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AppleCrumble 11-20-2011 11:58 AM

New to the forum and new to poly
 
... and I don't even know if poly is the right word! I don't know if poly(amory) is exactly the right word to describe what I'm new to because I personally feel uncomfortable about *loving* someone outside my primary relationship. I guess it also depends how you define love, because I do think it's important to *care* about non-primary partners on some level, and perhaps some people would call that love.

However, I've been lurking about for a little while, reading a number of threads from that Master Thread, and I do feel somewhat at home here. It looks like a pretty awesome community.

My Relationship Background: I've been with my partner, Mr. W, for four years and we've been living together for two. A good friend of mine introduced me to the concept of open/poly relationships, and she armed me with a copy of The Ethical Slut. As many of you have also mentioned, it's not a perfect book, but it helped me formulate some of my ideas and opinions about what my ideal relationship could be. I aired this idea to Mr. W about 1.5 years ago. He's been so positive about it, but since this is a new concept to us, and we value each other so much, we're stepping out into it very carefully.

After six months of exploring how we felt and careful planning, and another six months of searching, we finally caught a unicorn! (who I will call Sabina) She also had no prior experience with poly/open relationships before, but she's an excellent communicator, so respectful of our primary relationship, and everything was amazing until a couple weeks ago. Sabina and I had started becoming close friends as well as sex partners, and she recently opened up to me emotionally in rather an intense way. I didn't feel like I could be so emotionally supportive (which I feel goes into "love" territory), and still have casual sex with her. So Sabina and I decided put sex on hiatus for now (we agreed we're friends first, sex partners second), while I figure out with Mr W how much emotional attachment we're comfortable with in a secondary relationship (this is probably a whole nother thread, so I'll stop getting into details now).

My point is that even after so much thought and careful planning, I/we still feel a bit like we're bumbling about and sort of making things up as we go along, based on how we feel... and I suppose this is an important thing to do. I must say, it is such a relief to see other people here struggling with similar issues, and having a wide variety of ways of doing things. Other than my friend who introduced me to the concept of non-monogamy, I have had very little basis for comparison until now. I look forward to picking your brains about my various bumbles, and I hope I can offer my two cents once in a while, too!

Magdlyn 11-20-2011 01:32 PM

Good luck managing your unicorn, and welcome to the board. Growing emotional attachment is a good thing, in my book. I hope you and your bf can get on the same page about this.

AnnabelMore 11-20-2011 03:41 PM

Welcome! I look forward to hearing more of your story, I'm sure the community will be happy to advise when you're ready to ask questions.

A quick thought. It's ok to not be emotionally available to people outside your primary relationship. If you really are "monoamorous", then it's best to just say so up front. However, if it's just about not being comfortable with the idea, in other words if it's just too scary, you may want to reconsider you approach to things. Many people *are* capable of loving more than one person at once, and you may well be one of them... it can be very hard to tell without some experiences to draw from... and if you are such a person, then feelings will likely crop up when you least expect them to whether you like it or not. But it certainly doesn't have to be a bad thing. :)

Most people find that, after some initial bumps, loving others doesn't take away from their primary relationship as long as it's in a context of honesty and respect. You may also just not know yet if one or both of you has the inclination and ability to love others. The important thing to do, if you're interested in continuing down this road, is to stay flexible, not put any expectations on anyone, and let each relationship take the shape its trying to take.

This may be a great read for you guys and Sabina: http://www.morethantwo.com/coupledating.html

Good luck!

SchrodingersCat 11-20-2011 07:12 PM

Just so we're all using the same terminology, "unicorn" typically refers to a woman who will join a MF couple, and love them both equally and join their relationship and they'll all become one big happy family.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like you wanted a woman to come share regular casual sex with you and your partner, but not form an emotional bond? We don't usually think of that as a unicorn... I'm not sure we really have a word for it, actually. Sex toy? It's probably easier to find a woman to be a regular sex partner, with no romantic strings attached, than it is be to find a woman who can fall in love equally with two people, and with whom both people can fall equally in love. That's why we call them unicorns.

And so now, I'm also confused about the nature of this emotional attachment. You say you're friends first, sex partners second... but where does loving, romantic partners fit into that? Off the table completely? Third after sex? Between friends and sex?

nycindie 11-20-2011 07:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AppleCrumble (Post 111773)
... still feel a bit like we're bumbling about and sort of making things up as we go along, based on how we feel...

Welcome to the human race where no one is an expert and we're all a bunch of bumblers making it up as we go along!

