(Advice going into my first serious relationship!)
Okay, so, I know there's a thread somewhere specifically for posting our own stories, and if this relationship goes anywhere I'll find that thread and put the updates there.
BUT, for now... well, I'll go into my story in a minute, but I'm pretty sure I could use any advice you've got. lol :)
I'm 18. I found out I was poly a few years ago when I fell in love with a couple (13 and 17 years older than me)... I was head over heels and told them I liked them when I was 16... well, a number of problems with that (I was a minor, they met me when I was 12, she was originally my teacher... yeah... they became my godparents...) but mainly, they thought of me as family and turned me down for anything else (ever. Followed by a lot of awkward silence and edgy couple years.)
Well, I'm pretty much past mooning over that at this point (I figured some background couldn't hurt, I think their rejection is part of why I'm so nervous now), but now I'm back in poly-lovesick-puppy-mode. New couple...
Well, there are some complications with this couple too. But aren't there always? Oh and apparently teachers are my type >.<
I don't want to use names, and they actually both have the same first initials. And last initials, obviously. So from now on he is A, and she is E. (second letter of their first names, lol)
A is a teacher at my community college. I haven't been in any of his classes, but it's possible I'll end up in one before I graduate. I know him from a couple of clubs, and because my uncle introduced me to A and E (and their two adorable kiddos) when I first moved to the area last fall.
E is his lovely wife, who I know just as well as I know him because she's at all the club meetings and events.
I've been crushing on A since sometime last fall, and I've considered them both very close friends (in the closeted "this person means so much to me but I'm probably just someone in the crowd"-way) and (have not totally been aware of it, but in retrospect) have been falling for them, but just as I was leaving town for the summer, things started to escalate.
E mentioned polyamory in passing, and asked me "don't you think it would be great" from a kids-having-many-parents angle. I didn't catch on at first, but before I left we met for ice-cream, and hugged a lot, and she told me that they loved me, and the next day when I was driving he texted me "We <3 U", and then the goofy-flirty-talk on facebook got a little beyond subtle (E suggested I read a book, but in process managed to say that she thinks about me when she read about gay sex, and to imply that I'm "incredible" and "all over the place"... again, in a sorta joking way, but doesn't that sound a *wee bit* flirty?)
Oh, and A wrote someone (it's addressed to "WL", but that's neither my initials or his wife's, I'm guessing it's short for a nickname, but whose??) a poem that's just too freakin' good to be true. Honestly, I think that's part of the reason I'm still not sure what their deal is- that poem is too good to be true.
It's gotten to the point where I'm pretty sure either 1) It is so obvious that the only reason I doubt it is because I'm afraid to get my hopes up (see the godparents-story above :( ), or 2) I am making the whole thing up and the only reason I believe it is because I want to. Pretty suck-y mental place to be, but we'll work it out, or talk it out, or something. (Although if anyone can tell me if it's 1 or 2, that'd be cool too lol) I mean, I'm nervous, but I'm not gonna let them get away just 'cause I'm scared. :o
What I really want advice about is... this would be my first relationship in 4 years. And it has a lot more potential to be serious than any of the earlier ones.
Yeah, I'm 18, and no, I'm not sure if I'll be with these people for the rest of my life... but I really, really like them, and I think I'm about ready to see where it can go. I don't know exactly what I want, and I'm trying to figure out what I want, and I can't say I know quite what to expect... just, if my situation prompted you to think of anything, please tell me! I could use advice, or encouragement, or even some well-deserved warnings, although I can't say I'm looking forward to warnings... just, I appreciate being able to bounce this off you guys! Any suggestions of what I should be thinking about?
Well to make it simple - I'd probably just email or ask them in person if they are polyamorous or in an open relationship, and if they said yes, I'd ask if one or both of them would be interested in dating me (or ask if either of them would like to go out with me). As you may find out the answer is yes or no, or only one of them is interested in you if they are poly, you won't really know your options until somebody sucks it up and says something.
I'm not big on mysteries or wondering about things, it makes too much work for my mind. I'd say life is too short to beat around the bush but I guess at your age you have plenty of time to do that if you want ;) I just imagine knowing is better than not knowing!
