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-   -   Prying open a partially-open relationship? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=69388)

SkeertAquarian 03-22-2014 12:51 PM

Prying open a partially-open relationship?
 
Hi all, been lurking here and doing lots of reading for a while now. Figured it was time to step up. This is gonna be long! Skip on down to the end if you want the point without all the background.

I've known I was poly for a long time, since I was a teenager (I'm in my 30s now). I've been in several relationship configurations including two m/f/f triads, one where I was primary and another secondary.

I am currently married (2nd marriage) to an awesome man. We have been together for almost seven years and married for three. We live together with my son from first marriage (who husband considers as his own child) and our young daughter. We have our issues like any couple, but we've been through a lot and I think our relationship is about as stable as it can be considering the crazies (us) that are involved in it.

We have been semi-open for most of our relationship. The rules were always simple; girls only, and nothing beyond kissing happens without the other person there. Mostly it has been casual with others, but once or twice we have liked the third enough to discuss bringing her full-on into our relationship. Yes, go ahead and say it, we were unicorn hunting. I'm very aware of the cliche and the issues that go with it. Nevertheless, that's what we were hoping for.
I had never really considered renegotiating those rules until recently. I like girls, he likes girls, I was totally fine with him having feelings for another girl without me feeling threatened, it seemed simple.

But (you knew it was coming!), recently I have been wondering if it would be possible to open the possibility of having another (secondary) male partner. Now, my husband is straight and would get no direct benefit from opening the relationship this way. And yes, I have a specific reason for wondering. A friend that I have known since the beginning of my first marriage (10+ years ago). We have always been attracted to each other but never pursued anything. Recently, however, our feelings for each other have intensified - a lot - and I'm pretty scared. He has stated straight out that he does not want me risking my marriage for him, which I really appreciate (makes me like him even more!), and we both agreed not to make any further steps in a romantic direction. In fact, we've both backed off very close to the point of barely being friends, although of course the knowledge of our feelings is still there.

Since I do not consider leaving my husband or cheating on him to be options, I feel I am left with a choice between two things. 1 - Bury my feelings for my friend and let go of the possibility of there ever being more there OR 2 - Broach the subject with my husband and hope he doesn’t decide to leave me.
On one hand, I feel that my husband totally understands the idea of polyamory, since he has been open to having multiple people in our relationship. On the other hand, however, the addition of another man in any capacity has never, ever been a consideration.

So. Suck it up or take the plunge?

Questions I know will be asked:
- Yes, I want to keep my marriage. I love my husband very much and do not want to leave him.
- Yes, I would be fine with my husband having a secondary relationship that had nothing to do with me.

GalaGirl 03-22-2014 01:35 PM

This is your husband. In theory, one of the closest persons to you. If you cannot ASK things, what kind of closeness are you helping to cultivate? If you keep things from him, what kind of closeness are you helping to cultivate? If he creates a fearful environment where you can't come to him because he is in the habit of having a cow, what kind of closeness is he helping to cultivate?

I suggest you ASK, let him digest, and then you digest whatever the answer might be and then go from there.

"Could you be willing to talk to me about me dating Friend at this time or any other?"


a) "Yes" -- hoooray, then talk about how to go about it more deeply. Take your time -- it's probably a series of conversations.

b) "No" -- bummer, then handle disappointment and move on to letting go of the want to date Friend, since you state you want to remain with husband. At least you asked and now you know.

c) "No" -- bummer, then handle the disappointment and move on to letting go of the want to stay with husband. (I know you aren't into this option, but for sake of completeness, I'll list it.)

d) N/a -- because you give up wanting to ask and don't ask. (I guess you aren't into this option, because why would you post otherwise? But for sake of completeness, I'll list it.)

I'd go with asking what his thoughts are and dealing with the response -- whatever it is.

Galagirl

SchrodingersCat 03-22-2014 03:06 PM

Diddo. There's no harm in asking. If he seriously leaves you just for bringing it up, then you obviously had other problems lurking beneath the surface.

