How to think poly....
Here we are, Rider and RBR continuing our journey. We had one good day, now things aren't so good today. Not a big meltdown, but definitely struggling. We could use your help again.
The question I would like to get your input on is about how to think poly about activities. When this all started, RBR wanted someone to do things with that I couldn't do, or wasn't interested in. And she wanted me to have someone to do things with that she wasn't interested in. That all made sense, it gave her an outlet to still do those things that she needed and filled in holes in her life. Check, no problem.
Today we have come to a situation where an activity has come up that is a "once a year" type thing, and her boyfriend asked her to go do it with him. The event will occur on Saturday night, which is a testing of our freshly minted agreements of yesterday, so she was very careful in telling me about it, specifically said that she was trying to not put me in the bad place of having her ask me if she could do it. It was clear to me that she was asking though, why would she tell me about it if she didn't want to go and didn't want my blessing for it. (In our agreements for slowing things down with them, we agreed that the weekends would be our time for the time being unless we agreed otherwise, so there was/is a door open to where it was probably ok for her to want to do this. It's really soon, but not a breaking of the agreement.) My initial response was to try to think with my poly brain and be ok with it, and I told her that, but also told her that I didn't want to make the decision immediately. She was ok with that. Having thought about it a bit, it's not a meltdown thing, but it definitely doesn't feel good. This activity is something I would have loved to do with her. When she told me about it, she had clearly convinced herself that this was something I wouldn't want to do, that seemed to give her the feeling that I wouldn't care about the activity. My only problem might be her asking for time that is designated as our time to do something with her boyfriend. The problem is that she was wrong. I wasn't up with current events, didn't know it was going on, and her boyfriend got there first.
So what is the correct way to be looking at this from a poly perspective? It seems logical that people arranged in a V like we are will have activity overlap. How does the hinge decide who to do what with? And how does the losing side of the V not feel bad about that?
The immediate situation is that I think she's going to go with him to the activity. I didn't ask her not to go with her boyfriend, but I did ask her to understand that I feel that she has marginalized me, placed me in a little box, and she really doesn't have a correct image of me in her mind. (which is an amazing discovery after 20 years of marriage!!!) Because I wanted to go to this activity as well, I suggested to her maybe I would go too, separately and not attempt to hang out with her and that other crowd. Her response was very negative, feeling like I was being punitive, feeling like I was crashing her party. So this also feels bad, now she and her boyfriend get to do the activity, I don't, and that feels punitive coming from her. I have transitioned from being told I'm her primary and she loves me, to someone that it would be awkward and intrusive to even run into at an event. That definitely does not feel good.
Going poly has really brought out some weaknesses that we had in our marriage that I didn't know about. Her idea of who I am is very incorrect.
As for the transition into poly, this side of the V strongly feels like I have to lose something for her boyfriend to gain something. I have read over and over on this forum that she won't love me less as she starts to love another. I hear that and want to feel that, but I don't. So far, her developing loving feelings for another rips and tears her away from me, and it makes me the bad guy because its not easy for me like it is for her. As she chooses to do more and more with her boyfriend, I don't understand how that will have any other effect than her and I having less and less in common, to the point that we'll wake up one day and wonder why we're living in the same house and staying married. I have discovered that most of my problem so far with trying to be poly is not the sharing of her itself, but rather the changes in the way she treats me. It feels very much not an adding of affection so much as a shift of affection. His gain is my loss.
And what makes this all worse is that the more trouble I have with all this, the less she wants to be around me. I want her to continue to be honest with me about her feelings, and she told me about this this morning when we were talking. So it's a self defeating activity at this point.
I'm hoping someone out there has some pearls of wisdom that can help me learn how to do this without feeling bad all the time....
The way I see it, she needs to honor your agreements first and foremost and allow you to transition at the pace you need. Just because there's a loophole doesn't mean it's very nice to take advantage of it.
She should give it time, and her BF should be made aware, if he isn't already, that weekends are your time. If he is aware, why did he ask for that, then?
I say: Get rid of that loophole. You can allow for flexibility later down the road. For now, let the weekends be your time to spend with her. Give it a few months before allowing for exceptions. You're on shaky legs, and poly needs a strong foundation to work.
