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-   -   Not supposed to compare ourselves, but... (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2169)

Vexxed 02-19-2010 06:39 PM

Not supposed to compare ourselves, but...
So, we are not supposed to compare ourselves to our metamours. How in the world do you people go about holding to that ideal. Honestly, that's what I view that concept as just an ideal. I know that it is helpful not to compare ourselves to our metamours, but I think that in reality we do compare ourselves.

I'm in a relationship with a married woman. I'm partner #3. Her husband I'd consider #1, and her other boyfriend #2 (for the sake of explaining, and they've been together longer). If I compare myself to her husband I realize that I fall short in a couple of areas, but there is still balance, because I have qualities that he does not.

Now, boyfriend #2 appears to be supperior to me in many ways, and I can't find balance in my reasoning. Also, I don't care if her husband is superior to me in some ways because she is married to him, and I'm totally fine with her being married to an excellent guy. It is hard for me to deal with my perspective that she has more fun with boyfriend #2 than she does with me though. That causes me to feel a great amount of anxiety on their date nights, but except for drinking one night, I have contained myself and done nothing negative.

I know that she compares us because she has told me that I may exceed her past/other lovers in one particular area. She meant it as a compliment, and I did take it as one. I also realize that her other lovers likely exceed me in other ways, with some of them being quite obvious and unquestionable.

I do feel inferior to boyfriend #2. I don't have enough good qualities for me to see some balanced benefits. I can't see balance in this comparison. Overall, this guy has many more qualities that the female population as a whole seek to find in a male partner. I only have a couple of those qualities. I only exceed him in being slightly more athletic, and I'm 6 years younger than her other lovers. I feel like the youthful trophy boyfriend to hold onto at poly functions, but without much else to offer. I'm short, he is tall. I'm a laborer, he has an office job. I have an associates. He has a masters (she has an even higher education). He owns a home, and I'm one of his tenants. He is has more of a sense of humor. He is articulate and has a big vocabulary, while I struggle with being articulate and having "enough" to say.

It is often said that your metamours are less intimidating after you get to know them. That has not been true for me. I did not feel inferior to this guy when he was just an acquaintance. Now that I live in the same home with him (she does not live here though), I've become good friends with him. Even more complex and crazy is that there is potential for him and I to become sexually involved with each other. Ok, that bit of info could make this even murkier, but I'm attracted to men that are strong where I am weak, particularly concerning height, and assertiveness.

So, since this may be something that can't be "figured out", how do you go about not comparing yourself to your metamours? I don't think that it is totally possible. I think that poly people just deal with it, and they are good at hiding some of their reactions to comparing themselves.

She is a very highly educated in the field of psychology. Nevertheless, I noticed that even she compared herself to another woman that I've been interested in. After meeting the "other woman", it slightly influenced the way she dressed on our next date. I wouldn't have noticed, but she made comments that supported my theory that she compared herself and attempted to look slightly more like the other woman (whom I'm only friends with). It made me feel good to see that she is human too, no matter how well educated she is on matters of the mind.

So, I think we all make comparisons, but we force ourselves to handle it as smoothly as possible, and to not rock the boat. What do you think?

redsirenn 02-19-2010 06:45 PM

I totally agree. We do compare to others. I don't necessarily think it is bad either. I get inspired by others, learned to put on makeup from others, how to act in tough situations from others, etc.

I think what is important is to hold on to your own confidence as your own person. Maybe you think you could be better? GREAT! If you didn't, then that would be quite boring, and leave little room for personal growth.

Acknowledging this is good. However, one of the hardest things is to believe your partner when they say you are special.

1) find a partner who you trust, and 2) trust that partner.

Finally, trust yourself.

Ceoli 02-19-2010 06:48 PM

My new partner has some interesting thoughts on comparing lovers in this post. He makes a neat case for why it's a good thing to compare differences.

From the article:

And yes, I notice these differences. Be a bit bleedin' impossible not to. Hell, I cherish these differences, because every one of them is what makes each of the people who has blessed me by being part of my life unique.

And isn't that the point?

When you compare your lovers, when you notice the similarities and differences between your lovers--this is a necessary and inevitable consequence of seeing your lovers. Not as faceless, interchangeable units, but as human beings. You can not know a person, not in any meaningful way, without noticing those things that make that person unique.

It's not about comparing them on a stepladder to figure out which one is "best"--lessee, Gina gets four points for loving dogs, 'cause dogs are cool; joreth gets six bonus points because she hates the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and I don't like it either1--and the one with the most points wins. 'Cause, y'know, the one with the most points is the best one.

Instead, it's about seeing each of my partners for exactly who she is. When you do that, you see that each person is someone who adds value to your life--value that any other person can't.

And that, my friends, is awesome.

Vexxed 02-19-2010 07:11 PM

Writing all of this down is giving me some relief. I'm going to really need the relief on their next date night though. I've been in this arrangement for 5 months now, and for the last 2 weeks I've felt more anxiety than before on their date nights.

Thanks for the quick replies. I am relieved that some other poly people agree that we do compare ourselves to our metamours.

