Looking for some advice
I'm in the market for some advice, and I think you're the only people in thew world qualified to give it. My situation is not normal, so I would appreciate considered responses only please... no out-of-the-box comments, if that's possible. This is a novel, it's drama-filled but I Want to put the entire thing out there so people (you) can comment so maybe I can figure things out. Thank you for reading!
Firstly, I have fairly low self esteem but I hide it well enough. I'm a 6'2" male who (apparently) is attractive. I'm something of a 'leader' personality but I'm scared to death of that role. It keeps me humble. I met my first GF in my last year of highschool. We dated for 4 years and I broke it off because I realized that I Was following her around like a lost puppy. I was starting to have an interest in other women, but not in the poly sense.
I broke it off, moved away, started a life, bought a condo... but failed at the dating scene and anguished for companionship so I called her. We hooked back up, had a distance relationship for a year and a half before she moved back in with me. Fast forward 8 years, we were married and had 2 kids but the relationship was in severe trouble.
I sought out and had an affair, it lasted a few months and I did not fall in love. There was no chemistry with this first affair and the sex felt familiar, old and I returned to my life prepared to live and die unhappily married.
Enter the love of my life. A co-worker whom I found instantly attractive, but was distant with off the start suddenly and intentionally piqued my interest. I wasn't looking for anything, but the friendship rapidly turned into more and we started an affair. The affair lasted a year, but I felt I was doing her an injustice. I told her to start looking elsewhere. At this point, I suffered a fractured collarbone that put me out of work. I Wasn't sleeping, tensions in the home were at an all-time high...
I was about to lose the best thing that had ever happened to me. My love was starting to have long distance relationships through a dating site and I was coming to my senses too slowly. I had lost her, and in sleepless nights of introspection, I realised it.
I told my wife that I would be seeking a divorce and moved out maybe 10 days later.
The woman whom I had the affair with was in rebound with me, she went and saw (with my expressed approval) this man whom she was talking with online. When she returned, there was no chemistry between them and she was ready to start a relationship with me. I Was elated. I didn't love the idea that she had to sleep with the guy to find out, but I had no right to say anything considering I had just put her through a year of hell. (this is an important point that I will touch on later)
Ok, now I feel the need to describe how I Feel about her. I had never truly been in love before and I have nothing but admiration, respect, closeness and commitment for her. We communicate very well, but she has trust issues with me. She doesn't trust quickly and the year of hell I put her through has left its' mark. She knows she can trust me again, but she's not sure when that'll happen. I am prepared to wait until my deathbed for her trust. Anyhow, I digress. The sex is fantastic, for both of us. I mean, .... REALLY fantastic. She's very vocal about it with me :) We click in huge ways.
She has a child the same age as my eldest, they get along fantastically. We've merged our home life pretty well!
New job, new life, we moved in together about 10 months later. Our friends, family and co-workers all know about the affair but accept us. Last August, we took a trip and engaged to each other. She asked me and I asked her at the same place, same time. We knew from a conversation like 8 months prior that we'd both do it then and there, but we were elated. For a time.
Nearly 2 years after moving in together, we're about to get married. She's suffering bouts of depression due in no small part to my divorce being ugly, costly and not quite final yet. It's a matter of a couple weeks before it is, but it's been a long haul with ahuge emotional cost to it. She withdrew a little and she started getting close with a mutual online friend.
It only happened because my divorce has been going on for so long that it seemed like we'd never really GET to be married. She was in a depression and I fought tooth and nail to get divorced ASAP. It's been a bitter process, but my love and I STILL love each other deeply.
Enter the problem: She wants to be 'open' so she can see where this relationship with this other guy leads. I do not want to be open, but I (maybe due to lack of self esteem) want her to see if there's chemistry with this new guy. If there isn't, I have every reason to believe that we'll be married and monogamous until our final days. If I outlive her (I REALLY don't want to.) I cannot fathom even now, with many many years ahead, ever being interested in someone else. We share a lot in common but are dfferent enough to make for some great conversations. We think about things in different ways, but almost unerringly come to the same conclusions. (even if it takes me more time) She is, without a doubt, THE one. I have no interest in other women, and haven't since I started seeing her.
I've expressed my opinion. I would like her to find out if there's romantic chemistry without so much as a kiss, if possible. I could live with her having to kiss him to find out, but anything more rapidly turns my insides upside down and my arms to jelly. The thought of her sleeping with another man is... a deal breaker.
I knew that she's open to the idea of open relationships but we'd never practiced that sinve I moved out and separated fom my wife and began a relationship...a REAL and open relationship with my love. I Assumed that during the affair, the relationship was an open one.
Please understand that, to me... to have a history like ours, and a love that is so empassioned... to say that her being with another man in bed is a deal breaker is to admit that my life as I know it, would pretty much be over. Suicide enters my mind, but I'm sure it's knee-jerk reactionism. I have 2 great kids and could never do that to them.
But I know that I would completely and utterly fall apart if this comes to pass. I cannot imagine life beyond her. It's so painful to think about that I cry when I give it serious thought.
