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-   -   Thoughts on poly/mono relationships (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19981)

Atri 01-12-2012 06:44 PM

Thoughts on poly/mono relationships
So, I'm new here, and I'm new to polyamory, hooooray!

I identify as a lesbian (with the occasional interest in men) and I've been dating my poly partner for about 6 months now. So far everything has been pretty amazing in our relationship, but I have been thinking a lot about how functional a poly/mono relationship is?

My partner and her bf have been together for 12 years, so I have no doubts about their stability in terms of their own relationship, but they decided to open it up to additional partners as long as they're of the same sex... so she can date me because I have a vag. and he can date dudes if he wants but I don't think he's into that at all. So basically, they're operating on a one partner being poly, while the other is monogamous dynamic.

What I'm wondering is, and hopefully you experienced poly people out there may have some insights, how well does this sort of arrangement hold up in the long term? Now I know these sorts of answers are completely subject to people's personalities/needs/interests/boundaries, etc, i guess I'm just always concerned about causing issues with their relationship.

I haven't really seen anything manifested as of yet in terms of side effects to my girlfriend being in another relationship, but I do sort of get the vibe that her bf sometimes feels left out. You see, they were never affectionate when I first began being friends with my gf (before anything sexual even was considered), but I do see him get all nostalgic and cuddly when we're all hanging out and she's being intimate with me. I assume this is a natural reaction, i sort of see it as a "hey what about me" kinda thing, which is totally ok, I'm just wondering what role I play in making sure he's getting the attention he needs. I guess my immediate thoughts are that it's my gf's business to make sure her relationships are gelling, but I want to be a conscientious participant as well, as we all have a stake in this.

Is the general rule to just leave other relationships to the other people and meddle as little as often? My gf has been confiding in me that her bf has been a little more insistent that she try and make time for vacations with him (which would be all well and good except that she has other life factors really holding her back from traveling, work/research, and I feel like he's making these requests somewhat as a kinda, "oh you don't want to travel with me now, oh I see". I've taken to the opinion that I should be a champion for their relationship, support what makes her happy, that sort of thing, but when you can see that one partner's requests/boundaries are ill-conceived and maybe stemming from slightly... "selfish" desires or insecurities, do I owe it more to my gf to be practical about the matter and support her inclination to not take vacations right now, since her obligations would make it a poor decision, or should I be more laid back and support the vacations?

I guess the core question is really: what role does a 3rd play in supporting the other relationship/to what extent? oh, and if anyone has triad success stories, please, do share!

I hope that wasn't too wordy....

ThatGuyInBlack 01-12-2012 11:16 PM

Ya know, I kind of had an issue about this subject the last time I visited Gray and Mono. I felt like I was monopolizing Gray's time and, even though I was only there a little over a week, I didn't want to be a wedge between her and Mono. Honestly, anyone but Mono and I wouldn't have had an issue with it, but damnit, he's a good guy and I like 'im!

Anyway, Gray and I sat down and had a nice, long discussion on the subject and she reminded me that their relationship was already quite secure so I didn't need to worry about causing any friction, but that if friction -had- arisen she and Mono were more than capable of dealing with it. Turns out they had one of of them-there fancy "functioning relationships" I'd heard so much about when I was married!

That being said, I don't try to meddle with their relationship so much as be there if they need me. I love that I get to be included where I am, but I also respect that there are parts of it where I'm not needed, and that works both ways. Probably to a lesser degree on my end, because let's face it, eventually I'm probably going to need Mono's advice. Gray being so difficult and all. :P

...she'll probably be in to smack me for that in a moment...

I guess I sort of treat it as a family, which is how I think it should be treated. I'm much closer to some members than others, but if they need me I'm going to be there no matter what.

I'm not sure any of that will make any sense to anyone but me, but there ya are!

Monochrome 01-13-2012 06:17 AM

Basically, it sounds like you don't have doubts about the relationship of your GF and her BF, but do have doubts about the BF's feelings over your relationship with the GF. Is that close?

How is your relationship with the BF? Are you merely cordial, or do you chat with him about common interests, or maybe all three of you go out to events? If you don't really hang out with him much, it might be good to try to find some common ground. If he is starting to have concerns over the time you and GF are spending together, starting up a friendship with him might help calm those concerns.

As to how to handle the vacation requests from the BF, it might be good to aim for compromise. If he wants a week away somewhere, but she can't realistically accomodate that, suggest a weekend, or just one night somewhere. Even a hotel in town could be good, to let them have some "special time" without breaking the bank or endangering work/research.

I hope this helps.

Monochrome 01-13-2012 06:45 AM

Sorry, I didn't actually answer the core question you had. :o

BTW, I'm the "Mono" TGIB was referring to, so I was hoping to come at your question from the other side of the relationship. :)


Originally Posted by Atri (Post 120011)
I guess the core question is really: what role does a 3rd play in supporting the other relationship/to what extent? oh, and if anyone has triad success stories, please, do share!

I hope that wasn't too wordy....

I think there is a difference between being considerate of other relationships and supporting other relationships.

