New to Poly. Problems with how to start?
A few months ago my boyfriend of 2 years expressed interest in having an open relationship. While I am open to that possibility, I'm definitely not as interested in it as he is. He is currently talking to/dating two women, nothing physical, but he flirts a lot with one of them. The reason nothing physical has happened yet is because I'm not comfortable with it. My idea was that we would introduce new things in small steps, and then see how I felt after each step, as opposed to just jumping straight into sexual relationships. For example, first dating, then flirting, then cuddling without sexual contact, then introduce some sexual contact, etc.
My boyfriend is moving much faster in this process than I am and is starting to pressure me more than I feel comfortable with. I can't help how I feel, and I don't think I can handle him moving into sexual relationships right now. The timing is just bad for me because of other things in life I'm trying to deal with, plus I just don't have any interest in dating other people myself right now. Because of this it's really hard for me to be interested in pursuing a poly relationship. The only reason I am open to it now is because I know how much it would mean for him to have other close relationships. He is reading The Ethical Slut and I haven't had a chance to read it yet. He feels, as what is apparently advised in the book, that I just need to go through the feelings (which for me would be confusion and pain) resulting from him being close and sexual with other woman. And then process and deal with those feelings, I guess by communicating with him about them.
I don't know. This seems weird. I mean, yeah, I can understand that, I guess, if someone was mentally and emotionally PREPARED to go through that. But I'm just not ready! There's nothing sexual he wants to pursue right now, but he is trying to get me to commit NOW for a trip he and I are taking in January. The woman he flirts with will be in that city as well and he wants me to say it's ok for him to stay an extra night or two just with her. The problem is that I don't know how I will feel by then! It might still be too soon.
So, I think he is pressuring me too much, is not being patient enough, etc. But he thinks that *I* am the one not being understanding of how important this is to him. I guess he thinks that if I really knew how much being poly meant to him then I would move faster with this process. But, like I said before, I'm doing the best I know how and I can't help how I feel!
Any insight, advice on this??? I mean, how do some couples handle opening up to poly relationships when one partner isn't as into it as the other?? Thanks.
Up on my soap box I go!
If you are going to read letirature to inform you and prepare you for a life with a polyamorous partner (especially if you ar unsure if you are poly) I highly suggest you pick up Deborah Anapol's - Love without Limits http://www.lovewithoutlimits.com/books.html
The Ethical slut reads like an enabling book as opposed to an informative book in my humble opinion. I'm pretty mono and Deborah's book was much more clear, sensitive and less sexually driven which allowed me to focus on the content of the message and what poly is about. The Ethical Slut was like holding a handful of anthrax :(
Peace and Love
Go to lovemore.com
Read through it.
There is a LOT of helpful info in there.
Also-read everything you can on here.
Communication IS key.
Dealing with your emotions IS necessary.
You have a right to FEEL anything-but you do not have the right to ACT on those emotions NECESSARILY.
It's imperative to understand that you MUST look at your emotions in order to identify if they are TRULY reasonable or not before you choose a course of action.
Saying "we'll work on it" means that you need to be ACTIVELY pursuing the solution-not waffling (not saying you are, just bringing it up) or putting it off.
It sounds like he's pushing too hard and that you are waffling (just what it sounds like). Go read-it will help A LOT if you do.
Yeah, waffling would be accurate, since I'm not even sure I want this! :)
Update: Taking a break
So, just an update on my situation. My boyfriend and I had a talk today and I decided that I'm going to let him free to do what he wants, but that I'm going to take a break from the relationship. This is not what he prefers, although he can understand why I would do this.
The reason for the break is because I cannot handle being emotionally and physically intimate with him while he is being emotionally and physically intimate with other women. So I am just going to focus on myself, without having the pressure of being in a relationship, and assess how I feel about him being free to have these other intimate relationships. We both understand that it might eventually break us up for good, if it turns out I can't handle it at all, but I am keeping an open mind that maybe things will turn out in ways that I might not imagine.
I'll try to read up on polyamory, including the Love Without Limits. The book Opening Up seems good too and we might get that too.
Thanks for the two of you who responded. I thought maybe more people would share similar experiences and how they got through them, but I guess those people are looking at other categories in this forum. :)
IMO, I see being intimate (whether it is kissing, intimate conversations or sex) as things that progress along a continuum and it is very difficult to stop at one specific point, as in "okay dear, I'm going out with Angela tonight. I will share intimate moments with her and hold hands but not kiss or feel emotionally attached to her beyond level 3." Yes, we can dissect physical intimacy and even emotional intimacy to some extent, but really it is all part of a fluid process.
If you like, check out my thread: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1020
which illustrates my less than honorable way of discovering polyamory. The point is that no matter what I did or did not do with Maia, I still felt the same way about her. It didn't matter to Leto if I had slept with her or not, I had in her eyes betrayed our love because it was only supposed to be for us. I don't know if had I not kissed Maia, would Leto have still felt the same? I think she would have because rather than hearing me say "I love both of you." she was hearing "I don't love you that much because there is room in my heart for someone else." It is the difference between the mono and poly paradigms and language.
So your b/f isn't having sex w/ anyone else but he's flirting with someone. And he might want to have sex w/ her. Boy does this sound familiar. (me) I actually had a some really great dates/experiences while with my last g/f because she was having trouble with me being poly so I was trying to move slow (but also, not slow enough for her) and I was not having sex which was sort of new for me. When I was monogamous and single, I would typically jump into bed with a new partner within the first week, if not the first night! Having a partner already made me more cautious, slow and careful.. Not just because of her recaltriance, but also because becoming sexual and advancing to that level of intimacy was a bigger responsibility. Not just taking care of myself anymore, but thinking of my partner as well. Normally being a "dive into everything head first" sort of person this was a new and exciting approach for me.