If it's easier, you could start with a hypothetical... "What would you think of opening our relationship more?"

graviton 03-22-2014 03:28 PM

I predict hubby will hold onto his one penis policy. I smell trouble. The first being that only women were "allowed" . Second he must be present for anything beyond kissing. So he is acting out of the fear of other penises AND being left out of play time. Couple that to the swinger style mentality that I believe he approaches nonmonogamy and you have some serious potentials for trouble and hurt feelings. This will be a hard pill for him to swallow and will cause a lot of hard emotions in your marriage. You must decide how important this is to you, is it worth his anger and resentment? The only way to get it is to ask for consent and I guarantee it will not be given. In time he may learn how to handle it with enough love and patience from you and enough DESIRE FROM HIM to want this. If you drag him kicking and screaming to poly he will never give his joyful consent. That is what you will need from him. Any resentment or reluctance will make him feel trapped and bullied. My first suggestion to you is to decide, really look deep to how badly you need this, before approaching him. This will most likely change your relationship forever, even if you don't get his consent and you decide to go back to how things were. He will always look at you differently. Another possible issue is that you already have someone lined up and waiting in the wings. That seems to cause a lot more stress and anxiety in these situations. If you open this door there is a very good chance you may lose this friend in the end due to hostile feelings and ultimatums from your husband. I have been through PRECISELY what you are about to do. I was the friend waiting in the wings and it went badly. Obviously your husband might be different, but I doubt it because he sounds like my ex girlfriend's husband. Good luck.

nycindie 03-22-2014 08:21 PM

Most guys who require a One Penis Policy for their female partners do so because they don't think of another woman as being any kind of a threat. It's totally sexist and degrading in that sense, because it means that to them, F/F relationships aren't really relationships. You couldn't possibly fall in love and want to run away with a chick, right? It's just about diddling each other, and hopefully so he can watch or participate too - 'cause it's all about the fragile male ego! Gimme, gimme. But another man, who possibly has a bigger dick, a bigger salary, a nicer car, who might make you cum harder and scream louder, hoo-boy, you might want to run away with him! So forget about that, sistah!

Your husband obviously has some of these insecurities, and it seems pretty deep ones, too because he does require that he be present whenever you are with someone else. That is so sex-focused, as well as dictator-ish, and speaks of very deep fears and a need to control.

My advice would be to ask him what his reasons for the OPP are, and drill down to the underlying insecurities. Tell him that you've been thinking about what it would be like for each of you to have the freedom to be with whomever you wanted without such strict rules, and see if he would be open to change.

But keep in mind, he's your partner - not your boss. Don't ask permission like a beggar with your hand out hoping for crumbs. Even married people have autonomy, free will, and their own agency. Tell him emphatically what you want, what would make you happy, and that you want him to think about the issues surrounding how you've been operating all this time, and discuss what changes he would be willing to consider.

Inyourendo 03-22-2014 11:55 PM

I recently did this. We were open but I had never found a partner before Sean. So no I have 2 primarypartners and iit's been a bit of an adjustment for nate. I've always had the option of being with men though

We have similar backgrounds. Hes My second marriage and we've been together 5 years.

SchrodingersCat 03-23-2014 08:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 262727)
But keep in mind, he's your partner - not your boss. Don't ask permission like a beggar with your hand out hoping for crumbs. Even married people have autonomy, free will, and their own agency.

This, too. You don't actually have to ask his permission at all. You could choose to handle it from the perspective of "This is what I'm going to do. How can I be most supportive in helping you deal with it?" You can point to the fact that he already is able to go off with other girls, without you, and because you've realised that this is neither fair not consistent with your desires, you're planning to give yourself the same freedom.

In other words, making it clear to him that your sexuality is not his to control may be necessary for him understanding that he doesn't really have the right to tell you whether or not you can have sex with other men.

pulliman 03-24-2014 12:55 AM

Can I object to the pop psychology in this description?

