Scared I might be Poly
Before I offend anyone, I'm going to preface this by saying that no, I don't have any problem with polyamory or people being polyamorus. Its just, in the situation I'm in it would be a pretty bad thing.
I'm in a relationship going on two years with the most amazing guy. He's wonderful, funny, tries to be understanding even when he can't understand, loves me like crazy he's my safe place in my life and I love him so much.
But then I started having feelings for other guys too. It doesn't happen with many other people, but the first one was back in January. I got talking to this guy I knew through mutual acquaintances and we exchanged gamer tags just to have some more people to play with. Then we got talking. It was really nice, I hadn't really been able to have a personal conversation with anyone but my boyfriend in a while. We had a lot in common, felt the same about a lot of things etc. Then we met again in person a while later and I came to the terrifying realization that I really liked him. He was good looking, sweet, considerate, liked a lot of the same things, it was kind of overwhelming. This went on for months, and while I was going through a lot of other stuff too, this made me feel even worse. It was like a double punch to the gut.
First there was the guilt. Here I had this amazing guy, who loved me, who'd done so much for me, who'd always been there for me, even when that meant a three hour bus ride to show up at my door when I was having a panic attack, who I love, and I felt like I was betraying him. I was having feelings, sexual, emotional, etc, for this other guy, even having dreams about him sometimes.
Then there was the other side. I felt trapped, every time I saw this guy or talked to him or had those feelings, I really wanted to even have the choice to act on them, not like go off and jump their bones, but try that feeling of closeness and intimacy that I was feeling the longing for. I felt trapped, and I could even feel that edging on resentment, which I hate. I felt like it was pushing me away from the guy I loved.
I tried to shut it away, forget about it, stamp it out, but I couldn't, and so went about four months. At one point I told my boyfriend that I liked this guy, maybe not how much, but I just couldn't keep it in anymore. He gave me a hug, said it was okay, that he loved me, and had his one moment of, you're not leaving me for [insert name here] are you? I said no, I loved him. And we left it there. And that helped for a couple days, then it started getting worse again. It wasn't all the time, but it would pop up at the most frustrating times...
Well I haven't heard from or talked to this guy in ages. I felt the loss of someone who could have at least been a good friend, but I was moving home (I went to school overseas) so it was a good bet I wouldn't see much of him anyways...I thought maybe I could just forget about it and move on. It even worked a little, became something that just would occasionally pop into my head at annoying times, but not be quite the same gnawing feeling.
Then it happened again. I met someone who at first it was just like, you're awesome, I like you a lot, we should hang out more. Then we spent a bunch of time together, talked a lot, got on really well, and I felt it happening again. And all those feelings came back, the guilt, the feelings of being trapped, all of it. Except this is a guy I see several times a week, want to hang out with more just because I like his company.
I don't even know what I want when I get these feelings. I don't even think I'm really looking for another boyfriend, per se, because I love my guy. I think that someday I even want to marry him and have kids with them and all that. But there's just this part of me that want's to see where these other things could lead. I don't want to ruin my relationship with my boyfriend because I have these things forever hanging in my mind as regrets and what ifs.
My boyfriend isn't the jealous type, never has been, but during a conversation with a bunch of our friends a while back he said he didn't think he could do the polyamory thing, that it just wasn't for him. He's going through a really hard time right now, as he moved with me when I left college and is starting school here. I'm what's keeping him sane right now. I see the look on his face when he tells me he loves me, and how much I mean to him, and when he hugs me and I just see how hurt he would be if I told him this. But at the same time, I can feel this starting to eat away at me, and at my side of our relationship. I'm terrified that whatever way I go I'll lose him. And I don't want to hurt him. I really don't want to hurt him I love him so much.
I had a conversation with a friend recently about polyamory. He's polyamorus, but when I heard him talking about his girlfriend who he'd been with for seven years, loved like crazy and had even proposed to, it was the first time that I thought that might be what was happening to me. But I'm so scared, I don't want to hurt my boyfriend, and I don't want to lose him. And I'm just scared in general. The whole idea was something that I'd never really thought of before.
I've spent the past couple nights reading the threads here, trying to figure out what this whole poly thing is, and I finally got up the courage to post.
Please, help me. I don't know what to do.
Poly is not cheating....
Frankly, you have developed feelings for someone behind your boyfriend's back...this is definitely not poly...this is a form of cheating...it seems like this other man and you are just sharing confidences...if you really loved both of them (and were not ashamed in the least to admit it) , then you might be poly. Being poly is not having two boyfriends....it is having more than one absolutely free to leave soulmates...poly partners of you dont have to like each other, but the MUST ACCEPT EACH OTHER! Please, dont ruin a good relationship because of out-of-control hormones...I love my three partners as if they were all legal wives...would give anyone of them my car or life without hesitation...are u ready for that commitment, or are you just trying to have your cake and eat it too?