And as far as still discovering things about each other after so many years together -- halleluiah! Relationships where this doesn't happen are stagnant, boring, and predictable. It's always a good thing when we can look at someone we've loved and known a long time and see them anew, because that means we are present, living in the here and now, and seeing past old beliefs.
As for this weekend, I would tell her that the weekend is your time, that you want to take her to this thing, or do something else, and that's it. She needs to blink a few times and pinch herself to shake away some of that fog of NRE she's in.
Well, I don't know about 'wisdom', but you ask some fair questions.
But some of them I do admit to wondering if you're being 100% honest with yourself ?
Addressing that first..........
You mention this activity that you discover you have an interest in that has created a conflict. And you mention your 20+ year relationship. And that (maybe?) she had no idea you would have any interest in this ? Does something sound a bit odd about that ?
Do you REALLY have any interest ? Enough that you would have had any real excitement about participating if the new BF wasn't in the picture ?
Be honest here................... :)
Let's pretend you ARE honest and would like to participate. You ask a variety of legit questions about zero sum relationship mathematics, conflicts of time etc. You also have to acknowledge that NRE is playing a factor in this and that long term things will change. Do some homework on that one ! It's a biggie.
Your situation is a great example of why so many of us try to recommend that everyone be at LEAST friends ! Because there may be a certain amount of overlapping interest and it's simply a shame to have the hinge person being forced to flip coins all the time (which by the way is a good tool to use on occasion).
How would she feel (minus the NRE) if you all did attend together ? What better an opportunity for you two guys to get to know each other a little better ? Maybe start a bond centered around her - and HER happiness ?
Trust me, the better you know the BF the better YOU will feel about the whole situation. Is is going to be a tiny bit uncomfortable the first couple times ? Probably. But we aren't always allowed to exist in our comfort zone all the time if we want any forward movement.
You mention this change bringing out 'weaknesses' in your marriage. Discovering things (assumptions) you didn't know about each other.
Why do you feel that is a 'weakness' ?
Many others might well look at that as one of the biggest strengths ! The more you REALLY know each other the (potentially) closer you may become. History has shown this to happen :) Don't assume a negative position until it really is negative.
But leaving on the time conflict note..............
Yes - the more we involve ourselves in ANY activity, the more we have to balance those 24 hours. And although that may seem a theoretical conflict, in reality is usually isn't something that doesn't work out better than we thought. I might suggest you don't let your mind run away with all the 'possibles'. It's possible to be struck by lightening or hit by a train. But in reality, it seldom happens.
Deep breaths...........deep breaths......... :)
Hello nycindie and GS
Thanks for the posts. You guys are alway so helpful.
nycindie - I think I am in agreement that we need to slow down a bit more and get rid of the exception clause for now. I think we just need time, and I hope RBR will agree. What started as a small conversation this morning has blossomed into a full blown problem for me and RBR. I asked her about renegotiating the agreement and she was initially resistant. I will have to talk with her more to see what we need to do.
GS - you ask some really good questions and give me really good perspectives. I actually asked myself the same question, whether I would be interested in this event if the bf were not in the picture. I can honestly say 100% that I would have wanted to go had I known it was going on. I've been a bit vague about the event, it's a cycle race that happens in downtown Boise each year. When RBR and I were in a car club here in Boise, one year we did a parade lap of the race course with about 150 cars while on our way to a club party that evening. When we did that, I wanted to pull out of the parade line and stop to watch the race then! I'm just not connected to the race directly or indirectly and didn't know it was occurring this weekend. I'm all about just about anything racing, RBR would confirm this.
I agree with you it would be good if we all could attend, but I think that too is trying to do too much too fast. I can't imagine RBR feeling good about that at this time. She wants her life with RBR to be very much separate from me. She's ok with me meeting RBR, and I think she is up for some intertwining in the future, but I can't see that as a "now" thing.
And I'm going to just take your thoughts about this not being weakness in our marriage in and try to hold onto it. I agree with what you said, even though it feels like weakness.
And I completely agree, I don't want the hinge (RBR) to constantly have pressure like this, trying to decide who to do what with. This is what I don't understand. How do poly people do this successfully???
Hi there. I don't have much time to read what has been said so fa. Sorry if this is a repeat, but you ask how to do this poly style and something stuck out for me; that is that there is far too much assuming and expecting going on. She assumed this, you expected that... In my experience that just doesn't work in any relationships; no matter how long the people have known each other, poly or otherwise.
