I need some help
Hi, I'm 23 and I want to learn more about Polyamory, so that I can make a better decision in my own life, and ultimately the relationship that I'm in.
I've been seeing this girl for a few months now, and I'm very much aware that that is a very short amount of time to be even thinking about a poly relationship. Just as a heads up, I've never been in a poly relationship, I've read about it, I can intellectually rationalize the reasoning behind it, evolution and all that jazz, and how there's a lot of evidence to suggest that humans by our very nature aren't meant to be monogamous. I also read a few articles by Franklin Veaux, which I found interesting.
My issue is she wants (eventually) to have a poly relationship, it's very important that I stress this isn't something that would have happened in the near future, it would have been a year plus away, at least. In the back of my head I knew that but it wasn't something I confronted with myself until recently.
When I realized that this is something I didn't know much about, I decided to research it, find as much information as I could, and what I found was all very interesting. But as interesting as I find it all, I can't seem to make the connection emotionally-wise, that gives me the ability to be ok with it. I want to be with her, but I don't think this is something I can do.
I'm bi-polar, which means I suffer from a lot of emotional issues, insecurity being one of the big ones. I've tried medication but as someone for whom art (writing, singing, music, drawing) is such a huge outlet for me, I can't do medication, it takes such an intrinsically important part of me away and stuffs it into a little box out of my reach, so I have no real choice but to manage my issues in a non-chemical way, therapy, talking, etc.
I also believe in monogamy, as much as one can, I want to find one person to settle down with, and be faithful to that person, because that's what I want from a relationship. I had my fun sleeping around when I was younger, I simply don't feel the desire to sleep with other people, and I'm well aware that that's not what polyamory is about, from what I've been able to gather it's about finding romantic connections with people outside of your base relationship, which may be the person that you want to settle down and live out your life with, raise children with.
One of the things I've read people say is that if you can imagine your partner being romantically linked with someone outside of your relationship, and not mentally freak out at the prospect, than polygamy may be something you could do, but I DO freak out, I know in my head that it's nothing to be freaked out about, and that it doesn't change how that person feels about me, but it does freak me out, I get uncomfortable, I have trouble breathing, my chest hurts and I can't think with all my usual faculties. Why is this? How can I KNOW something is ok, but not feel it?
I want to believe in it, for her sake, because she gave up so much to be with me, and I'm crazy about her, (NRE and all that jazz no doubt) but I just don't feel it.
I'm sure many people here, if not everyone will understand the constant wrangling of logic vs emotions, the desire to control such a ridiculously over powering factor in one's life with logic, but it's the emotion that gives a romantic relationship, if I take away what I intrinsically feel about monogamy/polygamy by rationalizing it out, than how can I ever be happy in a romantic relationship, of any nature?
I've tried to do things that I intellectually agree with, but emotionally don't wholly agree with before, and it's destroyed me. Some of the worst break-downs of my life have come from going against things I feel because my own logic has told me that it's fine.
As a side note, a couple whom I'm very good friends, that have been married for over a decade have an open relationship, not a polygamous relationship as it seems defined here, they bring others into their bedroom for sex, it seems more along the lines of swinging. From what I've gathered it seems to be something that she wanted, and he not so much, and out of love for her, he's gone along with it. He's someone that I believe suffers from bi-polar, a very smart man, incredibly intelligent, but very emotional, and I've seen what the effects of that style of relationship have had on him, it's destroyed him in many ways, I don't think he could ever admit it though. I'm terrified that that could be me if I try to fight my feelings on the matter.
Basically, I just don't feel it, I understand it, and a large part of me desires it if only for this person that i care so much about. I don't know what to do, this is a deal-breaker, and I'm terrified.
From what you've written, it seems that you and your girlfriend are fundamentally incompatible. If a poly or open relationship is essential to her, then that is a deal breaker. You two don't want the same style of relationship and this is usually not something that can be finessed around. And it sounds like poly would not just be uncomfortable for you but actually damaging. I wish I had a better assessment for you.
And now for the unsolicited advice.
Please reconsider not using medication to treat your bipolar disorder. My ex has bipolar. It's been her experience, backed up by various studies, that people who do not treat bipolar with medication, or they go on and off medication, are much more likely to screw up their lives - career, relationships, health. Or they just don't survive. The disease kills them indirectly through health issues causes by the harsh toll bipolar takes on the body, not just the mind, or through addictions or thrill seeking behavior, or directly through suicide. Yes, the medications often have absolutely vicious side effects. My ex hated the ones that clouded her thinking (she's a scientist.) But there is a broader range of medications available. There is a combination out there that will not cloud your artistic expression while treating the disease. Please think about it. Your sanity and continued survival may be at risk.
Have you been diagnosed bipolar? Your description of being intelligent but emotional is not what I know of the illness. If you haven't, then perhaps you aren't. That might be something to check out. Some people find ways to cope in life by doing what you are doing regardless of mental illness. Good for you figuring out what works without medication. Having said that, sometimes medication is also helpful. This is your journey with this though and it sounds like you have a good handle on it right now.
It sounds to me like waiting for a year might just prolong the agony. After NRE it does happen that perspective changes and things that seemed impossible become possible, so waiting might be an answer too... it depends on you and what it all means to her.
If you sit and think of her with another man and can't breath then perhaps practising that will help. Teach your body how to cope before it happens. If this is that important to you then this can work. I call it "walking through" the emotions. People use this technique to pick apart jealousy and get at all the root causes of it. For me that feeling of not being able to breath is that I am overwhelmed with several emotions at once and several threats... it might help to pick this feeling apart and figure out what the threats and emotions are... then discuss with your partner.
My biggest suggestion is that you don't do this alone. It is of utmost importance that she know your process every step of the way... she will need to walk you through the scenarios that play out in your head so that when someone comes along you are already solid in your communication and way of relating around this. Giving it all a time line such as a year puts a lot of pressure on you to succeed in being able to handle it by then. Its not like being in school where you put the work in and pass somehow. Its a process that is on going. Either you are willing to engage in that process and all it brings or you are not. I have been aware and practising poly relationship dynamics for many years and still am in that process. I am where I am with it all and don't pretend to be better at it because of time. I am more accomplished than some because I have worked on it.
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