Getting through partner's NRE
Hello! This is my first post as a new member.
I have been in a poly relationship for four years now. We came from very different places; he has always identified as poly, and our relationship is the longest he's ever had. I used to identify as mono, but after much reflection and much hurt from past relationships where my partners and I didn't feel like we could be completely honest and open with one another, I decided to adopt a poly lifestyle. I have had several years-long mono relationships and I am accustomed to the dynamic; the first weeks to months of reveling in NRE, then falling into ORE, then losing steam altogether.
This relationship started out very mono-typical; we spent all of our free time together, and neither of us had other partners for about the first 5 or 6 months. We continued to spend gobs of time together for about the first two years. Then he moved 85 miles away for school, and now we see each other about two weekends a month, excluding holiday breaks. Since I was so accustomed to spending lots of time together, this transition was very hard for me. I found myself getting jealous of the time he spent with new partners, which has nothing to do with me or our relationship; I just missed being the person to fill that gap. I understand that he would spend a lot more time with me if we lived closer.
My partner has had many other partners over the last four years, none of them too serious but all of them good friends and good people that are still in and out of our lives. I have only had two other very short term partners (on my own), both of whom are still friends. I say "on my own" because we have shared several of his partners and I find great joy in experiencing his NRE with him. Sharing partners, or at least spending lots of time with them, helps me avoid the "she's prettier, smarter, better..." trap because I can put a real human, with all of her unique similarities and differences, in front of me and say, "there's no comparison; we are individuals."
Here is where I am getting stuck. The newest partner is different. In his words, she is the most compatible partner, both sexually and emotionally, that he has had since we have been together. They have seen each other every day, for the last month or so, spending just about every night together with the exception of a weekend when he was with me at my house and a couple nights at his house that I asked for. She is an amazing person. They have been seeing each other for about three months and have recently exchanged "I love yous." I don't want to control how much time they spend together, but at the same time, I wonder if they are getting too caught up in the NRE and setting themselves up for hurt later, when someone finds a new partner, or gets a time consuming job, or moves closer to me...etc. I have tried to talk to my partner about it but don't know how to approach the subject without sounding jealous. I also wonder if it even matters? I mean, I love this person and expect to be with him for a long time, despite us coming from very different places, and we also got caught up in the NRE...we got through the separation, and are doing fine. Additionally, the time they spend together has not taken any time away from me. We still have some alone time (albeit limited to a couple nights a month, but that was the pattern before she entered the picture) and we have time with the three of us together, which is wonderful.
I guess my question is, should I be concerned? Should I recommend that they slow down? And for what purpose? Am I just reacting to my emotions? I have not been the most emotionally stable person in this relationship in the past!
I don't think there is cause for concern yet. It might feel like its getting away from you, but its nothing to do with you. Maybe you are reading into his energy and flying high feelings. NRE feelings do make people run away with themselves and those they are with.
I would just watch carefully and let him have at it. It will likely die down in time and settle into a routine. If their NRE starts meaning you get less time, not as much quality time and means there is drama then I would bring it up and start making sure your boundaries are respected.
I would just be on the lookout for any important life-altering decisions that he might make while still so immersed in NRE. If he suddenly has some wild scheme or crazy news, then I would tell him to slow down and get his feet on the ground. Otherwise, if he still spends time with you as frequently as he usually does, and hasn't let this relationship interfere with yours, I wouldn't worry too much.
As for not sounding jealous if you do wind up needing to talk to him, I guess I would start off any conversation by reinforcing how much you love and care about him, and have only his best interest at heart before explaining any concerns you might have. Also make sure there are no weird dramas or distractions in the immediate environment where you do have a discussion. You want to be able to communicate with his full attention on you, and in a calm serene manner.
Is it so wrong to sound jealous? As long as you admit and accept it as your own and not something you're accusing him or her of causing in you or being their fault, I think it's healthy to share your feelings with your partner and paramour.
I think that as long as you assure him that you're still happy for them and you're not asking for anything to change, it's good to tell him what's going on with you. Also, you're relatively new to this, so it's to be expected that you'll have some challenging thoughts and feelings.
The other end of it is to be brutally honest with yourself. Is it really that you're worried about the future of their relationship together, or is that just what you're telling yourself in order to justify your feelings? If he were just your buddy and you weren't involved romantically, do you think you would still feel so worried about what will happen when the NRE wears off? Or would you just trust that things will run their course the way they're meant to?
I agree with ShrodingersCat. You shouldn't need to worry about sounding jealous. You shouldn't even need to worry about being jealous. It is ok to feel a little jealous sometimes. Why are you worried about that? Do you feel that if you try to talk to him, he will just dismiss you by saying "you're just jealous"? If that happens, it's not cool and you need to tell him that. He is your partner, and he can help you by listening to your worries, and alleviating your fears, and he should be willing to do that. We all need a bit of support every now and then.
Now then, on to you. If you feel that your partner is giving you the same attention and consideration now that he was before, that's good. However, if you feel like he isn't, or even if you feel that you need a little more to help you feel like he isn't forgetting you, you should communicate that to him. If you feel like you'd like a bit more from him, try to think about something concrete to ask for. It's can be hard to respond to a abstract wish "I'd like more", easier to negotiate something when you have something to start from like "could you call me once more during week and maybe I could meet her the next time I'm there". (I don't know if you've met, but if you haven't I think that might be a good idea.)
You could also tell him that you'd like to know that he'll still have time and a place for you in his life, as he develops a relationship with her. I sense that's something you're a bit worried about? It's ok to ask him to confirm that.
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