AppleCrumble 11-20-2011 11:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SchrodingersCat (Post 111825)
Just so we're all using the same terminology, "unicorn" typically refers to a woman who will join a MF couple, and love them both equally and join their relationship and they'll all become one big happy family.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like you wanted a woman to come share regular casual sex with you and your partner, but not form an emotional bond? We don't usually think of that as a unicorn... I'm not sure we really have a word for it, actually. Sex toy? It's probably easier to find a woman to be a regular sex partner, with no romantic strings attached, than it is be to find a woman who can fall in love equally with two people, and with whom both people can fall equally in love. That's why we call them unicorns.

And so now, I'm also confused about the nature of this emotional attachment. You say you're friends first, sex partners second... but where does loving, romantic partners fit into that? Off the table completely? Third after sex? Between friends and sex?

Eep. I clearly jumped into using new terminology too soon! :o Thanks for asking me to clarify. I suppose I just like the idea of a unicorn... But scratch that. What I meant is that Sabina is an attractive woman willing to be a regular sex partner with me and Mr W, respecting and understanding our relationship. This alone took us ages to find! We did take her needs/desires into account, too. While we both shared her at times, her relationship was mostly with me, as she identifies as lesbian, but that didn't preclude some contact between her and Mr W, which she had been looking to try in a safe environment. It certainly wasn't a fully equal relationship between the three of us.

To be honest, I think we're all a bit confused about the nature of our emotional attachments. We're not planning on her joining our relationship, but we do care about her, and she cares about us. I wouldn't describe my feelings for Sabina as romantic love, because love to me implies a permanence that I don't expect from my relationship with Sabina. I would say we have formed some sort of emotional bond with her, at least as friends as well as sex partners. She and I were also friends before this all started, which is where the friends first thing came about..

I hope that makes it clear, or clearer, or at least as clear as it is in my head, which to be honest is still a little muddled.

Magdlyn 11-21-2011 10:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AppleCrumble (Post 111773)


After six months of exploring how we felt and careful planning, and another six months of searching, we finally caught a unicorn! (who I will call Sabina) She also had no prior experience with poly/open relationships before, but she's an excellent communicator, so respectful of our primary relationship, and everything was amazing until a couple weeks ago. Sabina and I had started becoming close friends

So you and Sabina weren't close friends before, though you were friends, before the sex started. So you 2 started out as friends with benefits...

Quote:

as well as sex partners, and she recently opened up to me emotionally in rather an intense way. I didn't feel like I could be so emotionally supportive (which I feel goes into "love" territory), and still have casual sex with her.
... and now you perceive that spending so much time together having sex has caused her feelings to grow. "Opened up to me emotionally in rather an intense way," means what, exactly? At first I thought you meant she shared something about her past with you that she trusted you to hear. But now I am wondering: did she say she loves you? In the "in love" type way going beyond mere friendship?

If that is the case, this IS polyamory. Before, if there was just "I like her, I get along with her, the sex is hot," it's just polyfuckery, to use a coarse term. Kind of like swinging. If you and your h had a deal you could both have sex with Sabina, but not love her, I guess you weren't aware how often sex causes love to grow, when combined with friendship in the first place.

Quote:

So Sabina and I decided put sex on hiatus for now (we agreed we're friends first, sex partners second), while I figure out with Mr W how much emotional attachment we're comfortable with in a secondary relationship (this is probably a whole nother thread, so I'll stop getting into details now).
I dunno, it seems like it's the point of this whole thread, to me. Going in, you and your h just wanted some hot sex with an outsider. Now Sabina is having deeper feelings for you. She's a lesbian. Her hetero-curiousness has been taken care of, and now she's into you.

This so often happens in unicorn situations. Happened to me! It's almost the norm for the unicorn to fall harder for one or the other of the couple they are fucking. Then suddenly you've got a V, not a triad.

AppleCrumble 12-05-2011 12:40 PM

Thanks all of you for helping analyse this a little more. I went away to think about things for a bit. So I知 going to attempt some more well thought out replies (if still a little muddled) to your comments. (mods, if this is meant to move to another forum for things beyond simple introductions, please do so!)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magdlyn (Post 111925)
"Opened up to me emotionally in rather an intense way," means what, exactly? At first I thought you meant she shared something about her past with you that she trusted you to hear. But now I am wondering: did she say she loves you? In the "in love" type way going beyond mere friendship?

When I said open up to me emotionally, I meant that she told me a lot about problems going on in her life, personal insecurities, that kind of thing (see also Footnote). We had talked about stuff like that before in a vague sense (e.g. I致e had a crap day...) but not on such a deep level. Furthermore, I related to some of the stuff she said, and I opened up to her as well. I think in that kind of conversation, where for the first time both people are vulnerable but supportive to each other... it changes the dynamics of the relationship.

