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-   -   being the third wheel (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24860)

canthiswork 06-19-2012 04:05 AM

being the third wheel
This is more of an anonymous vent than a question, but I would really appreciate advice from anyone whoís been in my shoes.

I finally googled "polyamory" and found this website. Iím the "other woman" in a relationship with a wonderful man who has an honest, open marriage. Itís been several months and I really like him (love him, really) more than ever, but these are feeling that canít be reciprocated in a lopsided relationship like ours. He has his wife for love and emotional support, but I canít expect him to be there for me the way a fully devoted boyfriend would be. Iím afraid Iím some peripheral thing in his "real" life with his wife and kids, and that I might even be one of other poly interests. In all fairness to him, he is amazingly kind, attentive, and generous, and I expected all this when I decided to go out with him (Iíd rationalized that a "non-attachment" relationship would be better for me at this stage in my life), but I never counted on loving him and needing more out of the relationship.

I guess the moral of the story is that the "poly thing" can really suck for the monogamous "other" person. Maybe itís meant for wife/husband swappers, where it can so much more easily just be about fun and sex because each person has their real relationship to return to. As the third wheel, monogamous "other" person, Iím faced with the excruciating decision of either leaving the relationship because I love him too much, or somehow numbing my feelings so that it can go back to just being about fun.


Jade 06-19-2012 04:45 AM

Are you not free to pursue other romantic interests yourself? Are you sad because this cannot be a future husband? What is it you wish of the relationship?

I am happily married. I also happen to love a man we met through swinging (who's also happily married). What I have discovered is that the relationship with the other man is unique. It is not entirely dependent on my spouse or his, though it is dependent on them in terms of survivability. I have also discovered that although I have my own husband to turn to, it does not necessarily help if there's a problem between me and my significant other. That relationship requires its own development and problem solving and communication building.

I do not intend to leave my husband and children and have no expectation or desire for my significant other to leave his. My only hope is to be able to occasionally share his life and express my love, and yes, to feel that love returned. Do I feel less "real" in comparison to his wife? No... honestly, no. For me, the challenge was not to feel "real" in comparison, but to feel "real" in the eyes of my OSO, period. There is a certain awareness, acknowledgement, and trust that takes place in love, and it doesn't happen overnight. But it does happen. At some point you go from being the velveteen rabbit to the real thing.

So, what do you want from the relationship? Some people engage in a poly relationship with an attached partner knowing the limits of the relationship (time, resources, etc.), and it bothers them. There are times in love when any limit seems burdensome. The challenge, I think, is to not focus on what you can't have and find joy in what you do have. If you can't find joy in that, then it's time to look beyond it.

You know yourself better than anyone. Do you want the relationship? Can it be beneficial?

km34 06-19-2012 05:46 AM

Why are you considering yourself the third wheel to THEIR relationship? Are you involved in anyway with her as well? I would think a good first step is to start thinking of your relationship with him as YOUR relationship with him, not THEIR relationship with you. Then, figuring out what you want/need from a relationship is important, too. Are you sure you're mono or is there a chance you would be interested in a poly lifestyle (one where you date others) too? If you do decide you need to have one partner who is your "primary," then this relationship probably won't be the one for you since he already has a wife and kids.

Your idea that poly would be better for couples focused on sex is also not what poly is really about. That concept is more of a swinging mentality, and while the two overlap they aren't really the same. Poly relationships really should have the focus on the loving aspect vs. the physical.

It definitely is frustrating when someone can't offer you as much as you need/want, but too often it is a fact of life. Have you talked to him about how you're feeling?

CielDuMatin 06-19-2012 01:38 PM

This is a tough place to be, and a lot of the thoughts that you are having are not unique to you - I have heard it many times before.

Have you been able to identify to yourself what concrete aspects of the relationship you are needing in order to make the relationship fulfilled? If so, have you communicated that to them? Knowing exactly what you want is really important when it comes to poly, because a lot of the "standard stuff" that is assumed with a monogamous relationship becomes non-standard, package deals can be broken up and the parts taken separately.