I would suggest getting about asking a lot of questions about what is going on for people; clarify, ask what they think, what their intention is, what you can do to help, how things might work better. At the same time give information about your feelings, what you think might be going on before checking to see if that is the case. By doing this there is no need to feel as if you are left out of the loop, that you haven't been heard or that your needs and theirs haven't been met. I would think that any feelings of being left out and change occuring to cause distance would end. I would think you would always feel included, considered and informed of everything. In this way, I would think you would have a sense of belonging rather than being on the out side of their life.
Rider, I actually read RBR's thread about your freak outs before replying here. Hi there. :D
Looking at that thread and this one together, yep, RBR might be best served by reconsidering her weekend plans with E. A month is pretty new. It would be new for a mono relationship. It's new for a poly relationship. And it's especially new for a just-out poly realtionship. We all struggle with reeling in the urge to go go go, but experience teaches us that sometimes baby shouldn't run.
You might also consider blessing their outing. If they're really set on it, sometimes the best thing to do is let it go. Sucks but true. (RBR has already been collectively nagged for selfishness, and I think we'd all hope that she reconsiders.)
As for the two of you and adjusting to poly life, love may not be diminish with a poly person, but there are finite hours in the day. It sounds like you, RBR, and E need to understand that and work on it. As the hinge, RBR is most responsible, but it is up to all three of you to balance.
You personally might find that getting to know more about E and having some time together with the three of you will help dispell the boogeyman. The more human a metamor becomes, the less scary they are. I'd suggest to RBR that she keep that in mind as she works on regulating her pacing.
As a final note: "How do poly people do this successfully???"
Easy... we fuck it all up. And then we try again and while aiming for fucking only 95% of it up. And then we try again aiming for 90% fuck-up. Success is a goal, but it's never a destination. ;)
What you wrote really brings back memories....and even time spent together ...there was plenty of times she wasn't really there. how was your vacation ? Were you her focus or was her mind else where much of the time. Perhaps spending a long vacation with you ....there's a little catch up going on with him now....
As a final note: "How do poly people do this successfully???"
Easy... we fuck it all up. And then we try again and while aiming for fucking only 95% of it up. And then we try again aiming for 90% fuck-up. Success is a goal, but it's never a destination. ;)[/QUOTE]
I was afraid of that answer but I was thinking that was probably what it was. Damn it! I figured all you smart polys would have written a "Polyamory for Dummies" book by now with this kind of stuff in it. :)
Rider and I talked about some things this afternoon. Some of the comments made were a bit off the mark of what was happening but that's OK because it's always good to hear the comments. They may be useful next time.
If anyone can give us examples of exactly how they do things in this situation, that would be great.
Lots of relationships grow "stagnant, boring and predictable" because there is avoidance of something that needs to be faced, and the partners have an unconscious or semi-conscious agreement / contract which reads "Whatever happens, don't rock this boat". Avoidance is a void dance, a dancing around a void, a chasm, an open space.... I say, jump into the open spaces when and where you can, and do so with loving-kindness toward self and other.
It is a good practice to deliberately, but gently practice rocking the boat and ending the void dance ... by looking into the open space, holding whatever fear or desire or pain deliberately in this open space of loving-kindness toward self and other. This livens things up, especially when both partners practice at it together! If one is a couch potato..., good luck! But even couch potatoes will notice liveliness when it is in the room, so anything may be possible.
One should simply never assume that they fully know their partner. That's really kind of a crappy thing to do to them. And one's self. We should properly see our partners as overwhelmingly unknown to ourselves. They are! Even we ourselves are overwhelmingly unknown to ourselves, and we have to live with ourselves on the "inside" every day, for years and years and years. Give up the delusional fantasy that you know yourself or your partner. You do not. That's what makes life interesting -- we don't know it. We don't know the world. We don't know ourselves, each other.... That's why it's so damn fascinating and lively! And that's also why it can be so damn scary.
Take your maps and ... see them as they are, maps -- not territory. I was about to say ... burn them. But maps are useful if we don't fall for the black magic of thinking they are the territory.
Face your fears. If you want a lively life, find your fears and one by one, starting with the easier ones, face them with loving-kindness toward yourself. That will wake your whole heart and mind up.
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