And there are a lot of tags on this forum marked *triads* which you should read if you haven't - and I've never been in one but from my inexperienced opinion I still think the advice to go slow is good, as the dynamic is so different from one on one dating.
You mention that A is a teacher at the community college you attend? I realize that you seem to know him and E outside of the college as well - the club you mentioned. I hate to be the cold water thrower but colleges often have fairly strict policies about teachers dating students. Yes, you are all adults but the presumption is that an potential power imbalance exists. And it may not matter if you never take a class with him at least in how the policy is concerned. An 'affair' with a student could really hurt him professionally and it is risky for you and E socially and professionally as well.
And I am curious if you have dated people not in a couple? I wonder if you have dating experience outside of being interested in a couple. Dating a 'singleton' is very helpful experience in dating, period. Dating is hard in general, relationships are hard in general) but you are leaping ahead orders of magnitude in difficulty. If you haven't dated someone before, been in a couple yourself, well, I'm going to be the old fart and suggest, maybe, you want to walk before you run.
I know, and I was very quietly falling for them while I sat in my corner, but I'm pretty sure that now *they* are hitting on *me*. And I don't care about my getting any sort of reputation- I think there's nothing wrong with it, and would be 100% willing to stand behind my choices (socially, professionally, whatever) if it came to it. Yes, I know it could be a HUGE deal for me, but I am poly, and I don't want to hide it. I'm a leader, I'm surrounded by accepting friends and family, and I tend to go head-on against policies and expectations that don't work for me.
And I think it's up to them to figure out what they think about their own social reputations, and if indeed they *are* hitting on me, then they're okay with it (okay, well, that's assuming that the older, more experienced people with more at stake have thought it through. I'll make sure to talk to them about it in case they haven't though...) I've also decided that I'm willing to date them in "secret" (as long as they both know it all, and I can still confide in family/trusted friends) if that was best, but things don't seem headed that way.
As far as his actual job, or his professional reputation... I would be prone to not risk that. But... I don't know, it's like something just doesn't add up. Now, I get that feeling every time someone actually seems to like me back (can you say *insecurity*) but... I'm just not sure what to say on this one. I'm falling for two people, and I get the impression they're falling for me, and when that happens, everything else seems to be so much less important than just being with those people.
I'd like to think through the consequences, but I'm so consumed by the idea that they actually like me that I don't know what to do. I mean... what, turn them down just because it's impractical? I don't want to!! I don't know what to do, other than -take is slow, -think about it A LOT, and -talk to them about it A LOT. Oh, and this whole thing is part of why I'm hesitant to make the first big move- if A makes the first move, I can assume he's thought through this. If E makes the first move, I can assume they've talked through it. If I make the first move... even if we all do like each other, I'm afraid I would be setting us up for deeper trouble than I really know how to deal with.
I really, really want this to happen... but I'm afraid to be responsible for starting it. I will own up to this and I don't care what ANYONE says about my being in a socially unacceptable, if loving, relationship- but I can't make that decision for A and E, and it seems like they've got the bigger decision to make.
I'm definitely not trying to brush off your points, I'm just trying to explain what I'm thinking. Please, do keep pushing at me, I need to figure this out...
-a guy in 5th grade (I liked him! For 3 years! And then he asked me out!... dated for most of the spring, we stopped being together cause his family kinda jumped up and moved across the country...)
-a guy in 6th? grade (I missed ^that guy, bought valentine chocolates for him without thinking about how I hadn't seen him in most of a year. Developed an oh-so-convenient spontaneous crush on my friend's on-again off-again boyfriend of 3ish years (off-again at the time) and asked him out, he accepted... dated for maybe a month or so, he broke up with me when I was at a dentist's appointment (I found out second-hand when I got back to school) and I realized when it didn't bother me that I really didn't like him. At all.)
-a guy in 9th grade (I thought he was cute, he really liked me & asked me out, I accepted... dated for two or three months, we finally went on *a date* and I realized there was no deep chemistry, I broke it off)
-had a "mondo crush" on a guy in 6th-7th-8th grade, talked to him in 9th grade after I moved, he started going out with a girl before I made a move (and still is with her, I think...)
