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Recently a series of events with N (a woman I’ve been seeing for about two months) and a a couple of others with the Doctor together left me feeling small and miserable for quite some time. I’ve worked through it now, and in the process, I think I’ve figured out a deep trigger I have.

It’s about feeling important. And people make me feel important when they give me their time.

You’ve probably heard of the five love languages. There’s a little online quiz you can take to figure out your love language(s), and I took the “singles” one because it seemed to make the mist sense for a poly person. I thought my love language would be touch, but it was, far and away above any other, quality time. The description:

In Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

That pretty much sums it up.

I feel important when people put me first—but only sometimes. When they make me a priority—but only sometimes My partners all have other partners, and are busy people in general, and so am I, and I get the need to balance time among the people in your life and the things you want to do. I don’t want to come first all of the time, and I know how to share. But sometimes I need someone to say, “hey, that other thing I could do tonight? Not as important as you. I haven’t seen you in a month; let’s hang out.”

One of the ways—perhaps the primary way—my insecurity manifests is through a persistent little voice in my head that keeps telling me I’m not important to the people I care about.

For example: I don’t typically struggle with a lot of jealousy with regard to A, but when I do, it’s usually triggered because A forgets or changes a plan he’s already made with me in order to be with one of his other parters. This very rarely happens, and it’s always unintentional, or a misunderstanding, but something about this sets off my insecurities in a huge, dramatic and disproportionate way, and that’s because of that little voice saying, “see, you’re not important.”

With A, I know I’m important. So battling the voice has just been a matter of identifying the trigger, telling him what I need in terms of time and commitment to plans, and reassuring myself with the long history of our relationship. It’s the more ambiguous cases—the new relationships (like N), or the uncertain ones (like the Doctor)—where I get into the most trouble, because I don’t know how to read the situation, and my insecurity can really fuck things up. Because sometimes the voice is right. Sometimes someone breaks plans with you, or doesn’t make you a priority (even sometimes), because you really don’t matter to them, and never will. So when I hear that little “see, you’re not important” voice, I don’t know if I should trust it: if I’m getting a genuine “they’re not that into you” message, or I’m just being needy and insecure.

In the fuzzy cases (and that seems like most of them), I don’t know how to tell the difference between a genuine signal and my own confirmation bias.

I don’t know the answer to this. Anyone who does, please feel free to share.

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