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-   -   Gay Triad: One partner is kind of closet-y and a friendship of his doesn't help (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21860)

Geodude 02-28-2012 12:33 AM

Gay Triad: One partner is kind of closet-y and a friendship of his doesn't help
 
Howdy!

I'm a gay guy who is the newest member in a triad relationship with two other men. One guy identifies somewhere between a Kinsey 4 and 5 bisexual, and he has a couple of close emotional friendships with women, although he is sexually only interested in men.

I'm planning on moving in with the two of them soon, and I have a bit of concern about my one partner:

He has has our other partner as his partner for the better part of a decade now. However, he has had trouble with coming out and has some internalized homophobia that I think partially manifests himself in his relationship with his friend.

While he has explained her as being just a friend, they are often interpretted publicly as being an intimate couple. This past Saturday at dinner, he mentioned that the two of them were going to brunch the next day with another couple. This, along with the public displays of affection that she shows him, had me confused about their relationship, so I asked him to clarify it for me. Again, he said that she's just a friend.

The PDA wouldn't bother me at all if he wasn't awkward about myself and our other partner doing the same, even at an appropriate level. He expressed concern about flaunting our sexuality and making people uncomfortable even just by hugging when we have straight guests in our home.

Along with this issue is the perception that this gives off. The two of them are often perceived as an intimate couple or married, and he rarely corrects people saying that his relationships are none of their business. The problem I see with this is that it's a dishonest face that he presents for the "straight world" and I fear that I may be compartmentalized into a "gay life" category of his life that he only seen behind closed doors.

Amongst closer associates (such as at work), he is out...ish, in that his coworkers are aware of our other partner, but it's up to them to figure out the relationship, as it's never explained unless directly asked. To use a closet analogy, it's like the doors are open for anybody to see, but he's uneasy when stepping out. In this context, I see his friendship with this woman as being kind of a social safety-net.

When I brought these things up (trying hard not to be accusatory because I sincerely doubt he was conscious of these things), he didn't really see it.

I think that there are really two issues here:

1) His friend may not be totally clear on where they stand and/or where he stands with his other two partners. Or she is just taking whatever affection she can get from him. I sincerely doubt there is any malice to her actions, though.

2) He has some serious internalized homophobia and is more comfortable being seen in a heterosexual relationship that doesn't exist than in his real relationships. I think that his issue of the comfort of others is more of a projection of his own discomfort with being seen just by his sexuality, rather than as a full man who happens to be homosexual.

These two issues are intertwined with eachother, of course. If socially, he wants to spend time with his friend and either of his partnerns, she continues to dote on him and gives off the typical social cues that the two of them are together (such as internlocking arms, sitting close on a couch, etc), which makes me uncomfortable as a primary partner and is probably the number one cue that tells me that she doesn't really 'get it'. He doesn't like to correct people about his relationships because it's none of their business, but by asking, aren't they making it their business?

I want to address these issues as I transition from the position of a secondary partner into a primary partner, but our other partner is not concerned. He isn't threatened by her (neither am I, at least not consciously), and the partner in question has come a damn long way in coming out in the 6ish years since the two of them have been together. However, am I really in a place to express concerns about an existing friendship if I'm new in the relationship?

Along with our discussion on these issues yesterday, I expressed concern about how I will be introduced to his family and friends once I am living with my partners full-time; something that I don't think he gave previous thought to.

Thanks very much for any help, advice, questions, or comments.

RfromRMC 02-28-2012 02:08 PM

Wow. There's a lot going on here. :eek: We see posts all the time here about coming to terms with poly. Didn't expect to see one where the poly wasn't an issue cuz the dude still hasn't fully come to terms with being gay (or bi?) yet. I'm gonna address this piece by piece since there is much to discuss....
Quote:

Originally Posted by Geodude (Post 126854)
I'm a gay guy who is the newest member in a triad relationship with two other men. One guy identifies somewhere between a Kinsey 4 and 5 bisexual, and he has a couple of close emotional friendships with women, although he is sexually only interested in men.

He could very well be more bi than he's letting on, but that's not bad per se! One great thing about polyamory is it does allow bisexuals flexibilty. You haven't mentioned anywhere whether your triad is going to be intended to be a closed, polyfidelitous one, or an open one where everyone can still have the freedom to explore. I would recommend at least considering the latter.

Quote:

He has has our other partner as his partner for the better part of a decade now. However, he has had trouble with coming out and has some internalized homophobia that I think partially manifests himself in his relationship with his friend.