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 262727)
Most guys who require a One Penis Policy for their female partners do so because they don't think of another woman as being any kind of a threat. It's totally sexist and degrading in that sense, because it means that to them, F/F relationships aren't really relationships. You couldn't possibly fall in love and want to run away with a chick, right? It's just about diddling each other, and hopefully so he can watch or participate too - 'cause it's all about the fragile male ego! Gimme, gimme. But another man, who possibly has a bigger dick, a bigger salary, a nicer car, who might make you cum harder and scream louder, hoo-boy, you might want to run away with him! So forget about that, sistah!

What bugs me about it is that it's not nuanced and doesn't match what happens in the real world. I know of at least one situation in my family where the woman fell in love with and ran off with the other woman. I know of at least one counselor in my local small town who specializes (!) in the area of women who, in their 40s, fall for a woman and are trying to figure out whether to stay in their marriage, or leave it to live out the truth of their newly discovered lesbian selves (note both the gay/straight split and the assumed monogamy of that choice). So there's plenty of evidence that F/F relationships really ARE relationships and can be plenty threatening to anyone who cares to be threatened in that situation. My point is that painting the One Penis Policy the way you do is to do exactly what you seem to avoid wanting to do, most of the time: playing a stereotype in order to make a point.

I prefer your own words when you say this:

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 262727)
But keep in mind, he's your partner - not your boss.

If you assume that he's a PERSON, then you're right - he's the partner. Partners work together, and from both ends, they try to figure out what's going on and they listen and they care and they engage and they talk.

I'd hope that those kinds of conversations would be happening, here, and that everyone can learn. It's not easy - it's scary as shit for everyone involved, that's for sure. People have to open up slowly, and it takes time. But trust and patience can get people pretty far, I think, as long as they assume there's a human and not a stereotype on the other end of the conversation.

london 03-24-2014 02:00 AM

We know FF relationships can rival FM ones, especially now gay people can be married and parents. Still, many feel homosexual relationships are inferior, misunderstand what bisexual people feel and aren't worried. That's why its a shock when it does happen

Hmm 03-24-2014 02:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pulliman (Post 262828)
Can I object to the pop psychology in this description?

I definitely agree that real life branches in a lot of directions. I have no doubt, if there's a way for something to go, for someone somewhere at some time, it's happened that way! There is a degree of uncertainty in every situation, and certainly the biggest fears we have may not even match up with the reality or probability of any situation.

I think, to clarify nycindie's intent, she didn't mean the "one-penis policy" happens in the real world necessarily, but to me it is a very accurate representation of the anxiety a lot of men may have. It's a cultural fear, emphasized by media and society, so it makes sense that on a very broad scale, it's pretty one-size-fits-all, mass-produced worry. It at least fits well in line with the OP's situation, although it may be only more or less relevant in that specific case.

I agree with everyone's thoughts that both in this marriage deserve their own agency and autonomy and deserve the right to not need double-standardized permission. Then again, there is a possible risk that the husband won't be able to cope with that kind of change out of his control...which is a risk worth considering, long as you don't stress on it too much :)

SchrodingersCat 03-24-2014 03:04 AM

Pulliman, it sounds like you misunderstood the point. Nyc obviously wasn't saying that ff relationships aren't real or threatening. She said that opp men might see them that way, despite evidence to the contrary. Just like racists still see blacks as less than human, despite the obvious fallacy of that belief. Insecurities rarely agree with reality.

nycindie 03-24-2014 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pulliman (Post 262828)
Can I object to the pop psychology in this description?

There was no "pop psychology" in my post. It was a criticism based on my observations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by pulliman (Post 262828)
I know of at least one situation in my family where the woman fell in love with and ran off with the other woman.

