When a Unicorn Plays in Other Pastures
My husband and I were in a 6 month relationship with a 24 year old Unicorn. The relationship was great for the first few months. About 3 months into the relationship the situation came up that her room in the house she was staying at was being given to another person, so she was kinda kicked out, she was told she could stay, but would have to bunk with her 5 year old daughter, which she wasnt a fan of. Hubby and I didn't want to move the relationship into the "moving in" stage so soon, but the situation as it was, invited her to come live with us. We gave her daughter her own room in our house, treated her daughter like she was our own, took her and her daughter on trips to the museum, and beach, we had a LOT of really good times!!
About 3 months ago she began talking to an old friend on Facebook, whenever either hubby or I looked at her screen she would minimize the chat (which she said was because she was looking at other pages, not because she was hiding anything) but hubby and I both said "she has the right to talk to whoever she wants to, we have the agreement that hubby will be the only man in the relationship, and we trust that is the case" and as time went by she talked to hubby and I less and less and him more and more. SHe lived with us for 3 months while talking to this man, meanwhile we supported her and her daughter financially, (she was receiving food stamps, which she considered her "contribution" but in reality that amount mostly fed her and her daughter) while she pretended to look for a job. She did find work, and it was agreed that she would use a portion of her paycheck to help with the bills. That didn't happen, instead her entire paychech was spent purchasing things for herself from the mall and wal mart. Hubby and I didnt say anything about it to her because well we would rather not start an issue and instead just let it go.
THis week things kinda came to a head when I realized that she had lied to us about a number of things. I got angry and had a blowup and yelled and screamed and told her that as far as I was concerned we were no longer i a relationship and that I was now considering it a roomate situation in which she was more then welcome to leave any time she wanted to. SHe handed hubby and I less then 10.00 for the gas and smokes we had bought her the last 6 months and then hubby drove her and her daughter to the house where she was living before. Hubby and I were very upset byt his breakup, as we both cared very much for her, we both viewed her daughter as ours, and we both tried hard to make things work.
This was on wednesday, I woke up this morning to read that her relationship status had been changed from "single" to "in a relationship with...." the man that she had spent months of using us financially while she she carried on a relationship with this man on the computer. If i thought i was hurt before, I had no idea for the amount of hurt that came from the knowledge that I was right about her using us, I was right about her not really caring about this relationship. I am very hurt and while Hubby is less hurt (because he feels as if he would rather have known now that she was using him then wait till 1 year or two down the line to find out) he still has the pain of loosing the closest thing he has ever had to a child. I hurt for him for that, but I also realize that staying in a relationship because you care more about the kids then the parents do is not a reason to maintain a relationship. I felt more hurt by the fact that she not only didnt take anything that we had given her daughter, but yelled at her daughter for asking to take things we had given her. With my background and knowledge of psychology she is teaching the little girl that she can't trust anyting and that anything she gets she had better be ready to give up because mom might not let you have it in the end. That is a scary and horrifying message to send a child. I have packed up the things and put them in a bag that I will drop at her moms work today, hopefully her mother will see that it only hurts the little girl to keep these things from her.
Hubby and I thought we wanted a triad, and we still do, but sometimes it seems easier to just be a swinger and walk away in the morning rather then invest our hearts into someone that is only there to take advantage and use us. Maybe we will get better at picking up on it sooner. I sure hope so cause this hurts.
There is a reason they are called Unicorns. I'm not sure whether that is because they are magical, or that they really don't exist.
I'm sure you're not going to like a lot of what I'm about to say here but I think that it needs to be said. It doesn't seem to me like you gave your gf much of an opportunity to be honest about developing feelings for someone else. If you and your husband had already decided that he would be the only man I can see how hard it would be for her to talk to the 2 of you about starting to have feelings for someone else.
As much as a triad might look good on paper there is usually a third wheel who doesn't feel 100% a part of the already established relationship (or the recently added person becomes much more attached to one partner than the other). From what I've read and experienced it's much better to go into any non-monogamous relationship with the idea of it being flexible and changeable. If there had been that openness right from the start about understanding that everyone has the potential to develop feelings for other people she would have been much more likely to have talked to you about what was going on for her.
Also you said that money had been an issue and you and your husband has just let it go. It would be my guess that this was part of the blowup. It's a good idea to talk about the little things as they come up so that resentment doesn't build and eventually blow up.
All in all I think this one needs to be chalked up to a learning experience. Next time you meet someone you'll know more and you'll be able to communicate better. I think a lot of us here have stories about complete disasters with early forays into poly. It does get easier.