The other guy doesn't even know I like him. The first guy didn't either. I don't plan on doing anything with him, especially not cheating on my boyfriend. It's the fact that I'm developing these feelings at all that really scares me. Is it so hard to imagine that it would be a hard thing to admit, even to yourself? I tend to repress things a lot, I'm trying to get over it but it's not something I can do overnight.
I have been tearing myself up over whether or not to tell my boyfriend, or just try to wait it out and see if it goes away. I don't know if I'm in love with this other guy, I honestly haven't known him long enough. I feel something but I'm not quite sure what except it's not just physical or hornyness or whatever. But given how long the feelings and stuff went on last time, I don't know how to make them go away without just stopping trying to get close to people at all. It's not like I can predict it, I've met and gotten to know a lot of guys and it hasn't happened. Most of my friends are guys and I care for them very much, but in a friendship kind of way.
Also maybe poly isn't even the right word or description. I don't know, that's why I'm asking for help or advice or whatever...
Some things you might think about for a little while....
One can have and love friends without dating and sleeping with them. Polyamorous, monogamous, whateverous, you can certainly have and love your friends. Infatuation happens. And it happens to pretty much everyone. That doesn't mean you have to act on it. It isn't cheating to hit it off with a friend and become closer/better friends. You don't have to hop in the sack with someone just because you're infatuated with them.
If you DO feel like a romantic love with multiple partners might be something you could enjoy, consider whether it is something you need, or if you would be comfortable - not hesitantly okay, not reluctantly tolerant, but truly comfortable - with keeping those potential lovers as "just" friends, and remain monogamous for the sake of your monogamous partner. I know I wouldn't, but a ton of people can and do, and you might be one. "Just" friends is almost a dirty word - friends are *beautiful*, and the gift of friendship with someone you are able to grow to love is made no less beautiful by not dating them.
I, personally, feel like you kind of owe it to your boyfriend to be honest and open about every aspect of your relationship with him, and that includes these romantic feelings that keep popping up. Maybe he'll think about it and conclude that he might want to give the "poly thing" a shot. Maybe he will be okay with certain things but not others. Maybe he won't be okay with it at all.
You definitely need to consider how he's going to feel about this before you try to discuss it with him, however, and what you ultimately want in your relationship with him. You mention that he's having a tough time with life right now, and you obviously know you need to be gentle with him. If you can understand yourself a bit better before you talk to him about it, that'd be awesome, but if not, be sure to be clear with him that you *don't* know what you want/need, if that's the case.
Some important questions to ask yourself:
Do you sincerely feel that you need to act on these romantic feelings to be complete or true to yourself?
If you find yourself falling in love with a friend, would you be comfortable being (here's that dirty word again!) "just" friends? Would doing so make you feel any resentment toward your partner?
What does your perfect relationship model look like? And where in that ideal are you willing to make compromises? What are the things you NEED, versus the things you WANT?
If you tell your boyfriend about these feelings and he's sorely hurt over it, what do you think you will do? Consider the worst-case scenario and prepare for it, so you can be as gentle as possible for him.
There's a lot more to love than whether you'd give him your, uh, your car or life (since the two are so interchangeable? Uhh, not sure where PaulFromN.O. was coming from on that.... or anything else, really....) without hesitation. There's honesty, openness, acceptance, compromise.... Respect, admiration.... So much more than romance.
I am so with you on this one. I felt nearly the same when I realized all this for the first time. Yes, it is frightening and more than any other aspect that came to my mind, I was frightened of the possible changes that could come if I act on my feelings.
And I have to tell you, at least from my personal experiences, this won't go away so easily. I fell hard for a good friend, tried to shut away everything - for 3 years I managed but at last, it was overwhelming and impossible to ignore.
I am married and I was scared like hell to tell my husband. I imagined him freaking out, leaving me, being an emotional wreck and what not, because I knew I could have been like that in a case vice versa. But some words of encouragement: he was awesome. He loved me more than his dream of a mono-family because this family would have been nothing without me. And he was so quick to process to this whole idea that I was and still am scared of his speed.
We (all three) are really new to the whole idea. We are going day by day, moving slowly, talking a lot and we will see where this is leading us. The questions Viable Alternative gave you are really good ones, I took them into consideration as well when I made up my mind. I asked myself if I could be happy with disregarding this aspect of me, with living on while lingering feelings for another person occupy my mind. If I could be mono for my husband. I couldn't. The three years proved to me that I would never be able to forget/not feel the way I did.
