New to this whole thing.....
Hi. I am hoping to find some different perspectives from someone who might understand or be able to help me process this....
I have a new girlfriend of 6 months and she is in a relationship with another woman whom she has been together with for 10 years. Today was their 10 year anniversary and I am so very inspired by their love together. I adore them both as individuals and a couple. But this morning, I was struck with a horrible feeling of insignificance as I saw that she posted a Happy Anniversary status update on her facebook. I suddenly realized that I would never get that from her. Her family is super religious and has only now 10 years later kind of accepted that she is a lesbian. Her current girlfriend is someone who was a friend of the family years before they ever dated. She has made it clear that she is never going to tell her family that she is a) polyamorous and b) that she is in a relationship with me nor am I allowed to (at least in the public facebook/interweb forum and in person if her family is around) to act like I am her girlfriend. In her everyday personal life around her everyday friends, everyone knows about me and there are no secrets. I come from a completely different place in regards to my family. There are no secrets. I tell them everything, it doesn't always make them happy but they love me anyways. I come from a place of openness and honesty in that regard. The fact that she can just openly and publicly declare her love for one (her girlfriend) but not me (the other girlfriend) makes me feel very sad.
My girlfriend and I have been having a very open honest dialogue about this and she is sorry that it is the way that it is but she is so afraid of losing her family because she did lose them for a very long time. I do not want to cause her to lose her family and it isn't that I need her to tell her parents. I could not live with that because I know it would crush her. I also know that she loves me very much. But I feel hurt by this......what is anyone's advice? I am just struggling to not let this make me feel like a less significant part of her life. I sometimes feel like I am some dirty secret.
(I really do hope that no one feels the need to point out that I shouldn't care about facebook whatever.....but its not about that I hope you see. Its about a bigger issue. The facebook just sort of triggered the dialogue we needed to have.....I just need some advice if anyone has it.)
This is a very tricky situation. I think it truly comes down to you looking inside yourself, and deciding if you're comfortable being a secret to her family. I understand for her it's too difficult to tell her family about you, and from what you said she will never, ever budge from that POV.
Are you ok with this? is it something that will build resentment in the future? i know these are difficult questions to think about, (and i'm sure there are more) but i think it's important to find the answers.
While you definitely care about her, you still need to pay attention to your needs.
I'm in a similar situation as my gf feels like she can't tel her family about our poly-ness, while i tell my family everything, so i do feel for you. (but this isn't about me)
I understand your frustration. I live in Iowa, so it's completely legal for me to marry a woman, if she's single...But I'm really cautious about who knows that I'm dating a married man. (And I've had some really odd conversations, like the one where my manager asked how long I'd been dating the new guy she saw me with, and I said "Oh, him- he's not new, and we're not dating, I just live with him...and his wife and kids.")
So, there's times when it does hurt to feel like a dirty little secret, but the alternative is to either to deal with negative reactions, or not have those people in your life. If the people you're keeping it secret from aren't part of your everyday life, it doesn't really matter...and it's not necessarily forever either. Social change doesn't happen as fast as we want it to, but it does happen, and poly had been getting media attention lately, which raises awareness- and if someone is aware of poly, that takes the someone else's problem field off of poly relationships around them.
Maybe down the road a little, you'll gradually get to be more obviously part of her everyday life, and people who know that poly exists will start noticing the dynamic between you, that you're together a lot, that you make lots of comments on each other's facebook- and one day, someone who you didn't come out to because you assumed they would react badly will say "I don't mean to pry, but are you in some kind of poly relationship with X, or are you just really good friends and I'm misreading things?"
Understand your feelings totally. In fact, this type of conundrum comes up fairly often and you can find some discussion on it here in a couple places.
I think you'll discover that the general consensus is that each situation has to proceed in it's own unique way.
You expressed your understanding of the reality of the situation and that BECAUSE you care you would never want to damage your GF's relationship with her family because of your own desires. I agree - that would just be quite selfish - not a prime example of loving - right?
So often we run into situations where the state of the world conflicts with our own internal compass. We often have to revert back into a damage control mode. How do we maximize the benefit and minimize the harm ?
But I do like what Stitchwitch said about the shifting sands of time (and opinion). I hope you can take some comfort in the fact that although things may be what they are right now, it may not always be that way.
The old saying...."patience is a virtue" :)
Only you can figure out if this is something you can live with or not.
In any romantic relationship, there is a difference between the things you want and the things you need. Finding out what those things are is more difficult than it sounds. Sure, anyone could sit down and make a list of what would happen in their ideal partnership, but how many of those things on that list are actually deal breakers? As you go along, you might find that one of those traits isn't really all that necessary if everything else is good. Or sometimes you might find you simply must have something you never even considered before. Very few things are non-negotiable - but if you aren't getting what you need, it doesn't matter how many things you are getting that you want.
This is something you are pretty sure isn't going to change, so the only question is: is this a necessity or just a want? If everything in the relationship was absolutely perfect except for this, would you stay? Could you? Would you prefer a relationship that was imperfect but had this element? Sometimes you can't figure out what you can live with until you try. I think, though, that deep down you already have a pretty good idea.
If you decide that it's just a "want" - let it go. mentally categorize it with all the other things that would be nice, but aren't necessary. Like, sure it would be nice if she was a millionaire who bought you a house and paid all your bills, or if she was the most beautiful woman in the universe - but you don't need those things to be happy. OK - those examples are a little extreme, but seriously, I bet if you sat down and wrote out a list of your "perfect" partner/relationship there would be some things on there that you don't have now. Whittle down that list to just the things you need, and throw all the rest away. Appreciate whats really important and let the rest fade away.
Hope that angle helps!
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