-fell head over heels for a middle school teacher & her husband, who had become family friends, and eventually my godparents
-started to fall for a girl I met online about a year ago... this is actually still sorta ebb-and-flow because we both liked each other, but she was with her "soul mate" and is just recently single. But, like, she's actually DID (16 "headmates", parts of her that identify as separate people) so, this isn't really dating-level-1 either...
I haven't dated anyone in 4 years... I haven't dated anyone seriously... the last people I was actually serious with was the non-relationship with a couple, the last worthwhile person I dated was when I was 10...
What you're saying totally makes sense, but I seem to fall for couples. I think it's that I see them being in love with one another, and it's just so... adorable... and then I see them letting me into their little circle (as friends or whatever) and I just... fall. It doesn't make any sense to date someone I don't like, and right now the people I like are not the most convenient.
But, again, with the if-they-actually-like-me, I-don't-give-a-hoot...
(And again, I'm not brushing off your points, just trying to explain what I'm thinking...)
It's taking a bit of effort to sort out the "I'm scared of rejection, I don't want to put myself out there" (which I'm actively fighting) from the "I'm good friends with these people, I don't want to make it awkward" (which I'm gonna have to get over) from the "This guy could get in trouble, I don't want to put him in that position" (which is a valid concern)... *sigh*
I don't have all that much experience with one-on-one dating, either...
Yeah, "go slow" is always good advice, and something I tend to be pretty stuck to (in the past it's taken me an average of 3-4 years from meeting someone and immediately liking them to the point where I make a move...) but I'm afraid that this time, I'm so afraid of letting this pass me by that I might be tempted to take it too fast.
And at the same time, it's going so fast! It hasn't even started and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. I've not been in a serious relationship! I'm feeling around in the dark here. Honestly, I just want it to start if it's going to, so that I can talk to them about all the swirly lovey-but-clueless thoughts I'm dealing with...
Thought I'd put my two cents in about the teacher/student dynamic. One of my close girlfriends started a relationship with one of her profs in university, and he looked into how to protect his professional relationship while they were dating. At their particular university there was a form that could be filled out that took care of the legal consent involved in recognizing their relationship. They ended up deciding to keep their relationship private, and she ended up not being his student for much longer - they're now happily married.
I just thought it would be good to know that there may be ways to handle that aspect of a budding relationship in a way that protects everyone and creates a feeling of responsibility and openness instead of shame or sneaking. Lots of people get squirrely about "positions of authority" and relationships overlapping, but to me that's like someone implying that you don't know who you are, or what you want and I think it's disrespectful for anyone to assume that about you. You have to follow your heart, and if you happen to crush on someone who is also your teacher, I think it's manageable.
It sounds like you're searching for the right way to tell/show them how you feel/what you want. Have you come up with some ideas that might accomplish this without feeling like you're moving too fast? I'm big on taking urgency out of important decisions - there's no rush except the hurrying that we do inside of ourselves - you got this! Take your time, and find what's right for you.
I've never really understood why it's okay for professors/instructors at colleges and universities to have close, personal relationships with students but it generally isn't well accepted if they are close, ROMANTIC relationships. I mean, does the fact that you love someone romantically impact your impartiality in professional arenas more than loving someone like a sibling/son/daughter/other family equivalent? Baffles me...
Like BP said, there are usually official channels to go through to have relationships acknowledged so that A could protect himself HOWEVER he is already married, so more than likely the college isn't going to accept it since it would not just be a student-teacher relationship, it would be an extramarital one (which, let's face it, most people are going to label an affair even if it isn't).
I also understand your desire to push through with it no matter what if A and/or E make a move, but you have to wonder if A is thinking clearly. If you are willing to rush into something saying "screw the consequences!" why wouldn't they? Crazy NRE sweeps everyone, so while he may be willing to risk professional credit right now, is he going to feel the same way in a year? Two years? Do you want to risk him having serious consequences to be with you and then regret it? You've got the right idea about talking, talking, and talking some more to make sure you're on the same page, but I just wanted to throw the possibility of him regretting it (not necessarily regretting YOU, but regretting impetuous action on a relationship with you) out there. Is that a hurt you are willing to risk?
