What kind of pickle did I get myself into?
Alright, I thought I had posted this earlier but I haven't seen it so here goes take 2. I could really use some advice on this and would welcome feedback.
I am 28 years old, a wife, a mother, and pretty new to polyamory. I have been married 9 years, we have dabbled in swinging for the past 4 years and recently discovered that perhaps polyamory is more suited to us. We both can appreciate the emotional and intellectual connection that comes from someone else.
This being said my husband actually found an amazing woman right about the time we were making this decision which is absolutely great. He is such an introvert and if he hadn't met her I would probably be worrying that he wouldn't find someone. But nope, he used his nerdy charm and wooed her off her feet :) He laid all the cards on the table, that he had a wife, kids, and no intention to leave either. Ideally he wants us both. I think that B (as I will call her) is an amazing woman and am so happy he found her. She is recently divorced with two children of her own.
My situation is a good deal stickier. I have a group of people I associate with (play sports, see comedians etc) that is mostly made of single people and none of them really know anything about my personal life. This being said I hadn't 'dated' anyone inside this group so it didn't really matter. I discussed with my husband that I intend to kind of 'practice' dating since I have been very out of practice and he and I met very young and were married within a year. I told him in advance that this practice wouldnt involve me delving into our personal details but really getting more into how to flirt again etc.
And then a really great guy from the group asked me out and I said yes... ugh... he is amazing, intelligent, romantic, and very attentive...but his personality is definately not one that would seek out polyamory or I think really accept it. I talked to my husband about this earlier today and he said eventually I would have to break it off and either tell him or not... or I could let it run it's course which may not be that long. I feel awful because this man doesn't know about a fairly substantial part of my life but at the same time I value the few dates we have had and would like to see him longer. His personality screams monogamy and I think that me telling him the truth would hurt him very much so to me, that leaves me two options really, break it off and don't tell him the full truth, or keep him a little more at a distance, enjoy time with him, and let it run its course.
ADVICE? Anyone ever dated someone your spouse knew about who didn't know about your spouse?
Also... I am not trying to offend anyone here but I feel like the few poly men I do find on websites etc are very... creepy? Or far older than me? Having a little dating practice now I would very much like to start something out with honesty.
Woah woah woah! It's not ok to "practice" with someone's heart. :(
You're right, this dude is going to get hurt one way or the other. The question now is "how"?
Option one. You break up with him and lie about why. There's every chance he'll realize that your reasons for breaking it off don't quite add up and he'll be left wondering what the real reason was and without a sense of resolution. But hey, that happens often in the dating world, no big deal right? Actually sometimes it can hurt a lot. Chances are good he'll get over it just fine, though.
But what about if he finds out you were married the whole time? I can't imagine it would take that much digging to find that out and any jilted lover can be forgiven just a tiny amount of forlorn stalking (googling your name, asking people about you, that sort of thing). How shocked and betrayed will he be to find out that you lied to him like that? Plus, he will naturally assume that your husband doesnt know and he may feel guilty for participating in the "betrayal" of your husband on top of everything else. What a cruel load of crap to put on someone you supposedly like.
Option two, you let it run its course, which I can only presume means you think in time he will break up with you or you two will naturally drift apart. Now, here you get some though not quite all of the potential painful fallout from option one. But what if it goes the other way -- what if more time together leeds one or both of you to grow closer to the other, maybe even fall in love? Feelings are unpredictable, after all. At this point, discovering the lie either by accident or by you telling him will be a millon times more painful then it would have been in option one. A truly terrible bombshell.
Option three, you tell him now, the very next time you see him. You apologize profusely for not bringing it up before and explain that you were afraid. You say that you expect that he will probably want to break up but if he's willing to consider the idea of continuing dating you'd be happy to introduce him to your husband so he can be assured that things are on the up and up. You actually practice poly, which is about honesty rather then lying and toying with someone else's feelings.
Do the brave and hard and RIGHT thing here, Missgt. Give this guy a chance to make his own decision. I can certainly see why you would want to find an easier way out. No one wants to be the bad guy and chances are good he'll see it that way when you tell him. It's an uncomfortable situation, no doubt. But you can do this, and this is the ONLY way that he can learn the truth (and really, you may find the idea unlikely, but he *could* find out even if you don't tell him) in a manner that let's you have a *chance* of retaining his respect. Maybe a friendship can be salvaged even if he doesn't want to keep dating. And at least you'll have your self respect.
