a mess I can't think myself out of... and distrust-paranoia
I'm in a huge relationship mess right now and I cant think my way out of it.
I, have been living non-monogamous for several years now. Over the years I've learnt more and more to communicate - my needs, my understanding of relationships, and also: to try to encourage my lovers to tell me my needs, try to convince them that I DO want to act according with their needs ALONG with acting according with my freedom and needs.
But whether they were open to the idea of non-monogamy or not, more or less, or even when they actively wanted to live this way, not because of me, even those that lived this way before they met me.... somehow ended up being pretty much monogamous with me anyway.
I don't know why, but in all the more serious or more longlasting relationships I've had, my lovers never had any other lover during the time we were close. And this has accumulated into a very strange thing inside of me. Because on one hand, of course I want to be happy about/am happy about/want to honor the way they feel intensely for me, but on the other hand, theres this guilt and insecurity inside of me, and these voices telling me that I'm an asshole and have no right to have needs or insecurities or jealousy inside of me, because of my history. Which sucks when I'm trying to trust people.
And right now, heres my situation:
A year ago, I started getting close to this wonderful person, and the closer we got the more overwhelmed I was by the clarity my feelings had. I've always been bothered by the fact that I was never sure whether I loved someone or not, always having voices inside of me saying that in the end I dont need them, and maybe Im playing a game... stuff like that.
With this person, all these fears, voices, uncertainties.... disappeared.
I was so completely sure that I loved that person. We spent so much time together. We told each other it was okay that we needed each other, We decided to allow that.
And then, a few months ago, I moved into this living project and a lot of things in my life changed. I was being confronted with a lot of crazy, really tough things, I was completely overpowered by the experiences I was making. And then I met this other person and we ended up making out on the second day we knew each other and suddenly, BAM, I was in love with another person with this damn clarity. And I told this person, very soon, that I'm nonmonogamous. And that theres this other really really important person in my life. And so on.
He seemed to accept it, although he didnt really want to talk about it. We spent a lot of time together and at the same time so much shit happened in my life. It was crazy. And I ended up not feeling up to facing my longtime lover. I called, and told him what was happening, but I couldnt see him. It was just too much at once for me.
for about a month this went on - me, in a chaos of things happening and people close to me breaking down, at the same time spending a lot of time with this new person, and seeing my longtime lover very seldom. When we did see each other, he was very defensive, hurt by the sudden distance I needed, and we spent most of the time we did see each other talking about how he was feeling, and how he was handling the situation. This sometimes went emotionally over my capacities, since I was a wreck in the first place, but I didnt notice this, feeling like I had to compensate my spending less time with him by giving as much space as possible to his needs, and being afraid to lose him.
THEN, I got home one day to find my new lover in tears, and he confessed to me that he was madly jealous, and actually monogamous (although he never used that word). Basically, although I had tried to talk with him about it a lot, he had always evaded, saying stuff like "of course defining things is stupid, I dont know why people do that, everything just is what it is, fuck labels, of course I'm fine" I HAD sensed the defensiveness, but I didnt want to push it. I had been honest with him. And I had hoped that he would eventually come to trust me enough to talk more openly with me.
And when he finally did, he ended up telling me in tears that his heart belongs to me, that hes a "loyal dog" in love, that the only lips he wants to kiss are mine, that thats his way of loving, and he wants to respect my way of living and being, but its really fucking hard for him. Which triggered all my accumulated guilt and self-hate. And yet, I could see that these were his feelings, and I had to respect them for what they were. And then of course there was the happiness about the fact that such a wonderful person felt so much for me. And then the self-doubt about those feelings, the fear of me secretly wishing for monogamy after all. And then the self-hate for not being able to just see the feelings and the beautiful things between us, my head full of words like "social construct" and "ownership" and "communication" when he was just helplessly being himself.
here comes another element: my flatmate. A really good friend of mine, in some ways, although we tend to butt heads from time to time because were both very complicated and strong personalities. So I'm away for a few days, and I come back, and she tells me she has to talk to me. Tells me that her and my new lover had cuddled the day before while watching movies, and that she does kinda have feelings for him in some way but doesnt really want to act on it and whatever, but if thats okay with me that this happened, because she doesnt want any weird jealousy crap, and that shes going to talk to him about it but hasnt yet. And I said that ITS FINE automatically, and was really confused, and told her that id be fine with them getting closer if thats what happens, that it would be strange for me but if we worked to communicate well it would be fine, and she said no, no she doesnt want that anyway, she was just checking.
so for the next days I waited for them to have talked, not wanting to talk to him about it before she did, (and he didnt really say anything to me except something like "i missed you so much I'm glad she was here during that movie because it was really sad and I felt really crappy") but she didnt talk with him, so finally I did, because I couldnt take the awkwardness I felt.