Yes, so? That was my point. It's a completely unrealistic and sexist assumption that only another man can be a threat. A woman can fall in love and leave an established relationship for another woman just as much as she can with a man, so a OPP won't be any insurance against that and doesn't protect the relationship at all. All it does is give the male a false sense of security and control over their female partner. OPPs are offensive and degrading to women.

graviton 03-24-2014 09:15 AM

Being a male last time I checked I can tell you some of the reasons for the OPP that have nothing to do with the fear of her running away with another man.
1. Men are fiercely territorial and consider their women part of the property.
2. It is gross and highly disturbing to think of another man's penis or semen touching his woman. If there is a chance that during lovemaking with that woman I may encounter some leftover semen from the other man and accidentally taste it or touch it then that is incredibly disgusting and might even be gay. You should also consider this reason to be the equivalent of schoolyard cooties.
3. It is less than masculine to allow another man access to your woman and you are a pussy or a cuckold if you allow it to happen. It simply means you didn't beat your chest hard enough or make loud enough noises to scare the other male away.
4. No man wants to be in competition with another man when it comes to penis length or sexual prowess. Regardless of the other woman being better than us in bed that is less scary than another man being better than us.

I'm not saying that any of these reasons are remotely valid or logical but they are what exist in the majority of men. Ultimately they all boil down to pride and have a lot to do with how men are socialized in our society from childhood. Not to mention some of that is just basic animal instinct. Logically I know the one penis policy is not fair but we are trying to fight millions of years of evolution that have made the male of every mammalian species territorial of their women. I can tell you that when I had my one penis policy the fear of her running away with the other guy wasn't even a remote fear for me. It was these other four reasons that held the policy in place.

nycindie 03-24-2014 11:00 AM

I think a lot of your examples corroborate mine and are indicative of the same mindset I was writing about.

Quote:

Originally Posted by graviton (Post 262852)
1. Men are fiercely territorial and consider their women part of the property.

Yep, and society has taught us that. Not only do men think women are their property, but women think they own men, too. Ownership is part of monogamous conditioning. My wife, My husband, don't touch.
Quote:

Originally Posted by graviton (Post 262852)
3. It is less than masculine to allow another man access to your woman and you are a pussy or a cuckold if you allow it to happen. It simply means you didn't beat your chest hard enough or make loud enough noises to scare the other male away.

This is another aspect of what I was saying. Gosh, people are only focusing on one point I made instead of looking at the gestalt of my post. I was talking about another man being threatening while another woman is not, simply because she is a woman (sexist thinking!). I only wrote about "running off" with them as just one example of why it's threatening. It's all about a woman being seen as less valuable and less powerful than a man, including the man's partner, not just any other women she might want to be involved with.

So, yes, if a guy's woman (note ownership) cannot be controlled and another guy gains access to what believes is rightfully his property, he is weak, a cuckold, not the master of his domain, etc. But if his woman wants to get it on with another woman, that's hot - especially if he gets to watch! If you drill down even further, there is an underlying belief that women are just meant to serve men anyway. Ugh.

Quote:

Originally Posted by graviton (Post 262852)
4. No man wants to be in competition with another man when it comes to penis length or sexual prowess. Regardless of the other woman being better than us in bed that is less scary than another man being better than us.

Right. Less scary because even if a man's wife or partner is having the most awesome mind-blowing sex with another woman, better sex than she has with him, it isn't as much of a threat because it's "just" a woman and no competition at all. Nothing to worry about, unless it's a man, because a man, oh wow, that makes it real.

Ultimately, One Penis Policies are used to "protect" the existing relationship because a woman is less threatening than another man is, and that thinking negates a woman's value. If a man's female partner is involved with another woman, that is considered less important, less real, less meaningful, less of a threat, and less of a relationship than what she has with him.

graviton 03-24-2014 11:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nycindie (Post 262854)
Ultimately, One Penis Policies are used to "protect" the existing relationship because a woman is less threatening than another man is, and that thinking negates a woman's value. If a man's female partner is involved with another woman, that is considered less important, less real, less meaningful, less of a threat, and less of a relationship than what she has with him.

I'm not sure I totally agree with that. Maybe some men feel that way. I can speak for myself and my own feelings when my wife had a girlfriend. I agree it felt less threatening but I don't agree that it felt less real less important less meaningful or less of a relationship. Mostly it's less yucky and more sexy and less cooties. I know that sounds immature, and it is, but its how I felt and I'm sure it's how the majority of men feel . I also didn't feel threatened because I was the only breadwinner for our household we have been married for 17 years and we have two children together so I had some security in the relationship due to that. She had more invested in our relationship so I had a lot of security due to that.