While he has explained her as being just a friend, they are often interpretted publicly as being an intimate couple. This past Saturday at dinner, he mentioned that the two of them were going to brunch the next day with another couple. This, along with the public displays of affection that she shows him, had me confused about their relationship, so I asked him to clarify it for me. Again, he said that she's just a friend.
Well for one, he's had a gay relationship about a decade and he's still not comfortable being out as gay (or at least bi)? No offense on this one but he should consider seeing a therapist about that. Definitely a gay or gay-friendly one...and also bi-friendly and poly-friendly. Fortunately there's some good ones out there. As for him and his gal-pal, it sounds no big deal to me so far, if your other partner doesn't have an issue with it. As long as you both feel the guy isn't lying to y'all and sleeping with her, I wouldn't worry. Again, if your triad is an open one, then you could even encourage him to explore options with her....or not. That's something you'd have to think about.

Quote:

The PDA wouldn't bother me at all if he wasn't awkward about myself and our other partner doing the same, even at an appropriate level. He expressed concern about flaunting our sexuality and making people uncomfortable even just by hugging when we have straight guests in our home.
Ok this part right there is BS in my view. One, he's being somewhat hypocritical. Two, straight friends visiting a gay couple/throuple's home should expect to see a little PDA. Hugging? Get real. Your guy really needs to get over his insecurities. So I'm stressing the therapy option a second time here.

Quote:

1) His friend may not be totally clear on where they stand and/or where he stands with his other two partners. Or she is just taking whatever affection she can get from him. I sincerely doubt there is any malice to her actions, though.
Is she poly too? I wonder if she's figuring that you've been added to the mix to keep the gay partner busy while the bi-leaning one will then get the freedom to see her. I can see how someone might think that.
Quote:

2) He has some serious internalized homophobia and is more comfortable being seen in a heterosexual relationship that doesn't exist than in his real relationships. I think that his issue of the comfort of others is more of a projection of his own discomfort with being seen just by his sexuality, rather than as a full man who happens to be homosexual.
Yes, again I recommend therapy. And again, I wonder if you being added to the mix gives him the freedom to appear as a couple with her, while his male partner can appear as a couple with you? (Keep in mind this is probably sub-conscious and not intentional.) Not that it's a deal-breaker necessarily---it is a benefit of poly in an odd way. But you should be aware of it.

Quote:

These two issues are intertwined with eachother, of course. If socially, he wants to spend time with his friend and either of his partnerns, she continues to dote on him and gives off the typical social cues that the two of them are together (such as internlocking arms, sitting close on a couch, etc), which makes me uncomfortable as a primary partner and is probably the number one cue that tells me that she doesn't really 'get it'. He doesn't like to correct people about his relationships because it's none of their business, but by asking, aren't they making it their business?

I want to address these issues as I transition from the position of a secondary partner into a primary partner, but our other partner is not concerned. He isn't threatened by her (neither am I, at least not consciously), and the partner in question has come a damn long way in coming out in the 6ish years since the two of them have been together. However, am I really in a place to express concerns about an existing friendship if I'm new in the relationship?
It IS your business and if you're gonna be a part of this new family, you have every right to get some clarification about what's going on here. That said, you never state anything to show that you're unsure that your two new partners fully love you and care for you. Obviously that's why you're getting into this. So while he obviously has insecurities about his sexuality, you should try to also be aware of your own insecurities about trusting that his love for you and the other guy is genuine and real. So strongly consider that as well.

Quote:

Along with our discussion on these issues yesterday, I expressed concern about how I will be introduced to his family and friends once I am living with my partners full-time; something that I don't think he gave previous thought to.
Yeah, all three of you (or four?) need to really think about everyones' role in all this. Everyone's comfort needs to be addressed and dealt with in a secure, considerate, caring way!

Magdlyn 02-28-2012 02:48 PM

Good points from Rfrom RMC.

I also want to ask, how long have you been seeing these dudes? It's a good idea to hold off on moving in until at least a year has past, especially since you have these concerns about his barely cracked closet door, and apparent need for a "beard."

Geodude 02-28-2012 04:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Magdlyn (Post 126946)
Good points from Rfrom RMC.

I also want to ask, how long have you been seeing these dudes? It's a good idea to hold off on moving in until at least a year has past, especially since you have these concerns about his barely cracked closet door, and apparent need for a "beard."

We've been seeing eachother for about a year now, and my moving in is going to be a slow process. Basically, I work wayyyyyyyy out of town and can be with them for maybe a week at a time, every month or two, as well as a couple of months during the spring. We're taking the steps for me to move in, but it won't be full-time for a couple more years when my current work situation changes. When I talked with him last night over the phone about it, I stressed that we have quite some time to make adjustments in our lives.

