new...how to approach partner about another relationship?
I sort of can't believe that I'm here, but thank you for letting me be :)
I've been married to a great man for the past almost 6 years, and we have a 3 year old daughter together. Our relationship has been monogamous until now. We're in our 30s.
When I was younger (high school and college), I had a very hard time with fidelity. I just thought it was a character flaw :(--and I had never heard of poly until after I was married (ah, the internet!!).
In the past couple years, I was fortunate enough to meet some wonderful poly people, none of whom I'm interested in romantically, but it sort of opened my eyes to the possibility--and to the idea that you could be monogamous and then open your relationship up, or vice versa (as one of my poly friends has recently done, when she married a monogamous man--but she doesn't rule out living a poly lifestyle again at some point).
Long story short, though, I am here because recently I was traveling for work and met a man. He lives very far away from me, and we are flirtatiously corresponding by IM and emails (for about the last week). I know he is very interested in me, he knows I'm married, and he is in an unconventional "marriage" (for various reasons lives with his longtime ex-spouse but is not sexual with her, and is open about the fact he is pursuing others). I want to have a relationship with him--emotional, possibly eventually sexual. I want to know how to approach my DH about it, because I have no interest in having a secret affair, and I have even less interest in splitting up with my DH. He is a really good partner in most ways...
One thing, though, is that he is (by his own admission) NOT good at emotional conversations or "relationship things." This is probably one reason I'm attracted to this other man, who is older, more emotionally open, and who I just vibe with due to similar backgrounds.
I don't want DH to think this is through some fault of his that I'm "looking outside the relationship." (All he knows is I met this person, like him, am talking to him...but he doesn't know about the feelings so much. He also knows that I've become more interested/receptive to poly because of having poly friends...and he knows I am bi.)
This isn't a matter of "cheap thrills." I was fine not having sex with others/ being monogamous until I starting feeling that it was really limiting my growth and happiness...DH simply can't give me many of the things I need, and he knows it, and frequently encourages me to turn to friends for certain emotional needs. He is not a jealous sort in that respect at all. And I do turn to friends...but now I feel like I need a little more.
I really feel that to grow in the direction I need to grow in right now, I need to be able to be emotionally intimate and explore a connection with this other man. It's something I can't even quite explain, but it just feels very important to me. And I absolutely don't want to be deceptive with DH, either, although I don't think the other man expects me to tell DH (not really familiar with poly stuff, I think, though he probably should be ;))
Okay, I hope this makes sense, and I welcome any insights about how to talk to DH about this. The only experience he has had with non-monogamy is "cheating" (on other girlfriends pre-marriage), being cheated on, and a rather unsuccessful foursome once.
Well, this sounds similar to how my hubby and I got started down the poly path, and although the relationship with my other didn't work out I think the same may apply.
When I first started talking to Elric (the other) again and we started being flirty, I simply told Cajun (hubby) what was going on. I asked him if he was ok with this, and he was fine. When things with Elric started getting more personal and emotional, what did I do? I talked to Cajun again. I told him what was going on and again asked if this was ok. Things progressed via IM to the point where I thought Elric may be interested in a more physical relationship and not just cyber. This time I talked to Cajun before saying anything to Elric. This is also before we had a word for what might be happening, we only had our sci-fi readings to go back on. It took Cajun some time to figure out how he might feel, and how this could effect our current relationship, but in time he was willing to go slowly.
Although things fell apart romantically with Elric, Cajun and I have come a long way in the poly thought/lifestyle just from this one experience. Just take it slow and talk to him. Find ways that he might understand what poly is/can be and what it is not. One of the first and probably hardest realizations that Cajun came to was "Love is not a zero-sum game", ie. if you are giving it to someone else, he isn't getting the same amount. Once he absorbed that fact, he was willing to keep going.
Talk to you DH, there is no rush, you are not cheating...yet. Flirting is one thing, starting to cyber and discuss future plans with the Other can be construed as cheating. Just don't push him off the deep end by talking about one home living situations with shared time etc. I understand your DH may not be good at the emotional conversation, but if you having a poly life is to work, he has to be able to listen as well as discuss to a certain level the emotional impact of what is happening.
And just so you know, I never thought I'd be here either. ;) But this place and these people have been a tremendous help and a wellspring of knowledge for us. I wish you lots of luck!
Thanks so much for your reply, vandalin. I know you're right about the honesty factor and that's exactly what I want. I don't want any hiding or lying, I feel so done with that bullshit that I did in past relationships :rolleyes:
I never tried to be open/poly in my past relationships, and in retrospect I really regret sticking to the monogamy model, because it just made me into a liar :(
I think I need to prepare a kind of...uh..."speech." I mean, not that formal, lol, but something like:
"You remember that guy, M, that I told you about, that I met in [place we met]? Well, like I told you, we've been communicating on Facebook. I'm attracted to him, interested in him, and I'd like the freedom to explore that attraction. I'm 100% committed to you, so it's not about that. What do you think?"
Does that sound okay? I'm sure he would then have many questions, including:
"What do you mean? Like you want to have sex with him?"
And I could say, "Well, I don't know yet...that would be a ways off, if at all, since he is so far away. I just didn't want to keep anything from you."
I'm sure he might also ask if anything happened when I met him (it didn't), and why I am so interested. How much should I say if he asks why I like the other? Like, I don't want to gush about M, ya know? This is really hard for me...I want to be completely honest, but I don't want to shove anything in his face, either.
I have two pieces of advice, fwiw. I was the one who opened the conversation about poly in our relationship, although there was no one else waiting "in the wings", so to speak, at the time.
