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-   -   Poly Without Knowing? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23530)

ThatGirlInGray 05-08-2012 12:52 AM

Poly Without Knowing?
I don't know if this will turn into a regular journal/blog. I'm rather horrible at keeping up with the other attempts I've made at blogging, and for now there's just one story I want to put down in writing.

If you ask me when I started being poly, I'll tell you 2.5 years ago, when I started dating TGIB the first time. However, if you ask my husband (MC) when my first poly relationship was, he'll tell you back in 2004, when I became best friends and FWB's with a man I'll call Z.

I don't consider this a poly relationship because I wasn't in love with Z. I loved him as a friend but I knew that our physical relationship was only a for-now, stop-gap sort of thing, until he found someone to be in a monogamous relationship with. He and I hadn't made any sort of commitment to each other; we were nothing more than close friends who had "fun" together sometimes.

Fast forward to 2006. I'm due to give birth to my first child, and he tells me that he's dating someone, so the physical stuff between he and I will have to stop. Ok, no problem. Of course I'm a little sad and I miss that part of our friendship, but I'm not angry. I'm happy that he's found someone after all the drama his ex put him through. He still comes out to visit the week after I give birth, and that's when, I think, things started to go downhill. I'm a brand-new mom, totally immersed in my new baby and the family my husband and I have created, and this is compounded by the fact that I'm not sure how to treat him now that he's dating someone. Basically, it was REALLY poor timing, because I'm usually (in all my relationships) the one to push for communication, but this time I'm so involved with my child that I don't even address the disconnect between us. I don't ask about new boundaries, there's no conversation about how things will be different now, nothing. But we can get past that, right? Communication can happen later, down the road, with forgiveness and understanding on both sides, right?

Apparently not.

He started pulling away from me, but I attributed that to his new relationship and my new child. Understandable, it'll be ok later. We both need time to adjust.

Except adjustment never happened.

I found out many months later that he was hurt at the way I had "ignored" him when he flew here to visit after the baby was born. Feeling hurt, he didn't defend me much (if at all) when his girlfriend started...I don't even know how to phrase it. Talking shit about me, basically. Keep in mind she and I had never met (and at this point likely will never meet). From somewhat benign judgments about how stupid I was for reading romance novels (whatever, some of that shit is FUNNY!), she moved on to what a horrible person I was for having a relationship with Z while married to MC. Z was not exempt from her judgments either- he wasn't much better, for knowingly "dating" a married woman. I don't know how much of an explanation he gave her, but whatever he tried had no effect. I was a bad person and being friends with me was not acceptable. If he wanted to be with her, he had to cut off all contact with me.

And he did.

Not only was I devastated, but he didn't even have the balls to admit what was happening. He tried to make it my fault, somehow, and my behavior was why he was choosing to not be friends with me anymore.

That experience taught me a LOT about the need for communication and my requirement that someone I'm close to have a spine and be able to think for themselves.

ThatGirlInGray 05-08-2012 11:46 PM

Funny how thinking about one thing leads to another. I originally was reminded of the above story because of reading through the "Poly Breakups" thread. I've never had a "poly breakup"- what happened with Z is the closest I feel I've come. And then reading elsewhere about the idea that poly is better because "if one of them leaves me, it won't hurt so much" prompted me to actually write it down. Frankly, I think that idea of poly breakups not hurting so much is bullshit. I can see where breaking up with a partner you don't live with and/or don't have kids with could be logistically easier, but less hurtful?? Yes, I had MC and friends to help me when Z basically "dumped" me, but in some ways it was harder because there were so many people who didn't and couldn't know about the extent of our friendship and therefore couldn't understand why I was so crushed. It was the same when someone else I considered a best friend acquiesced to what I wanted- adding a physical aspect to the friendship we had- but didn't tell me about his reservations until later. I could almost call that a poly relationship, because I WAS in love with him, but it lasted less than a week, and then he decided he couldn't because I was married, and it was just too WEIRD! If he had told me ahead of time that yes, he wanted to give it a try but wasn't sure how he'd feel about it, I'd have known not to jump in with both feet thinking I was getting my version of perfect.

But anyway (see how one thing leads to another?!?), going back over that part of my life reminded me of just how many times I've followed the pattern of "Start flirting with someone after they've gone through a traumatic break-up, be a supportive friend AND have some physical fun, and then have them stop talking to me once they're in a better place or feel back on track and start dating someone else." Not every time, or course, but more than half. In some cases I really don't mind. If being with me was good for them at that time and they're happy now, awesome. But in others, like when I thought I was a close friend beyond or outside of the physical relationship, it really bothers me to know that I could be cast aside so easily.

