Worried my partner is going to leave
I can't stand this. My partner came out saying she was interested in having an open relationship but that she knew it would not work but she wanted me to know she wished we could have that. Well we talked a lot about it and I expressed that I had no desire to open up our relationship. So now last night she is out with friends and when she comes home she said that she had a book she wanted us to get. She said a friend suggested it would help us with our relationship. She said it was a workbook. Well when I looked it up on Amazon it turned out to be a book about how to turn a mono relationship into a poly. I told her that I didn't want to purchase that book because I didn't want that kind of relationship. She told me that love is defined by the culture you are raised in and the only reason I don't want to be poly is because I was raised to believe in monogamy. I really don't like when she does that. I feel like she dismisses my feelings. Since we've relocated all of her friends are poly. All she sees are poly couples and now she wants that. In four years she has never mentioned that to me or even thought of it as she herself admits. It wasn't until she saw that some couples have that kind of relationship that she suddenly wanted it.
I told her I couldn't say never ever. BUT that at this stage I don't want that at all. And I honestly feel that if we were to try it at this stage of our lives and relationship we would break up.
She told me that she loves me deeply and wants to be with me, she wants to grow old with me. She told me she wouldn't leave me no matter what unless I hit her or something. However, I am terrified. I keep having panic attacks.
Last night after we made love I was holding her and the thought of her leaving me hit me and I began to have a panic attack. I ended up throwing up in the bathroom. So romantic. I'm really scared she is just going to get sick of me and throw me to the side. I gave up everything to move where she wanted and I know no one here. I'll admit I'm angry that she dragged me 2,000 miles away from everything I knew and everyone I loved in order to suddenly decide she wants a totally different relationship than we have had all these years. I wish we'd never moved!
OK, I see a couple of troubling signs here:
1. You already feel like she's dismissing any input you have on the matter and plowing ahead with, at the very least, investigating this relationship style that you are simply not interested in.
2. It sounds like you are away from any social safety net you may have had and that isolation is compounding things. To take the least optimistic view of things, it seems like you got caught up in a bait and switch..."Here, let's try out this new location aaaaannnndddd while we're at it, let's bring other people into our relationship."
3. It is to the point where it is affecting your health and, again, she seemingly is not concerned about that at least to the extent that she understands this.
All of this sounds like a big bag of not cool to me. If she wants to hang out with poly people, let her and forge your own path in this new place where you reside. Find your own comfort level with people who share interests. Volunteer somewhere, that's a great way to meet other folks. Join the Y to exercise off some of that anxiety. And, in doing all of this, take some time to establish a few things in your mind:
1. Do you still want to be with this person or has this shift in their desires and personality brought about an end to what you once had?
2. Do you geographically be where you are right now? Or would going back be a better choice?
You're in a tough spot, no doubt. I had something along these lines happen some years back when I rearranged my entire life and moved to be closer to someone who then began wigging out on me inside of a month of our long-distance relationship becoming a short-distance relationship. I worked with him for seven months to see if there was anything worth sticking around for and, during that time, saw my health get worse and worse from stress. Then I just left. Nothing like waking up a few days later in the spare bedroom of my gay ex-boyfriend without a job and without steady income and without much hope of my heart healing but feeling a million times better nonetheless.
Read the book! What's the harm?
Hello, I can understand your upset. When you think your relationship is happily moving along and your partner says they would like to change things there can be a whole bunch of emotions that are sometimes hard to define. I can also understand how vulnerable you may feel in a new city with no network of your own (been there too). If at all possible try to get out and meet people/friends.
I understand that you are scared of your partner leaving you or being poly but by refusing to even consider or read about topics that are important to HER you are sending a strong message. What she wants/needs/thinks is not important if it doesn't fit your view. I read about many struggles from folks whose partners refuse to just talk with them about poly and it is heart breaking. They often say that their partner really doesn't know them deeply because they won't bother to communicate with them. It keeps partners at a distance from one another. I don't think this protects the relationship at all in any healthy way.
You may not ever want an open/poly relationship and that is ok. If this is true reading a few books or listening to how your partner envisions a poly/open relationship working over the course of several months still won't change your mind. The effort you put in to see where your partner is coming from is what is most important I think. You don't have to agree to make any changes at this point. By talking and discussing the topic you will get to know your partner better and her you. The more you know each other the more secure you will feel about the standing of your relationship. The worst thing that can happen is that you discover you are incompatible. This is ALWAYS possible no matter who you are or what type of relationship you have. This may be sad for you both but it is really good to discover so that you each can seek what you really need and want in life.
