Another mono / poly, don't know how to move forward
First post, so definiteyl a newbie, both to the Poly scene and this forum.
I'll give a quick cliff note version of my gf and my history. Feel free to jump to the question below. Sorry in advance for the long post.
Basically I was dating my girlfriend of 10 years (we broke up for almost 2 years at the 4th year mark) when a few months ago, I discovered she has been cheating on me with a man she had some sexual relationship with in the past (while we were broken up). This relationship has consistantly being a sore point due to the fact that their "friendship" almost always require exclusivity in activity. In other words, they'd go camping, concert, spend weekends together etc without other parties involved.
I've tried to deal with the exclusivity issue by being flexible and lya down boundries and chalk the rest of my discomfort to my jealousy streak, something I felt very guilty of.
4 months ago, I ran across email that indicated they have more going on than friendship. I also noticed her taking more weekend trips and increase in secrecy. Finally last month I showed up at the man's door and exposed the affair.
When she finally came home, we discussed what to do going forward. She said the man (we shall refer to him as T going forward) is a friend, and that she is in love with him and desire to have him in her life in some form or another for the rest of her life. And how it does not diminish any love she had for me. She has no plans on leaving me for him, in fact, there are no plans to escalate relationship with T to any kind of relationship. She said through this experience, she's learned that she is a Poly person, that her heart of split between the 2 men in her life.
Upon hearing this, I read through "Opening up" and devour the content on thsi forum. My gf and I also learned to be open and honest, beginning with her telling me about the nature of her relationship with T, including email and text communication, this is to try to established the lost trust from the affair.
I tried furiously deling with my jealousy issue, something I'm still struggling with daily. I asked to go at my pace, which is something she has agreed to.
With that background, here are my questions:
1.) I'm not opposed to Poly in an intellectual sense, in fact, the idea of being able to share intimacy with multiple individual has strong appeal to me.
I am however, having a lot of difficulty getting over the issue of jealousy. I've read through the many resources online in dealing with jealousy but just cannot prevent my emotion from taking over every time I read another email from T expressing his love for my gf or plan another weekend getaway. I'm close to giving up on dealing with jealousy issue alone.
2.) GF has asked me to see T 2 times a month with ocassional weekend getawys. She gains most satisfaction from spending the night at T's house. The problem is I experience very strong sense of loss when she spends the night at T's house, how does other monos deal with this? Do you just find some midnight hobby while you're up all night engulfed in jealousy?
3.) GF is currently completely in NRE, which annoys me to no end since every time she sees something beautiful, like clouds, sunset, flowers etc, it reminds her of him. How do you guys deal with NRE? How do you experience "compersion", to share the experience with her? I just cannto find the space in my heart to enjoy her going gaga over another man, I wish I could!
I have so much trouble dealing with these issue that the idea of leaving this relationship is beginning to cloud over my judgement. I don't want to throw away 10 years of history and the beautiful dreams my gf and I have constructed together. I really want this to work, I just feel so lost and don't know what else to do.
Thanks for listening
I don't know how a person "stumbles across" another person's email. That sounds like snooping to me. In an ideal world, we could talk to our partners about our needs and deeds and desires without turning into secret agents. It sounds like a terrible way to find out about an affair: both because you were lied to and because (it sounds like) you violated her privacy.
The point I'm trying to make is that you need to work on communication. You can't be expected not to become jealous if you feel you're getting tricked. But you'll have to invest some trust too if you want her to be honest with you about how she's feeling (and what she's doing). The same goes for you. You need to be able to talk about these feelings with her. To do that, first own your own feelings. Take responsibility for your feelings of jealousy and understand where they come from.
I would feel jealous too if a partner of mine had cheated on me, and, yes, there is such a thing as cheating in some non-monogamous relationships. If you negotiate an agreement based on mutual emotional needs and it is dishonestly violated, that's cheating in my book. You should discuss the parameters of the relationship you wish to have with your partner.
As for the loneliness, might I suggest a hobby? If nothing else, having a regular hobby to do will get you out of the house and might even help you meet other like-minded non-monogamists. Try bowling. Or, for the nerdier person, Dungeons and Dragons at the local comic book store can be very fulfilling.
To appreciate your partner's NRE, it helps to feel some yourself. Doesn't have to be a romantic relationship. A new friend (or a renewed old friend) can be very good for the heart.
If you do a tag search here for "mono/poly" you will find several threads where suggestions are made to the mono for handling such relationships, including what to do with your time when she is out.
Thank you Nighthorse, those are really great advice. Especially the communication bit.
I have to admit, invading her privacy was a major violation on my part. The initial "stumbling across" was literally stumbling across via text message on her phone while I was making a call, but the subsequent snooping that came from distrust were my doing, I feel very bad about it but I also knew that if I don't find out the truth, she'd lie to me for as long as possible.
I even went as far as writing 'T' an email to try to get clarification on nature of their relationship, but she instructed him to lie to me. He told me in email that nothing was going on between them, and that it was purely platonic, much like sibling's relationship.
As you can see, we lost a lot of trust from this affair, and part of me has a difficult time finding he room to trust again. I am forcing myself to, because I know if I don't, we won't be able to go on.
As for the hobby bit, I actually have quite a few hobby. Before all this happened, I was pretty wrapped up in extracurricular activity. GF and I hung out on weekends and some weeknights, but I definitely kept myself busy in the relationship.
My bigger issue is when she's out having sex with T and experiencing this great profound experience, I'm here at home and feeling extremely lonely, jealous and envious of T. I wish it's as easy as picking up another hobby, but at some point, I have to come home, to my empty bed, and with the knowledge that she's sleeping with him. I wish I can switch my brain off and stop obsessing over this fact, but somehow I just can't...