I think a third person can definitely support a relationship, but the support has to be applied wisely or it can throw a relationship off balance. I asked about your relationship to the BF before because I think you need to have some sort of friendship or other connection to the BF before you can support their relationship, otherwise you would just be supporting from one end, and I doubt that would work very well.

However, if there just isn't much of a relationship between you and the BF for some reason, you can concentrate on your relationship with your GF and be considerate of her relationship with her BF. Suggest date nights. Check to see if she and her BF have plans before making plans for the two of you. Draw up a schedule, or write it on a calendar where all three can see it, something like that.

SchrodingersCat 01-13-2012 07:22 AM

Quick point first, the relationship you're in is a "vee" not a "triad," since you and her boyfriend are not dating each other. Think of the letter "V" with your girlfriend at the hinge, and you and her boyfriend as the two arms. The reason I point that out is that the relationship dynamics in a triad are very different from those in a vee.

The only rule about poly is honesty and communication. Beyond that, every situation is different, as you pointed out.

Now I'm the type of person who likes to give advice, solicited or not. I don't expect people to follow it, I just like to provide other points of consideration. So in your shoes, I would probably point out the challenges you see with her going on a vacation that will interfere with her work life. That's not really meddling in "their relationship" because it's about her and her life and what time she has available for a vacation - not about whom she's vacationing with or the reason that person wants to take her on a vacation.

I suggest you bring these questions and concerns to the gf and possibly her bf. You sound like an extremely considerate and well-balanced gal, so I have no doubt you'll be able to find a way to bring it up in a way that makes it clear you're just trying to do right by everybody. You can emphasize your own inexperience and your desire not to hurt anybody's feelings or step on any toes and that you're just trying to communicate openly and honestly.

One specific point I'll address: "what role I play in making sure he's getting the attention he needs" ... zero. Yup, that's right. No role. They're grown-ups. If they're going to be poly, he has to learn to speak up for his own needs and she needs to learn to balance her life between her lovers. The very fact that you're asking the question assures me that you won't "overstep your bounds."

Another way to see it, is that you have as much responsibility to make sure his needs are met as you would if you were just her buddy and not her lover. Which is still none. Now, many good friends would gently point it out if they saw their friend neglecting her partner. But what she chooses to do with that information is her own decision.

I'd also like to point out something troublesome I see about their relationship and this arrangement (see above regarding unsolicited points of consideration.)

What they have is a OPP ("One Penis Policy") meaning that she can be with other girls but not other boys. What's unique here is that he also has a "OVP," which is actually uncommon in these situations. You'd be surprised how many guys think they should be allowed to sleep with other chicks without allowing the missus to sleep with other dudes.

Obviously that works fine for you, since you do not have a penis, but it could be problematic in the long term if they continue down the poly path. What I mean is that if she's interested in girls but he's not interested in boys, then this arrangement doesn't really benefit him at all, and may lead to resentment and/or envy down the road. My guess (based solely on observations of other couples in similar situations) is that she wanted to explore being with women, and she "agreed" in "fairness" that if she could have homosexual experiences, then so could he. The problem with that is that if he has no interest in homosexual experiences, then what's in it for him?

AnnabelMore 01-13-2012 01:36 PM

SC, good point that the uneven setup could be causing him resentment. I mean, if my partner and I were both vegetarians and we decided to broaden our diet a little, and I liked both chicken and fish but he just liked fish, I wouldn't say "Ok, you can have all the chicken you want and I'll enjoy some nice fish! Mmmm, yum." and then expect him NOT to feel slighted.

What the heck is the point of these gender restrictions? I know that wasn't the question you were asking, but since it seems like it could be relevant, I can't help pointing it out. People are people, so what should it matter? What if you woke up tomorrow with a penis (or, slightly more realistically though I assume still a long shot, you decided to transition from female to male)... would she have to dump you?? And if another girlfriend is what would be really fulfilling to him, not a boyfriend, then how is he supposed to sit there watching the two of you snuggle and not feel jealous??

Anyways, I would be a good friend and partner to your gf and give her the best counsel you can about her relationship with the bf, including encouraging her to spend more time with him right now if that's what he seems to need. Talking to him about it would be much trickier. But ultimately it's up to them to resolve.

redpepper 01-15-2012 05:38 PM


Originally Posted by Monochrome (Post 120096)
BTW, I'm the "Mono" TGIB was referring to

Were you aware that one of our regular long time posters refers to himself as such? It might get confusing.

SchrodingersCat 01-15-2012 06:19 PM


Originally Posted by redpepper (Post 120489)
Were you aware that one of our regular long time posters refers to himself as such? It might get confusing.

I'll admit I was a little confused by that at first too... but I think that might be as much an issue of your (RP's) Mono referring to himself as "Mono" as a name, when really this forum is bound to be full of several people who identify that way. I'm just sayin'.

ThatGirlInGray 01-15-2012 06:23 PM


Originally Posted by redpepper (Post 120489)
Were you aware that one of our regular long time posters refers to himself as such? It might get confusing.

Yeah, I mentioned that to TGIB after he posted (and I think that's why Monochrome clarified in his post). If he doesn't feel like typing out "Monochrome" I think he's gonna use "MC" instead. :)

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