The story didn't have a fairy tale ending however. My g/f ended up breaking up w/ me a couple weeks ago. No need for sympathy however, I think both of us are wonderful and resilient humans who will take the best from our experience and move forward. Maybe our paths will intermingle in the future? Her handle is Nyx if you want to check out the saga from her side as it is somewhat more akin to yours, I imagine.
As for your situation, I did not read but somewhat agree with the sentiments from the Ethical Slut. Of course, I'm poly and not very jealous, but I think that having your partner have sex with someone else isn't so bad. As long as your health is not at risk (protection, STI testing and disclosure, &c.) the biggest things are fear, IMO.
Fear that she will be a better lover or turn him on more. Fear that you will no longer turn him on. Fear that for that reason or for other reasons they will link up and leave you "out in the cold". That's monogamy. And that might very well be what happens. It's about trust. It's about knowing your b/f, and speculating what you can trust him to be like. Trusting yourself, knowing how you would feel if he DID leave.
My only issue with my g/f dating other men was all the men she found were monogamous and if they grew to like her most likely they would try to lead her away from her relationship with me. It wasn't really a big issue, because I trusted her to do what would make her most content. If that meant leaving me, then so be it. I might sound magnanimous there, but really I'm not. I'm just looking out for my own happiness and I couldn't be happy knowing she was miserable with me. That's part of why we're not together now; she gave many indications that remaining with me would make her miserable.
Sorry I'm so long winded. I could write a book.
What you don't realize in the lack of response is that we have heard this before and it takes time to conjure up an opinion. You might want to do a lot more reading on here before jumping to any conclusions that no one is interested in responding. Besides your crazy life is just words to us. We have our own shit going on and if anyone replies at all you should be thinking of it as a gift not a right.
Having said that I think your boyfriend has NRE for poly. He needs to look at that. It sounds like he hasn't really met any of the women he has been flirting with. Take it from me honey, there is a big diffference between on line and real life. VERY different! I think it is totally unacceptable to ask to stay over at someones house at the end of your holiday. Met all three of you maybe but not stay over. He may find her repulsive! Then what! I did that once and had to pretend I was sick and fly home. A nightmare.
I'm appalled that he isn't fighting for you! Good ridence if you ask me!
Legion, no need to apologize for the long reply! I actually appreciated it. :) Maybe you *should* write a book!
I read your other post as well and think your story is very interesting. I think it helps to hear other people's stories and have something newbies can try to relate to.
I don't feel like I am *that* jealous either, especially since my boyfriend and I have such a deep sense of trust and communication with each other. Just this morning he was telling me about someone who responded to his online ad and I was nonchalantly giving him advice about her response to him. I just don't know at what level I can maintain this non-jealousy, and since I'm not the one interested in initiating a poly lifestyle, I don't have much impetus to work on it.
I often wonder if I too could participate in the poly lifestyle, and that it just happens that my boyfriend is making this transition before me. I'm not sure though. The timing makes it difficult.
I have noticed that most if not all the people on this "New to Polyamory" category are those who have initiated the poly lifestlyle for themselves. I can try to look harder, but haven't seen anyone who is trying to adjust to being poly because their partner wanted it, or to put in somewhat harsher terms, because their partner "dragged them into it". :) I say that tongue in cheek by the way, and also because I can't really think of any other words to put it in.
So maybe people like me, the partners of poly-curious people, are rare to initiate this type of dialogue in the first place? Anyway, just thinking out loud now.
Thanks again. :)
I do REALLY appreciate all the helpful responses I received so far.
My boyfriend is reading this thread as well, so it has been helpful for us to both have a better understanding of what is going on with each other.
I understand very clearly that he has his own needs, just as he understands that have my own needs. This is why I am not offended that he isn't fighting for me. And as I stated in my last post, we have an extremely deep level of trust and communication--we both know that we each have each other's best interests at heart. That is why I have no fear of him lying to me or betraying me. But I'm not going to try to control what he wants or needs, and it's not his fault if I don't fit into that. Believe me, he and I talked about all this.
As for your comment about my boyfriend not really meeting these women, we had a good chuckle about that this morning. I know for a fact that he has met both of them. As for the woman he flirts with, I do have an opportunity to meet her during our trip in January, that is if I still go. In fact, because of the circumstances of our trip, I wouldn't have any other choice to have at least run into her. And I am actually fine with that.
If your interested in my story, you can find it at http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...=4518#post4518. Be warned though, it's no fairy tale, and we're still working on the happily ever after.
(Slight hijack: I've been thinking about it recently, and I find it interesting and odd that even though opening our lives to poly was completely Hubby's idea, at this point I'm far and away more poly-oriented than he is. )
My advice to you, and to anyone considering polyamory, is to read all you can on it, deeply consider all you learn and incorporate what seems right and true for you. This forum has been extremely valuable to me, and I know you will find many wise, compassionate and caring poly people here.
Approach every situation with love and respect for all concerned, because you never know what will trigger a sensitive spot in the relationship(s). And when you've identified a sensitive area, talk it out. Talk and talk and talk some more. Give that shit so much light and air that flowers blossom up out of it!
Best of luck to you, and to your ex-bf. I wish for ya'll th best possible outcome, whatever that may be. :)
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