This may get a little long. I've got to set out some of my history to make sense of where I am. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that I've seen in this forum, and maybe I could benefit from some of your perspectives, so here goes.
I came out as a lesbian in high school. In college, I explored a three-way relationship (which budded out of an experimental night of three-way sex) with a couple. We didn't know what we were doing. When I got too close to one half of the couple, the other called it (sort of a veto), and I was ejected.
That wasn't my first non-monogamous experience, though. My first serious relationship with a woman was a secret. She had an open relationship with her girlfriend (who was out of the country for the semester), but didn't want to go to the trouble of telling her about me, so I spent a semester sneaking in and out of her room, and pretending like we were just friends in public.
As you might imagine, I experienced a little heartbreak in all of this. I've never been particularly drawn to monogamy, though, and have been open to other structures for a long time.
After college, I married a woman who I was with for seven years, and we were monogamous. She had a lot of good qualities, but she was deeply suspicious of all people and didn't want me to have friends. I left her when this got to be too much.
After a few more bruises to my heart, I stumbled into my current position. I discovered that I'm actually bisexual (surprise! boys sometimes smell good!) and I started a sort of FWB relationship with a male/female couple-- the female half of whom ("Imp") had been friends and occasional play partners with me for years. (Oh, by the way, I'm involved in the BDSM side of things a bit.)
I started coming around on the weekends. I kept coming around. The male half of the couple ("Hunter," for one of his favorite authors) and I fell in love. Imp and I have also grown to love each other, though not with the same romantic intensity. It's been almost 3 years now. Hunter doesn't ascribe to the primary/secondary hierarchy, but I considered myself secondary-ish because I don't live with him as Imp does, and I don't attend work or family functions with him.
In this time, I also started dating another guy, "Scooter." He had a primary girlfriend (who he now lives with) and another secondary girlfriend. He does follow the hierarchy. We have a secondary boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. We see each other one night a week. It's been about 2 1/2 years. We love each other, and I feel solid with him.
I live alone, very close to work, and put in a lot of hours.
So that's where I was, with a busy enough schedule that I really wasn't looking for anyone new, when of course I met someone. I'll call him Arthur. He's new to polyamory but seems to be really thoughtful about it, and his wife seems very supportive of him developing a relationship with me.
Here are my issues.
Hunter is experiencing some jealousy. He's handling it very well-- he tells me about how he's feeling, and we talk through it, and he doesn't want his feelings to restrict me in any way. He doesn't act out in any negative way. In fact, he's become more affectionate and more likely to tell me how much he misses me when I'm not around, wants to see me, and wants long term plans for us. He doesn't want me to think of myself as secondary (one of the reasons he rejects the model is because the word feels too restrictive).
I actually had some depression during this past winter, struggling with loneliness and feelings of inadequacy for only being in secondary relationships. The depression was mainly due to winter (I hate the cold, dark days) and physical issues (recovering from painful surgery), as I can usually feel emotionally stable about the way I live my life. Still, I appreciate the extra affection and attention, even though I feel bad that it may be inspired a little by jealousy. It may also have arisen from the fact that we've been talking about our relationship, though, and so talking about feelings is just becoming easier for us.
Hunter and I both think that the cure for jealousy will be time. If he sees that I'm not leaving him to be with Arthur, then his discomfort will settle down.
My other issue is this, though. I feel so crushed out on Arthur, and excited by the NRE, that I'm starting to feel a little bit bonkers. I think about him when I should be thinking about other things (my job, sleep, etc.). I do enjoy this excitement. Most of the time. Sometimes, I do need to sleep and get work done.
I also have this weird anxiety, like I desperately need to know what's going to happen-- will this fizzle out? Will we fall in love? Will he decide he doesn't like me once he really gets to know me? I *know* that I just need to let go of hypotheticals and enjoy the moment, but there's this insecure crushed out teenage version of me who's moved into my head and I can't get her to settle down.
This anxiety has just come up over the last couple of weeks, and may settle down in the same amount of time. I've started to act out a little-- I'm usually very healthy in the way I eat, but I've started over-eating, which is my go-to stress behavior (I quit smoking and I'm not a big drinker, but I can easily drown my sorrows in a microwave burrito or a bag of chips). I'm hoping, at least, that by acknowledging it and giving it a voice (setting it out here), I can get a handle on it.
Because aside from this crazy crushed out feeling, it's a very sweet experience, to find such pleasure in his company. And to experience this while I know that I'm loved well by my other people-- this is good.
Well told story
Very nicely written, you come across as a caring and connected person. I wish you the best in handling the various relationships.
Fortunately, the crush on Arthur is easing into a much more stable sense of affection, and just sweet pleasure to have his company (or to hear from him during the week).
Hunter and I continue to talk regularly about jealousy, our relationship, and our future. He has made it clear that I have a place in his home, which is very meaningful for me. It is particularly significant because I have been entertaining a fantasy (which is starting to look like reality) of quitting my job next year to hike the Appalachian Trail. (Dreams matter, ya'll) To think that I have a real home to come back to, well, that helps me feel like I have roots for the first time in years.
Over the past three years that I've been dating Hunter and Imp, I've been stuck in a secondary mindset, not wanting to ask too much of them, or to ask for too much of a space in their lives. I was never expressly secondary-- that's just something I put on myself to manage my own expectations. It's time for me to adjust my thinking.
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