If that is the case for you, if you can't imagine yourself without this feelings now or in the future, than sit down together with your boyfriend and talk about it. Be gentle, try to explain how and what you feel. That is a really hard one, because even if he reacts positive, he may feel kind of insufficient and insecure. Not being enough is a point that comes up in the stories told on this forum quite often. Try to give him certainty that you have no intention to leave, that you love him, just like you did in the situation you mentioned in your first post.
I can say that for us all this mess had really beneficial effects. We bonded quite strongly because of it, we decided to open our little family for another wonderful person and our commitment was strengthened. Good luck with your decision and the upcoming days, try to find your way, it seems to me there are too many to predict how your journey will develop beforehand.
(I am still new to this, but I could relate to your feelings and had the urge to answer, I hope this can help in any way.)
Give it a break already.
This is not "cheating".
This is call "living". And "discovering" !
It's a difficult bridge we have to cross when we discover that we CAN have a connection to multiple people when our culture (monogamy) says we can't.
So like the OP - we don't know what to do. How to handle it. It's a real and serious quandary.
Depending on how open we are in general, how sensitive, we discover these POTENTIAL connections sooner.
What to recommend to the OP ?
I think it's time for some real discussion. Just exploration. She and her BF need to at least gain a better understanding of what poly is and involves. It doesn't mean anything will get acted on. But at least learning about and discussing it will put things on a good foundation.
What won't work is trying to suppress it. Trying to make believe it doesn't exist. Burying your head in the sand only results in poor hearing because your ears are full of dirt :)
I do agree that we have to be on the alert for blind infatuation, physical attraction, etc. All the usual stuff that makes sense from being human. Obviously we don't throw away a good relationship for an unknown infatuation. That's just childish and irresponsible. But we also need to investigate what potential MIGHT be there in a safe way too. If not it will always eat at us like a cancer and often lead to bad choices down the road.
Sila, I think you and BF need to talk about the philosophy of polyamory - in a non threatening way. Just a joint exploration. He's said that he doesn't think it would 'be for him', but unless he's really studied it in some detail that's not even a fair assessment. We're always intimidated by what we don't know.
Give it a try !
I can also relate. I always got crushes during my long marriage. Very strong ones. I always tried to hide it from my (ex) husband, yet he always picked up on it. I'd try to downplay it, but it was impossible to really do so.
Yes, each crush, unacted upon, would eventually run its course, but it was always a bone of contention, because I didnt have the term polyamorous for most of our marriage.
We both tried to hide things from each other about our attractions to others. I don't recommend it. You can hide it in fear of losing him, but in the long run, from my experience, it's better to be brutally honest and authentic to your most intimate partner, or it causes a disconnect which may become a wedge between you two, causing distance and a lack of intimacy, and unfulfillment emotionally and sexually.
Thank you so much everyone for the encouragement. I was really scared after I got that first response.
You raise really good points and yeah ViableAlternative, I did and still do want to understand how I feel/what's going on with me a bit better before talking to him, maybe wait a couple weeks until things settle down and then I can make sure those feeling's are still there.
And yeah, he has noticed that something's wrong. We've had a couple conversations where it came up that yeah, I've been feeling kind of dissatisfied with my life, like I needed a break from it. He immediately took that to mean him and asked really hesitantly if I wanted to take a break. My reaction, as you can guess, was oh God no. I was really grasping around at straws, and there was a lot more then romantic/friendship/whatever going on, also some stuff with my course/field, at that point the whole poly thing hadn't even occurred to me.
The thing is, I am pretty sure he'd be supportive, at least outwardly. I'm also pretty sure that it would hurt him a lot. And I really don't want to hurt him.
Thanks so much for your responses and if anyone has any more advice I'd appreciate it.
Silla, I think you might be. For me, poly has two definition, the relationship orientation and the relationship dynamics. The orientation means being able to be in love with more than one person at the same time. The relationship means having relationships with two or more people who are aware of one another and fine with it.
It seems to me you might qualify for the first one. Now the thing is, even if you out yourself to your boyfriend, it doesn't mean you have to do anything about it. But if you keep it a secret from him, it might drive you apart. Already when he says he loves you, your mind goes to negative thoughts of hurting him instead of happy thoughts of loving and being loved back.
If you tell him you don't plan on cheating on him, but you want him to know that you have developed feelings for others and you think you are poly (and explain to him what that is) and you want him to know that, and you love him and don't want to hurt him... I think that would be the thing to do.
In my experience, just talking about it, knowing it's not a secret anymore, that can help. Of course there is no knowing how he'll react but it seems to me he deserves a shot at making a decision there, and not have you do it without him. I think because it's an important part of you, it's the kind of thing he would want to know. That doesn't mean it will drive you apart.
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