12-31-2010, 09:51 AM
I am a serial monogamist who has often found myself intensely attracted to other parties. Being mono, I haven't acted on my attractions, though I have pushed the limits a couple of times. I finally realized I feel as bad about the emotional wandering than if it were physical, and began discussions with my husband.
We've been a couple for almost seven years, mono the whole time. We are very happy and very in love, with probably a stronger relationship than ever before. Our talks help build closeness, though I don't know that actual action will turn out so well. My husband is philosophically in agreement with an open relationship, but I don't think he's truly poly since he isn't interested in dating relationships with others.
I think his perspective is colored by the fact he doesn't have any women in his life he can envision a relationship with. He isn't really attracted to any of his female friends, and doesn't seem interested in trying to find any to be attracted to. I'm fine with that, but it makes the reality of the situation difficult in that I'm asking him to indulge behavior I don't have to deal with in return, and he can't pit himself in my shoes and see what it feels like to feel non-mono. Again, he's philosophically open, I just don't think he has the non-mono drive I do.
Right now I am very, very attracted to a friend of ours. He shares a lot of common interests with both of us, and a few with me that I don't share with my husband. One of the interests is expensive and time-consuming, and my husband is jealous about the potential of my time being divided as I pursue said interest with someone I have feelings for. It is not an interest my husband can participate in, however, and I'd be pursuing it regardless of feelings. So, that's one concern: not wanting this thing I love to be viewed as taking me away from my husband for another man, rather than for the sake of the activity itself.
There is also the fact that I am more open to the idea of relationships (instead of just outside sexual encounters) than he is, and I'm not sure how to handle that. I don't know if I should even start anything with the friend if it has to bs confined to sex, as I'm afraid that will just leave us both wanting more and causing stress with my husband. I'm not sure if having nothing is better than having only part of what I desire?
My husband thinks it is important to work through his feelings of jealousy and be open to outside relationships, and I believe him. I absolutely adore him Nd hate the idea this can hurt him; however, I also don't think it's right or fair for me to stifle feelings forever in the interest of pretending at being a good mono. I figure if I'm not mono in mind, then I'm not mono and need to own that.
I think my husband's biggest fear is losing me or falling into second place. I understand and sympathize, and don't know the right words to reassure him I'm capable of exploring this without doing that kind of damage. I know that my husband is a fantastic partner, lover, father, and my best friend, and I still struggle with guilt that I'm selfish for not just stuffing away my inclinations and focusing 100% on monogamy. I just know that I am so much more relaxed and open since broaching this with him, and feel that--while it may mean some time division just by the nature of the universe--this really has the potential to make our relationship even better via increased mutual and personal fulfillment.
Anyway, I guess the real questions I have are whether anyone has experience restricting a relationship to physicality when they might wish for more, and whether anyone is happily poly with a happily mono partner? Any associated advice would be great.
01-10-2011, 04:39 PM
Norwester, you sound exactly like my wife. I can empathize with your husband considerably; when she first explained to me that she wanted to seriously pursue a relationship with another man, I was not interested in any other women and did not imagine that I had any prospects of any kind anyway. I struggled with the idea but I could see how much she needed to do this, and I had to start cramming down the fear and accepting that poly is who my wife is. Initially, the increased openness and communication in our marriage convinced me to accept the situation, but I am definitely less naturally poly than my wife, and it still isn't easy to deal sometimes.
Once I had basically accepted it, though, my own frame of mind was different, and I began to look at my own relationships with others differently. I started to realize that I have often held myself back from being fully present and myself when relating to others, in part out of fear that I might act "improperly" or overstep a boundary. I have not fallen in love with anyone else like my wife has, but I have realized that living in a poly relationship is a thing that some people are intrigued by. I haven't really "come out" to many people; for various reasons, it doesn't make sense. But in a fairly short period of time I have discovered that several relationships I had with other women are more nuanced than I had previously thought, and it is interesting to begin to dig in and explore where those relationships can go.
I think it will help your husband if you go out of your way for a while to show as much extra tenderness and care as you can. Try not to be too giddy and excited and filled with NRE in front of him; it can hurt even if you are genuinely happy for your partner. Make sure to spend some serious quality time reconnecting with him as soon as you can after seeing the new partner. And, as long as you are genuine in your intent to keep your husband primary, right now it's important for him to get a lot of reassurance on that. Try as much as you can to show him how much you appreciate being partnered with someone who is courageous enough to love you as you ACTUALLY ARE, rather than as a role that you aren't comfortable playing.
Hopefully he can see and appreciate the change in you as you become more open, accept yourself for who you are, and let go of the guilt. I'm pretty new on here, but I've recently been where your husband is at, and I'm happy to offer any support that I can if he thinks he might benefit from talking to somebody about it. Good luck.
01-10-2011, 07:44 PM
This is a very old post, but if the person who started it is still around and this is still valid... check out all the stuff written by mono/poly people here to see if you can't find an answer to your question.
04-27-2011, 08:12 PM
Well, four months later... I figured I'd update. Bear with me, this is going to be long.
There's a lot of good and a lot of bad to report. I went away with the friend for a weekend, and things turned sexual. The whole concept kind of blew his mind, since he's lived in pretty traditional environments for his whole life. When we got home, my husband talked with him, confirmed that he's okay with it, laid out some boundaries, etc.
Ah, but if it were only that simple. Fuckup the first on my part: I inadvertently chose a bad time to spend the time alone with the friend (I'm just going to call him BF, though it's not exactly that official). DH felt pretty abandoned/neglected, and I could have done more to reassure him while I was away. The trip was originally going to involve a couple of other friends, but they backed out, so it just kind of happened. Not a good start to things, but we worked through it pretty well.
