Joy and frustration
Well, nearly three years after opening our marriage I've finally entered a relationship - you could say we've taken it slow, which can only be a good thing. It's given us time to talk through all the possibilities, become really comfortable with the concept, and strengthen our relationship. My boyfriend started off in a BDSM context after I finally figured out that part of the reason I wanted another relationship was to explore my submissive side and we entered the kink scene, but we made a great connection and he has been absolutely perfect, both as a partner, and as a metamour to my husband - he treats our marriage with the greatest respect and courtesy.
My husband has been amazing - he's not actively looking for another relationship, although he would be open to the possibility. My love and respect for him has grown, and it was pretty strong to begin with - I consider myself to be a very lucky girl. Things seem almost too good to be true - I am being careful not to get swept up in NRE, and keeping the channels of communication open with both my husband and my boyfriend.
So the only small fly in the ointment - my issues with my metamour. We both met our boyfriend at about the same time and I guess subconsciously there was some element of competition there from the start. Recently I have taken the decision to step back a bit to try and stop my boyfriend wearing himself out trying to treat us equally, since she needs a lot of his time and attention. That also isn't really the problem. My problem is the way I feel when we are all out together, or I hear about something she's said which falls into the category of attention seeking behaviour. It's not jealousy as such - I feel quite comfortable seeing them kissing etc., it's a form of resentment - I grew up surrounded with people who were massive attention seekers and it's something that really gets to me. I need to get over it, I just don't know how.
Thinking about it as I'm writing this, it's not just in the context of this relationship I have a problem with attention seeking behaviour, it's something that irks me in general. In one sense, taking the poly context out of this, my question is how do people deal with attention seeking behaviour without getting annoyed? I spend time with her alone and she's fine - it's only when our boyfriend is there really that the behaviour is displayed - I think it may be a question of making her feel more secure - is there a way I can do this, or is it up to him?
Thanks for reading - it's been a great help just writing this down :)
My first thought on reading this is to suggest that you get under your annoyance and ask what it means to you that someone is 'attention-seeking.'
As you've said, you were surrounded by this behaviour as a child, what did it mean? Could it have meant that, as a child, you got less attention? And if you got less attention, what did that mean (to you, as a child)?
It's human nature to add meaning to events in our lives. You put fingers in a dog's mouth, and get bit; hopefully, we make the meaning to not put fingers in dog's mouths. But sometimes, as kids, we make up stuff that's not so useful when we're grown.
I can't tell you how I don't get annoyed with it ~ I just don't. It's never been an issue for me. If I get as far as noticing someone doing it (so far as they're obnoxious), I might say to myself, 'hmmm, interesting choice' (a handy phrase I learned from an actor I dated). But I have zero meaning on it, so it's not annoying to me.
Hi, and thanks for your reply. I have analysed it at some length, and it stems back to feelings of unfairness, unjustness. My mother was attention-seeking, I spent a lot of time mediating between her and my father to try and make things happy, whilst all the time thinking how childish and stupid their arguments seemed (and I was a child). My sister was the 'golden child' in our family, and got praised for her 'character' when her behaviour was almost exactly the opposite of what we were taught was good behaviour. So this does run pretty deep - it actually hurts me when I see someone getting a lot of attention for attention-seeking behaviour because I know I could do exactly the same and get the attention, but I also know it's not right - maybe there's some jealousy involved as well.
I have really struggled with dealing with this, and although I try to come up with some ratification after the event, this doesn't stop the gut, immediate feeling when I see it happen. I'm starting to think maybe I should just avoid being in the same place at the same time as both of them, but that would mean missing out on a lot of events. My boyfriend is aware that this is an issue, but he unfortunately sees her behaviour as a temporary thing whilst she's getting over her last relationship - I don't think that's the case.
Ooh, I've just noticed you have my favourite quote in your signature :)
I have a mother that has similar antics. Actually, she is more of a martyr and a narcissist. If things aren't revolving around her then she plays the childish whiny attention seeker role really well. I totally have a hard time with that in others also. Strangely enough I picked a career where I deal with that almost daily, lol. Funny how people do that shit huh?! ;)
I also have a hard time with competition and avoid it where ever I can. I find that ignoring it and doing whatever I feel is right for me is the best tactic. Sometimes people think that I am being competitive back but when they look more closely they can see that I have no other motive than to achieve what I want out of life while considering others as well. I do my best to not stepping on their toes and give them the respect that they deserve all while expecting the same back again. It doesn't always work, but I can't make them do stuff... they have to decide to. I just give them an example by doing what I would like in return.
One of the best experiences I had with this is that someone asked me if I was trying to compete. They came right out and asked and I appreciated that because it meant that we got to talk about it and they came to realize that I was not a threat to them, but I was not going to back away or make things happen so that they could continue to maintain their attitude of attention seeking and competing. I didn't actually say it like that but let them know what my agenda was and that I was doing things while keeping them in mind as I knew they also needed the space to do what they wanted and to be who they are. I asked that they give me the same respect and they have. Maybe this will work for you?
I wouldn't back away if I were you. I think that is a lovely thought but will be counter productive as she won't get why you are. I think I would let her know that you intend to work on making the situation be one that is mutually beneficial to both of you and that you hope she does the same thing. I think I would laugh it off as a kind of joke that the two of you need to compete for his attention because its silly, he gives you both lots and works hard at balancing his plates where you are concerned. Laugh and say, "isn't he awesome that he is so good at dividing his time and energy? I am so glad that you are so good at not causing him to work harder by asking for more attention. We are both good at not doing that aren't we....? HAHAHAHAHahahah......" *grin :D
Sometimes telling someone that they are a certain way, even when they aren't makes them think that maybe they could work harder on that....
Yes, those terms describe my mother too. I have spent a while trying to get over the way things were when I was a child, and thought I'd made a lot of progress, but then little things like this crop up that remind me that maybe things are a bit deeper than I realised.
I do have to remind myself that I am very lucky to have a great relationship as well as my marriage - I had already told them about stepping back before the original post, with the reasoning being mainly that she's otherwise single - I have a husband, family, full-time job, and other commitments and this just feels like the right course of action.
I think at some point I will have to speak to her about things - I'm hoping if I can pin my discomfort on her behaviour rather than her character we might be able to move past it, but I'm aware from dealing with my mother and other similar people that I can't necessarily assume reasonable behaviour and a straightforward conversation :)
Thanks again for your replies, I'm definitely enjoying my first 'proper' poly experience - it just seems very right!
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