Quote:

He could very well be more bi than he's letting on, but that's not bad per se! One great thing about polyamory is it does allow bisexuals flexibilty. You haven't mentioned anywhere whether your triad is going to be intended to be a closed, polyfidelitous one, or an open one where everyone can still have the freedom to explore. I would recommend at least considering the latter.
It's interesting that you say that... People in his life suggest the opposite, though: That he's more gay than he's letting on. I had previously asked if he'd enjoy playing with a woman, and he said he can't perform sexually with women (and when he was married would almost always think of men during sex). We're open and we encourage eachother to play separately if the desire arises. If he truly wants to have a romantic relationship with a woman, he knows that he's welcome to pursue that.

Regarding her being poly or understanding it, I'm guessing that she's most definitely not, being a very 'traditional' sort of woman. I completely believe that my partner sees their friendship as being a close, loving friendship, but I (and a number of other people, including our other partner) see her as being in love with him romantically. There have definitely been periods where he hasn't been seeing somebody where they could have pursued eachother romantically, as well, but he maintains it as a friendship.

Quote:

you should try to also be aware of your own insecurities about trusting that his love for you and the other guy is genuine and real.
I'm not getting what you're saying here: By not saying that I'm questioning his love, I'm somehow questioning his love? I have no doubt in my mind that we love eachother, or else I wouldn't be getting into this.

I talked with him last night after he had a day while I was driving back to my jobsite to process the conversation, and he says that I've given him a lot to think about and that he envies how easy it is for me to be open about my sexuality/relationships. He wants to grow and for us to grow together, and when the three of us are in person again, we're going to discuss things further and kind of devise a 'plan of action'

I suggested that I spend some time with him and his friend to get to know her more and "to figure out this whole physical intimacy thing she has for you", but I warned that if she were to physically hang off of his arm, rub his shoulder, and dote over him while the three of us are spending time together, I would want to inform her of my discomfort.

RfromRMC 02-28-2012 04:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Geodude (Post 126955)
We've been seeing eachother for about a year now, and my moving in is going to be a slow process. Basically, I work wayyyyyyyy out of town and can be with them for maybe a week at a time, every month or two, as well as a couple of months during the spring. We're taking the steps for me to move in, but it won't be full-time for a couple more years when my current work situation changes. When I talked with him last night over the phone about it, I stressed that we have quite some time to make adjustments in our lives.

Sounds like a great pace to me to with this. Especially after a year of seeing them.

Quote:

It's interesting that you say that... People in his life suggest the opposite, though: That he's more gay than he's letting on. I had previously asked if he'd enjoy playing with a woman, and he said he can't perform sexually with women (and when he was married would almost always think of men during sex). We're open and we encourage eachother to play separately if the desire arises. If he truly wants to have a romantic relationship with a woman, he knows that he's welcome to pursue that.

Regarding her being poly or understanding it, I'm guessing that she's most definitely not, being a very 'traditional' sort of woman. I completely believe that my partner sees their friendship as being a close, loving friendship, but I (and a number of other people, including our other partner) see her as being in love with him romantically. There have definitely been periods where he hasn't been seeing somebody where they could have pursued eachother romantically, as well, but he maintains it as a friendship.
Well with this clarification, my feeling now is that she's more of a beard for him. So poly-wise, there's little issues here. Closet-wise though, there's still much to deal with but I give kudos to the other partner for dealing with this for about a decade now and kudos to you for dealing with it for a year now, quite patiently in my view. I still think he may need professional help in this arena. Especially after a decade!


By the way, I'm not saying you have insecurities beyond what most people. I'm just saying we all get them now and then and to be aware if his treatment of his gal pal affects it. You say you'll express your discomfort if he's doting on her when he should be doting on you two guys...and I say that's within reason. Just do it diplomatically! :cool:

trescool 02-29-2012 12:09 AM

Quote:

I suggested that I spend some time with him and his friend to get to know her more and "to figure out this whole physical intimacy thing she has for you", but I warned that if she were to physically hang off of his arm, rub his shoulder, and dote over him while the three of us are spending time together, I would want to inform her of my discomfort.
Good for you! It's not always easy to do that.

Quote:

Regarding her being poly or understanding it, I'm guessing that she's most definitely not, being a very 'traditional' sort of woman. I completely believe that my partner sees their friendship as being a close, loving friendship, but I (and a number of other people, including our other partner) see her as being in love with him romantically.
Maybe the whole traditional thing makes it so much harder for her to admit she could be poly! And yeah, it definitely sounds like she has feelings for him. She might not even be able to admit that consciously. She probably feels very happy with him, comfortable, and she's even getting the social affirmation of being seen as his partner in public. That probably feels really good to her... it's hard to know how much she's questioned it. Especially if she's super traditional, it might be a huge source of strength and support for her, especially if she's single to have something so similar to a romantic relationship, but without the risks... wouldn't surprise me at all if she were gay or poly underneath it all.

It's certainly happened to me in the past where EMOTIONALLY things were poly even though physically I didn't have sex with the couple I was involved with.


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