We've talked about what I'm comfortable with and she's hopeful to find out before it goes beyond that but this smacks of the weekend trip she had to take to find out about the last guy she met online. I know how I felt about that, but convinced myself that she had to find out. I defend that call. I still think it was the right one, but this time it's different.
Yes, I'm mad at her for letting it get this far. But I can forgive it. In her place, I would have severed all ties months ago, as soon as I Realized that I was starting to crush. It only happened because she's open to poly in the first place.
I want this nightmare to end. I'm not sleeping, barely eating. I have a great new job that I start in a week that I should be ecstatic about but I'm terrified that I'm going to be such an emotional wreck that I'm not going to be able to live up to my commitments.
I need her to find out, so we can either go on with our life and get married in 4 months as planned (PLEASE! Let that come to pass!) or for her, them or all three of us and hash this out in a manner that is acceptable for all of us.
If/when this does get put behind us, I have every confidence that she and I will be happily monogamous. But how do I deal with the emotions that come to the surface?
Our mutual friend whom she's crushing hard on lives in another city, so it's not something that can be resolved overnight. I'm not happy with him that HE let it come to this point, either.
I feel hurt, and somewhat betrayed.
I asked him to have a talk with me sometime soon to see how we both feel about this. All I can see is 'train-wreck' and I'm desperate to jump out of the way but ...
It's such a loaded situaiton. I'm emotionally charged. I bawled my eyes out yesterday explaining how I Feel to her. She's stronger than me, more independant. I do and always have, to a large degree, define myself by the people I surround myself with. I admit, I'm a bit 'needy' these days but she and I both enjoy the closeness, even now. Our lives are intertwined, and I'm hoping I'm over-reacting.
I hope our friend will back off when he learns of my distress. I hope that my love understands and can live with that without resenting me or wondering forever 'what if'. I know she loves me as much as I love her, but her independant nature gives her strength that I cannot find in myself.
I'm hurting and I yearn for people 'in the know' to comment, because I have nowhere else to turn. Can someone as entrenched as me come to embrace poly? Have any of you tried and succeeded or failed?
Other comments are welcome, too. I will try to monitor this closely to clarify things so ask away.
The answer is because this happened by chance, in a time where she was hurting (b/c my divorce wasnt final and we're supposed to be getting married in 4 months) She doesn't have a lot of friends, she's introverted and because now that we've had this talk, she knows I'm not (at this point, at least) open to poly.
We've talked about this very point. I asked 'If this does fizzle and we can go back to being 'us', would this ever happen again?' She said no and we talked about the 'why'. I understand her answers and I believe her.
The odds of her falling again, for anyone, are about as good as ME falling for someone else. I Am completely ok with those odds :)
You may be held captive by an image of what monogamy means: the two of you will be so caught up in one another, so absorbed in your life together, that you will never even look at or think about anyone else, ever again.
Your own past experience suggests it's not like that, even if your relationship with your current partner is much more secure and happy than your former marriage.
If you choose to be monogamous, it will have to be a choice, one that is constantly, deliberately renewed, even in the face of crushes on and deep friendships with others. If she really is open to poly, and if you yourself have a history of having affairs, then it seems it will often be a difficult choice, and sometimes a painful one.
You and your current partner really need to work through this, with total, brutal honesty. Is monogamy really going to be your best course? Will either of you have to make unacceptable sacrifices to remain utterly faithful to one another? And what sort of outside relationships are possible or permissible on your understanding of monogamy?
The first part of your post could easily have been a description of me, so I recognize some of where you're coming from. I don't know if this will resonate with you, but it's long been the case that I generally get along better with women than with men.
When I was steadfastly monogamous, this was something of a problem. From the conventional point of view, a married man spending time even as a friend with a woman who is not his wife is already slightly scandalous. From my own point of view, the complicating factor of possibly being attracted to the women I like made it seem dangerous.
Since I was committed to monogamy, this meant I had to keep a safe distance from the very people with whom I was most likely to develop close friendships . . . and so I remained disconnected and alone, other than my relationship with my wife.
In hindsight, that was an unacceptable sacrifice. I was cutting off an entire aspect of my life, an entire direction of personal development.
Would your new partner have to lop off entire aspects of herself to be faithful to you? Would you want to insist on her doing so?
For that matter, would you be cutting of possibilities for yourself, possibilities for life and growth and happiness, possibilities that maybe ought not to be cut off?
The two of you may, in the end, choose monogamy. Just make sure you choose it each for your own sake, with a full understanding of what it entails.
Thanks very much hyperskeptic, for not being harsh with me (or her).
As for she and I remaining monogamous if this opportunity passes her by? I think because of our openness with one another, and the fact that she is very antisocial, I'd see a second scenario like this coming many many miles distant.
I *should* have seen this one coming, but when she tried to bring up poly with me, I got defensive and assumed that (because of my past affairs in my past life) she was trying to keep ME on the mono path, when there was never any doubt in my mind. (and I can honestly say that, after counseling and soul-searching and much open discussion about how and why those affais occurred)
By the time she bluntly hit me over the head with the blunt poly 2-by-4 (I need blunt, seeing as I have zero intuition when it comes to relationships) she was already falling pretty hard for our friend.