Would you really want a partner that doesn't want what you want out of the relationship? Or is unhappy just to make you happy?
When my DH first introduced Poly to me (after 12 years together) I was not down with it at all. No way, no how!!! But I realized that if this was something that was so meaningful and important to DH I had to AT LEAST go through the mental exercise of figuring out what exactly DH was asking me for, who he was (now), and if I could imagine a scenario that might work for me too. While I "wanted" monogamy I discovered in time that I didn't "need" it. He really wanted to be my life partner (and already was), raise our family, be there for me, grow old, etc... but he did not want to be sexually exclusive. I also realized that for me the value and and beauty of monogamy completely disappeared the moment I was aware that my DH didn't want it. I did not want to force my partner to be mono. I wanted him to want to be mono with me but he really didn't. I had to come to grips with that. I was also able to figure out what my specific concerns were and my DH was able to understand me and offer up different ideas. I came up with ideas too. We went back and forth for a while with no pressure to make ANY changes. It took a 1-2 years for me to be ready to open up our relationship.
It's scary to think you might not be compatible long term but avoiding the issue will definitely NOT help the relationship and may in fact speed up the separation process because your partner will not be able to talk openly and honestly with you about what is going on inside her. Sure, moving and being exposed to new ways of conducting relationships may not be what you had in mind. This may have speeded up the process for your partner becoming aware of her interest in polyamory but I promise you (from my own experience) that not knowing about poly does not keep you safe from your partner having/developing feelings for others. That happens regardless of whether you've read poly books or not.
At least polyamory resources promote honesty and transparency within relationships. Good thing she's not friends with folks who are cheating left and right on their partners otherwise she might be tempted by a different set of skills. Start slow- reading a few pages or a chapter. Keep track of any reactions you have and talk about it. Take breaks as needed. Knowing and learning about poly gives you both a framework to communicate about these difficult feelings. I found that the relationship skills that I learned from considering a poly relationship model was well worth the effort. Even if in the end I decided poly was not for me. You may find that what you both want out of your relationship has a lot of overlap and that being open isn't as scary or divergent from what you have now as you originally thought (my experience).
If what you want is long term relationship stability I suggest that you do entertain your partner's request seriously. Anything less than that can damage the strength of the relationship and lead to growing resentment and discontent. Right now her options are be mono with you, be dishonest, or end your relationship. It sounds like she is trying to be honest with you and I think that is a great foundation to start with. Is being in a mono relationship MORE important than being with your partner? I suspect you may not know yet. There are a lot of shades between monogamy and open/poly relationships. Figure out what the options are and why your partner is interested before you make a final decision.
Your partner gravitated toward friends who are poly because she recognized kindred spirits--people who were practicing a way of life that appeals to her.
They didn't suddenly make her poly, and moving to a new area didn't suddenly make her poly.
She probably always had inclinations toward a polyamorous philosophy of relationships, even if she wasn't aware of how to articulate those feelings.
Probably she couldn't talk to you about it earlier (or even now) because you shut down completely at the thought of even reading a book about poly. Even though reading this book could help you to understand where your partner is coming from.
Your fears that she will leave you are coming from your own insecurities.
Poly people don't leave their partners just because they want to date other people.
That's actually what monogamous people do--if you fall for someone else, you leave the person you are with.
It sounds like you should seek treatment for your panic attacks.
Possible positives. :)
Hi Rainbow! Couple of different spins that might help come to turns with this issue.
(1) She is not saying, at any point, that she wants to leave. In fact, she seems to be trying to open communication with you? I would say this is a very positive thing. The only thing I would suggest to you is that you NOT shut that communication down by simply saying "I'm not doing this!" This FORCES her right on the horns of the dilemma. (One side being that she shuts down her own poly drive, the other that she leaves you.)
(2) Just because she is saying she might be poly, she is NOT saying you have to be. I know at least one couple that the guy is very mono, and the girl is poly and has other partners on the side. This does not mean that she will EVER leave her primary partner (You). Perhaps discuss this with her, and ways that you might both of you comfortable? (No romantic encounters in your bedroom, for example?) Remember, polyamory isn't just all about sex. Its about the need to open love up. Love is not a finite resource, is our contention.
Communication is key, always.
Have a wonderful, fantastic day. :)
Obviously you do need to be listened to and respected in your relationship, and it's an issue if you don't feel like that's happening. But... the same goes for your partner.
My intro is here if you want to know where I'm coming from, but basically I've got poly feelings and my husband doesn't want to hear it, doesn't want to discuss it, so I get to (yay!) hide that part of myself from him to keep the peace in our house. It sucks.