Shortly after this all happened, I also had a few revelations. For one, I realized/fessed up to the fact that I was really attracted to BF on more than a sexual level. I acknowledge this is due at least in part to NRE. However, I also learned a lot about him once our intimacy ratcheted up, and realized he exceeded my expectations about him. I am a generally accepting person but also usually expect people to let me down at some point, to have a critical fault that makes me go "And thaaaaat's why I'd never be with you." Well, that "safety valve" isn't there with him, so my emotions got more involved than I thought they would. I absolutely love my husband deeply, but I feel more "in love" with BF right now. My love for my husband is a mature, comfortable, known love, while my attraction to my BF contains more excitement, newness, and that thrill of getting to know and love somebody. I totally understand why this is upsetting to DH, but I'm also not quite sure how to feel differently... or even if it's possible... or even if I should.
I also realized that there were a lot of things I saw in BF that I USED to see in DH, but that he'd let slip away because of general dissatisfaction with where he's at professionally/depression/etc. This was probably another major fuckup on my part, but I was brutally honest with him about all of these feelings, and told him that I really needed him to work on his self-esteem and self-efficacy because I didn't want to find it so attractive in someone else and know it was lacking in him. I realized that a lot of my happiness in life, which I had attributed to our marriage, was really happiness with myself. That's all well and good, since I do think you should be happy with yourself first and foremost, but all of this led us to a difficult place.
Sometimes DH thinks my relationship with BF is awesome. The sex part turns him on, and he tries to feel compersion for me. They are friends and generally get along fantastically. Oh, BF also became our roommate, largely by DH's suggestion/request, and that has its plusses (I'm not 'ditching' DH to go spend time with BF) and minuses (less privacy for either "couple", more access to BF than DH would like...). So.
When things are good, they're great. When DH is happy, I feel like the happiest, luckiest woman in the world. I love my bizarre little family the way it is. I love how the two of them complement one another (and me). There is a lot of overlap between them, but they also fit like puzzle pieces when it comes to areas of strength/weakness. I think betwixt the two of them, every single characteristic I'd seek in partners is met.
So, the downsides: I kinda suck at this. I moved too fast for DH's sake, and I know it. Once I got the ball rolling I didn't really know how to slow it down, and dragged DH along for the ride. I am trying to keep things straight and level where they are, now, and step back a little bit in the sex department to keep things at a semi-comfortable level for him. DH is very sensitive to the timing and frequency of sex with BF, and hasn't always been able to communicate what the right thing for me to do is. For instance, I thought it would be better to have sex with BF when he was home mid-day and DH wasn't around; however, DH saw that as BF getting me at "my best" while DH and I usually have sex in the evening when we're more tired and ready for bed.
DH is also really not pleased with the emotional connection, and I fear this is the part that will be the downfall of my little dream world, one way or another. I accept responsibility for this, as I had knew he was essentially open to swinging, while I was open to polyamory, and I proceeded with what I want faster than he was ready. Not cool. His brain does not work like my brain. In his mind, people are on ladders, they are ranked, tallies are kept. He thinks there is only room for one person in a primary spot, and he wants me there. He is very worried about being my primary, and that I will love BF (or anyone, for that matter) more than I love him.
I honest-to-dog do not think like that. I have explained the way I view love until I am blue in the face. He is trying to make something scientific of a supremely unscientific thing, and I don't know how to reconcile that. I don't have some sort of love-matrix I lay overtop of a person and figure out how they stack up in columns A-Z. There are things I adore about DH, and things I adore about BF, and a lot of things they have in common, and I think these factors make them both capable of reaching that special place in my life. However, DH absolutely cannot accept the idea of someone being "more," and he cannot comprehend someone being "equal." He doesn't think it's possible, and I think he also sees it as him being bounced from the "top spot" to be brought down to someone else's level, as opposed to that someone being elevated.
BF has been pretty insulated from the impact of this on my relationship with DH. When DH was upset after the first weekend with BF, I told him I wanted to keep it between us, because I had just come off a weekend of insisting to BF that it would all be fine, DH was onboard, etc., and since he was kind of confused/conflicted, I didn't want to land him right in the middle of some drama. To be honest, I am not sure what level of communication it is appropriate to involve him at, since the root issue (whether DH and I can see eye to eye on what we want out of a partner/partners) isn't really about him. I think he would blame himself for causing problems, and I don't want that.
DH and I have been together seven years, next month. We have a young child together. I love him very, very much and he is my best friend. I will acknowledge I am experiencing NRE with BF, but I have a great connection with him and believe I will/can/do love him very much as well. DH and I are very philosophical, thoughtful people, and we place a lot of value on what the other person's ideal world would look like, even if that ideal world can't come to pass in the real world. I don't know if that's a mistake, or not. We have also been trying to find the line between control-demands and condition-demands; neither of us claims ownership of the other, but we acknowledge there are certain needs that must be met as conditions of the continuation of our relationship.
For him, it seems the chief demand is that he be my one and only "primary." I completely understand not wanting to be a clear secondary. However, I just don't know how to reconcile his need with the fact that my head and heart don't look at people with the kind of hierarchy he wants to be a part of.
Anyway, I don't really have any questions, though thoughts would be welcome. I am mostly just trying to organize my own thoughts and get them out there to folks who can at least kind of understand. We are almost 100% closeted about this within our social circles.