She痴 now a very close friend, rather than simply a friend-with-benefits. I guess I love her as a friend (she has said that to me), and I知 very attracted to her. I think she feels that way about me, too. Does love-as-a-friend + attraction = romantic love? I知 not sure it does. This follows on nicely from that point:

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnabelMore (Post 111795)
If you really are "monoamorous", then it's best to just say so up front. However, if it's just about not being comfortable with the idea, in other words if it's just too scary, you may want to reconsider you approach to things.

After some reflection, I think you池e right, part of it is being scared. How do you think I should consider approaching things differently? I care about Sabina as much as any of my close friends that I love, but I知 very scared of saying 的 love Sabina. because terminology-wise, it sounds no different from saying 的 love Mr W. And (I think) there痴 a very key difference in terms of the commitment I feel to Mr W. I don稚 want him to feel any less important, that he痴 not the main romantic interest in my life because he is!

And yes, I know (at least intellectually) that your love for one person does not lessen your love for anyone else. However, I feel that I am monoamorous in the sense that there痴 only one person (Mr W) that I want to have a house and kids with; to get old with. For me, there are constraints on time and energy for that kind of commitment to other people, and therefore I don稚 think I知 prepared to spend my life with more than one person (though I admire people who are able to). I am committed to him in a way I could never imagine myself being to anyone else. That said, in my lifetime, I think I could have meaningful secondary relationships with people outside that primary bond I have with Mr W. But they would be exactly that: secondary.

Sabina may be a good example of this secondary bond I hope to have with other people, if/when we start things again. I would care about her, we壇 be close, we壇 be attracted to each other but we wouldn稚 be planning our lives together in the same way. I知 rather certain this feeling is mutual. We致e been clear about from the start that this kind of commitment is not something that either of us wants. The extent of commitment I have with Sabina is that (1) we壇 let each other know (but not necessarily ask for permission) before either of us started relationships with new people and (2) we are concerned for each other痴 well-being committed to checking in now and then, making sure that we池e comfortable with the way things are going. I think this is a significant commitment and obviously I care about her, but I still think it痴 a very different thing from what I have with Mr W.

I知 also aware of it seeming a little selfish, that perhaps I知 not taking Sabina痴 feelings into account as much as Mr. W痴 or my own. I don稚 know what to make of that, other than to be comforted in the fact that we do all talk really honestly about or values/expectations... and hopefully that way Sabina痴 feelings are also heard.

_________

Footnote: This is kinda an issue separate to how to define the relationship, but I think it痴 also relevant here somewhere... What also concerned me was that one of the insecurities she told me about involved being unable to be fully emotionally intimate in a long-term relationship (i.e. she痴 been unable to open up to her partners in the past, and she often puts up walls in relationships just when her partners were expecting that things should be more intimate). I think part of the reason she told me about this was that there was no expectation of emotional intimacy the same way there is in a lot of committed relationships, so paradoxically she felt more comfortable opening up. But I started to worry that perhaps our non-committal relationship framework wasn稚 the best thing for her to work on that with. We致e talked about it more and she痴 reassured me that she痴 comfortable with this, and as nobody has come along that she sees having a long-term relationship with and she doesn稚 really feel ready to work on long-term relationships before she has dealt with some of her personal issues. So I think in that respect, continuing things as they were would be ok. We池e all consenting adults, and there痴 a lot of discussion and transparency going on here that can only be healthy, right?

nycindie 12-06-2011 01:55 AM

Funny how we've been taught that love = commitment. Sometimes love just is, and there is no requirement that anything change in a relationship when that word is uttered. I find this perplexing and sometimes problematic in my own life. I just want to be able to say I love someone without there being the added notion on top of it that something else must be attached to it (such as a commitment to a certain goal, moving in, sharing more than what we share, our dynamic needing to change, etc.).

Magdlyn 12-06-2011 12:34 PM

Sometimes it is possible for a secondary to become a second primary. We can plan all we want... You say,

Quote:

, I feel that I am monoamorous in the sense that there痴 only one person (Mr W) that I want to have a house and kids with; to get old with. For me, there are constraints on time and energy for that kind of commitment to other people, and therefore I don稚 think I知 prepared to spend my life with more than one person (though I admire people who are able to). I am committed to him in a way I could never imagine myself being to anyone else.
But of course, it is always possible another Mr Right, or Ms Right, could come along, who is so perfect for you that you also want to commit to them in some kind of permanent way. Commitment doesn't have to mean living with, or sharing finances, or having kids together... it can just mean a regular weekly date, occasionally taking vacations together, helping them with life issues (like if they need to move house and want help, or fall ill and need help with housework, babysitting each others' kids, etc etc).

It is possible to have 2 people you consider primaries, even though you live with one and not the other.

Then again, if you really want to prevent committing to another in this way, you might actually need to put up walls yourself in order to keep the relationship on a more casual level. Like you have now... saying you and Sabina can't have sex anymore because you think she trusts you too much!


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