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-   -   The Secret Less-Significant Other? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22376)

newtoday 03-19-2012 12:02 AM

The Secret Less-Significant Other?
 
I call it another module in the Learning Curve of Polyamory. I'm new to this lifestyle and have been wading my way through for the past 21 months with this amazing man.

We have a V relationship. I am the single girl...he's in a committed relationship with a woman. They live together. I live apart, with my 2 children. When they started down this path, it was to salvage a relationship that was null and void of physical intimacy. Then she got ill. The list of dysfunction is endless. He has had a number of ladies come and go from his life. I have now been around for almost 2 years. He loves her deeply, but he is in love with me. For the first time in the 7 years they have been "open", he is in love.

Despite being 100% honest with each other about this lifestyle, he hasn't told her that he is in love with me. So much for honesty. I don't know why he hasn't, he probably fears that if she knew, she would insist on leaving. She has offered to leave in the past so that he isn't burdened with a sick spouse. But that racks him in so much guilt. I tried to talk to him about this, but he won't engage in that conversation.

I've been trying so hard these past 21 months to understand and trust in this relationship. It wasn't hard to do in the beginning when it was strictly physical between us. But now that we have declared our love for each other, things have gotten a little more complicated. Despite some emotional outbursts and conversations between us where tears have been shed by both him and I, we are doing well. We are trying to figure it all out, how to compromise and how to co-exist. He has told me several times that he will understand if I leave to find a full time deal, but added how much it will hurt him. He's confessed to me that he's often thought of just being with me, having a full time life with me, and me alone. That helps and hurts at the same time. Helps because I know I'm not alone in that thought and hurts because it will never happen.

I love him deeply and would never ask him to choose. I would never draw that line in the sand. I could never put him in that situation to feel that guilt and hurt.

Her and I are friendly, but not friends. She seems very passive aggressive towards me. I've never told him of this, he would defend her and cause an issue with him and I so I won't go there with him. In his eyes, she is a poor, sick angel. He is blinded with compassion, which I love about him. :)

So, most of our situations have resolutions. But now I have a new dilema.

When we were just "f'ing", no major emotional attachment, I didn't mind being his secret. But now that he is in love with me and claims that I'm his priority and can't imagine being without, it sucks to be the secret. They continue to socialize as a couple, which they are, and I feel excluded. Some of their friends know about their lifestyle choice, more do not. His parents and brother know about me. A handful of friends know he has someone, but not specific to me. And I'm a secret from the rest.

Where it really started to hurt was recently when us 3 went on a tropical vacation. He posted pictures of the trip on his FB, and I was there, as a casual mention for a photo credit and a side shot of me. I was torn; it was his way of including me yet I wasn't acknowledged as being there, being his comfort and love during the trip while she kind of just did her own thing. He and I slept in the same bed, spend alot of alone time together the entire time I was there. I left after a couple of weeks, they stayed for another 2 weeks. Non-physical other than foot rubs and cuddling as they slept. He messaged daily how much he missed me. Yet I feel insignificant and for the first time, I feel like I'm living this massive lie. I look at the pics he took of her and posted and the comments people make about them and their wonderful vacation together. I was on that vacation too, yet feel as if I've been erased from it. One huge lie. My pictures tell a different story, so many of he and I together on that trip, even some of her. My close friends and family know about the arrangement we have, others assume he's just a normal boyfriend. I know that he and I have different circumstances, to acknowledge me would be to acknowledge the whole deal. But as Dr Seuss says "Those who matter won't mind; those who mind won't matter." Right?

One part of me wonders why it even matters!?! He and I know the truth. Why should it bother me to be the less-significant other? Maybe I should be grateful that nobody knows so that I'm spared the ridicule of being "the other woman" and he the bastard cheating spouse of a poor, sick woman. :confused:

Anyways, sorry for the long disertation! Just curious to know if anyone else struggles with being the Secret, apparantly Less-Significant other after this long....

JaneQSmythe 03-20-2012 03:05 PM

I think that you will find there are many on this board who have worked through / are working through similar type feelings in similar situations. You might find some in the "coming out polyamourous" tag search:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/tags....ut+polyamorous

For professional reasons I can't publicly acknowledge my relationship with Dude. Our close friends all (all eight of them) know but to acquaintances/coworkers/family/community he is MrS's friend (which he was for several years before I even met him) and our houseguest. None of us has a Facebook page so that's not a problem. And we live in the middle of nowhere so there are no nosy neighbors to be dodged. The only times I feel Dude is really excluded (he may feel differently) is when we go to "family events" that include my extended family (and he is SOOOO not missing anything there :rolleyes:).

This works for us because everyone is on the same page. MrS and Dude can "conspire" to help keep the secret when we are out together locally.

Red Flags / Points to Consider that I see:

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129284)
When they started down this path, it was to salvage a relationship that was null and void of physical intimacy.

I think that many people will advise that you can't really "fix" one relationship by adding another.

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129284)
Despite being 100% honest with each other about this lifestyle, he hasn't told her that he is in love with me.

