Mono-guy with Poly-girlfriend; WHAT DO
Good afternoon, everyone. I... Well, I had a nice long-winded introduction prepared, but a log-in issue lost my post. Maybe it's for the best, I have a habit of rambling when I'm thinking about a lot.
I'm a bisexual male, age 23; she's pansexual, and 22. We're so young. .__. However, we've been dating for just shy of seven years, and it's something I'd like to keep going longer still. We're not engaged, not married, but as we're getting close to finishing our schooling, the notion of proposing has become more plausible each month.
It was only recently that she disclosed that she's polyamorous. She told me around the New Year, but we were a little giddy at the time, and I didn't think very hard about it. It came up again a few days ago, and since then we've been struggling to communicate effectively about it. I'm confused about how this is going to change our relationship, and whether or not I can overcome trust issues I have with past transgressions (she cheated, long story. We reconciled, but there are still scars and an occasional ache). She feels as though I'm trying to change her, or limit her; "how can you tell me to just stop feeling this way about other people? It's who I am!"
Now I'm not trying to change anyone, but... I don't consider myself polyamorous. An analogy she keeps using is that "you wouldn't tell a gay person that they need to be straight!" ...I feel this situation is more like someone having been confused about their sexuality for years while in a relationship, kissing on the side a bit, meeting a couple of nice same-sex potential partners, finally coming out about it, and expecting the original partner to be 100% comfortable with it. And I'm not.
So anyway, that's where we are right now. Arguing, talking, getting our feelings hurt, feeling confused, etc. I want her to be happy, but I also am not 100% on board with changing our relationship in this way. Call me selfish, but it doesn't feel like there's anything positive about this for me; it makes her happy, and I suppose that should be enough, but... Anyhow. There's more, if you're inclined to hear, but I wanted to at least stay somewhat brief for this intro. :P
Anyhow, the short of it is...
"Help, my girlfriend's poly, she's already interested in other people, and I don't know what to do! Oh God!"
Welcome to the forum. :)
The best advice I have is remember, in all the chaos, to be very, very nice to yourself. Eat well, get sleep, take time to not talk about IT occasionally (go to a movie with a friend, go to dinner with a friend and talk about anything else).
Also, recognize the difference in feelings and behaviour. You don't have to ask anyone to change their feelings, but if they are not behaving in ways that you feel respected, then you have to decide what to do about that. (hullo pot? kettle calling ~ this would be one of my biggest challenges)
Sounds like you're on the right track.
my husband and I have been in a similar situation to yours when we started to discuss the poly topic. And you don't have to be totally OK with that. This will take time and that is something both of you should be aware of. The analogy she used (gay/straight) is something that is kind of a hot topic around here, my take on it that it is 100% true, I couldn't bring myself to not love someone besides my husband, it was just the way I worked. But that is no excuse for getting things started in a rush. She should be aware of that.
There are great threads around here that deal with lessons others have learned, mistakes that were made while opening up a former monogamous relationship and the difficulties of a mono/poly relationship. I would suggest both of you start reading a bit about what to expect. That helped me big time when my husband, boyfriend and I started to give poly a try. But one thing you can be sure of: Any problem you may have, be it as tiny as you can possibly imagine, will surface while facing poly. I am a bit worried about the cheating going on in earlier times of your relationship, is that topic solved and healed already? If not, it will become a problem again.
It's a lot of work and you are right to ask what is in it for you. It should be the thing, that is in every relationship that makes you happy: Being with the person you love. As you have correctly stated, you shouldn't want to change that person, because she will become someone different by that, and that wouldn't feel right. As far as the mono perspective goes, my men are both mono and they told me that they don't think too much about the other, they are just happy being with me and that what counts. If you are able to reach that place, everything will be good, but the initial phase will be rough, because it is just new and you need to get used to that. Our life has calmed down quite a bit, but there have been rough times.
There was some adjustment work to do from my perspective (the poly one) as well, it isn't easy to change your relationship style if all you ever learned is to do relationships like all the other people around you, meaning monogamous living-happily-with-THE-ONE-ever after. This is what takes time; accepting that there are other ways of living out there and testing out if one of those could be made for you. Everything that could make you reach a comfortable place will only come with time and experience.
Good luck on your way :)
Thanks for the input, you two. I suspect that my first order of business is to lurk and read some past posts, certainly... I know I rambled a bit in my initial post, but I'll likely head over to the advice sub-forum with some of the specifics.
Is your schedule such she has lots of free time on her hands?
Would her dating 1 or 2 other people cut into your time as things stand now? Would you need to find some outside filler activity .
What is her vision of this ....once a week sleep over dates or is it more open ended and could be 50/50 time split and or joint housing.
The great thing for you is the opportunity to work this out before getting married.
Hah, yeah. Wedding ring shopping is on hold until we work this out.
I guess the issue of free time is a hard one to address. I mentioned it briefly, but we're both university students; to be more specific, on different campuses. We're graduating this summer, and moving in together shortly thereafter. We have lived together before, but this will be our first time sort of standing on our own feet, financially or otherwise.
Point being, I'm in "Holy crap, graduating in a couple of months!" mode right now, and we're not spending more than an evening together a week, at best. Sure it's not great, but the idea was that we could stomach being apart a little longer, because graduation was so close.
So now, I don't really know what time we'll have together, just by virtue of the fact that our schedules are going to change quite drastically by six months time.