I agree with Derby. Plus, I would let go of this need you have to give the kid the stuff you bought. I don't see your ex's reactions to that as dastardly as you do. She probably feels betrayed in some way, that you were there for her and then rescinded, so now she wants nothing from you. The kid will be fine, leave it alone.
When our unicorn left us, I think it hurt more than any other breakup I've had.
Now, our situation was a little different - she left because she was afraid her presence was going to drive my wife and I apart (despite the fact that it was a drama-free relationship, and I'm pretty sure we were even stronger as a triad). She still comes around from time to time to throw huge amounts of UST at the both of us, and I'm pretty sure she still loves us both (I know I'm not over her, may never be) but just refuses to actually be with us. I'm not sure which is worse though.
To me, it sounds more like you were stable as a 2+1 with her living elsewhere, but when you attempted to fully integrate as a true 3 with her moving in, that's when your conflicts arose. I suspect, after reading through your description, that you had some serious communication issues going on here, which probably led to your relationship's downfall. Here's the issues I see:
1. I can't tell if it's your writing style or the way things actually were, but from some of the stuff you said I pick up a very strong "us versus her" mentality running through everything. That's probably amplified by the fact that she's no longer with you, but I suspect it was probably there the entire time, and may have been an additional stressor. When she was external to the relationship (like I said, a 2+1 instead of a 3) it wasn't a big deal - even natural - but once you moved her in and attempted to fully integrate her with your relationship, that's where it sounds like the wheels fell off. You yourself said you weren't really "ready" for that step, and that was probably a good instinct, even though the situation forced your hand.
Maybe she was more comfortable being external, where she wasn't really in a fully committed relationship, and once she moved in the pressure of having commitments was too much for her, causing her to shut down. Maybe it was just easier for her to play at being your unicorn than to actually be a full member of a triad. Maybe you guys yourselves weren't ready for the rebalancing that came with a full third member of your relationship. I dunno... but I'd guess that's the critical breaking point there.
2. Communication issues. Like I said before, I think you've got some. Part of it (again) may be that you weren't used to the full triad dynamic, but it doesn't sound like you communicated with her like she was an equal party in the relationship. If your husband had done half the things she had done, you presumably wouldn't have let him get away with it, or if you had you probably wouldn't have let it at least go unspoken. Relationships aren't killed by the things you say, they're killed by the things you mean to say but don't.
3. Openness and trust issues. Now, I'm in an open marriage, so my situation is probably a bit different than yours, but I'm wondering if - coupled with the communication issues above - this isn't a factor too. You knew that your friend was maybe up to something online but didn't talk to her about it... you talked to your husband about it, but not the person in the relationship that might actually be doing something bad. You said that you let it go because you had agreed that your husband would be the only man involved - but did she agree to that too? Was that ever her idea? If she had come to you guys and said "Hey, I know what we said, but I met somebody... would you mind if he and I occasionally..." how would you have reacted? Was your relationship comfortable enough she could've felt secure enough to even ask that? These are things to consider.
4. The crazy. Finally, it sounds like your Unicorn may have just been crazy. I've found, from speaking to others who've had similar experiences, that the more likely a person is to want to fill the role of the unicorn, the more likely they are to be... how can I put this nicely... damaged. Abuse, self esteem issues, difficulties forming and keeping relationships, personality disorders, bipolarity, substance abuse, and sometimes just plain old "being nuts" - all of these seem to pop up from time to time. Now, there's nothing wrong with them, I'm not judging.
Our unicorn had been abused as a child and was working through some issues - she couldn't hold on to a stable relationship herself, and that's why joining us worked (for a while) - having two other people to balance out the relationship meant that if she wasn't feeling particularly girlfriendy on a specific day she didn't leave anybody in the lurch. We all got different things from one another, and her role had to fluctuate, there was enough love and stability to allow for compensation, while in a normal relationship it put incredible stress on whoever she was with trying to keep up with the ebb and flow.
Dr. Drew always used to say on loveline that people who come from chaos try, often unintentionally, to seek out or cause chaos in their relationships because it's what they're used to. You said she had a child, was living with someone else (and was kicked out), on food stamps, unemployed... not a bastion of stability, by the sounds of it.
The appeal of joining an already stable relationship may have been added to by the potential for chaos and drama that those subconscious parts of her brain were seeking out, and while she was external to the relationship it was probably enough, but once she did move in and became an equal, that self-destructive mechanism inside her started kicking over again rebelling against the status quo, leading to the online affair and eventual sabotage of your collective relationships.