My first piece of advice is to bring up poly in the abstract first. Your husband may be more willing or able to talk about it as a concept first. It seems to me that it's much harder to be receptive to the idea of poly when it comes along with the "and there's this other person I'm interested in" conversation. Saying "hey, did you hear about this celebrity who's in an open relationship", or "did you see that Newsweek article on polyamory the other day?" may be a better way to start.
Second, and I give you this advice in the full knowledge that I do this also and it hasn't worked out that well for me--try to not have the conversation with your husband in your head first. It makes it harder to actually hear what he has to say, and, at least for me, it ramps up the emotional volume enough that I am often so defensive and on edge from what I imagined his responses to be that I can't listen as well as I'd like to the actual conversation we are having. I'm working on it, myself, and it just struck me from your post that it's something you may want to pay attention to.
My experiences, for what they're worth
@Zanie, those tattoos in your userpic are beautiful! Wow...
@noob: I've been in your shoes, in so many ways. I spent all of high school having feelings for guys I wasn't dating, and assuming it meant there was something wrong with the relationship I did have-- ugh! Then I found out about poly two years into dating a guy with a really high jealousy quotient... I tried to open up that relationship, with spectacularly explosive and unpleasant results. (Seeing others' responses on here, I wonder how often opening up a relationship really does work... I'm not trying to discourage you, but I am concerned about the phenomenon.) Given that cheery bio, it's worth stating that both that partner and I are in happy relationships now, though not together; mine are even poly relationships!
Since your husband tends not to be verbal about these sorts of topics, I wonder how else you might engage him. If he takes in reading better, there's a few threads around here with books and articles. Here's a recent Boston Globe story that's been pretty highly recommended and that I like a lot:
Beyond that, the best advice I can give you is to point out that, as much as the people on here know about poly and their own experiences, you're the one who knows your husband. Let that knowledge guide you, and good luck!
It's kind of staggering how similar your situation is to my own. I wasn't looking for anything when I met and totally clicked with my boyfriend. We connected from our first email and things just kind of evolved and continue to evolve. But I was terrified of talking to my husband.
We're about 8 months outside the darkest point in our seven-year relationship, and were feeling healthier and more in love than we've been in years, so the idea of changing our dynamic really bothered me. Plus, his ex-wife manipulated him with talk of being "poly" (her version being "I'm going to sleep around, you stay home and watch your step-son and don't you dare even consider thinking about thinking about another woman"), so even though we had talked pretty openly about the idea thanks to some friends in healthy poly relationships, I never imagined it would be for me. And yet here I was, falling hard and wanting to have my cake and eat it too.
I wanted falling for my boyfriend to mean anything but harm to my marriage. I knew it didn't have to be that way, and the emotions were just too big to pretend they weren't there. We tried. We failed.
That said, I was SHOCKED at how easy it was to talk to my husband about it. So staggered that I doubted it for some time. Even now I'm still shocked when he brings up my boyfriend in conversations, and is excited to meet him face to face in a couple months. But because I was open with him from the beginning (as it sounds like you've been with your husband), the conversation has flowed really easily. I think if it started with a big confession, it would've been an entirely different story.
It would have been easy for me to cheat. Both our partners trust us so much we could have easily kept things on the down low. But our honesty with each other and with our primary partners has been the absolute key in us making things work so far, and dishonesty would have poisoned everything, I'm sure of it.
We're only a few months into this arrangement, but I cannot stress the importance of honesty and communication enough. Good luck to you!
UPDATE! I talked to him
and it went...quite well.
He wanted to know what it "meant" that I had these feelings, and I was honest and said "I don't really know what I want out of it, but I want to keep talking to M, and I want to be totally honest with you about the fact that we're talking and that I have these feelings for him."
He was basically, like, "how will this change our relationship on a daily basis?"
And I said..."it might not that much, I don't know. I'm talking to him almost every day now, but you and I are still talking intimately too." He basically said, "Yeah, you're giving me plenty of time" and asked if he could work more on his hobbies :p
One thing has always been...I need more emotional/intimate/talk/face time than he has ever wanted or been able to happily give. He is just more inward-focused, and likes to work with his hands. So I think he views this as me getting this need met elsewhere, and maybe thinks that will lead to less conflict within our marriage.
Another thing...tonight we were talking about gay male couples we know who are openly non-monogamous and he said, "Yeah, I think if movies didn't show so much about people being jealous of sex and relationships with other people, it wouldn't have to be this huge jealousy thing. That's basically socially conditioned."
So I think he theoretically agrees that non-monogamy could be fine, or even better...but we just have to see where it goes.
I appreciate so much all of your advice and encouragement. If I hadn't found this forum, I might not have realized what I wanted was an "okay" thing to want. We are so conditioned to think "oh, if you really love someone...there will never be another," or "you have to choose," you know?
Hello! It is so comforting to read all of your stories and know there are plenty of others going through the same thing.
I am in a similar situation, however the partner I'm with now and I haven't really defined our relationship. We've been "seeing each other" since July of 2009, I've seen others when we weren't spending much time together, and never have we ever discussed if we are a couple or not (until just a few weeks ago, when we agreed that we're "together"... though his FB status still says single) :rolleyes:
I suppose what I'm looking for is advice on how to approach this conversation with a new relationship? A conversation on how to define a relationship in the first place rather than a change in a relationship. I've never been good at this, even when all I wanted was monogamy.
Heh, speaking of explaining poly relationships I just got this comment on OkCupid:
"What a kick about your current relationship! Wow, she must have a totally laid back husband to have you around!! It sounds like something out of the 1960s."
If this was someone I was interested in I might spend quite a bit of time explaining why it's not really "Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice" in remake.
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