So if this does pass us(her) by without anything coming of it, yes I have complete trust that it will not occur again. Not without a serious disintigration of our relationship as it is now and that disintigration would be a major warning sign in and of itself.
Thanks for explaining that monogamy is a choice. That actually makes a lot of sense and I had been taking it for granted.
Once in a while, one or another person on this site may be stern, though. Maybe even uncomfortably blunt.
It can be good therapy, to be confronted by uncomfortable bluntness.
1. Being open with one another is good, in general, as far as it goes, but . . .
2. Is being "antisocial" - and I assume you mean something like "unsociable" rather than "borderline sociopathic" - a desirable end-state? One reason my wife thought poly might be good for me is that I need to develop my ability to connect with others in the context of open, healthy, relationships, including relationships with women. We both agree that relationships really should develop organically, without undue restrictions on them; so, I shouldn't hold back form getting to know people just because I might end up "falling for" one or another of them.
3. If you see it coming, what would you do? Put your partner on a shorter leash? Make loud noises to distract her? Giver her a stern talking-to about how she promised to be faithful only to you? I'm being a little facetious here but, really, what would you do?
4. And what of the fact that, in your own words, you have "zero intuition" about these things? Maybe you won't see it coming . . . but that's a recipe for suspicion, surveillance . . . maybe keeping her on a short leash all the time, keeping her even from developing friendships or having conversations with other men . . .
1. If it passes by . . . so you'll just let it go and see what happens? Why be so passive? Either she will explore this other relationship, let it develop on its own terms, or she will cut it off out of deference to you. It's a choice; she has to be active. Either you will allow her to explore this other relationship, or you will insist on monogamy. Again, it's a choice; you have to be active. Both of you have to accept the consequences of the choices you each make.
2. Once the relationship has disintegrated, won't it be too late? Coming home to a smoldering ruin would, I suppose, be a good warning sign that the wiring in your house is faulty! Again, this makes one or both of you too passive in relation to what happens to your relationship.
Thanks for your attentiveness!
Your situation isn't normal to you ....here actually pretty normal
Can someone so entrenched become poly....sure.....are there success stories sure. The poly/mono dynamic is IMO way harder and I think has a higher failure rate. Start reading all the different stories to get idea of what you face.
I'd put the wedding on indefinite hold until you both figure this out.
Have you thought about counseling?
We develop feelings for people all the time and, as you've learned, they can come on suddenly and with surprising intensity.
I've made the point elsewhere, in other conversations, that feelings are not moral imperatives. Developing feelings for someone is something that happens to us, from time to time. It's always a question of what we choose to do about those feelings.
Whether you are mono or poly, sometimes it is just not a good idea to follow through on strong feelings for another person.
In general, the approach of partners telling one another about the feelings they each have for others is a good thing, whether you're mono or poly. In fact, it would be a rare and wonderful thing to be a mono couple that could be secure enough to talk about crushes, and to support one another through the difficulties they can pose.
You'd have to learn to be more secure in yourself, though, to recognize that your partner might see possibilities in other people she doesn't see in you . . . but that she's with you and loves you for what you are.
Even if you both decided to go poly, much the same would still apply. Since we've become poly, I've helped Vix through at least one serious crush she could not pursue, for complex, ethical reasons. She has helped me through one of those, as well, though the circumstances and the ethical restrictions were quite different.
[EDIT: One of the best, most liberating things about becoming poly is that we can talk about such things openly, and support one another at need. Before, we each just suffered our crushes in silence, feeling frustrated, guilty, and resentful. There are other good things for us about being poly, though; otherwise, we would just be more communicatively mono.]
It's good that you're here, and good that you're thinking and talking about all these things with your partner. I hope we can be of use to you.
Have a conversation with her about how you will approach her having feelings for someone else if it happens again. Don't let her off the hook by her saying that it won't happen again. As far as she can see at the moment I'm sure that she believes with all her heart that she won't ever develop feelings for anyone else during your marriage but since in her heart she believes in open relationships (and by extention having feelings for more than one person at a time) I predict that if it happens 5-10-15 years from now she's likely to keep it from you and have an affair if she thinks that the deal is monogamy or she's out.
Talk to her about coming to you with the slightest incling of an attraction. The smaller steps are far easier to handle than her coming to you and telling you that she's in a full blown love relationship with someone else (even if there hasn't been any physical contact).
If she's willing to let things go with the man she's currently interested at the moment it might be wise to go that way. It's not fair to him to string him along with the possibility that something might develop only to have an outside influence (you) pull it out from under him. Unless of course he's aware of the situation and 100% on board with being a part of the experiment.
Finally if the relationship between you and your fiance doesn't work out it will hurt but that hurt won't last forever. You have learned something very important about yourself and in any future relationship you'll know to bring up open relationships and your feelings towards them before you get too emotionally involved with them.
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