Those are all very astute observations from everyone. Yes, communication was an issue. Although I dont know so much about the "us versus her" thing because that really didn't come up till after the relationship was over. The agreement that hubby be the only man was something that we all discussed a number of times and she said she was fine with things that way and that the man she was "seeing" on the internet was just a friend and that nothing would ever or could happen because as she put it "I don't like him that way" so it wasn't that she couldn't talk about it.
You are right about not being ready to move in and that the situation called for it to happen that way. There were a LOT of changes that happened within a week or two of her moving in. I think that the thing that hurts hubby and I the most is that if she had been honest with us we would have probably gone our separate ways (which would have apparently been ok with her) and hubby and I wouldn't have invested 2 months more into the relationship then she was. It is interesting what was said about the "just crazy" aspect of things. My therapist upon meeting her the first time a few weeks ago told me that she was depressed and that she was not in the relationship anymore and that he got the feeling that her interests lied elsewhere. When I brought this up to her she swore up and down that wasn't the case.
You are ABSOLUTELY correct about hte communication thing. I felt and said the entire relationship that I felt like I was the only one communicating or even trying to communicate. I struggled a lot with wondering if my being a active psychology student and my having "communicate" drilled into my head was making me push them to communicate when they didn't want to. Hubby has communication issues and he and I have worked a lot on them over the years. He is much better but still tends to like many (not all of course) men turn any emotion he does have into anger and annoyance.
I completely appreciate everyone's replies and this has given me a lot ot think about and while I know it will be a while before I will be anywhere near ready to venture into another poly relationship I will certainly make sure that the woman we involve ourselves with is more stable both mentally and personally in the world. I learned from this relationship that I need to be with someone who is stimulating to me intellectually. I dont want to sound elitist (however I am not sure how I would not saying this) but I have found that trying to have conversations with someone who is not very educated tends to cause me to have frustrations with the lack of mental stimulation. I had never come across this issue before (although admittedly I also haven't had many relationships since returning to college because of the fact that I usually dont have the time needed for school let alone school and another new relationship.
I thought long about posting here, since I fear this topic triggers me a bit. Anyway, here goes.
Why do the two of you desire to embark on a polyship? Especially when you recognize that he is not a good communicator and the two of you are very poor with boundary maintenance (moving somebody with severe financial difficulties in despite having agreed that it is not a good idea, and then declining to bring things up for the fear of 'upsetting the boat' - really, there is simply no such situation where a move-in of one partner becomes unavoidable). If you both or your husband in particular desire to experience non-biological parenthood, why not look into fostering opportunities in your area?
Secondly, why are you so obsessed with this particular relationship form (polyfi/OPP triad)? Why does your hubs feel the need to be the only man in the lives of his partners? Are there some unresolved insecurity issues out there?
Let me be frank; feel free to go and hunt out another unicorn. Your insistence on form over content in your relationships will surely scare away any independent, experienced and stimulating self-identified poly women and leave you with the younger, poorly educated, unemployed single mothers with financial dependency issues. Once NRE fades and real life, including attractions to other people, sets in, they will soon be on their way towards a more conventional lifestyle.
Your attachment to the idea of one man-two women seems to override any and all reason and makes you sound somewhat naive. In NRE, people make all sorts of promises, including the whole 'I am totally happy with just the three of us and will never look at another man again'. They might even think they mean it. It's a natural part of the nesting process. Another point you made that really struck me about your post was how you had thought beforehand that if your unicorn were to develop feelings towards somebody else, you would just break things off. Hello? You honestly think it would have been as easy as that? 'Cool, so you fancy someone else? Fine, let's break it off. You obviously don't love us no more and we certainly don't love you, now that you have completely changed as a person overnight. Oh, yeah, maybe your girl might be a little attached to us by now and used to living in here, but hey, shit happens, right?'
On the other hand, the way how you described hiding your head in the bushes when her attraction to this old friend became clear makes me think that maybe it wasn't so easy after all?
Next time, do a little reading beforehand and make sure you have your own shit worked out (communication, insecurity, belief that human emotions can somehow be managed rationally as you would manage your shares) and look for someone equal. Not equal as in relationship, but someone who is of the same age, educational background, financial situation and who has already some experience in poly and can make informed choices about whether to get involved with you and with the rules you set out.