Actually, the housing thing is another issue, too. We met someone ('D') online and became pretty good friends with him; very good friends with him, actually. D's international, and visiting the states this fall, with the intent of moving in with us shortly thereafter as a room mate. Buuuut, while she and I talked at great length about these portions of the visit, she'd neglected to mention that she'd also developed feelings for D. Rather than broach her romantic interest with me, it wasn't until I finally caught snippets of her twitter posts talking about D when I confronted her about him. She told me that she had no immediate plans to tell me about her interest-- that maybe "after he left from his visit," or "after he moved in" might be an opportune time.
It kind of alarmed me.
Alarming is right...the cheating/honesty issues got triggered big time.
After he moved in ...way too fucking late to have good options or good conversation.
Does she see a positive (big , small ...any) for you?
Devils advocate here....how about asking if she'd be ok with you being the secondary just to see the reaction. To me it's more of cake eating position....lets somebody else buy the ring.. have the responsibility, the day to day operations....85-95% of the time float in for the fun. Track her periods and ditch those days for sure. :D Dart night ...book club...bowling league whatever.
Hmm. Well, I don't know. Being jarred from my position as "THE ONLY ONE" to secondary in the span of a couple months is a little too abrupt for me. I know you're just making that point as one option of many, but I don't know. It still throws me into a similar position; I feel more comfortable with monogamy, and wouldn't likely seek out other partners actively, even if I was only a secondary. I can't really see it as anything but a 'downgrade', even if I just got to show up for the fun stuff. There would still be some hypothetical primary there, saying what's okay and what's not okay, ready to impose limits on a relationship towards which I would definitely have a lingering sense of entitlement.
It would also kind of confirm my initial concerns anyway, that somehow this is compromising the structure of our relationship. I mean, if she were 'okay' with me being a secondary, isn't that what I'm worried about in the first place? I guess going from primary to secondary is more jarring to me, than going from primary to single. I know what 'monogamy' feels like, and I know what 'single' feels like, but I have no clue about how the transition to secondary, or the end result, will feel.
Plus, all those stresses about plans and 'our life together' still linger. I mean this is a serious relationship to me; I've been quite confident about engagement, though I've withheld myself from acting on it until we're both out of school. Seemed like the best time. Point being, if I take myself out of the role of primary, I suppose that I don't have to worry about all the veto power, the behind-my-back communications, the nitty-gritty rulemaking process for primaries... But, I don't want to leave her, or compromise all those long-term plans I was starting to have.
That, and she doesn't really have anyone else she's considering as a primary, so it's kind of a moot point. I do appreciate the suggestion, though. I could learn to bowl. :P
All she's basically offered me in this, as a benefit to agreeing to a polyamorous relationship, is the freedom to seek out partners of my own. Which would be nice, I suppose, as an opportunity to seek out men, as a way to satisfy my bisexual tendencies. Still, it's not polyamory, to me; I'm not looking to establish a hierarchy of partners for myself, either, and don't have the desire to do so.
...Hah, if she ever finds this forum, she'll know it's me, because I end up using metaphors after a while. I described it to her as "buying her a new sports car, and then asking her for permission to drive it to the grocery store every once in a while". Just, this idea that she gets this awesome new 'toy' to try out, and the benefits it confers me are superfluous, negligible at best.
She's said she's not 100% sure what she can offer me, but that our relationship can continue as normal. This just comes across to me as naive. For someone who's been thinking about being polyamorous for months, to have little else to say but "...I dunno. I guess you can do what you want!" strikes me as selfish and short-sighted. I want to give her the freedom. It's like a smack in the face, though, that she never thought about how she might make this appealing for both of us.
Or even how it was supposed to work. I'm pulling my ground rules out of thin air, because I don't understand the entirety of what she wants! Most of my rules, too, are all about trust, and asking her to stop keeping me in the dark about her thoughts and feelings towards other people. That feels like something I should have, regardless of whether or not our relationship is monogamous, polyamorous, or anything else.
Devils advocate here....
It doesn't sound like she is ready to live poly from the definition generally used in this site, as in honest, open communication and commitment to working on ones own issues as much as the relationships.
I know I really don't have enough info to be saying some of this but the past history of cheating and the not discussing growing feelings for someone who may end up living under the same roof as the two of you?! Major red flags.
Even if you chose to move on to another mono relationship, I urge you to read some of the threads about being your own primary...I think this concept would do so well for anyone, mono, poly, straight, gay, tall, short, etc.
Wishing you well.
If you can't get over the trust issues and her hiding stuff all the time, this isn't going to work out well for anyone. Your first order of business should not be talking about whether or not poly will work for the two of you. It should be building trust. First, she needs to agree to tell you anything that is pertinent. Having a guy move in is something that would be very tempting to anyone in that situation. If she thinks she could resist the urge while he's there and you aren't you might as well have all recovering alcoholics own bars.
Second, she needs to be more truthful. Does she want to see other people or does she want to be poly? Some of what you said made me feel like she's comfortable with you but wants to emotionally be somewhere else. Find out what she wants between the two of you without anyone else.
Third, don't compromise your beliefs to satisfy her and dont let her compromise hers for you. That will breed resentment. Some people are mono. That's all there is to it. It sucks and if she's going to have to make a decision it's going to have to be the lifestyle. Her past tells me she's going to have a very difficult time remaining mono if you tell her no to poly. That means she may cheat again. I don't claim to be an oracle but she isn't acting like she wants to make a mutual decision. She's acting like she wants to do this and you need to get over your fears or move on.
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