I can count on one hand the number of people I've stayed friends with after our physical relationship stopped. I think most of it is just due to awkwardness. I can understand not knowing how to be friends with someone without the physical component once you've had it. But no matter how understandable it is, it still, at times, makes me feel like I have nothing to offer but my body. Which I KNOW is complete and utter bullshit. I have SO much more to offer than that. But I've definitely gotten more cautious as I've gotten older and as my semi-open relationship with MC has grown and changed and I've gotten more experience. It is so much easier now for me to recognize my deal-breakers early and walk away.

wildflowers 05-09-2012 10:15 PM


Originally Posted by ThatGirlInGray (Post 135398)
I can count on one hand the number of people I've stayed friends with after our physical relationship stopped. I think most of it is just due to awkwardness. I can understand not knowing how to be friends with someone without the physical component once you've had it.

Do you ever try reaching out to them after a while, if it really matters to you? I ask just because in the last year or so I re-established contact - or dramatically strengthened my connection - with 2 men from my past with whom things fell apart due to the physical relationship getting messed up and/or failures of communication. It has given me so much joy to have them back in my life; I feel really lucky that I decided to take the chance on reaching out, and that now I can communicate in a way that makes things work.

ThatGirlInGray 05-10-2012 02:29 AM

If it REALLY matters to me, yes. There have been four times when a close relationship has gone KA-BOOM, and in three of those I've reached out after a year or two and a friendship was re-established. With the fourth, Z, I'm not ready. I perhaps no longer wish him harm (though I wouldn't shed a tear if I found out he and his now-wife split up!) but I still have times when I have to work from angry back to acceptance. He would have to reach out to me and have a SINCERE apology ready, plus a plan of how to be a decent friend considering his wife's views, for me to even consider it. I'm sad that things happened the way they did, but am not willing to risk putting myself in that position/situation again.

NovemberRain 05-10-2012 07:47 AM

Yay, *you* have a blog! :)

I'm friends with more people I've stopped having sex with since I started a policy of 40 days of no contact once we decide to stop having sex. Someone recommended that to me, and when I've done it, I've most often been able to, and wanted to, continue the friendship (and so have they). There was a woman who dumped while I was in New Jersey (and she was taking in my mail!). We don't talk. 40 days gives me time to think of all the horrible things and pleading things I want to say, and it protects me from saying them!

But I did that when I broke up with FirstBF. I attribute a lot of our friendship repair to CurrentBF, who always advocated both of us to each other. He really didn't believe we'd really broken up for the first few weeks. In the breakup conversation, I was explaining to him (again) that if I've liked you well enough to fuck you, I'm not going to stop liking you just because we don't do that anymore. When I told him I couldn't bear the thought of never talking to him again, and that I'd seriously miss him, was when he broke down. ('there, are you happy now, I'm crying' 'why yes, now that you mention it, I am')

Requirements for a spine and a brain, those are good.

ThatGirlInGray 05-23-2012 06:58 PM

Been thinking a lot lately about how quick I am to be angry or defensive in some cases (both in meat-space and online). It's mostly in cases where I feel someone is being attacked unfairly. Yes, they are probably quite capable of defending themselves, but that doesn't mean they should have to do it alone. It's nice to have support even if you don't NEED it. And then, if it involves a kid, I'm absolutely going to step forward to defend a child who may not be able to defend themselves yet, whether we're talking physically or verbally. Even if they are able to defend themselves right now, kids need to know that there are adults who will be there for them if the bullying DOES become too much for them to handle alone. So you know what I've come to accept? I may never be a peaceful person. I may never achieve that zen, calm acceptance of the world. I'm a fighter. I'm a scrapper. When I see an injustice I'm going to fight against it, because it needs to be done. And maybe it's not the healthiest way to be, but I think it's also a source of my energy and my motivation. I get up in the morning because there are people out there who need to be helped, and if I can help, I'm going to.

Seems kind of odd to me to bitch about this forum ON this forum, but this is my blog so fuck it, I can if I want to. Claiming that I shouldn't get upset by nameless, faceless people on the other end of the computer is a cop-out, I think. Faceless they may be, but they're real people, just like I'm a real person, and I think sometimes that fact is forgotten in the relative safety of online anonymity. I've seen people on here say, "Well, I wouldn't say it that way in real life, but this is online." Why the difference? Why can't you put the same time, thought, and care into a post that you'd put into saying something potentially upsetting to a friend? I'll freely admit that there are people I don't respect, but losing my respect has to be earned by what someone says and does. If I don't know you in the slightest, shouldn't my default be to treat you with the same respect I would have for someone close to me?

So yes, I will get defensive of people I don't know, and I will get angry at people I don't know. Because they're still people, and whether I know them or not isn't the determining factor for me.

