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-   -   The L-Word (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22332)

mixer 03-18-2012 01:47 AM

The L-Word
 
Lucy and I, having been together nearly a decade, use the L-word conversationally a LOT. And I don’t mean “I love you, my smoochy!!!1!” every ten minutes. It’s more like “Why didn’t you bring me coffee, too?” “Because obviously I don’t love you anymore.”

I don’t think either of us consciously realized it until this weekend, and we definitely didn’t think to include that on our list of things to work out before everybody got nekkid. The above silly example is common for us, but suddenly seemed a bit awkward in the presence of our new unicorn.

I tried searching the forum to see how others have handled this trivial yet potentially awkward situation. But it turns out that “love” and “I love you” are not helpful search strings ’round these parts. Who knew? So, any conventional wisdom or past experiences to share with a well-intentioned newbie?

Somegeezer 03-18-2012 02:06 AM

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking?

mixer 03-18-2012 02:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Somegeezer (Post 129132)
I'm not exactly sure what you're asking?

It doesn’t seem right to tell only one of two girls that I love them. Do I then turn to the other and say “But I *really* like you, too.”?

JaneQSmythe 03-18-2012 03:01 AM

Using the phrase "I love you." seems to trigger different responses in different people. While I am now comfortable (after 20 years) telling MrS I love him casually (and the "because clearly I don't love you" teasing is common between us) it actually took me 18 mos to say it to him the first time.

20 years later I halved the time with Dude - only took me 9 mos. (I wrote about that here: http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21834 - I talk a bit in my second post in that thread about the "issues" I have with the word.) I haven't actually said it again, to him, since then. At this point I am comfortable having let him know that I return his feelings.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mixer (Post 129133)
It doesn’t seem right to tell only one of two girls that I love them. Do I then turn to the other and say “But I *really* like you, too.”?

It doesn't seem right to me to tell someone that you love them only out of trying to be "fair and equal" - if someone said it to me after only a short time, before they even had a chance to know me that well (a process I think would take at least 6 mos - or 60 years...) I would feel it to be insincere and would be seriously put off by it.

There are plenty of things you can say to a new flame to let her know that she is special without jumping right to the "L-word" - I told Dude he was fun, sweet, special, that I liked him and cared for him, that I was happy he was in my life, etc. He would say "I love you." way before I was ready - my initial response was to stiffen and pull away. Once I was ready to hear it but before I was ready to say it - he would say "I love you." and I would say "I know" and smile and add "Thank you."

If two relationships are not at exactly the same place (which most are probably not) then why would your interactions with each person be exactly the same? And even if they ARE at the same place, the two people have different needs, preferences, and comfort levels which will modify your interactions with them. People are not legos - you can't interchange them. Personally I think it is more "fair" to interact with each person naturally and let things grow and happen as they come.

But that is just one girl's view...

JaneQ

JaneQSmythe 03-18-2012 03:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mixer (Post 129128)
The above silly example is common for us, but suddenly seemed a bit awkward in the presence of our new unicorn.

(Sorry for two posts but I don't know how to multi-quote yet.)

Getting used to a new person can be awkward. My opinion is that the awkwardness fades with time as everyone learns about everyone else. If you just radically change your behavior to make everything "equal" between both girls 1.) the "unicorn" may sense this and feel like she is creating tension between you and your longer term girl and 2.) your first girl may feel that you are making all of these accommodations for the new girl and that the 10 years she has already put in don't count for anything.

(Dude says the stuff like our "short-hand" discussions, codes for longer concepts, and "in-jokes" don't bother him at all - these things come with time, he says he plans to be around long enough that these will develop with him as well. He is bothered, however, if he gets the sense that his presence is interfering with our relationship or communication OR if he were to feel that my relationship with him could just be "thrown away" if there are difficulties rather than taking the effort to work through them.)

Just some food for thought...

Breathe. Wait. Breathe again.

JaneQ

mixer 03-18-2012 03:23 AM

I wasn’t saying that I want to use the L-word in reference to Ethel, and can’t bring myself to. It’s that since that isn’t the case, it’s kind of a deafening silence thing if I say it to Lucy. Or so it seems to me.

I find it oddly ironic that the symbolic should be more delicate than the real.

AnnabelMore 03-18-2012 03:29 AM

"It doesn't seem right to me to tell someone that you love them only out of trying to be "fair and equal" - if someone said it to me after only a short time, before they even had a chance to know me that well (a process I think would take at least 6 mos - or 60 years...) I would feel it to be insincere and would be seriously put offby it."

This.

It was a little weird for me to hear my gf and her husband exchange ILU's before she and I were ready to say that to each other, but it was well worth it because 1) I wouldn't have wanted to think my presence was inhibiting them overmuch (like, I'd be down with them being somewhat less demonstrative with me around, i.e. not getting lost in each other's eyes and whispering fervent expressions of passion while I'm sitting there like "Um, hi, I'm still here.....", but I'd be sad if I thought they felt like they had to be mega inhibited because that would make me feel like they couldn't relax around me and I was an imposition), and 2) when Gia and I did finally say out to each other, about six months into our relationship, it was way meaningful and special, something I'll never forget. :)

JaneQSmythe 03-18-2012 03:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mixer (Post 129153)
I wasn’t saying that I want to use the L-word in reference to Ethel, and can’t bring myself to. It’s that since that isn’t the case, it’s kind of a deafening silence thing if I say it to Lucy. Or so it seems to me.

Sorry for the misunderstanding then. (...although the "radically changing your behavior" part of my second post may still apply...)

Maybe the "deafening silence" is, in fact, something that only you are hearing. I'd probably ask Lucy if she hears it too and then decide if a change is warranted. For instance, perhaps you don't say it when all three of you are being sexually intimate until you are ready to say it to Ethel as well (if Lucy understands the reasoning behind it and agrees) but it's ok if you are being intimate with Lucy alone (I forget if you 3 have a "only all together" rule) or in non-sexual situations involving the 3 of you until things normalize.

Personally, though, if I were involved with people with a 10 year relationship and never heard them express their love for each other I would be concerned for the health of their relationship, and what that would mean for the potential future of mine with them. (i.e. "If they can't say that they love each other after 10 years together, how long will it take for them to love me?")

JaneQ

(PS. Please don't take offense if I am completely off-base, I have only the words that you type to go by :rolleyes:- obviously I don't know all the ins-and-outs of your sitation.)

nycindie 03-18-2012 12:24 PM

All three of you aren't together every second of every day, are you?

KyleKat 03-18-2012 01:03 PM

I thought this was going to be about the TV show based on the title.

If you're saying it conversationally I don't think it is that big of a deal. I tell a lot of people stuff like "I don't love you" or "if you do this I'll love you forever" or stupidness like that. If you were actually professing your love that's one thing but being affectionate is normal and new people should recognize that a longer relationship is going to be that way and not change just because of a new person.


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