Marcus 03-24-2014 12:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by graviton (Post 262857)
Mostly it's less yucky and more sexy and less cooties. I know that sounds immature, and it is, but its how I felt and I'm sure it's how the majority of men feel

No doubt that's how some men rationalize a one penis policy when they are reluctant to recognize what their motivations are. It's pretty natural for people to want to distance themselves from the unwashed emotional masses and to be able to state that they are above the petty motivations that nycindie described.

pulliman 03-24-2014 02:01 PM

I'm sure I misunderstood part of what nycindie wrote, and I am more sure that I wrote the rest of my post inartfully. I meant to be making a case for hearing the humanity behind the OPP, and advocating for listening to whatever may be behind it (if it's even really there). I'm smiling at what graviton wrote - cooties and all. I'm sure that there might be other reasons for it, for other people. Sorry for not writing well, earlier.

SchrodingersCat 03-24-2014 04:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by graviton (Post 262852)
Ultimately they all boil down to pride and have a lot to do with how men are socialized in our society from childhood. Not to mention some of that is just basic animal instinct. Logically I know the one penis policy is not fair but we are trying to fight millions of years of evolution that have made the male of every mammalian species territorial of their women.

Socialized, yes. Animal instinct, no.

Sorry, but the evidence just doesn't support the Standard Model of human sexual evolution. Our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos, are both extremely non-territorial about sex. "Come one, come all." That whole "men own women" thing was invented alongside agriculture and property ownership only in the last few thousand years. All over the world, in the last century, immediate return foraging societies have completely debunked the Standard Model. Across the board, they share sex like they share food and shelter, which is freely.

Loud female vocalization during sex, multiple female orgasms, quick male orgasms, the size of male testicles, the shape of the male penis, the huge number of sperm produced, getting turned on by watching other couples fuck... these all speak to an evolutionary model in which multiple male partners is the norm.

If you'd spent the last several million years owning your women, your balls would be the size of a peanut. You'd only produce a few hundred sperm at a time because they wouldn't expect any competition. Your penis wouldn't have a head that creates suction when you thrust, pulling out the sperm of previous men. I wouldn't scream and moan to notify other men nearby that I'm feeling frisky. You would live in social groups containing one alpha male and a harem of females, or you'd live in a tree with just your wife and kids, 40km from the nearest family.

SkeertAquarian 03-26-2014 07:48 PM

Whoa!
 
I didn't expect to spark a philosophical debate on the fairness of an OPP! lol. Still, quite interesting the different takes.

Thank you all for responding. I really appreciate it. I just thought I'd clear a few things up. I think several of you had the wrong idea about the rules my husband and I have:

nycindie:
"Your husband obviously has some of these insecurities, and it seems pretty deep ones, too because he does require that he be present whenever you are with someone else. That is so sex-focused, as well as dictator-ish, and speaks of very deep fears and a need to control."

SchrodingersCat:
"You can point to the fact that he already is able to go off with other girls, without you, and because you've realised that this is neither fair not consistent with your desires, you're planning to give yourself the same freedom."

Just real quick: He does not currently have the freedom to go off with other girls without me. I would certainly be willing to let him have that freedom if I were granted the same thing, but under current rules it's a "both or nothing". The exception would be a woman we already had established a relationship with, in which case we would both be free to "go off with" her without the other as long as all parties were aware.

Another thing I wanted to mention was in response to this:
graviton:
"Another possible issue is that you already have someone lined up and waiting in the wings. That seems to cause a lot more stress and anxiety in these situations."

If I did decide to approach the subject with my husband, I'm sure it would be in a more abstract way. If he agreed to open our marriage for me to date other men, I would not immediately go seeking Friend. I might not even tell him until my husband and I had explored our feelings more fully. Like I said, Friend does not expect me to act on anything. I imagine he hopes, :-p but he won't be sitting around waiting for me or anything. I'm sure it helps that he is semi-long distance as well.

