I am so ridiculously new to this! I believe that as time passes, the more we experience, whether the result and or journey is filled with positives or negatives we grow in our understanding of ourselves for the better. I am young and have only really started to understand who I am and feel confident in being who I am whether it is accepted socially or not. But as it happens in life a new situation has arisen which has had me challenging my perspective and I have a big decision to make. I would be very grateful if you have any insight.
Firstly I am from the uk and I am thinking a lot of people here are from the US? There doesn't seem to be much activity online for polyamourous forums/events here - anyone out there from the Uk?
My situation is that my boyfriend of two years has come to me saying he is polyamourous. He has made it clear that if I chose to explore this I would without doubt be his primary, he loves me more than anyone before. He has also made it clear that if I cannot be in an poly relationship of some structure that we have no future. This is very hard for me to understand I am not instinctively poly, although I do have some ideals I guess resembling poly ideals (interest in commune living and three-some sexual experienced).
I am the suberviant partner, I require devotion, I require alot of contact time (although I am quite an independent person), I want a family and feel if I can be in a polyamourous relationship I would still want to be the only person to provide children for my primary. I would need to only ever be the primary for him. I am afraid that jealousy would get the better of me, I would become emotionally neurotic and that would drive him away. I am afraid that I would fall in love with his/my/our secondary and that I would be hurt having people move in and out of my life. I am also afraid that I am considering being in a poly relationship because I am scared of letting him go. I feel the only way to know if this is for me is by experience but if I bail later that would hurt him and me more and potentially leave us less likely to continue friendship.
Additionally, I do not understand how one could accept a secondary position (i guess unless they are a primary elsewhere) and I am afraid someone may come into our relationship as a secondary and push to change the structure. This may be naive of me but it is a great fear.
In short I am confused. Are there any poly converts out there who had my doubts and truly feel life is better now? Is my desire for him to be still quite significantly my primary realistic in a poly scenario realistic? I fear I will not be able to cope with him having an emotional connection with a sexual partner that I have always viewed as the unique and special aspect of our relationship. Any and all advice welcome and thank you for your time reading my post, I have read many posts here and have been encouraged by everyone's openess and willing to spend time assisting others through their concerns and issues.
Never mind if it works for others. Will it work for YOU.
I could write a whole page and I'm sure other people will try to convince you to deal with your jealousy, get to the root of it, develop compersion, etc.
Don't do anything you don't want to do. Two years is about how long it takes to REALLY get to know someone. It sounds like you and this man are incompatible as life partners. You can love someone, and be "in love" with them, and still not make good [partners for each other.
I would tell you to leave and seek happiness with someone who shares your vision of what you want out of life instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole and have things get very ugly in the process.
The only "poly ideal" I can think of is that all poly relationships be conducted ethically, honestly, and with the consent of everyone involved. Threesomes or communal living are not specifically "poly ideals," though they may be yours. There are a billion ways to live polyamorously.
My first reaction to reading your post is this: polyamory is not for you. It seems like you would only be embarking on it to please your boyfriend, and that is not a great way to start. We have seen instances of one person in a couple acquiescing in order to hold onto a relationship, after being threatened with an ultimatum, but those cases only seem to work out after years of angst and heartache and therapy. I don't think those usually work out at all in the long run.
You yourself said: you're young; you've just begun to know yourself; you don't understand poly; you "require" devotion and frequent contact; you want to be the only one who bears him children; you are afraid of people coming and going in your lives, of those attachments disappearing; you fear your jealousy becoming neurotic and pushing him away; and you consider both the emotional and sexual aspects of your relationship with him to be unique and very special to you. Because all those issues combined would become HUGE obstacles to being happy in a polyamorous situation, I don't think you would benefit from going there.
I think it will hurt less for you to end the relationship now, with your head held high because you made a choice that is right for who you are, than to try and twist yourself like a pretzel into "being poly" for him. For someone like you, poly with this guy will surely bring you agony and heartbreak.
As a complete newbie, I would suggest, if the relationship is basically over, why not give it a shot anyway? What do you have to lose, really? Either it is over now, or later, or it works out. At least if you try it, you will know it for sure and have learned something in the process.