Now it could very well be that what you are looking for cannot be provided by a guy in a live-in relationship, or specifically, not HIS relationship. If that is the case, then you have a choice to make - become poly, and, while keeping with him, look for others who can give you what you want, or stay monogamous, and leave him and find someone else that can give you what you want.

Are you in touch with her, or just him? Have the three of you sat down and actually talked about the boundaries, needs, wants, etc, or the relationship configuration you are in? That can be invaluable in sorting through some of this - a prerequisite for it, though, is that each has a pretty good idea of what they each need and want and what their boundaries are.

FigNewtonian 06-19-2012 01:59 PM


Originally Posted by Jade (Post 140139)
Are you not free to pursue other romantic interests yourself?

This makes zero difference to a mono person. I know in the poly dynamic its about freedom and equality and all sides free to share their love as they will, but to a mono person in a poly situation it's really a quite pointless variable.

If they wanted to pursue other romantic interests despite being involved in one romantic relationship they wouldn't be mono, they'd be poly and the whole point would be rather moot.

swingorpoly 06-19-2012 05:55 PM

Canthiswork......yes it can, or atleast i think it can.

I'm the husband in the same/similar situation. Originally my wife and I had made it all about a primary/secondary relationship and we retained some veto power over the other. We've now let go of that definition realising that use of it would break the other's hearts. I'm in love with my girlfriend as much as i am with my wife, but differently. I hold back with my girlfriend because although she loves me too i'm not really sure of her intentions in life. We'll always be friends that is a given, i'll allow her to find her own relationship however she see fits but she hasn't expressed that she wants anything more.

We're still pretty new so it'll take some time but i could see us coming out to the world if that was required. I would love to meet her mother and be known as her boyfriend. I could even see having some sort of non-official wedding ceremony, comingling finances, owning property together....but i will wait an appropriate amount of time. I didn't marry my wife for several years so i would expect to take no less time with her. Lots of discussions would need to be had but i think everyone can be happy.

For now i just enjoy what we have and try to keep making it work. Hopefully it always will but she told me once that she was a little too greedy :) and wanted one of me all to herself. Since i can't offer that i don't expect her to stay around for ever as a lover. But one can hope she'll be okay with what i can offer.

swingorpoly 06-19-2012 06:08 PM

Btw....you don't live in Edmonton do you? Just making sure you aren't JJ my gf.. :D :eek:

Jade 06-19-2012 09:32 PM


Originally Posted by FigNewtonian (Post 140168)
This makes zero difference to a mono person. I know in the poly dynamic its about freedom and equality and all sides free to share their love as they will, but to a mono person in a poly situation it's really a quite pointless variable.

If they wanted to pursue other romantic interests despite being involved in one romantic relationship they wouldn't be mono, they'd be poly and the whole point would be rather moot.

But then, I imagine pursuing a relationship with someone who's already married would also be moot, unless you had some flexibility about what you're looking for.

canthiswork 06-20-2012 05:07 AM

Thanks for your responses, everyone.

Jade is right--it takes an open-minded, pretty flexible person to pursue a relationship with someone who is already married, but because I am mono (really!) that means that I have an awful lot to sort out as I go along. Iíve thought about it after reading your comments and I think it comes down to choosing between a less than perfect relationship with someone I really care for, or trying my luck with the multitude of jerks out there. And, based on some of your comments, maybe Iím not giving my partner, or polyamory for that matter, enough credit. He might be capable of loving and emotionally supporting me as well as his wife, even if it is to a much lesser extent.

I wish I could talk to him about all this! But Iím clearly the "needier" person in the arrangement and thatís not how I want to come across. It would be great if he brought it up, but I donít think heíd want to confront any of this either. So, here I am in--trying to understand my place in a poly world.

canthiswork 06-20-2012 05:10 AM

I'm not JJ, swingorpoly ;-)

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