He may surprise you by being more open-minded than you think... maybe he's considered poly before himself, or maybe he might find the idea intriguing. But if he really is as monogamously-minded as you suspect... doesn't he deserve the chance to find a woman who can give him what he wants rather than being led on by one who can't? He's a human being with a heart, not an experiment as you ease your way into a real poly.
I don't think there's anything wrong with "practicing" dating, as long as you're up front about it. When I first started chatting with Dreamy, a guy I met online, we both were recently separated and rusty at dating. So we agreed to practice with each other. That relieved the pressure we were feeling and made it enjoyable. We could allow for some bungling and missteps, and laugh about them, that way. And, there is nothing wrong with dating without a goal of advancing to something more serious, and doing it to just have fun, get used to meeting people, learn how to flirt, etc., ... practicing. In fact, I always recommend that anyone dating do it that way, and take the pressure off!
However, it isn't right to be as dishonest about it as you have been. To be married but not reveal it is unfair. I am separated and reveal that right way, even though it's very final to me and I know without a doubt reconciliation with my ex is not possible, because some people will not date someone who isn't yet divorced. If I was just practicing dating, I'm not about to pretend with someone that that's not what I'm about. You are being selfish, basically, by withholding important information from him that would enable him to make an informed decision. He chose to ask you out and you chose to lie. Is that really how you want to embark on a relationship? Even if it's just a date or two, starting off like that with someone sets a negative tone of dishonesty and manipulation. Where do you think it could go from there? You want to keep dating him, and you "feel awful," but yet you're still considering letting it continue. Not only is it unethical and just plain not nice to do to him, it will also make things even worse for you among this group of people of which he is a part. You will have to find a whole new set of friends because no one will trust you. Can you see that it will eventually, undoubtedly, all go kablooey in your face?
Tell him you are married the very next time you see him. Call him up and let him know you need to talk to him. I see no reason to wait. Tell him you have an open relationship with your husband and "permission" to date. Apologize profusely and sincerely for not telling him sooner, and explain that this is new to you and ask him to forgive. See if he will understand, but be ready for him to dump you. You may be surprised, though - I find that lots of guys who have heretofore been solely monogamous are totally fine with not being exclusive (I never use the word polyamorous with civilians, too confusing for many).
Next time, show other people the kind of respect you want to be shown, and approach dating with honesty and integrity.
Tell him flat out. Tell him and be prepared to say sorry and walk away... at least you will have your dignity in time and your integrity.
I dated a woman once that I didn't tell I was married. We hit it off really well and I tried to kiss her at the end of the night. She said "no thanks" and we agreed to see each other again. It didn't happen. I have seen her several times while with my other partners and husband... even my child that I had not confessed to. It must of been confusing for her and I imagine I was pretty obviously not alone a few times. She never spoke to me again and I feel so ashamed.
Now she is running in a local election and her name is plastered all over the city! Ya, think about that all too often and wished I had just said something when I had a chance. The longer it has been left the more ashamed I am and the more distance occurs from saying something. I roll my eyes at the situation now. It has become almost humorous. Tragically so, but funny.
When it doubt? Be honest. That is my motto now. Lived and learnt.
This would be a good note to self: tell those you date up front.
The three foregoing responses are all pretty much right on the money: honesty is required, in part to prevent harm, in part out of respect for the right of other people to make decisions for themselves.
I did want to say something about this, though:
I wonder if, in our culture, "older (married) guy looking to date" simply equals "creepy guy". It's the stereotype of the wannabe swinger, in the depths of a midlife crisis, pathetically desperate to catch one last taste of youth before the long decline . . .
In fighting this stereotype, all I have to fall back on are my nerdy charm and rusty dating skills . . .
I, for one, find nerdy charm, well charming.
First I had a conversation with my husband because the more I thought about it the more I realized there was a conversation I needed to have with him as well. And the conclusion that I first came to with my husband is that I worry that we (me in particular) are exploring poly but what if it is really that I am a mono that is not in the right relationship? This is a fear of mine and he understands that. I don't know if there is really a way to know this yet, but I am going to give poly a true effort I am not looking to replace a relationship with another. I love my husband but we married very young and it has always been a very pragmatic relationship. I am a creature driven by emotion and he is more than anything... not. I think that while we are a good pair for the purpose of raising a family, of being 'productive' we are really more like best friends who have great sex but not the romantic connection really.
