Being poly and married
My life was thrown into mass confusion this week. In the span of three days I broke up with my wife, fought extensively, and got back together with her. The situation is resolved but tenuous, with me having to give up far more in reunion than I though I was giving up is breaking up. We have always been open, but not "open" with our marriage since we tied the knot six years ago. In this I mean we have great communication, a great sex life, we are not anyway near shy about talking about things in public or with friends, or commenting on how "that woman over there looks ravishing" wothout jealousy. I would also encourage her to act on her bisexual desires to simply make out with women with no recompense.
Then about three years ago I began questioning monogamy, and as a student began learning, studying and researching about polyamory. About two years ago through disscussion and a lot of reading and soul searching on my part, I came to identify as polyamorous and I came to understand that this was the way I always was, but had continued to follow the prescribes social steps through life. My wife accepted this about myself but always remained uneasy. Let me say this now, I LOVE my wife dearly and always will. We disscussed it for a long time before either of us agreed to actually pursue anything.
To skip ahead a bit my wife allowed me some freedom to pursue what I desired. We had set rules and a lot of communication. Then she decided that she was uncomfortable with me alone with other women, but that we could have threesomes. We tried this too, and she enjoyed it immensely. However I dont. I word it like this, when we are in a threesome situation I feel like I have to be a different person, I have to be careful not to pay more attention to the other woman, I have to be careful not to enjoy it too much, I have to be someone other than who I would be if it were just me and the other woman. I rationalize it as being that we express other parts of ourselves when with others, that the dynamics between couples cannot be expected to be the same for every configuration.
My wife feels that I can be satisfied in this situation but I'm not, and I zipped my lip. So recently I'v been enjoying flirting, talking and hanging out with this woman from work, whom the wife knows about completely. My wife thought she was hot and quickly decided that we were going to have a threesome with this woman. The other woman while being agreeable to this situation has told me privately that the attraction is only between her and I and that if it must be in a threesome situation so be it. I dont like this.
I feel that the situation is unfair and dangerous, so I broke it off, it wasn't going to happen. I'm beginning to feel that the wife treats these situations like a carrot to placate me in our marriage, and this idea is heartbreaking. So after much discussion the wife says that she acccepts who I am but will never again be comfortable with me pursueing anything on my own.
So I thought about this and I thought, and thought. I re-read Jenny Blocks book Open, which deeply reflected some of my own thoughts given the particulars of my own situation. And then on Friday night I told the wife what I wanted, that I wanted the opportunities that could be afforded by life, and to no longer be contained in a glass jar so to speak. So we broke up. And after she was packed and about to leave I broke down, I couldnt let her go, I was afraid, I loved her and still needed her. So we fought some more, talked some more, and then slept way to much. However we were reunited. But, I have to give up nonmonogamy, and my job. (I was a student who hates the idea of student loans, so I work as a bartender for the great tips)
She knows I still identify as polyamorous, and thus seems to remain aloof somewhat, wondering when I might ask again about other people. However she loves me and I love her, but I feel like a piece of my soul has been locked away in the dark. Probably the worst part of this situation is that, I had been open with family about what polyamory is, how I feel, and have even given them things to read. And while they claimed that they understood how this could work for people they proclaimed that it wasnt for them, fine, no problem thanx for being open minded. But after this, I have been villianized, and how I feel has been deemed selfish, awful and immoral.
I don't know what to do now. I just needed to write it down in hopes that the act of making my thoughts material could help me through them.
First let me remind you of something you undoubtedly already know.
Polyamory is half philosophical and half practical. (someone may dispute the %s lol) It's easy to read, study, analyze our natures to see if/how it fits. It's quite another thing to practice it.
I relate TOTALLY to what you have discovered in the 3sum situation. I suspect everyone who has had much involvement in that config has experienced the same thing.
But another old adage. Walk before we run !
It's new. You don't get it all right (usually) first time out of the gate. I CAN assure you that it is entirely possible to reach a point where it does flow naturally. Nothing needs be held back. Competition for resources/attention CAN go away.
I'm not saying that some private time with each lover is undesirable/unnecessary but it's something you should build up to - not push too hard for right in the beginning. We're all human and different people have different levels of insecurities etc. Be kind. Be gentle. And be PATIENT ! All good things can cum in time once a level of trust and connection are established.
Make sense ?
It's what you FEEL. What you FEEL may or may not have much basis in fact. Assume otherwise until you have proven beyoind a shadow of a doubt it's the case.
Because it's much more likely she's really just a bit insecure about how things might develop if she didn't have her finger on the control lever (present). It's NATURAL ! Don't condemn her for it. If the situation were reversed likely you would have many of the same butterflies.
And I like to call them that. Butterflies. The kind of feeling we get whenever we find ourselves in a situation were outcomes may be unknown and there is some risk involved. If we didn't have them something would be wrong with us !