And it was a really weird conversation, because at first he didnt even get what I was talking about, and then he thought I was jealous or was accusing him of having done something more than what happened, and just said he wanted closeness to someone but thats all and he doesnt feel for her that way at all and his heart is mine and all that. And of course I couldnt say that it sounded different coming from her because 1. it wasnt my place to tell him her feelings 2. it would have turned out like an accusation ...... and I said that IF something like that were to be between them that would be FINE by me Id just like for there to be communication, and he just started to reassure me that theres nothing whatsoever and he belongs to me. which wasnt what I wanted to hear, but being weird about that would have just made the situation worse. So I just shrugged it off.
Told her that I talked to him, and later that day they talked and flirted a lot but as they both told me they "just" had fun and cleared that they didnt want anything more from each other.
And I felt really awkward towards her too, because it could be a really hurtful situation for her, with him blatantly prioritizing me like that, which wasnt really something I wanted but also something I cant say "I dont want" because its part of his feelings and his feelings do make me happy..... and I wanted to talk to her about how she felt, but she was really distanced anyway, and my relationship with her felt imbalanced in that way anyway, me listening to her rants and she letting them out on me, and I felt like she didnt really care about my needs in this situation either, which hurt me, so I couldnt really talk to her properly either.
And now its a few weeks later. And I'm feeling really neurotic.
Because they keep flirting, today I came out of the house to find her head on his shoulder, and damnit, I wouldnt MIND if I had the feeling that there was honest communication.
I think maybe the thing that actually hurts me is 1. that I feel like she doesnt care if something hurts me, which feels horrible because shes important to me. so this really triggers a lot of my paranoia around trusting people, and 2. I dont feel secure with him, because his words make me really vulnerable and pressure me to completely "let go" towards him, but he's so helpless when it comes to my vulnerabilities, doing things that hurt me and then crying and telling me how much he loves me and how helpless he feels, and he has such a different view of the world and way to communicate, that I know that if my defense mechanisms kick in and I cant dig myself out of them he probably wont be able to get me back. so this situation is really dangerous in many ways.
Also: even or perhaps especially in the most open and boundary-less relationships Ive had, we always were really careful about situations like that, always checking before being physically close to someone else infront of another lover. I feel like the fact that he always says, this is nothing, the only thing that means something is you, makes it impossible for me to say, hey, you, I want communication about the way you act, and it makes me feel strange towards her because it feels unfair and weird towards her for it to be this way, and it makes me feel hurt towards her because Id never do that to her without checking because I wouldnt want to hurt her......
And then I finally snapped towards my longterm lover after mail after mail and sms after sms of hurt and reproach, and told him I dont feel like MY needs are a big topic in our encounter either, and now I'm just completely paranoid, know nothing anymore, cant trust anyone least of all myself and am at a total loss at what to do.
Also, in all other areas of my life, everything is one big chaos as well, and I cant sleep anymore.
but the most distressing part is, that a lot of my paranoia is starting to act up because of this. I feel like none of the people involved with me are capable of handling my vulnerability, so the choice I will most likely have to make is distancing myself a bit more, again... and I hate to have to do that. If I do that, then I stop hoping for anyone to be able to support me, and I can be loving towards them and enjoy my time with them, but I cant be as close to them, by far. And I'd be fine with that, I mean I'm used to that, but my current lovers keep pushing me to open up, to trust them, to let go, and that just tears me apart because I know they're sincere in that wish, but I really do believe they can't handle my darker sides. So the distance is most likely very truly nessecary....
but I don't want to have to do it.... because I want to be close to them. So very much.
You remind me of my younger self. I had a hard time communicating with people because I would fill in waaaay too many details. When I used to think and talk like that, I had a hard time finding solutions to things because I was too focused and distracted by the details. Also, people didn't like to listen to me because I couldn't get to the juice, to the real point of what I wanted to say quickly. I'll suggest to you that other people may not be challenged by your "vulnerability", but instead are challenged to wait for you to get to what you're really trying to say, to the juice without the fluff. This is my perception of you in how you write, so please only wear the shoe if it fits. :)
I don't really understand where you're at in your relationships or where you want to be. And if I can't understand those two things quickly (at a basic level) from your writing, it makes me wonder, do you? Or, do your lovers?
Granted, I'm a guy, sometimes (often) it has to be laid out for me: "I want xyz, I need you to abc." Can you answer these three questions very briefly and clearly:
Where are you at in each of your relationships?
Where do you want to be in each of your relationships?
What can you do to get there? If you can't get exactly what you want, what are your options?