That being said... I had a conversation with the wonderful man I have had a few dates with. Well, I am a very emotional creature so for clarity I wrote a letter, actually wrote it three times to get it right and hand delivered it. I talked to him for a few minutes first (I think he was scared I was breaking things off). And I tried to be as honest as I could with him. The letter introduced him to the fact that I am married and went into our situation a little more, how long and number of children etc. It expressed that I am still unsure exactly what the situation will be with me. That while I know that I love my husband our relationship is very different that even the caring I have for him. I told him that my husband was aware from the first date I went on with him, that I was ashamed that I was too cowardly to tell him up front. I think what I really tried to convey was that I am still very confused and this is totally new ground for me. That I don't know if what I am truly seeking is to add to my existing relationship with additional loves or if my existing relationship has perhaps run its course. I told him that I know he is looking for something more long term and I don't know yet what the future looks like for me and relationship(s) and that was why I was really only looking for casual dating but that he was very special to me which is why I had to tell him everything if there was any hope for him to at least forgive me.
Result- baffling. He said it was a lot to process, then stroked my hair and told me he would like to continue to get to know me and we can figure it out. I worry that perhaps he is hoping that I will realize that I really need monogamy, but I also worry that my husband is hoping that poly is the real 'solution' for lack of better word. Even if I come to decide that poly is what is truly right for me and this new man signs on board I think that he would still be the 'mono' of the relationship but as long as he is willing to let me be me with whatever the final outcome is. Hopefully he was not just saying this and he is going to come to his senses tomorrow... I did tell him that if that changes... his desire to continue to get to know me... to please say something even it is a call, text, or e-mail.
I want to be clear I do love my husband but like I said our relationship is different... we got married very early when I was pregnant and had we not been married I think that perhaps a very long time ago we would have not worked through some of our issues. The difference between us and other couples who get married when pregnant is that we do have a genuine love and respect for eachother and are very compatible in many ways. My husband said the thing he thinks has left me longing for me is that emotionally I settled. Which I would have a hard time saying is a false statement but that doesn't mean I don't love him and respect him and want to see us both happy. The only question I continue to pursue now (as I told this new man) is what the answer to that is.
I wish that there were manuals for this that came with answers to every situation. We will see how this continues.
Ahh.... I do not find older than me creepy... I just said that they were EITHER creepy OR far older than me. I do not consider 40s far older. The 58 year old who recently contacted me was a little off-putting. And by creepy I will tell you- it is something about the look of the man (presentation wise in his picture) or the responses he sends not age, hair color, or any other arbitrary factor. I think most of the men I have found on those sites are looking for something not so much about relationship building.
Does this help clarify?
Oh- and to be honest nerdy is totally hot. Both husband and the gentleman I am trying to explore with are engineer/IT. Somewhat awkward, but very likable and yes sexy men. One is just more in tune with his emotions and more into cooking, music, and art while the other is more into beer brewing, fantasy football, and reading.
Wow!! :) :)
Major major kudos for your handling of things. Strike a blow for honesty -- you did the hard thing and it totally worked, so cool!! I bet that he admires your bravery, he must know it can't have been easy.
As for the "am I poly" thing... I believe that you can have a solid relationship based on compatibility, companionship, and a strong partnership where the issues have been worked out together via the hard work of years. I mean, that's nothing to sneeze at! If you can make a go at having that *and* the thrill of new love and emotion and romance, with everything done with integrity and on the up and up... well heck, why not see how lucky the universe will let you be? :D
No way to tell what will happen... there is, indeed, no manual... but poly/mono relationships certainly *can* work. Truly, assuming a continuation of open-mindedness, honesty, amd hard work on everyone's part, anything the three of you can work out together is possible.
It's hard enough, it seems, for you to sort out your own intentions, and desires, and limits without having to guess or assume or worry about the intentions, and desires, and limits of others. Nor should you make yourself responsible for the intentions, desires and limits of others.
So, you could, as you go along, make sure the "new guy" understands what your limits are, even (or perhaps especially) if your limits are set by your own confusion at the "pickle" in which you've landed. Surely, there are some things you wouldn't be comfortable with, some places you will not go.
On my OKCupid profile, I make it very clear, up front, that I am committed to my wife and our children, and that the commitment is not negotiable. That's one of my limits, and others will just have to deal with it.
Likewise, maybe you should do what you can to make sure "new guy" knows you are not going to end up in a monogamous relationship with him; if he was pinning his hopes on that, he may just lose interest . . . and that would be his loss. ;)
On the other hand, if he understands that, and still wants to get to know you, and is still open to whatever your relationship becomes (short of exclusive monogamy), then you have something to build on.
. . . or so it seems to me, with my limited (not-quite-null) experience of actual poly relationships.
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