This, to me, sounds like the difference between an open relationship and polyamory. Their deal may have been that it was ok for him to see other women for sexual gratification only. By being "in love" with you he is "emotionally cheating"...

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129284)
He's confessed to me that he's often thought of just being with me, having a full time life with me, and me alone. That helps and hurts at the same time. Helps because I know I'm not alone in that thought and hurts because it will never happen.

In my opinion this is a dangerous path / line of thinking as it sets you and wife up as rivals and puts a strain on both relationships (you+him and him+ her). I think you have to acknowledge that you and he sometimes have these thoughts and then table it and work on building the best relationships you can in the here-and-now.

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129284)
Her and I are friendly, but not friends. She seems very passive aggressive towards me.

Is the passive-aggressive part new? Could this be that she senses that there are emotions between the two of you that he is keeping from her?

My impression from reading these forums is that things tend to go better when metamours are working together, but that it is not necessarily a requirement. If it is not possible for you to develop a closer connection with her (friendships, like other relationships, cannot be forced) then all you can do, I think, is work on your relationship with him, while respecting (i.e. being supportive of, not trying to threaten) his relationship with his SO.

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129284)
But now that he is in love with me and claims that I'm his priority and can't imagine being without, it sucks to be the secret.

Sorry, I know it sucks - but from what you have posted I'm not sure that, after 21 months, this is going to change. Perhaps if he tells his SO that he loves you, she is fine with this, you and she become friends, then you can all socialize together as "couple+friend" (not completely "out" but you not so "excluded") - which is how we do it in my personal situation.

For now you have to decide if you, personally, can be happy in the situation as it stands now - being the "secret" (from others besides his SO).

**********

The first major hurdle that I see is that by not telling his SO that he loves you he is, in fact, living a lie - cheating in spirit. I don't really see how any of the rest can be sorted out while that is the case. Unless that is a specific "rule" in their relationship - "Don't tell me if you develop feelings for any of your sex friends." then I think that needs to be addressed before anything else can move forward.

Just my observations reading your post. I know I didn't really address the core issue - your feelings about being "secret" as I don't really have any insight there (MrS, Dude, and I are all very private people to start with - would never consider sharing our lives on Facebook, only a limited circle of close friends, I generally even keep my "family" interactions separate from my "friend" interactions - so...)

In terms, though of feeling "Less Significant" - from what I read in your post it doesn't seem that HE feels that you are less significant - shared vacation, telling you he loves you and that you are a priority.

In my opinion, "significance" doesn't come from how many people know but from the strength of the relationship BETWEEN the two of you - which doesn't have anything to do with anyone else (including his SO). There is no "Relationship Significance" competition - your relationship with him doesn't have to be more or less significant than hers with him, each relationship is its own thing. Maybe theirs is more visible, maybe yours is deeper - in the end it doesn't really matter. Each relationship is what it is - no two (or three or six) are ever the same.

nycindie 03-20-2012 03:41 PM

He won't tell her he loves you, but you won't tell him she's been passive aggressive toward you. You say there is "100% honesty" between you, but that isn't exactly true.

These are the circumstances of being with a married man who has a public face to preserve. Why does the declaration of love between you mean that things should change?

Do you have any other partners? I think it might help if he wasn't the only focus of your life.

newtoday 03-21-2012 02:07 AM

Hi nycindi, thanks for your thoughts.

You're absolutely right, I did say that it was 100% honesty between us all. However, my dilema is that, because of her illness, he is super defensive of her. She can do no wrong. I have tried in the past to express my concerns over her passive-aggressiveness towards me but he denies it, saying I'm just being over sensitive. But I'm not. I try so hard to get along, as does she, when he's present. When he's not, it's a different story.

And no,I don't have any other partners. Two reasons, one, I am new to polyamory and do struggle with balancing those emotions for more than one man at once. And that's ok, between my children, my career and my LIFE, I have little time... But the other reason is that, although he says that he will understand if I find someone else, more full time, his actions speak otherwise. He does get quite melancholy, depressed, jealous if he gets any impression that I just might be thinking about doing that. He says that he dreads the day that that happens and he loses the woman that he is in love with, me. So it makes it hard for me to want to pursue other partners.

Ugh. I don't know. It's so complicated. But thanks for your input, I appreciate it. :)

newtoday 03-21-2012 02:28 AM

Jane, thank you so much. It's great to know that I'm not alone. Swear it feels like I'm on an island in this. Nobody to sound out these thoughts with, so they swim around in my head, sometimes swirling like a tornado!

I agree with all of your comments and feedback!

You're right, you cannot fix one relationship by adding another. But what it did do for them was remove the pressure from her to have a physical relationship with him. That removed the tension, saved the relationship.

I asked him if he told her that he was in love with me. He said No, he assumed that she would already know that based on the time that he and I have been together, the time we spend together, daily messages, the fact that I joined them on vacation. I am going to explore the reasons why he hasn't opened up to her about that. I believe that he fears she will leave him, as she has suggested in the past that he is burdened with her and her illness and offered to leave to let him find a full life elsewhere. That conversation consumed him with guilt, said he would be selfish to consider it. He does love her deeply, no question. But it's now more of a friendship, caregiver, family role.

