I don't like my metamour :(
I'm writing this post in the hope that I can get some clarity on a situation that is weighing heavily on my mind this Christmas. Possibly because I've been alone and had time to think I suppose!
I've been in a relationship with Bob for 6 months now. It is NRE central, but both of us honestly believe that long long term is on the cards for us. We are disgustingly happy with each other, and compliment each other in an amazing variety of ways. If I believed in such things, I would consider him my "soulmate", and I know without a doubt that he feels the same (I really only include this to try and indicate that despite the problems below, leaving him is not an option I am willing to consider at this point).
Bob is married to Anne, and has been for more than a decade. They have teenage children, and are also very happy together. They have been poly for a few years, and while she hasn't had much luck with finding serious other relationships for herself she has dates and play partners. Bob and mine's relationship is not of a "secondary" nature despite this - neither of us believe in heirarchical poly, and sure, his kids and family come first but only in case of emergency and he has plenty of time with all of us. Anne consistantly claims that she is happy for me to be in his life.
The problem: me and Anne do not get along. At all. We don't openly argue or anything of the sort, but we have nothing in common, nothing to talk about, and when we do, I feel as if I am making 99% of the effort and she is treating me like I'm stupid or like a child. She is a fair bit older (16 years) and seems to act as if because I have never had kids/built a house/am generally younger my opinions hold no value.
Until the last week or so me and Bob had been discussing the possibility of building a giant communal house with each of us having our own space in a few years. Sure, it's early to be talking about this stuff, but our relationship has become very intense in a short period of time, and mono people move in early all the time so why shouldn't we talk about it hey? :) I had always had hopes that this would work out but lately I am becoming concerned that me and Anne will never be comfortable even in adjoining but separate houses.
We recently had a very awkward evening out where I ended up quite upset at being shut down the whole time, so I have currently said that I will no longer be going to visit at their house - while he primarily comes to see me here anyway, I have been going up for dinner and hangouts with everyone and I can't take the awkwardness any more.
So, questions: how have others managed strained metamour relationships?
We're only 6 months in - is there hope for things to settle as we move longer down the track even if we don't like each other? Is not having anything to do with her sustainable in the longer term (we have some overlap in friends, but I can bow out of events she will be at)?
Should I try to talk to her personally about this? Does anyone have any advice for how to approach this? I know this seems a fricking stupid question but I'm not sure how to say "so, you don't like me. I don't like you. How do we deal with this because Bob is not leaving either of us any time soon?"
Thanks all. Sorry for the long winded post.
It's very easy to mis-read situations in daily life, and what you're talking about is far from daily life. :)
Perhaps Anne is nervous because you are 16 years younger than she is. Perhaps she is a bit envious of your youth and the NRE. Perhaps because of these things (or others I haven't thought of) she puts on a tough facade.
The only way you'll ever know is through communication. However, I certainly would not start out the conversation with "I know you don't like me; and I don't like you." I would try something far more diplomatic, along the lines of, "I notice we're kind of awkward around each other, and I wonder if there's something we could do to make us both more comfortable?" She may not respond right away, but if she is really just feeling insecure herself, you might be able to break through and turn it all around. While yes, there are people that are hard to get along with no matter what you do, probably a greater percentage of them just have the tough facade thing going and that can often be brought down. Underneath, often lies a relatively nice person, once their insecurities are laid to rest.
From my lofty position of 11 months in to a relationship where I'm dating a married poly guy, my advice is don't tell her that you don't like her.
Don't assume that she doesn't like you, either.
I wouldn't avoid her as much as it seems that you are planning to. I would stay civil, polite and continue to try to communicate directly with her if things come up that you need to talk about. Don't make your lover a go-between.
You do not need to be bestest buddies with her. You do not need to have interests in common. You will have better results if you listen to what she says and do not apply any motivations or meanings beyond what she says.
Seriously. Don't let your imagination loose on what she MIGHT be feeling or what she MIGHT mean. It is stressful for you and tends to make mountains out of molehills. She may have no idea that you think she is shutting you down or that you think she is disregarding your opinions.