Another think you may want to make sure they are aware of is you inexperience in dating as an adult. The less experience you have in serious, adult relationships the more likely you are to make mistakes. This isn't a bad thing, it's just the way it is. Experience brings the ability to cope with things more effectively. Luckily, you are reading up so you should avoid some of the mistakes or at least be able to handle them a bit easier! :)
There are a lot of issues here that you need to figure out for yourself, let them figure out for themselves, and then talk about and all of you figure out together! I wish you luck... I don't envy your position.
I want to know more about this form. It's... it could be a missing part of my puzzle. :) I tried searching for it, but didn't find anything, can you tell me anything else about it? Maybe even the university's name could help?...
It's good to know that if it happens, there is a "right" way to go about it.
On a sidenote... I can't find a student/teacher relationship policy for our college, and it would probably seem suspicious if I asked someone about it. Anyone have any hints??
No, I haven't exactly come up with any ideas... part of my problem is, I really want physical intimacy to be a part of a relationship, a way to express love and even just daily emotions... I want someone to share my world with, ya know?... but I'm completely inexperienced (nothing, nada, zip.)... I want to explore it... but harping on that is pretty much a guarantee that I'll move too fast.
I do want to explore it, and I know they're respectful enough to take it at my pace... but, again, zero experience, and I guess I don't exactly what "taking it slow" is, because I've never taken it anywhere. I should just do what feels comfortable, right? That makes sense, but then........
The idea that someone wants to have a relationship with me- someone that I actually like back- suddenly I want to do everything their way, just lay everything out per their orders... it's not a good way to start a relationship, I know. But I'm just... scared of rejection. And I know that if we can't work a relationship out so everyone's comfortable, it just shouldn't happen at all. I think we will be able to work it out, it's just... it's funny, I think this stuff gets so much easier when I'm actually with the people I'm thinking of. Like now, I'm almost losing track of who they are, what I like about them, I'm projecting something onto them that's not nearly as good as they really are.
I don't know if I explained that well, but I know I can't be the only one who's like that. I'm so caught up in logic and nervousness and legal stuff that I'm loosing track of how incredible they really are. *sigh*
So after that introspective journey, to answer your question... yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I'm trying to figure out. And I don't really know what to say, except that I think I'll be able to figure it out while it's happening.
Although ideas on how to bring it up without putting A in an awkward professional position are greatly lacking.
At this one institution - and policies may vary - "amorous relationships" between faculty and undergraduate students are strictly forbidden. In fact, such a relationship is one of the few grounds on which tenure may be revoked.
Relationships between faculty and graduate students are strongly discouraged, but are treated as any other conflict of interest: if there is a relationship, it must be disclosed to someone higher in the chain of command, so steps may be taken to make sure the faculty member does not exercise any authority over the student in question.
This is not just a legal nicety, though, but a serious ethical issue; it's a matter of principle.
Faculty are trusted to make judgments about students' performance on the basis of academic criteria alone; if a personal relationship clouds that judgment (or has the potential to cloud that judgment, or even just appears as though it might cloud that judgment), it is a basic failure of professional responsibility.
It's a hard fact of being a professional: when you are in a position of authority based on trust, you cannot have just any kind of relationship with just anyone, no matter how much you want to. You cannot just "follow your heart" . . . not if you want to remain in a position of authority based on trust.
And this doesn't just apply to "amorous" relationships. There's a very useful engineering ethics case that involves an invitation to play golf at a private country club . . . which leads to a serious, full-blown conflict of interest.
On the personal side, I have to wonder how much trust and openness there can be in a relationship in which there is a real power imbalance. It seems to me motives would always be suspect: Does the student really love the prof, or only the status and possible advantage the prof might bring? Does the prof really love the student, or is the prof just getting off on the abuse of power?
Ummmm, just my two cents.
All other issues aside...the fact that it is against most (if not all) school policies for a faculty member to be 'amorous' with students, this girl is only 18 and these supposed potential 'partners' of hers are her GODPARENTS?!?!?
Again, all other issues aside, isn't anyone else concerned about the health of this thought process or relationship??
Samines, you are 18! You are young, beautiful, full of life! Go live life, date whoever you want, and stop worrying about what some 30-something year old couple may or may not want from/with you. It's not worth the drama. :)
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