And the only way to disperse the butterflies is to live through the experience. So you move as slowly as possible & comfortable at first and then (hopefully) both look back and say "hey - that wasn't as bad as we thought" !
So, take it easy. Don't make something that can be wonderful into something ugly. Rome wasn't built in a day they say.
Good luck - stay in touch.
I don't have much experience with polyamory yet, so I can't offer much practical advice, but don't let yourself get too beaten up, bud. You're not a villian. We're all selfish. Your feelings are valid, and in my not-so-humble opinion, morality is up to you to define for yourself. I hope your wife can see how much you love her.
The threesomes bring up a question in my mind. Does your wife understand that you don't just want sex? Threesomes can be a lot of fun, but they are no substitute for romantic relationships.
By what you say of the rules and your wife not wanting you to explore on your own, it sounds like she may have some insecurities that are being brought into the light by this turn of events. There's nothing unusual about that, everyone has insecurities of some sort. But maybe getting to the root of those insecurities might help her come to terms with her fears about you dating other women.
Maybe you can help her identify what she's worried about. Is she afraid that you're really just looking for someone to replace her with? Is she afraid to give up her precious time with you? These are just a couple random possibilities, I suspect she's got her own reasons.
ahhh.. yes. The old "I have to be someone different when the wife is watching".
I've been there too, in the past.. and you're right, it's not good.
Let me guess.. if you were truly yourself, you'd be more attentive to the "third", maybe more romantic, more caring, but you can't because it would start jealous feelings from your wife?
Unfortunately, I think what might be off-putting about threesomes for you is that you dislike being dishonest.. by hiding your true self and acting differently, you feel as though you're lying?
That's what it ended up being for me, back when.
Although I understand the love for a person that makes you willing to give up these things and make the changes you're making..... consider this.. what is she compromising on? It's a two way street. If you are giving up so much, changing your life in such an extreme way, I would have to hope that she too is making radical, lifechanging shifts.
Either that, or this arrangement isn't all that healthy, really. One person should not do all the compromising..
It's a partnership, right? Team? Don't just give in to give in, and end up resenting it later, that's just not going to help, I'm afraid.
That's something that i needed to hear too. My partner has asked me to do the same and not really connect with anyone else. He brought his ex back into the picture and didn't really seem to care about how I was feeling about it. I was the one that had to compromise for him and he got exactly what he wanted. But after a while it seemed like what he really wants is her and not me...
I feel your pain Dill. I hope that you and your wife can work things out, because this doesn't sound like a happy arrangement for you.
If someone wants you to do something they're not willing to do themselves, then it's certainly not a reasonable request.
I know personally how this feels... I used to do all of the compromising in my past relationships. It always led to resentment and hard feelings, and was never productive in the long run, even when it seemed like it was going to make things simpler at the moment.
My wife is a long time friend who always offered to meet in the middle when we weren't in agreement.. that attitude, and the boatload of honesty that came with it, is a primary factor in the reason we're together. It has eliminated regret or resentment.. things are negotiated, and if they seem unfair to one side or the other, then they are discarded as unsuitable- not because someone put a veto on it, but because if it's not mutually acceptable.. then it's not acceptable in general.
It's a very interesting conversation when 2 or more people are all sitting around discussing something, and everyone's trying to make sure that the others are looking out for themselves, and not just giving in to avoid conflict.
The first time I heard "I'm not doing this, because I don't think that deep down you really want me to.. sure, you're willing to let me, and I think that right now you may even want me to (a little), because you care, but I honestly think that in the long run it will hurt you, and so it's not happening" I was genuinely shocked.. and she was right, in the end, as things turned out, it would have been a negative thing. We would have been fine, but she avoided any issue by being sensitive to me, understanding me better than I do, and acting on that knowledge.
This is an attitude that I've come to depend on... I relate it to the constructive use of compersion as a tool to keep things on an even keel.
I believe that being Poly and loving doesn't mean that you lose yourself in the process.. ideally, *IDEALLY*, you should grow and be made stronger by the actions of ALL of your partner(s), not diminished.
Fingers crossed on everyone's behalf here.
It sounds like there is a long way to go though and right now just concentrating on the two of you is the best bet...
I'm a little confused by this notion of "I'm the only one who compromises."
I always thought of compromising requiring, by definition, both parties to participate. It's the process of meeting part way (not necessarily half way) between what you both want.
If one person is meeting all the way at the other's side, it doesn't sound like much of a compromise...
Ahh, SC, you have a point, allow me to alter that to have the meaning of "compromising your ideals" or "compromising your happiness", rather than "arriving at a compromise".
I was (in the past) the one who adjusted to meet the needs of the other, without requiring or requesting that the other make any concessions towards myself, so you're right, "we" did not arrive at a compromise.
I trust that makes a little more sense? lol.
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