Also, 6 months is short. I'm also not certain how much experience YOU have with poly? You say they have been poly for several years, but, are you new to this? I know that I said never to assume your metamour's feelings, but, I detected some relaxation on my metamour's part as I found a second lover besides her husband(demonstrated that I was likely not a "cowgirl"). Also, things seem more relaxed 11 months in than they were at the 6 month mark, for me.
Just a thought,..but when you are planning 'communal living' at a stage of NRE and 6 months in, this COULD be why Anne doesn`t take you very seriously.
Maybe she has been witness to Bob`s grandios ideas`s before,..Or, maybe she isn`t taking you two seriously until you are both past the NRE ? Who knows ? You say she hasn`t been 'successful' in looking for a long-term relationship. Are you sure about your outlook on that ? She could be a person that is perfectly happy not rushing into things. If that were the case, she is most likely only judging you by her own standards.
If she is happy for Bob, and doesn`t interfere in plans, dates, or try to get him to end things with you, I doubt you are dealing with jealousy over your 'youth' or whatever else.
Also, it sounds like Anne might be trying to 'educate' you on things you have no experience in. It feels undermining to you. Rather then start a tug-o-war about this, why not actually take her advice on things she has experience with ? Ask questions. Learn.
The things you have experience with in life, you can take the lead on those topics. Set an example, and maybe she'll ask questions in turn, and your confidence will receive a boost.
Being older doesn't necessarily mean that she is more mature and experienced than you. But it helps.
I'd recommend talking to her. A bit of communication couldn't hurt. Right now, you're throwing a lot of assumptions around.
Thanks for the comments
I'm pondering everything that's been said, so I'll address some questions and clarify some things now but I'm not ignoring anything else that's been said!
RE moving in: We're certainly not making concrete plans at this stage, or talking about living plans all the time or anything like that. We've only really discussed this because we wanted to be on the same page about the possibilities of where this might end up. It was certainly never set up as an ultimatum or anything like that (to reiterate that Bob isn't pressured into something he doesn't want to do) but we talked about these things early to get an idea of where each of us would be comfortable with the relationship heading in terms of life entanglement.
RE Anne's other relationship attempts: In the time I've known her she's had two people she has been excited about getting into a relationship with, had a bunch of dates within a couple of weeks and then it has broken down for some reason. While she might have a different, more relaxed, relationship development style than me, from what i have seen she would happily get into deeper relationships quickly if the right person came up.
RE my polyness: I'm not really all that experienced in poly, for certain. I have been involved in open relationships for many years but polyamory is newer - not through lack of wanting it per se, but because it hasn't come up. I have another relationship apart from Bob but it is far more casual. I am definitely open to another relationship (would welcome it in fact) but really, I've met most of the local openly poly people in person and on OKCupid and I haven't clicked with any of them - relationships don't come easily to me.
RE interacting with Anne: I agree, I probably should assume intentions less. When it comes down to it though, I don't have the energy to maintain interactions with her any more. In general life, I would never be friends with someone who spoke to me like she does (regardless of intentions), and I would be far more forthcoming with telling them that they were offending me, but I've been civil because of our situation. It's draining as all hell. Sorry, this last bit was a bit venty. I've been trying not to burden Bob or our mutual friends with discussing this because it's not fair to put them in awkward situations like that.
So this could be more succinct but it's 3 am and wont be. I like my metamour quite a bit from our emailing/meetings together, and she says she likes me, but because of the circumstances, it seems like she and I will never be great friends, hang out, etc.
We've met a couple of times, I'd like a happy poly family sorta thing where I hang out with my husband's, and my boyfriends partners (including his wife, the metamour in questions) but she just is not into that I would like my husband to want to be good friends with my bf, cause I think they'd like each other if they spent the time to make the effort but he just isn't into it
The point is, what I want, and what others want, aren't always going to be the same. I am not going to avoid social situations where we would both be there. If I/my husband are invited somewhere, and she is, I will go if I want. No reason at all for you to not go where you want, you have not indicated any reason why you aren't wanted, and it just seems that you want to withdraw because she doesn't want to be your BFF - I imagine if she wasn't married to your boyfriend, you wouldn't care about her opinion enough to worry about if you should or shouldn't go to a party/club/etc.