He's also said that she believes in Polyamory as she, herself, was once involved with another man that she cared very deeply for, having a physical relationship with him, but not with our guy. That hurt him alot, propelling him into finding a deeper connection with me, versus F Buddies.

The passive-aggressive part is new. But that could be because it was the first time that we have spend an extended amount of time together. Otherwise it's been for a few hours, an evening, a day here and there. And it's for those reasons, that I can't really tell him about that. It will put him in a tough spot, he will defend her, I look bad and we are strained. Nobody wins in that. So I am trying to just focus on he and I. But sometimes it's hard and I feel resentful that I can't confide that in him for fear of appearing difficult.

Your comments on being more or less significant were so thoughtful and so appreciated. Thank for for reinforcing that. Almost made me cry. I know that you're right, it's just nice to hear that from someone outside the situation. And about being the Secret, it's not all that bad. His parents and brother know, and some close friends, the important people. It's really not that bad, most days. :)

Arrowbound 03-21-2012 04:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129686)
You're right, you cannot fix one relationship by adding another. But what it did do for them was remove the pressure from her to have a physical relationship with him. That removed the tension, saved the relationship.

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129686)
He's also said that she believes in Polyamory as she, herself, was once involved with another man that she cared very deeply for, having a physical relationship with him, but not with our guy. That hurt him alot, propelling him into finding a deeper connection with me, versus F Buddies.

Definitely can see, judging by this, where it went from less pressure on her to him maybe not feeling like he was good enough, which is where you came in.

Hmm. There's some layers to peel away here. Some things haven't been addressed yet, between them.

newtoday 03-21-2012 05:12 AM

Arrowbound, you are right. He tells me that I make him feel like a man. Otherwise he's asexual. He's admitted that it hurts him that she rejects him, attributes it to low self esteem on her part, she feels as if she is unattractive. My question is, if he believes that, how does he think he's helping her by having these relationships with other attractive women? By assuring her that despite these attractive women, he still wants her, in hopes that it wins her over eventually.....? I don't know.

I don't know what I am supposed to do. Feeling unsettled by this, as if he's pining for this woman who really doesn't want him other than a friend and caretaker. I love him, he loves me but wishes for her. Sometimes I feel as though I am just a pitch hitter for what e really wants, but he says thats not true, he loves me for me, but acknowledges that he knows it would be unfair to me if they ever did get the spark of physical intimacy back and I'm only allocated my one day a week with him.

Even he says that this is fucked up. But I don't know which way to think. But you're right, they definitely have things that are unaddressed. I'm the bystander with open arms who just wants to love him and be loved by him.

nycindie 03-21-2012 05:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newtoday (Post 129733)
Even he says that this is fucked up... I'm the bystander with open arms who just wants to love him and be loved by him.

In reading your story and some of the other ones that have shown up here lately, as well as thinking of my now-defunct marriage and my current relationships, I am coming more and more to the conclusion that, when it comes to relationships, love is over-rated.

Don't get me wrong, I feel that love is at the core of who we are as human beings and that it's beautiful to feel it, share it, and express it in our work and lives. However, loving someone doesn't automatically man the relationship will bring satisfaction and happiness. I think of how many times I had to walk away from relationships that weren't good for me, even though I loved those men. It just isn't enough to go on. And so, when a relationship ends, people will turn around and say, "oh, I guess it wasn't really love." Because how can we accept the fact that love was there and it still didn't bring us happiness or satisfy our needs?

So, here you are, loving this man, and there he is loving you and her, but where is the satisfaction? Does the love make it all worth the trouble, or does it just complicate matters?

Sorry to be musing on your thread, but this just seems to be popping up all over these boards and elsewhere in my life lately. I feel like we elevate and inflate love to this position where it's supposed to take care of everything, and it doesn't.

newtoday 03-21-2012 08:38 PM

Nycyndie, thanks for your thoughts. I would tend to agree with you. But when you've never experienced Love, as in Romantic Love, it's far from over-rated. Its a beautiful thing.

I have children and family and feel that love, but this is different.

I was married to my childhood sweetheart for a very long time, together since we were 15 years old, my "first"... And although we loved each other, we simply were not intended to be together forever. And we ended up hating each other.

I have had a number of boyfriends since that split and haven't barely felt anything more than casual affection. Meeting this person and loving him and being loved back, does bring me satisfaction and I have no regrets.

But yes, you are right, sometimes I do think that I would have been better off keeping my feelings at a distance, it would have been less complicated. But again, it's worth it to feel this love that I've never had.

I'm just a normal woman, trying to figure this whole thing out.

newtoday 03-21-2012 08:40 PM

And no... I don't feel that love should take care of everything. But I do feel that it should make us more responsible and aware of the emotions it can and will cause on occasion. He and I both need affirmation at times. And that's ok. :)


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