I have always had trouble expressing my wants and needs, feeling like I'm selfish for wanting more or different. I mean in general, too, not just in relationships. Opening this discussion with my husband would be a HUGE step for me. I am still waffling back and forth between the desire to express my feelings and the fear of doing so. Haven't said anything yet. Still trying to get my head together. :confused:

Marcus 03-26-2014 08:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkeertAquarian (Post 263148)
I have always had trouble expressing my wants and needs, feeling like I'm selfish for wanting more or different. I mean in general, too, not just in relationships. Opening this discussion with my husband would be a HUGE step for me. I am still waffling back and forth between the desire to express my feelings and the fear of doing so. Haven't said anything yet. Still trying to get my head together. :confused:

Conflict resolution is harder for some of us to dive into than others, I get that. The last time I saw my shrink he told me that when I avoid situations which are bothering me I am, in fact, just making it worse. It *seems* like I'm making my life easier by pretending to let things slide but I am just building up resentments (for other people and toward myself). I still suck at addressing issues with people but I'm working on it.

If there is something in your life that you disagree with (this OPP sounds like it is one of those things) then speak up. Life is too short to live it unhappily if all we have to do is speak our minds.

SkeertAquarian 04-23-2014 08:43 PM

Hi again
 
Feel the need to update although there isn't anything to update. Here I am a month later and still haven't said anything. Spent a lot if time examining my emotions and motivations and talking to some friends about everything. Pretty much decided that it's not just a desire for Friend that is pushing me - I really have seen polyamory as a viable lifestyle for me for a long time. So I guess I'm ok with my end of things but still afraid to broach subject.

And that's all.

Amanita 04-24-2014 09:02 AM

What are you afraid will happen if you do broach the subject?

Magdlyn 04-24-2014 01:36 PM

When my ex and I first opened our marriage (after 20 years of monogamy), we were unicorn hunters first, same stupid mistake so many make. We found a woman who seemed interested in being in relationship with both of us, and my husband thought that was the best of both worlds... I got to explore my bisexuality, he got to be with 2 women at once, a fantasy come true. He didn't want me to explore my hetero side though, with any man, oh no!

But the way it came down was, the woman we found was really only interested in him. They fell in love, they declared themselves soul mates. And even though I had made some noises about how his OPP was sexist and hypocritical, he didn't agree with that until SHE told him she also thought it was stupid! Because of course the word of new and shiny chick was more valid than that of his wife of 20 years...:rolleyes:

Cheekybean666 04-25-2014 08:16 AM

Why not ease him into it?
 
Hi SkeertAquarian.

Surely it's worth broaching the subject with him? If this is important to you, I agree with the previous comments that you need to have faith in your relationship and open up with him. See what he says. You'll never know if you don't raise the idea.

Why not try easing your husband into it over a period of time? Perhaps start with finding a couple that would like to play with you both (and make sure the woman will appeal to him). If he can be in the room with you at the time (and enjoying some fun company of his own), perhaps he can get used to the idea of you being with another man. Then, when he's comfortable, you can progress to seeing a man on your own, and perhaps later with dating.

My husband and I are on this journey at the moment. I wanted an open relationship but he wasn't comfortable with the idea of me with another man. First of all I just asked him to read about it and learn more (The Ethical Slut, & Dan Savage). Later, we went to a swingers club and I found a lovely lady for us to play with. Then, we found a couple that wanted to play with us both, and have been developing a relationship with them over time. He's now said he's comfortable with me seeing a man on my own.

My husband loves me and genuinely wants me to have everything I want. It just takes time for him to get used to it and feel comfortable, so I've been giving him that and moving slowly. We've had some great learning experiences along the way - mostly when he got upset about something, we talked about it, and we learned more about ourselves and our relationship. Overall he agrees with me that the whole journey has been immensely worthwhile, strengthening our relationship.

If you love and trust your husband, I'd suggest you go for it, but be gentle with him :) It sounds like you have the patience and love to make this work :)


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