So, maybe you will, maybe you wont, all live in a communal house someday. I wouldn't put so much focus on that at all now, it's early days. (I also have an ex husband who has spent the last 20 years following pipe dreams about "grand plans" which have only now finally started panning out, and it left an ugly taste in my mouth for all the times grand schemes ended up going nowhere, so I second the idea that perhaps she just has heard her husband talk about all sorts of wild ideas that aren't necessarily going to be around in another 6 months ) Why SHOULD his wife want to be your best friend? Why don't you just focus on your lovely relationship with your boyfriend?
No I am not just siding with Anne because of my username, but really, I (as a 39 yo person) probably wouldn't invest too much energy in my partner's relationships if I don't have a ton in COMMON with them. I don't take it personally when they don't want to hang out with me more than occasionally (and yes, they tend to like me, his partners just have busy lives and other shit to do, and I've found OSO's partners area also fulfilled and not sitting around hoping for company) but I think it's great when there is a reason for a friendship.
I just want to say, over-reading into it and trying to distance yourself from events, or to "punish" her for just not being "that into you" by avoiding her is not a useful tactic for anybody. I am sure she thinks you are perfectly nice (or her husband would know it) but just doesn't want to spend her limited free time hanging out with you if she could be doing something more fulfilling or enjoyable. Don't take it personally, just because you are nice doesn't mean your metamour wants to spend hours talking to you about anything. As others have said, if she isn't hostile, interrupting your dates, or out to get you, consider yourself blessed. The older we get, the more we realize life is finite and that no minute should be wasted doing anything we don't want to wholeheartedly do.
PolyAus, consider this: do you think you might be projecting your own insecurities onto your metamour? You say you don't subscribe to a hierarchical structure, but perhaps there is still a fear in you about being "second" anyway. Maybe it is you who compares yourself to her and enters situations with a "chip" on your shoulder, so to speak. Not an angry chip, necessarily, but an insecure one. It sounds like you feel as if there is some sort of mark against you for being younger, less experienced, not a parent, etc., and since that's an uncomfortable place to be, maybe you turned it around in your mind to assume that she is jealous or resentful toward you because of it. She may not be that at all. And perhaps there is some apprehension you feel about moving in together, but you're putting all the "blame" on his wife, to say she will be the one who will make it difficult for you, but you might be overlooking some fears and nervousness you have in yourself about it.
Just something to think about.
I have two metamours that have been in my life for 2-3 years. My girlfriends husband I get along with well enough and we have a healthy repsect for one another and come together when need be in support of our shared love. We don't really hang out except if we are at the same function. We don't have a ton in common and would likely not be close friends but we work on making sure we communicate when necessary and laugh and joke around when we are in each others company. To me its just what I expect and feel comfortable with. I have my own relationship with his wife and he is ever present, but not over bearing. It works for me.
My other metamour I don't see unless our families go camping. I send her funny links to videos, buy the kids gifts for Christmas and birthdays and sometimes arrange play dates for our kids. She never reaches out to me, doesn't want to spend time with me, disagrees with a lot of what I believe in, talks through her husband a lot of the time and if there was ever an emergency I would likely not hear about it from her. It breaks my heart, but I keep doing what I am doing in the hopes of change. I don't want to be her best friend, but I do want to be considered and our kids to be thought of as they are friends. I think she doesn't think about me at all and prefers it that way. Don't ask don't tell kind of thing maybe? I'm not sure.
PN has had loves come and go and I quite often don't really want to know them much. They tend to be a lot like me and while that is kinda cute at first, all the things I struggle with about myself I find come up for me. I try and just be friendly, considerate, give them space and remain present if I am needed in some way.
I don't think metamours have to be long lost sibling and best friends. It think that you would do best to keep the boundary of not hanging out at their house and enjoy your partner when you are with him. It sounds like you two are doing great and might even be great for communal living some day but the work you will need to do is with her. The dream of communal living is a nice one, but it won't work if your relationship doesn't bloom with his wife. I wouldn't invest too much into that for a few years and just have a good time with what you have.
There are some threads here on "metamours" if you are interested in going to the search engine and looking at the tag of that name. Maybe even under "metamour." Maybe you will find something that is helpful.
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