I will admit that, like BlackUnicorn, I am a little apprehensive about any setup where the guy insists on being the only man in the relationship. It leads me to think, rightly or wrongly, that the man is threatened by other M-F relationships.
You make very good points. Hubby does have issues with insecurity. He says he doesn't know why he feels differently about having multiple women in the relationship but not multiple men. Honestly the situation has never come up before because well, I am not interested in any way shape or form in being with another man and never in my life have thought of being with any other man. When we met her she told us she was experienced and had another "3 way relationships" to the point that her daughter wouldn't think it odd for 3 people to be in bed together because she had seen it before. She also said that she had no desire for any other man to be in the relationship nor did she have any interest in pursuing any other relationship outside of the three of us. Had she said that she did have other interests we would have discussed it.
My husband not communicating is true that it is a issue. He has a tendency to talk to me about things about the relationship and I have historically been the one to bring it up mainly because he isn't the best communicator in that he sometimes has a sarcastic tone that isn't necessarily meant but yet is there. Yes it is something he needs to work on and he did work a lot on it with this relationship, but when he does try to express his concerns and is out and out lied to, I think that he decided that he didn't have any use for trying to communicate with dishonesty.
As for her moving in, it was put to us that she either moved in or she would be homeless. I guess maybe the better option would have been to have let her and her daughter go to a shelter and continue to try and work on the relationship at that point. It wasn't like he and I "went out looking" for her. She met hubby playing a game online. and she pursued things much harder then he did and then he introduced us. She immediately told me that she had "cervical cancer" which I have now come to believe was only because I run a Cancer Non Profit and she thought that it would endear her to me. I was cautious about the relationship because well, I was less then 5 months out of treatment for Cancer myself. Once she moved in she suddenly didn't have cancer anymore. Your right that I didn't rock the boat because of the kid. I felt that having the kid have to move into a homeless shelter was worse then trying to give her a stable home life.
By the end of the relationship I felt like I couldn't handle the dishonesty from her anymore. Maybe hubby wasn't the most communicative, maybe I let things go on longer then they should have, but it was in no way for selfish reasons and was instead because I DIDN'T want to disrupt the kids life.
This is the first "single unemployed mom" that hubby and I have been with, the other s have been professional, highly educated, intelligent women, and those relationships have ended very amicably with us being friends to this day but they have pursued other relationships. The difference is that when they had feelings for others they came to us and didn't deny it over and over again, they came to us and said "I have been talking with so and so and I am not sure this is where I need to be right now" and we have agreed to go our own ways. Even with hubby having his communication issues it has been a nice and peaceful ending. We have had about 6 relationships in the last 15 years of being together. Of those 6, the longest was over 3 years long and the only reason that ended was because of us having to move because of hubbys work and her not being able to move because of hers. It was THE MOST heartbreaking breakups ever and neither of us were angry or upset, we were all just sad.
I keep thinking about what was said about it not being necessary for her to move in and I keep thinking of if I would have been better suited to have said at that point "you know what, we can't take you and your child on yet, we think ti might work out someday but this isn't the right time, why dont you go get yourself set up at that shelter you were calling and we will see if maybe after a few more months you and your daughter will be in a better position to move in with us" and given her a ride to the shelter instead of our home. I guess I thought that was a little bit more heartless then I wanted to be toward someone I was trying to get to know and may want to be with. Who knows how things would have been different.
I have learned my lesson about young uneducated single mothers who are willing to lie and say whatever they need to take care of their children and their needs. I have also learned why sometimes what is said "stereotypically" isn't always just a bias and many times comes from true experiences that MANY have had. As for my wanting a child, it wasn't that we were looking to have a child, but it was kinda a situation where once the child was there we came to love her as our own.
Just out of curiosity; did you meet your previous partners accidentally, or through advertising/poly meet-ups? I'm wondering whether the 'selection pool' so to speak has an effect on poly success.
And sorry about the kid. She seemed to be willing to gamble in order to be able to give a better home environment for her kid, which is understandable. However, I think it's generally a better idea to start looking into intentional communities and some such if you are struggling with making ends meet alone than to throw yourself into a romantic situation and hope it will work out.
I have no issues whatsoever with triads. I was in a burgeoning one until recently (check the nick :)). But it is true what you said; I also thought I could prove the bad reputation of triads wrong with my absolutely superior relationship skills because everyone who said that FMF triads tend to fizzle out after the initial excitement runs out just didn't know what they were talking about :rolleyes:.
Another strike of curiosity; if both of you are interested in dating other women, have you tried to do it separately also?
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