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-   -   Boundaries vs. Coercive Manipulation (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1750)

LadyMacbeth 12-15-2009 04:26 PM

Boundaries vs. Coercive Manipulation
My husband Macbeth and I are relatively new to polyamoury and have found ourselves involved in some wonderful relationships and are in an "N" type situation. I have a boyfriend who is essentially monogomous, he has a girlfriend who is in a polyamorous relationship with her live in boyfriend. I am concerned that he (the boyfriend of my husband's girlfriend) is being manipulative and controlling and masking it as healthy boundaries.

Here is the situation, the boyfriend (we will call him B2) is involved in his own separate primary relationship. However, he is placing multiple restrictions on J (my husband's girlfriend) with daily shifting boundaries, with the rationale that her dates with my husband make him "feel bad." Here are the list of changes, first it was "you can't touch each other below the waist" then "you can touch each other below the waist, but need to limit your contact" then "you can proceed with no restrictions." Immediately after that it was "you can have overnights." Then, "you can't have overnights" followed by "you can only see each other once a week and not in our house" followed by "you can't see each other at all for a few weeks until I feel better."

Now, I understand each couple goes about arranging parameters in their own ways. However, he holds her to entirely different expectations that he is willing to place on himself. Eg, his girlfriend spends the night with him at their house, while J is there, J has no say related to his relationship. His rationale in asking them to not see each other is that it makes him "feel bad" and he "can't think clearly." He wants two week hiatus, with a "trial date" to follow, with the data being that they can continue to see each other on a limited basis if he "feels better" about it.

This all seems extremely emotionally manipulative. My husband is an emotional wreck and the shifting boundaries (they change on a daily basis) are creating great distress in almost all aspects of our lives. He loves this woman, and so do I...I think she is being emotionally abused.

Any thoughts would be helpful...

MonoVCPHG 12-15-2009 04:40 PM

Sorry to hear this..major red flags with this guy for sure. I'd say he has a classic case of "control freak" going on not to mention some serious double standards. This is a situation that your husband's girlfriend is going to have to take on. If she can't work through this with her boyfriend now, the chances of her being healthy and enjoying her relationships presently and in the future seems pretty slim.

No one likes to be told what to do, but I think it is time to sit down with her and point out the negatives in the relationship she has with her boyfriend. If she can't figure things out than maybe it's time to give her some space for your husband's own health?

Sorry to hear this
Peace and Love

crisare 12-15-2009 04:47 PM

I agree 100% with Mono. It almost sounds to me like this guy gets his jollies from emotionally manipulating his g/f and her partners.

Those "rules" aren't logical or reasonable relationship rules. They're cat and mouse games, meant to keep the other couple from being able to find any balance.

It might be time for your husband to decide if this is a relationship that he wants to / can be a part of.

GroundedSpirit 12-15-2009 05:18 PM

Even as hard as it is when yoou truly care about someone, I totally agree with Mono & Cris.
There's a heap of toxic immaturity & insecurity circulating there and I'd be explaining that to the GF. That is was simply too much for me and unhealthy for everyone involved. Maybe things with her situation will change in the future - but for now - sorry - got to go. Best wishes.

rubyfish 12-15-2009 05:43 PM

I personally couldn't deal with someone that had boundaries that didn't make sense, because honestly, I feel like I would be the one that ended up hurt and alone in the end. Okay, maybe not alone, but without that partner. I think you three should sit down go through all of your feelings and opinions in a controlled and rational manner. You or your husband can't make her decisions for her, you can only tell her of your concern for her and how it's effecting you.

calicowgirl 12-15-2009 05:43 PM

Sounds like a load of insecurity problems to me. Finding the core of the problem, probably a fear of losing her, might help but if he is just being an ass well, then that isn't likely to change.

Sounds like everyone needs to sit down and have a very candid talk. The bf needs to realize that ignoring the problem by stopping her dates is not actually dealing with the problem but instead feeding it and that by doing so he may very well push her away instead.

redpepper 12-15-2009 07:17 PM

I agree with everyone on this. I thinks calicowgirl voiced what I think the most though in that all of you should sit down and clarify what he wants for boundaries. That way you can get it straight from him. Who knows what got lost in translation.
If anything you could also tell him how you see a double standard in his boundaries and let him know how it affects all of you. It sounds like he is apprehensive about her finding someone new and getting controlling because of it. Perhaps there is a way to ease his mind if you were to all ask him what his concerns are. It could be that he wants to be okay with it all and is in the moment but then becomes overwhelmed and pulls her back.

She is not a puppet and that is not okay, but what WOULD work when he is feeling like that? To me it sounds like she needs to be a bit more firm in a loving way with him about her own boundaries. A little reassurance could go along way. Especially coming from her.

I tend to be similar to this guy. Pushing him up against a wall and telling him he is a "control freak" is not going to be helpful if you want this woman in your life. A little compassion would go along way. When I feel like that its because I feel out of control and the situation is too big for me. Usually some reassurance and kind words of understanding go along way as I want others to be happy, I just struggle to get there myself sometimes within that.

LadyMacbeth 12-15-2009 08:58 PM

Thanks all for your feedback. This was how I perceived the situation, but a trying to get a bit of space and objectivity. A couple more details.

First, my husband, his girlfriend J, and the B2 met for several hours yesterday to talk things out. My husband was shocked to discover that after three or so hours he was "drawn in" by the B2's rationale. The rationale for taking the two week hiatus from the relationship was, again, that he feels anxious and "can't think straight" when they are together. Additionally, he blames J for his feelings and holds her responsible for making him feel better, and has said things like, "if you don't give up your overnights, that proves to me you aren't committed to our relationship."

I offered to be present at the meeting, having a similar vested interest in the health of all relationships, and B2 panicked because of my profession (I am a doctoral clinical psychologist) because he didn't want to be "analyzed." I have determined that he didn't want someone calling BS on the behavior.

I have had several discussions with J indicating my concerns about the controlling nature of the behavior. She has stated she wants the trial separation to be "one last chance" for B2 to shape up his act. I have expressed my concern that giving one more concession (there have been endless concessions) is simply a reinforcement of the behavior and will likely encourage continued behavior. And, he will certainly be more "nice" because he will be getting what he wants, compliance.

Fuming and sad...

crisare 12-15-2009 09:03 PM


Originally Posted by LadyMacbeth (Post 15901)
I have determined that he didn't want someone calling BS on the behavior.

That's what it sounds like to me, as well.

I'm so sorry that you're going through this, even incidentally as the support for your husband and his g/f. Just based on what you've written, it seems as if all would be better off separated from B2 and maybe he'll find a relationship more suited to his needs.

My sympathies.

redpepper 12-15-2009 09:27 PM

Okay, this goes far beyond what I identify in with in this guy. He really is a bit on the personality disorder side of things it seems.

I see no reason why the last chance can't be all of you talking about it one more time. After that, if he is going to continue trying to control the situation then I would agree that mcbeth would need to really consider what he wants from all this and whether or not he can respect being with a woman who let's someone control her and their relationship.

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