He's taller than me and has a really nice smooth complexion. I'm short and have mild acne scars. It makes me feel inferior to him concerning my relationship with her, but it also is something that I'm attracte to about him, since I'm not exactly striaght.

Being shorter is not as big of a deal in my life anymore actually, but I do find it to be an attractive quality that he has. I mostly feel bad about being 5' 7" when new women overlook me. Since I'm already with her, and her husband appears to be 5' 6". My being shorter isn't all that bad. It is just the icing on the cake if I'm baking a cake about feeling inferior.

What gives me anxiety is that she is very well educated, and so is he. He has a sense of humor and seems to go on more exciting "party-like" dates. He can really speak well and captivate her. I feel like I fumble around. So, my being shorter is small chips compared to these last things that I've mentioned.

Yes, I have used all of this as motivation for self-improvement. I'm conciously working on my conversation skills. I've been owning audio CD's on the subject since long before I met her. I'm also going to be concious about having "fun" on dates with her.

I'm also working out again, as I've noted that she likes to admire my shape. She has complimented me. She also complimented me on being romantic, and I've been doing well at that since I realized early on that I had many creative things to do for her. Finally, my room, or my things appear neat and organized. I noticed that she kept her home that way, so I knew that if I did so too, that she would feel comfortable. I can be neat, or have an organized mess. I've lived both ways, so I chose to keep my space similar to how she would keep her space. Boyfriend #2 has very much clutter, and that stands out to her.

I pointed out those last things that she likes about me because I feel that it is important to this debate to admit that there are a couple of things that I do feel confident about. So, here's more observations (with some repeats). ---I can be clean, I can be fit, and I can be creatively romantic. I can't be funny, articulate, well educated, tall, etc.. (Ok, maybe I can make her laugh once in a while). I ride bicycles with her and her hubby. He does not. I ride horses extremely well, so does she, but her other partners either don't ride, or don't ride well.

Honestly, having less of an education, and being less articulate than her, or boyfriend #2, is a tough one for me. I may enroll my a** into a public speaking class, or something similar.

SchrodingersCat 02-19-2010 08:14 PM

I also don't think this is unique to polyamory. Monogamous people compare current lovers to previous ones. Sometimes you feel threatened when you meet an ex who is brilliant, handsome, charming... and you wonder "why did she leave him? What if she goes back with him?" The nice thing about poly is, they're still seeing that person and despite whatever he's got going for him, she still decided she wants to see you too. So you remove that threat of "maybe she'll leave me to get back with him."

Vexxed 02-19-2010 08:29 PM

SchrodingersCat, I agree that mono people face the same issue or comparing to other lovers that their current partner has had. I also agree that the idea that she "is still with me" is helpful. Also, she started dating me after already dating him, so I must have been enticing in some way. That concept does help me a little.

Still, I'm not cured. For example, I believe that feeling disapointed about being less articulate is justifiable. Also, feeling insecure about being less entertaining is justifiable in my eyes.

ourquad 02-19-2010 09:06 PM

Vexxed, it's true, I do notice and I'm aware of the differences and similarities of my partners. How can I not if I've truly gotten to know them?

The difference I'm seeing for myself is that I revel in the differences. I have no desire for my boyfriend to be exactly like my husband. I enjoy the differences...probably more than I enjoy their similarities.

I choose to be with both. Because of who they are. Period. They each add something special to my life.

GroundedSpirit 02-19-2010 10:21 PM

Hi Vexxed,

yea - and as many others I see have already posted - it's natural to 'compare'.
The key is to understand the difference between 'compare' and 'compete' maybe ?
Comparing let's us do a little self analysis at times and even point out areas me may discover we've been slacking in. Not a bad thing. And like someone said - it also allows us to see good qualities in others and just have an appreciation of them.
But letting that get carried away and becoming a 'competition' is where it can turn to negative.

Compare away :)

And that was funny about your GF. You can probably have some fun with that.


Vexxed 02-20-2010 02:20 AM


Originally Posted by GroundedSpirit (Post 22574)
Hi Vexxed,

And that was funny about your GF. You can probably have some fun with that.


What's that GS? Do you mean how she dressed more like the other girl that I introduced her to, so therefore she was "trying" rather than just being herself?

For example, lets say that he is more attractive than me in 8 ways, and I'm only more attractive than him in 3 ways. It is really tough to deal with. I'm not literally counting, but that's how I feel.

Now, if he and I were different and attractive each in 8 or so different ways. That would be much more easy to deal with. Even with differences, there would be balance.

On the other hand, I feel like I have balanced differences with her husband. I feel no anxiety when she is with him, which is very important because she is with him more often than she is with either of us.

I feel emotional pain, but it is still worth it to me.

Seasnail 02-20-2010 02:28 AM


Originally Posted by Vexxed (Post 22558)
What gives me anxiety is that she is very well educated, and so is he. He has a sense of humor and seems to go on more exciting "party-like" dates. He can really speak well and captivate her. I feel like I fumble around. So, my being shorter is small chips compared to these last things that I've mentioned.

I for one LIKE and even LOOK FORWARD TO having a regular date with my BF during which we lie around watching movies at home, turn in early, and lie around in bed chatting the next morning. I go on "party-like" dates with my HB, but I don't always enjoy them...

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