Fish, I think your fears are legitimate and common fears. I guess my only suggestion is to keep reading posts and articles about polyamory, talking ideas over with your boyfriend (tell him that he has to give you a month or two to think about this--he just sprung it on you all sudden-like!) and then you might be able to see if those fears are something you can try, with his support, to overcome.
Several points to throw at you:
a) There's nothing ridiculous about being new to this. And don't think that because others on here are older than you, or have more experience in poly than you, that our answers have to be your answers.
b) Although I don't now live in the UK, I did so for 8 years and still have contacts there. I'm more UK-orientated than US-oriented.
c) Re. poly in the UK, there's an interesting opinion expressed in an article from 8 years ago on The Guardian's web-site:
Today America has more than 100 poly email lists and support groups. [...] There is a poly magazine, handbooks, endless conferences, retreats and workshops.
By contrast, the UK has only one poly mail list, UK-poly (currently with about 110 subscribers), and one online news group. Two magazines faltered after just one issue each. It is impossible to tell whether Britain has a paucity of polys, or whether they just prefer to keep a low profile. According to Anapol, Britain is "about 15 years behind America in terms of its acceptance". But Grant, who runs the UK-poly list, has a different explanation. He believes the numbers could be much higher, arguing that British people are if anything more tolerant than in America which is perhaps why British polys are less in need of support groups. "We have a tradition of people minding their own business here. People might disapprove, but they won't try to mess up your life. In America, they might call social services," says Grant.
d) But theory isn't what you're after, is it?
e) Let me say that I feel that it's very harsh of your boyfriend to spring this on you and then declare "that if I chose to explore this I would without doubt be his primary, he loves me more than anyone before. He has also made it clear that if I cannot be in an poly relationship of some structure that we have no future." Just HOW much time between his announcement and the ultimatum? Doesn't seem very caring, very loving, to me! Is that "without doubt" bit a direct quote? If so, it really smacks of emotional manipulation to me.
f) You've been together for 2 years. Just how long has he "known" that he's poly? I suspect that possibly he's just found someone else that he fancies, can't wait to get into her knickers (maybe SHE's the one who's genuinely poly and has explained her ground rules to him: no going behind your back!) and is pushing this poly ultimatum on you so that
i) if you go along with it, he can get his end away with 2 birds concurrently (and maybe even at the same time).
ii) if you don't go along with it, he can justify dumping you, by claiming that you weren't "mature enough" to handle the challenge of polyamory.
g) Please do notice the "possibly" in that last entry. Perhaps you're upset and have overdramatised or exaggerated his "ultimatum"? I don't want to judge him without hearing his side, and I would be less harsh towards him if I knew that he had started talking about polyamory with you a year ago, had now and then brought the subject up since then, and only recently let you know that his life choices are involved here, and that now - hard as it would be for him to lose you - if he had to decide between feeling free to give his love where it's welcome and restricting it to you against his principles, he's going to go for the former. In fact, I'd feel pretty sympathetically towards him.
h) I once had to make this choice myself, and with an up-til-then polyamorous relationship of 6 years' standing. My girlfriend wanted us to become monagamous. I told her that her choices were her own to make, but that I refused to restrict her freedom to love*, and refused to let her restrict mine. A few months after that, she broke it off with me.
i) Please bear in mind that polyamory isn't just about more sex - or more sex partners. Couples who go out for more sex are called swingers. The "amor" in polyamory means love. Some swingers who would happily share their partners SEXUALLY with a whole room of people would become insanely jealous if they found out that there was any love involved in one of those couplings.
j) You've had people on this thread advising you to drop your boyfriend, that poly isn't for everybody. Another has advised
k) Poly possibly ISN'T for everybody. I personally think that it'd do most people good to let go of that jealousy, possessiveness, and insecurity that are the real hindrance to being generous re: your love's loving others. But everybody's got to make that decision themselves, not under pressure, not in answer to an ultimatum. Perhaps polyamory isn't right for you now, but will be a liberating experience for you in 3 years.
As for the second part (about people being content to be secondaries), run a search (click on the blue bar above) on "secondary" and "unicorn". To start you off, here are two (started by the same person): here... and - my favourite thread on this whole site - here.
Whatever you decide, take care. Cherish yourself. LOVE yourself.
(Hey, and if you remain interested in commune living, stay in touch! Send me a pm.:o:))
* And I used to be (long before that) as jealous as the next person. One CAN work on jealousy...
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