develop from neutral to maybe to yes.

    2. If someone expresses interest in me but I’m NOT interested in them, I have trouble giving them a clear rejection. (Yeah, I know — as direct as I tend to be in most situations, I still have trouble with doling out rejection promptly. Social conditioning is a bitch.) I just feel awkward about it, or fear that they’ll ask me to justify why I’m not attracted to them — although probably that wouldn’t really happen, probably they’d just take no for an answer.

    Where #2 really gets me into trouble is that by dodging unwanted attention rather than just saying “not interested” I’ve inadvertently encouraged persistent and sometimes creepy behavior from guys.

    In one recent case, it was a guy who was being outright creepy and invasive — but I was in a social situation, at a party a friend had invited to but I didn’t know anyone else. I didn’t want to just tell the creep to back off, since I thought that might create conflict and embarrass my friend. I just dodged the creep, hoping he’d leave me alone, but he ended up following me around and ruining my night. I would have been better off confronting him clearly and calmly early on.

    In another case, a guy who I had one OKC meet n greet coffee with — and who is part of my local poly community, and who seems like a nice, well-meaning guy — seems pretty attracted to me. I’m not at all attracted to him, but I haven’t wanted to deal with the awkwardness of just telling him “not interested.” Yeah, I know, cowardly. However, even though I’ve been pretty obviously dodging him for a couple of months now, he keeps trying to angle for opportunities to spend time with me, to sit near me at social gatherings, connect to me on social media, etc. He’s not getting the hint and it’s starting to feel creepy. So I need to give him a clear “not interested.”

    …. I’m fine with taking time to get to “yes.” I could work on clarifying my “maybe” process, that might speed things up for me and offer me more opportunities to make connections I’d enjoy. But I definitely need to get over my reticence for saying “no thanks” or “no and back the fuck away from me now” clearly and promptly. Ah well, another fucking learning curve…

  3. To answer the questions about the interactions between this friend and I: we did talk about it later. She had felt reticent to tell me because she feared it would upset me. I had to explain to her that *not* telling me was what upset me more, especially when we had talked about the possibility of us sharing boyfriends, and the need for communication about it. We had, I thought, both agreed to put our friendship first. “Bros before Hoes” as the saying goes.
    If it had been an isolated incident of mis-communications, I think it would have been easier to shake off.

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