She's requested twice a month session with T. Given there's only 4 weekends a month, I suppose I'm only left with 2 weekends. Add weekends getaway with T on top of that, I just don't know if I have the capacity in my heart to move forward. I love her dearly, but I also cannot lose myself.
Maybe if reading his emails to her upsets you, you shouldn't do it? It seems a little invasive to me anyways, though I can certainly see how you'd have some trust issues going on right now.
Do you know T at all personally, could you see you and he ever becoming friends? Many people find that helps because it allows them to see the other person not as competition but, perhaps in time, as a collaborator in making the same person happy. It also build trust, which cuts down on fear and jealousy.
If the NRE is too much for you right now, maybe this is another area where she could go at your pace by just not bringing him up all the dang time. I'm not advocating am emotional version of don't-ask-don't-tell, but I don't see that there's any need for her to be telling you whenever he pops into her head, I think that'd get old no matter what the situation, but especially considering that you're healing from being cheated on!
Do you think you may ever be interested in an outside relationship of your own? I'm not saying it'd be the best idea right now, by any means, but when everything is on a more even keel it might be worth exploring if it feels right.
She broke your trust, and while she doesn't deserve to be "punished" like a child, she does need to realize that it's put you in a really bad place and that you need her to rein things in a little right now, NRE or not. It's ok to take a step backwards when you realize something isn't working like you'd hoped, and it sure sounds like this isn't working for you but that you are truly trying. I hope she appreciates and respects that.
AnnabelMore, you really raise some great questions.
I met T once a long time ago, and then again when I showed up at his door. GF has always been very hesitant about having us meet. I've stressed that T should be converted to "friend of the relationship", instead of a foe. This is a concept she agrees to, but she doesn't know how to have these worlds collide, and honest, I'm not even sure if she wants to.
I do think I have the capacity to have outside relationship. I'm still recovering from the deep wound from being cheated on; this experience recalled significant self esteem issues like abandonment and inadequacy, I need to recover from these issues before I can feel desired again by a stranger.
She derive a lot of pleasure from waking up with him and enjoying the mornings etc. I want to give that to her, but at the same time, I'm struggling a lot with it. I don't want to become the controlling boyfriend limiting his GF to be at home with him at all times.
Now that I'm writing all these out, maybe my current state is somewhere along the line of once a month overnight + day trip. Since they take so much 'get away' trips, it'll probably end up being more than that by default anyway.
One concern that comes to mind is this. She typically has Mondays off and I work on Monday. Part of me really wants to allow her to see him every Monday since I'm at work anyway. Yet somehow I can't find the room in my heart to allow that to happen. Should I be more open? Am I still too emotionally attached to the idea of monogamous ideals? I can't figure out for the life of me why it bothers me so much that if I allow Monday visits that she'd be seeing him every week + some weekends. Anyone with this type of experience and has came through?
Often, when polyamory is something of a surprise, it's advised to slow down to give the mono a bit of time to adjust. This is VASTLY more important when it's introduced through an affair. Too many people make the mistake of trying to go straight from cheating to polyamory, as if now that things are "in the open", it's all fine. No. The biggest casualty of an affair is the trust and trust is vitally important if polyamory (especially poly / mono) is going to work. Wife and I made this mistake and it left cracks.
I think the next step should be trying to take a break and heal the trust between the two of you.
What my last mono partner wanted/needed.
The last poly relationship that I was in with a monogamous man taught me a lot about taking care of two hearts/individuals. I swiftly learned that while I loved both people very much, my primary partner's wishes and needs had to be of the utmost importance to me in order for him to feel comfortable with something that was a very foreign concept to him (he had never even heard of polyamory before).
We had a lot of ground rules that we established TOGETHER:
1) I went and saw my secondary partner on weekends when my primary was out of town/had plans. If my primary partner's plans changed and he was going to be home, he had the right to "veto" my time and ask me to cancel plans with my secondary (he rarely if ever did this, but I think that was partly due to the fact that he knew he had the option to)
2) I was never allowed to bring my secondary to our house when he was home, and we were never allowed in "our bed" - only the spare bedroom.
3) He didn't want to know about most things. I respected that.
4) I was responsible for "coming down" from my weekends with my secondary by myself - I would usually take time to do yoga, meditate, have a bath, read, or journal and "get out" the last of my NRE for my secondary and be ready to bring my attention and energy back to my primary.
5) When I did need to talk about something that was happening with my secondary with my primary, I let him know that I needed to talk with him, and he let me know when he was ready (emotionally, mentally, etc) We'd then talk about proposed dates/scheduling (Valentine's Day, for example - or when my secondary's wife and him were having problems and I didn't know what to do)
6) They never met. He never wanted to meet him. He didn't want me to go into any kind of details about my life with my secondary ever, unless we were having a serious talk. I respected that.
Our rules worked for us. We talked a lot about our relationship, and established boundaries and rules/talked about opening up our relationship for almost a year before it actually happened.
My heart goes out to you about being cheated on; she is lucky you are willing to stand by her during this time. My advice is always the same: Be Honest, Communicate, Stand Up For Yourself, Follow Your Heart, Demand Respect if You Have To, Don't Be Afraid to Have Conflict, Take Time For Yourself, Talk to Someone You Trust (this forum def. counts!)
You seem like a wonderful, emotionally rich man. Do NOT feel bad about wanting her to see him on Mondays - I think that is a totally reasonable request. This has to work for both of you, and YOU can't be the only one making compromises and concessions - she needs to work on making this comfortable and doable for you as well!
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