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-   -   Struggling with secondary status. Not really sure what I'm asking. (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23695)

GreenMom 05-15-2012 04:26 PM

Struggling with secondary status. Not really sure what I'm asking.
I had trouble coming up with a thread title, and I will attempt to make this post as concise as possible, which will be a challenge since I'm not entirely sure what I am asking for, and yet pretty sure I alreadd know the answer.

I'm fairly confident after some recent conversations with Marty, that I am a helluva lot more invested into "us" than he is. But, bearing in mind how new I am to poly, and how relatively new our relationship is, it is also possible I'm just misunderstanding. As I've said in my blog, I tend to look at things thru what I call my monogamy filter. I don't know any other way to have a romantic or sexual relationship, though as evidenced by my behavior the past six months, I'm trying to learn new ways.

Thus said... I've been told that he would never want, for example, another wife, another live in partner, something that committed, its "hard enough" having one. He has asked for space - rather than seeing each other every Sat night/Sunday we are now only seeing each other every other Sat night/Sunday. And the thing which hurt me the most, though I'm sure it wasn't intended as a barb - the most important aspect of what we have to him is the friendship, he knows the romantic/sexual won't (may not? don't recall exact wording) last forever, but he wants the friendship to endure. While he enjoys stereotypical date activities with me, and enjoys sex with me, it wouldn't bother him if our relationship changed into a "regular" friendship, with no romance or sex.

I've lamented on this board before how its near impossible for us to get time alone. Young children make it a near impossibility without feeling like we are imposing on our spouses (though they don't mind... heh). I'm unsure how much of this is normal when you are dating someone who already has a primary, and a child, and how much of it is simply a disparity of feelings/priority placed/etc. I'm unsure how to broach this topic with him without sounding like a whiny, needy, clingy teenager. But I do know that I'm increasingly unhappy with how things are.

It's not all bad all the time. It's mostly good most of the time. But I want more. I want more time together, I want to talk more often, I want our communication in between face time to be more meaningful. I'm accustomed to a partner - especially a partner of less than a year - being as outwardly excited and eager to talk/see each other as I am. His seeming ambivalence over things is driving me mad.

He has an axiety disorder which is currently unmedicated. I wonder how much of this is due to that, since he was rather different the first month we were together (when he was on meds). I deal with depression, which I am sure is exacerabating things - I Know I am overanalyzing small things and being way more co-dependent than is healthy.

How do I wrap my head around being a secondary? How do I become okay with the fact that he has a life seperate from me and wants to keep it that way? How do I change my thinking to focusing on the positives instead of dwelling on what I don't have?

And yes... I am fairly sure the big "answer" to all my confusion and hurt feelings is to talk to him about it. Heck my husband has been trying to get me to do so for weeks now. I just have no clue how to even begin to approach this topic. None.

I hope this was cohesive enough to generate a few replies. Anything I was unclear about, please feel free to ask.

CielDuMatin 05-15-2012 08:10 PM

Thanks for posting. I know how difficult it can be to get those crazy racing thoughts laid out in words like that - I think you did a great job.

Yes, of course talking to him is going to be the solution, like you identified. however, just sitting down and talking may not give you what you want...

I think the first thing you need to have clear in your mind is what you want - make a list for yourself of all the things that you need, want and would like out of the relationship and your life. try to create as many specific bullets as you can... don't just write "I want to be happy", for example - try to identify the things that make you happy, or, conversely, the things that take away from your happiness.

Sometimes, just this exercise can help you a lot, whether or not you show it to anyone or not.

What I get from your post is that you feel that there are conflicting priorities and desires in the relationship and are looking for a way to get those out there and sorted.

The next step is to get him (and maybe his partner) to do the same thing with the needs, wants and likes. This should be done not as a conversation, but as a "homework" exercise.

Then you need to sit down and compare notes.

I've written about this on my blog, and I often refer to it when folks talk about sorting things through in their relationships. It's at http://cieldumatin.livejournal.com/4437.html (last time I pasted this link I got it messed up, so hope this works).

This process, which admittedly takes some time and commitment by all parties, should give you a lot better idea of where everyone stands and how this relationship will meet your needs or not.

nycindie 05-15-2012 10:24 PM

To be honest, in all your posts about Marty (in this and your other thread), he sounds like a bit of a dud. This may not be the right guy for you. Nothing wrong with ending it and moving on to find someone who is willing and happy to give you what you want and be totally excited about being with you.

Why work really hard to make a dud light up your life, when you can have fireworks somewhere else?

strixish 05-15-2012 11:54 PM

One big answer is, yes, to talk to him about it.

Another big answer may be a little harder-- decide if you're okay with the limited relationship he has to offer. Would you want to be friends, in a non-romantic way? Are you wired to be friends with benefits?