NovemberRain 05-24-2012 04:34 AM

I totally agree about the kids. (and most of the rest, fwiw) I listen to Dr. Laura (well, I used to, when she was on free radio). I am so totally NOT her demographic audience. I don't often tell people that I did that. But every know and then, it's appropriate. I didn't have anything remotely approaching a 'safe' childhood. No, I didn't grow up on the streets of south america, and I am profoundly grateful for that. I still had trauma. Dr. Laura is a fierce fighter for children. (I think she imagines more demons than there actually are, but she fights against real demons) When ever I heard her doing that, it was like someone was reaching back in time, to the kid that I was, and showing me what should have been. It was healing.

go get 'em, mama bear.

ThatGirlInGray 06-27-2012 11:27 PM

Not going to get too detailed, as it's not actually my story to tell, but: the plan for TGIB to move out here this summer is not going to happen. His ex has been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness and he's going to stay in Texas for the foreseeable future to be there for his kids as they all try to get through this time.

I totally understand his decision to not put his kids through dealing with their mom's illness AND him moving at the same time. He wouldn't be the person I love if he had made any other choice. But GOD it sucks. I'm really, REALLY pissed at the universe right now.

ThatGirlInGray 08-29-2012 08:36 PM

I spent 9 days with TGIB earlier this month. It was the first time we've ever been together without MC or my kids around. It was amazing. I met his parents, his ex, his kids, his friends...but we had SO much just US time. It was fantastic, and I didn't want it to end. But of course it had to. I've decided I LOATHE long-distance relationships. I'll put up with it for as long as I need to in this situation, because TGIB and our relationship are worth it, but I will NOT be looking for another LDR. Of course, I wasn't *looking* for this one. I've realized that I'm only situationally poly- I haven't and likely will never go out looking for additional committed relationships. This one grew out of a friendship, and I'll put in the extra work and effort as needed, but I don't want this configuration for its own sake.

TGIB's grandfather passed away suddenly yesterday, and so twice in one month I feel like I've been slapped in the face by the restrictions of our situation. I HAD to come home at the end of the 9 days, and come back to being a stay-at-home parent, just like he HAD to stay where he is to be there for his kids. And now, though I really, really want to be able to be THERE with him while he deals with this latest grief, it just isn't possible right now. MC is supportive, and helped me explore options, but the reality is that we just don't have the time or money available at the moment. And it sucks.

I tend to come to my blog when I'm unhappy. That's when I want to write things, get them down in black and white and out of my head. When I'm happy I don't feel the need in the same way- a lot of my happiness just gets hugged to my heart. Perhaps that's why I'm bad at blogging- I'm aware that it results in a fairly negative, unbalanced perspective. But if having this space here lets me get more of the negativity out rather than laying it on the people around me, even if that's all it does, then it's worth keeping up with occasionally.

ThatGirlInGray 10-19-2012 05:58 AM

life in general, not so much poly
I'm so tired of fighting battles that can't be won. I'm tired of the rigged deck. I'm tired of those in power making rules that they themselves don't follow, but enforce on others whose only choices are accept it or leave completely, without having a voice in the making of those rules.

Apparently I'm getting more passive-aggressive the older I get. Who knew? The aggressive part isn't anything new, only the passive part. I've learned some lessons over the past 20 years about how to approach things to get what I want, but it feels so manipulative. And it still doesn't always work! Some people have given up fighting, tried to convince me that acceptance leads to peace, and that may be, but I'm DAMNED if I'm just going to roll over and accept something I believe is wrong for the sake of peace. Fuck that. That sort of peace isn't worth having, and sometimes you have to take a stand. But god dammit it all to hell, I'm tired.

I generally hate those cryptic posts/facebook updates that leave the reader wondering, "What are they talking about??" but in this case there's not much I can do about it. This is a public board, and some of the issues are legal ones, some are health ones (of other people, but still private), and some just aren't appropriate for this place for other reasons. And it would take too long to get into all of them, and I'm NOT looking to discuss the issues themselves. But put everything together and I'm just so. FUCKING. exhausted. I get a bit of a break in 9 days, when TGIB gets here for 2 weeks. And I get a bit of a break next month when MC and I have an anniversary weekend. But will that be enough of a recoup? And then what? How long will I have to keep going? How long will some of this crap last? I don't even know, and not being able to have some sort of end date is NOT helping. So far I've been able to get through other difficulties by knowing that it was only until a certain time, and then something would change. But this time, some of the things I can't affect AT ALL, and just have to endure them for as long as they last, and some things I can try to change (and am) but have no guarantee when or even if they'll work. It's wearing on me.

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