What if I don't like my partner's girlfriend?
I've been poly my entire dating life. Most of that has involved me being a secondary because I didn't want a primary relationship when I was in my 20s. Now I'm in my 30s and I have a primary partner I am deeply in love with and I'd like to have kids with him eventually. We've been together for 2 years now and we plan to get married at the end of this year.
We have had a poly relationship from the beginning. I have one secondary D/s relationship with another man and he has had several "play partners" (BDSM play that may or may not be sexual). There's not a deep emotional connection with our other partners. They're more like friends than lovers. We knew that the possibility of a deeper emotional connection with one of these play partners was something that could come up one day and now, indeed it has. He says he's not "in love" with her like he is with me but she is "a lover" now, not just a play partner.
This has been difficult for me and I've struggled a lot since they told me but I'm trying to work through it. We go to a poly-friendly counselor and I think he has gotten more understanding and patient with me than he was at first. Initially I doubted his love for me but over the past few weeks I've resolved a lot of that uncertainty. I know how much he loves me. I know he doesn't love her in the same way he loves me but she is an important relationship for him. When I focus on how she makes him happy it is easier.
Here's the thing: When I was really struggling with the jealousy right after they told me and I asked them if they could kinda hold off a bit while he and I worked through it, they both said no. They told me their relationship was what it was and they weren't willing to deny their feelings for each other. This made me feel like they didn't care at all about my feelings or the health of the primary relationship that he and I have. With the help of our therapist he and I have been working through that. But she has been unwilling to talk to me even though I reached out to her about 5 times now.
I really believe that successful poly relationships require open participation and communication and maturity on the parts of all involved. When I was a secondary one of the most important things to me was that the other person's primary relationship was healthy and stable and not threatened by our secondary relationship. I'm really disappointed, hurt and yes, angry that she doesn't seem to operate this way, especially since she claimed to be a friend of mine. If she was really a friend I would expect her to be more considerate and understanding of my feelings and to work with me on this like he has.
I do understand her reluctance here. I think she probably feels intimidated, especially since she knows I'm not very happy with her right now and she'd just rather not deal with it. Much more fun to just have sex with my boyfriend, why do I have to complicate that?
I chalk this up to her being young (25 I think) and still building her relationship skills and I also think she has a tendency to conflict avoidance. She seems to think that polyamory is all about having fun with lots of lovers and I think she's overlooked all the work that goes into healthy long-term poly relationships. She doesn't seem to be willing to do any actual work here. I don't think this bodes well for a sustainable long-term poly arrangement.
So my question is: should I just drop it and accept the fact that she and I are just not going to have a good relationship at all? I really want to like my partner's lovers. It's extremely important to me that he like and feel comfortable with my lovers. I do wish he felt the same. Surely this has come up for other poly couples. What are your experiences?
You can't force a friendship with anyone. You've invited her to spend time with you. If you want to continue inviting her then go ahead, just try not to invest too much in the answer if she doesn't want to spend time with you.
As for your primary and his girlfriend their relationship is going to develop in whichever way it's going to develop. There's nothing you can do to influence how people feel about each other. Also it's not about loving one of you more than the other, it's about different and complex relationships. Primary doesn't always mean being loved more. A lot of the time it has more to do with time spent together and other life type enmeshments like finances and children.
Let it go with her. You don't have to be friends with metamours (although that would be ideal). Let them have their time and their relationship and just focus on how happy your partner is. Maybe she'll start hanging out with you and maybe she won't. In the long run it really doesn't matter unless you're all planning to live together.
I feel for you. I can empathize entirely right now. Read my blog from the beginning of this year (2012) on and you will see what has been going on for me in regards to a similar situation.
Really, you can't make a metamour do as you like. Too bad really, but then that is part of the process of letting go I think. In your case you don't really have a choice in this matter. She is not going to approach you and you are stuck with her. Still, you can change how you do things though. Be as charming and hospitable as possible, be a gracious host to her in your life. Tell her how wonderful she is to your shared man, how much you appreciate that because he is awesome, etc. Send along cookies or things she likes when he goes off to see her, send her links that you think she will like from what you know about her (ask your man what she likes and get to know her through him), etc. The way I saw it is that at least, if she never talks to you and things end badly, you can feel good about the effort you made.
I think that dropping the whole hierarchy bit might be an idea. If you have been poly for this long by now I would think it has served its purpose and you can move on. Generally poly folk kinda let that go after a time and focus on just having healthy relationships with strong foundations and commitments to different aspects of their life. Hierarchy is more for those starting out that have fear around ownership and possession issues... letting go of that and focusing on your faithfulness and fidelity being to your commitments to one another rather than to sex and emotion means that she might see that she is a strong player in your dynamic, just as strong as you are. Along with being really welcoming towards her, you might find in time that she warms up and doesn't feel as threatened if you approach her in the ways I have mentioned (because you took the threat away).
Props to you
I just want to give you props for working so hard on your own issues, and doing what you know is right for you. Wouldn't it be AWESOME if we could make other people understand where we're coming from and have everyone behave like grown-ups on the same page? Sucks that its not always possible, but kudos for you for owning up to yer own part of it and being a solid partner. Inspirational. Mebbe she'll come around over time - might not believe that you're capable of moving past jealousy, or might be jealous/scared of you!
Wow, am I the only one out here who is kinda weirded out by the fact that your bf is completely unwilling to slow down a bit and talk things over a bit more with you? I don't know, I can appreciate the need for things to go a bit slower. Emphasising communication, encouraging feelings of strength of relationship and bond between you and your partner.. that seems pretty important to me. I don't think it's horrible to take things slowly with other partners, work through emotions gently with primary partners... figure things out at a gentle pace.
Out of curiousity, why do other people just kinda advise to "move on and get over it?" I don't really understand that. I think it's okay to ask for things to go slow in order for everyone to figre things out. Isn't it okay to have some boundaries like that?
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