My advice would be to give up on your hope that the relationship be anything other than what he's offering. Maybe you can't stop wanting more, but stop expecting more. Maybe you can continue with the status quo of the relationship while you adjust to this, and maybe you need to break up so you can properly grieve.

Secondary relationships can be fulfilling, and definitely be more than just friendships. But in my experience, you have to be able to be resolved to the limits of them if you are going to be satisfied and happy.

This advice is only based on what you posted here, and I could be misinterpreting the facts. But you sound unhappy. If you're unhappy, you have to change something-- either change yourself, or change the relationship. (You can't change him.)

redpepper 05-16-2012 04:42 AM

Send him the link to this thread. It seems like yoiu don't have much to lose. Either that or start by saying that you haven't been happy in your relationship with him and then let him ask the questions.

GreenMom 05-16-2012 02:21 PM

Thank you for your responses. For personal accountability's sake I will post here that I am taking some time today to really think about what I want and need (thanks Ciel) as well as what things specifically have been bothering me and how I think they could be fixed, and I will be talking to him tonight. Not much sense in dragging things out further if we really are on two completely different pages. I hope we can meet in the middle but we'll see.

GreenMom 05-17-2012 01:19 PM

To give a short update: As always, last night didn't go how I expected. But we did talk. Or at least we had what I am calling The Talk part 1. I got how I've been feeling out on the table and got his explanation for it. He has been holding himself back - on purpose - out of fear that if he allows himself to fully "dive in" to what we are growing that he'll end up hurting himself, his wife, me, my husband, because he feels it would be setting himself up for disappointment since we can't follow the relationship model dictated by monogamy -- logistically speaking there is no feasible way we could move in together, for example, let alone follow a cohabitation to marriage sort of path with how our lives are right now.

I argued that I don't see why being unable to live a relationship the stereotypical culturally acceptable way means you can't allow yourself to invest into it fully or dive in completely or whatever phrase you want to use. Just because we can't spend every waking moment together due to our other committements doesn't really change that for me. Would I like to spend more time together? Absolutely! And when it is possible we can do so. But with working opposite schedules, even if we didn't have the spouses/kids to consider, there's only so much time we could carve out.

On Sunday will be The Talk part 2. He has asked me to make a list (sounding very similar to your suggestion, Ciel) of what I would ideally want from this relationship. I have also told him that I will give serious thought to the idea of simply continuing as we are, with this level of casual non-investment, and can I be okay with taking it for what it is, which is primarily a friendship that occasionally includes benefits. I have asked him to consider allowing himself to dive in fully despite his bad past experience. Yes, there is the possibility everything would blow up and we'd all get hurt. But we have that possibility now. Keeping things more casual doesn't mean there can't be an awful blow up and break up.

So I have a lot of thinking and deciding to do these next three days before we get together to talk. I am declining to have our Saturday night date and sleep over, because that generally results in little sleep, and I want to be fully awake and sharp on Sunday for the discussion.

From the responses I've gotten on this thread I suspect some of you may feel I'm being naive and silly to even continue this dialogue and see if there is a way to make it work, but I do love him, and if we can mend things and move forward, that would be my ideal. I am also very aware that I can bring as many lists and requests to the table as I want, explain myself til I'm blue in the face, and I could be met with "nope, not happening", which is why I will also be taking time to consider if I could be okay with the more casual status and stop trying to turn it into something its not.

This is almost more of a blog than anything else so I think I'll copy it over there and do the rest of the journaling there. But again I wanted to say, thank you to those who have responded. The e-kick in the pants really did help me to speak up last night. To be honest, I had wondered if I just had an over inflated idea of what to expect as a secondary, and your responses showed me that was not correct. So thank you.

AnnabelMore 05-17-2012 03:43 PM

For the record, I've been reading the thread and while I haven't had much to say I don't think you're being naive or silly. Good for you for making the best effort you can to get what you want while realizing it may not happen. It's a delicate balancing act to be both brave and realistic, and it sounds like you're doing well.

GreenMom 05-17-2012 04:13 PM

Thanks, Annabel. I'd actually like to clarify that statement. I don't think anyone here is being judgemental. I need to be careful to read my posts a bit better when I am this tired. To be honest I'm judging myself a bit. I recognize it is my fault this has gone on as long as it has because I am the one who hasn't spoken up when she's been unhappy and I feel pretty stupid for not nipping this in the bud months ago rather than continuing to "suffer in silence" and now try and revamp everything.

CielDuMatin 05-17-2012 09:34 PM

The point is, though, that you are putting in a lot of thought and effort to try to improve the situation. To me, that speaks more for your commitment than anything else.

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