Thing is, she might just need to talk to you. She might not need to actually live poly, or at least not yet. She might be happy to take all the time you need, even years, to inch toward something that works for both of you down the road. But having to fake being happy with monogamy? Having to pretend to you that she doesn't think about polyamory and what might be possible? Having to suppress any feelings that don't fit a nice monogamous template in favour of guilt and shame? Believe me, it's a road to deep unhappiness.
It might feel uncomfortable/painful/weird to read a book about opening your relationship and continue to talk to your partner about her feelings and needs, but surely it's better than forcing her to fake a contentment she doesn't feel? I'm not saying to open the relationship against your will to make your partner happy (that would be equally destructive), just to keep the discussion open and let her talk about her real feelings without guilt/shame. She can't help the way she feels any more than you can.
Lots of good points have already been raised. My two cents: she won't leave you because she's poly, but she could leave you if she doesn't feel accepted and listened to. I sure hope I never get to that point, myself.
Take care & I hope you can find some peace and comfort with all this,
I can certain empathize. Sounds like you're feeling a little overwhelmed. Wife also surprised me with a desire for an open marriage after years together. I was NOT terribly enthused. It did get better.
I got the feeling that you're already feeling adrift from being in a new location (at her behest) and now you're being asked to remodel your marriage (also at her behest). Wow, that feels like a lot of compromise. I think you're fully in the right to say "I'm not saying never but I don't want this right now." I would encourage a small discussion (a couple months?) in the future so that she doesn't feel hopelessly stonewalled. Hopefully she can allow you some time to get on more of an even keel emotionally.
Right now, I'd focus on the panic attacks. When I've had anxiety issues, I had to force myself to focus of the facts of the situation rather than what I'm feeling.
I can understand your frustration and feeling dismissed. However, it doesn't sound to me like she is dismissing your feelings. It is easy to point fingers and make her out to be the evil, manipulative bitch, but really -- she simply wants you to read about something she feels strongly about. She's not giving you an ultimatum, but wants you to consider a new approach to your relationship, so why wouldn't you do your due diligence and learn as much about it as possible, rather than saying NO to something that you probably only have some ideas about but not a real understanding? Obviously, the discussions you had with her left her feeling like she still wants you to understand her position and be more willing to consider it. You seem to think that you talked enough about it and made your decision, but big issues like this can sometimes take years of talking.
She didn't say she is just going to go ahead and have another relationship whether you like it or not, she is asking you to see if you can read a little about it so you can be more informed when discussing it with her. Put yourself in her shoes, too. She probably feels like you just put a big wall up and are refusing to even try to see or understand anything about what appeals to her in polyamorous relationships. I am sure she feels as dismissed as you do. Reading about it doesn't mean you would be agreeing to it, but that you are simply willing to have a dialogue about what she wants and how she envisions having an open or polyamorous relationship (two different things). Perhaps you just didn't like the vibe of the book she showed you - there are probably other books that would be better suited for you to learn.
You are really seeing yourself as a victim here, unnecessarily. I am sure she did not "drag" you miles away to be with her so she could then manipulate you to get other things she wanted. Come on. Did she tie you up and bring you there in a duffel bag with duct tape over your mouth? You had no say about moving? You're an adult and chose to move with her. You chose to leave what was familiar to you in order to be her partner and now you don't want to listen to her when she is trying to express some very important needs she has. In adult relationships, people talk to each other, even if they don't like the subject being addressed.
I think it would behoove you to stop resisting having another discussion and learning more about it, because shutting her down will probably push her away emotionally. And I think your panic attacks are coming from these negative thoughts you are having which are probably projections not based in reality. People don't want open or poly relationships to leave their partners, but so that they can stay with them. Reading more and talking more about it doesn't mean you won't be heard, and it doesn't mean you have to consent.
Just like you chose to relocate with her, you can choose to walk away or you can choose to take baby steps and see if open or poly isn't as bad as you imagine. There are so many ways to live poly or open. Why make a decision without knowing more? She wants to see if this is something that can work with you two. She doesn't want to leave you, but she wants the freedom to be with other people, too. And probably wants you to have the same freedom. Also, there are many monogamous partners of poly people who have very satisfying relationships, even though their partner is involved with others.
Investigating the options isn't a bad thing, if it helps bring you knowledge. And knowledge always makes one better equipped to make choices. For any of us, there is always so much to learn, not just about polyamory, open relationships, or other forms of non-monogamy, but about relationships and intimacy in general!
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