Sounds like you are spinning round and round with your emotions and feeling overwhelmed. One relatively simple step needing no big decisions: take care of yourself. Get some sleep. At least in my experience, being worn out makes everything much harder. Give yourself a bit of a chance to catch your balance before trying to confront whatever the issues are.
Sound's like you're in a very vulnerable position. You have one thing going for you, and you have one big problem.
What you have in your favor is that you know what you're feeling is paranoia (you used that word quite a bit about yourself). And you know you want to get rid of that feeling.
Here's the thing - paranoia doesn't just get wished away, you can't banish it, you can't reject it, you can't hope it will just vanish. You have to attack paranoia at the root cause - which requires deep conversations with those important people around you.
Now here's the problem - they're not going to be the ones to prompt this communication, because they're not the one's who feel like you do. Your room-mate seems fine cuddling with your new love, your new love seems fine saying he's mono but cuddling with your room-mate (obviously this makes him feel good, regardless of what he professes about his mono nature).
So what makes you feel good here? Everyone else seems to be satisfying their needs to one degree or the other.
You need to get a bit mad - at yourself - for letting this go on. You're poly, but that doesn't mean it's ok for your new love to cuddle with your room-mate. That's just how you feel, you don't have to come up with some logical belief to justify it, it is simply you.
Tell them this bother's you, because it sound's like it really does. Even though you indicated otherwise. And tell your new love to stop the cuddling, ask your room-mate not to do this behind your back. It's not on. And if they refuse, well then you have a choice to make, keep one or both knowing how they feel, or get rid of them out of your life. At least you'll make a stand about who you are and what you are comfortable with. This is a boundary-setting moment for you. What you do now will be something you'll look back in in years to come, so do the right thing, keep emotions to a minimum, and talk to them directly about what your limits are and how they make you feel.
That's my 2 cents.
so it's one week, many escalations and strange happenings and one suicide threat later. and in light of this, my perspective on things has changed quite a bit.
all of this has just seemed so much less difficult in the context of all the other crazy shit, that I ended up pretty much solving a lot of it quite easily, just because of the comparison.
First thing I did was talk to my flatmate. It was a really good conversation. I've come to terms with the fact that in her current state our relationship can't involve too much sensibility, and if I'm clear on that it can be a good relationship anyway. I managed to make her feel safe enough to admit that she does feel unappreciated in the situation, and we have a communication basis now that can overcome all of this because we know we're capable of talking all of this out.
My older lover has realized that I'm completely overwhelmed and I feel a lot less stressed about meeting him because it just seems so clear to me now that all that matters is keeping the people important to me close.
Thank you for all your thoughts and suggestions. I have a lot of respect for this forum, and it's amazing how much inspiration it gives me to read all of your stories and insights.
@ vios: your questions are ones that I've heard often, but I've never quite understood them. My understanding of relationships doesn't work that way, I think. Probably because of my lifestyle.
There's usually not somewhere I want to "go" in my relationships. In every one there come up things we need to work out. But in the end: in my life, there are places I want to go. And I depend on myself to get there. Then there's people who I love, and fall in love with, and who I have many other beautiful feelings for. All I want from that is being close to each other while we each live our lives. And as long as it is part of our desires in our lives to be close to each other, we share the places we choose to be at. I love them for whatever they are right now, for everything they are. That's what I want: to be able to touch that and be part of that, and at the same time, to live all the other things important to me. The only thing I expect from people I'm in a relationship with is to let me live my life and respect me for that, and as close as we can get for as long as we want on that basis, that's our relationship... I don't know if that makes sense. But what I ultimately mean by that is that the only plans I have are the ones I build for myself in my life journey. I don't have any plans for relationships with people, usually. They explain themselves: we want to be close. On whatever terms that fit for both of us with all the other things we are and want. As simple as that....
@lovefromgirl: hmm, I agree that I don't owe anyone anything in that way. But here's the thing: while nobody has the right to blame me or make accusations at me for not being monogamous (and for many other things), when I get close to people I want to get to know them, and that also means I want them to show me their vulnerabilities. It's a fine line, because while everyone has the right to be hurt by anything, they don't have the right to make others feel bad about certain things. But for example: I want my lovers to show me when they have a hard time, when they're scared and hurt and jealous, because I want to get to know them. AND I want to be there for them. BUT that doesn't mean they get to blame me, OR that they get to put me in a place where I have to "work to make things right again" or feel like I have to make up for the way I am. And sometimes someone can add "but I don't blame you" and it still feels like an accusation. It all depends on HOW it is done. In this case, I truly feel like my new lover is doing the very best he can and being honest and most importantly: he himself is conscious of when and why he has a hard time with saying things clearly. And when he can't communicate about things, out of fear or whatever else, then he communicates about that fact instead. So I feel good in that situation anyway, because I see that he is working on it a lot, and I get to feel the process.
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